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Out of the Jiva Level
Seeker: Hi, Christian, I came across your YouTube video with Ramji yesterday (the “keys on the counter” one) and, wow, it was awesome. It felt like the jigsaw puzzle of the science of Vedanta fit together and I finally got what Ramji was teaching… gave me a “yeah, it’s true and I feel it to be true” feeling.
I was hoping I could ask you one quick question that is bugging me… I’m going to get your book and go through it, but this is annoying me.
Is the intellectual understanding of how dharma/karma/svadharma interact… and really feeling it to be true in a way that makes me see this world as a big set-up (and believe it to be so), what they mean by gaining self-knowledge… i.e. I suddenly have a firm “yes, this is true!” but no experience of the world collapsing… or identity dissolving, etc. (maybe this is when you get out of the jiva level?).
So the question is… Is the knowledge and the firmness of believing it the key thing to get or is it the feeling of bliss all the time the real thing? I’m trying to figure out if my mind is playing tricks on me. I’d love it if you could help with this.
I appreciate it.
Christian: You don’t “get out” of the jiva level. In this waking state, you will continue to experience the perspective of the jiva, the body, the life, the crazy good times and the horrible bad times. You will never have a feeling of bliss all the time; it’s impossible, look at your own experience. It always changes.
As a yogi I spent decades trying to “get out of the jiva level” and trying to still my mind so I could have constant bliss. It’s ridiculous thinking because it goes against every experience we’ve had.
Therefore indeed it is the knowledge that frees you. Gaining self-knowledge means that your mind, the mind of the jiva, fully understands that it is known by you – and that you are not the body, not the mind, not your feelings – you are this simple, obvious awareness that in your experience is aware right now.
If you look at the fact that you are aware right now and then study this awareness you’ll see it doesn’t change. And then you’ll see that you’ve never had any experience without this awareness, because the awareness is what actually allows you to know thoughts from your mind, know feelings from the body, know objects outside your body.
Vedanta is the methodical process of logically showing your mind, over and over, that you are the never-changing knower of it – and all other objects. Once your mind is educated enough, it will assimilate the knowledge. Only then do you understand this seeming contradiction. Yes, you still perceive from the jiva’s perspective, exactly as you always had before, and the world’s good times and bad times continue to happen, and the person you seem to be still has emotions related to all circumstances – but you know that you are this awareness, that which never changes, witnessing always-changing and never-permanent objects appearing in “front” of you.
It’s the knowledge. The experiences don’t change. The knowledge gives you the true perspective, which is very relaxing because you know yourself to be that which always shines, has never been born and never dies. You experience life as if you’re the person, but the knowledge gives you the passport to freedom in spite of those experiences.
If you and I travel to Mumbai together, even if we spend all of our time together doing the same thing – we will have a very different experience on one level. You know you are Indian, and you know that all Indians know that you’re Indian. That knowledge is ridiculously obvious to you, yet it drastically changes your experience. You’re more relaxed than I would be – not because our experiences are different, but because of one piece of knowledge that you have very firmly assimilated.
Keep listening to James. He explains everything in perfect detail.
When you’re looking for an experiential “state of mind” – who is the knower of the angry state, the happy state, the spiritual state?
You are this awareness. Study it. You’ll see, it never changes, just like you!
~ Cheers, Christian