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Melinda: Dear James and Sundari, thank you for your continued kindness and for being my teachers.
I want to make sure I understand self-knowledge thoroughly. I had a dream recently that showed how the mind programs the ego identity, and that made me want to write down as simply as possible my self-knowledge. Will you please look through it and see if there are any confusions to clear up? Thank you.
Self, self-illuminating consciousness, awareness, limitless, eternal… illuminating a jiva (mind, intellect, ego), by which the jiva exists. In the same way, non-dual self illuminates Isvara (the macrocosmic creation, all jivas, the collective, the causal body, sometimes called “God”) through which the universe comes into being. Consciousness reflected in the heart of the jiva/soul is ever-present, a witness and knower of the experiences of the soul. The soul, a design born of Isvara, hardwires itself into gross bodies for the purpose of burning up vasanas (desires and fears) through karma, action. The soul’s innate nature is programmed by Isvara’s sattva according to the needs of the creation. The soul’s true nature can become distorted and corrupted when it is ignorant of its true nature. This produces a heavy karmic load/strong vasanas, which extrovert the mind.
All jivas follow their natures and serve the creation in various ways. An apple tree reflecting the light and intelligence of awareness grows elegantly from a seed into tree and bears fruit without anyone or anything “doing” this. Its design simply unfolds. A soul reflecting the light and intelligence of awareness evolves as a thinking and feeling entity. The mind and intellect together are the limbs of the subtle body of the jiva/soul. The subtle and physical bodies cannot exist without awareness. Awareness illuminates both. The self is ordinary, actionless awareness, the eternal knower that illumines the Creator who dreams the universe.
A baby opens its eyes, cries, wiggles, eats and sleeps automatically without something or “someone” controlling it. It is doing what it is designed to do, but there is no doer. Galaxies turn and flowers open automatically. Light enters the baby’s eyes through the pupils and casts an inverted image on the retina, which is converted into bio-electrical signals that traverse a nerve path to the brain, a neurologically dense circuit for the unit. The brain rights the image and creates an image in the mind. The mind and intellect in the subtle body process the information as feelings and associated thoughts arise so the baby can function. The jiva honors its true nature and fulfills its role in the creation, like every creature.
The creation is a dazzling virtual reality produced by macrocosmic ignorance, which is very intelligent. So much information, sounds and feelings are processed. The baby body grows and the soul consumes all the experiences with intelligently-designed sense instruments. Sounds and sights are associated with meaning; the intellect, ignorant of its nature as awareness, builds meanings to make sense of the virtual world. One day the mother or father says a word that has been repeated so many times over the first few years that the meaning starts to stick… a name.
Pointing, gesturing, associating meanings with objects, the intellect starts to recognize this name/sound and sees, associates it with the physical body and to the experiences, feelings and thoughts arising by proximity to that body! In a few years it thinks, “I am this name. I am this body.” A spell is woven and self-ignorance strengthens. And so an ego-identity is born.
This conceptualized identity is defended by the logic that created it. As life continues, the mind/intellect builds a story around the feelings and thoughts it associates with that identity. This identity now becomes a complete mental world, its total reality. In this way we are like Isvara, but instead of dreaming the universe we dream a “personal world” into existence.
When we wake up spiritually, we wake up from the dream of our personal worlds into the true reality. Suffering happens when we believe the lie of our name, our story. No matter how entrancing the story, no matter what quests we are on, deep, deep down the awareness under the spell of maya knows there is more and feels trapped. So while the roller coaster ego-story continues and the push and pull of the tides of desires and fears steer the ego here and there, down in the heart a whispering and a longing for truth and freedom arises. The seeker is born.
Under ignorance the mind and intellect look towards objects in the world as a possible source of liberation. Like a starved creature, the ego goes into the world of maya seeking food, imprisoned in the fortress of a false identity. Mirrors within mirrors, a complex of ideas and concepts that we take for who we are: “I am this or that. I like this. I don’t like that.”
The ego is like an avatar in a computer game. Moving through a virtual world it takes to be real, its tendencies (likes and dislikes) encapsulate it. In its programmed virtual realty it enjoys virtual relationships, virtual jobs, virtual spiritual quests and virtual happiness in a vain attempt to liberate itself.
The ego is ever-present consciousness, under the spell of Ignorance. It finds itself in a virtual creation, a reflection of the Creator’s mind containing billions of idea/designs. It looks in the mirror but does not see itself, because there is nothing to see in it. It waits for feelings and thoughts to reveal itself, but there is no one to objectify it so it can know who it is. Its true identity is formless, actionless, simple, pure awareness. It is futile for form to seek formlessness.
Waking up, it realizes, “I am not the mirror, I am not the body, I am not the myriad of identities the intellect cooks up, I am not the story, I am not the feelings that arise, nor the desires and fears. I am the one aware of all of these. They arise and fall in me. All depend on me to illuminate and animate them, but I do not depend on them.”
When you know who you are, the intellect begins to unravel the identities it formulated since it was born. It takes down the fortresses that defended its identities, leaving limitless space in which to be. Liberation is freedom from the walls of the mind, walls built to define and protect false identities conceptualized by the ignorant mind.
Awareness as love, wholeness, peace, shines forth, ever-present presence. The mind finally begins to settle because it finds there is nowhere to go. Feelings arise and fall, but are not taken personally and lose their karmic strength. The world empties of our projected stories about it and then fills again with the silent present of who we are. We continue our work, or rather the work continues, while the silent presence of being grows more self-evident.
The burden of “doing” is laid at the feet of Isvara, and the ego is released of thousands of years of enslavement. The self shines forth into creation liberated by the complete knowing that it was always free. Melinda is a concept, this body works automatically, thoughts rise and fall in the silent, present, self-illuminated space that is who I really am. Self-knowledge and a skilled teacher gave me the confidence to claim this self-evident truth. A final shake of the tree of knowledge and the illusion fell away, vapors in the bliss of awareness.
~ All love, Melinda
James: Got it very well, no mistakes. I fixed the wording a little. It is beautiful. You are now qualified to purchase the official Sri Sri Ramji Vedanta Enlightenment Certificate, one per customer while supplies last, Visa and MasterCard gratefully accepted.
~ Much love, James