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Sundari: Namaste, Debby. I am a little surprised that you only replied to a few of the topics I discussed in the last email. Is that because you accepted my statements or because you disagreed with them?
It seems you have certain ideas about what realised people look like, talk like and how they behave. In the Gita Arjuna asks Krishna about the behaviour of a realised person and Krishna does not answer in terms of behaviour, but in terms of the realised person’s attitude and understanding. This is because you cannot tell a realised person by his or her behaviour.
I think you have the idea that a self-realised person is a saint and perhaps you want to be a saint. It seems you have placed the idea of being self-realised in such a rarefied, supremely elevated place that it makes it quite impossible for you to reach. It seems that you are projecting this idea outwards and thinking that a self-realised person should fit your idea of what they should be. And it is undoubtedly born of a sense of spiritual or moral insufficiency.
This is a tendency of some people who have been in the “spiritual world” so long, especially devotees, bhaktas, like yourself. It seems that you are in love with the idea of being holy because it creates a feeling of love and devotion and gives you a spiritual, comforting and blissful feeling. There is nothing wrong with this, it’s beautiful. My thoughts are that perhaps you should drop the pursuit of moksa and stay with bhakti, it is the right path for you at the moment. Eventually, the bhakti will lead you to inquiry if it is done according to scripture. If it is a compensation for a sense of emotional inadequacy, an inability to love yourself or others, then it will not develop into inquiry. The lion’s share of the Vedas promote bhakti and tell the devotee how to worship in great detail. They are a kind of stealth technology designed by Bhagavan in the form of the rishis to prepare the devotee to understand the object of worship, which is always the self.
I also feel that your interest in the saintliness of others is somewhat misguided. What does it matter if James is “fully” enlightened or not? It does not matter to him or me. I think it should only matter whether you are living up to your ideal. How pure and saintly and holy are you? If he was “fully enlightened” would you take his words more seriously than you do now?
If it is your dharma to be a saint, you will be a saint. If not, not. You will become a saint quickly if you understand the teachings of Vedanta because Vedanta will make you SANE, meaning you will see that you already are pure and holy because you are the self. Only the self is completely pure and holy. When you understand this you will relieve yourself of the pressure of living up to an ideal that you can never achieve. Trying to be something you aren’t is painful.
Vedanta says James is the self, I am the self, you are the self. The only question is whether you understand what it means to be the self. James and I do, so we are not trying to be holy and pure. We are holy and pure – as the self.
The holy people you experience are of course exceptional beings, no one could deny that or not feel their love and peace. It does not necessarily mean they know they are the self and it does not matter either way, because they are the self. Awareness is the most ordinary thing there is and the ONLY thing that is always present and never changes.
I feel I should point out that James does not have a teaching. He teaches Vedanta. It is not his teaching. He is the most powerful teacher of Vedanta in the West and has great effect in India as well. If you really want to practice jnana yoga, study your motivations for doing so and then make sure you know the qualifications necessary for moksa.
One of the most important qualifications is svadharma. It means two things. It means doing your own dharma before you do the dharma of others. Krishna mentions this qualification several times in the Gita. Doing your own dharma means accepting yourself as you are, not tying to be something that you aren’t. If you are a saint, you are a saint. If not, not. You cannot become a saint by doing something. However, if you understand that you are awareness and not the Debby-person, your actions and thoughts and feelings will be compassionate and loving. If you take yourself to be a flawed human being, you will always be flawed because everything in maya is flawed. If you actually lived with these people you idolise on a daily basis, you would find many things that do not fit with your definition of sainthood. All our gods have feet of clay.
You are doing fine on your path of devotion, it is beautiful and you are at home there. There is no right or wrong about what you do or don’t do; the self does not mind. It is the one thing you cannot lose, even if you do not know your true nature.
I told James about your miracle and he says you are lucky to have the blessings of Shiva Shakti Amma, but he also said that if you have non-dual vision you will see that everything, large and small, good and bad, is miraculous. Or as A Course in Miracles says, there is “no order of difference in miracles.” Every moment is an epiphany.
With regard to the miracle, God is all of it. You, Shakti Amma, the man who brought the wallet, your anxiety, your relief, etc., everything is God. You are not God. You are awareness, the knower of God. God, Isvara, needs you as awareness to be God and do what it does.
I also read to James your statements about realised people and prayer. I think the implication was that because James does not act spiritual that he is only an intellectual. James said that his whole life is a prayer. Everything he does is dedicated to God. He does not show off in front of others by praying, but he does it inwardly so people do not think he is a saint and get the wrong idea. It is called upamsu bhakti (secret devotion). We are both upamsu bhaktas.
In reply to your problem with saying “me” when you refer to awareness, James and I have direct knowledge (aparokshajnana) of the self, so it is appropriate to say “me” when referring to it. But if your knowledge is indirect (paroksha) then you feel it is not true to say you are the self. The whole point of Vedanta is to convert indirect knowledge, which is good, to direct knowledge, which is better. In this way you get to be it and to worship it.
~ Om and prem, Sundari