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How Far Is Experience from You?
Seeker: Hi, Julia. Thank you, I very much appreciated your feedback (and Ram’s) on my inner noise. Because of the spiritual work I’ve been involved in for the last four years or so I’ve had a lot of “spiritual experiences,” periods of bliss and awakening, etc. And what has drawn me to Vedanta is the recognition that these experiences, which I had previously believed were the goal of spiritual work, are necessarily temporal; I always end up back with myself. So I’ve been appreciating myself in my “normal” state, which helps to not create duality within myself between “spiritual (and thus better) me” and “normal me.” It’s all just me. I certainly went through a time of believing that the way to remedy the transitory nature of those experiences was to have more and better experiences. But it didn’t matter how lovely they were.
Julia: Great assimilation! You are absolutely right.
Seeker: So I continue to have “spiritual” experiences and states – there is the sound, and lately an experience of inner light and clarity – and I’ve been noticing how the mind objectifies these experiences. That is, even though they are clearly occurring within me, the mind decides to be separate from them, and thus I experience them as “not-me.” So I’ve been working with this: noticing it, allowing for the possibility that the inner light is me and experiencing the mind from the light (this feels like more of an exercise or inner game rather than a profound shift), but mostly just noticing it and the various qualities of the light or sound, what effect that has on the mind and my experience of myself. It does often feel like the mind (all the thinking and feeling) is remarkably superficial.
Julia: The doer wants to do something with the experiences. It wants to shift and work with them. Just relax! There is nothing to be done.
Seeker: My question from all this is one of practice: What is it most useful for me to attend to in the context of these experiences? What practices will help me to move beyond experience and into realization?
Seeker: You cannot move “beyond” experience, because this is a non-dual reality.
There is no beyond. Everything that exists is you. When the mind is very sattvic and bright these kinds of experiences occur. Contemplate them, when they arise. Notice that you are always beyond them. It is the one to whom experience presents itself that is you.
When you hear a sound or see a light, how far are you from it? Is there a gap between you and the sound?
Here an example for an inquiry. Try this with an innocent open mind:
Where does the sound occur? (Leave the concept of mind out of it for a moment. Mind is only a helpful idea.)
How far you are away from the sound? Is there any distance?
Are you here and the sound is there?
What and where is “there”? Is there really such a thing as distance?
The sound is in you. But if it is in you and seen by you, can it be anything other than you?
Don’t look from the perspective of a body-mind entity, but take the standpoint of your nature, pure consciousness, while you contemplate.
Or another example, if you take the concept of the mind:
The light appears in the mind. Where is the mind? Who is seeing the mind? How far are you from your mind? What is the mind made out of?
You heard the answers many times, but when you contemplate every one of those questions during your epiphanies you will see the non-duality of your nature with no doubt! Everything is in you and made out of nothing other than you.
Seeker: Thanks again for your time and attention.
Julia: You are very welcome.
~ Warm regards from Tiruvanamalai, Julia