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He Knows but Doubts
Sundari: Hello, Ben, I am replying on James’ behalf, as he is swamped at the moment. He will go over my reply to give it the Vedanta clearance!
Ben: Hello, James. I am glad to finally write to you. In February 2011 I had a profound awakening. I saw from my own experience that EVERYTHING was seen, the world, the body, feelings and thoughts. Seen from “beyond,” witnessed by emptiness. These things could therefore not be me.
This was experienced, not as an idea or concept, but as an energetic shift, having nothing to do with the persona of Ben. I used to be Ben/ego (as subject) looking at the witness/awareness (as object) whereas now I see from awareness (as subject) at the identity, thoughts and so forth (as objects). All possible things are objects and I am seeing them passing. This feels like how it is expressed in the Ashtavakra Gita and other texts.
Sundari: Yes, this reversal is a classic self-realisation. It is how things are. You, awareness, “experience” the ego, Ben, not the other way around. Ben is an object in you, and he is as inert as every other object. It is simply the light of awareness shining on all objects that gives them the appearance of being real or alive. This is called the reflected, or apparent, reality. It is not entirely accurate though to say that awareness experiences the ego. Awareness is not an experiencer, even though this feels like an experience to the ego. The truth is that it has always been this way and it is only the ego, Ben, which is the self under the spell of ignorance, that seems to “wake” up to its own true nature. But the self never slept, so how can it wake up? With the removal of your personal ignorance of your true nature, the self is revealed. It has always been there, the witness of Ben, the ego.
Ben: But I sometimes feel like I’m not totally settled, as if “I” should feel happier, as if I might have missed some detail, maybe residues from the many myths in the spiritual scene (I have been a seeker for many years).
Sundari: Until the knowledge is firm that you true nature is whole and complete, unlimited, unchanging awareness, there will be a lingering longing for this realisation to deliver more, especially if one has been steeped in the experiential notion of enlightenment, which it seems you have. It is not easy to let go of that conditioning. It could also be that there is still some parabdha karma which needs to work itself out or it could be a combination of the two.
I read this to James and he said it is probably not wise to assume that this is the end of it, although it may well be. Residual doubts sometimes appear even when the knowledge, “I am awareness,” is firm.
So we suggest that you continue with the practice of knowledge and practise karma yoga. Dedicate all your actions to Bhagavan and know that the results are not up to you. Take the results that do come as prasad.
A very common misperception is that your life will miraculously be different, transformed, after self-realisation. If the knowledge is firm the binding vasanas will burn out. This will most definitely affect Ben’s life in that he will no longer depend on objects for his happiness. He will see all objects, including Ben, existing in him and know that he is free of them. This usually leads to different life choices, be they lifestyle, partners or work. But it may not. Either way, you as awareness will be untouched.
Ben: These days I mainly rest in the awareness that I am, seeing everything pass by. Is there more to do for me? How do I positively know that I don’t trick myself? I want total freedom and not to be the intellectual owner of anything or merely a poseur, like so many so-called teachers out there.
Sundari: Who is asking this question? From which perspective is Ben coming from – reflected self (ego/Ben) or self? You should be able to answer this question for yourself if you look at it this way. Moksa is freedom from dependence on objects AND the negation of the doer, the ego/Ben, and the intellect, although you need the intellect to keep up a vigilant inquiry. You’re mind has been exposed to the knowledge, it does the work. Trust in the scripture, it is the unfailing and irrefutable logic of many thousands of competent witnesses.
That being said, there are definitely things that Ben can do in addition to the aforementioned jnana yoga and karma yoga, as mentioned above – it will be almost impossible to make the knowledge firm without the consistent application of both.
Cultivate a religious attitude and pray for clarity. Give thanks and try to see everything and everyone as a symbol of the self. Study, observe and manage the gunas, as they are what govern the creation of your likes and dislikes and will show you where Ben is still invested in being a doer. They are impersonal energies that condition the subtle body 24/7.
Clean up your lifestyle, diet, exercise, living and work environment, the people you keep company with. Keep doing whatever it takes to purify the mind.
Read James’ books, especially How to Attain Enlightenment. Sign on to the logic and work methodically with it. Read the e-satsangs at the ShiningWorld website. You will find every question you could possibly ask answered there.
Ben: I don’t find many in this arena that I feel I can trust and who have gone the whole way, anyone who can be dead honest with me in the name of ultimate truth. I can elaborate further if needed. Looking forward to your answer. Thank you.
Sundari: You are very blessed to have found James. You will not find anyone more honest or authentic, he is the most powerful and sane voice for Vedanta in the West.
~ Om and prem, Sundari