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Does the Shit Stick?
Graham: Is it correct that your main message for me is to love myself whatever the circumstances, whatever the state of mind is, regardless of whether the mind is in judgment mode or in loving kindness mode, regardless of what others think about me?
Sundari: Yes. Why would you not love yourself if the jiva is the Self? However, the Self is not the jiva. So the question is, are you the jiva or are you the Self? The jiva can never compete with the Self, obviously. It overcomes its smallness by living as the Self and consciously doing battle with the mental/emotional programs that cause unhappiness as they arise in the mind. It does not try to defend them. To do so only gives them life and makes them stick, causing suffering. Taking a stand in awareness as awareness means taking a stand in our fullness, not in our smallness. Taking a stand as the Self means the jiva is as good as non-existent. You are Self. You are not the Self and the jiva. So when the jiva appears with its judgements, dismiss it. The jiva remains as Isvara made it, for the most part – even with moksa, and we must love it unconditionally. Nevertheless, satya-and-mithya is duality if you think the jiva is as real as the Self and allow it to affect your peace of mind, which is why we say that moksa is freedom from and for the jiva.
Thank God Self-inquiry is not about perfecting the jiva, because that is impossible. All jivas have flaws. And how boring that would be to sanitize and purge it of all its interesting bits! I am sure you agree. But when we have a reaction to or an issue with someone else, it is never about them. There is no one else, because this is a non-dual reality. We can only work out our stuff with reference to the Self, there is no other way. Seeing the less than fabulous parts of ourselves (even when we know it is our not-Self) is never easy to swallow, even with Self-knowledge and we know that the “bad” bits do not belong to us. However, if we want to be free, peace of mind will never be permanent until we have transformed all our emotional/psychological disturbances into devotion to the Self so that nothing ever disturbs the mind enough to make it condition again to smallness. James is the best example of this because though he honours his feelings as a jiva, his mind is like Teflon, nothing sticks. For the rest of us, this is where all the teaching takes place in Vedanta, understanding mithya and discriminating satya from it, 24/7.
The litmus test of how free we are of the jiva’s stuff is simply this: Does the shit stick?
We are all doing our best. I still slip up sometimes, and the old jiva patterns catch, but not for long. Once you know who you are, it is impossible for Self-knowledge to stay hidden. It’s okay. Even though we may still have some residual jiva issues as we go through nididhyasana, that does not mean we are any less the Self. My best favourite saying is “the steps to get there are the qualities of being there.” Why? You are never not there as the Self. There is no there there. So never hesitate to love your not-Self warts and all!
~ Much love, Sundari