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Self-Realisation Is Not Moksa
Sundari: Hello, Dora. My apologies for not getting back to you sooner. We have been busy with property in Spain and with James’ European teaching schedule, lots of travelling, not much time! I have replied point by point below.
Dora: Hi, Sundari My name is Dora and I have been in touch with James as well as Paul Hardman, thanks to you and James!
Thank you is just not enough to express the enormous happiness I feel to have the opportunity to be taught this teaching.
I’ve read quite a few your satsangs, and it’s amazing how clear and precise you are when explaining something. Thank you, Sundari.
Sundari: I am so glad that you have made contact with Paul. He is an excellent Vedanta teacher, and James and I are pleased to hear that this is working for you. Thank you for the compliment, much appreciated.
Dora: I wanted to ask you something and hear it from you, as I find it very easy to understand what you mean. But I appreciate the fact that you and James must be really busy with life, so I will wait patiently and in love for your response.
The thing is, it is quite easy to get it that I am awareness. Nothing hides from it. I am it, although in my everyday living I always find the “me” having this and that experience. And then I go back to rethink again and say, “Whoever is having this experience is me because there is no one else, because reality is non-dual.”
Sundari: Yes, understanding that you are the self is the easy part. It is obvious, after all, that you must be consciousness or you would not be here to ask this question. Self-realisation is not moksa; self-realisation is an experience, and all experiences end. If the knowledge that they are meant to deliver is not assimilated, the experience is not helpful.
Moksa, understanding what it means to be self-realised in the apparent reality, requires a lot more than an experience or an intellectual understanding, it is the hard part and where the work lies. This is because what has to be addressed is who and what the jiva is, what the “world” is and who and what Isvara is. Moksa is who you are and it is freedom from the jiva, or person (the false idea that you are bound to objects and limited), BUT the jiva (the self under the spell of ignorance) lives in the apparent reality and never leaves it.
The self is and always has been free. This is why James and I are focusing so much on self-actualisation as being what makes moksa permanent for the jiva, meaning the self under the spell of ignorance, not Dora. Dora will never be enlightened; she is an object known to you. She appears real because the light of awareness, you, illuminate her. Your statement above implies that you know that the jiva, or Dora, is an object known to you, awareness. The knowledge is not firm though. We know of many self-realised people whose “self-realisation” comes and goes.
To start with, what helps is to press “pause” every time you hear yourself saying “I” and ask yourself, “Who is talking here? Is this the jiva identified with the jiva, is it the jiva who knows the self or is it the jiva that knows it is the self? Moksa means self-knowledge has removed the ignorance of your true nature as awareness.
However, the effects of ignorance for most seekers are usually still there and have to be understood in order to have complete freedom from the person. Your question above is asked by the jiva who knows the self, whose knowledge is indirect.
So, what to “do about it” when you know that you are not the doer? In order for self-inquiry to be effective, you have to be fully grounded in the qualifications and your values need to be very clear. In order to have a pure mind, all the yogas need to be practised and, very importantly, your lifestyle needs to be dharmic, which means that sattva, or peace of mind, is your main goal. Although self-inquiry is an action, it is different in that unlike all other actions, which are limited and produce limited results, self-inquiry produces self-knowledge, which is capable of producing and unlimited result, i.e. moksa.
There is no easy answer to this, Dora. Self-inquiry means exposing the mind to self-knowledge with great dedication and determination. It must be more important to you than anything else if you really want moksa, which is freedom from Dora. I have attached an email I sent to a seeker who has this same question; it is entitled How to Practice Self-Knowledge. Read it carefully and see where it applies to you. Do you have a proper sadhana?
You have read James’ book, I presume, from start to finish? It is a progressive teaching, so one should read from the beginning and not proceed until one fully understands what is being taught. Make sure that you understand the qualifications for self-knowledge. Write them down and track yourself on them on a daily basis. What are your main motivations, what are your values? It is also very helpful to watch at least 30 minutes of James’ teaching on video per day.
If you do not have it, I suggest you order James teaching the Bhagavad Gita, and set aside a time every day for this. Get yourself an iPod if you don’t have one, listen to James teaching whenever you can. This is the practice of knowledge, exposing the mind to the knowledge consistently (jnana yoga) and applying self-knowledge to every situation in conjunction with the other yogas: karma yoga, triguna vibhava yoga (managing the gunas).
Examine everything in the light of self-knowledge. Having a devotional practice of some sort is very important too, even if it is just lighting a candle every day and seeing the light as you, awareness. Live in gratitude, not necessarily gratitude for anything but because you are everything. With this kind of dedication, self-knowledge will do the work of removing the ignorance of your true nature.
Dora: There is a line in James’ book which really describes what I feel. The line is on page 221: “You may understand how the mistake was made when you consider the conditions obtaining when it occurred, but you cannot actually perceive a snake as long as you are looking at the rope.”
I find that although I know I am awareness and therefore whole and complete, there’s a difference between only knowing this and REALLY living as awareness.
I know it does give me relief to think that it is not real (my suffering) but it’s something different to live as awareness as the self and to really see that I am free.
Sundari: Again, there is no easy answer to your question, Dora. What James means in that quote is that with knowledge it is easy to see and therefore understand how confusion about the true nature of reality arises. Once you see that the rope never was a snake, it is impossible to see the snake again. That story is a good illustration of unconditioned superimposition, which is what samsara is. Once you do understand what duality is and that the true nature of reality is non-dual, duality does not disappear. It becomes a conditioned superimposition; like the mirage on the desert floor. You still see it, it has an apparent existence, but you know that it is not real.
However, it takes a little more than seeing that the rope never was a snake. One has to understand all the factors involved in misapprehension of the true nature of reality, meaning Dora, so that the unconditioned superimposition becomes conditioned superimposition, meaning your vision becomes non-dual and remains so.
James and all the teachers writing for ShiningWorld have replied to you and given you the best scriptural advice pertaining to your queries. You just have to “do the work.” No one can do it for you. Ignorance is obsessively resistant, and it takes great persistence and dedication to retrain the mind to think differently.
I find that most inquirers who are stuck at this point do not understand Isvara, or the dharma field, meaning the gunas, or Dora’s environment, which is everything in the dharma field, including Dora. I have attached an article that I have recently rewritten on this topic, as it is such an important teaching to understand. I am sure that Paul has explained this to you as well, but it will not hurt to go over this material again. Dora’s conditioning needs to be understood if you want to be free of her. There is very likely some block here, something that you are not addressing which impacts on the qualifications for Vedanta. It most likely is a lifestyle issue or a psychological problem you have not addressed.
The article starts off with a very brief description of the Isvara-jiva-jagat identity, which is what makes up the dharma field. It explains the gunas, how they function and what is entailed in managing them. Moksa means discriminating awareness from the objects that arise in awareness. In order to do this effectively, you have to be able to understand the self from the jiva’s point of view and understand the jiva from the self’s point of view.
If you do not understand Isvara, or the gunas, the dharma field (they are all basically the same thing), you will not find freedom from the objects, meaning Dora and her conditioning. I have also attached a brilliant article by Ramji on the topic of samskaras and vasanas. In conjunction with the Isvara-jiva-jagat teaching, this article further explains the conditioning that makes up the person.
Dora: Can you understand my point, Sundari? At this moment I am applying the knowledge that I am free but even that is an object in me, even that is seen by me.
Sundari: Yes, I understand perfectly. Dora the person is superimposing self-knowledge onto the jiva, Dora. This is called superimposing satya on mithya (the real on the apparently real), which does not work. This is a very common trap for seekers and one the ego will attempt as a default, so that it does not need to challenge its good opinion of itself or change its behaviour.
But there are no shortcuts, unfortunately, only the long cut. What I get from you is that lack of self-knowledge is not the problem for you. You are just avoiding doing what it takes to change your behaviour – meaning staring down Dora’s vasanas and getting her actions and lifestyle to conform with dharma. There is no way around this.
Dora: I hope you are well, and James too. Thank you for your work.
Sundari, you made very clear to me that what I am trying to do will not equal freedom. I get that now. You said, and very well, that, “Dora the person is superimposing self-realisation onto the jiva, Dora, the ego trying to experience the self. This is called superimposing satya on mithya (the real on the apparently real), which does not work. This is a very common trap for seekers and one the ego will attempt as a default, so that it does not need to challenge its good opinion of itself or change its behaviour.” I totally get it.
But, Sundari, when you say thatI have to do the work, what do you mean? I dont know what to “do.” I mean, I have been reading James’ book every day. I listen to his satsangs and talks every day. What else do you recommend?
Also, when you ask about sadhana, what do you mean? Paul and James have told me many times to practise “karma yoga.”
When you say that I should track which “I” speaks when I speak, I don’t really know what to say because I now know that I am always speaking as Dora, as the ego. But I know that Dora knows that there is something else. But Dora cant lose control!! Dora doesn’t know how to lose control. I have to predict everything.
Sundari, I am sorry for all this. I think I have too much going on!! I’ve read James’ book but I dont think I have assimilated well the teaching. I am going to ready it again very slowly.
I am very, very confused about the gunas, the energies!! It’s like I thought I was in control of them… but I start to think now that they control me!!!!!! And I have always Dora’s likes and dislikes in the background. I am always projecting as well, actually, from the moment I wake up in the morning to the moment I go to bed at night, I am always projecting situations in my head. It’s like I never stop to think or appreciate the moment! I am always in my “head”!!!!!!!
I am not expecting an answer, Sundari, so don’t worry if you don’t have time to answer. It’s okay. I am still very grateful.
Thank you for everything.
We Cannot Fix You
Sundari: Hello, Dora. You have been writing to Ramji for a couple of years now. Ram and I and all of ShiningWorld’s endorsee writers have given you as much assistance with your inquiry as we can. We cannot say more to you than we have already said and we cannot do the work of cleaning up Dora’s subconscious for her.
A sadhana is a disciplined and dedicated approach to self-inquiry; it must be the most important thing to you. It requires not only exposing the mind on a constant basis to the scripture, but the practice of knowledge. This means that Dora, in her daily life, observes her mind dispassionately on a moment-to-moment basis and discriminates the self from the not-self with the karma yoga attitude. It is not about perfecting the person, it is about being free of the person. Knowing about the self is not moksa. First and foremost, one has to face who and what the jiva is, what the world is and how Isvara operates.
Karma yoga means not only that you know that as the jiva, or Dora, the results of your actions are not up to you. It means consecrating every thought, word and action on a moment-to-moment basis to Isvara. It is a prayer of devotion to you, the self. This is bhakti. And then, with absolute trust, one takes whatever results that do come as prasad.
With love and all due respect to you, as I mean no offence, Dora’s mind is a mess, it is agitated and fragmented. This is not a mind that can conduct self-inquiry.
So, Dora, what is it that is so agitating the mind? I see no sign of the ability to discriminate and no dispassion; you are totally identified with Dora. Other than the fact that you seem to have strong mumuksutva, it would appear to me that you are not qualified for self-inquiry. Vedanta cannot help you “fix” Dora, because it does not see her as broken. It sees you as whole and complete, non-dual, unlimited, always present and unchanging.
This is why the qualifications are so important. You appear to be lacking in many of them, so the foundation for self-inquiry is not there. Vedanta will not work for you unless you develop the qualifications, Which means two things:
1. Dora has not integrated and assimilated her life experiences. In other words, Dora has psychological problems because she does not understand what makes up “her” conditioning and is not clear about her values. Her mind is scrambled and all over the place, totally run by rajas and tamas. Just reading your email, one is immediately impacted by the rajas, the extroverted, frantic mind – and right along with it, the dull, frightened tamasic mind. It is no wonder Dora has control issues! She is totally under the influence of these two forces, and they run her mind. She is like a puppet dancing to their tune.
2. There are big lifestyle issues at play. What do you do for a living, diet, how do you handle money, relationships, sex, entertainment, where you live, etc? If you are not living right and following a dharmic lifestyle, self-inquiry will not work for you. If you want to continue with self-inquiry, you will have to adjust your lifestyle and aim for peace of mind, sattva. We have all given you feedback on this issue and you have tons of material at your disposal through James’ book, the website and the document I sent you on what the gunas are and how to manage them.
Vedanta is for mature seekers, people who have assimilated and understood their life experiences, who know that there is no value in objects and have a strong desire to end existential suffering. This means that they very much want to be free of the “doer,” the person with a name and a story. They dedicate themselves to purifying the mind by practicing all the yogas: karma yoga, triguna vibhava yoga, bhakti and most importantly of course jnana yoga.
Vedanta cannot and is not meant to resolve Dora’s psychological problems. If you cannot grasp the teaching on the gunas and how the macrocosmic mind functions, then I would advise that you find a good therapist who can help you unravel where the problem lies.
It is pointless for all of us to keep writing to you unless you sort this out first, Dora. We cannot keep saying the same things over and over to you. It is not our job to “fix” Dora; she needs to understand her own psychology first before she can assimilate the knowledge that she is perfect and does not need fixing. First, you need to understand what the problem is, then you can negate it as not you, awareness.
You are going around in circles, self-knowledge is not sticking in the mind. It is not that we don’t want to help you, we have done all we can to help you and it is not possible. Dora needs to address what her conditioning is, what her values are based on and what lifestyle issues are preventing her from purifying her mind and making sattva her goal.
We had a similar situation with another seeker recently; this person has been an inquirer for several years, and like you she desperately wants to be free of her suffering. She is drowning in the vomit of the mind but she is unable to see where the problem lies. She has not addressed her psychological issues and stubbornly refuses to clean up her act by living right and choosing a sattvic lifestyle. She comes to us for help but everything we tell her she has a “Yeah, but…” to justify her position. Like you, we cannot help her any more than we have unless she does the work first.
So it is up to you, Dora.
I send you much love and peace. I pray that you find the way to resolving the apparent agitation that you are experiencing so that self-inquiry can take place effectively and self-knowledge do the work of removing the ignorance of your true nature for you.
~ Om and prem, Sundari