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Experiential Spiritual One-upmanship
Seeker: Dear James, I was reading Bernadette Roberts’ What Is Self?: A Study of the Spiritual Journey in Terms of Consciousness yesterday. She says exactly what you have been saying as far as experiences and samadhis are concerned.
However, she goes ahead and says that ego death is followed by the death of the phenomenal self (the ceasing of the subject-object division). She of course says that it is not something you can bring about, because there is no ego, or doer, remaining in the first place, but it does happen in people who live fearlessly as self. She does not use the term “causal body,” but I inferred that she uses the term “reflexive consciousness” as causal body because her descriptions about it are exactly the same. She is talking about the possibility of extinction of the causal body while living.
James: What use is to extinguish it? What is to be gained? If it exists it is just awareness. And if it is awareness it cannot be extinguished. When you know who you are it keeps doing its job but it has no affect on you. In this way you get to have it and be free of it at the same time. Secondly, who is going to extinguish it? Thirdly, it belongs to Isarva and is eternal, so it is not going to be extinguished until the end of time. You are awareness with or without the causal body, so what is the big deal about its presence or absence? It sounds to me suspiciously like someone who is playing the game of experiential spiritual one-upmanship. When does it end?
Let’s extinguish extinguishment because it is a dumb idea. You can’t extinguish anything because what is real cannot be extinguished and what is not real does not actually exist. How can you extinguish a dream? It has no power when it appears – unless you do not know it is a dream. So any extinguishment is only an extinguishment of ignorance.
I know who I am and I live fearlessly as the self, but I do not want my causal body to go away. I love it. Do I have to ask Isvara not to extinguish it? If she means that the vasanas are rendered non-binding it does not mean that the causal body is extinguished. When the causal body is gone there is no world whatsoever. What keeps her here once the causal body is extinguished if not the causal body?
Is she self-created? “People who live fearlessly as the self”? If the causal body is gone, where is the person to live fearlessly as the self? She already “lives without breathing,” to quote Shankara. She doesn’t know what she is talking about or if she does she needs to give us a lot more than her opinion. This is all smriti, knowledge derived from a personal interepretation of her experience. How can it be verified? It sounds to me like she is holding herself up as some sort of special enlightened being who has had something happen to her that she thinks sets her apart.
I know the woman is respected in the spiritual world, but this is a stupid, dangerous statement that just creates more seeking in people.
~ Love, James