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Only One Story and We All Share It
Greg: Hi, Sundari.
My deepest condolences, I hope you have been recovering well from your surgery. From what I have read you are writing a new book about the gunas and traveling with James, so I imagine you are doing well. I am very much looking forward to reading it. I regret the amount of time it has taken me to write to you again, but there has been a lot of preoccupation with starting school and other environmental changes lately. Either way, I hope we can continue this very pleasant dialogue.
Sundari: Thanks, Greg. Good to hear from you again. We are both fine, just tired after India, lots on our plates, as always. We have been very busy travelling and teaching, but hope to have our guna books out in the next few months.
Greg: I appreciate your observation of the way I write as being rooted in rajas. This helps me keep myself in check and generally not fall under its spell, although the reason behind this impulse to write in a hurried manner or rather basically spit out my words as quickly as possible is beyond me.
Sundari: Rajas is like a wild horse; if you don’t tame it, it will run your life into the ground. Even in little things, like the way we speak or write, it extroverts the mind and keeps it focused on objects instead of on the self. It is the energy that brings matter into existence and is the most difficult of the three gunas to control because it is a mixture of sattva and tamas – spirit and matter. Therefore all jivas are a mixture of spirit and matter, which is why most jivas are perpetually confused. And no one makes themselves this way, please note. It comes with the territory of being human, which is why we need self-knowledge to remove ignorance.
Greg: I have gone through many different teachers’ satsangs and continuously read scripture, and assimilated the simple yet profound truth of what you have previously written to me. My knowledge of me as the whole and complete self that is reality (satyam) is hard and fast, as well as the understanding of the apparent power of distortion inherently existing within and because of me (mithya).
Sundari: Good for you for “doing the work”! The most important part of self-realization is applying the knowledge to the jiva, self-actualization. What use is it otherwise? Freedom is only free if we are free of the jiva and live free as the self. Self-realization is where the work begins. Nididhysana, the transformation of our mental and emotional patterns into devotion to the self, is ongoing, before and after self-realization. It never works to impose satya onto mithya.
Greg: Be that as it may, a peculiar thought comes to mind often as my binding vasanas are rendered non-binding and harmless. The thought is that there is a need to PROVE my self-knowledge to someone OTHER than me (mainly you). This does not bother me the slightest and I consider it a silly idea rather than a doubt. What do you think?
Sundari: It is a silly idea. It is only little ego that needs validation, not you. If you know the thought that “you” need to prove self-knowledge, it cannot be you, can it? Just keep seeing the thought for what it is – mithya, not-self. Even if there was a way to prove that you are “enlightened,” how would that help you, since you are the light? We cannot claim to have self-knowledge, because it is who we are. We can prepare the mind and develop the qualifications of self-knowledge to obtain in the mind through yoga, but nothing we do can remove ignorance. Only self-knowledge – read: Isvara – can do so.
Greg: When I read scripture or hear a different form of the teaching, I don’t feel as if it is something I haven’t already established the essence of, yet I still enjoy scripture. So I feel drawn to you and James as my teachers, as well as the Vedas themselves, but don’t necessarily have any doubts or questions about my nature or that of the apparent reality. Can you please elaborate on the relationship between a jivanmukta and his teacher, and also possibly tell me about your relationship with your teacher after you gained moksa?
Sundari: I didn’t “gain” moksa, because you cannot gain something you already have. The teachings of Vedanta were skilfully unfolded for me by Ram, my teacher – but it was not he that removed “my” ignorance. Self-knowledge does the work itself in a prepared and qualified mind. I applied the teachings to my life as a jiva, and Vedanta worked to remove my ignorance. The word “guru” literally means “the one who dispels the darkness,” and in doing so reveals that the self is the only guru because this is a non-dual reality. You do not need to lean on a genuine Vedanta teacher, and if you do we are not doing our job. We are just mouthpieces for Isvara, for the Truth. It is not our truth or based on our experience, although it confirms both. We do not want disciples or followers, because we do not teach the ego, we teach the self. So my relationship with my guru is my relationship with myself, since we are non-different. I honour and respect the physical form of my teacher as a symbol of me, the self, and always will.
Greg: I know that you and James have already had countless students and I’m sure you wish that you could come into contact with all of them too. Obviously, this is not possible, so I wonder how I reconcile this.
Sundari: What is there to reconcile? We are all the self, not so? Although it is beneficial to be in the presence of a qualified teacher, there is no real boundary between you and the guru, because there is only the self. Whether we are physically with you or connecting via technology, the knowledge is wielded in the same way by us because we are qualified teachers of Vedanta. As I said, we see you as the self, as non-different. Vedanta is a teaching tradition based on friendship and equality. We do not meet most of the people we teach, but that is unimportant. What matters is that Vedanta is way bigger than any teacher – it is there for everyone who is ready to hear it. James has made such a huge contribution to the lineage and has helped me to make my contribution, but as teachers we are just one tiny speck in the grand scheme of the lineage, which is why Ram says the prayer of thanks to the whole lineage before he teaches a class.
Greg: It is clear to me that there is no actual teacher or student.
Sundari: Yes, indeed, there is only the self, talking to itself!
Greg: I still must show my deepest gratitude and thanks for what you have done for me and so many others. Your compassion is infinite, and I truly love you and your husband as my own self. I aspire to learn to serve Isvara with at least a fraction of the potency and effectiveness that you do.
Sundari: Thank you, Greg, your appreciation and love is much appreciated, and likewise returned. We are all indeed very blessed to be freed by this incomparable teaching and to live as the self. To contribute in the service of Vedanta is the highest dharma there is.
Greg: I will be anticipating your next reply with great excitement, and I trust we can establish a friendship of some kind. Hopefully, in the near future I will have the opportunity to tell you a little more about myself, personally speaking, since I left that aspect out in my last message. I wish to learn more about you too.
Sundari: We already have a friendship in the self, that is a given. If it is important to you to tell your story, feel free to do so. But our life stories as jivas, while vaguely interesting, are subsumed into the knowledge because they are just that – stories. So be warned, we view all stories (including our own) as entertainment. ☺ The reason we can relate to everyone who writes to us with the ease and familiarity we do is because we really do know everyone intimately, even though we may not know all the personal details of their lives. It does not matter, because there is only one story and we all share it.
Much love to you too, Greg.