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Go beyond like and dislike to base actions on what needs to be done. The quality of the mind is the quality of life; aim in the direction of purifying and clarifying the quality of the mind in all situations. Swartz - You take the karma yoga attitude because it gradually removes the sense of dissatisfaction that is making the mind hop around, compromising its ability to keep its attention on the self. One of Ramana’s definitions of self inquiry is ‘holding the mind on the self.’ It is impossible to assimilate the import of the teachings i.e. ‘I am whole and complete ordinary actionless non-dual awareness’ when the mind is not composed. You offer your work to the self because you feel a fundamental sense of gratitude for the gift of life. When somebody gives you something beautiful you are immediately inclined to reciprocate. This sense of gratitude neutralizes the fearful, greedy attitude that produces the restlessness and as the vasanas exhaust through your work, the mind naturally turns toward the self. Once the mind is composed it is easy to contemplate on subtle ideas like “I am That.” Knowledge is what you can’t negate or dismiss. If you want a particular kind of experience, then you can manipulate the gunas in such a way that you feel good most of the time, but there is no discrete attainable experience that lasts. Only you, awareness, last. You are so 'lasting' there is no way you can unlast. You are unborn awareness. ...but I like my thoughts. I really do. I absolutely love my mind. It is so cool! It must be that you are not thinking happy, noble and uplifting thoughts. If you can’t identify the one that sees the thoughts awareness and stay out of the thicket of your thoughts, then you need to reduce the quantity of thoughts and the change the quality of the thoughts. This knower is an experiencing witness. It is called the Subtle Body, reflected awareness. It is apparently contaminated by what it knows/thinks and feels. You, the self, are the non--experiencing witness, the light (awareness) that reflects on the experiencing witness. Your notion of being separate, your ahankara, is negated; so, you are no longer frightened and isolated. Once you understand 'I am Brahman,' you have no need to prove yourself. Who is a mahatma? Who dissolves your questions without answering them is called a mahatma. How long does it take for a wife to become a woman? The curtain separating us from our divinity is this mind.
I think you are quite close to cracking the code. The good news is that you have successfully practiced the first half of inquiry, negating the objects appearing in you. The bad news is that you are interpreting the negation of objects incorrectly. Until now, all the things that gave you meaning were objects, but inquiry...application of self knowledge...reveals all objects to be devoid of inherent meaning. Yet the need for meaning continues. So where to look now? The second half of inquiry involves turning your attention from the objects to you, the knower of the objects. The objects are not you to be sure. You are the one that knows them. It is you, the knower, that is the meaning of life. As you keep your attention on you, discounting the objects...and the confusion is also an object that you can dismiss as not you...you will discover that you are fullness itself. If this proves to be too subtle, I suggest you take a vacation from self inquiry for while. Do something else until the confusion abates.
…It is attaching to the belief that acting out a vasana can produce happiness. You will only act out a vasana if you think it will benefit you in some way. But, since there is no lasting happiness in vasana generated experiences, it is a waste of time to act out your vasanas. A binding vasana is one that you cannot help but act out. You have no choice. It is on you without warning and you find yourself doing something or saying something that may cause unwanted karma. If you do not act out a vasana...a helpful one or an unhelpful one...you will not have the experience that the vasana is about to produce. If you have a vasana, a desire, for sex and you have sex, there are consequences, sometimes good and sometimes bad. If you have a vasana but you do not have sex, the only consequence is that you will feel frustrated until the vasana leaves your mind. And you will have reduced the pressure of the sex vasana a bit because you did not reinforce it by having sex. What causes the vasanas to bind is ignorance of your non-dual nature, so this ignorance needs to be removed. As long as you see yourself as an experiencer, a doer, a limited entity, you will be troubled by vasanas. So, somehow one has to relinquish this belief. When it is surrendered the vasanas are automatically neutralized and you will simply not reinforce them by acting them out with the belief that you have something to gain or lose by so doing.
The binding vasana teaching is aimed at the person, the Subtle Body. Awareness observes the binding. If you know that the vasanas are binding the person and you know for sure that you are not the person i.e. you are the knower (awareness) of the person then let the vasanas bind. Scripture says that vasanas known in this way are like a burnt rope. They look like they bind but they are impotent. If the one that they bind is not real, then where is the bondage?
Even when you are highly sattvic and things are going on very nicely, there is always more to do if you see yourself as a doer. It never ends. This is not to say that one should not necessarily try to ‘improve’ one’s life, but when is the work over? When are you integrated? From the self’s perspective everything is already integrated. Life is one seamless partless whole. From the individual’s point of view, there is always something to be done.
What is a non-binding vasana? It is a desire or fear one can easily allow to burn out in the Subtle Body without producing an adverse subjective reaction or a physical response. Stress is the most obvious manifestation of a binding vasana. What is stress? It is anxiety about the fruits of one’s actions. It is the feeling that certain results are necessary for one’s peace of mind. Put in layman’s terms it is the worry that one will not get what one wants or avoid what one doesn’t want. It is identification with the result of action...what happens. One wants certain things, does the appropriate action...no blame...and does not release the desire for the result once the action is performed. The desire remains in the mind until the result is or is not achieved. An unachieved result may remain in the mind as disappointment, another form of stress. If a person has many desires that require results and does not release the desire with the action, he or she will be continually agitated. The most obvious symptom of stress is a heightened sense of time. An unachieved result may remain in the mind as disappointment, another form of stress. If a person has many desires that require results and does not release the desire with the action, he or she will be continually agitated.
Freedom is freedom from the notion of doership and attachment to the results of action. To get free the doer needs to understand the karakas...the factors necessary to produce an action: the self, the vasanas, the subtle body, the senses, the pranas, and the material world. When you understand the nature of the karmic process you see that ‘doing happens.’ It becomes clear that there is no doer that causes action and is accountable for the results. Bondage is the belief that there is an individual self that is the author of action. Why is it difficult to understand that one is not the doer? Because the doer, the person who wants to be free, does not realize that freedom is freedom from the doer. Once it is understood that freedom is freedom from doership the doer abandons its search for freedom or continues to seek experiential freedom because to abandon the doer would mean the loss of one’s whole relative identity.
Thoughts are not a problem, only thoughts that produce disturbing emotions. These thoughts indicate the presence of binding vasanas. Agitating thoughts and emotions mean that you are identified with Cathy and not your true self. The problem is attachment to vasanas. Attachment is caused by the mistaken belief that indulging or suppressing them will bring happiness or unhappiness. When you act out a vasana it is always with the belief that you will enjoy a certain positive result or avoid a negative result…and that this result will somehow complete you, make you happier than you are…or less unhappy. So you become attached to the fruits of your vasana-inspired actions. This attachment clouds the mind and keeps you from seeing that you are already as happy as you are ever going to be. When you realize that, the vasanas have no hold on you because acting them out will not improve your situation.
You think you are solid and real but you are actually a ghost, nothing more than a name and a form imposed on the luminous substrate. And although you don’t consciously know you are nothing, on some level you sense it. You try to get things in this life and when you get them they seem strangely empty. Nonetheless you hang onto them but they always seem to run away. You take a healthy bite of life and it dissolves in your mouth like cotton candy. You have to love tripping to get enlightened. You have to love that feeling of no control, just going where the drug of life wants to take you.. because try as you might the gunas are controlling, regulating and governing you. They have to take care of everything and you are just one little cell in the great cosmic body and you are useful to the total and it will make of you what it will. It does not care what you believe, what you think, what you want out of your false sense of emptiness. And no matter how solidly you are able to construct your little life here it is built on the shifting sands of time. No matter how tight you structure your time to keep from thinking about who you are, it is never tight enough. The questions bubble up from the depths. You don’t want to think about it but death is here every minute just waiting to obliterate you. And you don’t want this so you cling more and more desperately to the visible, to your mindless routines, your endless fantasies. In Tibet they have a lovely symbol of enlightenment; a dancing happy skeleton. You are already nothing…as a separate limited being you are dead as a doornail. You were dead the moment you were born. What to do but be happy! All the worry, all the attempts to be something, to achieve something, to hold onto something are simply pointless. At some point you accept it and start dancing…you are the grateful dead.
Enlightenment is the big picture. You are looking at life from eternity. Aeons pass before your eye and you find it all amusing. You see the billions of little beings scurrying around on the face of an insignificant planet rushing headlong into the jaws of death…read Gita chapter 11…and unlike Arjuna you know it has nothing to do with you. It is an entertaining movie playing on the screen of Consciousness…nothing more. Enlightenment is too much for most people. So the dream of Maya…that you can lay up treasures on earth…appeals. Sure, it takes a healthy dose of denial…’moth and dust doth corrupt’ doesn’t fit your fantasy…but denial is hardwired. So you keep trying. You let the vasanas take you for a ride. And since you have an intellect you find very good reasons why you are doing what you are doing…to make yourself feel as if you were somebody or something. It’s a lost cause but that’s the way it is.
Feelings and thoughts are ‘mini’ upadhis within the Subtle Body ... which is the most important upadhi because this is where inquiry takes place. An upadhi ...which is an effect of Maya... makes it seem a s if the self feels and thinks. It does not. Moksa won’t happen until you break the association of awareness with thoughts and emotions. People say, ‘I am angry, I am happy, I think, I feel etc.’ without the slightest hesitation. It is not true. A binding vasana causes repetitive unconscious behavior. Addictions are an example of binding vasanas . Upadhis are the fundamental structure of the human being, the three bodies. The vasanas are located in the Causal Body. I think you should keep doing self inquiry in real time in this way: reject the negative feelings as ‘not me’ when they come up and switch your attention to the positive thought "I am whole and complete ordi nary actionless non - dual awareness" and contemplate on the meaning of that statement until the negative feelings dissolve or shrink to a manageable size. Rather than imagine that there is some experience that you have not had that will make you happy, why not look into why whatever you are experiencing right now does not make you happy. Why? Because what you are experiencing right now is consciousness...the absolute...and there is nothing to experience beyond consciousness because there is only consciousness.
Once you find yourself acting a particular guna out, just observe what is going on. Don’t judge or beat yourself up, be dispassionate about whatever is going on…it’s a movie after all. Trace back the train of events, thoughts and feelings to their source and identify what triggered them. This is the practice of knowledge, the ‘work” of keeping an eye on Peter and his likes and dislikes and all the predictable thoughts that arise with them. Make a note of the guna and adjust to it in light of what kind of mind you are trying to create. This is how you identify the vasana and manage the gunas… because the gunas and the vasanas are hidden in the unconscious mind that keeps a particular guna program running. Each time you do this, it will get easier to manage them and it will be easier to recognize them quicker. Before long, the knowledge will have de-activated the like or dislike. It will no longer condition the subtle body, although it may still appear, and probably will.
Ramji’s thought for the day: Dissatisfaction is rajas. Ask yourself why you are dissatisfied. Hint: Because I believe I am.....?
As the knowledge establishes itself the ego relaxes, meaning it doesn’t go with the vasanas anymore and they become non-binding, the knowledge shines ever more clearly and confidence in who one is grows by leaps and bounds. At a certain point, however, when you realize that the object of knowledge is you and that you can’t forget you because you are you, the state of your mind is no longer relevant. Most are so fixated on the thoughts and feelings arising in Awareness that they simply don’t notice Awareness. The thing is not to see Bradley as defective or needing to change, accept and love him the way he is. If Bradley owns the conditioning, which is just the vasanas created by the gunas and do not belong to 'him', he owns suffering because the doer is there. All existential suffering is a result of the illusion of doership. To be free means that you are free of Bradley and Bradley ’ s stuff, meaning his conditioning and his 'story'.
For moksha, you need to aim for a sattvic, peaceful mind, so manage the gunas by cleaning up your lifestyle: what you eat, what activities you do for work or pleasure, where and how you live, the people you associate with, how you manage money and resources etc. Meditation and prayer is also very helpful in calming the mind and preparing it for self-inquiry. Start a practice of devotion on a daily basis, even if only for a few moments each day. Choose a prakriya to work with, like pressing pause every time Uta says "I" and ask yourself who is speaking here? Or, ask yourself in any endeavour that Uta is involved in, or object she has contact with: "Does this change, is it real?" Vedanta's definition of real is that which does not change. This is the work :)
The vasanas bother Uta because she thinks she has to do something to get rid of them or make them non-binding. No action is capable of bringing about a limitless result because a doer is involved…and a doer by definition is limited. As long as that is the case, Uta will be experiencing agitation about "her" vasanas…..But, alas, they do not belong to her! Claim them and you claim suffering.
Isvara, before the projection of Maya, refers to Pure Consciousness/Awareness or Brahman. Maya is a power (shakti) that exists in Awareness or it could not be unlimited. Once Maya is projected, Maya operating ignorance is also referred to as Isvara, or God, the Creator, the dharmafield, the macrosmic mind, the causal body or the gunas. Isvara 'consists' of the three energies or gunas: sattva, rajas and tamas. Sattva, Isavara' true nature, is intelligence, knowledge; tamas is the heavy dense energy of matter; rajas is the mode of action or desire. The creation/jiva comes to be with the emergence of sattva, rajas and tamas. Isvara apparently deluded by Maya, apparently becomes the jiva, the dharmafield or the 'world'. In other words, the self under the spell of ignorance plus a subtle body. There are two powers existent in Maya, vikshepa shakti, which projects (rajas) and avarane shakti, which veils or conceals (tamas). Although reality is non-dual, in the apparent reality there are two orders of reality: sattya and mithya. They are not in opposition to each other unless one believes in duality, which is what samsara is. Just the belief in duality. However, although mithya is only apparently real, it does not mean it does not exist. As awareness, Isvara is a synonym for the self. When Maya is operating however, Isvara refers to the Total or macrocosm mind, the dharmafield or Beautiful Intelligent Ignorance. You need to understand this apparent contradiction because it is not a real one. As such, Isvara has unlimited knowledge and power. As the jiva, enlightened or not, you have limited knowledge and limited power. Isvara, the
jiva and the creation (jagad) all have the same identity, awareness. Moksha is for the jiva as the self is self-aware. So, when the subtle body has realized its true nature as awareness, Uta will still operate 'in the world" even though she knows that the world (and Uta) is in her. However, you cannot impose sattya on mithya, which is to say that even though the world is not real, it does have an apparent existence which functions in a certain way. If you don't look where you are going, for instance, and step in front of a fast moving bus, you will still get flattened, whether or not you know that you are awareness. Discrimination is still very important. As Uta, you cannot not act in mithya; it is owning the action or identifying with the gunas/vasanas that brings the suffering, because in so doing, the doer is back. Free or not, Uta had better play by the rules in mithya, if she wants to be happy and enjoy being free. By ‘inquiry’ I mean applying discrimination to the mind as it presents ‘issues.’ Normally, when a desire for something other than freedom arises, you will be tempted to pursue it. But once your mind is sattvic ...turned inward...you can dismiss the fears and desires on the spot. At this stage you are burning the remaining vasanas with a direct application of the knowledge “I am awareness” not indirectly with karma yoga , although karma yoga should be applied when a desire or fear slips past the barrier that inquiry presents. The essence of the shift is that it permanently alters your relationship to your thoughts, feelings, etc. It brings the thoughts out front so you see them for what they are and you have an easy option to act on them...or not. As we say in the tradition they are rendered non-binding. In a normal person the thoughts appear from ‘behind’ and because of the vasanas they tend to induce action... which is not good. When you are established in the self as the self, there is a ‘gap’ between you and the thoughts so you are not moved by them. And because you know that you don’t need anything and that there is nothing to fear you are not enthralled by them. But, yes, if you know that the human being, Mark , is merely an object appearing in you, awareness, and you understand that that object is subject to all the forces in the field of life, some of which are painful, and, owing to this understanding you do not try to interfere with Mark ’s feelings, then you are enlightened. How one will ever know whether she is enlightened? Ram: Your desires and fears dry up. You quit seeking things. Is end of suffering is the only indicator? Ram: Yes. That is the proof. Problems come from differences. The big problem is that there is an ‘I' and then there is the world. And the ‘I' seems to be quite different from the world. So the transactions between the ‘I' and the world are subject to all kinds of errors and corrections. Another big problem is that the ‘I' is taken to be limited when it is in fact limitless. This is a dualistic issue. Your confidence issue is directly related to the belief that you are limited, separate and inadequate. The problem is not the feelings, it's the value you place on feelings. Why put so much value on feelings? In the good old days people didn't make such a fuss about what they ‘felt' and the world was better for it I'd say. Today it is the fashion to have ‘feelings' and to make a big identity out of them. Feelings are notoriously fickle; you can't count on them. As you point out, one minute you're happy and the next minute you're sad... when you identify with them. They are this way when the ideas behind them are contradictory. You need to think about who you are until it becomes clear that you are neither a wonderful or a bad person, you can only be the one who knows the good or bad person. When you look into the one who
knows i.e. awareness you cannot find a good or a bad person. Even if you cannot see that you are not a person, it pays to see yourself as awareness because the thought of awareness is not separate from awareness so when you contemplate on awareness you ‘go to’ awareness. You see that is you. You see that you have no limits. The thought that you are Luke does not set you free. It ‘means’ something. That meaning limits you. You may think you are Luke because of some thoughts that are in your mind based on some events that happened to the body that you have observed for many years but when a stranger looks at you he does not see Luke . He sees awareness and a body. Let every action be a expression of joy. Awareness is just that ‘part’ of your experience that does not change. Are you aware that something in you has been there all along, irrespective of what has happened to your body and mind? There is another Yoga, what I call the Yoga of mind-transcendence. In this Yoga you use the mind to go beyond the mind so you can see from the Self. In this yoga, of which the meditation technique I give in Chapter I of my book, is an example, the mind is arrested for perhaps a few seconds or minutes or it is quietened down enough for the Silence to become noticeable and then the Silence is used as a gateway to the Self. This technique is the quick way to manonasa, eradication of the mind because it 'puts you in the Self." The Self is manonasa by nature, i.e. free of thought so you get the benefits of thoughtlessness by default and need not work your butt off for years trying to exhaust all the vasanas that are creating the mind. If the idea behind the doing is karma yoga, which is based on the fact that action happens independently of a doer (and that there is in fact no doer or if there is it is the Unconscious), then there are no priorities and no pieces to juggle... .and no time involved. Therefore there is no stress, worry, and no hurry. You just take up one thing without the next thing or series of things impinging on the mind and when it is accomplished, the next thing pops into consciousness and you methodically dispatch that. Karma Yoga is an attitude of sameness that you take with respect to action. You take this attitude because you understand that at bottom this is a non-dual universe and that one thing is not more valuable than another. Taking it all as prasad should be your constant mantra. Try to keep it in mind all day long. It will work like nothing else to purify your mind. No matter how much experience you've had, you actually don't have anything tangible to show for it. You still find yourself looking for a new experience to give you meaning.
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