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Only the Self
Greg: Dear James, I was most moved when you told the story of your last meeting with Swami Abhedananda as he held his hand up and said, “Take it easy.” The imagery is still strong in my mind when I think of it and much more than a simple recommendation to relax. It was a profound, certain knowledge that all is taken care of and that the only stress that exists comes from my thrashing about, still in ignorance. I could almost clearly see his face as you said it, beaming and representing the self in his entire being.
At a cultural level I was reminded of this again recently when the last two remaining Beatles were asked recently at Abbey Road, in an interview, what they would say to themselves 50 years ago. They both almost instantly said, “Take it easy – we worked so hard for so long – but looking back, it feels like it was all going to happen pretty much anyhow – so take it easy, really, it’ll be fine anyway.”
I can see the vast amount of apparent seeking and “hard work” did not really change anything or do anything for me even though it feels like a relentless mountain climb of exhaustion. All that has been going on seems just like a long (and very inefficient until meeting you and Vedanta) means to seeing what is me compared to what masquerades very cleverly as me. I see the self is the only thing which allows discrimination of all that is not-self – which includes every self-deception theatre, every pain, joy and even the “I” which claims to have succeeded or failed in those ventures. It is even the “I” which still likes to think it is nothing unless paired up and wanted exclusively by a partner yet also now knows this will never happen. Even when there is someone – it is still not possible. This was a loud background noise but now comes with a certainty that it was never possible anyhow, which immediately made the noise almost disappear. The jiva still grieves for it, would still have it different and will doubtless still try and believe it to be true, but it’s okay. This I is not that.
I feel I cannot see from the self-standpoint and “be” the jiva at the same time. The jiva either fades in and out or suddenly “I” lose my grip and think I am the jiva again. As soon as “I” try to step through the looking glass, trying to take the self with the jiva, it turns back into a dream, yet I am awake; it’s very black and white. The jiva really wishes it wasn’t. It’s like I cannot take the jiva-standpoint and the self-standpoint and mash them together – to retain the identity of the jiva, with all its own pains and joys, as well as the clarity of the self, which has no identity other than itself. I feel that this knowledge extends potentially to being at peace when near to death. I am sure many people, maybe all, have had moments like this but not all have had the fortune and blessing to realise it progressively, consciously and (hopefully) long before the time is up. It is the blessing of all blessings, thank you.
There is a question I would like to ask at some point but it is still formulating. When I find it I would like to ask you – but please, feel no pressure from me to answer when I write. Just being able to ask is already great and if an answer comes in a month or a year, it’s fine.
Take it easy, please.
James: Hi, Greg.
I wonder if these words from my wife apply to the question that you are trying to formulate:
“Even though I had realised the self and my knowledge was firm, my problem for a while was thinking that, since the jiva never disappeared, it had to be catered to, as it was. It is true that the jiva remains even after the knowledge is firm as Isvara made it and, insofar as it exists, we must love it unconditionally. But satya AND mithya is duality if you think the jiva is as real as the self. Taking a stand as the self means the jiva is as good as non-existent as far as you, the self, are concerned. You are the self. You are not The Self and the jiva. So when jiva appears, dismiss it. This final realisation only fully sank in recently, and what a tremendous relief it is to not take the jiva seriously.
“At the same time, nididhyasana never ends for the jiva. Self-actualisation is not for the faint of heart, that is for sure! Facing the small, less-than-fabulous part of the psyche is not easy. It requires a great deal of courage to relate to the world as a jiva, and it takes even more courage to face the demons that await us in the causal body so as to free ourselves of the jiva. When we do, we see the demons for what they are: just paper dragons.”
~ Love, James