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I’m Not Your Butler
Greetings, James. I hope this finds you and Sundari well. I wish you both a wonderful 2020.
I am in the process of going through some minor illness that has been associated with a lot of bodily pains to the point where I could get no relief from sitting, standing or lying down. Sleep was next to impossible. I have always relied on sleep to recover. I knew it would not last, but my ability to discriminate and be dispassionate through the process was lacking. I think I had an expectation that something would be different now that I have been inquiring into this existence and Vedanta, but my response was little different from any previous response and I questioned where the fruit of the practice was to be seen.
It is so easy to be sitting quietly in my chair each morning reading and contemplating the teachings, basking in the bliss sheath or to email you with all my love and gratitude when the mind is sattvic, but when the body is doing its thing these past few days and the tamasic and rajasic gunas were having their way all does not appear so blissful. Trying to discriminate the body-mind from the Self was not happening or maybe it was, but it was not having the results that I was hoping for. Fortunately, recovery is happening, as I am now able to sit and write this email. It may be strange to say, but it is great to be able to sit or lie around and just be sick – without being in pain.
The body, being a meat tube as you say, does it produce the pain or is it the subtle body? There was little projection by the subtle body onto the situation, but the pain remained persistent. There seemed little ability to cultivate the sattvic guna. I could not fall into the healing power of sleep to which I had become accustomed.
Isvara, not being a personality, then what was being presented? All that came into the mind was that this was an opportunity to recognize humility and, yes, empathy. From the jiva perspective, I was experiencing pain from which I could get little relief. I was not suffering from fear associated with the pain, but I guess I was suffering in that I held some idea in the head that my inquiry should provide a different response/experience. The obvious question you might ask is, did I take any pain medication? And the answer is no. I have never taken pain mediation, so why would I start now? I trust in the body to do its thing and it always has, so “be with it” has been my philosophy. This “being with it” seemed tougher this time, but was that because I held some idea that it should be different, knowing that all is mithya and I am satyam? That should have made a difference, I thought, but it didn’t seem to work that way.
Humility and empathy is my only take-away from this experience, but I know you can see where one is at by what one says, so I would appreciate your comments.
James: Hi, Tom. It’s natural – human nature, i.e. Isvara – to want to be pain-free, so there is no sense questioning that thought; just take it as a gift. It’s all you can do because the pain is your (sanchita) karma manifesting. You can’t change it. If you shoot a bullet at someone and regret it instantly, you can’t get the bullet back. It will hit the target. You don’t recall doing anything that would produce pain, because the intention of everyone with reference to action is to produce pleasant results. But adharmic and dharmic habits done in the past have to fructify now, so it comes to your body-mind-sense complex. Adharma produces physical and psychological pain; dharma produces pleasure. It is out of Tom’s hands. It cannot be different. So all you can do it take it as prasad.
You are not helpless, however, if you can find the upside. One upside, I’d say, is the judicious use of pain medicine. Isvara created it for a reason. Just because you haven’t taken it in the past doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it now. This is tamasic thinking, i.e. stubborness. Inquiry is not going to change karma that is in the pipeline. It is only going to change your understanding of the relationship to the body-mind-sense complex to the field of life. You mentioned the other upside: “it is great to just lie around and be sick.” Trying to change something that you can’t change is the definition of suffering.
I'm not saying that this isn't a good email, Tom. I am saying, however, that you have been at Vedanta for a long time, so you should have assimilated karma yoga by now. It is in every book and nearly every satsang. You are not thinking of me, which is the essence of karma yoga, i.e. awareness of others. I guess you think that we are some kind of buddies and you can just write the same doubts over and over, promptly forget my replies and ask the same question again. I’m not your butler. I have a life. If you want to make a donation and Skype me, maybe I can help you but I'm not confident because your intellect is pretty dull. It doesn’t make the connections between the teaching and your thoughts. You’re a good guy,Tom, but you don't realize that you are taking advantage of me.
~ Love, James