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The Ego Is Quick to Claim Enlightenment or The Self Is Not a Destination
Edward: Hello, Sundari. I continue to practice self-inquiry, and while I will spend more time with the material and its application, I wanted to give you a brief update. I received the full Vedanta video set in the mail yesterday. ☺ I feel very fortunate. There is so much material here that I may not have questions for you for a long time. ☺ I know who I am now. There is no doubt about my identity.
However, I plan to spend much of my foreseeable time “cleansing my mind” because it (1) is enjoyable, (2) leads to fewer interruptions and (3) leads to greater understanding.
Sundari: Yes, self-inquiry is the highest dharma for the mind, so it is very enjoyable. And because there is no purifier like self-knowledge, sattva is produced, which is enjoyable. Sattva has a potential downside insofar as it is possible to assume that this enjoyable feeling is enlightenment. Many get caught in this trap and think of themselves as superior or “special.” Being “enlightened” does not make anyone special. Sattva is the guna springboard for enlightenment, but it is only a state of mind and as such comes and goes. It is true that sattva is clarity, so it does bring greater understanding. You want to aim for a sattvic mind; that is very important for self-inquiry because self-knowledge will not take in a mind that is full of rajas and tamas. And if self-knowledge does take place, it will not stick in a disturbed or dull mind.
Edward: The bliss of the discovery of my identity has worn off. I had thought it would last forever or that it was a sign that I did not yet know enlightenment, but I see now that I was (and had a tendency to primarily act) in a rajasic state.
Sundari: The “bliss” wore off because self-realisation is an experience and all experiences end, unfortunately. But it is good that only the bliss, not the knowledge, wore off. And you need to know that self-realisation – just the discovery of your true identity – is not moksa. It is a good start, however. Don’t rest on your laurels too soon. Your language is still almost entirely experiential. You say, “I did not yet know enlightenment.” Enlightenment is not the experience of the self or knowledge of the self, because it implies that the self is an object, something to be known, as one knows any object. Enlightenment is the hard and fast knowledge “I am the self.” The self cannot be objectified or “achieved.”
You are obviously an achiever, very bright, and think that self-knowledge is something you can get by thinking. The thinker does not get it though, because the whole idea of moksa is freedom from the doer/thinker. Indeed, thinking “I have realised the self” is a projection. Unless you are an adhikari (a highly-qualified inquirer) and understand the meaning of self-realisation, work still needs to be done to make the knowledge firm.
Edward: Much of the time now there is nothing but peace, or silence. However, I still feel like there is much ignorance that remains. I feel that illusions have fallen but truth still eludes me. I want to understand this magical world, and be certain I am not projecting. I can feel like it is devoid of any meaning when I contemplate that possibility, just as I can love it and feel that love envelop me (a strong indication towards non-duality).
Sundari: Observe the I that is talking here. It is Edward, the doer. Remember that everyone is always experiencing the self; it is no big deal. The ego makes this a big deal. The fact is that no special experience is necessary to experience what you already are. Enlightenment is not some mystical state or a “magical world.”
This statement of yours – “I can feel like it is devoid of any meaning when I contemplate that possibility, just as I can love it and feel that love envelop me (a strong indication towards non-duality)” – is pure duality, talking about the world as outside of you, “feeling the love envelop me.” Who does it envelop? Reality is non-dual, Edward, which means one principle, not two. This statement, in fact this whole email, is a very strong indication that duality is the lens through which Edward perceives reality.
Edward: I do not yet know if I am really one with everything through consciousness in a non-dual sense, if I am really uniquely from God. I know the world, as it is a part of me, but I don’t truly understand the connection. Its like there is no meaning, it all just is.
Sundari: How can you be one with everything “through” consciousness in a non-dual sense and uniquely from God? The self IS consciousness and there is only consciousness, so how can it be anything but non-dual?
The world is not “a part” of you. Awareness has no parts because it is non-dual. Objects appear in it but they are not actually different from it. Enlightenment is the discovery that there is only one self and I am it. A person who realizes this loses his or her limited identity. He or she no longer thinks of himself or herself as a person. “Enlightened being” is just a concept. There is only awareness.
You don’t understand the “connection” because you have not discriminated the self from Edward. These statements are an ego trying to experience the self or understand the self in terms of objects, which is impossible. The effect, i.e. Edward, will never understand the cause, awareness, because the cause is subtler than the effect. Only constant application of the knowledge as revealed by scripture will purify the mind.
Edward: My desire is to cleanse my mind, learn, give myself time to get acquainted with the world again and then find some way to go beyond this. I’ve heard some say there is nothing beyond enlightenment, but peace is not a sufficient reason to end the inquiry. “Freedom” from the apparent reality is a blessing, but to understand and experience limitless truth, explore its depths and the nature of true reality is my ultimate focus… or this is impossible while we remain human and I simply continue to have a rajasic predisposition.
Sundari: The paragraph above is difficult to decipher, I am sorry to say. What do you mean “get acquainted with the world again”? And “find some way to go beyond this”? Enlightenment is discovering that your true identity is awareness, not the ego. How can you “go beyond” that? Where to? How can you go beyond yourself?
And what is wrong with the world? Freedom from the apparent reality means freedom from Edward, not FOR him. It confers no special status, because enlightenment is the most ordinary thing there is. Nothing will change in your life except that you will be happy for no reason; you will not chase objects, because you will know that you are the source of the joy. You will see all things as yourself, awareness, but you will be free of all objects. You will be fullness itself. And the world will be just fine the way it is. You will be the knower of all the objects: Edward, the world, the emptiness, the fullness. And in order to get to that you first need to understand Edward, the jiva and the dharma field, Isvara. How else are you going to discriminate the objects from awareness if you don’t understand what makes up the field?
Think about what you just said: “…to understand and experience limitless truth, explore its depths and the nature of true reality is my ultimate focus… or this is impossible while we remain human and I simply continue to have a rajasic pre-disposition.” Hear this again, please. Awareness, your true nature, is not an experience. Experiences all end because they are not real, i.e. they are constantly changing, because they take place in time. The nature of awareness IS limitless truth and you cannot “explore its depths” because it has no depths. That’s because there is nowhere where awareness/consciousness is not, so time and space do not apply to it.
You can only discover that your nature is whole and complete, non-dual, actionless, unchanging, limitless, ordinary awareness by exposing the mind to self-knowledge and allowing it to remove the ignorance. Nothing you as the doer can do will achieve this, because all action takes place in the field (in duality) and is therefore limited. No limited action is going to achieve a limitless result, so forget about “my ultimate focus.” Edward is not going to get you anywhere because he is the problem, not the solution. The self, awareness, is not a destination. And the self has no particular form. It is all forms, and all forms are good, because although they are inert, they all reflect consciousness.
It is a great blessing to incarnate in a “human” form as long as you are not identified with the body. However, if by “ultimate focus” you mean moksa, then you need to develop discrimination, along with all the other qualifications, and religiously expose your mind to self-knowledge.
Edward: Like I said, I have no question for you now, and unless you feel compelled to answer, I do not wish to burden you. I will continue my inquiry and I look forward to speaking with you again.
Sundari: I don’t mean to be hard on you, Edward, but you need to work on the basics before you start thinking that you are enlightened. Don’t jump ahead of yourself. Make very sure you understand what the qualifications are or you will not get very far with self-inquiry. I cannot stress that enough. Enlightenment is your true nature, but you need to remove a lot of ignorance before you stand firm in that knowledge.
Edward: You are so wonderful to give yourself so kindly. I am so grateful for your time and the work of you and your husband!
Sundari: Thanks, Edward, you are most welcome. You are a very sincere, sweet person, and I wish you well with your inquiry. May the fruit be self-knowledge.
Appreciation is much appreciated! You are very blessed to have found Vedanta.
~ Love, Sundari