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Renunciation Not Required
Govinda: Dear sir, thank you for replying.
I must say I found the self-enquiry tip very useful. I have been reading your articles on apparent self-knowledge to counter the apparent ignorance. I could easily accept this logic. I have also been reading about the teachings of the sage Ashtavakra. I do feel more optimistic now than before. Before I was worried constantly, either about my current material state or spiritual seeking. When I use such affirmations and do my duty, I slowly find myself not seeking anything at all. Not even the Truth. But I tend to wonder if it is really okay not to seek.
James: Okay for whom, Govinda? If you like to seek, you can seek. It is up to you. I personally don’t like seeking. It is a kind of endless frustration. I prefer to be happy. As you can see, the advice I gave you works. Look at this doubt about seeking as a manifestation of ignorance and turn your attention to the self in the form of the idea “I am whole and complete as I am, what good does seeking do?” It is a fact that you are whole and complete and that contemplating on that takes away the suffering and it is a fact that seeking is frustrating, so you can choose what you want to do, be happy as you are doing your small duty or stressing yourself with seeking.
Govinda: Is there a next stage, as in something else that is needed to be done?
James: A stage for whom, Govinda? Things will change naturally as Isvara’s will unfolds in your life, and you will be well-equipped to enjoy them. Take it easy and enjoy yourself. You are young and have your whole life in front of you. Armed with the knowledge that there is nothing to seek, that you are fine as you are, take what comes with a glad heart.
Govinda: Or the purpose of the self-enquiry is only to correct and clear false feelings and ideas about the Truth that the mind has and this is going to take its own course towards enlightenment. Is this correct?
James: Yes. This is correct. Take the karma yoga attitude about enlightenment. If there is such a thing as enlightenment it is definitely not up to you or you would have it already, so leave the enlightenment business up to Isvara and enjoy your life. Spiritual seekers are a miserable lot, by and large. I recommend that you not join that crowd.
Govinda: I ask this because at this stage I am duty-bound to my family and I am not sure if I can renounce my worldly ties. I know Advaita Vedanta doesn’t teach or expect this. But I tend to think about “renunciation” as a requisite for spirituality.
James: Renunciation is not required and it is not appropriate for you. Remember Krishna’s advice to Arjuna when Arjuna was thinking about quitting his duty and running off to Rishikesh to meditate: “Stand up and fight!” You are where you are for a reason, and when you need to be somewhere else Isvara will put you there.
Govinda: What’s caught my attention in Advaita recently is the three states of consciousness – the waking, deep sleep and dream states. All these states happen to the self and the self is not in them. And the self is me. I tell this to myself and keep these ideas fresh in my mind when I find time. Is this the right way?
James: Yes, indeed. Very good, Govinda. This is the way to contemplate. It reaffirms your nature as awareness.
Govinda: Each day when I wake up I think that the day is new and I am experiencing the waking state. This is only by logic. I came across a small article by the late Atmananda Menon called Sleeping Knowingly. Do you know how this works or what its significance is to enlightenment?
James: It just means that sleep is an object, known to you. Don’t think that if you are awake when you are sleeping it means that you are enlightened. This is a stupid idea that some gurus promote. Sleep is just a metaphor for ignorance of your nature as awareness. If you know what ignorance is you are sleeping knowingly. It is okay to be ignorant if you know you are ignorant.
Govinda: I am yet to read your book How to Attain Enlightenment. I am looking forward to doing that soon.
James: Good. You will not be disappointed. It will give you the big picture. Take it easy with it. Try to sign on to the logic at each stage before you move on to the next chapter. When you finish it, read it again.
Govinda: Thank you for your guidance.
~ With love, Govinda