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Upadhis: Why Everyone Is Not Enlightened
Helga: I have one quick question for you. I hope you can help me with this one:
There is only one awareness that enlivens every sentient being. Why is not every sentient being “enlightened” when one being has found the truth? Because if everything is awareness, everything should have the same “spiritual” status.
Sundari: Everything does have the “same spiritual status” because there is only the consciousness – which is beyond all status or states. And the self is not enlightened, because it IS the light!
Although there is only one eternal jiva, maya makes it look like there are many individual jivas by giving sentient beings a seemingly unique upadhi, their vasana load, the subtle body, or personal ignorance (avidya). An upadhi is a limiting adjunct – that which makes something appear to be something other than it is. For instance, if I have a red rose behind a clear crystal, the clear crystal will appear to be red even though it is clear. Put it this way: the upadhi for the self/awareness (or what we can also call perception) is the person – the individual, or self under the spell of ignorance, and it makes the self look like it is a jiva. However, what belongs to the person does not belong to the self, because the person and awareness do not exist in the same order of reality.
The self, the subject, is what is real, and the object, the person, is what is apparently real. The definition of real is “that which is always present and never changes,” which only applies to the self. The perceiver only looks different in accordance with the upadhi in association to it; the difference belongs to the upadhi and not to the subject (the self). It is just an appearance in awareness, causing a sense of difference where there is no difference. Maya is a very clever trickster – ignorance is very intelligent. Maya is Isvara’s (apparent) upadhi.
The confusion is in what belongs to the person and what belongs to the self: you think that what applies to the person also applies to the self. As stated above, the person and the self are not the same because of the different upadhis. What belongs to the person cannot belong to the self, because the self is a partless whole. So the self cannot be a jiva, but the jiva is the self. Understand? Like the wave is the ocean but the ocean is not the wave, the pot is clay but the clay is not the pot, the ring is gold but gold is not a ring. These are only apparent contradictions which resolve when the logic of Vedanta is applied to them.
Remember that the self is not an experiencing entity. It is the witness (sakshi) of the experiencing entity. The experience of the “experiencing you” is limited by the upadhi though which you experience, i.e. Helga. Therefore you only know the objects you have contact with. You cannot know what another mind is thinking or feeling, except by inference. As long as you are identified with Helga, you are limited and bound by “her” ignorance. You are the only one with a “Helga” upadhi. I have a “Sundari” upadhi, so I can’t know what you are experiencing, but because my personal ignorance has been removed by self-knowledge, I do know we are non-different because we are non-different as the self, which is all there is.
Imposing satya onto mithya never works. The two orders of reality, the real and the apparently real, duality and non-duality, are not in opposition to each other and do not contradict each other, even though duality is not real and is superimposed onto non-duality. As long as the so-called individual mind is under the spell of ignorance, it thinks it is separate and has to chase objects to complete itself. When ignorance is removed, although you are still limited by your upadhi and cannot know anyone else’s thoughts, because moksa does not confer omniscience (which only belongs to Isvara), you no longer see others as separate from you, because you know that the essence of all life is the self, you. The wave dissolves into the ocean, the pot into the clay, the ring into the gold. And you no longer chase objects to complete you.
Helga: I, awareness, have no parts, so why does it seem that one has all the knowledge and apparent others are stuck in ignorance when awareness is a partless whole? If one has reached the goal, everybody must have reached it simultaneously.
Sundari: Same answer as above. Who is “everybody”? It depends from which perspective you are asking this question, not so? For the self, there is only you. For the jiva under the spell of ignorance (maya), the hypnosis of duality makes it seem like there are many. For the maya illusion to continue, each vasana load, or individual jiva, can only be released from ignorance of their true identity as the self through self-knowledge. That is the only way this apparent reality game can continue. The point is – IT IS A GAME. It is not real.
~ Love, Sundari