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Vedanta, Drug of Choice
Brian: Thank you, Sundari! You have been a great help. When my family left me some weeks ago, I just got down into my usual meditation… drugs. For some reason I decided to visit James’ website. I had briefly been there before. After reading some satsangs, Atma Bodh was downloaded and reading begun. After reading some of it, maybe ten or fifteen pages, something clicked. It was to do with what he said about fear and desire, and subject-object. I realized that drugs aren’t what makes people high, it is the absence of the desire to use them. This is why addicts will experience a high in anticipation of their impending drug use. Makes perfect sense! Brian has had a long-running affair with drugs since the age of seventeen (powder-type, not injected, though major ones like cocaine). Realizing that it isn’t drugs that made Brian high, that self is that anyhow, was a major event. Instantly it took away the power of addiction and craving. My wife had left me some weeks ago, as Brian had a relapse for a week. This realization naturally was applicable to all things, even Ann and the kids leaving, as no longer was it a co-dependent relationship. From self and through Brian there was selfless instead of selfish “poor me” events.
Sundari: You are very welcome, Brian, it’s always such a pleasure to share this knowledge. Vedanta comes to those who are ready, it’s that simple; you don’t find it, it finds you – and then it will make sense. How can it not? And now it has become your preferred drug of choice. ☺ The self-realisation you had of course does apply to everything.
Here’s that “however” again – self-realisation is not moksa. It’s also an experience and if the knowledge is not actualised, it can be lost . All experiences end. It is very good news that this realisation has taken place for you. The bad news is that this is where the “work” begins. We know many people who are self-realised but they have not dealt with their stuff and they are stuck. They disregard it all as “not-self,” which of course it isn’t. The problem is, it does not magically go away and if you want to be free of the person, you need to understand your conditioning and the dharma field (Isvara) in the light of self-knowledge or you will simply not be free. The sewer of the subconscious, your life story and all its baggage, needs to be cleaned up, as unreal as it is. You cannot impose the real on the apparently real, it does not work. It’s not about fixing Brian or making him a better person, it is about understanding what it means to be self-realised in the apparent reality, so that you can be free of the jiva, because the apparent reality is where the jiva lives.
Brian: From that point it all changed. That was really the beginning of what was a fifteen-day straight experience. Looking back, I can really see that mediation helped prepare, and the wisdom in Atma Bodh delivered. It was an incredibly liberating event for Brian, a game-changer. As you advised, all experiences end, and the fifteen days of bliss did. The experience peaked with feelings of possibly passing out, losing my body, realizing and being everything. It was no longer about Brian or his body or anything like that. There was consciousness and it was everywhere, incredibly powerful. It seems that something that was important is the realization that experience is temporary, and that in reality all experiences are easily had. This leads to the realization they are neither here nor there.
Sundari: You are always only ever experiencing awareness, there is never a time when you are not, even in the deep sleep state. The thing is to know that you are the knower of the experience and therefore you do not need another experience to experience yourself.
Your statement, “There was consciousness and it was everywhere, incredibly powerful,” is indirect knowledge, the apparent self talking. It is the person who “knows” the self. Direct knowledge would have said, “I was consciousness and I was everywhere.”
Every time you hear yourself saying “I” press “pause” and ask, “Who is talking here? Is this the jiva identified with the person, is this the jiva who knows the self or is this the jiva who knows it IS the self?”
Sundari (from previous email): The problem is that your spiritual orientation has all been experiential and most of the teachers you mentioned do not have a valid means of knowledge. They teach experience, not knowledge, except for Ramana, who taught Vedanta. But because he was not a proper teacher he is often misunderstood or his quotes are taken out of context. Meditation is a good practice for quieting the mind and preparing it for self-inquiry, but it will not set you free of the person, because the one who is meditating, the doer, is still there.
Brian: Spot on with this again. It has been a new way of looking at things. It feels so right to disregard the experiences.
Sundari: Yes, they are no big deal as they happen in you.
Sundari (from previous email): By constant exposure to the scripture self-knowledge will remove the ignorance of your true nature and the self, you, will be revealed. As I said to you in my last email, self-inquiry is just examining the unexamined logic of your own experience. Hear it again, Brian – and really hear it – if experience worked for you, you would be free and not writing to me.
Brian: It is clear that the life of Brian was involved with objects and the experiences they brought, or else why was it such a major deal to learn of fear and desire and the relation to objects? This was unexamined logic yet it seems it was always known. Oh, yes, there is much still to be revealed to Brian.
Sundari: Yes, this is how it is, and most people who find their way to Vedanta are ready to hear this. However, nothing is going to be revealed to Brian. Brian is an inert reflection of awareness; he is not conscious. It is only through the light of awareness, you, shining on the mind that Brian appears to think and have revelations. It is the self under the spell of ignorance that is seeing itself through the mirror or Vedanta, self-knowledge. Maya provides awareness with a body so that it can have contact with objects, and then the impossible “happens” and awareness “falls” under the spell of ignorance and seems to forget its true nature.
Sundari (from previous email): The problem with this is: this is an experience. All experiences end, so by definition they are not real. And as you say, it did end. Experience is like a time-release capsule: it is meant to deliver knowledge. If the knowledge is not assimilated it is lost, and the one who had this mind-blowing experience is left longing for another experience or they can get stuck in sattva, stuck in bliss, thinking that this is the Holy Grail. Unfortunately, it is not unless the knowledge from the experience is extracted and understood.
Brian: Getting stuck would be easy. That won’t be happening now. Paul just wrote to me this evening, so I will write back to both of you right away.
Sundari: Great, you are in good hands: yourself!
Sundari (from previous email): It is clear that you are having an experience of the self, which has helped to calm the mind; your vasanas are thus not as binding as they usually are, Brian is in a sattvic state and not so identified with the person and his likes and dislikes. The pleasure that he is getting from meditation has become like a drug, it feels so good. You can see the problem here. If you do not gain the knowledge of what is really happening “to” you (who?) this state will wear off and the vasanas will be back, Brian will be back, because the doer/experiencer is still there. You need self-knowledge to assimilate what is “happening” to Brian.
Brian: This feels really true. Sundari, I have been reading How to Attain Enlightenment but Atma Bodh is better understood. I mean, I feel drawn to it more and have stopped reading the former and recommenced the latter. I’ve also stopped all other reading or learning anything else.
Sundari: It is true and you are in alignment with your own knowing. It does not matter that much which book works for you, it’s all Vedanta and all of it says the same thing. The delivery system is not that important. Assimilation is what is important.
Sundari (from previous email): Yes, Brian is blind. He can only “see” because the light of awareness illumines the mind making sight possible.
But answer this: If you know that Brian is blind and learning to crawl, are you Brian? Are you blind and learning to crawl?
Brian: I am not Brian, not the name, the body, not even the mind, though I am them all as well albeit in a limited way. I could say I am everything, though that doesn’t do it justice. I am much more than that. It doesn’t seem that Brian knows the words to express it.
Sundari: You are that which gives rise to everything yet you are always free of everything. There are no real words to express this.
Brian: Warmest wishes.
Sundari: And to you too, Brian. May the knowledge grow firmer by the day and may you take a stand in awareness as awareness.
~ Much love to you, Sundari