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Bart: Om, Ramji!
From the Mandukya Upanishad: “The waker and the dreamer, which are just different ways of discussing a self-ignorant person, are fractured into many sub-identities, upadhis within an upadhi, so that most of us are dealing with a confusing array of selves, none of which are real. Remember, ‘real’ in metaphysics means enduring, unchanging, unlimited. Because something is experienced does not make it real, the snake in the rope, the blue sky and the rising sun, for example.”
Are upadhis the same as maya?
James: Maya causes upadhis. An upadhi is a limiting adjunct. It is something that makes something appear to be different from what it is.
For example, if you put a clear crystal near a red rose, the crystal will appear to be red. The rose acts as an upadhi. The three bodies, which are caused by maya, make the self appear to be a doer, thinker, feeler, etc.
Bart: And awareness seems to be shining on intense feelings, anger, thoughts. They appear and then knowledge and inquiring reveals something else… self aware of self. What seemed to be there, what I seemed to experience and would name or interpret as anger, upset… the vasanas… dissolve, for lack of words.
James: Yes, inquiry dissolves the wrong idea that is producing negative emotions and the emotions resolve into awareness.
Feelings and thoughts are “mini” upadhis within the subtle body – which is the most important upadhi because this is where inquiry takes place. An upadhi – which is an effect of maya – makes it seem as if the self feels and thinks. It does not. Moksa won’t happen until you break the association of awareness with thoughts and emotions. People say, “I am angry, I am happy, I think, I feel,” etc. without the slightest hesitation. It is not true. The I is not a doer.
It is true that when you inquire into feelings, etc. they resolve into awareness.
Bart: It seems to be the subject-object deal and just a happening.
James: I am not sure what you mean by “it.”
Bart: Are these the binding vasanas?
James: If you mean upadhis, no. A binding vasana causes repetitive unconscious behavior. Addictions are an example of binding vasanas. Upadhis are the fundamental structure of the human being, the three bodies. The vasanas are located in the causal body.
Bart: Here is where I would seemingly believe as a doer I could or should do something about it, like try to change it, get rid of it, take it personally or fight back and be mean back to someone.
James: If by “it” you mean a vasana, yes, this would be a binding vasana.
Bart: The inquiry about this ignorance, this lack of understanding through knowledge, would also seem to disappear, but that word seems to reflect the door, time or form also… the self is self-aware.
James: Actually, inquiry is unconsciously going on all the time. But when it becomes conscious, which implies a doer, it is sped up. And if you do inquiry right, it will remove the doer, unlike other kinds of thinking which reinforce doership.
But inquiry is more than looking into ignorance, it is applying the knowledge of satya and mithya (what is real and what is apparent to your own mind on a moment-to-moment basis. Inquiry will not bear fruit until this discrimination is understood. If it is, you won’t give undue importance to what you think and feel. You will think it and feel it, but it will be a big “so what?,” not a big deal.
Please don’t be offended, Bart, but if you would take a bit more time to formulate your questions, it would make my job easier and it will help you see your own doubt better. Reflect on what you have written, come back to it later and see if you have expressed it elegantly. You are doing very well, but I sometimes can’t figure out exactly what your question is.
~ Much love, Ram