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Is Relationship Knowledge Important for Self-Inquiry?
Sundari: Hi, Bob, thanks for your question, it’s a good one.
Bob: Can you elucidate how the knowledge of relationships is related to Self-knowledge? For example, it is obvious to me that knowledge of relationships will result in a far less agitated mind for those in relationships, which would support a process for Self-knowledge. It is not clear what other connections there might be.
Sundari: Even if you are in a reasonably happy relationship or you have no interest in a love relationship and are not looking for one, you cannot escape relating. Life is a series of relationships, long or short, and so much of our happiness depends on how we relate to the people in our lives. No one is an island, as the saying goes. James’ book The Yoga of Love is about this too, why bhakti is so important because everyone who appears in front of you is the Self, is your environment, the Field of Existence.
The relationship book is an investigation into why romantic, sexual relationships are so problematical for most people. But, more importantly, the book makes clear that in truth all relationships are love relationships, even if the person in front of us is a stranger we are indifferent to, a colleague/friend we like or don’t like, a family member we love or hate. Indifference and hate are negative forms of love. I unfold the reason for this in the underlying theme running through the book, discriminating duality from non-duality, understanding why they are different and why they are the same. Therefore whoever crosses my path is me; there are no “strangers.” Thus I am in an intimate relationship with everyone, whether it is for five minutes, a week or a lifetime. When we heal our relationship with ourselves, all relationships heal.
It may be mithya, but if you don’t understand the rules of life and what is required of you to respond appropriately, the fruit of Self-knowledge does not ripen. What use is Self-knowledge unless we apply it practically to our lives? Your life must conform to the truth, not the other way around.
Bob: Based on the last paragraph, would you say that just knowing or having the firm conviction that you are limitless awareness does not fructify in happiness for the jiva unless there is also knowledge of the “rules of life” and what is required to respond appropriately?
Sundari: Yes, we cannot ignore the natural laws that run the field and must abide by them, enlightened or not. The difference as an enlightened being is that you do so naturally because you understand that though the field has a dependent existence than you, it is you but you are not it.
Self-realization does not translate to Self-actualization unless the jiva/doer has been negated and all its emotional/mental patterns transformed into devotion to the Self. Moksa is freedom from, and for, the jiva. When this takes place, everything is known to be you, yet you are not it; but you still exist as an apparent person living in the Field. Self-actualization means you fully understand the nature of the Field (Isvara) and live in accordance with the rules that govern it, even though you are free of the jiva/Isvara as the Self.
Bob: And that knowledge is different from Self-knowledge.
Sundari: Object-knowledge is different from Self-knowledge in important ways, first and foremost because, unlike object-knowledge, it cannot be negated. I have attached a satsang on this topic.
Bob: Might it even be said that Self-knowledge does not address our relationship with our jiva?
Sundari: Most definitely not! All the teaching of Vedanta takes place in mithya because moksa is the ability to discriminate the Self from the small self and its psychological problems, i.e. all the objects subtle and gross that arise in the mind. There is no way to negate the doer without karma yoga and triguna vibhava yoga (mind, or guna, management), i.e. jnana yoga, Self-knowledge. If you do not know the difference between non-duality (satya) and duality (mithya), you confuse ignorance with knowledge, and suffer.
Bob: I have listened today since my response to your response to a YouTube video of Franklin Merrell-Wolff entitled High Indifference, which is really interesting. In it, he spoke about the Buddhistic notion of a renunciation, when you reach the threshold of nirvana, or enlightenment, so that instead of being a personal pond of ananda you become a vehicle for the divine current to flow to others.
Sundari: Can you not see the problem with your statement regarding the Buddhist notion of “when you reach the threshold of nirvana, or enlightenment”? Firstly, it clearly implies “enlightenment” is an object to gain and you must go somewhere (the journey metaphor, “when you reach”) and do something to gain it, which is impossible, because you are it. It reinforces the idea of doership instead of negating it. And secondly, it also clearly implies that “enlightenment” is a “special state,” something rare and hard to “achieve,” when in truth you are never NOT experiencing awareness. The only problem is a knowledge problem.
Bob: When I heard that, it struck me that that is another interesting facet to the topic of relationship-knowledge and Self-knowledge, i.e. that with relationship-knowledge you may share more beautifully and fully your Self-knowledge, just another way of saying that you practically apply your Self-knowledge.
Sundari: The Buddhist notion of renunciation differs deeply from Vedanta in that the Buddhist idea is to perfect the person; it does not address the main issue: Who is the renouncer? Vedanta says that moksa does not entail perfecting the jiva to negate it, it is simply understanding what it is, what governs it, what the Field of Existence is, what governs it, the natural laws that apply to both and most importantly, the identity between the jiva and the Field/Isvara: the Self. Buddhism does not have a clear teaching on the Self. To be free of the doer then requires renunciation of the one who renounces, i.e. only Self-knowledge sets you free, not object- (ego-) knowledge.
~ Much love, Sundari