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Ramji: Hi, Ted.
Good for you! The penny finally dropped. I admire you for hanging in there for so long. Perseverance furthers. Be sure to give yourself a nice pat on the back.
Ted: I’m compelled to write you. For years my identity as Ted has hinged on the conviction that there was something missing and in spite of watching hundreds of hours of teachings, this belief never truly dissolved until now. After the seminar in Cape Town, when I wrote that I didn’t really understand karma yoga, and you later replied that “karma yoga absolves you of your ‘sins,’” it was still not clear how that worked, particularly in regard to this deeply held belief. Along with this, there has always been an inner conflict about not having an ishta, a personal connection to God, and you’ve repeatedly made it clear how important that was, especially for a karma yogi. How could actions and their results be surrendered to Isvara if there was no personal connection? It seemed forced and abstract.
Ramji: How can you not have a personal relationship with God, since God is your life? You love your life beyond all else and it is a gift from God. How can’t you love God? The only sin is not doing one’s life as worship.
Ted: Over this past week, the pieces fell quietly into place after you told the story of the genie having to continually climb the pole. The genie/mind has to be kept busy climbing the pole, the pole being the scriptures, and I saw the message at the top as simply “all is Isvara.” It dawned on me that “climbing that pole of knowledge,” seeing that simple truth, then returning to the ground (experience) and applying that knowledge to whatever was happening, was my devotion. Knowing all is Isvara (because the scripture says so and because my inquiry proves it), and then letting that knowledge inform my experience, whether it’s sense perception, a thought or a person, is my devotion because it was having an immediate effect on my experience. Directing the mind to keep “climbing that pole” and “returning” with that knowledge is shifting the interpretation of experience from Ted’s perspective as a “player” to my self as a witness, and simultaneously reconfirms the truth that Isvara is everything. This is really Isvara’s life, and Ted’s “sin” (no blame here) was to take ownership of it. Understanding this has been like pouring water on a dying plant. Now devotion, and dedicating actions and their results to Isvara, really means something and karma yoga makes sense.
Ramji: Generally people have a simple-minded view of religion: going to church, lighting a candle, praying to a personified diety, but the application of knowledge – Self-inquiry – is the highest form of devotion. Karma yoga qualifies you know God, i.e. understand the teachings of Vedanta. Love and knowledge are interdependent; the more you know the more you love. The more you love, i.e. inquire, the more you know. When your knowledge of Isvara is perfect, i.e. non-dual, you are free of all sense of limitation.
Ted: The past four years of Vedanta study has finally resolved that one conviction that something is missing in me. It’s like a plug has been pulled from a tub of water and the whole framework of Ted’s identity has gone down the drain. It’s mind-boggling to see how much this one ignorant idea affected my motives, my actions and my understanding of who I thought I was throughout my entire life. There is definitely nothing missing and the more the genie/mind “climbs that pole” the more clear this understanding becomes. Knowing existence is a fact and that all experience is “in” existence (all is Isvara) there is relaxation. The mind settles down and the fullness/bliss of existence shines. Nothing missing in me means nothing missing anywhere. This knowledge is removing fear, fear of my own mind and of the minds of others. I have nothing to be afraid of from people, as I rest in my own existence. What a relief!
Okay, time to send the genie/mind back up the pole because that’s my salvation and my dharma and I will continue to do that forever. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.