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Do Not Get Entangled with Experience
Mark: Good evening, Arlindo. Kind regards to you and Silvia.
Arlindo: Hello, my friend, good to hear from you again, and thank you for the kind regards.
Mark: Since finishing your course/seminar and leavening India I have continued to immerse myself in Vedanta, at present working on Aparokshanubhuti with Swami Sarvapriananda (via YouTube). Also, I have purchased the book with commentaries by Swami Chinmayananda, so comparing the two commentaries to hopefully get an even better understanding.
Arlindo: Good work, Mark. Just a small note: the great Swami Chinmayananda unfolds the teachings beautifully and powerfully but also with many words containing action/experience/time-space connotations. Be careful because that could possibly reinforce some past “experiential” tendencies of yours.
Mark: When not listening I would spend the whole time thinking about the teachings, going through the logic, etc. Sometimes I felt the bliss, as the mind became sattvic and the bliss sheath was felt. I remember Ramji saying don’t trust your feelings, and I remember you on the Panchadasi course saying (basically) don’t get caught up in the feeling of bliss, but instead seek the source of bliss.
Arlindo: Yes, Mark, the three gunas bind the jiva to samsara. By analogy, tamoguna is like an old, rusted iron chain; rajoguna is a stainless steel chain; and sattva guna a gold chain. But a chain is a chain. The development or conversion of tamas and rajas into sattva is a necessary means to self-knowledge and moksa, not an end.
By all means, develop and maintain a predominance of sattva in your mind, and use the sattvic mental condition intelligently by doing your Vedanta work. Most people want a sattvic mind so that they can enjoy silence, peace, and tranquility. We say appreciate your sattvic intellect by fully exercising its refined discriminating faculty, its focus and clarity. Submit the sattvic intellect to the teachings until your certainty of self-knowledge is firm and absolutely doubt-free.
Mark: Well, just recently pretty much all thoughts have disappeared from my mind. I suddenly become aware that my mind is still, nothing there. It doesn’t feel tamasic, no dullness or heaviness; it doesn’t feel sattvic. It doesn’t feel full and complete, it doesn’t feel anything. In fact it feels something like I imagine the Void must feel like in Buddhist terminology. Before all the thoughts were Vedantic, happening naturally. Now I am having to force myself to think Vedantic thoughts, and pretty much all thoughts.
Please comment on this… I am not sure if this is progress or some sort of regression (ignorance).
Arlindo: If you want to keep a thought in mind, let it be “I am the non-experiencing conscious principle witnessing this intriguing state of mind.” Never lose sight of the fact that you, pure consciousness, are not a “state.” States change, you do not change. States are bound by time and space; you are beginningless, timeless. If you experience emptiness, blankness, no-mind or quietness, let these objects of experience serve the purpose of proving the presence of your limitless higher nature as pure consciousness, the real subject-principle in which objects of experience arise and subside. It is easier to realize the presence of you, the subject-principle when the mind is calm, focused and sharp. Do not get involved, and much less entangled, with anything other than your limitless Self.
There is no need to force your mind to think “Vedanta.” Let the mind think “as the Self”: aham brahmasmi (I am Brahman, the limitless Self). This experience of yours is probably an indication of spiritual progress, the fructification of your efforts, the manifestation of your burning desire as you mentioned in your last letter. It is definitely not an indication of spiritual regression. Isvara willing, it could bring about the end of your search as a seeker. Once your discrimination is clear and your knowledge about who and what you are, firm and doubt-free, you will feel a cool sense of freedom and release. You will know it.
I am happy for you, Mark, and if you feel inclined, please keep me informed of how things go.
~ Much love
Mark: Aum, Arlindo. Thank you so much, a brilliant response to my inquiry, all very valid points, which I will take on board.
I will keep you informed of how it progresses.
Good to hear from you too; as I write I can see your smiling face and feel your energy of love and lightness.
~ Love and peace, Mark