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Samadhana and Understanding My Freedom from Mithya
J: Hi, Daniel.
I have been reading Value of Values by Swami Dayananda and have a question about samadhana.
To say “I am alert and conscious of what my mind is doing” requires action; since I, myself, awareness, am not a doer, it cannot be awareness [that is acting, i.e. observing]. So who is observing?
I ask, is it the case that as our mind becomes increasingly sattvic and we become ever more firm in self-knowledge the mind offers itself to awareness like a hand inside a glove? And if this glove of awareness does not fit, the mind knows that what it is thinking is incorrect? So the mind is self-regulating based on dharmic values.
Daniel: Hey, J.
I’m not entirely sure of your question(s), but I’ll say a few things which hopefully clarify your doubts.
Identifying as John is automatic. Identifying as awareness is a deliberate practice, samadhana. This deep contemplation is the essence of Vedanta, until continuous contemplation on the meaning of “I am awareness” destroys the sense of John-ness.
You are always witnessing, knowing the thoughts and feelings appearing in you. If witnessing “happens,” it means you are identified with the subtle body. When sattva is present, you witness and seem to be aware, and when rajas and tamas are present, you don’t, because your mind is too distracted or dull.
You are not the subtle body. You are awareness. Awareness is sakshi, the non-experiencing witness.
But here comes the finer investigation: though you’re not the subtle body (the doer), the subtle body is you (awareness). This is a non-dual reality, remember – meaning there’s nothing but you, awareness.
Let’s further dive into this investigation. Here’s something that Ramji once wrote.
The word “witness” is not meant to be taken literally. It is only meaningful with reference to objects, in common parlance, but in this case it means self-knowing, self-revealing, self-aware in the absence of objects. It only becomes a witness when maya is operating. Otherwise it witnesses itself. Furthermore, when objects are present, it does not cease to be self-witnessing. It just accommodates objects without any change.
There is only awareness, so there is no objectification. We account for objects with maya, which makes it seem as if there are objects. But the objects are just awareness appearing to be something it isn’t.
There is not a true non-experiencing “witness,” as explained above, because there is only awareness. Non-duality means no witness and no witnessed. But the reflected awareness is an “experiencing” witness – meaning the subtle body, which is pure sattva – which makes it possible for non-experiencing awareness to experience itself in the form of objects. The teaching about the two witnesses is only meant to remove the belief that you, awareness, are an experiencing entity. This belief is ignorance.
J: Hi, Daniel.
Many thanks for this. My current default position is taking a stand in awareness; well, at least to the best of my current ability. Then, I suppose, when I contemplate I am doing my best to witness as you set out above, which appears like I am actually carrying out samadhana. So at least I am trying to have some mastery over my mind.
The more I inquire the more I find how critical it is to realise and not deny the fact that we live in the apparent duality, because even though actual reality is non-dual, everything the mind-body complex undertakes is rooted in apparent duality.
Without duality, I would not have negative to define the positives in my practice and my negative actions to define what positive action I should be doing.
Once again, kind regards.
Daniel: Exactly, J, not confusing mithya (apparent reality) with satya (reality) is key. Good for you.
Spot on, everything the mind-body complex undertakes is rooted in the apparent reality. In other words, J has no choice but to partake in the apparent reality. And this is why we repeatedly say that, though moksa is for the jiva, it’s actually more accurate to say that moksa is freedom FROM the jiva. In other words, freedom is not found in the apparent reality but is attained in the understanding that “I, awareness, am free from the apparent reality altogether.”
Taking a stand in awareness as awareness and firmly claiming this to be your primary identity, whilst acknowledging that the apparent reality arises in your limitless light, is the beginning and end of it.
Once the mind has a firm conviction of its true nature, then the action figure called “John” will naturally feel at ease as he goes about his apparent business.
J: Many thanks.