Search & Read
Self-Actualization: The Tough Part
Bertram: I’ve been a silent student of James and ShiningWorld for a few years now. I read The Essence of Enlightenment, watched loads of videos and usually read a few of the satsangs before bed at night. I realize the truth in Vedanta and continue to learn more and more, but I don’t think I truly know yet what it means to BE consciousness.
Sundari: Hello, Bertram, good to hear from you. Self-realization is the full understanding of your true nature as consciousness, but it is not yet Self-actualization. Self-actualization means your life conforms to the scripture in all respects and you experience perfect satisfaction because the jiva no longer troubles you at all. But if the mind is still agitated by rajas and tamas because all the qualifications are not in place and binding vasanas still condition the mind, Self-actualization has not taken place.
To be Self-actualized is (1) Self-knowledge has rendered all binding vasanas non-binding, resolving all your jiva conditioning through contemplation, assimilation of the knowledge and transformation of habitual emotional/thought patterns (vasanas) into devotion to the Self, (2) to fully discriminate the Self (consciousness/satya) from the objects appearing in you (mithya: all objects, meaning all gross objects as well as one’s conditioning, thoughts and feelings, all experience) naturally and spontaneously, at all times and (3) Self-knowledge has fully negated your sense of doership.
Once Self-knowledge is permanent, you see everything from the point of view of consciousness first, second as the jiva, and never confuses the two again, that is non-dual vision, to never think of yourself as a person again, ever. Self-actualization is the consistent, total application of Self-knowledge to one’s life, i.e. you ARE the knowledge and live it.
Self-actualization, nididhyasana, is the final “stage” of self-inquiry. The first two main stages are: hearing the teachings (sravanna), followed by contemplation of the teachings, meditation (manana); followed by the last stage, nididhyasana. The last stage is usually the longest for most inquirers, depending on qualifications.
Unless Self-knowledge translates fully into the life of the person, it cannot be said that Self-actualization has taken place, because the person will still be identified with certain aspects of being a person. In other words, binding vasanas and the sense of doership, or egoic belief in separation, will still be causing agitation in the mind. For existential suffering to end and for consciousness to be one’s primary identity, the person needs to be free of the idea of being a person to live free as the Self. What is the point of Self-realization if the mind is still under the tyranny of its likes and dislikes (vasanas) and the egoic drive of the doer?
While it is true that there is a definite “shift” in how one sees life and relates to objects once Self-knowledge is firm, a common myth in the enlightenment game is that enlightenment is another object to obtain, and when it is, the jiva will be different, better. It may or may not be. It will still have its Isvara-given character and tendencies. It will still suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, feeling joy, pain, loss, grief. It still has to get up and go to work, take care of its karma in the world. But the bliss of Self-knowledge never diminishes, regardless of how the jiva is feeling.
As the jiva is a product of the gunas, belongs to and is always subject to Isvara, the jiva is never going to be perfect. But as consciousness you are free of the jiva because the jiva is actually the Self; you know it arises from and depends on you, and not the other way around. Then life makes sense and it is possible to see beauty all the time, even when things are not pretty.
When moksa has obtained in the mind, one may and usually does feel experiential bliss regularly, but one does not depend on it, because you know you are the bliss. The bliss of knowledge does not feel like anything. Experiential bliss is an object known to you, and you are always blissful, whether experiential bliss is present or not. In fact you could be sick, in pain, broke, jobless or stuck in a situation you do not enjoy but cannot change and be totally blissful because who you are is not influenced by what is or is not going on in your environment. You feel blissful regardless of what is going on in the mind.
The subjective reality (pratibasika) never ends for the jiva, enlightened or not. The difference will be that a jivanmukta, or Self-actualized person, knows when the jiva is projecting, instantly dissolves the projection in the knowledge and is instantly free of the jiva. Thus it does not create “new” karma. It keeps its karma like a little dog on a very short leash, right in front. No karmic drag, ever. No unfinished business or drama. Every moment of every day is complete. There is never another person involved in its interactions and transactions in the world of objects/experience. The jivanmukta knows in the moment that it is transacting only with itself because there is no “other.” There is only consciousness.
Once the mind is purified, humility is its natural response to everything in its environment (Isvara) because it understands there is only itself, consciousness. It no longer sees “otherness” as consciousness, even though it observes the jiva still apparently experiencing it. Duality is understood and appreciated for what it is, enjoyed even. But as it is not expected to deliver something it is incapable of doing, i.e. happiness, duality is never a problem for the jivanmukta. This takes so much pressure off the jiva because there is no need to make it conform to some silly “spiritual” ideal. It is just known and loved for what it is: a reflection of the self in a mirror, which is also the Self.
Bertram: Why I should realistically identify more with my source than what I’ve been manifested into?
Sundari: This question is written from the point of view of the limited jiva, identified with the subtle body. Ask yourself when questions like this come up: Who is speaking here? Is it the jiva identified with the body-mind or is it consciousness? Who does the “I” refer to? As there is only you, consciousness, everything is a manifestation or refection of you, but you are not the reflection.
As I said above, moksa is the ability to discriminate you, consciousness, from the objects that arise in you, Bertram, at all times. As long as you are identified primarily with the ego/personality/Bertram you are limited, subject to the gunas, bound by dependence on objects because you believe there is something lacking which you must obtain from “outside.” When Self-knowledge has fully obtained and you stand firmly in the Self, you are no longer subjugated by the limited small ego-self and no longer seek anything outside of yourself for anything. You are happy, full, content, and the person still functions normally in the world.
You accept the jiva (personal identity) as only apparently real and are no longer burdened by fear or desire. You contact all objects happily, not for happiness. You accept the jiva as it is and love it unconditionally because you know that the jiva is an object known to you and originates from you. You enjoy your relative, in-built nature as a jiva (svadharma) without any trouble. You are free of the tyranny of the jiva’s sense of doership and likes/dislikes. You are no longer seduced by Maya, duality, so you observe life unfolding in your environment just as you would a dream and never take it too seriously.
What could possibly be more wonderful that this? It is everyone’s purpose to realize their true identity as the Self, even though as the Self you are and always have been free. Moksa is for the jiva who lives in the apparent reality.
Bertram: Like even if the microwave could become conscious, it would know its source is electricity and it shares the same source as the fridge, but they clearly have different purposes and they would know, if they were intelligent, that there is something other than electricity that exists and allows them to exist. Does that make sense?
Sundari: A fully enlightened fridge?