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Get the Love Flowing
Sundari: Hello, Terence, I am replying on behalf of James.
Terence: Have you ever worked with or witnessed enlightened people with anxiety and depression? How do they seem to you? I have been clinically depressed for years now, and since attaining the hard and fast knowledge of the self, it hasn’t really subsided.
Sundari: The only difference between “enlightened” as opposed to “unenlightened” people is the way they contact objects, i.e. the way they relate to what is apparently going on with the jiva. Being free does not mean that you have perfected the jiva, it means that you are free of the jiva. This is why James and I place so much emphasis on what it means to be enlightened, or to actualise self-realisation by understanding Isvara, i.e. the guna teaching.
This is an excerpt from the next ShiningWorld newsletter in which I write about this issue:
“Vedanta definitely does not set out to fix the jiva, its main premise being that you are fine the way you are. To be qualified, Vedanta assumes that you are a mature person who has dealt with their stuff and is free of the jiva. However, it does not take much to see that realising the self is the easy part; actualizing it in the apparent reality is quite another. One can say, so what? Once one has negated all the objects there is only you, awareness, and who cares about the jiva? Why make such a big deal of the gunas? They have nothing to do with you, awareness, after all. While this is of course true from the self’s point of view one still needs to understand what it means to be self-realised in the apparent reality. Moksa is for the jiva after all, and the jiva never leaves the apparent reality. It just does not work to impose the apparent on the real (satya on mithya). Isvara does not care if you who know who you are or not. In order to discriminate between satya and mithya one has to understand Isvara, in other words, the gunas. The guna teaching and the unfolding of the total/individual identity (Isvara/jiva aikyam) are powerful and important teachings in this regard, which is why Ram and I now place greater emphasis on them. It is what underpins the psychology of the apparent reality and there is no getting away from it for the jiva, even an enlightened one. There is nothing like these teachings in any school of thought, religious, scientific or secular. It is so simple and powerful, and it works. It solves everything for the jiva, permanently and definitively, where nothing else does.
“A good example of someone who denied this obvious fact is the disgraced Suddhananda. He was a good teacher but he managed to avoid facing his huge sexual vasana and the consequences of the rajas/tamas that created it for decades – until Isvara took him down – no one escapes Isvara for too long. Whatever the individual is projecting or denying it will have to be faced sooner or later. It is all very well to dismiss the gunas and vasanas as not-self once all the objects have been negated; why bother with them? That is fine if one is okay with how the gunas colour the vasanas, which condition the subtle body, and then to live with the suffering that follows, however it plays out. In my understanding, without actualisation freedom is not that free – or that much fun either.”
This depression you are feeling is a result of tamas, and it originates from the causal body, Isvara, or the gunas, which is to say from ignorance, or maya. It does not belong to Terence, and as long as he identifies with it he suffers. It has nothing to do with Terence, or awareness, it belongs to Isvara. At the same time, even though you may know that it does not belong to you, it produces suffering for the jiva. Obviously, this is not a happy situation for Terence.
You can look at this in two ways. If you are firm in the knowledge that you are the self and this has nothing to do with you but belongs to Isvara let it play out until it is over and no longer conditions the subtle body. The effects of ignorance take some time to dissipate. Depending on what Terence’s prarabdha karma is this could take months or years, it is not up to him. As the self you observe this dispassionately and go about the business of your life not perturbed by it.
The second approach is considering the possibility that you still have some work to do to clean up Terence’s psychology. Being enlightened is not a prescription for instant relief for a suffering ego. It is not a magic pill to make the jiva feel better. Take a good look and see if there is anything Terence is still projecting or denying (rajas and tamas) and which approach is appropriate to help this along. Managing the gunas (triguna vibhava yoga) most often means that one has to take a look at your lifestyle – your work situation, your diet and exercise, home situation – attitude to relationships and what kind of people you have in your life, money, sex, what you do to recreate, what you do to inspire the mind and keep it uplifted, etc. Change what you can change and accept what you can’t. Or live with it without complaining. There is no right or wrong. This is not about making Terence a “better” person, there is no such thing. It is about being free of Terence, free of suffering and enjoying life while apparently “in” a body.
Terence: Yes, there has been confidence in the self, and as a result a reflection of peace in the mind. However, there is also the apparent self that although plays a small role these days. It still seems somewhat powerful.
Sundari: The reflected self, or jiva, never goes away. The whole point of self-realisation is the firm knowledge that the jiva is always “playing a role.” Seeing as it only has an apparent existence in the apparent reality, you know that it is not real. It is an actor in a soap opera, nothing more. It is subject to all the endless permutations of the causal body, i.e. ignorance. It is in a state of constant flux, which continues “after enlightenment.” If this powerful role it still plays is being experienced as a negative effect and causing suffering for Terence ask yourself, who is making this statement? As the self nothing affects you. Terence is inert and an object known to you. So who is experiencing this effect?
Terence: There has always been this stop-and-go type of energy with the words, thoughts and feelings that circulate through the body-mind. The mind will be thinking about something or the words coming out of the mouth will be in the middle of a sentence when all of a sudden an abrupt stop in the flow of energy happens. A lot of others I see seem to be more of a faucet, once you turn them on they can just flow effortlessly. I don’t really know how to do that, just one symptom of depression. I’m just curious to know if you’ve met people out there who are going through something similar to me and how they let it flow.
Sundari: The “flow” is just the play of the gunas and how they condition the subtle body, according to its karma and its svadharma. Thoughts and feelings are objects known to you; they originate in the causal body and will forever be in a state of constant change. Sattva produces clarity, peace and bliss. Rajas is the mode of passion and desire, projecting constant activity, agitation. Tamas is depression, anger, self-loathing or criticism, sloth, denial. The gunas are all operating all the time; they function together: where you find rajas you will find tamas. Sat is the nature of the self; when ignorance, or maya, is operating, the first guna to appear is sattva, which becomes the subtle body, in which experience appears. When the mind is pure there is a feeling or experience of flow. When the flow is interrupted either tamas has clouded it or rajas has disturbed it. Depending on how much rajas and tamas is there, sattva is often not known to be there or not experienced as sattva by the jiva. When it stops or changes, it means that rajas or tamas has replaced sattva. Others do have this problem; in fact everyone has to deal with the gunas, there is no escape from them. Some have an easier time with it, some not so it easy; it depends on “their” karma. Often nothing can be done about it.
See the value of action in inaction and inaction in action. In other words, if you have not been applying karma yoga it is essential that you do. Consecrate these feelings of depression to Isvara, the total, knowing it is all you. See it as an act of devotion to yourself. Take appropriate action (or not) and take whatever results or lack of them that come as prasad. Prayer and meditation are also very useful tools to help purify the mind.
I hope this helps.
~ Terence Loftus
Sundari: You are welcome.
~ Om and prem, Sundari