Shining World

Am I Managing Isvara or is Isvara managing ME…?

Collin: Vedanta is truly beautiful, and I also begin to see why the website is called ‘Shiningworld’. (I have been wondering about that… 🙂 Since some time now I’ve been getting way better at guna-management – which, in effect, seems to be aligning jiva with Ishvara. Sometimes I don’t know ‘who’ is managing; me or Ishvara 🙂

Sundari: Good to hear from you again, Collin.  Thanks for the feedback, yes indeed, you, the Self is what shines and the world shines after you! This is why Ramji chose that name for our website. I am happy to hear that guna management is working for you.  You are right, guna management is managing Isvara because, in some ways, the gunas are synonymous with Isvara, even though Isvara is untouched by them. It is interesting because guna management requires knowledge in action, even if purely in deliberate thinking, so in this way, one is managing Isvara because all thoughts are objects known to the Self and originate from the gunas. Yet on the jiva level, karma yoga is the surrender of action and results to Isvara, including thought.  It is a both-and, not either-or.

Moksa is not about improving the jiva but freedom from and for it.  However, if we want our jiva lives to create peace of mind, the teachings must be applied to them in our day-to-day transaction with what Isvara/the gunas bring our way. To have lasting change on the Subtle body level, i.e., to negate the doer and render binding vasanas non-binding, we first need to make a cognitive change on the Causal level, or else the guna induced jiva-programs run as they always do, by default. The reason we can make a change in the Causal is that Isvara and jiva share the same identity as the Self. (This teaching is explained in detail in our satsangs on Systems 1 and 2 on the website).

That said, all actions, even managing the gunas, must be done with the karma yoga attitude, which takes care of the existential doer and its anxiety for particular results, i.e., to have its likes and dislikes catered to.  As the scripture says, a jnani has no problem with whatever guna is manifesting because the gunas are mithya and they are never identified with the jiva.  All the same, it may benefit the jiva (enlightened or not) to go with the flow but also, to manage the flow, at times. When our desires are in harmony with dharma and we live this way, we are in a wonderful dance with Isvara, where we tell Isvara what we want not as a doer but as the Self. Yet everything that unfolds is perfectly aligned with our higher purpose, which is to live as the Self, free of the doer and jiva’s binding likes and dislikes.

Collin: But my part, jiva’s part, goes well, finally… it was very needed! Logic is not enough. I also work hard, physically, and have to drive a lot, prepare for winter, etc., the days are busy and ‘extroverted’; so, the many questions pile up. 

Therefore, I make a list, order them into categories – see which types belong where, disappear, or remain so that I can read, re-read or ask you later on. 

Sundari:  Excellent. Yes indeed, logic will only get you so far. To tackle persistent ignorance, one needs qualifications, a qualified teacher, and a valid means of knowledge that works systematically to destroy ignorance and to disidentify with the jiva.  The teachings are set up to give you this with a methodology that caters to all the stages of inquiry, and the doubts/questions that arise with them.

Collin: Discernment begins to settle, and I can also see how easy it is to ‘forget’, and get ‘lost’ in the unreal-ness: even when logic and trust in the scripture is solid. 

Sundari: So true; ignorance does not go away easily.  Entrenched programs are highly resistant to Self-knowledge and if the teachings are not consistently applied, ignorance will obscure Self-knowledge when residual binding vasanas are triggered, even once Self-realization has taken place.  Once that happens and the mind conditions to the gunas, karma yoga will not easily work and the jiva is back, with its problems.

Collin: At any rate; one question I like to ask now is:

Ignorance seems to be the cause of samsara but not of duality as such. Is that right?

Sundari: Maya is another word for beginningless ignorance, which is the Self apparently under the spell of ignorance. Samsara is the hypnosis of duality, the effects of Maya, which causes the superimposition of duality onto non-duality. Samsara exists only in the mind (Subtle body) under the spell of Maya. So in as much as there is a creation, it can be said that Isvara is the uncaused cause of Maya and its effects, i.e., mithya (the world or field of experience) or samsara (duality). The important distinction to make here is that the effects which make the dharmafield are Isvara, but Isvara is not the effects.  Isvara is the cause, not the effects.  The cause does not change, it is eternal and outside of time. The effects change and affect each other, which is why we can render binding vasanas non-binding. Samsara can be removed from the mind by Self-knowledge (non-duality).

Collin: In other words; not-knowing isn’t causal – depending on how you see/take it: as it is and as it isn’t. Knowing is and isn’t causal either. It is like clay/pot, fire/heat (?) (Sometimes I get it, more by intuition – or recognition rather, but then I don’t.) 

Sundari: Isvara wielding Maya (the gunas) causes ignorance or not-knowing, it is seemingly causal in that it apparently causes the Self to ‘forget’, as mentioned above. Of course, this is not really possible, which is why we say that Maya makes the impossible possible.  It is not possible because the Self is never deluded by Maya because Maya is an apparition appearing in it. Isvara is not affected by the gunas because Isvara is pure Consciousness, apparently in the role of ‘creator’. Isvara never enters the creation because the creation is not real and Maya never ‘covers’ the Self. But because the Self is unlimited, it contains all powers, even the power to apparently limit itself. Knowing in terms of Self-knowledge is not causal in that it is simply the removal of personal ignorance, avidya. Avidya causes the jiva to act according to its binding likes and dislikes, to chase objects because it believes it is incomplete, and to suffer. Knowing in Self-knowledge is an indirect cause in that it removes the identification with the jiva, the doer who owns things and acts for results, and produces Self-knowledge, perfect satisfaction, moksa.

When we talk about knowing we must ask who knows what? The conceptual jiva under the spell of ignorance is inert, it is conscious but not really a knower.  Consciousness is not a knower either. The only ‘knower’ is Isvara, Consciousness in association with Maya, or Isvara.  Consciousness is without properties itself but when we add Maya, we provisionally assign a property to Consciousness – Existence. When Maya appears, you have existence plus ‘not-knowing’ or ‘knowing’. Knowing or not-knowing is dependent on the presence of Consciousness/Existence, therefore, ignorance and knowledge are both objects known to you, the Self. I.e., they are mithya. This is why we tell people over and over that you cannot study Vedanta because the aim is to realize the Self, your true nature, not a degree in nondual teachings.  Once the teaching has done its work you no longer need it. Who needs a map when you are the destination?

Here is the mechanism of knowing works, I may have given it to you before, but here it is anyway:

The Mechanism of Knowing

1. You are correct, both the known and unknown do not apply to the Self because it is not a knower in the sense we use that word.  How can it be a knower if there is only itself?  What’s to know or not know if all there is, is you? The jiva is not a knower either because it is not conscious; it is an inert know object whose consciousness (ability to know) belongs to the presence of the Self. But does it belong to the Self? Yes and no. No consciousness is possible without the Self, but the Self/Consciousness does not know anything because it does not modify to experience.

2. When Maya appears, prakriti, the subtlest form of matter that the creation is created from, appears ‘simultaneously’ in Maya, before the gunas emerge.  Prakriti is reflected Awareness and also does not know anything because it is not modified by the gunas, which have not manifested yet.

3. When the gunas manifest, pure Awareness operating Maya in the ‘role’ of the Creator, meaning Isvara, knows the world – the reflected medium – because Isvara is conscious.  Why? Because with the appearance of Maya there is something to be conscious of – an apparent creation, the reflected medium. Isvara is in fact, the only knower.

4. The reflected medium is the Field of Existence in which the jiva perceives, experiences and works out its karma.  The Field and the Jiva seem conscious because the light of Consciousness shines on them. We can infer that the Field is intelligent and must have an intelligent creator because we know that we are conscious, and the Field is intelligently designed. Consciousness makes everything possible, everything depends on it, but Consciousness is unaffected by everything. 

It is all very subtle, I know, and hard to grasp. Good work, keep it up.

Much love


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