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Awareness Cannot Be Studied
Sundari: Hello, Lola. We are all happy to be of service to you in your self-inquiry and I commend you for your dedication! And your sense of humour, a necessary prerequisite. ☺
There is no purifier like self-knowledge and no higher endeavour for the mind than to be subjected to a valid means of knowledge that has the power to remove ignorance from the mind. The interesting thing is that you can’t really “study” Vedanta because the subject matter is you, awareness. The means of knowledge is a guide for the genuine seeker to use in their self-inquiry and it is a valid means of knowledge because it works, assuming the qualifications for moksa are present.
As ShiningWorld writers, our brief is to make the teachings as easily accessible in the clearest way possible, which is how James taught all of us. I can understand you writing to all of us because we will all give you a slightly different angle, and we all have our own unique writing styles, influenced by James. He is no doubt in a league of his own and (in my mind), along with Dayananda and Paramarthananda, one of the three best Vedanta teachers alive today. We are all very blessed to have access to him and to have been taught by him, so by all means, you are welcome to write to him.
However, he will not teach you anything different to what Ted, Christian or I will teach you because it is all Vedanta. The subject matter is always about you and we are all qualified teachers correctly wielding self-knowledge.
We have many people who get stuck thinking they have to study Vedanta. It is true there is an ocean of literature available, but any one of the texts – Bhagavad Gita, How to Attain Enlightenment, Panchadasi, Vivekachudamani (and others) – can tell you who you are. Where How to Attain Enlightenment differs from most Vedanta texts is that James has laid out the whole means of knowledge in a step-by-step format, a methodology which if followed with dedication to moksa as your primary value (which clearly you have in spades), works to remove ignorance.
There are many so-called Vedanta teachers; very few are worth their salt, unfortunately. Stick to those who only teach the pure tradition of Vedanta correctly. There is a lot of very weird stuff out there in the “spiritual arena”; discrimination is vital. You have the time and your karma allows you to devote yourself fully to your self-inquiry – but don’t forget it is called self-inquiry because that it is what it is. It is not a study and you are not the “studier.” Karma yoga is the only practice as long as you still think you are the doer, but the whole point of karma yoga is to show you that although you can take appropriate action (subjecting the mind to self-inquiry), you are not the doer. You (who, the ego?) cannot remove ignorance from the mind by studying Vedanta. Only self-knowledge has the power to remove ignorance. Self-knowledge is not a doing, it is grace.
We still love reading all the texts and probably will do so until the day we die, but we do so not because we believe they will give us more, better or different. We do so because we love reading about ourselves, awareness. What could be more fun than that?
And Vedanta is not like ice cream where you sample all the flavours to see which one you like most. There is only one truth and it is the Truth with a capital “T” is about the true nature of reality, about you, awareness. And it has only one flavour: freedom from bondage.
Many blessings to you and may self-knowledge continue to unfold the Truth for you.
~ Namaste, Sundari