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The Path of the Inglorious
Andy: Okay, now the work begins, doesn’t it?
One of the phrases recurrent in the satsangs is “eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”
Sundari: It’s a good thing this idea has taken root because ignorance is extremely tenacious and hardwired, not to mention wily. It has been there since the beginning of time and it’s not going without a fight. The most interesting thing about ignorance is that it is the only object that does not die a natural death. All other objects are born and die, but not ignorance. It is unborn and sticks like you know what. It does die for the individual, but it can only be “killed” by self-knowledge. And as macrocosmic ignorance, or maya, it is eternal because it exists as a power in awareness. It is beautiful and highly intelligent.
Nothing the jiva does can remove it, no action taken by a limited entity can result in a limitless result. However, self-inquiry is also an action, but the fruit of self-inquiry is self-knowledge, which is limitless. Though you have correctly understood that the jiva is the self under the spell of ignorance, the kicker is that neither Isvara (the total mind, or Field of Existence – awareness associated with maya) or pure awareness has a problem with ignorance. It never hides or covers the self, nothing does. The self sees only itself. That is why we stress the point that moksa is only for the jiva who lives in the apparent reality (and never leaves it, seeing as it is in an eternal principle and not a specific person). The trick is to know what this means for the individual jiva. What use is self-knowledge if it is purely cognitive? The ego can get off on it for a while, thinking it makes it superior, but that pales pretty quickly because suffering is still there.
Andy: A point made especially valid, as the first thought upon reading the return email you sent was along the lines of...
“Woohoo,” they said, “I understand, I got it right, I’m so special.”
There had to be a little bit of inquiry at that point… cough.
Sundari: Yep. I knew the ego would love to hear that it is smart. But press “pause” right there. Where do you think the smarts come from? Sadly, we can claim absolutely ZERO, good and bad, speaking as jivas. All the goodies (and baddies) belong to Isvara and not the jiva. Rats. The fine print on the enlightenment certificate says this: “RED ALERT! If you are looking for glory, do not proceed! Moksa is the path of the inglorious – of the prosaic! Instead of making you special, it will strip you naked and make you the most ORDINARY thing there is. Beware! Because – there is only you. Sorry, egoji.”
Andy: But then, fortunately, eternal vigilance is kind of just another way of saying timeless awareness… and luckily, I am That.
Sundari: True. As I said above, the trick is to know what that means for the jiva – and for self-knowledge to translate into its life as the automatic default – moment to moment, 24/7. Freedom means permanent freedom from fear and desire – from wanting, needing.
Andy: If the understanding stays, it stays.
If it gets swamped by avidya, it gets swamped.
No biggie anymore, is it really?
Sundari: Well, it’s not quite that simple or so quick, Andy. It is a biggie because if the knowledge gets swamped by ignorance, kiss your peace of mind goodbye. All binding vasanas (mental projections or disturbing emotional patterns) that bind the mind to self-insulting actions of whatever kind, causing suffering, must be removed or dissolved in the knowledge for self-knowledge to stick permanently. Thoughts in and of themselves need not necessarily obstruct the jiva’s appreciation of itself as awareness. HOWEVER – (and it’s a BIG however) – because jivas are rajasic and tamasic, they tend to be obsessive (ring a bell?) and very easily get fixated on thoughts and feelings that compromise their ability to discriminate.
With self-realisation, before self-knowledge has actualised, it is normal for the knowledge to flicker on and off. We call this the “firefly” stage. Taking a stand in awareness as awareness is the hardest thing the mind has ever done, if it is doing it properly, with the karma yoga attitude. Ignorance is powerful, but not more so than self-knowledge. Therefore the qualifications are vitally important. One is dead in the water without them, UP the creek without a paddle, mate.
Keep at it, Andy, you certainly do have the smarts and, it seems, the burning desire. We enjoy your humour too! We call humour the fourth guna because when you see how silly it all is from the self’s point of view, it truly is funny. But it’s not really funny when the mind is still bound to objects. The downside of humour is that it can be used as a front for a very hurt and limited ego. I have a brother like that. He laughs at everything and hides all the pain behind it.
I have attached the nine steps or stages to self-inquiry that I compiled. I think I already sent them, but can’t remember. We have so many people to reply to, it’s not always possible to keep up. I also attached a satsang James wrote called How to Resolve a Problem. It’s a step-by-step process on how to deal with difficult thought/emotional patterns.
Andy: A huge thanks to/from Isvara for doing it as you guys.
You two are truly bright reflections.
PS: Can you ask James what the Sanskrit words for “needy wanker” are, just in case I’m ever led to teach?
Sundari: James says, “How about Swami Needastrokeananda?”