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Student: Dear James, I still want to thank you for the amazing seminar in Bad Meinberg some weeks ago. A beautiful thing happened in me and I want to share it with you. I don’t want to bore you with my “story.” My English is not that good, so I don’t want to create a novel. Please forgive bad grammar.
We know each other for eight years now. I always felt and feel that you are my teacher, even though I never asked you if you would accept me as a disciple. Maybe because I knew that you probably couldn’t help me with some deep-rooted health issues. This qualification thing I had to solve on my own. I didn’t want to bother you with that stuff. So I opened my mind and heart seriously to the teaching of Vedanta during the last eight years. Being an intellectual type, the logic of Vedanta was clear to me from the very first day.
Your endorsed German teacher Tan was a great help to me in the first two years. His mind is perfectly clear, mature and down to earth. And he is a wonderful, smart guy as well. On an intellectual and often existential level I realized the Self relatively quickly. This means the teaching worked constantly in my mind without any effort. My brain was like a Vedanta computer, thinking about the teachings nearly day and night since the moment I met you. I enjoyed some great samadhis. Everything was clear to me.
The problem was: with much unresolved mind stuff caused by a lifetime of ADHD, a chronic thyroid inflammation and other hang-overs, I suffered a lack of qualifications, no matter what I knew. I realized the Self 500 times. ☺
Constant application of the truth finally did the job. Dealing with a nasty yoga vasana (I work as a yoga teacher) was a big issue. I don’t want to dismiss the daily devotional practices of mantra, meditation, pranayama, etc. It is great and important. It is a blessing, if it feeds the vasana for Self-inquiry. But it could be a problem if it feeds the seeking vasana. Also, the disease vasana was hardwired.
So, all over the years, my chronically agitated mind was looking for sattva, i.e. peace and healing.
I knew clearly from the beginning that I mixed up the Self with sattva. I also knew that this vasana would not disappear quickly. So I was patient and practised karma yoga and Self-inquiry as far as possible. Of course my jiva went on to sin more or less intelligently, but so what? Enlightenment is not sainthood, as you say in your book.
So it took me eight years to prepare the mind, which means it took me eight years to realize clearly that no mind state could set me free, that objects are not permanent. Even though I clearly understood the logic, that I’m free and not a person, the rajas was too strong to enjoy the fruits of the knowledge with unshakeable confidence. So I gave this back to Isvara.
I know that Vedanta and serious Self-realization are not about a big enlightenment story. But this time when I met you a beautiful thing happened. There is not much to tell. I told you about my health issues and asked if moksa is possible with such a mind. I knew the question was silly, but it was still in me, even after all these years. You just looked at me with your beautiful ocean-eyes and told me the “funny” story, that you kicked your wife out of bed during a nightmare. You asked me: “Did I kick her?” Isvara always speaks through you.
I don’t know if that answer was necessary for me. But after that, I felt strangely free. It was a feeling, i.e. an object. But it was not an ordinary “feeling.” In the following two days of the seminar a strange joy filled my heart. Strange, because it was absolutely undramatic. I finally realized that my “light” shines on every experience. I knew this for years, but apparently there were still subtle doubts, unpurified traces of rajas, as you might say. But now it was simply clear, just as a teenager knows clearly that childhood is gone.
So I did my hatha yoga practise as usual in the pause between the seminar. I often do this to neutralize rajas and tamas, just to feel better. But as I sat in this beautiful meditation room of the ashram, doing some soft pranayama had the totally undramatic realization: I’m shining on disease. I’m shining on my best friend: fatigue! I’m shining on sattva, rajas and tamas. I’m shining on every moment. No other moment is required!
So I could not go on with the practice. It just stopped! Perfect satisfaction because of simple knowing. Body-mind is just Isvara and it is okay as it is. Tired and agitated or peaceful and radiant: it’s okay, a gift from Isvara, furthermore not real, just an ordinary object in the waking state.
At night I watched the full moon. But there was no more a need to inflate this beautiful vision romantically or aesthetically: no need to enjoy or experience it more intensively than every other moment that Isvara presents to me. It’s me. Simple beingness, shining out of itself. Like all the headache, all the fatigue, all sorrow in the mind, all the sometimes-stressful life in relationships, Isvara at play, beautiful, incomprehensible, completely ordinary: just me, awareness, Isvara every time and everywhere, as far as time and space is concerned. No drama. No golden light. But a soft thrill of joy. Because of great relief.
Beautiful peace is there now. It was there before, but still apparently hidden behind a subtle seeking vasana. Peace is! Not as a mind state. But as me! Just clear knowledge of my being. Simple, undramatic, without doubt.
Niddidhyasana goes on. Purification is a natural tendency in the waking state. I’m still amazed how perfectly Maya works. This realization of my “eternal” shining was beautiful. It wasn’t actually a realization of my shining; this happened years before. It was rather a final stopping of looking for anything. Seeking was gone. Acceptance came automatically. Perfect clarity! Life goes on.
I want to thank you.
~ Much love