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Renunciation, Never Denial
Alex: Yes, I’m officially signed up. I have overcome my first challenge. A psychologist friend of mine was arguing that it’s avoidance. She’s coming from the point of view of attachment theory, which is basically another way of describing the gunas, except ironically, attachment theory creates more identification with the story and how one’s early relationship with the mother/caregiver gives rise to either a secure attachment style (sattvic), anxious (rajasic) or avoidant (tamasic). It doesn’t take into account the karma that two people share or the fact that the only thing worth being securely attached to for a Vedantin is the Self.
Sundari: Yes, talking to a samsari, albeit it one who supposedly studies the mind, will hit a wall! Sadly, no matter how “advanced” the science, it simply misses the mark because it not only does not know the Self, it cannot take Isvara (the gunas) into account. The more enlightened approach of Jung and his ilk only had a partial understanding of Isvara, the causal body, what he called archetypes, and he certainly did not understand how his idea of the Self (which he saw as an archetype) relates to awareness. He got stuck there and did not look beyond. He should have investigated “who” is it that knows and is prior to the body-mind. Jung took the jiva living in the apparent reality to be real, as does all modern modalities that study the mind, i.e. he took the apparent person to be the Self and wanted him or her to “individuate,” i.e. stand on their own two feet; fair enough. But detaching from other people, like family and friends, is part of maturing as a person, and a qualification for self-realization, but it is not self-realization. Self-realization is individuating awareness from the jiva.
Like all modern psychology, Jung did not have a teaching. People tried to make a teaching out of his research, but all he knew was that there is a causal body, or unconscious (which he got from Freud), and that it had a huge impact on the human psyche, which is true. But without knowledge of Isvara, the gunas, all psychology is very limited indeed. You will not find agreement with your friend unless she is qualified for self-inquiry, which is most likely not the case, more’s the pity.
Alex: Ultimately, I know this is the right decision for me, as it will allow me to observe the samskara at a subtler level without becoming karmically entangled in rajas or tamas. Nonetheless, she does have a point, as I too have a doubt that the samskara will just lie dormant. As I’ve heard James say, vasanas have no problem with silence.
Sundari: You are right; taking a break from the relentless seeking/relationship game will buy you the space to be objective about the samskara and observe how and why it activates, without acting on it. She has a point only insofar as denial is useless as a means to overcome binding vasanas. In your case, the opposite is true. You are not in denial. It is your full knowledge of the samskara that is behind the greater desire to overcome the conditioning that extroverts the mind making it seek joy in objects. You are not denying the tendency or denying love, just the negating the “wanter,” the one focused on getting what he thinks he wants from an object. You are young, and these urges are quite natural, especially from a samsaric point of view, therefore Vedanta is usually for grey-hairs, like me!
It encourages young people to live through their stuff, go through the stages of life, be a householder if that is what you want. And only once you know that there is nothing in the world to gain, that the joy is not in objects, that you can focus on negating objects to identify with the source of the joy, the Self. But nowadays more and more very young people are coming to Vedanta, especially in the West. I believe it is thanks to people like Ramji who have made the teachings so accessible. It is a great boon to live your life with self-knowledge from youth. You are blessed, but it does put you very much out of step with your peers!
Alex: It’s been a tough month, and I had to throw the dog a bone in the form of a pouch of tobacco, with the karma yoga attitude. Interestingly, it has helped in moving me out of tamas and rajas, but now that I’m using rajas to get back to sat, I will renounce tobacco again once this pouch has been smoked.
Sundari: I know from your subsequent email that you have thrown away the smoking crutch, good for you. It only seems that addictions like smoking and others produce sattva; they do not. They make the mind tamasic, which when there is a lot of rajas, feels like sattva but isn’t.
Alex: I’m nesting into a nice simple wooden cabin here in the West. The Buddhist centre was turning into a care centre, so I bailed out. I trust now that Isvara is and always has been guiding my life, and that I’m making the right steps to staying there, yet I know I am already here.
Sundari: I am not surprised that you have outgrown Buddhism. It can only take you so far because it does not have a teaching on the Self or Isvara, no teaching on satya-mithya. It keeps one stuck doing something to “achieve enlightenment,” which is said to be only for the special few.
~ Much love to you too, Sundari