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John: I do not care anymore for spiritual experiences…
Arlindo: Exactly! Who cares about spiritual experiences?! What counts is to know what you are and to live a life in harmony with self-knowledge and Isvara-knowledge (dharma). We don’t want to change from one prison to another. We want freedom from dependence on experiences, and that is only possible through knowledge. We are not against experience. We are against “dependence” on experience. Moreover, experience is value-neutral. You have enjoyed that experience, but if it had happened to a samsari, who knows what its reaction would have been? You need nothing! Because you are full, whole, complete and limitless, nothing can be added to you.
John: I see that trap already because the teaching makes the student aware of it and keeps reminding the student that the whole process is not about getting something, but rather removing ignorance in order to reveal what already is.
Arlindo: Absolutely, you are following through beautifully. Keep the knowledge alive in your mind, and it will neutralize all self-ignorance-driven vasanas and thoughts before they manifest as actions. I sometimes like to say that Vedanta methodology is an indirect means of knowledge. Why? Because you cannot know the knower directly. Firstly because you are already the knower and you know that “you are – you exist.”
Secondly, because “you” as pure awareness are not an object of knowledge or experience. Forget about knowing yourself or experiencing yourself as an epiphany (an object of experience). You are the self! You see, one can ONLY get this knowledge indirectly by removing/neutralizing self-ignorance – only then is self-knowledge direct knowledge. The self ever shines as one’s ever-present light of consciousness. It does not need to be proven or produced by any effort or action. Only understanding will “crack the code” and reveal the self as oneself.
John: The reason I did not “keep” the vision of non-dual wisdom is because my mind is not prepared. But I have had an important introduction from James’ work. I was looking at Swami Tadatmananda’s Gita course on the Arsha Bodha website, and he took his students through the course in four years, “savoring” each verse over a period of time to allow assimilation and to establish the practices firmly.
Arlindo: Yes, I get that, but don’t underestimate your self-knowledge. Maybe you still expect self-knowledge to be a spectacular event; if that is so you will need some more time until that fantasy dries up. Or maybe it will take a little time until the knowledge neutralizes some hardwired vasanas.
We at ShiningWorld teach traditional Vedanta in a non-traditional way. We throw the whole package of knowledge at whoever is inclined to catch it. At James Swartz’ website you will find lots of testimonials – hundreds of people did catch the knowledge by association with James’ teaching style, usually the ones with their qualifications somewhat in place. And the most important qualification is a burning desire for liberation. This revelation usually occurs only to those willing to give everything for it – to risk everything to know the truth.
John: Is it possible to get firm self-knowledge from just studying one text like the Gita over a long period of time? The Vedanta Full Set James offers has a variety of different teachings, and I assume that if I took one hour per week over that I may not even finish the course.
Arlindo: Why one hour per week? If you are really desperate to firmly hold the knowledge of your own self, and live a free and happy life, you will find time to go through all of those videos in a few weeks. You will cut your sleeping hours if needed, etc.
My suggestion is that you do as you feel inclined. All texts are in fact the same teachings presented in different ways. Just to give you an idea, if I am not mistaken the guru of my guru, Swami Chimayananda, mostly taught the Bhagavad Gita, and the same I believe to be the case with other mahatmas of our time. The Gita is a complete scripture.