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Gabe: Hi, James. I could not wait and took a day of from work to sit in a quite place to read and contemplate your answers.
James: This shows great dedication, Gabe. Good for you.
Gabe: The thoughts or observations that resulted from my inquiry are:
Everything comes and goes. I remain constant. Each thought that arises, each body movement, each sensation, each breath that happens, I can negate as not being me but I cannot negate myself. While doing this, the world, including that which I thought was my body, appears like a dream of some sort.
A very peculiar feeling is created by this. Unfamiliar at first, but then again very familiar as it always has been. I am the source of this “dream.” But I am not part of it. I am somehow not of this world and of this dream, although I am the creator. The dream operates under its own set of rules.
James: Good. This is the understanding that is liberation. We call it satya mithya viveka, the discrimination between what is real and what is apparently real – what you call the dream. It is important to know that the dream and the dream objects operate on their own set of rules, dharmas. We call it Isvara, the self, awareness, appearing as the objects and as the regulator of them.
Gabe: I am beginning to understand the importance of precision of words. I had underestimated that. Words can have a hypnotic effect.
James: This is a very important realization. Enlightenment only comes through the correct understanding of words. Your analysis of Tony Parson’s lack of precision is excellent. He may know who he is, but he is not a proper teacher. He once told a friend of mine that Vedanta is rubbish. Such statements belie an uninformed mind.
Gabe: I contemplated something that Tony Parsons uses a lot and that once had a profound effect on me: “This is it. All there is is this.” I liked that statement a lot. But after contemplating I can see that it is not the whole truth. I am it. I am all there is. The word “this” references a world. It references an object or objects. It indirectly has kept me in identification with the perceiver.
James: This is true. The object that the “this-babas” are trying to reveal shows that their enlightenment is not enlightenment. It references experience, the experience of “this.” This needs to be pointed out, no doubt, but to leave it there is only half a teaching. Once the “this” has been recognized, the next inquiry is: What or who knows the “this”? If you stop at the “this” you leave yourself, awareness, out of the picture. You imagine that you are experiencing “this” as an enlightened individual. But you are not. You are awareness illumining (note the use of the word “illumine” instead of the word “experiencing” or “knowing,” both of which imply a separate entity) the “this” or the experience of “this,” which is just awareness reflecting on a sattvic mind. It is correct to say that “this” is me, but I am not “this.” “This” is mithya, apparently real, and I am satya, what is real. When the bliss-babas point out the “this” they imagine that they are revealing reality, but in fact they are only talking about the dream, the apparent reality.
You can get to “this” with Neo-Advaita – which is not the kiss of death – but that is all. This limitation did not begin with the Neos; it is as old as the hills. It comes about because of the belief that enlightenment is experiential. When you get the knowledge of the self as an object – we call it indirect knowledge – it has a profoundly positive effect on the experiencer and the experiencer usually stops inquiring, assuming that this is all there is. It is in the sense that consciousness is everything, but they think that the realization of “this” is all there is. ☺
If you don’t ask how “this” is known, the experiencer is not negated. It is very hard to take this step because you have to relinquish the orientation of awareness around the experiencer. You impute awareness to the experiencer when in fact the experiencer is just reflected awareness, no more the source of the light than the moon.
Gabe: So I kept looking at IT which is all, but I realized that I am the source of ALL, I am IT. I have no attributes, ready to be ALL. And although I am the source, I am helpless with regard to the rules of the manifestation and the outcome of the “show.”
James: Yes. There is one word that should not be there, but it is probably a result of the fact that English is your second language. That is the word “be” in the phrase “ready to be all.” If you meant “ready to apparently become all,” it is knowledge. The is-ness one finds in the “this” is just awareness, which is not ready to be anything. In fact from its point of view there is no “all” to be.
Gabe: So nothing profound has happened. No big shift.
James: Thank God. You seem to have a pretty good idea of who you are, but you need to clear up your thinking, which is not glamorous work. Words and the meaning of words are everything as far as enlightenment is concerned. The Neos do not respect them properly. They picked up the ever-evolving lingo that the Western spiritual world generated from its contact with the East and did not realize that the language they picked up was already corrupted by the Indian yogis. Most of the knowledge they got came from translations of the words of experienced-oriented devotees of realized and apparently realized beings who often spoke in Hindi or some other local language. Even if the realized soul spoke English, his or her English was always a second language, and then too the context in which the words were delivered was not factored in. And another very important issue is the fact that enlightenment does not make what comes out of your mouth scripture. And when you factor in the mindless bhakti that devotees everywhere seem to suffer and their lack of spiritual self-confidence, you get statements about the self and enlightenment that are completely useless. And when an enlightened Westerner eager to save the world or impress others with his or her attainment gets a hold on them, you have the confused, vague language that we see today.
Vedanta is called a shaba pramana, a word-means. Ignorance is ideas and the access to ideas is words, so the definitons of words is essential.
Western spirituality is stuck. It cannot evolve further without throwing out its vocabulary and starting over. Except for those experiencing spontaneous awakenings outside the modern spiritual world, everyone that comes to me is a victim of imprecise language and it is this lack of precision that is keeping them from moksa. If enough people understand the value of Vedanta, it will destroy Neo-Advaita because the cream rises to the top. Milk is okay, but cream is better.
Gabe: A subtle understanding available all the time by just looking at it.
James: Yes. The next step is to make it hard and fast knowledge so you don’t have to look.
Gabe: I will continue to write to you my observations, if this is fine for you. Writing it down helps me put the things together.
James: Yes, it is fine.
Gabe: And I would not call it a subtle understanding. I did not gain an understanding. I would call it falling away of the assurance that I am the body or anything in the world.
James: Why do you not call it an understanding? What do you stand on?
Gabe: It is still a little unfamiliar that when I observe my hands typing right now I see they are operating on their own. I am not them. The body moves its legs, feet, hands, but it is doing that on its own accord… programmed.
James: Once your self-knowledge is steady, it will seem to be the most natural thing in the world.
Gabe: Your words “Gabe is the object and I am the subject” triggered a small realisation. I looked at my body and realised I am not that body. The body is the object and I am the subject. The body arises in me. I do not look outside to see my body. The body appears in me. I sat down, looked at my feet, and the body geometry got folded just slightly.
Engaged in the working day and many meetings, apparent actions, thoughts, sensations, the theatre play unfolds, and I act, forgetting that I am the actor. But when I look, I see that I am not the play.
James: You are not the actor either. You are the light that illumines the actor and the play.
Gabe: It is not constant, but continuously available: when I look at the body and the world, it is a “show” that I am not. I have no words for what I am.
James: See how you have shifted to the point of view of the experiencer, the looker. You describe yourself as “it.” You are constant and continuously available. The words for you is limitless, non-dual, actionless, ordinary awareness. At this stage you need a word, Gabe. If you don’t have one, the confusion will continue. Once the confusion is erased, you can forget the word.
Gabe: Because I am nothing, I have no colour, no face, no smell, no attributes of any sort, I can become everything that reflects in me, I can identify with everything. The perfect actor. The perfect mirror.
James: Why would you become everything and identify with everything? If you are not the doer, how will you act? The subtle body is the mirror in which your light appears.
Gabe: I am nothing, able to give rise to everything. I have no form, but all forms are reflected in me.
Gabe: Sorry for the mass of “non-duality” one-liners pouring out of my brain and fingers.
James: It’s okay. It gives me the opportunity to play the guru.
Gabe: Here are some basic questions that I have always wondered about and never had the opportunity or guts to ask, because they seem basic and I probably feared that I would lose non-duality achievement points by asking them. ☺ That may be some arrogance on my part.
If I am limitless awareness, not bound by geometry and/or form, how come only thoughts of the “Gabe” body-mind arise and are perceived, and not thoughts of other body-minds? We are talking about plain “mind-reading.” ☺
James: Yes, you do lose non-duality achievement points, I am sorry to say. ☺
Gabe: How come that the perceptions arising in me seem to have a geographical limitation? I cannot perceive what is in the back of my head, so the perceptions that arise in me do seem to depend on the geographical limitations that the body has. So what arises in me is constrained. Thoughts of other apparently separate bodies do not arise in me, and I do not perceive what lies behind the back of my head, so I seem quite limited by the body… and not limitless. Please help me on this. What is missing?
James: The thoughts, perceptions, etc. belong to the subtle body, not awareness. The knower of all the thoughts, perceptions, etc. is the self associated with maya, macrocosmic ignorance, or Isvara. It creates the three bodies which seem to limit the self.