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Sundari: Hello, Piers. James asked me to reply, as he is pretty busy right now. We are in Toronto setting up for the seminar that is taking place here this weekend.
Piers: Dear James, hi. It’s been a while since I wrote to you because I haven’t had any questions. I didn’t have any in Tiruvannamalai over the winter either. But I realised that I had to address the issue of the gunas and sort out some various little bits of untidy karma in my life.
So I’ve stopped smoking (mostly), drinking coffee (largely) and entertaining myself with fantasies of unobtainable women (for the most part). I watched the three-gunas teaching a couple of times and started eating more vegetables, but I found that by simply knowing what the gunas are they can be discarded.
No, really, my life is now practically empty. The only responsibility I have is playing bass guitar in a band, and I suspect that’s only because I’m afraid of letting action go completely. Last week I was going to write to you, seeing what you thought about me filling up my life again by getting a job (poverty and impatience to know once and for all Who I Am has been getting to me slightly).
Sundari: This is a common issue with sannyassis. What are you afraid of? Is it that the doer will lose its identity as doer when it has nothing to do – or are you just avoiding what you need to do? The teaching dealing with this involves two type of renunciation: karma sannyas and jnana karma sannyas. Karma sannyas is renouncing objects, in this case activities. However, avoiding doing what is necessary to take care of ourselves because we don’t want to “do” anything, i.e. our dharma, which can become an impediment to moksa.
Jnana karma sannyas is understanding that there is no doer to do anything that Isvara, the field of existence, is doing everything, that “Piers” is “being done.” The two are not mutually exclusive. It is true that as a doer Piers can simplify his lifestyle and get a sattvic mind by renouncing activities. But this still leaves “Piers.” Now, how do we get rid of Piers? By jnana, knowledge. What knowledge? That the gunas – Isvara – is the doer, or another way of saying the same thing: “I am awareness.”
If Piers has not negated by knowledge, he needs to know about Dharma with a big “D,” which is impersonal and unavoidable. The same applies to dharma with a small “d,” your personal dharma (svadharma). This is a grey area and is an important issue because it relates to actualising the knowledge in your life, i.e. the apparent realilty (mithya). The fact is, realised or not, the apparent reality (mithya) is here to stay and you cannot escape it; we have to transact it with one way or another. When you know who you are, you know that it is all you and there is no problem with any of it. So just get out and do whatever works, knowing you are not the doer and that whatever you do, it is all self. Bring a worshipful attitude to everyone and everything you “do.” You will then experience the love you are. There is no great value in poverty, actually. I think it is quite boring. A sadhana making money is as valuable as any other sadhana.
Piers: Anyway, for now I’ve decided against it.
I had this experience a couple of days ago, after watching (of all things) a Puppetji video. It was called Seeing, and all I remember about it was the mad puppet saying, “Take a step back, and another one: you think you are seeing, but actually there is only seeing.”
Anyway, when I went to the shop I experienced “just seeing.” Except to say that “I” experienced it isn’t right, because there was just seeing. Now I understand what is meant by “the seer, the seen and the seeing are the same.”
Anyway, I’m not walking around “just seeing” – well, obviously I’m not walking around at all, and over the last day or two my mind has been feverishly trying to assimilate the experience. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from you about experience, it’s that it is the knowledge contained therein that is important. But I think I have it:
Whatever I am looking at is me: unchanging, impersonal consciousness. I/consciousness am the reality appearing as the picture, while never being different from what I am: pure knowing.
Sundari: Yes, indeed your understanding is perfect.
Piers: Forgive me for using such experiential words. I’m still trying to grasp the fact that awareness/consciousness/seeing/knowing are the same. I’m still trying to understand it myself.
Anyway, please can you help me make sense of this? By the way, I loved coming to India, the teaching and all of it. Cheers, James.
Sundari: Who is trying to understand “it myself”? You are pure knowing. The idea, “I am awareness,” akhandakara vrtti, is defined as a “modal cognition,” or thought through which the self (brahman) is apprehended. This knowledge arises through cognition (which can occur in a teaching environment or in meditation), the object of which is the self. This modification, or thought (vrtti), is called the ultimate modification (antya-vrtti) in that it destroys every other vrtti, giving rise to direct perception/knowledge of reality. It is direct knowledge that you ARE the self. As you said above, “You think you are seeing, but actually, there is only seeing.” You have it very clear, Piers. ☺
~ Lots of love, om and prem, Sundari