Search & Read
Ordinary Awareness and Love
Hans: Hi, James. I can’t believe my good fortune in having you reply. I missed you at Salt Spring Island for one reason or another, and my hope was that you would not be too busy from time to time to answer questions I might have in an email. I thought you might be too busy, so it actually was only a hope.
I have been a devotee of love ever since I clearly saw that was the nature of reality 45 or so years ago. I had no concepts to work with and had never heard such a thing was possible. I have sat with most approaches to understanding and worship at least once. Some of the most popular siddha and shaktipat pretenders were included. If they could do tricks and stone you a little, they must have credibility… or so it seemed. Mind you, I never followed any of them much. For some reason I knew better. As the sex and money scandals later played out, I realized the experiences one has around those people were not an indication of anything special. I was still trying to understand WTF had happened that changed everything I knew about reality. I was interested in where all the ideas met and were the same. How could they be different if they were part of the lord of love?
During those days of course I ran into Vedanta. It is not unfamiliar to me, although I never really got it clearly from someone who knew and who lived it. At the time it seemed dry with no emotional love involved. I wanted the experience as my reality. I was initiated into a particular lineage 25 or so years ago and I still do the practices. My teacher (not in his body any longer) was one of the few authentic guys who refused money or sex, and gave you everything he had anyway. In spite of that there were times when I tried to pull the veil of ignorance back over me enough so I could forget about it. At times normal ignorance looks pretty good, especially if you are judging the authenticity of the connection to what you know to be true by the number of epiphanies you have or your level of intoxication. Epiphanies and intoxication always ended.
The most important thing I have received from you so far is: intoxication and epiphanies are not a true experience of reality, because they are still in the duality of time. It is ORDINARY awareness.
Why I never got these two things in all these years is a complete mystery to me. Understanding this has changed much of how I see things. I could not think of anything higher than being a devotee of love. I did not want the truth of the matter to take away my devotee status even if that status only existed in my own mind. I don’t mean devotee to some particular version of truth or path, but love in total. In fact I had made this love an object. Now I see devotee status is just maintaining the illusion. The necessity of I-Thou in this relationship somehow makes it less than true. How the hell can anyone be a devotee of something if they don’t know what that something is?
Hans: As long as you think you are in relationship to something, you are in duality and do not know the truth of the matter. Love is still an object and as such is no more than just a good idea. Love is all that is, nothing less. This devotion thing implies a doer and the small “I” gets a big hit of something from it. I’m just shaking my head at the subtle ways I have wrapped the veil of ignorance around myself.
James: Nothing to say really, Hans. This is a beautiful letter. You have it sorted. Love is not a feeling, but it generates feeling. It is not an object to be enjoyed, although it is enjoyable. It is the nature of reality.
Hans: “Ordinary awareness” is a way I had never looked at it before. Somehow I had an idea of clean awareness, or other awareness, or something you coloured yourself in, something you grew into or transformed into. Jeez, what a relief to know that is not so. Who the heck can be that clean or that colourful to become that?
James: Yes, the “ordinary” is the bit experience-hungry people – read: suffering people – do not appreciate. Not understanding this fact keeps the spiritual world locked in a futile attempt to experience something that can’t be experienced as an object – but is the very essence of the experience.
Hans: Anyway, James, thanks for the gifts so far. I did do my Google search of you before I even read or thought about how you explained it. Apparently you have not robbed, cheated or had sex with any of your students for a long time. In fact the only things I could find were your own admissions of an earlier life, a good track record for someone who has been around the spiritual circuit for as long as you have.
James: I did my sinning in my misspent youth. It was good. And I don’t think of myself as a guru, so I don’t have “students,” although there are people who think they are my students. Everyone is just a student of truth. I have friends. The style of communication in Vedanta is friendship as modeled by Krishna and Arjuna in the Gita. Power and influence is a responsibility, not an opportunity to exploit.
Hans: I am nearly 63, and at this point and I have little time left for just ideas to play with, so I do take this to be more than just ideas. I am not a guru junkie nor am I interested in the newest New Age seminar teaching. I have been happy for a long time just quietly being an apparent devotee. Being part of a sangat or spiritual group is not something I felt I needed at this time in my life. Life is good and I am already part of the only community there is. For me to stumble across you and the way you teach this stuff is a surprise to me, not something I was looking for. The authenticity of where you live is apparent. You walk your talk. I read your teachings with an open and trusting mind. I think you speak the truth. Thanks for who you appear to be.
James: Appreciation is always appreciated, Hans. I like the words “think” and “appear” in the last two sentences. It seems you have your head screwed on straight. The more spiritual someone is, the more suspicion is required. One never knows about the reality of anything in samsara. Maybe I am just better at hiding my sins. ☺
Hans: I have no questions at this time. I find your talks and writings answer questions before I even know they are there. At times I laugh out loud to myself because of this. At times I have spontaneous meditations when I come across something you say in an incredibly clear way. Thank you for the gifts. I will do the work as you suggest in the sequence you suggest. I am serious about this work and will do all I can to see it through. I am grateful for the teaching and the opportunity to shift the focus onto what is the reality.
James: Yes, just patiently keep at it. Vedanta is the only proper means of self-knowledge there is. It is an immense and awesome resource, fit to guide your inquiry.
~ All the best, James