Search & Read
Russell: Hello, Jim. Things definitely arise in awareness and have nothing to do with our apparent self – we create nothing. And as awareness we are non-doers – everything that arises appears dualistic, but isn’t really – it is of the one, but appears as ignorance and is only apparently real. Isvara (God) is the creator and is therefore arising in awareness.
But this is where it gets hair-splitting. Dayananda says we are God, but I understand that we are non-dual, ordinary awareness. I think that Dayananda sometimes blends the two – awareness and God.
What do you say?
Jim: Dear Russell, God and awareness are one, but they appear to be different. They are one in the sense that God can’t create unless it is aware. We know that God is aware because the creation is intelligently designed – everything animate and inanimate follows its nature. It is a complex, perfectly functioning web of physical, psychological and moral laws that can only have been created by a conscious force. It is so conscious and perfect that it factors in free will, probability and chaos without losing the plot, i.e. surrendering its nature as ever-free, non-dual awareness, so to speak.
But awareness is not God. It exists independently of the creation. God is a creative power that resides in awareness. The relationship between God and awareness is similar to the relationship between an artist and his or her power to create art. The creative power in an artist – which is a pale reflection of the creative power of God – depends on the artist because it is not conscious and cannot therefore create art on its own. It needs the artist to activate and shape it. The artist is free of the power insofar as he or she can play other roles, just as a person is free of what he or she does.
A person can be a mother in one situation, a daughter in another, a wife in another, etc. The roles depend on the person but the person does not depend on the roles.
As I mentioned with reference to an artist, in terms of the total – the creation – the power is not conscious. It is an abstract set of instructions, like the default settings of a computer, that requires another source of power to activate it. The source of its power is ever-present, unborn, eternal awareness. In its presence this power is activated and appears as the spinning whirligig of energy/matter that we call the creation.
Just as an artist does not need to be creating every minute to exist and can play other roles, awareness does not need to create to be awareness. If there are other powers in it, they would be activated should they arise. Awareness just “sits there” being awareness. Because it does not need to create, but has the need within it, it is always free of the creative power. It is awareness before the creative power arose in it. The “Big Bang” had to bang “in” something. You can’t get something out of nothing, a fact that seems lost on material scientists. That something is awareness. It is very difficult to imagine that this gross material world can come out of something that we can’t see or smell or touch, but it does. How it comes into being is another teaching.
You can also understand the relationship between awareness and God as you would understand the relationship between a pot and the clay of which it is made. The clay and the pot are one (non-dual), but they are not the same. The clay (awareness) has to be there before a pot can be made. Everything that constitutes the pot is clay. Similarly, everything that constitutes the creation is awareness. But the clay is not the pot insofar as you can grind it up, add water and make a plate or other objects with it. Nothing is lost, however, if the pot is destroyed. Matter, which is energy, cannot be created or destroyed. So even though they are both clay, they are not the same. In this case, the clay transcends the pot and is free of the pot just as awareness is free of the forms that God fashions out of it.
It is a good question, Russell, because this “blending” of awareness and its power to create is very subtle. It is an important teaching called into question by the presence of good and evil in the creation. If there is no separation between awareness and the creation, then awareness would have to be dual because it would contain mutually contradictory natures. But awareness has no good and evil in it. It is what knows good and evil. Another important fact, the importance of which escapes most people, is this: the knower is always free of the known. By “free” I mean “other than” the known. When you bring God, the Creator (maya), into it you bring duality. You cannot create without duality. So the duality belongs to the Creator, not to awareness. Duality is brought about by another aspect of awareness’s creative power: ignorance. Ignorance is not stupid. It has the power to (apparently) hide itself from itself. This power appears in individuals as the idea that “I don’t know that I am whole and complete, actionless, ordinary awareness” and the concomitant belief that “what I see is separate from me.” It is this belief that causes the idea of good and evil. So the good and the evil belong to maya/ignorance/duality, and not to awareness.
The subtle paradox – the fact that the “is” and the “is not” are both true – does seem like hair-splitting. The pot “is” from the pot’s point of view, but it “is not” from the clay’s point of view. God “is” from the creation’s point of view but it “is not” from consciousness’ point of view. Understanding this paradox sets you – awareness – free of the notion that you are what you see/know/experience. Suffering is caused by awareness under the apparent spell of ignorance identifying with what it sees, knows and experiences. So if you want to be free of suffering you need to understand the subtle distinction between awareness and God, the creative power in you.
~ Love, Jim