Connection Between Doer, Enjoyer and Self (Atma)

INQUIRER:

I understand that doership is the “aham karta”  (I am a doer / doership) thoughts.

Thoughts like: “I am doing the writing of this message. I am doing the reading of your reply”.

These kinds of thoughts sustain the ahamkara (sense of “I” as a single individual; aka, EGO).

Subsequently, the ahamkara attributes sense of ownership and responsibility to the self (ātmā); the very self which is inherently free of ownership and responsibility. Is that accurate?

RESPONSE:

Correct. Nothing to improve in the wording.

INQUIRER:

…the mind is rife with those kinds of thoughts every time it uses a verb in first person singular, “I”.

RESPONSE:

True, however there is nothing wrong with speaking from the perspective of the ahamkara — as long as one understands that the ahamkara is not your true identity.

Additionally, ahamkara is technically not a doer, in the sense that it's not an autonomous volitional entity who is solely responsible for producing the results of the actions it performs.

Simply put: ahamkara is made to innocently think, feel or act out the desires arising from the vasanas/samskaras in the Causal Body (karana-sharira).

In physiology we say, only 5% of one's thoughts are deliberate. Remaining 95% are repetitive (with slight variances to suit the environment) from the subconscious mind. Same concept.

To demonstrate this, suppose a thought of watching an entertaining short YouTube clip arises in mind. What happens next? The desire compels your body-mind (ahamkara) to walk over to phone/computer, swipe fingers, etc.  Then what happens? The body-mind (ahamkara) becomes the enjoyer (bhokta).

You see, in reference to day-to-day living, we…

Have to play our role as an apparent individual (jiva)…

Have to use the worn physical and mental equipment to perform tasks…

Have to exercise the free will for sake of retaining harmony in our life and those we love…

Have to assume a degree of responsibility associated with dharma…

But despite all this, one needs to understand that one's true identity is the limitless-conscious-existence (that is the substrate of all manifestation).

INQUIRER:

I also wanted to ask about the related “aham bhokta” (I am an enjoyer / enjoyership)  concept.

That must consist of thoughts/notions too? And must be another form of ahamkara?

RESPONSE:

Correct. Nothing to improve in the wording.

INQUIRER:

I’m not so clear about spotting those (notions of “I am an enjoyer”) in the mind.

I’ve noticed the “aham bhokta” thoughts have a forward-looking feel to them, which then motivate our decision making.

Like, “I'm looking forward to going to that event because there may be some level of enjoyment there”.

It is of my opinion that the enjoyership mistakes the self (ātmā) for the experiencing-entity (jīva) — and erroneously assumes that the self (ātmā) can be affected for the better or worse by the karma phala (results of the doership's actions).

RESPONSE:

Enjoyership itself does not mistake the self (ātmā) for the experiencing-entity (jīva).

Rather, enjoyership is an extended thought (based on ignorance) that, “I” am the experiencer of the objective phenomena.

For added comprehension, let's give both an ignorant person (ajnani; whose “I” is associated to doership/enjoyership) and a wise person (jnani; whose “I” is free of doership/enjoyership) a feel-good drug.

Ignorant person: “I” am ENJOYING this. Wow, “I” am in heaven!  “I” want to DO this AGAIN.

Wise person: This feel-good phenomena happening right now, is product of chemical-reactions in this body. A pointless experience as it's not making any statement about “I”, the one whose free of all this.

INQUIRER:

What's the relationship between enjoyership and raga-dvesas?

RESPONSE:

Raga-dvesha means “likes and dislikes.”

It's used to refer to binding vasanas/samskaras (habits) — those desires that are so compelling we cannot avoid pursuing their fulfillment.

Almost invariably, they are the BINDING because the person feels his/her wellbeing depends on the presence or absence of particular objects, which the vasana (habit) is supposed to manifest into one's environment.

EG: Vasana for coping with hot temper through means of walking in a park. Right after a heated argument, one will feel compelled to walk — feeling it's the ONLY/BEST way to feel better.

Though the enjoyer often harbors binding vasanas — the sense of enjoyership itself is not defined by the presence of binding vasanas.

Whether the vasanas are binding (can say “no” without being disturbed) or non-binding (saying “no” is very hard) —  enjoyership is the sense that self (atma) is the experiencer, thus is affected by the experience.

INQUIRER:

When I saw my mind getting agitated about an event I was involved with, I thought it must be that I think the results of my involvement with this event can enhance or diminish me in some way.

Is this the language of enjoyership (bhokta) being intimately associated with self (atma)?

RESPONSE:

Correct. Nothing to improve in the wording.

INQUIRER:

Is it correct to say that this experience [as described above] motivates sense of DOING, just how raga-dvesas or desires motivate DOING?

RESPONSE:

The bhokta does not motivate action. It's a mechanism that owns the sensations of having done something, and feeds it back to the original doer.

For example, if one donates (karta) anonymously to a meaningful organization, the product of that experience will be feeling good (bhokta).

Thus the karta and bhokta are inseparable.

Then what did motivate the need to donate? Your values.

Isn't it true if you value health, you'll naturally be motivated to stay healthy?

Isn't it true if you value money, you'll naturally take care of your advertising campaigns, ensuring customers are satisfied?

Therefore…

Values determine desires.

Desires determine actions.

Actions compel the karta (doership) to ACT in the world.

ACTING in the world produces results which one enjoyers/suffers (bhokta).

The jiva cannot help but act, even when mind has assimilated self-knowledge (atma-jnanam).

Yes, even a jñāni can't help but act, long as alive.

The karta/bhokta is a mechanism that shouldn't be dismissed, but rather directed in the name of dharma.

For example, Rama and Krishna; despite knowing their true identity; their worn body-mind's were still compelled to act according to their assigned svadharma (personal duties).

Of course, once the mind has assimilated self-knowledge, it knows that the self is neither a doer nor an experiencer.

Ironically, in stage of ignorance, we could say that the sense of enjoyership does motivate the person to act in the name of certain desired results that it hopes to experience.

INQUIRER:

As a Hindi speaker, I’ve observed that current usage of the related verb “bhogna” is more to do with enduring or suffering results of action!

So I was wondering if “aham bhokta” necessarily has a positive connotation like “enjoyment”.

RESPONSE:

Aham bhokta refers to being the experiencer in general, whether the experience is positive or negative.

In other words, in the context of Vedanta, “enjoyership” is synonymous with “experiencer-ship.”

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