Search & Read
Take Your Life in Your Arms
Sam: Hello again.
Okay, have a bit of a sticky subject to inquire about that is a definite bit of ignorance but it is a trifle personal, so I hope I don’t offend (if it’s even possible to offend a jnani).
Also, I seem to recall that there was mention in the set of talks I am listening to by James of you being unwell, so please just ignore this if that is the case (I know awareness can’t bother awareness but if you are feeling unwell this jiva doesn’t want to put additional strain on that jiva). You just answered my other question so well I think you may be able to help me understand this from a Vedantic viewpoint.
Sundari: Hello again, Sam, good to hear from you. You made us laugh! You are a really cool guy! I hope you know that. ☺
First off, I have not been sick for ages, and am not sure which talks you were listening to, so no problem to reply to you. And no, you can’t bother, offend, impress or impact a jnani, positively or negatively, so no problem there either!
Sam: Can a vasana be installed via a jiva’s contact with another jiva?
Sundari: I am not sure what you mean by “installed” but yes, of course. All our vasanas are connected to objects – subtle or gross – that we feel we need to control, have or avoid, and our contact with “other” people activates and creates new vasanas as well as strengthen and entrench existing ones. All vasanas build on themselves through repeated actions. I have just posted three satsangs on vasanas with my most recent upload, I have attached two of them for you to read. There is a great deal on the topic in the e-satsang section and of course in James’ books, particularly The Essence of Enlightenment and How to Attain Enlightenment, as well as all the teaching videos.
The important thing to understand is that all vasanas are universal. Because of our attachment to our story as people, we think we are unique and our conditioning is unique, but there is only one universal jiva playing out all the vasanas, endlessly. Moksa is freedom from and for the jiva, as I said to you in my last email.
Sam: Porn addiction (binding vasana), when investigated, aside from the physical sensation of pleasure, always came down to the thought of pleasing and bringing pleasure to a woman (only in realms of mental fantasy; in actual manifestation, my sexual contacts have been very few and only with one woman in the past 14 years, despite constant seemingly uncontrollable mental desiring and fantasizing about almost all the attractive women I know/see; more to do with incredible lack of self-esteem than any degree of excellence in self-control on the part of this jiva).
Sundari: I have attached a satsang I just wrote and uploaded on the real issue with regards to sexual issues and distortions – which of course is always lack of self-esteem, the result of lack of self-love and self-knowledge. Indulging this vasana never brings pleasure, even if it seems like it does. This kind of drive/desire is extremely painful because it is insatiable, as are all desires in mithya. The only satiable desire is the desire for the self because that is who you are. If you want that, you are in luck because you are it and don’t have to (and cannot) do anything to gain it, other than submit the mind to the scripture and allow self-knowledge to remove the ignorance that prevents your full appreciation of this fact.
Sam: Now, bear with me here…
In this jiva’s story, I grew up with a very narcissistic mother, whom I think used to expect me as her child to fulfill deep emotional needs within her that it would have been impossible for a young child to successfully fulfill. Then when these needs went unmet there would often be punishment via guilt, shame or emotional detachment.
Sundari: This is very sad and quite common for many jivas. The only way out of this predicament is self-knowledge. You are not going to get rid of the lack of self-esteem your mother engendered for you any other way. The greatest damage a parent can do is to emotionally manipulate, not love, acknowledge and not pay attention to their offspring. Sadly, we are all the victims of victims, as this story goes back to the beginning of time, if it had one (which it does not!). I am sure your mother was similarly afflicted in her childhood. If she could have been different and psychologically healthy because she was truly loved, she would have been different. But she was not. Damaged people are the most damaging.
So the solution is to see her as the self, forgive her, understand that because she did not and could not know any better, she was/is incapable of giving you what you wanted and needed, and still need. Hence the damage is done to the child. You cannot go back and fix the child, because the child is not real. And you cannot change your mother – who is not real either and who is not “your” mother, by the way. She is just the vehicle through which Sam and his karma bundle was given the opportunity to manifest in the dharma field to work out his karma. Sam’s story is just an idea in you, awareness. Don’t waste time on the past – understand it and move on as you seem to be doing.
James asks us, “Where do all of your emotional problems come from?” Which inevitably sends us scurrying down the myriad rabbit holes of our past pains and wounds. To which he then responds:
“Keep it simple. Your emotional problems come when you don’t get what you want, that’s all.”
Sam: As I understand it from a psychological (jiva) point of view, this can set up all sorts of conditioned habitual behaviour but does this constitute the creation of a vasana? Or would this addiction to porn/pleasuring a woman come from somewhere else via the action of a guna or gunas?
Sundari: Yes, indeed. Most of our conditioning comes from our childhood and parental influence. (Read the e-satsang by James on this issue called Parents and Self Esteem, attached.) But consider this: as all vasanas are impersonal and nobody makes themselves the way they are, where do the vasanas really originate? From Isvara of course. All vasanas arise from the causal body, the three gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas, which are what make up maya – the dharma field, or creation. The gunas give rise to the jiva, the vasanas and their results (karma). As you know, a vasana is a guna-generated tendency or program that we keep repeating and which binds us to an incorrect idea about ourselves, our karma and life in general – and of course to suffering. A samskara is a conglomeration of vasanas, all interconnected, like mycorrhizal fungi “underground.” The mushrooms, like vasanas, will pop up here and there, and seem to be discrete and independent entities, but all vasanas are interconnected in vast network of vasanas in the underground of the causal body, or unconscious, also called Isvara.
To render binding vasanas non-binding, we need to understand where they arise and how they condition the jiva. Through understanding, you can then dissolve the conditioning in the knowledge, see it as impersonal and not personal, thereby dismissing the jiva. This does not mean the jiva disappears. You just understand it (and unconditionally love it, as it is), so when it shows up and plays out its little dramas, like the “poor me, I was never loved by mummy dearest, she is such a bitch, I have no self-esteem, life is so hard,” on and on – you tell that voice to shut up. And you replace those thoughts with thoughts that you are whole and complete, unconditioned, lacking nothing. This is what taking a stand in awareness as awareness and applying the opposite thought is all about. It requires vigilance and total commitment.
And one more thing, Sam. And this is very important for you to hear.
Self-knowledge and self-inquiry aside, if you truly want you esteem yourself properly as a jiva, stand up to that sex vasana. Man up! Every time you say no, your self-esteem will increase. Every time you say yes, your self-esteem decreases.
It’s as simple as that.
Sam: It’s probably also relevant to mention I am married to a woman that I seem unable to please (both emotionally and physically, although that may be a twisted mental perception of the circumstance brought on by the aforementioned interaction with mother dearest). Is this a kinda of, “Oy, learn your lesson,” thing coming from Isvara… (yeah, thanks, Isvara… duh!)?
Sundari: No surprises here, Sam! Without self-knowledge, we are dead in the water and forever burdened by our “past.” And doomed to act out our conditioning, usually in highly destructive ways. But you are one of the lucky ones. Isvara has given you a way out of this mess with Vedanta – and you hit the jackpot with James and ShiningWorld. As for your worldly karma, it is up to you how you deal with it. The only sane approach to life (and your wife) is karma yoga, and without it you will not neutralize the doer or render binding vasanas non-binding. Nor will it be possible to live happily with your wife, assuming you can see her as the self and accept her as she is. That said, you cannot apply karma yoga to unworkable situations. Your life must conform to the truth, not the other way around.
If your marriage keeps you in a situation where you cannot live your svadharma and there is no solution to this, you will need to take appropriate action or live with it uncomplainingly. There is no right or wrong here, just what works best for you, given your main goals or motivations in life. To be free of the jiva and as the jiva, we need to clean up our karma in the light of self-knowledge. As I said above, this means understanding the teaching on the gunas, how they generated Sam’s particular vasana bundle. And love your jiva; after all, it’s the self. Here is a beautiful poem written by Arthur Miller, called After the Fall:
I dreamed I had a child, and even in the dream, I saw it was my life, and It was an idiot, and I ran away. But it always crept onto my lap again, clutched at my clothes. Until I thought… if I could kiss it, whatever in it was my own, perhaps I could sleep. And I bent to its broken face, and it was horrible... but I kissed it. I think one must finally take one’s life in one’s arms.
So, Sam, take your life in your arms. And love it. You might even find that you don’t need to satiate the mind through mindless and self-insulting means, such as watching porn. Only YOU can fill that hole, remember. No one can esteem you or give you the love you need. All objects are value-neutral – there is no joy in them, other than a temporary, fleeting, unsatisfying “kind of” joy. True joy only ever comes from you, the self. What you want is the permanent joy that comes from the unshakeable self-confidence of knowing who you are and that NO ONE has the power to add to or take away from that.
Sam: I hope that makes sense in some way.
It would be helpful for me to neutralize this if I could get a clear and concise Vedantic viewpoint.
Sundari: Yes, it makes perfect sense to us, Sam. It’s a story as old as time and it’s called maya – beginningless ignorance. But it is not endless, because self-knowledge has the power to permanently remove ignorance for the individual jiva. But it cannot be repeated enough: to live free of the jiva as the self requires that we understand what self-realization means to the jiva. This is where the work of self-inquiry begins – and you seem to have a pretty good idea of what it entails. Make sure you keep reading the e-satsangs at our website; the 12-month teaching course is an excellent study aid. Watch as many teaching videos as possible. Read the books, do the work!
Sam: I am reading the satsangs at the website as part of your beginner’s study. It’s shocking to this little jiva-ego realise that most of the thoughts/doubts/tendencies that have plagued this body-mind are being expressed in words by so-called others almost word for word as “I” at times have thought them…
It’s like my own thoughts don’t actually belong to me, eh?
Hee! Maybe I am not the island I thought I was.
Maybe in truth I am something else.
Thank you so much for being a true vehicle for the expression of this teaching.
Sundari: Got it in a nutshell, Sam! Always press “pause” when you hear yourself use the word “I” and ask yourself who is talking here, which “I” does this refer to, the limited small person or the unlimited, unmodified self? If you do this diligently, it will change your life.
Sam: Again, no stress if you choose not to respond and hope you are feeling better either way.
~ Gratitude, Sam
Sundari: You are welcome, Sam. Feel free to write if you have a doubt; we are here to help and guide your self-inquiry.
Sam: You are amazing.
Vedanta is amazing.
The self is amazing.
Oh dear… as I have been saying, yes, for nigh on 30 years my poor self-esteem really needs some attention.
Time to pull my pants up then (pardon the pun) and get this done.
I will endeavour to work hard and give it all to Isvara until I truly see there is no work to be done.
I have been blessed to find you guys.