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Gail: Dear Danielji, I have just been reading about the curious case of Suzanne Segal, who suffered from some kind of sustained, dissociative/depersonalised state. She claimed to have lost any sense of personal self or “doer” for over a decade. This is described by her as a nightmarish experience, peppered with constant fear of annihilation and desperate attempts to fix herself.
I suspect some sense of separate personal self remained hardwired in the background. What else could account for her ongoing fear?
She did find some relief after ten years, but only after abandoning psychotherapists. She says she learned about the Buddhist concepts of annata and sunyata, which seemed to bring her comfort. She also liaised with various teachers of non-duality, including Jean Klein.
Curiously, prior to her reported loss of a separate self, she had been practising Transcendental Meditation [TM], but was living a secular life at the time of the event. It strikes me that she would not have learned about herself as limitless awareness from TM, and may have been waiting for an enlightenment experience.
She later died of a brain tumour.
Danielji, is our interpretation of the Emptiness or Void or Non-Duality conditioned by the depth of knowledge of ourselves as complete, limitless, unconcerned, ever-present, actionless, awareness? In other words, is Vedanta preparing our minds for this understanding?
I ask this because from time to time I feel the (apparent) Vastness (for want of a better way of putting it), but find myself snapping out of meditation as a result. Not very sattvic, I know! ☺ Where is my sword???
I am grateful for your help, dear teacher.
~ Warmth and kind regards, Action Figure Gail
Daniel: Hey, Gailji, like so many “teachers,” Suzanne Segal too had confused experiential states/epiphanies with enlightenment and fell into the samsaric grips of experiential hunting, a tiresome and cruel game. Chasing states leaves no room for rest (i.e. liberation), because like all other objects, a state is subject to change. Whether the “doerless state” or epiphany is attained for one month or 10 years, it’s as binding and fickle as any other mithya-based object.
Freedom is freedom from change. In other words, freedom is freedom from the dependency on objects (including states).
Fear can only manifest if duality (ignorance) is in the diver’s seat, so your suspicion is correct. Because Suzanne did not have a qualified teaching, ignorance remained slyly wired.
TM, Buddhism and other practices sure can offer some valid, early preparation – but because they’re all “state-based” practices and not knowledge-based, it’s highly unlikely that the person will attain true (i.e steady) freedom as a result.
Most teachers – and God bless them – do not have a qualified methodology to stand on, and so their students (including themselves) are at the mercy of their skewed ideas of what needs to be attained or what enlightenment is. Most teachings claim that enlightenment is a state, but nothing can be further from the truth.
How often do we hear that enlightenment is not a state but the firm knowledge “I am free FROM states altogether”? Not very often.
Understanding that “I am the changeless awareness in which all states (objects) come and go” is moksa. Remember, a state/object includes the action figure.
Correct – Vedanta simply prepares the mind so that this ridiculously obvious truth can be enjoyed.
Why? Because when self-knowledge is firmly wedged in the intellect you are no longer at the mercy of the action figure’s constantly changing states of mind, meaning your happiness does not depend on a state.
But here’s the paradoxically cool thing: even though enlightenment is not an experience/state – but knowledge-based – it simultaneously still offers an experiential-like sweety for the action figure in the tangible form of steady ease and rock-solid confidence.
Whether she be enjoying perfect meditation (sattva) or rajasically bouncing off the walls, you remain free from Gail’s ups and downs.
Are you the meditator snapping in and out of states? Or are you the unconcerned, ever-present, actionless awareness who knows the meditator named Gail?
I know that you’ll firmly snatch the latter identity because you’ve already got the sword, and believe it or not, its razor is mighty sharp. It just takes a few swings to get the momentum rocking on auto mode.
Gail: Thanks for your thoughts. I know a lot of excellent stuff has been written about the Void in the satsangs. I read them, but didn’t think they actually addressed this particular issue, which is why I asked you. I have had clients who are experiencing a profound sense of depersonalisation, not all of whom have been traumatised in their early life, and it is described as a distressing experience for the jiva. Furthermore, unbeknownst to the “personal development movement” there are increasing warnings about the routine practise of mindfulness in everyday life. It seems that mindfulness practice can, on rare occasions, spark a prolonged dissociative state much like Suzanne Segal’s!
I guess I was particularly interested in how this depersonalisation would be experienced if they were qualified and were prepared by the teachings of Vedanta.
Can you tell me about how your mind (in particular) came to “really, deeply, permanently know” that you are limitless, complete, unconcerned consciousness? It seems to me that I should really know this, since I have known that our sense of “person-ness” is a construct, and impermanent, for over thirty years. I know it. And it is my experience when I examine it, but this construct is so damned persistent that it dominates my everyday awareness.
Maybe I’m a bit too rajasic/tamasic. My work requires this jiva to think a lot. Perhaps I should take some time off – maybe attend some Vedanta workshops with Arsha Vidya – eat dhal, drink chai and sit by Mother Ganga. ☺
You must be looking forward to Ramji’s visit, although I guess your jiva is at a pretty low ebb since you’re not absorbing food too well.
I know you are unwell, so please just respond when you have the energy to do so.
Thank you, dear Daniel.
Daniel: A samsari does not know anything but their jiva-hood (story) – so of course it will be distressing for the unqualified mind.
There was even a book written by Adyashanti called The End of Your World, which vaguely explores this topic.
If the mind is qualified then I don’t think that depersonalization would be the case – or at least not the type of depersonalization that causes distress. “Positive depersonalization” is perhaps a better term.
Isvara had graced my jiva with a health condition (CFS [chronic fatigue syndrome]) at a tender age that had forced the mind to cripple inwards, not that this is a necessary qualification, but it sure worked to my advantage.
I’d attended to my qualifications and had a burning desire for liberation (mumukshutva). I was not interested in anything else but moksa. This offered the key ingredient: obsessive repetition.
Non-stop application of the teachings whilst taking a firm stand in awareness as awareness – no matter how fake it felt – eventually crumbled all false notions and rewired the mind to think accurately. Moksa is simply identifying with accurate thinking, thoughts that are in harmony with reality. “I am limitless, complete and unconcerned consciousness” is reality.
Yes – it helps for the mind to be predominantly sattvic when applying the teachings, so it’s a good idea to make this a core value of yours. But no need to be too hard on your jiva. Do what you can to cultivate sattva at the given time but also allow rajas/tamas to dominate if need be without letting it get to you.
The knowledge does the work, and eventually sattva will organically establish itself as the foreground – even if the jiva’s feeling rajas or tamas.
Yes, my jiva’s currently taking strain. I’ve had to move in with my mum to a little one-horse town, so may not be able to attend the seminar or spend time with Guruji this time around.
Let’s see what Isvara says around the corner.
Gail: “Positive depersonalisation” – makes sense.
Yours is a very interesting and helpful story for me to read. It teaches me to be patient with myself. It makes me feel better about being hyper-focused on liberation. In preferring my own company (so I have more room to swing the sword), I have disappointed a lot of people who liked to be entertained by the apparent me. This jiva has known for a very long time that there is nothing “out there” that will satisfy it.
Instead, I work three days a week, live simply and put my energy into self-inquiry.
So what you say is reassuring.
I will just keep at it. Knowing I am on the right path. Repetition is my practice.
It’s good that you can go home, to be cared for by your mum. It sounds like it is needed at the moment. Thank you for telling me a little about yourself.
Best wishes for your jiva’s health.
~ Warrior Gail
Daniel: To attain the fruits of self-knowledge does require that we be totally selfish. But it’s a beautiful kind of SELFish. ☺
There’s no greater service – to oneself and to others – than living from the platform of the self. This selfish is the ultimate share. We only have two things available: (1) our attention and (2) the directing of that attention.
As inquirers, we treasure our attention and have little time for distractions. Our attention is reserved for self-reflecting so we can enjoy the sweet ol’ nectar of our already self-satisfied and complete radiance. Yum.
We treasure peace of mind over anything because it’s peace of mind that accommodates the teachings, which in return supports our number one value: moksa.
When this desire (mumukshutva) is lit, it is fuelled by a devotion that knows no other (bhakti), its flame is unstoppable and will burn down all unnecessary noise around you. It’s Isvara just getting rid of all the BS in its way. ☺
As an inquirer, it’s totally natural to find yourself distancing yourself from distracting environments. Drama, small talk and all those other once-upon-a-time “entertaining” people/events become pretty boring. There’s no return once you’ve tasted the jnani disco.
Environments that are predominately rajas-fuelled will be draining for you. You can love someone but this does not necessary mean you’ve got to love being around them.
Simplifying your environment – from your inner mind to your external environment – is totally valid.
Quality trumps quantity. You’ll land up with fewer friends and fewer activities – but they will be objects that accommodate your values and stimulate your shining mind.
There’s no greater service than keeping the mind polished to reflect your true shine.
You’re 100% on track, Gailji, no need to doubt this.
And yup – repetition is key. Boom!
Gail: LOLs. Gettin’ into the groove of the jnani disco here…☺