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Bob-hood Does Not Require Any Practice
Bob: Hi, Arlindo. Thank you for that beautifully clear answer to our post for this chapter. To tease things out just a little more, you write that direct self-knowledge only occurs when the intellect relaxes after realizing the futility of getting, acquiring or knowing the self; in a moment due to a predominance of pure sattva, the intellect will shift its standpoint to the self, or pure awareness, without the need to validate itself through a discrete experience. This is a perfect description of what I have at one time “experienced” or known.
You go on to further elucidate that this self-knowledge is not intellectual knowledge, because intellectual knowledge depends on both the intellect and an object of knowledge. And self-knowledge does not depend on any object of knowledge, i.e. a discrete experience. My question is whether one can accurately state that the memory of the adoption of the standpoint of awareness by the intellect is a form of indirect knowledge. Thanks again.
Arlindo: Hi, Bob. It may be indirect or direct knowledge. If the memory of the adoption of the standpoint is dualistic, it means the jiva took a stand in awareness, but not as awareness (indirect self-knowledge). Direct self-knowledge is a shift in identity from duality to non-duality – from jivatman to paramatman. Before one’s understanding is crystal-clear, the intellect insists on attempting to connect or contact the self as something other than itself, and once that misleading extroversion is identified (a moment of intense sattva influence) the knowledge of the self is no longer indirect but direct. That is the meaning of taking a stand in awareness as awareness.
The thing with indirect self-knowledge is that it always depends on the object of knowledge, and since knowledge is of no use if it cannot be retained, it will also depend on the memory of the acquired knowledge. We are dealing with several factors here: the knower, the object of knowledge, the content of knowledge and the memory of the knowledge so that we can keep the “contact” with the self. Most spiritual teachers operate from this model. They talk about the self from the recollections of memories of their previous experiences of contact with “the self.”
But in the case of direct self-knowledge memory is not required, because it is not an event or a happening depending on multiple factors. For example, it takes some time and some repetition, but one day in one’s early childhood one comes to know that “I am a person and not a dog.” You get the knowledge that the physical body of the boy you find every day in front of you is called Bob. Once you know that this Bob is “me” and me is referred to as “Bob” you will never forget it, provided of course that your mind does not get disturbed.
By analogy, we can call the knowledge “I am Bob” direct knowledge because it is Bob existing and knowing Bob. Bob does not need another Bob in order to experience itself, it does not need any memory, repeated experience of Bob-hood, testimonials, in order to validate its own existence. Bob’s existence validates itself in the same way the sun illumines itself with no need of an external source of illumination. Bob is self-shining, self-evident and requires no external proof of its conscious existence. Bob is and he knows that he is without any practice or sadhana in order to maintain that knowledge.
Bob: Okay, thank you. What more may be said about the conditions necessary for the intellect to realize it’s futile to try to know the self. Can we say that that recognition is what becomes “hard and fast” so that direct self-knowledge is for practical purposes always available and often dropped into, so to speak?
Arlindo: I’m not sure I understood your entire question, Bob. The intellect needs to develop maturity – certain qualities – before it can understand that there is no point in chasing the self as an object of knowledge and experience. The intellect will never know the self, but it has the potential to purify itself and inquire to know that its essential nature is identical with paramatman’s nature. As self-knowledge is gradually made firm by constant application of knowledge, whatever remains of self-ignorance will dissipate and self-knowledge will be hard and fast, or actualized. This condition is referred to as moksa, or liberation from maya/ignorance.