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That Flat Feeling
Rein: Hi, Danielji.
How’s that jiva coming along?
Dan: Ol’ Isvara continues to fruit some tough prasad for this jiva. The action figure’s pretty much in the horizontal asana for now. But thank God I’m not the limited equipment.
Rein: The other night, after reading something Ramji wrote in Experience and Knowledge, I realised that everything exists within consciousness (me). I realised that apparent objects of all kinds appear and disappear within this apparent space, and that they are not real, because they are impermanent.
Dan: Beautiful and totally accurate. All objects – which includes your action figure reading this – appear in/to you, permanent awareness.
Rein: Likewise, I understood that the sense of limitation is only an apparent thought in apparent time.
Rein: But it feels as though every morning the jiva awakens I am plugged into 3D+ daytime soapie drama, a daytime dream.
Dan: Yup, that’s beautiful-ugly Maya for you, just so damn (apparently) convincing! But that’s exactly it, it’s just a dream. And it’s consistently discriminating this dream as just an object appearing in you, awareness, that eventually allows the jiva to enjoy it whilst simultaneously being liberated from it.
Rein: Since realising this, the jiva has felt kind of “adrift.” It’s not a joyful feeling. It’s a sense of flatness – kind of, “Well, yeah, what now?” I recall feeling this way in my early twenties, when I realised that our personhood is just a construct and that we are not what we think we are. At the time I didn’t know what to do and so tried to pretend I didn’t know, and eventually found it easy to ignore. I had no teacher back then to guide me.
Dan: This flat feeling is totally normal as ignorance is being hacked away by knowledge. It’s a positive sign and will eventually pass as you continue to apply and settle into the knowledge.
Just accept it for now and use it in your inquiry: ‘’Who’s the knower of this dull feeling/feeler?’’ After asking this question, shift your attention back to yourself, back to the free awareness who happily watches this object called “Rein.”
Rein: I have tried to find references to this peculiar state of mind in the satsangs, and found one called Rishi from Nebraska in which Sundari (2012) wrote:
“The ego does not take too well to the depersonalisation that occurs when you realise that you are awareness. The objects flatten out, the person is known not to be real and the ego has nothing to attach to – the familiar ways of orientating to objects is gone and there is no karmic drag. So it feels like it is ‘floating,’ trying to drive a car in space where there is no traction. It is unsettling, but stick with what you know and give the ego time to adjust. It will because it has no choice.”
Dan: “Give the ego time to adjust.” That’s it. Fearlessly continue taking a stand in awareness as awareness and let Isvara worry about the adjusting.
Rein: It makes sense. I keep reminding myself that I am unmodulated, unconcerned, ordinary awareness. That is my experience too, along with the flatness. But what I am wondering is how to survive in the dream. How to motivate this jiva to fulfil its duty. I used to deliberately, consciously engage my ego to motivate myself, which mostly worked. I got through many years of doing things I didn’t want to do this way. But now I don’t really care about anything. I want to skip work and sit in the park. I want to look at the clouds, birds and trees.
Dan: The jiva’s got a little enlightenment sickness, “drunk on emptiness.” Again, it’s totally normal and it will pass, no biggie.
Just be practical and and apparently realistic.
“Apparently realistic” just means that, though you know very well the hollowness of this dream (mithya), you also acknowledge the fact that there’s still an apparent existence to attend and respond to. Though this dream is not real, it’s not nonexistent.
Get creative and direct your action figure in ways that make its dreamtime as snug as possible. What ya’ got to lose?
Use guna-knowledge to manipulate, craft and upgrade your jiva experience. Have fun with it.
Rein: Clearly, “the doer” is still alive and kicking, and showing its fangs.
Dan: As long as there’s an action figure in front of you, there will always be a doer. And this is totally fine. We’re not about denying or getting rid of the doer. We are just denying the idea that the doer is “me” and getting rid of the limiting notion that “I am bound by the doer and its apparent reality.”
Let the fangs come! It won’t be long till they’re blunted by self-knowledge and enjoy a sense of ease.
Rein: Do you have any advice, dear Daniel, about this situation?
Dan: Keep doing what you’re doing and take it easy. You’re right on track, Rein, and as the knowledge firms up so will everything else eventually settle. Whether you feel it or not, your inquiry is super solid and it’s only a matter of time when a few of these unsettling doubts too shall dissolve. Sword up, Reinji!
You’re welcome to write to me anytime.
Love abounds, dear Self.
Rein: You are indeed teaching those of us in your Facebook group about titiksha. I hope your body can absorb nutrients properly again so that you can begin treatment.
Once again, thank you for your email, which was very reassuring. “Drunk on emptiness” seems a really useful way to think about the feeling. I read a bit further in Ramji’s book Experience and Knowledge. I found that he does discuss this lack of “bells and whistles” feeling, and like yourself, and Sundari, the recommendation is to “let it be” and carry on. Time to get a better understanding of triguna yoga, as you suggest. What Ramji says about the “firefly” stage also applies, I think. My apparent perspective switches back and forth between jiva mode to jiva and everything else being objects within me (aware of my dream).
I have read about “enlightenment sickness” and my understanding is that it is a case of the jiva thinking it is enlightened (and just a little bit super special) rather than understanding that all is self anyway. Have I understood that correctly, Danielji?
I hope you are having a good sleep as I write this.
~ Warm regards, Rein
Dan: Om, Rein.
Exactly – the bells and whistles get turned down for a little bit. Totally common.
But as the mind continues to expose itself to the teachings, gradually and organically the quality of bells and whistles reappear as yourself, the most gorgeous, steady and fulfilled melody.
Sword up, “let it be and carry on” is exactly right.
Yes – the firefly stage also applies. Again, totally common. Same formula too: sword up, let it be and continue applying the knowledge non-effing-stop from all effing-angles.
“Enlightenment sickness” does tend to describe that case of the “I’m a special jiva” notion. But this does not apply to you. (Even though you’re one of the most special jivas I know!) I used the term more to describe that flat feeling of just wanting to kick up your feet because you ultimately know that the apparent world’s a total joke.
Apologies for causing confusion. The last thing I wanted to do was pop your ego! Or wait a minute… ☺
Rein, your inquiry is super solid and evidently shines bright. That firefly stage can be a pain in the apparent ass but your self-knowledge is firmer than you may think.
Rein: Hari Om, Danielji.
Pop away! It’s all hilarious. Even the apparent “flatness” is funny. You’re right!
I got it. Swing that sword of viveka at all “effing” angles until the knowledge becomes firm.
Thank you for pointing the way yet again. I won’t be fighting the nasty ibis in the park for sandwich scraps.
Good health to you, dear Daniel.
Dan: Thata girl! Here’s to the jnani disco!
~ Hari Om, dear Self