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The Science of Consciousness
Seeker: Hi, Sundari. I’ve just finished reading James’ book How to Attain Enlightenment. I have to say it resonated with me a lot! I’ll probably read it again and use it as a reference when discriminating texts from other books on Vedanta.
I actually wanted to go to the previous event in Bavaria, where I’m currently living and working… sadly, chance would have it that my job didn’t allow for the time off to make it. Saying that, after having read James’ book now, I feel far better “equipped” or qualified to attend one of your workshops. ☺
And I hope to immerse myself in some further scripture between now and the upcoming event in Malaga, which is my main reason for writing to you as the subject line suggests. How do I go about reserving a spot for this event?
I’m actually planning to come with a good friend of mine, whom I think you have exchanged emails with already, and possibly another friend and reiki master student of mine, whom I’ve recommended James’ book to… he’s fallen in love with it, ha, ha.
It was actually William who recommended James’ work to me. I wasn’t unfamiliar with Vedanta… well, maybe with the term… and the true teachings. But I’ve had an enquiring mind since early childhood, I always questioned everything… but mostly reality – “who am I?” – “where was I before?” – “there is no such thing as nothing” – “why do ‘I’ see through my eyes?” – “what chose this body/vehicle for ‘me’?” – “will I forget all this when I die?”… and so forth… I mostly kept these questions for myself… I wondered if other people had the same thoughts/questions… I grew up in a small village in the west of Ireland and attended a Catholic school there… I took in what resonated with me and discarded what didn’t… which was more of the latter. My imagination… or perhaps intuition, led me to ponder things like rebirth and ideas that heaven and hell as the Catholic church preached weren’t two separate locations but rather that both could be experienced here… this was before I ever heard of reincarnation or before I was exposed to Eastern thought and philosophies/religions.
All this, however, did have some consequences for me though, of course not purely my inquisitive mind or my introvertedness… but also the rebelliousness I developed. Authority didn’t jibe with me, nor did the education system… And in my early teens I started to drink and experiment with other substances… while I did have some fun times, I knew that this wouldn’t get me anywhere good in the long run.
When I was 17, I’d already dropped out of school and decided to pursue a cheffing career… So I started in a cheffing college in Galway city. By then though depression had got a firm hold on me… and my will to leave this apparent reality had become stronger than any other desire or pursuit for “happiness”… I already knew then that everything here was only temporary… Sadly, I didn’t know how to break free in life… and I didn’t fear death…
I did not make a physical attempt on my life… But one night while in my apartment, I spoke to God, something I hadn’t done in a long time… a real “mano e mano”… heart to heart… (or just a self-talk)… I spoke of my stance and my unwillingness to spend another day in this life… but with great passion… after a good hard talk… a tear rolled down my face… and sealed the deal, and I fell asleep. I spent the following two-and-a-half weeks in isolation in hospital after nearly having died from meningitis…
This is when I was introduced to reiki… and my life kinda turned around some… I had some amazing spiritual experiences, I even experienced myself as the self… I think… however, I wouldn’t call myself self-realised… or surely the suffering would have ended. I’m not even sure if I qualify for self-enquiry yet… but I’m working on it. And I’m in no rush… I’m patient. ☺
Warmest wishes and kind regards to you and James.
Sundari: Your story is poignant and also typical of those of us who march to a different drum – the mindset of the world we were born into. Most of us suffer a great deal as a result, but the suffering has a purpose in that it pushes us to seek the answers. And some of us actually find them. The fact that you have found your way to Vedanta means that you are ready for freedom, and although you might need to strengthen some of the qualifications, it seems you are qualified.
Your “face-down” with God says it all and of course your subsequent experiences do too. As you probably know, as you have read James’ book, Vedanta is not about experience but self-knowledge. Its basic premise is that you are fine the way you are; there is nothing wrong with you, as you are already the self, or awareness. This is your true nature and as such you are always experiencing awareness, so you do not need a special experience to experience yourself, awareness. You need to understand what this means, so you need self-knowledge.
By exposing the mind to the scripture and undertaking dedicated self-inquiry, with a burning desire for freedom, self-knowledge will remove the ignorance that is preventing you from standing in awareness as awareness. Vedanta is called a “brahma vidya,” which means “the science of consciousness.” It is an objective analysis of the true nature of reality – and your experience, based on the facts. Like any other science, it is not personal and it has a methodology – which, if followed with great dedication and commitment, will provide irrefutable knowledge that is moksa, if the student is qualified. Vedanta is simply the truth about you. Not your truth or my truth or anyone’s truth. The Truth.
This is why Vedanta is called apauruseya jnanam, meaning “not the philosophy or experience of one person” like a prophet or a mystic. It is an impersonal and independent teaching. It is sruti, which means “what is heard,” it is revealed to the mind of man, not thought up by us. This is why you can trust it. You have come to the right place, you have found the Holy Grail. You just need a little help to understand what it means to be self-realised and to live the knowledge.
I am glad to hear that you have read James’ book. I read it at least four times and still refer to it at times. It is a classic and in a class of its own with regards to Vedantic literature. You are blessed to have found James, you will not find a better teacher. I recommend that you read the e-satsang section at the website, it is a treasure trove of high-level Vedanta, and you will find many have had your similar experiences to you. All the questions you could think of have been replied to there. I recommend you watch the videos too, starting with Self Inquiry.
~ Namaste, Sundari