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Isvara, the Macrocosmic Knower
Sarah: Satya and mithya: I thought satya was the self/awareness and mithya was the world (Isvara), both manifest and unmanifest.
Sundari: Yes, that is right. Satya is the self and what is real, imperishable. Sattva is a quality of maya that makes knowing possible; it is one of the three gunas. The self has no qualities.
Both satya and mithya are teaching tools used to discriminate between awareness and the objects appearing in awareness, you. When you know you are awareness, you do not need the tools anymore. Both ignorance and knowledge are objects known to you, and can be thrown away as they are made up of awareness, arise in awareness and dissolve in awareness.
Sarah: Is it okay to say the imperishable is unmanifest knowledge and the world with jiva is manifest knowledge?
Sundari: What point of view are you looking at this from? Is it the jiva’s point of view or the self’s point of view? And what do you mean by “unmanifest knowledge”? Do you mean ignorance?
The self is the witness, pure awareness, sakshi (the imperishable); it does not know or not know. It is ISNESS, existence (sat), consciousness (chit), limitless bliss (ananda). Saksi is not conscious in the way Isvara is conscious. Awareness appearing as Isvara is the macrocosmic knower. Saksi is simply consciousness and does not become “conscious” until maya appears because saksi does not need objects to be conscious. It is purely a witness. When maya appears, the objects appear so there is something for awareness to be conscious of.
When maya is operating Isvara appears, reflecting awareness, called pratibimba. Awareness “becomes” Isvara the knower, but Isvara needs instruments of knowledge (the subtle body) and objects of knowledge (the world, gross and subtle matter). The knower – Isvara – the instruments and the objects are all mithya. The self – satya – is the witness of both the unmanifest knowledge and the manifest knowledge.
Sundari, from previous email: One cannot drop the doer because the one doing the dropping, the one seeking moksa, has to be dropped.
Sarah: I can see how the one seeking has to be dropped because the seeker is already the sought. It is easy to identify with the body.
Sundari: Yes, it is very hard to break the identification with the body mind because maya, the power to delude, is so effective and hardwired.
Sarah: Ram apparently had a SHIFT the last time he saw Swami Chinmayananda, and from that time on was a witness, something like that.
Sundari: All remaining ignorance dropped from the mind and he saw Ram from the point of view of the self – in which case he knew he was the knower of the “shift” that apparently occurred to Ram. He did not “become” the witness. He knew he was and always had been the non-experiencing witness.
Sarah: Does that happen to a few souls and the rest of us firefly along?
Sundari: This is a strange question, Sarah. It implies that moksa is a special experience that happens only to the special few. As you know, moksa is your true nature and you do not need any special experience to know it. However, moksa takes place permanently in a mind that is dedicated to it, prepared and qualified for it to obtain, if that is the will of Isvara. Most minds are not even vaguely ready or interested in moksa; those who seek it, for the most part, remain seekers because they believe enlightenment is something “special” and they need a special experience to experience it. The rest – the very few who are in the ball park – well, yes, there is a firefly period where the knowledge flickers on and off. If moksa is the most important goal and the only thing that matters, by the grace of Isvara, self-knowledge will remove all the effects of ignorance from the mind. As we have discussed at length now, the hard part is nididhysana, self-actualization. This is where most get stuck. There is no escaping the fact that moksa is for the jiva because as awareness, you are already free. Jiva is already free also because its nature is jivatman, paramatman, but ignorance hides this truth from the mind. To live free as the self, the conditioning that governs the mind – where it comes from (Isvara) – has to be seen and understood in the light of self-knowledge. There is no other way to render the binding vasanas non-binding and negate the sense of doership.
As I mentioned in our last exchange, many seekers believe that as the conditioning is not self, they do not need to take care of it. This only works if it is not a cop-out for the ego – and even then, who wants to live with constant agitation in the mind? The whole point of moksa is peace of mind.
Sarah: I need to consistently identify myself with consciousness (I AM) and not with the upadhi?!
Sundari: Yes, it goes without saying.
Barbara: I just sent money to the Humane Society, who is doing a big rescue in Mississippi right now.
Sundari: Sattva is pure maya or Isvara and makes knowing possible. Sattva is a quality of maya that makes knowing possible.
Barbara: Another name for brahman is “is known.” In maya that “is known” happens through sattva. When there is no maya the “is known” is self-aware. Is that correct?
Barbara: I thought satya was the self/awareness.
Sundari: Yes, that is right, good thinking. Both satya and mithya are teaching tools used to discriminate between awareness and the objects appearing in you. When you know you are awareness, you do not need the tools anymore.
Barbara: First you say satya is the self/awareness, and then you say satya is a teaching tool that is no longer needed and can be thrown away. That does not make sense.
Sundari: It depends from which perspective you ask the question, awareness or the jiva. Satya is a conceptual object because from the non-dual point of view of awareness, the witness, there is just pure consciousness. There is no satya and no mithya if reality is non-dual. Satya only means something if there is mithya, so we have to use dualistic terminology to negate duality. Until self-knowledge is firm, we use satya and mithya to discriminate between awareness and the objects arising in awareness. Once you know you are the self – satya – you do not need the tools anymore.
The self, satya, is the knower of both the unmanifest knowledge and the manifest knowledge. What do you mean by “unmanifest knowledge”?
Barbara: By unmanifest knowledge I mean if you ask someone to think of a beach scene they can think of it because they already know what a beach scene is. It was unmanifest until they brought it to mind. If you ask someone to think of a gooblegook they will not be able to as they do not already know what that is.
Barbara: PS: I am reading a biography of Sri Karunamayi who came to Portland for 14 years. It is good at present to read something so directly devotional and bhakti, which I usually am not drawn to.
Sundari: Indeed. The value of devotional practice cannot be understated. By the way, a seeker we have been coaching for quite a while realised the self recently while watching one of the Portland Bhagavad Gita teachings – and she told us that she found your questions particularly helpful because they were very pertinent. ☺