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Gratitude Is a Gift in Itself
Tim: Hi, Sundari. Well, just when I thought you two couldn’t possibly be any more awesome – thank you so much for such a beautiful, warm and lovely chat, and for always making me feel so extremely welcome since we’ve been in contact. It’s so amazing how much of yourselves, your time and knowledge you both share. I am always very conscious of taking up your time but I am so glad I got in touch a few months ago.
It is fantastic to have a connection to you both, and that alone is actually very helpful, healing and rewarding. To see real people living with, through and as self-knowledge every day, without making a big deal of it or acting like the moronic and foolish Neos, is beautiful.
To be able to talk openly about life, to share, to reflect, to be able to learn so much from you both – I don’t have that with anyone else. In almost every conversation I ever have with people, I usually just sit back and listen and ask questions where necessary, but much of my focus goes to taking an interest in the other person and making them feel good about themselves (I think that’s what the crux of “people skills” really is – making people feel good about themselves). It is extraordinarily rare for me to actually enjoyably participate in a conversation and even more foreign for me to do a lot of the talking – in fact, it is a skill I’ve lost to a large degree and it felt unusual to talk so much, so apologies if I was rambling on!! I really enjoyed just chatting about various things and that was more valuable for me than peppering you both with a huge stack of questions.
Also, thank you for suggesting that I think about teaching at some point. That gave me a lot of confidence in where I am at, and I know it is the best way to continue learning. I am not ready yet to interact with Tim but I will definitely think about how I can contribute in some way. I think sharing my story could be helpful to others as I really enjoy and benefit from others doing just that.
At the moment, I think the best thing I can do is to stay focussed on the work. My main focus now is to continue to purify toxic samskaras. Anxiety, tension, worry, nervousness and non-specific fear, all of which were very deep-seated, have reduced by about 60-70% (in fact before Vedanta I never thought I’d even get close to that, and the useless Neo teachings didn’t make even the tiniest impact on it). But I feel attention is still required to these matters and the samskaras have to be worked through and seen off, though I am conscious of not trying to become perfect, pure or holy.
There is much more peace now – even in the face of personal challenges and in my response to the sad events of the world which have always been extremely troubling and difficult for me to process and deal with. I still shake my head in disbelief sometimes, but it’s much easier for me than before.
And thanks for helping me with my questions about the knower. That was really helpful. It’s so simple. But I was getting Timck on that issue and wasn’t able to clarify it myself.
I really, really, really, really, really, really, really hope you make it out to Australia. If you do make it down here, and there is anything on a practical level I can do, please let me know. I probably can’t offer any accommodation as I live in a tiny 50-year-old granny flat in someone’s backyard (though that may change as I may move soon, in which case you would always be welcome to stay with me anytime), but if there is anything I can offer or do please let me know.
I am looking forward to the Panchadasi videos too.
Anyway, back to work. I will let you know how things go and I hope we can chat again soon.
Deepest love and gratitude to you both for today and everything else.
Sundari: Hello, Tim, you are so kind! And we likewise so enjoyed meeting you – although I said to James after signing off that the amazing thing about Vedanta is that the usual social pretensions, protocols and egoic Tim simply do not apply when talking to another Vedantin. There is no need to “get to know” you because we already know everything that is important about you. One simply relates quite naturally to the self as the self without the encumbrance of “otherness” or separation. The life story may be different, but it is just a story and we know it.
I know only too well how you feel about so-called normal communication with samsaris as I have had that same struggle most of my life. About from the fact that it is beyond boring having contact with samsaris: It is distracting and so tiring. We avoid it as much as possible because a sattvic mind does not enjoy having to modify to rajas and tamas. It never fails to amaze us how much hot air and useless blabber most people are capable of. I too find it much easier to just listen and watch how “other” minds function, without ever saying much about me because rajasic/tamasic minds are too extroverted to hear, so there is no point. And anyway, “my” story is equally boring.
As a knowledge-seeker without self-knowledge, one has to struggle along in the world, trying one’s best to communicate in a language severely limited by ignorance. It is no wonder true seekers feel like they come from another planet! It is such a relief “finding” Vedanta and knowing that the promised land is real and it is you – and being able to share that knowledge with others who are not other and know it. One then has such compassion for the world and for samsaris; they are so trapped. Even though we have limited tolerance for them, we really do see only the self talking, albeit in self-ignorance.
We are so blessed because the majority of our communications and social interaction is with sannyasis and jnanis, like yourself. Being a Vedantin makes one privy to the only world where true communication really does take place – and it does not require words, although Vedanta has perfected the use of words through understanding. We are so blessed and never a day goes by when gratitude is not felt keenly as the mind’s predominant feeling-state. What most people don’t understand about gratitude is that it is not something we owe to Isvara. Isvara gives us the ability to feel gratitude – gratitude is a gift in itself.
I am so glad that the “teaching thought” has some purchase with you because I really feel you will make a great teacher. You have a very good grasp of the methodology of Vedanta, you use language carefully and clearly, and you have such love and respect for the tradition. If you are meant to teach, Isvara will let you know. I never saw it coming and tried to duck out of it (ha, ha) but Isvara was having none of that! James threw me in the deep end as I am a reluctant teacher, but James says that those are the best kind because they have no personal motivations for wanting to teach. Non-identification with being a teacher is essential in Vedanta because teaching happens through the mind. Isvara is the only teacher. And now that “I” have been teaching, I can’t imagine ever not teaching because Isvara has employed and deployed this here intellect in its service, like it or not!
As for coming out to Australia, the funny thing is we have not been that keen because it is so far, and we don’t have a sangha going out there. We are seriously considering it though, as we have several very dedicated Vedantins who would love us to come, especially our friends Ben and Susan da Silva in the Blue Mountains who are nagging us and will host the event if we do come. Thank you so much for your kind offer of help.
We are most impressed with your dedication to your sadhana, Tim; you are doing just great. The interesting thing about deep-seated samskaras is that you cannot really “work” on them. It is only by subjecting the mind constantly to Vedanta that self-knowledge prises them free from wherever they are Timck and reveals the bondage that they create. Once Isvara releases them from the causal body (or unconscious) and they appear in the conscious mind, only then can they be dissolved in the light of self-knowledge. There is no doer involved. A limited entity like the ego can never achieve a limitless result – freedom from bondage. This is the tricky part of nididhysana – and why so many erstwhile and genuine seekers get Timck in their self-inquiry. The doer can survive self-realisation because doership is so much more subtle at that level. Even though there are no real “levels” to self-realization – one cannot become more aware, one can only become less ignorant of one’s true nature – still these deep-seated pratibandikas are big Timmbling blocks. If you don’t clean them out “before” enlightenment, Isvara forces the mind to understand them “after” enlightenment.
We know many self-realized people who struggle with this. Some are convinced that if they “Timdy” Vedanta, learn Sanskrit and quote the scriptures, this makes the doer “holy,” or worse, superior. They believe that this gives them a pass. They don’t see that you can’t Timdy Vedanta because the subject matter is you. This is all the scriptures are saying. They get lost in the means of knowledge. Some lose themselves in devotional practice, making a big deal out of rituals and symbols. Neither practice is bad or wrong, it is just a question of motivation. If your motivation for doing either is to somehow strengthen, improve or bolster an insecure or damaged ego, all you are doing is reinforcing the doer, and ignorance. It will backfire. Once the mind is subjected to self-knowledge and has signed onto to it, watch out. Make sure you read the fine print before you get started with self-inquiry because once you do, Isvara will get to work on everything you thought you knew about yourself! There is no way to avoid seeing all the supposedly less-than-fabulous aspects of the ego in the full light of self-knowledge, if moksa is your aim.
The point is not to wail, “Mea culpa,” and beat yourself up. Quite the contrary; it is to see, well, yeah, so this is what is lurking “down under”! Well, it does not belong to me, the jiva, as it comes from the causal body and the jiva did not put it there. AND it sure does not belong to me – awareness – so who does it belong to? Well, Isvara, technically, but not really – because this Timff is not real. These phantoms of the deep are no more than paper dragons. When we see this, then and only then do they go away, like smoke dissipating on the horizon. The pressure of those vasanas is released from the mind, just like a valve releasing the pressure from a pressure-cooker when opened. As you well know, moksa is not about perfecting the person. The person will always be limited as a person. Moksa is freedom from the person and, once free, if “its” conditioning pops up – which it will from time to time – so what? You just see it for what it is, the mind does not condition to it. Following dharma is as natural as breathing because you are dharma.
From this vantage point, you can see what happens in the world with dispassion. It is the way it is because it can’t be any other way, because it is not real. If it were real, then ignorance could never be removed. But it can, only through self-knowledge, nothing else.
As for the observer, we think it would be wise to continue to contemplate on whether consciousness is a property of the intellect or whether the intellect is a property of consciousness. Of course, awareness does not have properties, but we use the term advisedly. From reflected awareness’s point of view, the intellect seems to be conscious, but from the point of view of awareness, the intellect is an object known to you. This discrimination between sattya and mithya is the most subtle of all discriminations.