IS THE WORLD THERE BECAUSE I SEE IT OR DO I SEE IT BECAUSE IT IS THERE?
For self-knowledge to work the mind needs to be prepared and qualified. Without discrimination you will continue to believe that you see the world because it is there. This page introduces a few topics and leads to the required qualifications for self inquiry.
NOTHING IS WHAT IS SEEMS
The life that we take to be so real is actually a very cleverly constructed dream projected by ignorance on limitless awareness. Nothing is what is seems. Therefore it is wise to doubt what you see with your eyes and feel with your heart until you can determine the nature of reality. Like the senses, which are nervously fixated on the material world, the mind, like a radio, tunes into happenings in the emotional world and constantly monitors negative impulses from hostile minds and tender sympathies from kindred hearts. It also projects an array of positive and negative feelings: anger, jealousy, possessiveness, kindness, love, sympathy, affection, etc, Identification with and attachment to the mind is caused by self ignorance and is one of the primary obstacle to self knowledge and freedom.
NEITHER LOOKING LEFT NOR RIGHT
Most of us are so busy chasing the things we want and avoiding what we don’t want, we haven’t time to appreciate how skillfully we’re put together, how neatly we dovetail into the universe. Rather than inquire into who we are, day in and day out we mindlessly steam down the tracks of life pursuing happiness, looking neither left nor right.
The hardest thing to understand is that you are not the mind. Since you can see the mind and thoughts in the mind, you are not the mind. You are the one who “sees” the mind. Self inquiry is isolating the “seer” as Self/Awareness from the objects, or not-Self. A common spiritual notion is that the mind is bad and that you should try stop it. It is futile to try to gain an empty mind or thoughtless state because the mind is a creation of the self and it is doing what it is supposed to do. The mind is not your enemy. There is no problem with the mind except one: it thinks itself to be the limited doer/experiencer. There is no doer. There is just you, awareness and thoughts appearing in awareness.
INTELLECT, OUR GOLDEN TOOL
Intellection is a subtle body function. The intellect gathers knowledge, remembers, analyzes situations, inquires into problems and discriminates between the relative realities of various appearances. It is the most subtle and important aspect of the subtle body (mind) from the obtaining of liberation perspective because what we know or don’t know about ourselves and the world determines whether or not we suffer. The intellect is the golden tool where discrimination (freedom) takes place.
Though millions of actions will not produce self knowledge actions can however purify the mind for gaining self knowledge. Though not a popular topic, qualifications are required for self knowledge. This is discussed in the sub-header ”qualifications” .
BEAUTIFUL KARMA-DHARMA YOGA
Karma yoga is the best way to purify and qualify the mind for liberation. Irrespective of the type of activity you perform, it is a practical practice that accommodates all temperaments. Not only does it prepare the mind to reflect and contemplate the most subtle investigations, but it also provides the platform for a practical lifestyle. Karma yoga is the springboard to liberation.
Karma yoga is the understanding that the person (jiva) has the right to act but is not the dispenser of the results. He/she performs appropriate and timely action whilst understanding that the results are dished-out according to the needs of the total. Understanding that the results are not up to the person gives the doer of the action peace of mind, this in return allows the action figure to maintain a clear (sattvic) mind for the vigilant task of moment-to-moment self inquiry. Karma yoga disarms the tiresome urge to try manipulate situations. You perceive all results equanimously neither worrying about what was, is or what is to come. Your precious energy is reserved for steady self-investigation.
THE WORLD DOES NOT NEED FIXING
”To do the duty of another is ‘fraught with danger’;it is better to do a third rate job looking after yourself than a first class job looking after someone else” _ Bhagavad Gita .
Everybody wants to look good in the eyes of society and society defines virtue as ‘making a difference. Most of us are taught that it is noble to ‘sacrifice’ for others. But at the end of the day ‘others’ will follow their own natures irrespective of our wishes.
It may be news to you but we are not here to save the world. The world is perfect as it is. The good and the bad serve consciousness perfectly. When you understand the big picture you will settle down and look after yourself properly. The number one spiritual value is self reliance. If you do the thinking for others and take care of their lives, they will not grow. This is not to say that legitimate and occasional demands to help should not be cheerfully responded to. Look after yourself. If you don’t work out your own stuff, you’ll never get freedom.
This is when you, awareness erroneously thinks its a person, feels bound to objects and suffers the afflictions of birth and death (change). Just as a silkworm traps itself in its cocoon, the jiva thinks its a decaying body. Bondage happens when maya’s predominate power (tamas) covers beginingless effulgent non-dual awareness as an eclipse covers the sun. You, awareness, are free of impurities but when eclipsed by ignorance the jiva takes the body to be the self. In conjunction with the strong power of the projecting energy called rajas, binding desires spring out its shackles. These two energies (tamas + rajas) are responsible for bondage.
To utilize the scripture properly the inquiry should be committed to his/her own dharma. From this commitment purification of the mind follows. Recognition of the self takes place in a pure mind and destroys ignorance and its effects. When the knowledge is firm the one who has the knowledge is liberated while living. Even though he or she lives in a body there is the absence of the sense of ‘i’ and ‘mine’. He or she does not regret actions done in the past, is free of guilt, is not worries about the future and is dispassionate with reference to what happens in the present.
SELF-REALISATION VS SELF-ACTUALISATION
Self- realisation is an experiential term and means that one has understood that one’s true nature is awareness. However self-realisation is an experience. It is therefore not real in the light of Vedanta’s definition of what constitutes reality as that which is always present and never changes. Meaning you can ‘lose’ your self-realisation, if the knowledge “i am awareness” is not firm.
To be self actualized means (1) that one has fully discriminated the self from the objects appearing in it (the dharma field, one’s conditioning) and (2) that the knowledge has (a) rendered the vasanas non-binding and (b) destroyed one’s sense of doership.
WAKE UP FROM AWAKENING
Isvara’s creation is a dream creation. It is there as long as you are in it but it disappears when you wake up. Experiential awakening is subject to a cruel irony. You merely awaken in another dream. Liberation is much more than waking up. The ‘you’ that waked up never slept. It is not an awakening at all. It is simply self knowledge
The below is from Randall Friend
Our problem is that we feel limited, we feel isolated and small, temporary, insignificant. Therefore we seek to fill that hole with either things from a material standpoint or states from a spiritual standpoint.
Yet it is this inherent feeling of limitation from which we cannot escape. My belief about myself is that I AM limited, therefore to seek the limitless is always quite frustrating. If my belief about myself is true, if I am in fact limited, if reality is in fact made up of separate existences, then spirituality really is a fantasy. This means that bondage and suffering is the truth of existence.
Yet there is another possibility. That possibility is that I was never limited to begin with, reality was never made up of separate existences. If that is the case, then the only problem is my own ignorance of myself, ignorance of the truth of reality as whole. That ignorance can only be corrected by knowledge of myself, of reality as it truly is. Vedanta is a means of knowledge to know myself.
The “seeker” and “realization” cannot co-exist. As a seeker, taking yourself to be an individual “part” of the Universe, you have set up a lose-lose situation. A seeker can never find Oneness, because it is the very idea of a seeker which automatically excludes Oneness as a possibility. It is the concept of a person which is, by definition, the core limitation.
So asking what can I, as the seeker, do to realize Oneness, is futile. It will always be futile. The “seeker” and Oneness are mutually exclusive, we might say. It is only when the very root concept of the individual, the seeker, the person, is questioned, that the opportunity for Oneness or realization can come.
THE SUBJECT _”I”
Vedanta asks nothing of the seeker but to inquire into the sense of “I”, the subject, Atma it is called. Is the world “I”? What is the world made of? How does it appear to you? It comes as sensory input, objective experience. Yet isn’t this the same with the body? Is the body “I”? What about thoughts? Are thoughts “I”?
No. The body is not the subject, as it appears TO the subject-“I”. Thoughts are not the subject – thoughts appear to the subject-“I”. Any feeling, memory, emotion, sensation, perception, concept, idea – all are objective content to the subject-“I” which you are.
So what IS that subject-“I”? Any sensation is not it. Any perception is not it. Therefore that subject-“I” is without form, not objectifiable in any experience. Yet it is ever there – undeniably. You are ever there for any and all experiences. That subject-“I” is not, in fact, a body or a thought. It is the noticing of the body, thoughts and world.
Is it not true?
Therefore that subject-“I” is pure, without the first attribute, no shape, size, color – no dimension in space or time. What you truly are, in actual experience, is not something which has any objective content, yet it is the most intimate aspect of all experience.
Another word for the “subject” is knowing.
THE DISSOLUTION OF THE SEEKER
The goal or aim of spirituality as seen in Vedanta is not the attainment of enlightenment for the seeker. It is the freedom FROM the seeker. That Oneness or one essence is actually what you are – only you have bound yourself to the idea of a limited being. In questioning this idea, you come to know yourself as you are – the whole, the totality, no longer imagining yourself as limited. This is the only goal.
Yet as you are already that totality, this limitation or bondage is only conceptual – the so-called veil or “maya” is only made of concepts. There is no actual separation or limitation in that one essence, even as it appears to be everything.
Therefore enlightenment is simply the recognition that you already are that one essence, and never were bound at all. You are only being as you already are. Free, perfect and whole.
If I say “I am seeking” I have asserted myself as an individual existence. I take my existence to have begun on a particular day and a particular time. When I say “I” I really mean “a separate existence” – I really assume that existence is separated, that there are “Things” which exist on their own, apart, standing on their own. What I really mean is that each “appearance” has it’s own existence, that it’s existence began and will end. My root idea about reality is that it is composed of an infinite number of existences. It is this idea which is called “bondage”.
Vedanta calls “appearance” mithyA – mithyA means that which comes and goes, that which appears, that which has no existence on it’s own. A “thing” is only a thing from a particular viewpoint, only available via a particular means of knowledge, a particular means of measurement. If that means changes, the appearance changes. If that appearance changes, nothing happens to the “existence” of that “thing”. Existence is Sat – Sat means – that which IS – Sat just means “IS”. There is what IS – Sat – and THAT appears in various ways depending on the means of knowledge or measurement.
There is only Sat – mithyA is dependent on Sat yet Sat is not dependent on mithyA – what appears IS Sat. Sat is Brahman – the truth and reality, the “one existence” which appears or expresses as everything.
Therefore what I am is Sat – that which IS – that one existence – one reality which appears as everything. I cannot fundamentally find any division between what I am and what appears, unless I take mithyA to be absolute reality.
The realization of what I truly am is expressed in the equation – Tat Tvam Asi – You Are That. The realization is that what is called “Brahman” IS the whole reality itself and if I am anything, I am Brahman. I am that one reality itself.
The gold Chain is suffering – it is seeking Peace and Happiness – it seeks to know what it is, truly.
It meditates – hoping for some vision or special experience of Gold. it’s essence. It visits the Guru, asking for guidance to know what it is.
At first it formulates many ideas about Gold, what it must be like, feel like. It desperately seeks to know it’s essence of this Oneness called “Gold”.
Yet at every turn comes frustration. No vision or experience comes, or if they do come they always pass. No lasting realization of Gold has come.
The Guru says “what you are IS Gold – you cannot SEEK it for you ARE it.” The chain is baffled by this paradox and glosses over this wisdom, seeking out Guru after Guru. book after book.
At some point the chain has exhausted all avenues, burned through all concepts about Gold. Gold cannot be found no matter what attempts are made. No concept brings the Peace and Happiness being sought after. The chain is lost without a foothold, Gold is nowhere in sight.
Yet the Guru only smiles. For in reality there never was a chain outside of a form of Gold itself. It was never chain seeking. Chain was a shape of Gold, a manifestation of Gold itself. Chain’s only existence was in a concept – the reality always WAS Gold itself. Chain could not find Gold after all.
It was not chain which realized it was Gold. It was Gold which realized it was never “chain”.
Right now, you are the totality itself, the one essence – you have taken yourself to be a limited entity, like the chain. As that entity you feel limited and need to seek the totality. Yet that entity you take yourself to be is only a name, only a form, only a manifestation of that One Essence.
Therefore this “I” can never find anything. “I” can never find that essence. It is that essence which realizes it never was that limited “I”.
We’ve been reading and listening to all sorts of different opinions on spirituality – repeat “who am I” until you pass out – sit in a cave until your toes are frostbitten – grow a long, flowing beard and smile a lot… these things have nothing to do with it.
The above is a brief introduction for the subjects to come. Let us head over to ‘qualifications’.