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Self-Knowledge without Love
James: Hi, Cynthia. Yes, I am fine now thanks to the wonders of modern science, i.e. a stent. I climbed a steep mountain for an hour a couple of days ago with no discomfort. It was lovely to see you in Berkeley.
Cynthia: I wanted to thank you for the seminar in Berkeley and particularly for pointing out an old vasana that was still bothering me. I’ve seen and worked through many such vasanas since I met you for the first time, and given that I now have a pretty solid knowledge who I am I was still wondering why the peace that I am was more of a background, so to speak, and that the jiva was still unnecessarily agitated at times. And you hit it straight on: security on the apparent level is still an old habit that creates agitation and needs to be enquired into. You need a teacher to point out blind spots because by definition you cannot see them.
James: Yes, the mind’s capacity for denial is great indeed. The security vasana is the last one to go. It stands to reason because the most obvious fact about existence is impermanence.
Cynthia: Greg Goode’s book The Direct Path: A User Guide, which you recommended, has been of great help. It is a very deep and methodical analysis of the “location of objects” teaching (objects including thoughts, body, the world, feelings, etc.), which truly drills down the understanding that everything is an arising in you and made out of you, awareness, and erodes the remains of any feeling that there is a real body-mind independent of awareness that needs security.
James: Yes, Greg’s book is excellent – up till the end where he goes off about the self and sleep, and then quickly degenerates into experiential talk of “sweetness,” etc. Greg does not make a careful distinction between the experience and knowledge, between the knower and the experiencer. Consequently, they get lumped together in the seeker’s mind. They are one but they are not the same. The knower is free of the experiencer but the experiencer is not free of the knower, meaning pure awareness.
There is an implied meaning the talk about “sweetness” at the end: that enlightened people experience bliss all the time. They do but they don’t. Just as there are two kinds of witness, there are two kinds of bliss, experiential bliss and the non-experiential bliss of awareness. If a teaching is based only on the non-duality of experience – which is not the kiss of death but is a limited way to approach inquiry – you end up having to explain how the gunas apparently modify the experience of enlightened people – which Greg does not do. People only want to experience the bliss of awareness, so they imagine that liberation equals eternally “sweet” experiential bliss. It’s good for business to present enlightenment in this way but it is not completely accurate because enlightened people experience the gunas which are not all “sweetness.”
Cynthia: I also greatly appreciated the thoughts on devotion in the recent newsletter. It coincided with a need I’ve been feeling lately for the expression of love towards the light that we are.
James: Yes, self-knowledge without love is not self-knowledge. Express the love that you are toward all objects that Isvara presents.
~ Much love, James