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Benjamin: Hi, Ramji.
You know, many a times I wanted to quit... throw in the towel on Vedanta and go back to being samsari. Thoughts that it would be much easier to do than this constant study, vigilance, watching/judging myself, etc. Thank Isvara that it was decided that I, Benjamin, would continue through this journey. Thank Isvara for the fortitude I have been endowed with to continue this pursuit. Of course it was the personality given to me by Isvara that made me even consider that I should quit… ha… everything Isvara. Damn, Isvara ruler… love Isvara.
Recently I just decided to let Benjamin party a bit. You see, since I started this journey the ego has been constrictive and demanding... “don’t do this,” “don’t want that,” “that’s a vasana, deny it and take control,” etc., etc.… always watching every move I do and trying to make sure it was in line with what I thought was how I should be and what scripture wanted a seeker to do.
So for one week I let Benjamin go free… not too much happened, but I watched movies, ate some junk food, drank beer… not anything extreme. But it was all different this time… I was not hard on myself, I saw Isvara operating. I am in the background unaffected the whole time. Had I wanted to stop any of it, it would have been able to with no problem and no disappointment. During that time, I felt free… free of Benjamin… I see Benjamin as Isvara.
I am not affected by anything, because there is nothing but me. This apparent jiva that appears in front of me (for lack of a better description) is the doer/enjoyer/seeker/discriminator/sufferer, etc. Everything is me, so I am fine regardless of the vasanas, binding or not. Even suffering cannot hurt me, only the apparent jiva. I am always free, was always free, just was not aware/ignorant. I have come to realize that the sadhanas are only for the jiva, to quiet the mind so that Vedanta can do its work OR to give the jiva a more “enjoyable” life. It really does not matter if your mind is agitated if you know you are not the mind. When you recognize who you really are, it actually does not matter what kind of the life “your” jiva has. For those that want a more “enjoyable” life for the jiva, then yes, sadhanas and following dharma is the way to go. But the one who wants the more enjoyable life is the jiva, which is not real, and if you know this, you can be free from everything… total freedom. Thought, feeling, emotion, idea, concept, knowledge, Vedanta, etc. are not real. It really does not matter about following dharma if you (the jiva) have the knowledge of who you are and are prepared for the karma that would follow. I’m not saying that breaking dharma is right, but it’s not wrong either, as it is all Isvara. Of course our jiva operates/dwells in this apparent reality, so why not follow the “rules” to have an enjoyable life? Why not do the sadhanas to keep the mind in check to reduce agitation or “negative” experiences? My point is, moksa is freedom from suffering, yet when you know who you are, suffering can remain AND you can be free from it. I guess that means it is no longer defined as suffering and just an negative emotional experience… Isvara’s psychological order of things operating.
A big obstacle I had was waiting for non-dual vision (experience of loving everyone), but instead I have this non dual knowledge. Example: I see someone carrying on with a behaviour that triggers a vasana of dislike towards the person. I don’t see them as me and there is a thought of dislike for them, BUT at the same time I see the dislike as a vasana-driven thought the ego is projecting, and know I am free from the ego, vasana and understand that the person the is just me anyways. My experience doesn’t change but my knowledge of what I am experiencing has changed. Now when I look at gross objects like people, places and objects in the waking world, I still see the separateness, they are there and I am over here… duality, but I “know” that they are actually me and they are not actually over there, they are in me… the knowledge is running in the background almost all the time irrelevant to the experience of duality or not.
I never not knew myself. I have never been ignorant of myself, it is the jiva that has the apparent/seeming ignorance that needs to be removed, but I have been here and fine the whole time. I just needed to understand the jiva. I see the jiva for what it is now, an object to me, under the control of Isvara. I know I am the self, which is not a knower, as it has no qualities. I am a knower as the reflection of myself through the subtle body known as a jiva. This jiva that I currently am experiencing is as far as I can go experientially other than through samadhis, but my understanding can go further then that of the “being just a jiva.”
I was working hard, studying Vedanta for hours a day, at work, in the car, in the mornings, evenings, any chance I had. The real work/improvement came when I applied the knowledge to the waking world (combined with sadhanas to quiet the mind) instead of having my face buried in a book or Vedanta video. Basically, I was holding myself in the sravana and manana stage of my progress, and only after nididhyasana (applying what I know) did the real benefit for the jiva show. Jackpot!!!
It is so freeing to be dis-identify from the ego… the ego… man, what a pain to separate from, as it is so sly. Now, anything it says or wants is what “it” wants, is not me from the jiva’s point of view. The knowledge is always there to shoot down the ego. I can let it play out or not... it doesn’t matter anymore!
Benjamin wanted to teach, thrives when teaching, but the desire has diminished due to the assimilation of the knowledge. I also spend less time reading Vedanta because the knowledge contained within it is now contained in the mind. It’s been much more enjoyable just doing my dharma/karma and responding to the pluralistic world than chasing, desiring or starting something to “fulfil” me. It is like there is nothing to do now. Shall I pursue teaching and give Canada a dose of Vedanta? Shall I just wait for Isvara to see what’s next? Honestly, it’s irrelevant.
Having divulged the above, oh wise and mighty grey-bearded one, do you recommend any course of action or next steps?
James: Yes, you were too conscientious, trying to do everything right. It’s a common trap. Swamiji used to say hasten slowly, throw the dog – the body – a bone now and then. Sin intelligently. It’s to your credit that you worked your way out of that trap, living an idea. You have it absolutely right now! You hit the jackpot. Congratulations! This letter is a poster child for wisdom, the clear discrimination that is moksa. The world and the jiva are not real. They are not a threat. Enjoy them. They are you.
I encourage you to do a commentary on the Dakshinamoorthy Stotram. I attached a copy of Swami Paramarthananda’s talks to guide you.
~ Love, Ramji