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Nadine: As I’ve been listening to James’ talks, I’ve had some questions that I’m hoping you can help me with. I feel so grateful to have you and James in my life.
1. In one of the Mandukya talks, James says there is no causal ignorance even though he’s been saying that ignorance is caused by a power in Maya. How can the Self be limitless if it doesn’t have the capacity to be ignorant?
Sundari: There is no ignorance/Maya for the Self as you know; it is the uncaused cause incapable of causing anything, because there is only itself. Ignorance is not really caused either, because it is an eternal principle in awareness, either manifest or unmanifest. Maya, which is the power in awareness to apparently limit itself, and another name for beginningless ignorance, appears to cause ignorance because when Maya appears, so does the apparent Creation.
Nadine: 2. James says the subtle body pervades the physical body but stops at the nails and hair because one feels no pain when getting hair or nails cut. Although the scalp feels pain, the brain doesn’t when cut into. Does this mean that the subtle body does not pervade the brain?
Sundari: It’s simple. Does the body die if you cut all your hair off? No. Does it die if you cut your brain out? Yes.
Nadine: 3. Can you explain tapas and how to practice it?
Sundari: Tapas is a word meaning “heat,” the force of concentrated energy generated by disciplined, sustained devotional practice. It can be produced by any devotional spiritual practice, but it can also come from things like extreme sports. It is something much sought after in the spiritual world. It can be a trap because it often leads to the “golden cage” of experiential sattvic bliss. Spiritual types wrongly believe they are only “getting it” or “being enlightened” when experiencing heightened sattvic bliss. There is no need for it if I know I am the Self and sattva is known to me, but experiential bliss is fine if I understand that bliss is my nature regardless of what guna is conditioning the jiva. We advocate the importance of a devotional practice not because it is necessary for moksa but as a means to an end; it feels good, as it is about peace of mind and living in the gratitude.
Nadine: 4. The fact that something is known is only what makes it real. But if I’m not aware of the object, it still exists in the object world, correct? Is this what James is referring to when he says this, the concepts such as world, wife, etc? Those concepts don’t exist unless I think about them; however, chairs exist even if I don’t see one.
Sundari: The only thing that is real is the Self, that which cannot be negated and is always present, the knower of objects. No object is known to the jiva unless it can be seen so a thought can reach it, and thus it can be experienced. Knowing an object does not make the object real. In mithya there are two levels to reality besides you, satya, or paramarthika, and those are vyvaharika (empirical reality) and pratibasika, subjective reality. Vyvaharika is Isvara, the world of objects (Isvara srsti) that remain whether you experience them or not. Pratibasika is jiva srsti, the personal interpretation of the world you alone experience, determined by the filters of your vasana load.
~ Much love to you, Sundari