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The Experienceless Experiencer
Adrianna: Dear James, I have a question (more like a clarification) on the sense of doership. This sense is produced by the individual body-mind entity, but it is not really me. After moksa, does this sense go away? Or does it remain (since it is part of the human organism after all), but I no longer confuse its “doings” with me?
James: The sense of doership remains – or not. If it remains, you know it is a product of ignorance, and you do not identify yourself as the doer. After abiding in the self as the self for however long, the sense of doership dissolves completely.
Adrianna: Also, can the path to moksa be summed up as the ego repeatedly making choices to correct its understanding until at one point the self shines through, revealing the knowledge to the ego that “I am not the ego but am the self”? Then the ego understands its correct place in life?
James: The ego never experiences the self, although it seems to. It is always only the self “experiencing the ego” although the self is an experienceless experiencer. Maya makes the self appear as the subtle body, which is the experiencer. From the self's point of view no experience is actually taking place, so it cannot be said to be an experiencer. However, it is not possible for the subtle body to experience without awareness, so it seems as if the self is an experiencer. It is best to say that the self appears to be an experiencer when maya is operating. Although the subtle body is said to be an experiencer, it is not actually an experiencer, because it is inert. It is only subtle matter. Matter is not conscious, so it cannot experience. In short, experience itself is not real. It is apparently real. However, we have to account for the apparent reality because it exists.
So the ego, the experiencer, the subtle body, does exist because it is known to exist. And insofar as you identify yourself as an ego then you need to understand your total dependence on Isvara, the dharma field.
But when you look into the ego further you can only come to the conclusion that it is the self because if it knows anything, i.e. Isvara, the dharma field, etc. then it can only be the self because there is only one consciousness. Something that does not exist cannot know or be known. This is a difficult fact to assimilate because it amounts to saying that the ego exists but it is not real. Experience exists and we think that if it exists it must be real, but it is not so. When we think that something that is not real is real suffering ensues.
Adrianna: And if the ego’s choices aren’t being done through free will (since it’s part of the dharma/karma field), this whole process is being done by Isvara. If so, how grateful I am to be on this path!! It saddens me that others are “being done” in a way that causes them suffering, though I do understand that they are all the self too, so it’s not THAT saddening.
James: Yes, correct again!
Adrianna: Boy, what a weird reality this is. This is so radical that my mind still resists its truth. This is where I believe mystical experiences are beneficial – to reveal that there is some truth to this. I haven’t had any, but I do have faith in the scripture.
James: Mystical experiences can be a great aid or a stumbling block, it depends how they are understood and if the knowledge that you extract from the mystical experience is backed by scripture and if it is properly assimilated. In this way, having faith in the scripture is just as valid as mystic experience, if not more so. Keep doing your inquiry and practicing karma yoga, and you will not go wrong.
Adrianna: Anyway, thanks for your time. I am glad to have stumbled upon a Vedanta teacher who can explain it so clearly and humorously as you do.