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Mary: Dear James, I’m pleased that you’re willing to help me deepen my comprehension of the teaching form. I do realize it’s not personal and becoming skilled at working with the traditional means is “important” to me. As you say, it’s a mistake to set out to teach too soon, if it’s going to happen at all.
I see that my idea of exploring was more in terms of relating the knowledge to the experience. As is the case with revealed knowledge, it’s very much about extracting the proper meaning from one’s apparent experiences. Maybe my rolling back and forth, in a desire to develop and present illustrative examples of common experience and what kind of knowledge can be drawn from them, is a bit silly as a teaching. What are we, if not the source and knower of experience?
James: Yes, drawing knowledge from experience is silly as far as moksa is concerned, unless it is an obvious experience of the non-dual nature of reality. You need to know all the reasons why it is silly if you are going to teach. We teach scripture. Period. Please tell me why it is silly to extract knowledge from experience.
Mary: That being said, I have a deep appreciation of the tradition, and can see very well that it works on those who are ready for it. I’m content to give up efforts on those who are not ready, and look forward to the possibility of assisting those who are. I know I can’t list the chapters of your book, and I certainly wouldn’t be able to do so in order, at this time, and this is what I wish to resolve.
James: You need the overview if you are going to teach – the big picture – so you can lead someone from their own experience to the vision of non-duality. You should be able to think from the bottom up and the top down. Vedanta is all about revealing the self and contextualzing the jiva, showing where it fits.
Mary: You said that when you are in the subjective (pratibhasika) realm you are not really aware of the person you are communicating with. I realize this is true and that I have had experiences where the opposite has occurred as well. The difference is clear. I expect, as you maybe hinted at when you speak of being a Vedanta computer, that the more solid the teaching form is, the more naturally and impersonally it can be shared. Yes, there is only the “one” self, and when I see/know that I am communicating with “another” as the self I see that there is a deep connection, understanding and appreciation of where they are and what words are for them. I sense the knowing of what is “for them” is known because I am not other than them – and for me this “conscious” non-dual interaction was part of the motive in the observations of shared experience that I wrote of earlier.
James: Vedanta works because we teach the self, not the ego. You need to speak directly to the self, bypassing the jiva. When the self hears the teaching the jiva is objectified. This is the way reality is, the self watching the jiva, not the other way around. If you address the jiva, the self will always be an object to be experienced to it. What we are teaching is contrary to unexamined experience. Vedanta reveals the unexamined logic of the human experience.
Mary: I can only guide the self, as the same self – and I see from our exchanges that sticking to the fact that “experience is an envelope and knowledge the contents” – is important to maintain as a focus in the teaching. It’s true, I have hardly ever heard you mention anything about your spiritual experiences, for their only relevance is the truth they help reveal, and the tradition reveals it more clearly than limited interpretations of personal experience ever can.
James: Yes, this is the truth. You should not deviate from this understanding.
Mary: It was the clarification of my own rudimentary comprehensions of my self taken from my experience – that was so powerful in bringing me into a committed relationship with Vedanta. It’s quite interesting to me to see how many are resistant to the idea of some dusty old knowledge books – for fear of giving up their precious experience. They don’t understand the true basis of what constitutes the limitless experience of a shining world.
James: You have to dismiss the notion that Vedanta is in time and that it is books of knowledge. The person needs to understand that the topic is him or her, and Vedanta is only means for that knowledge.
~ Love, James