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Luxuries Are Necessities
Martin: Hi, James. I think I’ve come full-circle on all this. The emotions passed and I haven’t changed. People have come and now they have gone but I haven’t changed. The objects come and go… yet I remain. Nothing gained, nothing lost. The apparent reality has changed like it always does and it’s always going to but me, awareness, has never changed and can never change.
James: That’s right. This is the knowledge, Martin. This you need to keep in mind at all times – good and bad. If you cling to it the emotions will clear up gradually. The goal is not to clear up emotions. The goal is to keep the knowledge in mind all the time until such time as you understand that you are the knowledge.
Martin: Maybe I was hoping you could slap some reality back into me but then I suppose that would be expecting an object to give a specific result.
James: Yes, you were not expecting me to dismiss your emotions as unmanly. That teaching, which Krishna gives Arjuna right at the beginning of the teaching, was not the real import of my email. There was another teaching that you seemed to have missed because I think you were more concerned with Martin and his feelings of loss and how I might see things. Go through the email without the Martin-overlay interpreting it. There were statements about self-knowledge that should be helpful. Get back to me. Our conversation can go in a more helpful direction if you can see what I’m saying.
Martin: I thought I had my identities straight but Isvara seems to keep pulling that rug out from under me, so I guess I’ll get it figured out sooner rather than later. This sure appears like a crash course anyway. I know I’m probably a hard case for you but I hope I haven’t lost my ability to communicate with you on ignorance-removal through Vedanta. It’s normal to experience emotions yet to lose my identity in the process isn’t very solid even if it’s as harsh a situation as having those closest to you die. Sorry for any drama I might have caused or sent your way. It wasn’t my intention to do so.
James: It’s normal to identify with an idea you have been trained to identify with for forty-some years. The important thing is that you did not write me off because I gave you a whack. It shows a high value for the truth. Mind you, I have no interest in whacking anybody. It is just as painful for me to deliver it as it is for the recipient. But Vedanta only works for mature people. We make that point right from the beginning because we know very well how the inner child is, how petulant, whiny and spoiled it is. In Western culture people believe that luxuries are necessities. In spiritual culture in every situation dharma requires you not to injure anyone and to add value to the situation. This is the essence of karma/dharma yoga. Telling others how hard things are emotionally can often garner a bit of sympathy but not from me. It pains me because it shows a lack of gratitude. So it is not appropriate to get emotional with me. An inquirer knows that the source of unpleasant emotions is always ignorance of the nature of reality and lives the knowledge, not the emotion. Emotions are inevitable – they will always be there – but they are not the hero of one’s personal drama. They are bit players. They have a certain value in that inquiry into them can reveal the thinking on which they are predicated. Since the sixties feelings have been elevated more or less to the level of truth and one’s whole identity is based on how one feels. It is a pity.
Anyway, hang in there, Martin. You’re a great guy, very dedicated, and I appreciate it. That’s an “attaboy” in case you didn’t get it. ☺