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Don’t Try to Fix the Doer
Sundari: Hello, Peter. I am glad that my email on the gunas helped. I have a particular interest in the gunas, and James and I are going to incorporate this into a book form soon. As to your question about Art, he is a friend of James and lives in Tiruvannamalai, India. He studies and teaches many things, attempting to align them with Vedanta. The thing is, although it is true that different things work for different people, Vedanta is the most efficient and complete teaching available. The teaching you are referring to is the eannagram, and it is a system developed to map out personality traits and types, much like astrology. It is incredibly accurate and is certainly very illuminating in that it confirms and reveals things about oneself that are undeniably true.
However, as interesting as it is, it is only capable of revealing information about your personality; it does not offer any teaching on how to change this or heal psychological/emotional issues. It offers no knowledge of the gunas and has no teaching. Yes, it is very interesting for me to know that I am a four or a six, or whatever, with a five-wing and a three-something-else. So what? How does this help me to neutralise the vasanas and negate the doer? How can this set me free? Very simply, it does not.
When you told me yesterday that your partner accuses you of hiding, this is what you need to consider. It is true, Peter does hide, it is part of his conditioning, he can’t help it. He did not make himself that way, Isvara and the gunas did. It is Peter’s nature to be this way, and if he could be different, he would be. The thing is not to see Peter as defective or needing to change; accept and love him the way he is. If Peter owns the conditioning (which is just the vasanas created by the gunas), which does not belong to “him,” he owns suffering because the doer is there. All existential suffering is a result of the illusion of doership.
To be free means that you are free of Peter and Peters’ stuff, meaning his conditioning and his “story.” Peter is the self under the spell of ignorance. With self-inquiry and the application of self-knowledge, ignorance of Peter’s true nature is revealed, which is the self. The mind/ego/jiva ( i.e. Peter) is an object in you, awareness – and will never be enlightened. It is inert, like all other objects. It has an apparent existence in the apparent reality because the light of the self, YOU, shines on it. Without you, there is no Peter and there are no objects. This is why Vedanta says the jiva/Peter cannot gain enlightenment, because you, awareness, already are the light. Self-knowledge is the only means available to remove the ignorance which prevents you (meaning the self under the spell of ignorance) from seeing your true nature as awareness. It is not the ego that experiences the self, it is the self that “experiences” the ego, ergo Peter and his conditioning.
It is the self that apparently frees itself, not the jiva – so that it can live free as a jiva. The self is already free; moksa obtains so that the apparent jiva lives free in the apparent reality. It sounds like the greatest contradiction, but it is not a real one, only an apparent one.
You cannot get rid of the apparent reality or the jiva, it exists and functions in its own way. It just means that you know it is not real and not you, although it arises out of you. This is what it means to render the vasanas non-binding and to negate the doer; this is what freedom is. Freedom from the doer, not for the doer.
Do not waste energy trying to change or fix Peter. Wanting things to be different keeps one stuck and is a great source of suffering. Trust the knowledge, keep up the self-inquiry, and Peter will be just fine. There is no purifier like self-knowledge, let it do the “work.” This does not mean that if Peter’s conditioning causes agitation and therefore suffering to himself or others he will not take steps to manage the gunas, but he will do so with the karma yoga attitude, knowing he is not the doer.
It is the knowledge that does the work of liberating, even though its main aim is freedom from the doer; nonetheless, the knowledge gives one the tools, meaning a means of knowledge, to achieve this. This is where Vedanta differs from all spiritual paths and why it is not a path – it offers self-knowledge and a valid means to remove ignorance of the self.
Once you find yourself acting a particular guna out, just observe what is going on. Don’t judge or beat yourself up, be dispassionate about whatever is going on – it’s a movie, after all. Trace back the train of events, thoughts and feelings to their source and identify what triggered them. This is the practice of knowledge, the work of keeping an eye on Peter and his likes and dislikes and all the predictable thoughts that arise with them. Make a note of the guna and adjust to it in light of what kind of mind you are trying to create. This is how you identify the vasana and manage the gunas – because the gunas and the vasanas are hidden in the unconscious mind that keeps a particular guna program running. Each time you do this, it will get easier to manage them and it will be easier to recognise them quicker. Before long the knowledge will have de-activated the like or dislike. It will no longer condition the subtle body, although it may still appear and probably will.
The important thing to remember is that the self is always fine no matter what the gunas are doing; however, freedom is for the jiva, so to live free as a jiva obviously one aims for a sattvic mind.
~ Om and prem, Sundari