Dealing with Vedanta Doubts


INQUIRER:

I was recommended John Wheeler's book “You Were Never Born.” Suddenly there was this subtle switch and it became clear that I was already what I was looking for. Enlightenment was just a concept in me, I could never lose my self, etc. Suddenly, those whole point of Vedanta involvement seems meaningless. Why would I go and study Vedic ideas when I am already free?

RESPONSE:

There is no point in seeking who you are if you have fully assimilated the knowledge that you are whole and complete, limitless awareness.

Realizing that you are the limitless self is not the same as fully assimilating the knowledge.

Fully assimilating the knowledge effectively cancels all sense of doership and neutralizes all binding vasanas.

This means that while simultaneously being fully engaged in action – you know that you are not the doer. And while still harboring preferences, you have no need to get what you want, because you know your intrinsic fullness cannot be enhanced or diminished by the gain or loss of any object or experience.

Provided that you have had all your doubts removed, have no sense of doership, and harbor no binding desires (or fears, for fears are simply negative desires) then the quest naturally ends of its own accord.

As long as there remains even an iota of doubt that you are limitless awareness, however, the mind will not rest.

It will think there is more to gain or a better experience to be had.

Most often, a simple intellectual understanding of the limitless nature of pure awareness, which by virtue of its being limitless must necessarily be one’s own true nature, does not completely dissolve one’s old conditioning.

Thus, spiritual work in the form of continuous meditation on the teachings and application of the non-dual point of view (to one’s each and every inner experience and outer encounter) – is necessary in order to break the back of the ego. IE: the sense of being a separate, limited individual person.

Once you have had a “glimpse” of your true nature, it is no longer a quest to find out what you are.

Rather, the object of the search is the understanding of both (1) the full scope of your being as well as (2) how to live as limitless awareness in the guise of an apparent person within the context of the apparent reality.

Furthermore, the realization of your limitless nature does not put an end to the experience of being a limited human being.

Rather, it allows you to enjoy the cosmic costume party without taking it to be real and expecting its inherently limited and ephemeral content—i.e., all the objects and experiences that constitute the apparent person’s experience—to provide lasting happiness or permanent fulfillment.

INQUIRER:

Let’s say Ishwara brought me there anyway, but I arrived at the last half of the teachings. It all became easier to understand since I knew what I was, but I couldn’t say that I got moksha.

RESPONSE:

Hence, the reason to keep “seeking.”

If you were free, you wouldn’t be still wanting to know anything (spiritually speaking, that is).

INQUIRER:

I started a relationship with an American girl and one year later I was studying a body movement based expressive arts therapy program in S.F, and attending some of the talks that John Wheeler was doing in Palo Alto. His approach seemed to be very simple…

RESPONSE:

Perhaps too simple. Obviously, the knowledge you gained through his approach was not complete enough to give you the self-knowledge that is tantamount to ultimate inner freedom—i.e., moksha.

INQUIRER:

…and once I left with this understanding that “there was never a problem in the first place” and the whole problem arises with an “I” entity first. This entity cannot be found and for that reason freedom is my nature.

RESPONSE:

Yes, upon inquiry the apparent individual person resolves ultimately into pure awareness, for every part of the entity—i.e., body, perceptive and active organs, prana, mind, intellect, ego, and memory—are dependent on awareness for their existence.

Both the gross and subtle bodies—and even the causal body, for that matter—are nothing more than inert matter.

They are mechanisms, as it were, that perform their functions of processing experience only when illumined by awareness.

INQUIRER:

Annette Nibley lives also in that area and we met once for lunch. It was an important meeting for me because at that time I was trying to figure out which of those teachings were true (is it Vedanta or is it Wheeler´s approach?).

RESPONSE:

Both state the ultimate truth. The virtue of Vedanta is that it provides the means for gaining moksha.

Vedanta doesn’t just say you are whole and complete, limitless, actionless, all-pervasive awareness.

It also provides the means of preparing the mind for assimilating that truth and uses a systematic method of inquiry that is proven to give direct knowledge of the truth to the qualified seeker.

These means of preparing the mind for self-knowledge are various spiritual practices—karma yoga, devotional worship, meditation, and energy management.

These practices are not in themselves direct means to moksha, for no limited action can produce a limitless result—i.e., the limitless self—and, moreover, no action can give you what you’ve already got.

Rather, they are the means of purifying the mind of its extroverting tendencies and the agitating desires that prevent it from being able to engage in effective self-inquiry.

Self-inquiry is the direct means to moksha, for only knowledge can remove the self-ignorance that obscures your ability to recognize your true nature.

Most—if not all—of the modern teachers simply spout the highest truth, but don’t necessarily provide a step-by-step, systematic, and TANGIBLE roadmap for how to get there.

Of course, since you are the self already, there is no getting to anywhere in the literal sense. However, we use the idea of getting somewhere as a figurative expression for gaining the hard and fast, unshakeable knowledge of your already-existent limitless conscious being.

Only a mind that is sufficiently sattvic (i.e., purified of its binding vasanas) will be calm, quiet, and clear enough to register an accurate reflection of limitless awareness. Only such a clean mind will “see” or recognize the subtle truth of its infinite nature.

INQUIRER:

The meeting left me with a weird feeling, she seemed to know everything about the teachings, she told me that she would listen to them all the time. I got the impression that she was lost in some sort of sophisticated spiritual concept. But she also spent time with John Wheeler in the past. I was confused.

RESPONSE:

“In the past” is probably the key phrase in the previous statement.

Few who encounter Vedanta go back to previous teachings. Vedanta is complete knowledge and is the only “spiritual path” I know of that leaves no stone unturned and is able to lay every doubt concerning the non-dual nature of reality and one’s true identity as the limitless, imperturbable, inviolable, immutable self to rest and, thus, once and for all put an end to suffering.

INQUIRER:

Reading about Vedanta seems to come in waves for me, sometimes I read a lot and then other times it becomes like being totally full and trying to keep eating. Then I let it go for a while. What never seems to stop is this quest for liberation.

RESPONSE:

As mentioned, the full assimilation of the teachings takes time.

And it requires a qualified teacher who is able to competently wield the means of knowledge (i.e., the systematic analysis of experience that reveals the true non-dual nature of reality and, thus, constitutes the teaching of Vedanta) in a way that inevitably leads the qualified seeker to the recognition of his true limitless nature.

INQUIRER:

Don’t you agree that the answer of this quest will never be found in the mind?

RESPONSE:

I don’t agree with that statement at all. The mind is exactly the place that self-knowledge fructifies.

Since you already are limitless awareness, no action or experience is going to bring you what you already have.

The only way you can get what you’ve already got is by understanding that you have it.

The intellect is the instrument of knowledge, and therefore the locus of “enlightenment” is the mind.

That is not to say the mind is the self, for the mind is simply a subtle object appearing within the scope of limitless awareness.

When awareness illumines the mind, the mind is able to know objects.

And when the mind is pure enough it is able to catch the reflection of the “light” illumining it.

This reflection is not awareness itself. But because the mind is so still, the reflection is accurate and, thus, as good as the original.

In other words, it (purity) allows the mind to recognize its own true nature.

Thereafter, even when object-thoughts return, the true content of their forms (including the forms of the body and mind like sensations, emotions, cognitions) that the apparent individual has (up till now) taken to be independently or separately existent — is known to be awareness.

INQUIRER:

I doubt if this quest for & die. The knowledge that removes ignorance & die; will always reinforce the idea of the false self, now dressed in Vedanta clothes. I’ve been confused with this point for a while now. I’m looking for the knowledge that will set me free, while I’m already free?

RESPONSE:

That’s the ironic predicament of the seeker. I know that I am, but not what I am.

That is, while it is obvious I exist and am the self, I don’t understand the true nature of the self as limitless conscious existence.

And, as explained, the only way to get free is to gain the knowledge that truly lays to rest any and all vestiges of the erroneous notion that you are not free.

Again, this knowledge is not merely intellectual understanding. It starts an intellectual understanding. But once the understanding is doubt-free by virtue of your having laid to rest all doubts through a thorough examination and analysis of your own experience under the guidance of a qualified teacher, the understanding becomes your experience.

INQUIRER:

I understand that this may sound like basic stuff but here I am in this crux. Please help.

Finding a job seems to be quite an issue lately, mostly because after being around the world and meeting other cultures and ways of living, I don’t seem to find the energy and inspiration to get involved in activities that will bring money.

But money is needed and I understand that doing what needs to be done is dharmic.

Mainly I find it very difficult to speak my truth, to speak up about the nature of reality. I see my parents suffering because they don’t talk to each other. I try to help but I also got drown and feel helpless.

RESPONSE:

At the risk of sounding emotionally distant, it is best to take care of one’s own spiritual needs and let others be as they are.

That is not to say that you should not feel compassion and offer a helping hand when faced with the opportunity. But you cannot fix others.

What’s more, if you dissipate your energy trying to fix other people, you will not have enough energy left to do effective self-inquiry and gains self-knowledge.

And it is only when you have self-knowledge that you be able to offer truly effective help anyway.

Otherwise, you will only be rearranging the furniture in the room, so to speak, rather than actually dealing with the cause of the disarray.

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