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Andrew: Hi, Sundari. Thanks for the lovely reply! ☺
Sundari: You are welcome, Andrew.
Andrew: Indeed I feel I need to work on some of my qualifications. But I feel I am already making great progress just by exposing myself to the teachings of Vedanta. As I mentioned already though, I’m in no rush… for me it’s a journey, and I know that there is no real destination… or end goal. I had a discussion about this with William, actually.
Sundari: Great attitude.
Andrew: William had mentioned to me his sense of not seeing the point or purpose in “doing anything” anymore with the knowledge that comes along with self-realization. I had often contemplated the implications of this for myself… and came to the conclusion that if unveiling The Truth, self-realization and attaining enlightenment was the end goal and our highest purpose in life, it would by default be the last word on the last page of the final chapter of the comical book of life/maya… and what’s the end of life? Death! So if the sense of not having/wanting/needing to do or participate in anything came with enlightenment… then we could just roll over and happily “die” having attained enlightenment. Which would defeat the purpose of attaining it for me.
Sundari: The end of life is not death unless you think you are the body; awareness was never born and never dies. There is no such thing as “enlightenment,” there is only the realisation that you are and always have been the light. Enlightenment is not the end of doing. It is the end of the existential anxiety of thinking you are the doer and needing certain results to be complete, to be “safe.” As a jiva (individual subtle body, or person) you never stop doing or experiencing. Self-inquiry into the nature of reality will bring self-knowledge, which removes the ignorance of your true nature and reveals that you are not and never were the doer. This spells the end of the pain, ignorance and therefore the end of bondage to objects, which is the notion of doership.
Freedom means freedom from the experiencing entity, or person, not for it. And when you are free, you know that you are whole and complete, non-dual awareness, the joy is not in the object and this is all a movie. As awareness, you are the screen that the movie is being shown on. And as a free jiva, the creation continues as “before,” you just know it is not real so you live and act without fear.
Duality is what is called a “conditioned superimposition,” like the mirage on the desert floor. When you know it is a mirage, it does not disappear, you still experience it, but you know it is not real. Duality is superimposed onto non-duality; this is called samsara. Samsara does not actually exist other than as a product of ignorance in the mind. It is the hypnosis of materialism – of separation – and the consequent fear born of the desires it spawns.
When self-knowledge removes your ignorance, samsara is over for you, although the apparent reality still apparently exists, because you can experience it. You just know it is not real.
This is a beautiful creation when you know who you are; it is totally benign and supportive. And it is so cool to be free “in” it when you know it is really in you.
Andrew: This ending was unsatisfactory for me though, so that book needs some editing! I firmly believe that self-realization is just the beginning.
Sundari: As stated above, there is no end to the story Andrew, unless you take yourself to be a limited entity, body-mind, called Andrew. The story of you, awareness, never began and it never ends. You are unborn and you never die. Self-realisation is just the beginning. It is where the “work” begins. You have to know what self-realisation means for you, the self under the spell of ignorance (the jiva) “in the world,” which is where the jiva lives. The self is already free, so freedom is for the jiva, from the idea of the separation, not for the self.
Self-inquiry entails examining the conditioning that makes up the story of the Andrew-person, in the light of self-knowledge. Moksa, or freedom, is discriminating the self (you) from the objects appearing in you, Andrew and his story. This is the same as saying discriminating the real from the apparently real, “real” being defined as “that which never changes and is always present.”
The only thing that fits the definition of real is you, awareness.
Andrew: Much like awakening in a dream with the realization “I am dreaming, this isn’t real”… the realization may initially be there but if we get too caught up in the emotions or feelings that may come with this realization, we either awaken into waking life or we fall back into unconscious dreaming. In order to keep the realization and to actually attain real knowledge and understanding from it, further inquiry is needed and practice/karma yoga… in the case of lucid dreaming, dream yoga, I would imagine.
Sundari: Life in samsara is lucid dreaming; you don’t need to go to sleep to experience it. Although the self never wakes up because it never went to sleep, in the apparent reality the self under the spell of ignorance apparently sleeps and wants to be free of bondage. Only self-knowledge sets you free; this is where self-inquiry and the work comes in. You need to start at the beginning, set aside what you thought you knew or know, and expose the mind with great dedication to the scripture. I have attached an e-satsang on what this entails, the general outline for self-inquiry.
Andrew: Both becoming lucid in a dream and learning to navigate in its scape and realizing the self in waking life are much the same. We assume a sort of control… not that we have any influence over the outcome of actions but we understand the mechanisms of cause and effect better… and therefore are better equiped to perform right action with a pretty certain predictability of the outcome.
Sundari: In the dream state it is easier to observe how the ego functions and what conditioning is operating, because there is no actual doer. It is a dream doer, acting out the vasanas, or conditioning, in the dream state. As you say, it is much the same as the waking state, as most people are fast asleep and don’t know it. The only way you will negate the doer is to undertake self-inquiry (which you cannot do in the dream state), and rigorously apply the knowledge, especially karma yoga to start with. There is no real predictability in duality (samsara) because by its very nature it is unstable and always changing. It is not under anyone’s control.
It is true that there is limited free will in the apparent reality; as a doer one can take appropriate actions that will most likely lead to predictable outcomes. If this were not true, no success would be possible for the jiva and there would be no way to be free of the apparent reality. Nonetheless, our conditioning comes from Isvara, or the causal body, and unless a change is introduced to the intellect that creates a change in how we think and act, free will is not that free.
Everyone thinks they act out of free will, and to a degree they do, but as stated above, all responses to life situations and actions taken as a result are predicated by the vasanas, and they by the gunas. So the only real “doer” is Isvara, because the “pure” self is actionless and cannot act, and the jiva, or person, is an inert reflection of awareness, the self under the spell of ignorance, and cannot act either.
This is the essence of karma yoga: the understanding that you as an individual are not in control of the results of your actions. They are up to the field, God, Isvara, the collective unconscious, the macrocosmic mind, or the causal body, take your pick. The name does not matter. Isvara is a name that refers to awareness wielding maya and is responsible for all the results and the entire creation. It is an absolute fantasy that anyone has any control. The sooner you realise this truth, the sooner you will have negated the doer and be free. I have also attached an article I wrote on the identity between awareness, awareness wielding maya, the individual, or jiva, and the world. It also contains a brilliant satsang on the same topic by James.
Andrew: So in essence, I think self-realization is like advanced lucid dreaming… whereas people practicing “the law of attraction” or people with enlightenment sickness are maybe lucidly aware but they are in it for the experience rather than for the Truth, so still “suffer” from ignorance. To me neither is right nor wrong… experience itself is always there anyway whether we experience knowledge or sensations… Does that make the self an experiencer?
Sundari: No. The self is the non-experiencing witness and it has no qualities: it is by nature limitless and experience-less. It is that in whose presence all experience takes place, but itself is free of experience. All experience arises out of awareness, is made up of awareness, like the spider’s web is made up of the spider, yet awareness is not the experiencer or the experience. It always free of both.
As awareness is your true nature, you are experiencing awareness 24/7 and do not need any special experience to know this. You need knowledge, which is why consciousness evolved Vedanta, the only complete means of knowledge at our diposal that is capable of removing the ignorance of our true nature.
Andrew: I don’t know… but evidence of our experience would suggest the self sure as heck likes experience… as nothing can be experienced without the self… and if matter and experience came from awareness… did awareness just get bored? Ha, ha.
Sundari: Boredom is often cited as the cause for creation. Of course the self is not a person, so this argument is more or less a joke. And awareness, being limitless, has the power of ignorance in it – or it would not be unlimited – so it can be apparently bored. This power is called maya, the power to delude. Ignorance is not stupid, it is just the absence of knowledge. Thus when maya “appears,” the self wielding maya (Isvara) does the impossible and seemingly “forgets” its own nature and identifies with objects, thinking it is limited. Thus it is the self under the spell of ignorance that wants to be free of the bondage to objects, meaning Andrew and “his” story.
Andrew: Anyway, I’m looking forward to the seminar in October and to meeting you and James and all the other attendees! ☺
~ Warmest wishes, Andrew
Sundari: Yes, I am looking forward to meeting you. ☺
~ Namaste, Sundari