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How Well Things Turn Out
Mario: Dear James, I hope you have been well. It’s amazing how things just turn out!
I never received your email reply below. I found it through your website satsangs for December just a couple of days ago! I was reading through it and found it oddly so familiar, then realised it was my email!
Your reply must’ve been lost in the internet cosmos. And here I was thinking maybe you were too busy to reply or that you purposely did not reply, knowing I just needed time to discover the answers myself.
Wow, I was so happy to read your reply! Lucky I have been diligently reading the satsangs at your website, otherwise I d have missed it!
Time has passed since my last email to you. Thinking back, time was needed to digest and understand what was happening. I was mentally not prepared and equipped for what was to follow. It was rereading your email replies and continued listening to your audio and satsangs that helped me through.
James (to Mario several months before): “Two questions. First, the word ‘scrutinize.’ Does the scrutiny involve any interpretation or evaluation of Mario and his behavior – his thoughts, feelings, etc? Or is it just seeing, observation, without comment? If it involves evaluation then it is Mario, reflected awareness – what is sometimes called the ‘opaque’ witness, i.e. pure sattva illumining the bundle of Mario-vasanas. It is a beautiful state of mind but implicit in it is a subtle evaluation, a lovely spiritual bias – what happens is seen in terms of truth, beauty, authenticity, enjoyment, etc. The word ‘scrutiny’ implies an active evaluation of things whereas the non-experiencing ‘transparent’ witness makes no comment whatsoever.”
Mario: At the time of that email, it was evaluating Mario’s thoughts. Thoughts that would have arisen would be immediately followed up by an internal voice asking, why are you thinking this thought? Or, why are you angry? Or, why does this bother you? And in most cases, this was enough to arrest the thought right there and no further action would arise, giving a sense of peace of mind. It was like an airport customs officer allowing certain thoughts past and questioning the suspect ones. The end result over time was that I was not being bothered by my thoughts.
James: Your second paragraph makes me think that it is the transparent non-evaluating witness. It conveys the sense of complete dispassion.
Mario: That nostalgic feeling I was referring to has long since gone. I’m not sure what it was. It lasted a couple of weeks. Maybe it was the feeling of parting with an old friend called ignorance.
These days thoughts arise but they aren’t really questioned anymore, they are thoughts in line with the field. I’m not sure how to describe it, words can be so tricky to use. Thoughts aren’t arrested and questioned as vigorously as before, they kind of just are allowed to make their appearance then disappear, I don’t act on them or get affected by them. It’s like how you talk about being the transparent witness. There is no urge to action or correct the thought, good or bad, although more times than not they are good/nice thoughts now, life is good! In the end, good or bad don’t really matter to me.
James: Is it Mario’s fate to be scrutinized until the end of his days? It depends on what you mean by the end of his days. Isn’t this the end of Mario’s days insofar as you are not Mario? It seems Mario only lives because you have falsely identified yourself with him. Is he closer to you than any other object, like his wife and kids, for example? If the knowledge of who you are – the non-experiencing witness – is firm, then the Mario-object will gradually fade away and become more and more transparent and insubstantial. If it is not firm now, Mario will become like a mirage – there but not there. And at some point it will merge into you, awareness, leaving only you, appearing – from the outside – as Mario.
Mario: Yes, Mario is but one of endless objects that appear in me, he has the same order of reality as this keyboard. I remember in one of your early replies, that to understand certain concepts one needs to view from the self’s point of view, then it would all make sense. I’m finding a lot of the concepts and teachings that I couldn’t understand before now make much more sense. There’s a whole new perspective when I listen and read about Vedanta now, it’s so refreshing and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon.
James: “Did you or do you have a false notion of expecting something to happen? Yes, indeed. Moksa is rare because everyone has an idea that something wonderful is supposed to happen. Actually, what has happened is very wonderful but it doesn’t seem important because of expectations that have been set up through your contact with spiritual culture, which almost exclusively presents enlightenment in grandiose, hyperbolic language – ‘the light of a thousand suns, etc., etc.’ A sense of relief probably accompanies this knowledge. And a gentle irony – ‘My God, I was only looking for this… for me… all along?’ Nothing has been gained. Only ignorance has been lost.”
Mario: Yes, I did have a false notion of something spectacular to happen. I was raised by parents who were devoted Buddhists and growing up I’d read books about the Buddha and his teachings. All this cooked up a false notion of what enlightenment was. Actually, I don’t even recall Buddhist texts that I read explain exactly what enlightenment was, so it was up to me to interpret what it could be and imagine what it might be like.
I could not help but laugh when I read your comment, “My God, I was only looking for this… for me… all along?”
That’s almost exactly quoting what I was thinking at the time. How could I have not thought I was never present? I’m always here.
James: Do I take a back seat now? If you take a back seat, your knowledge is not firm. If you understand “I am the back seat,” that is the end of it.
Mario: I cannot help but recall that dream I had about you handing me that sponge to smell. How funny that I missed the essential knowledge it was delivering about me. It revealed to me both the dreamer and the waker and the witness of those two states. Yet I would have never figured it out if it wasn’t for you pointing that out to me even though it was blatantly presented to me in plain sight. Here is the dreamer, here is the waker and now back to the dreamer. That witness would have gone unnoticed. I can understand now how it can be so easily missed, hidden in plain sight!
Thank you so much for your time and generosity. You are the direct cause of what has happened to me. I do sincerely hope to thank you in person one day.
For now I will continue to read and reread, listen and re-listen to all your teachings. Each cycle brings forth a deeper understanding and outlook.
Bye for now.
James: Hi, Mario. Lovely to hear from you. It was probably my fault that you didn’t get the letter. I sometimes write them, let time sit for review and then mail them. But if there are several on my desktop I occasionally think I have already sent on, I post them on the Web instead. It’s cool how it turned out. Either me or my wife answers every email, although we will have to get some help from others before long because of increased demand. In any case, thanks for the follow-up. I was sure it would be like this because I felt that the knowledge went in and stuck. It takes time for it to work out in one’s life but it always does and the results are always good. Take care of yourself. You might find the USB stick with 110 hours of video of me teaching various texts useful. You can get it at the website. It’s dirt cheap, particularly for people with pounds – I think you are English – about 150 quid. Give yourself an enlightenment present. ☺ It’s almost as good as seeing me in person.
~ Love, James