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The Criticism and the Chair Are One
Peter: James, I’ve made it through your book and talk series through the love teachings. I’ve had a few questions come up.
Since we talked last time, I have tried to practice more karma yoga and discrimination. I was wondering though: If I am awareness and awareness is not a doer, then what is it exactly that decides to do karma yoga and implements it? Why does it appear that I (awareness) have control over Peter?
James: Awareness does control Peter, not as a doer, but because without the self there is no Peter. So Peter is always dependent on the self.
You are confusing the self (satya) and the apparent self (mithya). The self does not need to do karma yoga but when it falls under the spell of maya, or ignorance, it can choose to do karma yoga if it wants to set itself free.
Peter: As far as discrimination goes, I believe you said at first it is helpful to discriminate between the self and the “not-self,” or the objects in your awareness. Or to discriminate between “big me,” awareness, and “small me,” the body-mind-ego complex. Since everything is awareness, this practice has been alternately helpful and confusing. It has been very helpful in regards to pointing out what is “unreal,” or constantly changing, but other times it makes it seem like there is something other than awareness. Any advice on how I can see this practice more clearly?
James: The reason for the practice is to break your attachment to the objects appearing in you. Once you are free of your attachment to the objects, you realize you are the subject, the self. You can negate everything except the self. Then you realize, “I am the self.” Then when you look at the objects from the self’s point of view, you realize that all the objects are the self, they are you and therefore you are free of them. And you can enjoy them without attachment, as they are you.
Peter: However, I did notice something the other day. I happened to get in an argument with someone and they were criticizing me harshly. Even though what the person was saying may have been true, I just could not take it personally. I didn’t realize it was happening at first, but when I did I felt like they could have just as soon been criticizing the chair I was sitting in. I couldn’t own the criticism. The body and the chair both just seemed to be objects in awareness. Is that what discrimination is supposed to be?
James: Yes, absolutely! You have got it perfectly. None of it is personal; it is all Isvara’s lila. That is the vision of non-duality, the criticism and the chair are all the same, all just awareness.