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Steven: Hi, Sundari. I felt it no harm to let Ramji have a longer afternoon nap and not be worried about replying to me, so I will pick your brain, if you don’t mind.
Sundari: Hi, Steven, nice to hear from you. ☺
Steven: The self is realised, that is without doubt, as the intense and despairing search is over. There is a joy and gratitude in simply living, which often brings tears to my eyes. I am so grateful to Ramji. Even though I have only met him a few times, it seems I was ripe enough to understand.
There is no need to go into my past, just to say there has been trauma and I have spent time in counselling, which has been very helpful. But there are vasanas that linger, mainly just one, and it is fear-based. Often it appears to be non-binding but then it starts to bind (I know this sounds odd!). There is a flight response that appears in the body, and if it can’t fly away from the difficult situation there is a panic response. In the past when this happened there was a collapsing into tamas for many hours, days, even. But now that baggage is gone, and as this experience comes it goes soon after.
Sundari: This is more common than most people realise. Remember that “fear” is an acronym for False Evidence Appearing Real. It is the very nature of rajas. It is part of the fabric of the macrocosmic mind, and the jiva is an extension of it, so these unnamed and gripping fears emerge from the depths of the causal body like monsters from the deep. They seem real but they are not.
We call this free-floating anxiety born of rajas and tamas, two troublesome and impersonal gunas, the main components of ignorance. It seems like they belong to us, our “baggage,” as you call it, but they don’t. The gunas belong to Isvara, and have nothing to do with you as awareness or with Steven for that matter. Steven has a story and has suffered, as have all jivas, because in samsara there is no escape from this as long as one is identified with the apparent person. Fear stalks the apparent person every step of the way, and the pitfalls of rajas and tamas are waiting to engulf you.
This is what James has to say about free-floating anxiety: “This is the big one, the king of all vasanas. We call it primordial beginningless ignorance (tamas), or maya. A more user-friendly term is ‘free-floating anxiety.’ What it means is that because your self-knowledge is not firm, there is a non-specific, unnamed existential fear: dread. It is sometimes called the fear of being and becoming. The Christians call it original sin. It is always present yet hidden in the causal body, and it is looking for objects to attach to (rajas). It is related to others alright, it is the ultimate experience of duality, or otherness. Not everyone experiences it directly like you do, although many do. In samsaris it works out in petty mundane and indirect ways all day long, year after year. You will notice that it is called ‘beginningless’ ignorance. The implied meaning of this phrase is that it is not endless. As you have experienced it disappeared for a bit, then reappeared, so you know that it is not real.”
Unfortunately, there is no quick, easy fix, so you are going to have to somehow embrace it. By that I mean that it will be helpful to use it to motivate yourself to practice knowledge.
Steven: There is the understanding that this experience is known and is not-self, yet when certain conditions come about there is such a strong identification with the body and contraction takes place, a recoiling. I have had an e-satsang with Ram about this, and he did say that deep-rooted samskaras take time.
Sundari: Indeed they do. I have added a brilliant article on samskaras by Ramji at the end of this email for you to read. I am also about to send out the latest newsletter, and our theme for it is the gunas and the Isvara-jiva-jagat identity. This is where you need to brush up the knowledge, perhaps. I have attached the article that will be in the newsletter in this email.
Steven: Somehow it’s like the samskara has a life of its own, a power. So there must be some ignorance, knowledge not yet assimilated. I know samskaras are inert matter and known by me. I am the knower of the three bodies. Yet I must be honest, there is some ignorance. I am past looking for a quick fix for this. I did think self-realisation would sort everything out, but it didn’t. There still is plenty of work in maya to be done. Through God’s grace I know ignorance is just ignorance and just needs the light of knowledge; there is no blame, no wrong, no shame.
Sundari: Yes, samskaras do have “a life of their own,” because they actually have nothing to do with who we really are, but of course as long as the person is identified with them they are “under the whip,” so to speak. As you say, thank God that is not the case here. The effects of ignorance take as long as they take to end; it is not up to you or to Steven because they belong to Isvara, the causal body. Neither Steven nor awareness can “do” anything about them. Karma yoga is the only solution. I have explained in detail in the article I have attached how important self-actualisation is. Most people who have realised the self think that it is enough. Unfortunately, it is not. Self-realisation is not moksa. It is still an experience and there is still considerable “work” to be done to bring it into your life. Isvara and the jiva have to be fully understood in the light of self-knowledge. To help you with this, I encourage you to read the article I attached that unfolds this teaching.
Steven: I was at Ramji’s teachings in Amsterdam; they were wonderful. Two people asked me about Vedanta and I spoke so clearly to them I surprised myself. These teachings are my life. I study Ram’s teachings daily and love him dearly.
Sundari: That is how it is; self-knowledge works through the mind, and it is not “Steven” talking, it is the self.
Steven: If possible, could we could have a dialogue to clear up the loose ends!?
Sundari: By all means, if you would like to arrange a Skype satsang let me know and I will set it up. Ramji gets back to Spain this Monday and he will need a rest, as it’s been a gruelling six weeks on the road for him, so in about ten days would be good.
~ With love and thanks, Steven
Sundari: It’s a great pleasure, Steven.
~ Om and prem, Sundari
Samskaras will take time to go away – they will fade more quickly when they are fully understood. The opposite thought – no worries – works because it objectifies the anxiety – if one can remember to think it when one is stressed. Karma yoga works when worry is there; it is perfectly designed to destroy samskaras. However, the nature of rajas is such that the tamas that accompanies it causes one to feel that one does not have “time” to deconstruct the desire/fear on the spot! The doer forgets that it is now an inquirer and that it is supposed to free the mind of worry by knowledge, not get the object in the world. It thinks that the results of the action will free the mind – which it will temporarily – leaving the samskara carefully concealed, however.
When ones wants to ameliorate the effect of a samskara it is very effective to dismiss the present thought by taking the line of reasoning it represents to its logical conclusion, thus defusing the power of the samskara in the moment.
The key to this samskara is the word “time.” It represents the pressure of the samskara. When it is operating, the thought/word “time” is meant to refer to something real, something substantial. But all it refers to is “I want.” We know what is behind that: “I am insecure,” etc.
But then the doer will immediately try to prevent this alternative because doing whatever it is is the key to the maintenance of its identity as someone in control of his or her destiny – see the fear. This is the problem with relationships too. If one really surrenders to the relationship, you lose control.
But renunciation of karma causes another problem for the doer. It presents the scenario it was trying to avoid in the first place, which is fear-based too. If the doer actually analyzed the root thought, the whole problem would go away instantly.
But if the samskara is doing the thinking, that is a bad alternative too – “What if?” – and off it goes worrying. Fear is meant to be very smart. At some point in the life of the doer, worry is self-validating. It equals love for the doer. It means “I care about myself.” But as you know, it is a purely samsaric value. If one encounters a terrible fear of any kind, dismiss it immediately. Reaffirm: “No bad result, I am awareness, not to mention the wonder that is me.”
Fear is hard to love.
Samskaras are never about what they purport to be about. An unnamed fear lurks behind them all. No matter what you do or don’t do, it is there attaching itself to an action. One needs to be sick and tired of the mind it creates. Yes, one can walk away from various situations relatively easily, but walking away from the belief that worldly results are necessary for peace of mind is the real renunciation, because it amounts to renunciation of the doer itself.
The best mantra is “Nothing can go wrong.” Nothing ever went “wrong,” because life is not about me getting what I think I want. It is about the me that doesn’t want. The only cure for a bad attitude is a good attitude.
There so many good thoughts available to remove the stress in any situation but attachment to the doer makes them all unpalatable. The renunciation thought is particularly difficult for the doer because it indicates a failure to get what it wants the way it wants it when it wants it. It can’t stand that thought because the “I am the self” thought does not actually sustain it when it is faced with various everyday situations that involve loss or the fear of loss.