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Ed: Dear Ram-ji, I was very happy to hear that you and Sundari have finally found a beautiful base in Spain! It looks wonderful from the picture I saw in the newsletter.
I have only seen you teach two times. The most recent was last January for two weeks in Suryalila. A year since the last retreat has gone by so quickly, and actually I feel like I never left. You have been my constant companion through listening to hundreds of hours of teachings. I’ve become a Vedanta fanatic, somewhat to the consternation of my wife. However, very interestingly, since I have devoted myself to living the teachings as much as I can, my wife, who is a Chinese Christian, has become very involved and dedicated to a local Bible study group which she attends a couple of days a week. Isvara works in mysterious ways…
I’ve read Swami Dayananda’s Home Study Course, and Ben very kindly shared his transcription of Swami Paramahansa’s Gita with me too after I had a chance to hear Swami P talk in Chennai. It was so inspiring to hear him teach after I had heard you talk about him so much. He radiates light and joy! Despite the Indian setting, when I was sitting on the ground in Chennai, a thought flashed through my mind that I was sitting in Brahmaloka listening to Brahma teach me dharma! I’m currently working my way through the Gita teachings you gave in Carbondale which are so wonderful, rich, profound and funny.
My current approach to Vedanta is immersion to allow the knowledge to burn away those binding vasanas. I’ve developed a morning reading practice and a short meditation practice (which I previously found impossible, as I would always fall asleep) by the grace of karma yoga. I used to feel so undermined by always falling asleep, but actually finding my passion for freedom and the interest to be free of binding vasanas makes all the difference. Even when my mind goes back to old habits, I just observe it and renounce the wanting. Not wanting based on the conviction I’m already whole and complete is very attractive and reinforces the conviction that it’s actually true. I even find my interest in sex has fallen off or if the mind goes there, I don’t want it, as I know it just leads to more attachment. Of course the sin-intelligently clause is helpful to not be too much of a fanatic, especially when I’m married!
I had wanted to write for some time but after listening to the teachings so much I kept finding my questions would be answered if I hung in there long enough. As a jiva I wanted to connect even though I know the real connection with a teacher has no time or space. It has also only recently dawned on me that enlightment is for the mind and actually I want to be a disciple by doing the work, which is my real connection to you. I even have an Ishta Deva thanks to you. During the teachings in Spain last year, just for a moment, I saw your face turn into Ramana Maharshi’s face, so he has now become my Ishta Deva. I understood that fleeting experience as showing me the sampradaya is unbroken, alive and eternal. I was brought up a Catholic but became disillusioned by the Church’s teachings and corruption as a teenager. After becoming a Buddhist and then finding a crazy enlightened teacher, God had totally disappeared from the picture and I was an atheist until very recently. After finding Vedanta I thought I was looking for the Self but have found the Lord again. My morning prayer to Isvara is to keep my attention on him and him alone.
Thank you, Ramji, and I look forward to seeing you next weekend in Suryalila.
~ Much love
Ramji: Dear Ed-ji, what a lovely, eloquent testimonial to the power of Vedanta and consistent devotion to freedom! I’m so happy that you are coming to Suryalila. We can have a proper chat. Bon voyage.
~ Much love, James