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Knowledge and Experience
Julia: Hello, dear Arlindo. I had an experience yesterday in which I saw this beautiful, all-expanding light everywhere, including my body and mind. I recognized that all that my senses experience is nothing but dead matter; that light, awareness, is all that IS. Without that light, it is not even possible to perceive those objects. I had a picture in my mind of my burned brain, grey and small, and at the same time this impression that my own mind was expanding and expanding without finding an end. The experience was me as light getting bigger, moving without moving, going beyond planes and galaxies, diluting all that was appearing just by itself.
Arlindo: Light is a good symbol of the self/awareness, but just like any other symbol it presents serious limitations as well as confusion. When we refer to awareness as “light,” we do it metaphorically. We do not mean to say that awareness is of the nature of light rays with the property of illumining/revealing physical and subtle objects. It is only an analogy to indicate that awareness is the all-pervasive self-conscious principle without which jivas’ physical bodies are only “decaying matter” without the ability to perceive, experience and know objects or, in other words, without the capability to “ilumine” the world of objects.
The expanding light you experienced in your epiphany is not the real you, but just a subtle object appearing within the scope of you, awareness. In short, you are not that beautiful expanding light, but the impersonal conscious principle witnessing your mind, your brain, and the galaxies – the entire phenomenal object you have experienced. That light was beautiful, but it came and left you empty-handed and confused.
What you are is the ever-present consciousness – the eternal “beauty” that makes the world appear sometimes beautiful, other times ugly. You are the conscious principle by which you know what you know and experience.
Julia: I understood that my mind was as limited as all those other objects (that were being perceived). I heard a message/experience saying, “Your mind is a very limited dead object known to you that has been serving you till now. Its task is now finished.”
The light, awareness, cannot be described in words, since it goes beyond all the dimensions of the mind. I did not identify with that light, because there was nothing to be identified with. It was just there. I thought: if there is only awareness and you are there, you can only be That!
Arlindo: Again, you, awareness, are not that light you have experienced, but the perceiver of that. It is easy to say, “I did not identify with that light…” but I suggest that you did. Such experiences are very seductive and it is not uncommon to fall for them.
Discrimination becomes very subtle at this level. The mind or, better said, the subtle intellect, will keep trying to define itself with aid of objects of experience. That is due to its extroverted tendency, or vasana, for experience.
Julia: Today I felt sad while feeling confused, not knowing for sure who I was. I felt “my” legs. I observed my body. It’s not me, but it’s me. The identification with the objects is painful.
When I close my eyes, I can feel that vastness that I am. When I open them again, the projection is back! Is there something “I” can/should do besides continuing with the task of discrimination/viveka?
Arlindo: Yes, my friend, identification with objects is painful because objects are time-bound, and therefore subject to change and destruction. They come and they go, therefore the sadness and confusion in your heart. Under the spell of self-ignorance, the body-mind construct and all objects it projects and contacts are only a passing show – actually, it is more like a “drama” because they cause desire, aversion, attachment, dependence, fear, anger, etc. The only way to put an end to this human drama is by the full assimilation of self-knowledge, the knowledge of your ever-present, limitless, conscious existence not bound by time and never subject to modification.
Let the eyes open and close as they wish. When they open, you see the material world of objects. When they close, you either sleep or project your inner world (vasanas) to produce subjective realms of experience. It is all part of the same show. Discrimination between the real (the ever-present) and the unreal (the changing world) is the key. Keep up with the good work and be joyful. A joyful mind is better fit for discrimination.
PS: Keep also in mind that the self is not an object of experience, therefore it cannot be felt or experienced. It does not feel like anything. Furthermore, you will never be able to experience it, because the self is the very nature of “you,” the “experiencer.”
~ Much love, Arlindo