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Losing My Mind
Questioner: James, recently after I have finished listening to one satsang recording and started a second recording, I experienced the thought that I already listened to the second one. This weirdness has happened three or four times. And then yesterday while watching a TV program I was sure I listened to it before. It is like time is going weird.
I visited a friend twice last year, in October and then December. Well, cities are always manic, but I noticed at my December visit that the traffic was more ill-mannered and manic. It drove me mad and all I wanted to do was leave. And now I pick up on the same manic, unpleasant atmosphere in the small country town in which I live. As you say, rajas is unpleasant. As I say to the samsari folk, “It is a good time to die.”
Question: Is this the effect of rajas, which you mentioned in a Bhagavad Gita satsang?
James: It is probably rajoguna, a projection. When rajoguna is very intense, it causes you to think that an object, in this case two locations, are “manic.” Both places are just what they are. They are not manic or not not manic. Although it is possible that there was more activity in both places the last time you visited than during previous times, in which case your perception was “real.”
The second instance of time going “weird” is tamas, confusion, which is the flip side of rajas. In the first example, it is possible that you did watch the video a second time, but probably not. My impression is that you listen deeply to Vedanta because you love it and your mind extracts the essence of a particular teaching. Since the essence of each teaching is the same, it may seem like you listened to the same tape.
But the third example of the video is confusing. In a sense every experience is just the past repeating itself in some form, déjà vu, so to speak. I always feel that nothing in my life ever changes. Superficially, yes; the details are different obviously. But everything that happens is familiar because, well, life is just an endless series of revolving experiences (samskaras). As the French say, “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose,” meaning “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
The other option is that the stroke scrambled your memory. But I didn’t have a stroke and mine is sometimes scrambled too.
The good news is that you, consciousness, are aware of the scramble, which means that you aren’t scrambled, only the memory. I often think about what it would be like to be without memory. There is a definite upside. I went with a friend to visit his mother who had Alzheimer’s. Before we went in her room he said, “Watch this.” So he told her a joke and she laughed riotously. Ten seconds later he told her the same joke and she laughed just as hard. Everyone worries about losing their minds but it seems there is quite an upside. And if you don’t have a memory, how can you remember that you are supposed to remember?
~ Love, James