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of Facing the Music

Dear Ted,

I came across your email through Shining world, and wanted to write to you
if you are willing to help.

To say briefly about me is that I am more seriously involved in spirituality,
with the search of the Self, for the last 2 years. I studied Bhagavad Gita first
with Nathan Spoon over the internet, then with Ram-ji in Tiruvanamalai
2012 and in Rishikesh with Swami Atmananda. I also got involved with
Buddhist teachings of Zen, Tibetan and Burmese. I was also reading variety
of teachings, some traditional, some not. It seems like I was trying to hoard
all of these valid teachings, I stumbled into the spiritual materialism block.
Last year I spent traveling through India, went to Nepal and came back
again to India. Now after being back home, back in Slovenia, Europe, it
seems and feels that there is more insecurity, more fear and confusion. It is
the fear of facing the music, fear of just going out and being myself, of who
I really am.

Just wondered if you have any thoughts and possible advice for me.

I thank you for your time to read my email.

May you be happy.

Hari OM


Hi, Sanford.

Nice to meet you. I can relate to your zeal for knowledge. After my initial
encounter with Vedic and yogic spirituality, I too explored many different
paths. What I found was that fundamentally they were all saying the same

thing and that the various teachings were all pointing toward the non-dual
awareness that is both the fabric of the creation and That which transcends
it all. And most importantly that it is this same awareness that is one's own
true identity, one's very own Self.

It wasn't until after over 20 years of spiritual seeking and practice, however,
that the teachings of Vedanta and the methodology of self-inquiry finally
set me free.

The reason I mention this is not to impress you with 'my' accomplishment,
but to impress upon you the validity of Vedanta as a means of knowledge
that leads to liberation. Whereas the various other traditions I explored
pointed to the truth and offered numerous practices I could perform and
through which I could experience certain states of euphoria and/or
expansion, none ever clearly defined what exactly enlightenment is or
mapped out a practical route I could take to 'get there.'

Of course, the truth is that enlightenment is not a discrete or particular
state, and you really can't 'get there' because you/awareness/the self is
nowhere else but right here. Where else could it be in a non-dual reality?

The bottom line is that enlightenment, or more appropriately knowing who
you are is not a matter of experience but of knowledge or understanding,
for as you might have already understood through your study with Ramji
you cannot get something you have already got.

To be clear, then, Vedanta is not a path that leads you somewhere else or
triggers some transcendental state in which you need to become
permanently established. Vedanta is simply a means of knowledge that
removes the ignorance you have about who or what you already are, which
is whole and complete, limitless, action-less, non-dual awareness.
Moreover, there is nothing you have to do to become what you are; you
simply need to understand what you are and stand in that knowledge with
unwavering, rock-solid confidence.

Which brings us to your concerns about the current state of insecurity, fear,
and confusion you are experiencing upon having returned to Slovenia.

You mention that 'it is the fear of facing the music.' I'm not sure exactly
what you mean by this statement, but I'm guessing it might have something
to do with the basic issue of having to deal with the matters of daily life
within a context where so few people understand the nature of reality and
the truth of the self. Perhaps this type of interaction seems threatening in
some way, as if such an ocean of ignorance could just swallow you up and
drown any degree of understanding you have cultivated through the self-
inquiry you did in India.

On the other hand, you say there is a 'fear of facing the music, fear of just
going out and being myself, of who I really am', so perhaps you mean that
you find the world unreceptive to and out of tune with the spiritual insight
you have gained and that because of its ignorance it continually slaps down
any attempt you make to act in accordance with the truth as you now know
it to be.

Either way, it is worth contemplating who it is that is feeling insecure,
fearful, and confused. Is it you or is it Sanford (i.e. the body-mind-sense
complex with which you/awareness are identifying at the moment)?

The essential methodology of Vedanta as a means of knowledge is what is
called atma-anatma-viveka, or the discrimination between the real and the
apparently real. As you probably know already, Vedanta defines 'real' as
that which does not change and the 'apparently real' as that which is
impermanent. Essentially what it boils down to is the fact that
you/awareness is the only 'thing' (though it is not a thing or object) that is
real, and that everything, everything, EVERYTHING that is perceived and
experienced is only apparently real. This includes the external world, the
body, the sensations, the emotions, the thoughts, the preferences, even
the apparent emptiness or void of deep sleep or profound meditation. All
these objects, whether gross or subtle, are only apparently real because
they are constantly changing at various rates of speed. And all these
objects are appearing where? In you! You are the awareness in which all
these objects appear, and moreover you are the awareness out of which all
these objects are made. It is, therefore, you/awareness upon which all
these objects depend for their existence.

Though all objects depend on you, however, you do not depend on them.
Whether they appear or do not appear has no bearing on your existence
whatsoever -- and of course the 'you' to which we are referring here is not
the apparent person Sanford you commonly take yourself to be, but the
true you (i.e. Awareness). The bottom line, therefore, is that you are
forever and completely free of all the objects apparently appearing around
and within Aleksander, for even Aleksander is only a notion appearing
within you/awareness.

That is the kicker. Ultimately, the identification with being the person on
your driver's license, passport, birth certificate, whatever, will drop away.
And once you cease to identify with being Sanford, you will understand that
you have always been free and that no apparent object can in any way or to
any degree threaten your being.

Until that understanding solidifies, however, there is some work to be done
by the apparent person you take yourself to be.

Bearing your true identity as whole and complete, limitless, action-less,
non-dual awareness in mind at all times and applying it in all situations in
which you find yourself identifying with the thoughts and emotions that
suggest that you are incomplete and inadequate or that there is something
other than you, something that could threaten your well-being, diminish
you in some way, or separate you from yourself by some means is one of
the fundamental methods of assimilating self-knowledge.

Having been exposed to the teachings of Vedanta, you now know who you

That is not I the issue with which you are struggling. Standing in this
knowledge, however, requires vigilant effort. It ain't a walk in the park. It
takes time and patience and courage and concentration. You've simply got
to keep reminding yourself of who you really are until one day you are
totally convinced. In conjunction with this method of inquiry, I strongly
suggest that you get a copy of Ramji's book, "How to Attain

Enlightenment," and read it over and over, taking your time and signing on
to the logic of each chapter as you go. Each time you read it, it will affect
you more profoundly and will be a great aid to fully removing any vestige of
ignorance that clouds your understanding of your true identity as whole
and complete, limitless, action-less, non-dual awareness.

Give these suggestions a try, and please feel free to get back to me with
any further questions you might have.

All the best to you,