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One Teaching Is Not as Good as Another
Sven: I thought you would come back with “ …one way is not as good as the other…” and I am familiar with your doer/non-doer comments on the notion of samadhi as the perpetuation of the notion of the experiencer, that you would have considered the use of such a term as evidence of my being stuck as an “experiencer”?
Jim: I don’t know if you are stuck in the idea that you are an experiencer, a doer, or not. Everyone is stuck at one point or another but there are always a few who through conscious living are introduced to the non-experiencing witness, the self. Moksa is the hard and fast understanding “I am awareness, the non-experiencing witness, and not the doer/experiencer/enjoyer, assuming that understanding renders the doer’s vasanas non-binding. If not, it is just indirect (intellectual) knowledge and suffering continues.
Sven: Therefore I should say about that “samadhi” period that it merely affirmed, no less than Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, that we are all on the battlefield of life. How many people in the world want what’s happening to them? How many people accept who they actually are? The whole life process is, in fact, hugely impersonal.
Jim/Sundari: Yes, indeed it is.
Sven: I realised ab origine in that period that there were forces flowing through my life which I had no choice but to observe. Fortunately, I realised that whatever the truth, good or bad, observing what was happening from a totally objective and impersonal point of view was the saving grace. Consequently, a huge conscious effort was put into cleaning up the process of observation in order to attain maximum clarity. What was observing what? What was this ab origine process? It was awareness observing a life, a jiva.
Jim: Yes. At first the doer, Sven, had to put forth a huge conscious effort to save himself from Sven, i.e. those patterns of thought and emotion that were producing suffering. This conscious experiential witnessing sometimes leads to the discovery that the doer, insofar as it is conscious, it actually impersonal, ever-free consciousness/awareness. The irony is that you were never Sven, the experiencing doer-witness, you were always and only pure, impersonal awareness illumining the doer.
Sven: As a result I didn’t in any way hold back the “wild horses” from taking me wherever they wanted to. It was just a question of waiting until the wild horses and the jiva became familiar with each other’s company. Consciousness oversaw the whole process. I was completely safe.
Jim/Sundari: Who did not hold back the wild horses from “taking me where they wanted to”? The wild horses are the vasanas, and indeed they do take one wherever they want to (if they were personal, which they are not) until self-knowledge renders them non-binding. You say, “It was just a question of the wild horses and the jiva becoming familiar with each other’s company,” but in actual fact until self-knowledge reveals the truth of your nature, they are always one and the same. The jiva erroneously believes it is taking action but it is just led by the nose, meaning by the vasanas. Yes, of course, as awareness you were always safe and oversaw the whole process. In the second-to-last sentence is there a difference in your mind between the word “consciousness” and the “I” in the last sentence? Your language seems to suggest that there is. In fact, consciousness is the I.
It would appear by this statement of yours that you have not discriminated the real – awareness – from the apparently real – the objects appearing in you.
Sven: Back to the financial crisis – why was there such mass delusion? A brilliant programme on the Treasury, the Ministry of Finance, noted that the working culture in the Treasury during the 2000s was changed from policy wonks in their own offices thinking their own thoughts to an open-plan working culture that arrived at consensus (groupthink). What was desperately needed was fierce independent thinking that would have blown away the catastrophic delusion that the business cycle had been abolished. (Hence the significance of The Economist quote.)
In such a circumstance I would say that the individual that would have been prepared to swim completely against the tide and see the economic reality for what it actually was would have been really, really thinking. And in that process, whether conscious of it or not, in the act of thinking out of the box a power greater than that individual, awareness, would have been deployed.
Jim/Sundari: Swimming against the tide sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. It is not a prescription for success. In any case, who would have listened? It had already been agreed that groupthink is superior to individual-think. If you look at the individual or the so-called consensus reality and whatever is going on with it you will simply see the impersonal working out of the gunas, Isvara.
Sven: The fine substance in this case is whether or not there is any difference in being conscious or unconscious of such awareness. As long as awareness is doing its job one way or another, does it really make that much difference?
Jim/Sundari: No, it doesn’t. Actually, awareness is not the doer. There is no job for it. Awareness plus maya is called Isvara. It is the doer. We will assume that you mean Isvara. As stated above, we don’t think you understand the distinction. In a way it is a shame that the thirty-year conversation we have had has been in dribs and drabs. You can’t really learn Vedanta. What you don’t know will always skew what you think you do know. One really needs to be taught. It is not personal. Jim doesn’t teach Sven. The self teaches the self in the form of the sampradaya, the lineage. Things clear up very quickly when this is understood. We establish the definitions and we unfold the logic carefully with reference to the definitions. Once the big picture is established, you are good to go. I have this feeling – perhaps I am wrong – that because of your association with your father and your brother, who were real demons, you understandably had to shut down the feed from them. That kind of authoritarianism is not conducive to truth. And – again, I am guessing – that you decided to make up your own mind based only on your own experience from that point forward. Empirical skepticism.
When we first met, I could see that you were not ready to be taught, that your idea of Vedanta was your idea, and I think that in spite of the great progress you have made on your own, there are still parts of the puzzle that escape you. No blame. It is what it is. I have no agenda so I have infinite patience.
I recommend a very excellent book called The Black Swan by Nasim Taleb in this regard. In fact it would not have mattered if fierce independent thinkers were available because the macroeconomic forces that created this Black Swan – collective karma – would have its way no matter what. In fact there was any number of people at the time who knew that derivatives only seemingly mitigated risk.
There are certain fundamental facts about life that none of the experts in any field have a grasp on. We call those factors outside of the conscious control of individuals daivam, which roughly translates as “the effects of the gods.” The macroeconomic field is just one of many incredibly complex fields of experience in Isvara, consciousness operating as the creator, sustainer and destroyer of the events happening in the total field. Nobody is going to figure out the mind of Isvara. And these events will happen whether or not we understand the nature of the field. The most obvious illusion in the economic field is the idea that any force or factor, organic or otherwise, should grow endlessly. Nothing in nature does.
Things are born, grow and die. We always keep in mind that the beings in these worlds are samsaris, meaning they take the appearance of things to be the reality of things. So they are always wrong at some point as reality contradicts what they believe. Individuals and groups lurch from crisis to crisis firm in the belief that money, etc. is actually real. I honestly think it is silly to call what happened a crisis. Crisis for whom? It turns out that personal household wealth is the same today in America as it was at the beginning of the crisis. Did anything ever happen? At the height of the bubble there were many people suffering, and during the depths of the crisis there were many people getting very rich. There was an article in Huffington Post today by a woman who lost her shirt who said it was the best thing that ever happened to her. What is money anyway but a proxy for desire? And what is desire but ignorance of the nature of reality?
What I get from you is some kind of perennial optimistic faith in human beings to sort it out. It is true that some individuals do come to wisdom but does society ever learn? It seems to, perhaps, but samsara is such that the upside and the downside in every situation completely nullify each other – leaving reality as it is. Nothing should be different from what it is. It is all good.
~ Love, Jim and Sundari