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Love as the Self
Sundari: Hello, Cindy. My sincere apologies for not getting back to you sooner. James and I have been in transit for the last two weeks and it has not been easy to reply to all emails. I arrived in South Africa a few days ago via New York/Amsterdam and James is in Switzerland teaching where he has no internet reception in the Alps. I have answered your email below, point by point. I will forward my reply to James, and when he returns from Doro he will write to you if he feels that there is anything to add to this.
Cindy: Dear James, I am writing you to get clarity on love and the self. I experience love at all times, it’s not to be given or taken.
Sundari: Which I is speaking? Cindy, the ego, or subtle body, which is the self under the spell of ignorance, is speaking as she experiences her true nature, which is love. This love, which is just another name for awareness, or the self, is always present. It is not to be confused with desire for an object, an experience, a feeling or a state of mind. It is not “worldly” love, which is severely limiting, a transaction between a subject and an object. The subject wants something from the object and will be limited by the behaviour of the object. The limitation may be fear of obtaining love or fear of losing it. Additionally, the object will want something from you in return. This kind of love is called kama and is actually the antithesis of love. The reason desire feels like love is that when its needs and conditions are met the mind is settled and blissful. When its needs are not met, the mind is extroverted, terribly agitated and restless, always wanting something, never complete or fulfilled. You only have to take a cursory look around you to see that the world is awash with weapons of mass distraction, i.e. people desperately looking for something to distract or entertain them. No object can do this, at least not for long.
Obtaining the object of desire does seemingly bring joy, but it is not the object that gives joy, because ALL objects are value-neutral. They are inert and by their very nature defective and incapable of delivering anything. Objects only have the value that the ego projects onto them. It feels so good to obtain the object of desire because desire, which is a painful state to be in, is removed when the object is obtained and the joy that is your true nature is experienced and associated with the object of desire. This results in experiential, temporary bliss. It does not last, is not real. Vedanta defines the “real” as “that which never changes.” The joy is not in the object. It is in you, awareness. As James so beautifully puts it, “Kama (desire) is the coin in the realm of samsara.” In other words, desire purchases the illusion of obtaining objects, the illusion of ownership and the illusion of doership.
Real love, which is your true nature, wants and needs nothing. It is self-satisfied and always full (purna). This love is called parama prema svarupa. Parama means it is limitless. Prema means pure unconditional love, and svarupa means that it is your nature. This love is known to be your true nature when self-knowledge removes ignorance of your true nature, negates the doer (and the objects it pursues) and reveals that you are the source of all joy. You are infinite joy or bliss, anantam. If you were speaking as the self and not as Cindy, your opening statement would have been, “I am the nature of love, and it is not to be taken or given.”
You are right, parama prema svarupa cannot be given to you, because you already are, always have been and always will be awareness. You cannot gain it or lose it, because it is you: whole and complete, non-dual, actionless, unchanging, limitless awareness.
Even though this love is not a feeling, it is experienced by the mind as a feeling of uncaused satisfaction with no beginning or end. It does not matter if the ego (Cindy) has her ups and downs and seems to be out of touch with her true nature sometimes. When the knowledge that you are awareness is firm, you will be untroubled by what Cindy is feeling. In the midst of her changes you remain unchanged.
Cindy: It’s just there. However, out of this love I may act compassionately, but the love stands alone, sometimes so “powerfully” that I spiral into tears. It can be a bit overwhelming to the body.
Sundari: Which I is talking in this statement? Awareness is not a doer. In this statement, by implication you are referring to Cindy as a doer, “acting compassionately.” When self-knowledge has removed the ignorance of your true nature and the knowledge is firm, the doer is negated. Thus you will know that it is Isvara appearing to act through Cindy compassionately and you will know that Cindy and Isvara are both you, awareness. When you know your true nature as love/awareness, you will naturally love and worship everything with deep gratitude, as you will know it all to be non-separate from you. But it will not be Cindy loving or being compassionate. Love and compassionate flow naturally without any impediment or doing. Love loves “through” Cindy as her true nature, self-luminous awareness.
You are correct: love, awareness, your true nature, is the only “part” of you that is always present. It stands alone, in that it needs nothing. All objects depend on it, but it is always free of objects. This can be overwhelming and can sometimes be expressed through tears appearing in the body. The body is not sentient; it is inert like any other object, so it does not feel anything. It is the light of awareness shining on it that makes it seem to “feel.”
Cindy: Is love the self or the shining of the self?
Sundari: Love, self-knowledge, awareness, consciousness, are all synonyms for the self. The self is self-shining, so, yes, love is the self shining as the self. The subtle body, Cindy, is an object in awareness animated because the light of the self shines on “her.” Without the light of the self, Cindy, like any other object, would not exist.
Cindy: I have a friend who is a student of yours who insists that love is passing, dependent on objects and cannot be the self. Can you please bring some clarity to this?
Sundari: As explained in my reply above, your friend is confusing desire (kama) with parama prema svarupa, the love that is your true nature. If you take love to be desire, your friend is correct, it passes and cannot be the self. The discrimination of the self and the not-self, pure love and desire, is at the very heart of self-inquiry. Although ultimately there is only the self, first you have to negate all the objects by discriminating them from awareness, your true nature (satya). If you substitute the word “awareness” every time you use the word love, press “pause” and ask yourself: “Which I is talking here? Is it the reflected I or me, awareness?” Although there are not two selves, only one, it is helpful to do this as a practice to orient and track your thinking. The reflected self is inert, an object in you, awareness, and is called the subtle body/ego/mind/Cindy. Its nature is the self – which is everything. It can be explained as the self apparently under the spell of ignorance. The pure self, awareness, is parama prema svarupa, whole and complete, non-dual, actionless, unchanging, limitless, ordinary awareness – the source of everything, i.e. YOU.
Cindy: I would also like to welcome any comments of Sundari’s.
Sundari: Thank you, Cindy, I hope this has helped.
~ Much love, Sundari