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Satya, Mithya and Vasanas
Joe: What is the meaning of “the Self is non-separate from the jiva”? Wouldn’t it be the other way around? Because without awareness there wouldn’t be any jiva. And I can totally relate to what you’ve shared. It is so easy to confuse the Self with bliss and get attached to that sensation. I have to constantly remind myself that “I am” regardless of what is, but to be honest – there are moments when the ego doesn’t like that at all. ☺ It’s a tricky one to keep the mind focused on the teachings until binding vasanas are resolved. Even the notions that we pick up during the teachings and the Self-realization phase!
Arlindo: Good point, Joe. Jiva exists within the scope of and is non-separate from awareness. But awareness exists without jiva, Isvara and jagata (the world). At pralaya (dissolution of the universe) awareness remains in its fullness as pure consciousness/existence.
About the satya-mithya discussion, scriptures say that the entire process “towards” a hard and fast Self-knowledge and liberation is a “leading error.” It is an error because we need to analyze our experiences and the relationship between jiva, Isvara and jagata, as well their relation as mithya to satya. In other words, we need to get our hands dirty with mithya so that we can realize our nature as satya. The process of spiritual growth appears as an error because, from awareness’s point of view, mithya is as good as non-existent. The ultimate truth is that jiva, Isvara and jagata are not real: mithya. But as you say, from jiva’s practical “angle,” Self-realization is mainly “apparent” freedom for the “apparent” jiva.
Joe: That is something I’ve been contemplating: as a jiva I am nothing but conditioning and won’t ever get close to my true nature (that’s what you unfolded with the satya-mithya topic, if I am not mistaken). Even within the teachings (probably everything within mithya) is dualistic in a way and a leading error, isn’t it? Could you share with me how is the Vedantic approach to vasanas? Because they’ll always be there and humans are creatures of habit. When does a jiva know if a vasana is binding or not?
Arlindo: The universe is manifested by vasanas. Maya cannot project without the macrocosmic body of vasanas. Vidyaranya says in Panchadasi that the day we jivas exhaust all vasanas is the day of pralaya.
The jnani is the jiva no longer identified with its vasanas, thoughts, emotions, etc. A certain degree of purification of the mind is a prerequisite for Self-knowledge to be “gained” and “retained” at all times. The development of these certain mental qualities occurs before, but it also carries on after, Self-knowledge. The jnani is the jnani freed of the universal ignorance: identification with its vasanas, desires and actions. The binding vasanas of the jnani are naturally and gradually converted into non-binding vasanas.
I like to add that, for the jnani’s perfect satisfaction, and the satisfaction of others, ☺ jnani’s vasanas need not only to be rendered non-binding, but also all adharmic vasanas need to be eliminated. All vasanas need to be dharmic by nature – even as a karma yogi, before Self-knowledge is firm. As Krishna says in the Gita, “I am the desire not opposed to dharma.” The relative freedom “experienced” by the jnani is also a function of dharmic non-binding vasanas in operation rather than adharmic binding vasanas. A binding vasana compels and enslaves us, makes us dependent on its accomplishment in order to feel content, at ease and satisfied.