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The Experiential Power of Self-Knowledge
Stewart: Hi, James. Firstly, thank you for all you have given me the revelation of satchitananda.
It has been about a year since things clicked into place and I don’t think I have had a bad day during that period. Not every moment is brimming over with bliss and there is intermittent physical pain I could do without, but that does not seem important. Even when vasanas are doing their thing it’s not really significant; they don’t have the same coercive quality they once had and the knowledge kicks in virtually automatically. There is a natural, quiet joy that seems to assert itself without any trigger. Most of the time there is no need to affirm my self-identity because being the self is just a fact, just as I don’t have to remind myself that grass is green; it just is.
Doubts briefly arise sometimes but they are just objects and I treat them accordingly. Nothing can touch fullness and that’s a fact – and a nice paradox.
There is a fear I experience sometimes as a kind of intermittent social anxiety/shyness vasana which is deep-rooted from childhood, but I don’t feel I somehow have to try to extirpate it. To a good degree, it is a fear of being bored by others. I know the knowledge will gradually deal with it, and anyway I am genuinely happy being a relative introvert; I don’t have to listen to one-dimensional people or go into trivial chit-chat mode. The self can entertain itself as itself, so to speak. There is an anecdote about the Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw: when he was at some horrible cocktail party and the hostess asked him if he was enjoying himself, he said, “That’s the only thing I’m enjoying.”
Liberation makes life beautifully simple and pleasantly ridiculous. The quality of everyday life/experience improves exponentially, even when working in a mad, bad bureaucracy where narcissism, self-aggrandizement and institutionalised shafting are the norm. (End of mini rant.)
One thing that really shows the experiential power of self-knowledge is the way it killed the existential ache, and killed it comprehensively and instantly. I used to have a deeply-entrenched and aggressive vasana which expressed itself everyday as a bitter, oppressive and detailed awareness of the futility of life. It appears to have been obliterated in an instant about a year ago, and the most I ever feel is a mere whisper of it for a few seconds once in a blue moon and then it seems funny and I laugh. Actually, I laugh a lot. I like watching the mad irony of things and people – and of myself when all the hang-ups queue up and come out to play. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t matter.
I hope your health stays good and you and your wife have many beautiful years together.
~ Best wishes, Stewart
James: Hi, Stewart. A good reply to a good year is good for you! Your beautifully written email contains news that justifies my endless slog in the salt mines of enlightenment. It is a tribute to the grand tradition of Vedanta and your faith and perseverance that you have gained the fruit of your inquiry. I have entitled it The Experiential Power of Self-Knowlege and I am sure it will provide hope and guidance to those who read the satsangs on the website. What use is self-knowledge unless it lifts us up and provides a bright and bodiless view of our small selves flailing about in Isvara’s intelligently designed and wondrously beautiful world of objects.
~ Much love, James