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Isvara the Doer
Adrian: Dear James, I told you about the pressure from my parents to complete my education, but the more I understand about reality the less sense it makes for me to put so much energy into something when my heart is not in it. It is really their desire for me. They are good people and love me a lot and I have a lot of time to inquire, so I am a little concerned about what to do in the long run. Can you give me some advice? It is not really a big issue until next year.
James: Take it easy and don’t worry about it. You have it good right now. When the time is right Isvara will make it clear what needs to be done. In the meantime this is an opportunity to take the karma yoga attitude to keep your mind still. It is the doer, not the self, that is being nagged by this doubt. You are not a doer, so the question doesn’t actually apply. The doer will probably have to eventually think about making a living one day because enlightenment doesn’t pay the rent. But if the doer is happy to be a sadhu that is okay too. There was a man in the retreat at Golden who never had a job, just knocked about doing odd jobs here and there, and he was none the worse for wear. I think it is wise that you are thinking twice about the doctor route. It is a heavy-duty committment and many, many years of hard work in samsara to justify the time and expense. Only you know if the results justify the investment. If you stick with Vedanta you will probably lose interest in it.
Adrian: I will make the karma yoga attitude a priority and wait for Isvara to let me know what needs to be done. Since I am not the doer, everything is being done by Isvara anyway. Gotta work on neutralizing my likes and dislikes so that what happens doesn’t rub the doer the wrong way.
By the way, will you be unfolding any Direct Path texts anytime soon?
James: “Direct Path texts” means what? Vedanta is direct path.
Adrian: Okay, sorry… misunderstanding on my part.
James: Direct means that the issue is knowledge, not action. Only knowledge, not action, sets you free, because you are already free. Vedanta is a means of knowledge. It does not prescribe action for moksa, only inquiry, which results in knowledge, not a particular experience of enlightenment. Indirect paths purify the mind so it can get knowledge. Karma yoga is an indirect path if the ego practices it. If the ego understands it, it is knowledge, a direct means of enlightenment because it results in surrender of the results of the actions and consequently of the doer. You will surrender the doer when you understand that action is done by the gunas.
Adrian: Ah, I see. The “Direct Path” that Atmananda and Greg Goode, among others, refer to is just a strictly contemplative knowledge instead of the karma yoga, bhakti yoga, triguna yoga, etc. which are great tools to purify the mind. I guess all yogas are essentially jnana yoga, as they all require a cognitive shift stemming from the assimilation of understanding, and then the appropriate behavioral change ensues, leading to a purer mind.
Could you also say that action is done by Isvara? Gunas, Isvara, whatever you want to call it… the doer won’t be surrendered to it if one is not qualified. As long as there is a tug towards samsara then there is still a basis for the doer to exist, since the doer is what one can use to propel oneself toward that desire or away from an aversion. This isn’t an all-or-nothing thing, is it? There may be some tugs towards certain preferences in samsara, but as long as they are not binding then it’s okay. Only I can know if it’s a binding vasana… “binding” meaning a belief that there is an actual gain/loss related to that object in samsara.
James: Good, Adrian. This is correct.