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Samsara Is Only in Your Mind
Chris: Samsara is said to be eternal, without beginning or end.
Sundari: Samsara is not eternal, but beginningless Maya is. Maya causes samsara, i.e. the hypnosis, or the superimposition, of duality onto non-duality, which makes the changeless appear to be changing. Samsara, or personal ignorance (avidya), ends with the removal of ignorance. There is no samsara in my mind, because Self-knowledge removed my ignorance. Macrocosmic beginningless ignorance (Maya) continues to function but no longer affects me.
Chris: Even if all karma of all jivas are done, a new cycle of Isvara’s creation can bring new jivas into existence.
Sundari: There is only one eternal Jiva appearing as the many apparently unique individuals or non-eternal (personal) jivas. Although it seems like the personal jiva lives for a moment in time, in truth it is indestructible because the non-eternal jiva is awareness too and is always present, just not always as a subtle body, or person. And as a subtle body, it is an eternal principle in awareness, either unmanifest or manifest whenever Maya manifests.
Maya is also an eternal principle or power in awareness. There is essentially no difference between Jiva and Isvara except in their capacity to create. Isvara creates the objective world, and Jiva creates its subjective world, its world of thoughts and feelings – which also come from Isvara, the gunas. Isvara is omniscient, creates all objects, subtle and gross, and the jiva only knows the objects it has contact with. It cannot create a flower, the sun, the moon and the stars.
Here is one of the greatest of all great sayings in Vedanta, because it captures the essence of the teachings: Brahma satyam jagan mithya jivo bramaiva na parah. Memorize it. It means:
“I, the Self, am limitless consciousness and the jiva is non-different from me.”
Please read the attached satsang on the identity between awareness, Isvara and jiva.
Chris: Since there will always be jivas in samsara, there will always be experience of the world, just as I (as jiva) am currently experiencing the world. Even if this jiva is liberated, I am at the same time all other jivas who are not liberated, therefore there is no end for my experience of samsara regardless of moksa.
Sundari: If you are thinking within mithya as the person (doer/experiencing entity), which you are, the jiva and the world it lives in is finite and always limited. Even as a liberated jiva, the Creation functions on certain immutable laws to which you are still subject. Moksa is liberation from and for the jiva. Though there is only one Jiva and its essence is awareness, when ignorance is removed from the individual it sees everything as the Self, but it is no longer deluded by Maya. Moksa means the world is only an appearance in you, you are free of duality – ignorance – and therefore no longer suffer existentially.
Samsara is only in your mind; it is not an actual thing or fact. It is a mirage, it is not real – i.e. not always present and always changing (mithya). But you, satya, the non-experiencing witness of the jiva, are always present and never change. You never come and go. You observe the apparent coming and going of Creation but only ever see your Self. Once Self-knowledge has removed ignorance, you are never again identified with being the jiva (person), and samsara is over FOR YOU, though it continues for the other jivas still under the spell of Maya, until they realize their true nature as the Self.
Non-duality is very tricky because it almost always involves both/and, not either/or. There are two orders of reality, satya and mithya, the real and the apparently real, or duality and non-duality. These two orders are not in opposition to and do not contradict each other, even though duality is not real and is superimposed onto non-duality. Although there is only one eternal Jiva, Maya makes it look like there are many individual jivas by giving sentient beings a seemingly unique uphadi, which is their vasana load, the subtle body, or personal ignorance (avidya). An uphadi is a limiting adjunct – that which makes something appear to be something other than it is. For instance, if I have a red rose behind a clear crystal, the clear crystal will appear to be red even though it is clear. Put it this way: the uphadi for the Self/awareness (or what we can also call perception) is the person – the individual or self under the spell of ignorance and it makes the Self look like it is a jiva. However, what belongs to the person does not belong to the Self, because the person and awareness do not exist in the same order of reality.
The Self, the subject, is what is real; and the object, the person, is what is apparently real. The perceiver only looks different in accordance with the uphadi in association with it; the difference belongs to the uphadi and not to the subject (the Self). It is just an appearance in awareness causing a sense of difference where there is no difference. Maya is a very clever trickster – ignorance is very intelligent. Maya is Isvara’s (apparent) uphadi.
Your confusion is in what belongs to the person and what belongs to the Self: you think that what applies to the person also applies to the Self. As stated above, the person and the Self are not the same, because of the different uphadis. What belongs to the person cannot belong to the Self, because the Self is a partless whole. So the Self cannot be a jiva, but the jiva is the Self. Understand? Like the wave is the ocean but the ocean is not the wave; the pot is clay, but the clay is not the pot; the ring is gold, but gold is not a ring – that kind of thing. These are only apparent contradictions which resolve when the logic of Vedanta is applied to them.
Chris: I do not see how final liberation (end of this world created by Maya) can ever be achieved. I was Shankara, Buddha, Jesus, it was me who experienced all those jivas, and yet here I am experiencing this jiva regardless.
Sundari: You do not see it because you are thinking as a jiva, not as the Self. Shankara, Buddha, Jesus or John Smith are all names for the Self, awareness. The problem is you think the world is real. As long as you are identified with the jiva/world, you are stuck in it and there is no liberation, apparently. But as the Self, you have never been bound. Everything and everyone are you, but you are not it.
Chris: Please help me understand where I might be wrong.
Sundari: The teaching on Isvara/Jiva/awareness is extremely subtle and difficult to assimilate, but it is the key to moksa. Please let me know if the attached satsang helps. The full teaching on this is given in Inquiry into Existence by James Swartz, available on our website. It is his commentaries on one of the most important texts in Vedanta, Panchadasi.
Chris: I feel like I can never properly state my question, the gist of it is always missed.
Let me try this way:
I am atman am in everyone; my consciousness and your consciousness are both the same consciousness. Now, if this jiva of mine realizes the true nature, that doesn’t liberate my neighbours, parents or anyone else. They will be reborn. BUT, since their consciousness is mine, it will again be me who experiences their lives.
I believe I am everyone in the world and as long as there is anyone in the world I will be in the world. If this universe vanishes and a new one is created with new jivas, I will be experiencing all their lives. There was never a time when I wasn’t and never will be.
So I don’t see a point in liberation. I can realize my true Self and not be reborn in samsara, but at the same time I am everyone else who did not realize their Self.
My liberated jiva can be removed from the picture because it is same as non-existence, there will be no object for the subject. But subject-object relationship will always exist and it will again be me who experiences it.
I am all jivas.
I even believe, since time is created by the mind, that I can wake up in the year 1200. I am everyone who ever existed and ever will, and I cannot see an end to this world where I am in.
Sundari: No, I did not miss the gist of your question, but you did. You do not understand what you are revealing by asking this question. Your thinking is from the jiva’s perspective. You may know you are atman, the Self, but your knowledge is indirect. You know about awareness do not understand yet what that means for you.
If you know you are the Self and not the jiva, and there is only you, there is no suffering, no world and no jivas. As I said before, as awareness you are a partless whole, so how could there be “others”? There is only you. Don’t you see that Maya makes the world and all that happens in it appear real, but it is not? This whole show is a dream taking place in you, with dream jivas apparently suffering or enjoying. When your personal ignorance has been removed you see everything as perfect the way it is, there is nothing to fix and no one to save. You know that Isvara takes care of the Total perfectly as karma phala data, the one who delivers everyone’s karma. There is nothing anyone can do to change that. It may all look very real, especially the suffering, but it is not. As the Self, you do not suffer and you do not see anyone as suffering, because you see them as the Self, even though as samsaris their lives play out very differently to someone with Self-knowledge.
I know it is hard to understand how Maya functions, why suffering exists in the world. How can we look at suffering and be immune to it? How can we say Isvara is compassionate? Because of Self-knowledge dissolves the mirage of Maya. Isvara’s compassion is inextricably linked to its omniscience and omnipotence. Its “job” is to take care of the whole Field of Existence because it is the mechanism by which the nature and function of all existent objects are controlled to keep the show on the road. If this were not so, everything would grind to a halt.
Karma is impossible to understand from the jiva’s perspective because the jiva can only look at what takes place in the apparent reality from within the framework of the apparent reality. This perspective will always be limited. The apparent reality will always be limited. The only solution is to see it from the point of view of awareness. If you cannot negate the world and the jiva, you insist on making both real. It is not; that’s the whole point of moksa, non-dual vision.
Chris: Thank you, I think I am getting closer to understanding, but with this understanding a new problem arises.
If this world is only maya for this jiva (me now), what does that imply regarding my interaction with other jivas? I am talking to you, yet this is all in my mind? At the same time, this is all in your mind, but yet these two unrealities overlap into something we both agree on? How can we interact if you are just what maya created for this jiva?
While I am here, can you please answer me this also? It’s been troubling me for some time now.
Seeing how I am now talking about my pure consciousness, basically this is my mind knowing about underlying consciousness. How come the mind can know consciousness? It’s like it knows it’s being watched, so that would mean the mind and consciousness interact. If consciousness were an actionless observer, the mind would not know about it. But when I talk about pure consciousness, it is like the consciousness became an object of perception, but that should not be possible.
How can the mind know about the observer at all?
Thank you for your investment in helping me!
Sundari: I am happy to invest time to help you with your inquiry, that is what we do. However, I need to ask you a few things before replying to your latest email. What comes through in your questions is that you have jumped ahead with your inquiry without having mastered the basics required for Self-inquiry to work. I do not think you understand what Vedanta is or how it works. I have attached a satsang on the steps involved and it is important that you read it.
I could answer your question here with the same answers I gave you in my last two emails, but you are not assimilating my replies. You respond once again with a “yes, but.” Vedanta is very counter-intuitive and will definitely generate questions, but if you follow the methodology correctly, it will answer them IF the groundwork for Self-inquiry is solid. There are very definite requirements necessary for Self-inquiry to work, such as qualifications and an investigation of values, before Self-inquiry can even begin.
Self-inquiry itself has three basic levels, all of which must be completed and mastered for the next to work. If you try to jump ahead such as it appears you have done, you will hit a wall where things will just not make sense and you will get stuck, such as you are. No matter how much I try to teach you, you will have a comeback because you are not getting it and are trying to understand the teachings according to what you think you know. I suspect you are reading widely and trying to fit everything you read into your understanding instead of the other way around. If you do not have the requisite faith in Vedanta, it will not work for you.
Therefore I need to know what your sadhana consists of. Have you followed our instructions on the website for Self-inquiry and for writing to us? Have you read the books we recommend, watched the videos or signed on for any of our free online courses? Are you writing to all our teachers or exploring other teachings? I need answers to all these questions to help you.
~ OM, Sundari