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Cleaning up Your Act: Following Dharma Trumps Moksa
Graham: Sundari, what a really great email you sent me! I can see you were up late writing it also. That was very thoughtful of you. Thank you so much. I am not replying in point form, as it is clear what I have to do and I don’t want to take up any more of your time at present. You have already been so kind and helpful. And of course correct. I will work steadfastly on my discrimination. And read and reread about the gunas and karma yoga. It has already begun in earnest. I will write to you in a few weeks to let you know how things are. I know you are quite busy with emails. Thank you so much again.
~ Warmest wishes, Graham
Sundari: Hello, Graham. Your email is a tricky one to reply to for a number of reasons. What is going on for Graham in the spiritual dimension is not integrated with what is going on in his life. Vedanta has come to you, and you seem to have assimilated much of the essence of what it reveals about your true identity.
However, there has to be congruence between how you are living and self-knowledge. The fact that there is little congruence is evident. Therefore your qualifications need work, particularly discrimination. It does not work to impose satya on mithya, the real on the apparently real, in other words, the self on Graham. Unless the groundwork, cleaning up your act, has been done the knowledge will not stick no matter how much you meditate, experience sattvic states, have insights, study Vedanta or objectify Graham.
The problem is that Graham is objectifying Graham. If you really know that you are the self, you would not repeatedly be objectifying Graham, because you would simply know he is an object without having to refer to him as such. This does not detract from the insights you have had and your knowledge of the self; nonetheless until the knowledge is translated into your life, you are not free.
My advice to you for now would be to put the self on the shelf. Forget about moksa and concentrate on dharma. If you are not living the right life, things will not come right for Graham. They have spiralled out of control for this reason. Addiction is a very difficult samskara to bust. It is so damaging because it is self-indulgent. It is impossible to take into account the needs of “others” such as family when you find yourself in its all-consuming clutches.
Vedanta, or self-realisation, is not going to fix your life but it can give you the tools to help you deal with it, particularly karma yoga. Karma yoga, practised properly, is really dharma yoga because every action you take is dedicated, consecrated to Isvara. Peace of mind only comes from the realisation that you are not in control of the dharma field, yet in taking the appropriate steps to act according to dharma and then relinquishing the results, peace of mind is produced.
For example, your wife and children are your dharma field. If you were practising karma yoga you would first consecrate your every thought, word and action to them. They are Isvara, they are God. And if you practised karma yoga you would follow dharma and you would therefore not do actions that violate or injure your family. Non-injury is the first principle of karma yoga.
Instead, what did you do? Graham consecrated his actions to his vasanas, meaning his likes and dislikes, and did not take into account his dharma field. Consequently your wife and children left you, and the result was suffering for all concerned. Had you practiced karma yoga this would not have happened. You would not have injured yourself and your family, and you would have enhanced your self-esteem rather than diminish it. Now you are determined to fix the situation, but how are you going to do that?
You are not in control of what has happened with “your” family – and they are not “your” family anyway. You are identified with them and attached to them because you are still identified with Graham’s emotional interests. This does not mean that you deny your responsibilities or your feelings. Dharma means that you act appropriately irrespective of how you feel.
If you get them back and Graham is still indulging Graham without having faced down his vasanas, no matter how much Vedanta you study or how much you meditate, the drama will most certainly continue. So the issue is not whether or not you get them back. Neither is it whether you are the self or not. It is obvious that your true nature is awareness after all. The question is, what use is a family if your life is a mess?
Graham: Thank you for the email. Wow! That was a rough one last week, ha, ha, terrifying yet crucial. It’s clear how this experience is applicable to what is in Vedanta. The experience of last week itself is no longer here to start with. It is one thing finding out that things like a car, even a job, as experience is temporary, quite another to realise that the more supposedly longer-lasting concepts such as a family, marriage and children are all temporary experiences as well. Wow! What a lesson has been handed to me. This information has been integrated by Graham as much as possible, notwithstanding that I, self, already knew this. Is this why it seems so obvious to Graham? That self is filtering the truth through? When someone gets their kids taken away from them and loses all contact (as can typically happen in these cases), the body reacts as if it is grieving over their death, a known phenomenon, leading Graham to realise that all in this realm is experience and therefore temporary.
Sundari: Yes, if one sees things from the self’s point of view, one sees that nothing ever happens, none of it is real, it is all a movie. However, it is not the self “filtering the truth through Graham,” unless you take Graham to be real. It is simply the self seeing Graham and “his” life as the movie it is. See above.
Graham: It is a funny thing in a way, that Graham is of course not self-realised, yet Graham has no doubt that what is being taught here is true. Again, it must be self filtering this to Graham? Can it be asked, is it enough to just focus on James’ material in Vedanta? And not to delve into the more classic type stuff? James’ stuff suits me fine.
Sundari: Graham may have realised that his identity is awareness but this is where the work begins. As I said above, your discrimination still needs work, as this is the essence of moksa: discriminating the self from the objects appearing in it. Nothing can “filter” through Graham; he is not real. Graham cannot know awareness and will never be self-realised. He is an inert reflector of awareness, like all objects. It is the self under the spell of ignorance, seeing itself when self-knowledge removes the ignorance of your true nature.
Graham: The situation is that my wife is still living apart from me. Graham is job-hunting. No, that is not right, I am job-hunting. There is much awareness abounding. To just talk of Graham-this-and-that would be far from accurate. Anyhow, once a job appears and there are some savings of a few weeks, we are to get a home here. These next few weeks are crucial to me. Yes, I am really taking a stand. As I’m writing this email it is dawning that to even speak of Graham in the context I do now is not entirely correct. Graham is self. Self is Graham, so it is not that I am trying to find anything, it is the realisation that there is nothing to find! Sounds wonderful. But to actually know that, in every part of being, is something else. It consumes one.
Sundari: Yes, the crux of it all is to really understand what it means to be the self and to live it. Unless the knowledge translates into your life, it is useless. For this to happen, you need to face and understand Graham before you can be free of him. Again, see my first few paragraphs above.
Graham: Experiences. It has taken some human pain to know that they are temporary. I’ve a lot of free time now, and am taking a stand in awareness always. My dreams are also becoming very vivid and refreshing/exciting. I feel exhilarated by them. There is a returning to that sattvic state I had before. This time though I know I am not getting enlightened from the mediating that is preceding it. Instead it can be useful in helping to understand Vedanta and what the unexplored aspects of my life are showing.
Sundari: All experiences and states of mind end, however uplifting and sattvic they may be. You need to delve into and face the unexplored aspects of your life in the light of self-knowledge. This is why in previous emails I encouraged you to study the guna teaching and practice karma yoga. I can only repeat what has already been said to you by me and Paul Hardman: ignorance is hardwired and obsessively resistant to change; dedication and persistence is what it takes.
I also advise you to approach the person I referred you to, as he is experienced in this field and has done great work in combining karma yoga with the 12-step programme.
Graham: I have the qualifications necessary for Vedanta. And I won’t give up on this. the dedication to it is growing daily. And it is going to be seen through completely. Anticipation stirs my soul. And excites my body. Goosebumps come up. Ha, ha!
Sundari: Great, Graham, I am happy for you that your desire for moksa is strong; however, as I said above, I would put moksa aside for now and concentrate on understanding what makes Graham who he is, without blame or shame.
Graham: Much love and strength to you, Sundari.
Sundari: Much love to you too, Graham.