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The Real Makes the Unreal Real
Carol: Dearest Sundari, as I write, I’m in tears. I’m finishing up my second watch of the Mandukya and feel that my mind has been completely blown.
As soon as I returned from Trout Lake, I delved into the Mandukya, as this has always been my second love after Panchadasi. Something happened to me in Trout Lake. I’ve become obsessed with listening to James and reading all he’s written. Every free moment I get, I play a video or read scripture. It’s actually painful to have to engage in anything else. This is all I want to do.
Sundari: The Mandukya is a very advanced teaching, yet it does not essentially say anything new. It simply negates the reality of the Creation, but with a slightly different approach.
Carol: I have some questions though.
1. Since there is non-duality, everything in mithya is really the Self, appearances to the contrary nothwithstanding, therefore, is everything really real?
Sundari: Yes, this is non-dual vision. When Self-knowledge obtains permanently, satya and mithya fall away because there is only you, pure awareness. The word “witness” is applicable when there is an object to be seen, i.e. known. Then it is duality. The truth lies beyond both. Talking of the “witness” should not lead to the idea that there is a witness and something else apart from that which is witnessing. The “witness” really means the light that illumines the seer, the seen and the process of seeing. Before, during and after the triads of seer, seen and seeing, the illumination exists. It alone exists, always, because it is all that is.
It would be more appropriate to say that the Self, seeing only itself, is that which knows the seer with reference to the seen only when Maya is operating. The Self-aware Self appears as a seer; but it never actually is a seer (or knower), unless seeing/knowing refers to its own Self. When ignorance is operating, the jiva thinks that the seer is different from the seen, that the subject and object are different. The seer, Isvara, is also known as saguna brahman (with qualities) because it operates Maya (the gunas) but they never delude Isvara, i.e. it is pure sattva. When tamas and rajas arise in saguna brahman, then awareness apparently becomes a jiva and is deluded by Maya.
Carol: 2. “Maya is not the same as the Self, but is not different from the Self.” Does this mean that it is not in the same dimension as the Self, but because there is only non-duality, that its substrate is the Self?
Sundari: Not so much the same “dimension,” but not in the same order of reality. The Self is that which is always present and unchanging (satya/non-duality), and Maya is that which is not always present and always changing (mithya/duality). These are the only two orders of reality, and they do not contradict each other. But, as you should know, duality is a superimposition onto non-duality. It does not actually exist, although it appears to, just like a mirage on the desert floor appears real, but isn’t. Therefore, if there is only non-duality, that must be the substrate for everything, n’est-ce pas?
Carol: 3. Given that this is the ultimate teaching of Vedanta, why would one study any other aspects that seem to describe mithya?
Sundari: The only way to negate mithya is by understanding what it is, which is why the Neos are so stuck. They say it does not exist, so why bother with it? But there is no way to jump over mithya to the Self without first understanding Isvara’s psychological order (the gunas) and Isvara’s shared identity with the jiva, which is why Self-inquiry is the hardest thing anyone will ever do.
Carol: Carol-jiva is in such a weird state since listening to Mandukya. I find that I really have nothing to say to anyone and I get irritated when they engage in conversation about the mundane, apparent realities about life. Then I remind myself that they don’t study Vedanta, and I was the same way.
Sundari: Welcome to the existential boredom of being the Self! We say duality is cruel when you don’t know what it is, but cool when you do! We sometimes joke about this. Why not enjoy duality for what it is? Much more fun for the jiva, providing you don’t get sucked back into it.
Carol: I’m also so dispassionate. I felt so disconnected from the what’s going on in the world. I know I must keep functioning in this apparent reality and try to enjoy as much as I can.
Sundari: I relate to that, but remember, if it is all you, why not love it all? The pettiness and desolation of the mithya world is tiring, but true freedom comes from seeing Isvara in the mundane, the sublime and the profane. Transitioning from satya to mithya should be no issue for the Self; it should be seamless.
Carol: I just really want to teach Vedanta at some point. I’m doing it in little bits and pieces with my students.
Sundari: Sounds like you are already teaching Vedanta. Use your position to seed little Vedanta bites where and when you can. Everyone knows the Self, so a little goes a long way. You never know, you could change a young person’s life. So much craziness out there, you must see it all, so be the difference.
Carol: Dearest Sundari! Thank you for the clarification. Your answers are always so clear.
Sundari: You are most welcome, Carol.
~ Much love, Sundari