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Rishi from Nebraska
Sundari: (Note: This is an exchange between Paul Hardman and myself over the last few months. The first email in it was posted at ShiningWorld last month but I have added it again here, as it ties the rest of the content together. The rishis from Nebraska: Paul Hardman and his son Jasper, Monday, September 17, 2012.)
Hey, Paul, I am glad you got my email. We have been pretty busy. Ramji has just left Doro and is visiting a few places in Europe, as we are looking for a base there now. It has not been easy to communicate, because of the lack of WiFi reception in Doro; we have not had much contact for two weeks. We have decided not to do so much travelling after next year and will invite people to join us for satsang wherever we find a place to settle down. Ramji has been on the road for 40 years and with ShiningWorld growing the way it is we can’t keep up unless we slow down.
Yes, I am in South Africa, and it is a very beautiful place with a terrible past of racial violence, like many places in the world. It is doing better than other countries in Africa, but like them it has unfortunately not benefitted greatly by black rule either. Ramji calls it a kleptocracy, which is pretty accurate! It is not a very safe place to live, there is not much rule of law and there is huge unemployment, crime is bad, although I have lived here most of my life and never had one incident. The government is more interested in taking care of itself than the people it is supposed to govern. America calls it an extractive government – i.e. it extracts wealth from the people instead of helping them create it. The problem is not that it is a black government per se, it is the backlash of the past and its inequality and hatred that has created the cultural vasanas that run this place. It is improving slightly but it has a way to go. My family moved here from East Africa in the early sixties, so I grew up here, although I have travelled quite extensively and lived in a number of other places in the world for periods of time. I am staying with my daughter and her fiancé at the moment; they have a beautiful home overlooking the sea in a place called La Lucia in Durban on the East coast. They are away in Mauritius, so I am enjoying some time alone. ☺ Ramji joins me in two weeks and we have satsangs for most of October.
I am glad to hear that your welding has worked out for you, it is quite an art. My ex- husband, who is an architect and designer by profession, left the corporate world and has a very successful little business designing and installing all kinds of things, working with metal and welding. He makes barges and countertops and carports, you name it, he can make it! He is as happy as a clam and does really well.
~ Much love to you, Sundari
Paul: Hi, Sundari!
Yes, I did receive your email last week. I accepted a short-term job at an office. With that and welding classes I’m gone from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm, with little time to return emails. And indeed it all feels so meaningless and unreal at times, but you know those are just inert thoughts in I!
Sundari: It is meaningless and unreal. ☺ You are the meaning, the reality and the fullness.
Paul: I found this last conversation of ours to probably be the subtlest inquiry into enlightenment and the self to date. What I mean by that is how once you see you are the self and therefore free of everything, the reality of the vasanas doesn’t actually matter. Bondage doesn’t even exist! I say this from the self’s point of view, and that’s just non- negatable, so Paul can paradoxically go on bound if necessary. Wow.
Sundari: Yep. ☺ It can be a bit frightening, as you said in your last email. The ego does not take too well to the depersonalisation that occurs when you realise that you are awareness. The objects flatten out, the person is known not to be real and the ego has nothing to attach to – the familiar ways of orienting to objects is gone and there is no karmic drag. So it feels like it is “floating,” trying to drive a car in space where there is no traction. It is unsettling, but stick with what you know and give the ego time to adjust. It will, because it has no choice.
And yet at this point, the ego can be and do anything; it does not matter. James says to me that he gives James full reign to do whatever he wants to do, he can “travel far and wide” in the apparent reality because he knows that James will not transgress dharma and will always come home to him.
It is great to have a jiva. We really love ours with all their peculiarities! It’s a bit like having an adorable pet. ☺ We take care of them lovingly, feed them well, exercise them, hug them and enjoy them. They are such fun to have. ☺
Seriously, when you know you are awareness, this is how it is. Life is just about enjoying because there is nothing to gain or lose. Trust is no longer an issue because you are a solid rock of unshakable confidence. Nothing that happens in the world worries you. You are completely dispassionate, so nothing reaches you. What “others” do or say is of no importance – because there are no others. You see absolutely everyone and everything as the self because your vision is completely non-dual. You just watch the unfolding movie and see it for what it is. This is freedom.
Here is the revelation, the real kicker in the so-called “enlightenment” charade: moksa is there so the jiva can enjoy its mundane life in the apparent reality. This simple fact is a definite let-down for those seeking the rarefied transcendent stratosphere of the chosen,
who like shooting stars blaze a trail to the beyond and then fall to earth as avatars to save the planet!
How glorious it is to be an ordinary, free jiva! Yet see the paradox: awareness is the most ordinary thing there is, yet it IS incredibly awesome to be the apparent jiva who knows beyond a doubt that he or she is actually an experienceless experiencer, a knower of the knower and the known. And what a blast to be having a good old time here in the world! To see the dream and to be awake in it – how can you beat that?!
Paul: Once I really look into whether anything binds or affects awareness, I cannot say that anything reaches the I. I can’t even do anything about this either. That’s the hilarity about it. From the absolute level, I can’t even be bound event if I want to be! I say all this of course from the self’s point of view, which brings me to another subtle point. Moksa is mithya and therefore peace of mind is mithya. But since mithya obtains (and gets its existence from awareness), then moksa is a relevant concept to gain peace of mind. I’ve been looking at it from the absolute level, and what pain Paul holds onto and whatever notions are there slowly unwind by the knowledge alone.
Sundari: Yes, it is very funny when you look at things here from the self’s perspective! I can add nothing much to your statement. Moksa is a word used to explain the absence of ignorance – that is all. It is liberation for the jiva, the self under the spell of ignorance. How is that possible? Maya makes the impossible possible.
The language of experience is to blame for most spiritual problems. It is built into the whole spiritual-seeking thing. It exhorts one to go “beyond,” to “transcend,” to “seek within,” to “connect” with the sublime being we truly are, to “become” or “embody” our true magnificence. Instead, all that is required is to realise we are already it by negating the objects arising in us at any moment. The objects must be negated to see the apparent reality for what it is, not so the jiva can leave the world or magically make it disappear, but so it can live freely here.
The word “absolute” is not a good word either, because it gives rise to the belief that there is something other than awareness, something “beyond” it. James does not use it. Apparently Nisargadatta said the absolute – it cries for a capital A! – is beyond awareness. When self- knowledge removes the ignorance of your true nature, there are no longer any levels and all objects flatten, like the ocean on a calm day. There are no more waves; it is all ocean, the bliss of awareness.
Before that happens, there is usually the experience of emptiness, which lasts until one sees that one is the fullness that illumines the emptiness – negating the doer. When this is understood, the doer’s lofty pursuits are seen for what they are – the hubris of a status-conscious person striving for a spiritual pedigree, the seeking by mystical means for a crown and kingdom! How silly most spiritual seeking really is. Moksa – self-knowledge – gives the jiva total peace of mind for an ordinary person here in the world. Peace of mind is the kingdom of heaven, and you, the self, are its ruler. Because Vedanta gives self-knowledge, it is the king of all teachings.
Paul: I’m also rethinking the application of triguna vibhava yoga. It’s really only there to create a sattvic mind for Paul to reflect me perfectly. It’s there to trace and root out deeply-rooted bits of ignorance to be destroyed in the fire of knowledge of who I am and really make this knowledge firm. This includes eating healthier, etc. Thank you for clarifying doubts I didn’t know I needed to contemplate, and what else is there really to do than mess with the mind?
Sundari: Yes, this is my favourite teaching. It lets the jiva off the hook, so that it can enjoy itself, stop beating itself up and stop beating others up with its stupid story about what happened, is happening and will happen. It stops fault-finding, complaining and self- inflicted misery.
If you understand the gunas, you understand Isvara. James and I are using this teaching extensively. It is the best model to permanently end doership – what was done to you or by you. When you understand that the gunas control reality, you will not be bothered if the mind is still a mess. Understanding the gunas teaches that the mind does not belong to you. When you realise this, you let it be.
However, the mind will eventually become clear because the guna teaching reveals the self and there is no purifier like self-knowledge. This will change your life because self- knowledge inevitably leads to a pure mind. When you know who you are it is painful for the mind not to be in sattva.
Paul: Knowledge, once firm, therefore automatically negates ignorance! Ha! It’s undeniable that I’m the light of lights and all shine after me. Indeed what can exist without me there? And I have to be everywhere, as scripture says, and I’m constantly interacting with apparent jivas with apparently three bodies, three states, etc.
Sundari: Yes, the knowledge works and it is the only thing that is capable of removing ignorance, as you well know. All lights do shine because of you. You are the light.
Paul: There is one doubt that keeps appearing in me though, a very subtle one. I am non- dual and therefore without lack. We have discussed to some extent being free from the dependence on objects. I, awareness, am untouchable and transcendent (but, paradoxically, my innermost self).
Sundari: Yes, it is impossible for you, awareness, to lack anything. Yes, you are untouchable and transcendent. However, awareness is not “your innermost self.” This implies two selves. There is only the self.
However, in keeping with the methodology of Vedanta at this stage of the teaching, it is okay to call the self “innermost,” to say it is untouchable and transcendent, which implies duality. Once the objects have been negated, these words do not apply.
Paul: Being already free, how does the freedom of the dependence on objects occur and relate to the jiva?
Sundari: There is no “occurrence” as such, because freedom is not an event. Once you know, objects still exist, as stated above, but the knowledge negates the belief that they are real, reveals them to be the self and makes it clear that the self is always free of the objects. Jiva contacts objects the same way as before but it knows that the joy in objects is just the reflected joy of awareness, freeing it to truly enjoy the objects as they are.
There is nothing wrong with anything when it is known be a reflection of you, awareness. Only then can the jiva enjoy objects without the desperate need to suck meaning from them, meaning they do not have and are incapable of delivering.
Paul: Over time, by steady application of knowledge to neutralize binding vasanas?
Sundari: Yes. The steady application of the knowledge that Paul is not the doer means that the vasanas can be dropped because they belong to the gunas, not to him. Own the gunas and you own suffering. When the gunas are understood and managed, Paul will not have to worry about binding vasanas. At some point Paul no longer practises knowledge, because he has become the knowledge, meaning awareness.
And the mind dies. It is no longer conditioned by the gunas. It no longer wavers or reacts to likes and dislikes, even if they still manifest – which they do. So what? Ramji’s favourite description of firm knowledge is: the mind sits unmoving on the self, sipping its nectar like a bee on a flower.
Paul: At one with the direct knowledge that I am the whole? Or any other way?
Sundari: What other way could there be? It may take some time for the knowledge that you are object-free awareness to firm up. Ignorance is hardwired and the ego is stubbornly resistant to change. Old programmes, prarabdha karma, wind down like the blades of a fan deprived of electricity. Vasanas play out but they are known for what they are.
There is no magic formula, the knowledge does the work. What is that lovely saying? “Everything will turn out wonderful in the end, and if it is not wonderful, it is not the end.” If the knowledge does not work, then you have to work the knowledge on your mind. Continue your sadhana and practise the yogas until there are no longer doubts. What else is there to do? Actualising the knowledge is where the rubber meets the road, to quote the great Ramji!
Paul: I still feel dependent on objects, though not so much anymore, and I know that moksa isn’t nirvana, nor is it an event, and feelings don’t mean shit, but there is a doubt I can’t yet express.
Sundari: It’s okay, just trust the knowledge and let it do the work. As stated, lifetimes of programmes do not instantly vapourise. It takes time to actualise the knowledge. Don’t worry about it, just take it easy. ☺ You are young and have a lot of karma to attend to on a daily basis. Working and looking after a family is not an easy path for someone with the temperament of a sannyassi. The big thing is to not expect things to be different – because they won’t be.
Isvara has given you this knowledge when you are young; it is a great blessing, but it will not always be easy until the knowledge is firm. The doubt you can’t express is probably the old vasana that wants THE DEFINITIVE EXPERIENCE. It still hooks you into thinking that you have missed something, there must be something else. You haven’t missed anything. You are clear as a bell. Trust the knowledge!
Paul: I want to say that I haven’t had the realization that I’m whole and complete and therefore don’t need anything else. (Read: I now approach objects as the source of happiness but not for happiness). I’m also thinking about this being the FINAL TRUTH!!! I think I’m thinking about this incorrectly. Am I? What are your thoughts?
Sundari: These statements are virtually incomprehensible, a completely illogical hotchpotch. My thoughts are that Paul is driving himself crazy being Paul! He still wants to have some kind of experiential validation, is still convinced that there must be more to this, he believes it can’t be so simple. Relax, Paul.
There is nothing else to understand, you are whole and complete. Think about it. Your life is your life. As you work with the idea that you are whole and complete, as you apply it to your fear-and-desire-ridden mind, you will soon notice how effortlessly things just work out, whatever is going down: financial hassles, relationship hassles, work hassles, whatever. If Paul approaches all of it on a moment-to-moment basis without identifying with any of it, the power of the knowledge “I AM AWARENESS” sorts everything out for Paul. It just does. This is because there are no difficulties for the self; they do not exist. Chill out, enjoy Paul. Love him madly! He is a great guy and how often does anyone come across a jnani who wields a welding torch like nobody’s business, who is really an undercover rishi living in Nebraska?! You are doing just great!
Om and prem.
~ Much love to you, Sundari
October 3, 2012
Sundari: Great to hear from you again and I am glad that my last email helped. I have answered the questions in your first email, as the second email was asking the same questions.
Paul: You were so very much on the money in the last email. I am still looking for the definitive experience. I know life won’t be any different, but reading our email exchange was enlightening as to how insecure I am towards the knowledge, towards life. But the beautiful thing is that IT’S ALL OKAY! The dreamer isn’t even real, so what makes the waker real anyway? The knowledge is getting firmer as the days progress and with that life smooths out. And you’re also dead-on: I’m not doing the work; there isn’t much effort involved, sans sat-asat-viveka. If anything, knowing you’re awareness just means Paul and his worries are funny and fun. He gets grumpy without sex – he watches one too many TV shows a week – he loves sugary tea – he doesn’t have much money! Yes, those are important things to work on for an easier life, but they are unreal ideations attributed by an ignorant mind to vasanas that Isvara is in control of. Moreover, these are only for the waker… just one third of the experiencing entity!
Sundari: Nothing to add here, except in the first two sentences where Paul speaks as the doer. Keep vigilant about the language you use. You know this so well, yet firming up the knowledge means always speaking from the self’s perspective, like you do in objectifying Paul further down in the paragraph. Having the awareness of the fact that Paul still has the seeking vasana is all it takes; it is not a problem as long as you do not identify with it. The ego can still have doubts “after” enlightenment; they will fall away on their own when they are not owned. The knowledge does the work.
Paul: There is nothing more to do than firm up the knowledge, this I know. I know and I know I know. You are right about that and your validation helps. With that, there are two small clarifications I’m hazy on and, as you know, I want crystal-clear understanding:
1. Awareness reflects off the subtle body and is the jiva, Paul, the flow of thoughts in the mind, etc. Regarding the knower, or ordinary awareness, of the three bodies, states, koshas, etc.… is it the purest reflection of the self or is it actually pure awareness?
Sundari: “Purest reflection” implies that there is an impure reflection; there is only one reflection, and the purity of that reflection is determined by how much sattva, rajas and tamas is in it. Ram refers to the “ordinary witness” as the experiencing witness and pure awareness as the non-experiencing witness; scripture calls the experiencing witness saguna brahman (with qualities) and the non-experiencing witness nirguna brahman (without qualities). Greg Goode has a good definition of the distinction between them, referring to the ordinary witness with qualities as the “opaque witness” and pure awareness without qualities as the “transparent witness.”
The word “ordinary” is an important term, as it can refer to either pure awareness of reflected awareness.
Paul: The witness is untainted, free, whole, unaffected, transcended, etc; everything is a reflection and I am its source… so I’ve based my inquiry on this.
Sundari: The experiencing witness/saguna brahman is not entirely free and untainted, etc. in that it is apparently contaminated by qualities; the non-experiencing witness/nirguna brahman is untainted, free whole, unaffected, etc. yet both can be referred to as “ordinary” awareness. From the point of view of the jiva awareness seems to be “extraordinary” but awareness is not extraordinary, because it is simple, uncontaminated ever-present awareness free of all qualities and definitions.
Paul: But I thought in Ram’s commentary on the Gita he said that pure awareness cannot be directly experienced, only known to be the subject, the self. So, is the witness “pure” awareness and all else reflected awareness?
Sundari: Ram said that pure awareness cannot be directly experienced – as an object; the effect cannot experience the cause, ergo it is the self under the apparent spell of ignorance that realises itself as the subject, and this can be experienced as a reflection in a pure mind. As stated above, there are not two witnesses, only one witness which is either apparently contaminated or not by qualities.
Paul: Or is the witness the purest reflection of the self? The latter doesn’t make sense, but I want to be sure, so please clarify when you have the time. I read ShiningWorld satsangs and scripture, but am not super clear.
Sundari: See above, the distinction here is between the experiencing and non-experiencing witness, which is determined by the presence or absence of qualities.
Paul: 2. What exactly do you mean by “the joy in objects is just the reflected joy of awareness, freeing it to truly enjoy the objects as they are”?
Sundari: Simply that jivanmukti means that you, awareness, know that Paul is an object in you and is thus the source of the joy, which then frees the jiva to enjoy objects for what they are, without any dependence on them. For example, when you are having sex or watching TV, the pleasure is coming from you, awareness. ☺
Paul: I, ordinary awareness, am object-less relaxation. But Paul will try his best. ☺ Also, your pet-jiva metaphor was so lovely and true! It describes perfectly the vision of the jnani.
Sundari: Yes, you are object-less relaxation, so how can Paul “try his best”? ☺ He is an object known to you, inert. As the knowledge becomes firm that Paul is an object in you, the ego will quit trying to experience the self and finally relax, knowing that you, awareness, are always “experiencing” Paul – and he is just fine the way he is!
Paul: Thank you, Sundari. Thank you again. And I had no idea about South Africa. I knew it was bad, but not like that. I grew up in the DC suburbs around extremely wealthy, rajasic people. Nebraska and welding are serving me well. It’s all just funnier as time… which is a mental construct and I am not limited by it… moves on.
Sundari: South Africa is such a great place, I love it, and it is really not bad when one is living there. It is only when one moves away from the constant awareness of potential danger that one realises how much one has normalised the abnormal. It is a pity though; it is such a beautiful country, so diverse and extraordinarily vibrant. I was born in East Africa, in Tanzania (formerly Tanganyika), and I grew up with Africans. I have met very few that I do not instantly like! I spoke Kiswahili before any other language – there is nothing like Africa. There is a saying in Africa that once the dust of Africa gets up your nose, you never get it out. It’s true. Even in South Africa with its racial history, and now its typically kleptomaniacal black government, it’s mostly black crime and the general malaise of the country, socially, economically and politically, the blacks here are mostly great people. South Africa is going downhill though; who knows where it will all end up, so many different opinions abound? It does have something uniquely different about it though, with reference to other typical African countries. It is hard to define, but it is there. It produced Nelson Mandela, a pretty unique and extraordinary human. Africa runs on its own particular samasti vasanas, it is all Isvara’s doing.
Paul: Much love to you, Sundari. Thank you for everything, and for clearing up those residual doubts after dropping of ignorance. Certainly it is a wonderful way to pass the time.
Sundari: Much love to you, Paul, always such a pleasure having a self-to-self chat. ☺
Friday, October 26, 2012
Sundari: Hello, Paul. Apologies for the delay in replying to you! We have been travelling and teaching and I have had many family commitments. We have been away with my daughter for a break between seminars in South Africa and also one of my brothers died recently, so I have not had much time to write. We are currently in Cape Town, and the seminar here is in full swing. From next week we have almost a two-month break, which we are very much looking forward to.
Greg’s book is great, apart from the issue of experience and knowledge and the language he uses, especially on page 179; Ramji tackles him on both issues. I have attached their discourse about it for you to read. It includes a small exchange between James and me at the end. Greg [Goode] teaches the Direct Path, as you know, and it is based on pure Vedanta but has been influenced by New Vedanta.
Paul: It is always a pleasure to have our self-to-self chats. And though I love a speedy reply, I guess I’ll wait so you can spend time with your family. My family is an important duty, and a fun one, too, so it’s all good. Regarding your last email, I think there’s still confusion regarding the experiencing and non-experiencing awareness, so please allow me to hash it out in writing and see what you think.
I got Greg Goode’s book The Direct Path a week ago to see what is said about the translucent and opaque witness. I’ve yet to fully dive into it, as its treatment isn’t traditional per se, but still not Neo-Advaita. In regards to the witness and the witnessed, and nirguna and saguna brahman, here is my understanding: to classify awareness into seer and seen and to say I am only the seer and not the seen is a highly subtle dualism because the seen is taken as other than myself. However, knowing full well that the effect is the cause in form, i.e. the bracelet is only gold, then the seen is the seer through and through. That is, the world, which is non-separate from my thoughts of it, is actually awareness. If objects are taken “independently,” however, the cause of the elements which they are made of is also awareness, so whether looking at it from a micro- or macrocosmic level, awareness is all there is. These facts bring me to the witness/witnessed or, if I may put it this way, the reflector/reflection.
To say that the reflection, the seen, if this is correct to say, is other than awareness is incorrect. The reflection, the effect, is the cause but an objectifiable version of it. If this is so, then the reflection and the reflector, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, are actually one and the same. This leads me to saguna and nirguna brahman. Though I haven’t studied these terms in-depth, from what you said in your last email, saguna brahman (or the opaque witness) is the witness being “influenced” – though that’s not necessarily correct to say either – by the gunas.
Sundari: “Apparently influenced” is more correct and would be better put. Saguna brahman, the opaque witness, is influenced by sattva; although rajas and tamas are there, it is clear they are not the self. Isvara, maya, the gunas, still exist but they are known to be unreal.
However, the “pure,” or sattvic, qualities are easy to confuse as being the self. This is the “golden chain” that Ramji speaks of and the bane of spiritual seekers who think they need to aspire to being holy and “pure,” dripping with self-righteous purity, goodness and holiness, then think this makes them enlightened. What they do not realise is that ignorance is still there, as these qualities are impurities; the self is without qualities. As such, it is unconcerned about purity or the lack of it.
Paul: When the witness is wrongly identified with being identified with the witnessed, it then apparently takes up the attributes of the witnessed. This in essence is experience. There are other pitfalls I can’t yet point out in this line of inquiry, because it could be totally off base.
Sundari: I can’t see what other pitfalls there would be, apart from identifying with sattva – what do you think they might be?
Paul: Awareness, again, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, isn’t actually experiencing or is affected by a single thing. Awareness as the witness is pure, but the filter through which we experience life, the mind ever governed by the gunas, makes it seem otherwise. And the witness is me, but it seems also to be an extremely subtle object known to me, so therefore it actually can’t be me, awareness. And again, the seer is only a dichotomous relationship with the seen. That said, nirguna brahman is my nature and saguna brahman is my experience and, coincidentally, also my nature, though I am not it. This all goes back to collapsing the witnessed and the witness into the knowledge that I am neither any of these paradigms, but the pureness that is free from and also the knower of these paradigms.
If my line of inquiry is correct, then the reality ascribed to the reflection and reflector, the seer and seen, pure and impure, the cause and effect, isn’t even necessary, because they are both me, ordinary non-dual awareness of all these. Though I haven’t read his book, I feel this is must be what Greg Goode says when he discusses collapsing the witness into pure consciousness, which is just understanding that dichotomies are ultimately unreal.
Sundari: Your line of inquiry is absolutely correct. Just one thing though: Why does the witness collapse, what does the collapsing and what is the nature of the collapse? Greg does not make this clear. The witness collapsed because self-knowledge reveals the true nature of the transparent witness, which is then fully assimilated and the self no longer identifies with the qualities inherent in sattva, i.e. the opaque witness. Also, the word “collapse” implies that the opaque witness no longer exists, but it does; it remains, like the mirage on the desert floor – but it is known to be not real. It would be much better to say “negates the opaque witness” to describe the realisation of the self.
Paul: If this inquiry is wrong, then please let me know!
Sundari: Your thinking is beautiful and perfectly clear; you will make a great teacher one day!
Paul: Lastly, what Vedanta teaches us that tea, coffee, sex and not-sex are all the same and all beautiful!
~ With love and gratitude
PS: Jasper, my son, was wrestling me the whole time I was trying to type this, so I apologize if there are typing errors. ☺ My loving regards to Ram.
Sundari: As you know, non-duality is not opposed to duality; duality is a subset of non- duality and is only a problem if you think it is real. Without apparent duality – how else would one enjoy tea, coffee, good food, sex or anything else? Ramji and I want to write a satsang and title it Duality Is Cool… or Cruel? – that would rattle a few critics and self- appointed holier-than-thous! ☺
No errors, just clear thinking from the rishi in Nebraska playing with a mini version of his good self. ☺
Rams sends you much love and compliments you on this excellent email!
Sundari: What a lovely email, such a privilege to have contact with you. ☺ We have finally finished up with the South African seminars and I wound up all my family karma. We arrived in Durban on the east coast last Thursday for our vacation near my daughter. We have been feeling like two tamasic slugs, catching up on sleep and feeling pretty exhausted, generally. James has declared this to be Slugville, so we are going to chill as much as we can! I am not sure how long this will last though, as we both have writing to catch up on. He has started a new book and is already on Chapter V. My replies are below.
Paul: With all your family needs, I don’t blame you at all for being late in responding. I am also sorry about your brother. Nearly three years ago my brother killed himself… he would be a senior in high school now. Nonetheless, I did see how hard it was for my family, and death is really what defines samsara, in a way; in fact I noticed that what people love about and truly consider life to be… is the body. I remember thinking, “But isn’t this testament to how he isn’t the body? How something ‘else’ illuminated him and made him?” I would find out a year or so later that it was the self that we all love, which is myself.
Sundari: Yes, the self IS love; and death is a strange one, is it not? My family are like a foreign country I only visit if I absolutely have to, as the natives there are none too friendly. ☺
They have been super-critical of me in a way that begs understanding for as long as I can remember. How I landed up amongst them is really a mystery – what was Isvara thinking? I think I told you I have (had) seven brothers and three sisters. Most of them are heavy-duty Christians and totally conditioned by their unexamined projections and denials; they are quite vicious about what they do not understand, hence me being the vilified black sheep. Yet I have always supported and loved them for who they are, have never judged them or harmed them in any way. Ignorance is very strange indeed! Anyway, as you say – death does seem to rattle their very fragile little cages. Their idea of God no longer looks quite so promising when The Grim Reaper appears on the scene; they have nowhere to go with the end of the story. I feel very sorry for them. No solutions in samsara; what to do? I have had a few encounters with suicide as well, the only brother-in-law I had time for being one of them. It is a tough one for the samsaris, especially the Christians who just cannot grasp that it is impossible to kill yourself – and what difference does it make by whose hand the body dies?
Paul: Regarding Greg’s book: I honestly couldn’t get into it. I’m a scripture snob. That was the first Vedanta book I’ve read that deviated from scripture, and I got twenty pages into it and just lost interest. Though the premise is appreciable and I get what the meditations are aimed at doing, I just don’t think experience is a stable medium through which to analyze truth. Knowledge is true to the object, experience is true to the experiencer, so I’m just an old-fashioned Shankaracharyan advaitan… oh well… ☺ Also, it was lovely reading Ram and Greg’s dialogue, and yours and Ram’s dialogue. It shows that (a) “becoming” a teacher isn’t something one should consciously choose, because ignorance remains, and (b) your and Ram’s love is beautiful… myself shining through it all!
Sundari: I love your email; you are right on the money about everything. I feel exactly the same about Greg’s book, although Ramji does try to be fair about it. It has some merit, and a few people do seem to benefit from the exercises. I agree with you wholeheartedly about knowledge being true to the object and experience being true to the experiencer. I have a sound bite that I gave to Ramji recently, which he really loves and it is: “Experience is a decaying time capsule whose sole purpose is to deliver self-knowledge; once it expires, if the knowledge is not assimilated, it is lost and only the memory of the experience remains.” Hence the vasana for experience. Greg touches on the experience/knowledge teaching but he does not elucidate it, because he does not get it; he also uses incorrect language and misleading terms. It is lightweight Vedanta, which just does not work. It is a simple fact, once one is weaned on pure Vedanta and the Shankaracharya sampradaya, there is nothing else that comes close to it. I am a snob too – and totally spoiled, living with The Horse’s Mouth and all!
Paul: I have been reading Swami Dayananda’s Vivekachudamani, and it clarified the reflection/reflector and opaque/transparent witness for me. He says on page 24: “Atma is already self-evident and it is alupta-drk, a seer that never ceases, it never even winks. It is always a witness. But it is a witness only with reference to whatever is seen. By itself it is in the form of consciousness. This self-evident atma is brahman, that is the teaching.” Dayananda has such a clarity – a clarity Ram equally possesses – that it’s unbelievable at times. That quote clarified the distinction of saguna and nirguna brahman.
Sundari: Yes, this is a great quote. I would say that the self is a seer that never began nor ceases and is the all-seeing eye, or “I,” that sees only itself because there are no objects for it to see. It is self-effulgent and there is nothing but itself. It is also not in the “form of consciousness”; it is consciousness, brahman. This is why it is impossible for the ego to see the self; as you point out further down, the effect cannot know the cause. I like the story of Meenakshi, the fish-eyed goddess. Ramji worked out that the fish-eye symbol works as a symbol for the self because fish cannot blink.
Paul: So saguna brahman (the words opaque and translucent witness are appropriate, up to a point, but in reading pujya swamiji’s quote above, the witness isn’t even an appropriate term for simple awareness) is apparently influenced by sattva, and as the mind is sattvic, the witness seems to be clear, and this clarity, or pureness, is what people assume to be holy?
Sundari: Yes, correct. One has to drop all these terms, even nirguna brahman, because that implies saguna. It would be more appropriate to say that the self, seeing only itself, is that which knows the seer with reference to the seen, only when maya is operating. The self- aware self appears as a seer but it never actually is a seer, unless seeing refers to its own self. When ignorance is operating the jiva thinks that the seer is different from the seen, the subject and object are different. The seer, Isvara, is also known as saguna brahman, and because it operates maya (the gunas) it is never deluded by them, i.e. it is pure sattva.
When tamas and rajas arise in saguna brahman, then awareness apparently becomes a jiva and is deluded by maya. Sattva seems to be clear and pure – only with reference to the objects appearing in it, which are impure. Isvara is the wielder of maya but is never deluded by maya. Purity and holiness are projected by the jiva when it is under the spell of sattva.
Paul: But as you’ve stated below, and as my experience actually confirms, awareness is without parts; being partless, purity and impurity are moot dualisms. Yes, they are experienced and continue because the jiva never leaves maya, but aren’t real.
Sundari: Yes, correct, the dualisms may appear but are known to be unreal. When avidya is removed and your nature is known to be non-dual, duality is no longer an issue although it still appears in you, until it doesn’t anymore. This is why we say that moksa is for the jiva; the self being the light that always blazes forth. This is what makes mithya enjoyable: the jiva then knows it is the joy and there is nothing to get or be. Only then can the jiva be fine with things the way they are, not before.
Paul: This is the collapse of it all – which implies (a) a “final” enlightenment and (b) this is an event. As I state below, that’s not the case. As you wrote in our last email, there isn’t a collapsing. The self isn’t a doer, so it can’t collapse anything. And Isvara doesn’t rule over the self, because the cause is untouched and subtler than the effect. It’s the simple dropping of ignorance, viz. self-knowledge.
Sundari: Correct, as you know. The big deal and hype around enlightenment and turning it into a goal is a very common trap in the spiritual arena. Both are experiential terms. Vedanta says that there is nothing to collapse or drop, because the one who is doing the collapsing and dropping has been negated by self-knowledge.
Paul: This is a very important fact, and it really is all so simple and easy to miss, the king of secrets, as the Gita says. Who knows purity and impurity? Who knows the witness? Who is aware that I’m witnessing (or not witnessing)? ME! Who knows all the states of existence, bodies, or koshas? ME!
Sundari: Jai Bhagavan!
Paul: Oh, and there is no pomp or pride and it’s not a big deal and there was not a single grand nor minute event that highlighted the assimilation of this knowledge. I looked at what I knew and just knew. You’re absolutely right, it doesn’t feel like anything. As Ram beautifully states, “What does non-duality feel like anyway?” It’s just who I am. No big deal, really.
Sundari: Indeed, yet how wondrous to be “in” a body communicating this knowledge with myself!
Paul: Whew! What a long email! With great love to you and Ram.
Sundari: Your emails are never too long! We have another young man, Isaiah, who is your age and who is a realised person such as yourself; he would very much like to communicate with you. He picked up on the e-satsangs the fact that there is another rishi he resonates with. He is 28, also married but has no children. His wife is not interested in Vedanta, and he struggles with that a bit. He has encountered much the same issues as you have and as with most Vedantins does not have many people to talk to other than Ramji and me about this stuff. I think he lives in Arkansas, not far from you. If you would like to communicate with him, drop him a line. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
~ Much love to you always, Sundari, Om and prem
November 9, 2012
Paul: I didn’t know that about your family. It’s funny the karma that we grew up in. I had a shitty childhood, but I know it fostered a dispassion in me that I don’t think would’ve ever developed had I not gone through the tragedy. And I didn’t even know I was the self then. My brother who killed himself would be 17 today. I’m reminded of your words “…by whose hands does it matter how the body dies anyway?”
Sundari: It’s all the way it is, not good or bad. We observe it all – and nothing ever happened! It really is all a movie! I wrote a poem that describes where I was with this awareness, quite a while ago before I knew I am awareness. I was living alone in the mountains in a very wild and isolated place with only a wolf for company. In looking at my story and the world from the self’s perspective at the time, I saw that as the self it is impossible to “sleep” amongst the dead without being awakened by them. Samsara is just too painful and moksa becomes the only real goal. Isvara gives us all the vasana load and karma that is perfect for us. We are the ones that keep the whole dream from dying out; we are the true people of the dreamtime because we know it is dreamtime. And we are the only ones that really get to enjoy it, because we know we are the joy in it!
It is so wonderful to be embodied and to be free. ☺ Slugville, or whatever ville it is, it’s all good. Ramji just spent hours replying to an email from a young woman who comes from a very wealthy family and was a party gal who gave it all up to become an ascetic and live in India. She believed that if she imitated Ramana, she would become “like” Ramana. So she joined the Chinmaya Mission in India and suffered the hardship of life there for more than a year, becoming very ill in the process. These doers don’t get that it is all a waste of time and they remain doers trying to “do” Vedanta, “renouncing” their lives. Why is it so hard to spot the mistake? She remained a person trying to become something, studying Vedanta instead of realising she is it already. She wanted to know what it was like for Ramji when he realised the self. He told her he just did what he did before, which was whatever he wants to do!
He knows he is not James, or the doer, so no problem. James just acts according to the nature Isvara gave him. The only difference being that instead of doing for happiness, he does things happily.
Your brother’s suicide must have been a horrible experience to go through; death is a tough one when it comes to “losing” those we love, more so by their “own” hand. As the relative self, Ramji and I will be very sad when one of us goes; or if my daughter had to die, I would find that very hard. Nothing would happen from the self’s perspective, but that does not mean that as a jiva we do not process loss. As the self we do so from a different perspective because we know who we are and that no one really dies. Dispassion is the greatest tool we have in dealing with samsara.
Paul: Slugville… Catching up on sleep, drifting through mithya as satya, living life… sounds nice to me! Sure, sattva is good for the spiritual stuff, but sleep and an extra cup of coffee aren’t bad either. That’s what’s fun about it all, as you said in your previous email. Bondage is only really bondage if you’re apparently bound. And the I isn’t bound.
I don’t have much to say, just thank you for the clarity that you brought out. Isvara is sattva and jiva is all three and both are I, and I just watch them all, apparently unaffected, the seeming witness to myself. And what’s even more ironic is that this spiritual stuff… this self-knowledge Vedanta talk, is also a thought seen by me, awareness, which is you. It reminds me of Chapter XIII of the Gita… discernment of ksetra and ksetrajna. Vedanta and the means of knowledge are also the field, and I am the knower of it. And what a great “embodiment” to share it.
Sundari: Yes, you are the knower of the knower of the field and the field.
Paul: I seemingly apply the knowledge daily, attempting to keep the mind steady on the self… and the mind wants more at times… the trick of experience… it’s less and okay though, but here’s the kicker: deriving happiness from even the mind’s knowledge – because even that is even an object – is tricky. I know that I will never be affected by the field, because the knower of the field is steadiness itself. I know both steadiness and unsteadiness, and the knower of both is beyond and therefore I am free. So there is this knowledge in the background that says it’s all okay. It grows and is loud, and then like a salt doll searching for the bottom of the ocean…
Sundari: I like your salt doll metaphor! The rest is a bit difficult to follow because you put your thoughts down very fast and it’s a bit jumbled, but I get your drift. Why are you attempting to keep the mind steady on the self? Whatever the mind is on is the self. I take it you are looking at the jiva and the field from the self’s point of view – the choice of words does create a bit of doubt as to whether you are speaking as the self or as a jiva that knows the self. I presume you know that you are the knower of the “background” and “foreground” knowledge? The thing to understand here is that Paul cannot derive pleasure from the “mind’s knowledge,” as both Paul and the mind are inert and known to you. So who is it that is affected or unaffected by the field? It can’t be Paul or the self, so who is it? Neither one is affected. Isvara is the field, and the field is a self-aware universe. Isvara is the field and the knower of the field. So for whom is it tricky? The field is apparently conscious and apparently exists if you take yourself to be the jiva. It can only be the jiva that it is tricky for – and it can only be tricky for the jiva if the jiva is still trying to experience something or get something out of it. There is nothing to get out of anything, but there is something to understand. Once again: Is this Paul talking as the knower of the self or as the self? The mind seemingly wants more; being inert, it does not actually want anything. It is the self under the apparent spell of ignorance, which in superimposing duality onto non-duality seems to want.
There is still a little ignorance or confusion hiding out in your words. You need to be a little more careful with your language.
Paul: Perhaps there will be clarifications as they arise. I like talking to you because I love myself! and the emails are a lovely hello. Feel free to say hello if you’d like too. We must meet in person or another Skype chat could be arranged. That’d be lovely. Also, I emailed Isaiah. I feel a friendship will bloom.
Sundari: Indeed, I feel the same! I am so glad that you have made contact with Isaiah, like you, he is a brilliant and very unusual young man. Ramji and I meet exceptional people from all over the world and feel very privileged to have an insight into the lives of people such as yourself and Isaiah, among many others. You will be the next generation who will give this knowledge out to those who are ready to hear it. We hope that both of you will come to visit us in Spain and spend time with us, as you would both make excellent teachers.
Paul: Om and prem, prem, prem to you and Ramji. Thank you and I look forward to the new book.
Sundari: Ramji is going great guns; he is already starting Chapter IX. ☺
Paul: PS: You can use any of our emails for any publication… book, whatever… and freely use my name.
Sundari: Thanks Paul; if you like, in the future we can put up yours and Isaiah’s email address and let people know that they can write to you guys as well, if they want to.
Paul: Thanks, that’s great! Om.
Sundari: Many oms and prems to you too!
~ Much love from both of us, Sundari
November 15, 2012
Paul: Hello, Sundari. I hope your daughter is well. I don’t want to intrude on family time at all. If you are free this weekend, then I would enjoy a chat. If not though, then we can surely arrange for something different at a more convenient time. The knowledge is doing all the work. Once again, you are right! We can discuss the email via a no-video Skype chat. Then I won’t bother you for a while!!!
Sundari: No problem, we can Skype if you like. The only problem is that we do not have a great internet connection at the moment and it is not strong enough to do video chats. So we can do it without the video. I am away for a couple of days, as my daughter has just had an operation; we can maybe chat on the weekend if that works for you.
Paul: Your email was very enlightening… because it showed there is still ignorance looming in the mind! It wasn’t until I read your response to my very awkward paragraph did I see that my words show some confusion somewhere, and I can’t quite exactly put it into words. Perhaps the question will arise on its own. Either way, please help me, if you could, with what I’m seeing incorrectly.
First, I’d like to say that there was a lot of pain in the suicide. I didn’t even see how deeply it affected me until I became a father. Holding that little bundle in my arms… myself in a new form… was beautiful and unforgettable. I love my son and my wife, and losing them would definitely affect the ego, but not me. And that is where I think the beauty in knowledge lies: your relationship to experience changes.
Sundari: Yes, indeed that is where the beauty and the freedom lie: mithya remains but your relationship with it is forever changed. I can well understand how painful the loss of your brother, especially in that way, must have been.
Paul: Also, I’m glad you liked the salt doll metaphor. I think I read it in Swami Tattvavidananda’s commentary on the Kaivalya Upanishad; he was referencing Swami Rama Tirtha, if I’m not mistaken.
Sundari: I had not heard it before; Ramji says it is about 100 years old and is pretty sure it comes from Swami Rama Tirtha, as he was a giant in the spiritual world back then, when the metaphor appeared.
Paul: On to the question: I said, “I seemingly apply the knowledge daily, attempting to keep the mind steady on the self… and the mind wants more at times… the trick of experience… it’s less and okay though… and then, like a salt doll searching for the bottom of the ocean…”
Ram has mentioned in many satsangs that the proof of self-actualization is in our relationships to objects and, the self being fullness, translates to feeling completely satisfied. I don’t feel completely satisfied. It’s as if I know I’m the knower of the one who thinks he doesn’t feel satisfied and the I that is saying it’s not satisfied is the ego and not me.
Sundari: You are the knower of the one that does not feel satisfied; the ego that is saying it is not satisfied is also you but you are not it, because it is known to you. Also very importantly, and we have had this before, I think – the feeling of fullness is not satisfaction with reference to objects, it is with reference to the subject.
Paul: But I feel something is blocking the full appreciation that I’m awareness, or fullness. I know that in saying this I’m speaking as the jiva, and this is where I’m confused. Perhaps this is the ego’s lingering desire for experience.
Sundari: Yes, it is the ego’s lingering desire for experience. It has a hard time acknowledging the lack of fanfare in self-realisation, and the problem is that there is still a residual thought that the ego is real and could be satisfied. It is not conscious, and what it feels is not real; and if it was real, what would constitute satisfaction? You are saying that your ego does not think that the self is enough to satisfy it.
Paul: When I said that I apply the knowledge to the mind and the I that feels it should apply the opposite thought is definitely the jiva talking. Speaking as the self, it would be more accurate to say that I am dropping the ignorance of myself, knowing full well that I was never ignorant, but that’s maya for you.
Sundari: Who is there to drop ignorance if you are speaking as the self? Vedanta does the dropping for you, as it removes the ignorance; this means that the one who is “doing” the dropping has been dropped. When it is revealed that you were never ignorant in the first place and the understanding of maya is clear, then that is the end of samsara for you and is called self-realisation. Self-actualisation is knowing what it means to be self-realised in mithya. From the self’s point of view, there is no ignorance to be dropped or knowledge to be gained; there is only knowledge of what constitutes ignorance or knowledge.
Paul: Wait… and this is quite an extraction here… if I’m aware of my ignorance and I’m speaking as the jiva as the knower of the self, as opposed to as speaking as the self… doesn’t that add further proof that I’m awareness and not really the jiva!?
Sundari: Yes, this is direct knowledge as opposed to indirect knowledge. It is not “your” ignorance or knowledge, it is just ignorance and knowledge.
Paul: Yet you said there isn’t anything to keep the mind steady on. Everything the mind is on is the self, as you stated. But I feel I have to remind the mind of this constantly. Just like negating everything constantly, I have to (and it just feels like a slow, long trek at times) remind the mind of who it is.
Sundari: Who has to remind the mind constantly? The self does not need to remind itself, because it only sees itself. Your understanding of the nature of objects is still not totally clear: They are you, awareness. If they are awareness, then why do have to keep your mind on the self? As said last time, any object your mind would be on would be you. You are still speaking as a seeker, not a finder. Seekers need to negate the objects; you are a finder now and have already negated them. You now know they arise out of you but you are always free of them. The doer is still in here. The knowledge does the work, nothing else can. It seems that the knowledge is not totally firm, which is okay because if you know that the knowledge is not firm it does not mean that you are not firm!
Paul: This makes me think two contradictory things: (1) the mind needs to be repeatedly shown (i.e. the self needs to be dropped of its ignorance) that it is whole and complete and perfect. I thought the searching will finally collapse because it knows that as the self it needs nothing else and this is immediate [this is self-actualization and immediate… see (2) below]. This appears in the subtle body as pure contentment.
Sundari: The self does not need to be “dropped” of its ignorance – the self has no ignorance. Self-knowledge reveals that the self under the spell of ignorance was never ignorant, as stated above (the “snake and the rope” idea). The mind can hang onto ignorance or not, it does not really matter to the self. Moksa, being for the jiva, it is definitely more conducive to a happy life to understand its true nature as the self – and therefore to live accordingly. This may be immediate or not; when ignorance is removed by self-knowledge, your conditioning still remains (blades of the fan) until it is all worked out. Isvara srsti still conditions the subtle body until it does not anymore. There may still be lingering suffering as the ego comes to terms with understanding of its true nature. As we have discussed in previous emails, with self-realisation you are free to choose what kind of jiva you want to have. If there are still a few resistant binding vasanas, that is not the end of the world as long as you do not have to act on them. If you do, there is still remaining ignorance. As for a “feeling” of contentment – well, that may be there or it may not. The truth is, being free does not feel like anything, as we have also discussed before. Paul may be feeling discontentment but it is known to him; so what? The one who knows it is free of contentment and dissatisfaction.
Paul: (2) To remove the effects of ignorance, isolation, emptiness, lack, etc., you attack the root cause… ignorance of the fact that one is already whole and complete. Knowledge is immediate and direct, and the teaching is that “I am whole and complete”; if I face a tree and my eyes are open, I can’t but see the tree and simultaneously have knowledge of the tree. Is it true though that in attacking the root cause, ignorance, the effects are automatically negated?
Sundari: What does “negated” mean? This means that they are known to be not real, but they are still there – the mirage on the desert floor. Yes, this is true if by “attacking” you mean that through exposing the mind to self-knowledge ignorance of your true nature is revealed. There is no attacker as such. Ignorance is hardwired and tenacious; it takes “work” to remove it. The worker is self-knowledge and continuous exposure of the mind to it through self-inquiry. The effects are not automatically negated. As stated above, Paul’s conditioning is still there and prarabdha karma still has to work itself out. Paul still has “his” nature to work with. This is not about perfecting Paul. It is about freedom from Paul and “his” stuff.
Paul: That is, in knowing I’m the self, there is an immediate feeling of complete fullness. I know experience is fickle and not a way to gauge one’s knowledge but when you know you’re whole and complete, that certainly creates a feeling for the jiva… otherwise it wouldn’t be worth it. There isn’t this feeling though, and I know enlightenment isn’t an experience. This is something the jiva is equally stuck on… and I’m also sure it is a lingering desire for experience, as I’m both fullness and emptiness.
Sundari: Here is the problem: you say “when I know the self there is a feeling of fullness,” etc. – Why stop knowing the self if that makes you feel dissatisfied? There may or may not be an immediate feeling of completeness; this is something most people get stuck on, thinking that there is some way enlightenment is supposed to feel. This is the big let-down; there is no particular feeling that goes with self-realisation. It is just a knowing that it is all you and it is all okay; no need to fix or change anything, no doer involved, no big goal achieved. An enlightened person can even have the feeling that they are unenlightened. No feeling is real. Like you said at the outset of this email, it simply means that your relationship to experience changes. Over time, as rajas and tamas are purified by the knowledge and sattva predominates in the subtle body, the “feeling” of wholeness and completeness will become permanent. The feeling depends on the quality of mind, not on the knowledge. The knowledge – i.e. the self – is okay with good or bad feelings.
Paul: This leads me to my final point: this thought came to mind a few hours ago, very gently and peacefully and naturally (as almost all of these do)… my family, you, the world is an effect and non-separate from a cause and in fact is the cause. Since the cause is non-dual awareness, which is me, all effects are non-separate from me. Therefore I am everything. The truth of the bed I’m lying on is sat… me. The truth of these typing fingers, the keyboard, the moving cars outside the window, my sister-in-law playing with my son… is me. They all have a cause, and the cause is awareness, and I am awareness. The ego doesn’t like this vision, because it means that it doesn’t have as much clout as it would like; its story isn’t that important anymore. But then again, with this vision the ego is also an effect and is therefore me, and there is nothing wrong with that either!
Paul: Yet… the feeling that there are two selves is very prevalent recently… the jiva and simple awareness of the jiva. At times I see from the self’s point of view… this conviction is there but not super-firm. And at other times the jiva seems to be in the driver’s seat. I’m sure this is possible, and when the mind thinks it’s the jiva the inquiry starts up quite naturally and it is shown that it’s in fact the self. I ask, who thinks this…? Not the self, as scripture says and as I have no evidence that it’s anything but whole and complete. But I’m aware of myself wanting to hash it out and have the self win in the argument of who’s the real I. It sounds silly, I know! I’m aware of this too. So should the knowledge that I’m neither of these thoughts… I am the light in which these thoughts arise… be applied?
Sundari: The root of your problem is the two-selves idea; as you know, there are not two selves, only one self. Yes, correct, you are the knower of both these thoughts and the knower of the one who wants to hash it out and win the argument.
Paul: Therefore I can’t necessarily put my questions into words, though I’ve tried to write everything that I’m thinking of. And once again, it’s a long one! If you could please help me hash it out, that’d be wonderful. Am I way off base? Where’s that damn experience-wanting doer remaining? If you still think I can respond to people’s emails, then I’d be glad to; you can definitely put up my email address if you’d like.
Sundari: You are not way off base, there is confusion between reflected awareness and pure awareness. There is still a doer there who does not fully trust that the knowledge is doing the work, hoping for the definitive experience. And there is still the belief that Paul should be feeling a certain way to prove that he is enlightened. Don’t worry about these lingering remnants of ignorance, self-knowledge will do the work and remove them gradually. They will just fall away on their own, and you will one day realise that there is non-dual vision 24/7. Just trust the knowledge completely.
Paul: Thank you in advance, Sundari. You’re the best in the west! Thank you. ☺
~ Om and prem, Paulji Nebraskananda Maharaji
Sundari: You are not so bad yourself! Nice title!
November 25, 2012
Sundari: Hello, Paul. We have had endless trouble with our internet connection, it has been most frustrating. Also, I got stuck in an art project this week, I have started sculpting again and that vasana is uncompromising once it gets me by the tail! I will send you some pics of what I am doing when it’s finished. Ramji and I are planning a studio and art collaboration. I have been a professional sculptress for the past 20+ years. So I am afraid I am neglecting my small duties at the moment – I have not made any art for the past year or more, since getting on the road with the guru who abducted me. ☺
Let’s make a date for a chat later this week, although our internet connection really is not ideal for Skyping where we are at the moment.
We are so glad to hear about your connection with Isaiah! I had the feeling that the two of you would hit it off, wonderful stuff. The great thing about being free is that samsara no longer exists in “your” mind, but it still exists “out there,” so to speak, and connecting with samsaris can sometimes get tedious. We can’t do it for too long, even though we have non-dual vision. It can either be very entertaining or deathly boring, depending which guna prevails. The jiva remains the jiva even though you know you are not the jiva, so to connect with a like mind is a real pleasure. We hope that your friendship grows and that both of you get to Spain one day.
It is great to be sculpting again, I love it. I still have a website, if you want to have a look. You can google DecorativeCementDecor.co.za. I sculpt in many different media, and used to have a company where I worked with architects and interior designers, doing private and commercial commissions. I sold it last year and eloped with a crazy guru, being rather crazy myself. I started off exclusively a ceramic sculptress and owned my own gallery at one time; my stuff sold all over the world, a long story. ☺
I will keep you posted when we can Skype.
~ Much love to you, Sundari
November 29, 2012
Subject: Re: You are the pleasure
Paul: Hello, Sundari! Lovely to hear from you too. I thought you were a sculptress (that word sounds so sexy!) but wasn’t too sure. I’m glad it’s sucking you in too. Thank you for making time to chat. I can’t type as fast as I can think, and this being an oral tradition, it’ll help greatly. I’ll make time for when is appropriate for you. Just let me know when that damned internet connection behaves.
Also, thank you tons for connecting me with Isaiah. We’re so alike it’s odd – as awareness and as jivas! Our minds have the same insecurities, doubts, etc. It was just what I needed to hear.
I hope to talk soon. Enjoy sculpting. I can’t wait to see pics.
Your work is amazing. I really love it, and not because I’m a pandering, lowly, humble disciple. ☺
Sundari: Thanks, I am glad you liked my work. ☺ I will gladly make something for you one day, a great pleasure. Ramji is an instinctive artist as well, and we have found that we make a great team collaborating on pieces. He has an unerring eye for detail, and I love his input because he sees things that I don’t. He is going to design pieces for me and I will make them. At the moment I am working in clay, as that is my forte, but it is too complicated a procedure and requires too much equipment. I work mostly on flat bas relief, and have moved over to very lightweight sculpting mediums which can be applied to canvas, walls or any other surface. We are planning a whole range of artwork, and will one day exhibit together. How wonderful that Miranda has an art background and loves Spanish artwork! It would be great if you could both visit one day. We are so looking forward to having a base there. Ramji leaves for India in a few weeks and I join him just after Christmas. The talks end mid-February, and then straight after that we will fly to Spain.
Paul: I would love to purchase a piece from you… or commission you to make us something. Miranda minored in art history in college and lived in Spain for a semester. She traveled throughout Europe and has always had an affinity for Spain in her heart. That surely makes things easier for Paul to visit you two!! I haven’t had much affection for art, to be honest, but have found a lot of joy recently in just trying tons of things out. I’m reading plays, listening to new music, exercising… with all this free time not searching, life is just normal.
Sundari: Thanks, Paul! We are both student and teacher – you teach me too. I am glad to hear that life is – well, just life! Duality is no problem when you know you are non-separate from anything – and normal is just the right word to use. Just ordinary, normal and sane! Ramji defines “sainthood” as “sane-hood.” Samara will always be a crazy place, it cannot be any other way.
Paul: I blame the language of experience for my confusions. Even in my previous emails I can see how much I want myself to feel like something. Even the misuse of words in Vedanta from unqualified teachers is to blame.
Sundari: Amen and hallelujah! It is not only imperative that one has understood the logic of Vedanta and assimilated what it means to be self-realised, it is imperative to understand how to use words correctly. This is why Vedanta is so pedantic about how words must be used; being a sabda pramana it relies on words. Ramji and I are both logophiles and love words and their usage; is that not your background as well? I am sure I remember you saying that you studied linguistics?
Paul: There is no samadhi.
Sundari: This is true, if your meaning is taken from the yoga perspective to mean experience. However, Vedanta says that samadhi refers to the self, so taken in this way samadhi is you, eternal, unchanging awareness, because it sees everything equally, which is the meaning of samadhi.
Paul: But “ananda” being used as “bliss” is wrong too.
Sundari: Right again. Ananda is experiential bliss; anantum is your true nature, unlimited awareness.
Paul: I know that as myself I exist, I shine, and I am not limited by the various arisings out of me. There is still a bit of ignorance for Paul, but the one who knows this is not mixed up! That knowledge is slowly becoming a rock. It’s just funny how ignorance can remain; there really is no textbook “enlightenment,” because ignorance takes many different forms.
Sundari: Great, Paul, you have it. You are the knower of the ignorance that remains – so is there really any remaining ignorance?
Paul: Right now the thought just popped up that I’m (Paul as “I” from here on out) trying to DO Vedanta, just like that party girl that joined the Chinmaya Mission you wrote about. I must realize that the world, which is non-separate from my thoughts, is nothing but awareness; in other words, I have to act or even be a finder… I have to remind the mind that everything is me… THAT’S THE DOER YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT?
Sundari: Yes, correct. However, you could structure your sentence here a bit better. I understand what you are saying, I had to read your last sentence a few times. In future, remember that when you teach Vedanta it is important that you put things in a way that makes it very simple and easy to understand. One day if you do reply to people, you will have to meet them at their level of understanding.
Paul: Wow… but “Paul” is another thought. He is inert like all other objects. I, simple awareness, am and always have been established. Who can do what then? Who needs reminding? Awareness in the form of knowledge comes, shows Paul that he was never ignorant, does its job and then goes. It’s the second thorn that can be thrown out. So I will trust that the knowledge is doing its job and let those traces of ignorance be knocked off slowly. I won’t try to get non-dual vision and completeness. I will let the knowledge actualize and reveal, in due time, that that’s all that I am and have been.
Sundari: Yes indeed! You can’t “get” non-dual vision, because that is a contradiction in terms: if there is someone who is “getting” non-duality, duality is still there!
Paul: No worries then. Is this right?
~ With great great love, om and prem, Paul
Sundari: NO worries. Be happy. ☺
~ Much love to you and your family too, Sundari
December 1, 2012
Sundari: Hey, Paul, great story. ☺ Yep, freedom from Paul means that Paul can be Paul and it is all good; if he knows he is grumpy and defensive, is he really grumpy and defensive? And the in-laws can be jerks too, so what? They are products of their unexamined conditioning, and that’s the way is going to stay. If they could be different they would be, no point making a problem out of it – they are the self too. That’s the way I see my family: they are their conditioning and cannot be any other way. They will never see me even though I see them for who they really are, which does not mean I don’t avoid most of them if I can. ☺ Accepting situations one cannot change and others the way they are does not mean one does not put them in their place with good healthy boundaries. If one does not put up boundaries, others will impose their limitations on you.
Indeed in the dharma field, Isvara, is the giver of the fruits of the action, and so what use is control? Isvara, also referring to “pure” consciousness, means you are Isvara and beyond Isvara. What a relief it is to drop all the nonsense around how a “spiritual” person is “supposed” to behave! This is why Ramji makes a point of letting people know he is very human, “a red neck from Montana,” and does not gives a rat’s ass what anyone thinks of him. And he really does not care! If people project their stuff onto him, good or bad, he just shrugs it off like water off a duck’s back. There is no special way to behave as an enlightened being. Obviously, one will not cause injury to oneself or “others” with adharmic behaviour, not because one wants to be “good” but because one values peace of mind and sees no “others.”
There is no particular reason that these vasanas came up other than that you have different values to your in-laws, which causes conflict, rajas. This is what Paul needs to see and dis- identify with as not-me, which you did.
It really is cool to be awake in the dream – and to know that that confers no special status or pressure to make Paul a “better” person. ☺
~ Much love, Sundari
December 3, 2012
Paul: Hi, Sundari. I didn’t know HH Sri Sri Ramji had an artistic side to him. I mean, I’m not surprised at all. From what I see of your love via these words, it is wonderful and inspiring. I also have to ask Miranda what you’re referring to about your “mediums.” She knows way more about that.
I did study linguistics, and love language too. I even love how strict I’m becoming on Vedanta’s words… thank you for that! I just wanted to clarify my DOER statement in the previous email to see if I have it correctly. I want my words to be simple if I’m to teach one day. Is this simple or too complex and jumbled? What I meant was that Paul was trying to gain something from Vedanta… he was trying to practice applying the knowledge that all is himself and that he is full. Vedanta just showed Paul that he’s awareness, not Paul, so Paul, being inert, can’t really do anything. Doings occur… these are Isvara sristi; therefore whether the mind sees everything as awareness or not isn’t up to me, awareness, because I am not a doer and see everything equally. Yes, I am samadhi. What’s left to the mind then? My conditioning is Isvara because the effect is the cause, so the jiva is Isvara… me… but I’m not Isvara either. If the mind owns up, it’s Isvara. If it doesn’t, it’s Isvara. There is nothing or no one to do anything, really, either.
And once again, Vedanta’s logic trapped me… because… no, I’m not really ignorant if I know the last bits of ignorance. I can confidently say that I know both knowledge and ignorance, but I am neither of these. I laughed and a wave of peace ran through me when I reread your email this afternoon, because when I thought about this more, all I can even say was that I WAS NEVER IGNORANT IN THE FIRST PLACE!!
I’m glad you liked the second email. What a relief from the whole purity/spiritual thing. What a relief to know that I don’t have to be anything. Whatever comes up is fine.
Sundari: You are spot on and have it in the bag! Nothing for me to comment on or add, well done! There is no problem if Paul “ungets” it again either. ☺
December 5, 2012
Paul: Hello, Sundari. That last email didn’t make too much sense… What I meant was, I’d like to Skype just to say hello and see if any small clarifications come up as a conversation ensues. Paul is just Paul. I have always been awareness… which is you, Ram, Shankara, Isaiah, this computer and everything! And, like I’ve stated many times before, it feels like nothing.
I’m attaching another picture… me and Jasper. Notice how I’m in the most transcendental of samadhis? Notice how Jasper is too? Ha!
I hope to talk to you soon.
~ Love always, Paul
November 7, 2012
Sundari: Hello, Paul. It made sense. ☺
Yes, Paul is just a name that refers to the self, an idea in you, awareness. It feels “like nothing” because there is no feeling involved and no words to describe the ineffable. The effect cannot experience the cause – but as a jiva, oh what a joy it is to experience a pure, free mind! This is the toughest thing for the ego to accept, and very often when it does, it co-opts the knowledge as being about IT and won’t let go. We have this all the time with seekers, trying to experience the self instead of just being the self, seemingly experiencing the ego. No big deal, it’s the way it’s always been anyway! Or waiting for that final, final, final, definitive confirmation, the ultimate experience that will confirm enlightenment – mostly because the ego does not want to lose its identity as a seeker – and thus to have something to do and be. It can be a bit boring for the ego just being the self. I mean, you are IT, there’s nothing but YOU – nothing to do, nowhere to go – my favourite sound bite is: “It will never get any better than it is right now.” This is pretty alarming for an ignorant ego who endlessly seeks more/better/different in a vain attempt to find what is missing! Well, there is news for that poor little ego: it does not have to go – and what’s more, it can still enjoy the objects. In fact it’s the only time one really gets to enjoy anything, knowing you are the joy in everything. No fear, no problem. Duality can be fun when you know who you are!
I guess egos just like to graduate, you know – get the badge, so to speak, get the ranking, the validation. They feel so small they need something to make them important. Well, freedom from Paul is a hell of a lot more fun than taking him to be real, this is for sure. That should be feeling enough for anyone!
A big bow to you for your dedication to liberation! We have your enlightenment certificate ready and waiting. Would you like it gilded or plain? A touch of archangel dust, ascended master seal – or better still, avatar imprimatur? ☺
Seriously though, Paul, we are really very happy for you! Well done. Looking forward to Skyping next week.
~ All love, always, Sundari
December 10, 2012, 9:29 pm
Paul: Hi, Sundari. My interest in getting the ego on board has taken a completely new turn when the knowledge that I’m not doing anything was assimilated. Isvara will get the ego on board when Isvara wants to, when and if appropriate. Things will and have unfold(ed) all the time and (will) continue to appropriately, as the knowledge is doing all the work. I don’t need to do anything, as the knowledge is a wild and beautiful parasite that will automatically attack the apparent ignorance. This is the true meaning, I believe, of Ramana’s “putting the luggage down on the bus” metaphor… though I haven’t actually read a single thing of his.
There’s no getting fullness, as that’s a contradictory term. The ego can’t ever get full either, because it’s inert, an object, and by nature incomplete. Therefore if there is such a thing as something completely full, it is awareness, I. And as you stated before in your last email, it feels like nothing, because the effect can never know the cause and feelings are even known by this. In fact what the mind takes as fullness or purity is also known. Therefore fullness or completeness or whatever the mind fantasizes about enlightenment will still be known by me. It is me, I am free of this. I am free of Paul and that’s worth it all.
I blame wholeheartedly the language of hyperbole, experience and yoga. Any feeling or piety or satisfaction is still anatma. Yes, anatma is atma, but not the other way around. So who cares about non-dual vision, the feeling of wholeness, right or wrong? They’re all objects to me anyway. The subject, me, has to be full, and this isn’t felt, and the knowledge of this doesn’t feel like anything either.
~ Until we chat this weekend, with love, Paul
Sundari: Hello, Paul. Wow. This is the self speaking – Ramji wants to know if you want a job as a sage? We would like to recruit you for Ramji and Sundari’s Vedanta Worldwide Outreach Ministries! No joke. ☺
Well done, and we are so happy for you, Paul, not that that makes much difference to you! Just self enjoying itself, no need for recognition, as it is that by which all is known. You cracked the code.
~ Until Sunday, much love, Sundari