Search & Read
How Isvara Creates
Sean: Hi, James. Mini-Me is experiencing confusion over the fact that, in terms of the self, nothing ever happened in the past. How does one contrast this with the build-up of the vasanas, which are said to build up over time and become one’s conditioning? This build-up of vasanas apparently over time, while there is no time in respect to the self, has this dog chasing his tail in maya. Thanks.
~ Love, Sean
James: Hi, Sean. Ah, yes, the Mini-Me problem. It is a good thing you are not Mini-Me. In any case let’s think this through. When do things happen? It is our experience that they happen in the present. This is the way it is from the point of view of reality, the self. But it seems as if a whole lot of actions took place before the present. This is the point of view of the Mini-Me. So how do we square these two points of view?
When does the vasana appear? In the present. When do you act on it? In the present. The vasana appears, then dissolves back into you, awareness. When does it dissolve? In the present. Then the thought, “I should act (or not),” appears in you. It too disappears in the present. “You” in this case is “the present.” Then the action takes place in the present, reinforcing the vasana that motivated it in the present, etc.
The Bhagavad Gita says, “The one who sees action in actionlessness and actionlessness in action is indeed wise.” Why does scripture make this statement? Because people look at reality exclusively from the point of view of the Mini-Me, which is under the spell of maya. They believe that they are the body and that it is born at a certain moment. But is this how it is? In reality, a vasana for sex appears in consciousness in the present. It disappears. Then the thought, “I will have sex,” appears in consciousness in the present. Then it disappears. Then a whole series of thoughts happen, each one appearing and disappearing before the next one appears and disappears.
Then (sorry for the “then,” as it implies that time is real, but language evolved in the dream of time) a series of very subtle thoughts appears in that portion of consciousness called Isvara, the Creator. These thoughts are hidden from Mini-Me. But they appear and disappear over and over everywhere there is life. Each appearance and disappearance happens in a minute fraction of a second and is registered in Isvara, the macrocosmic mind, or in the gross mind of Mini-Me. Isvara sees all of them in every conscious being as they arise and fall, and Mini-Me sees those that are relevant to it. Isvara remembers them all and Mini-Me remembers those it is conscious of.
This “process” – which is not a process – is similar to the process that makes movies. Light shines in the bulb of a projector (maya) and a static material film with a series of images moves quickly in front of it, giving the illusion of motion. The images themselves are made up of various chemicals which are created out of minute particles of matter which when analyzed down to their source dissolve into the observer, consciousness. When you break down the movement of the frames in front of bulb, they also appear and disappear in succession in the present. This flickering on and off creates the movie, just as the flickering on and off of thought creates the appearance of time in awareness. The body is created in this way moment to moment in awareness too – but it seems like it has a past. Memory, which is created and destroyed in the same way, makes it possible to connect various discrete thoughts and events, creating the idea of successive events. The connection too is made up of thoughts arising and falling in the same way. When you analyze a specific thought, like matter, it proves to be manufactured out of even finer discrete elements until you get to its substrate, awareness.
When awareness identifies with the body, Mini-Me is born. So it seems like Mini-Me is caught up in time, that it is changing. But it is not changing. Time is just awareness, identified with memory – which is also created in the same way – interpreting the interval between events (thoughts or actions, both of which are just consciousness apparently modifying itself into forms) – according to its desires, which are also arising and falling simultaneously in awareness. The desires that cause the interpretation are the result of ignorance, which hides awareness from the Mini-Me reflected in the intellect, which again is created out of awareness on the fly, making it seem as if time is real. Desire too is just a particular kind of thought manufactured out of you, awareness. Thoughts do not come from outside, because there is no “outside” for you, awareness. They come out of you.
Finally, what about the build-up? If you accept this analysis, there is no build-up. The build-up is just an idea appearing in you.
Taking time to be real and looking at it through the lens of ignorance makes it seem as if there is a build-up.
The problem we have when we teach Vedanta is the fact that, while reality is one, it seems to be two. So to reveal non-duality we have to take duality into account and resolve the apparent contradiction by resorting to the implied meaning of the words. The problem is compounded by the fact that the intellect is conditioned by maya and it thinks dualistically. It assumes that two cannot be one, because it has an either/or mentality, not a both/and mentality. In fact because awareness is non-dual it transcends duality and non-duality, the self and the ego, so it reconciles both.