Shining World

Freedom from and for the Jiva

Kate: I have settled into a “relationship” with my Self (that sounds dualistic but I know you know what I mean) that is constant and unwavering, quiet confident happiness, so that as and when ”stuff happens’,  I am no longer knocked off my perch but can just thank Isvara and carry on unscathed, unaffected, often amused. I am actually completely free to respond, as a jiva, however I want without worrying about it meaning anything anymore. That is a huge difference.  It is pretty miraculous that one small shift in understanding can completely reverse what always seemed so believable and real and render it impotent and ineffectual. Such is the power of viparyaya!

Sundari: Yes, indeed, Maya is truly a strange and amazing wonder! What you say here is the essence of freedom from and for the jiva.

Kate: Having the karma of my illness is part of my spiritual practice now as it strongly demands certain things that cannot be ignored in light of Vedantic knowledge. The most blatantly obvious thing is that I am not this body that is constantly reminding me of its presence, trying hard to take over and convince me of its false reality. I can laugh at it and say “better luck next time” – but it can be very annoying when I am trying to concentrate! It is a very gradual thing and so gives me time to adjust my lifestyle more to compensate as it becomes necessary. So far it is not preventing me from doing what I need to do but it does cause me to question my choices more carefully to conserve energy for important things.

Sundari: The way you express your jiva journey is classic nididhysana in practice, but it has transcended nididhysana in that it is the voice of the Self speaking through the apparent jiva.  Yes, indeed the ultimate freedom is the permanent, automatic discrimination between the jiva and the Self. There is no longer any thought involved, it is the default position of the mind. The irony is that once the jiva is known to be simply an Isvara construct, freedom from and for the jiva means the jiva has the freedom to be a jiva! What a relief.  No twisting the psyche into a pretzel in a futile attempt to perfect the imperfectable. The jiva is understood and known to be not-self.

The truth that there is no need or possibility to change the jiva as it is not real is definitely the subtlest point to assimilate, no doubt about it. It seems so contradictory. Here is this vasana bundle that causes ‘me’ so much trouble and suffering, how can it be true that it cannot be improved? Rendering the jiva’s binding tendencies nonbinding is such a monumental challenge before Self-knowledge assimilates and destroys ignorance. Yet once it does, it all seems so silly.  Everything is the same and yet totally different without any contradiction!  The jiva can be what it is, responding to life in a way that is natural for its program without contravening dharma. I am so happy for you, it truly could not ‘happen’ to a more deserving person.

Kate: Also and interestingly, I am becoming more educated and aware of the effect of low levels of dopamine on the brain. As a neurotransmitter, as it fluctuates, it can change the whole experience of a person from a so-called normal state to one of apparent depression (low level) or mania (too high). Although I do not experience these extremes, I am aware of fluctuations caused by the illness, and without the knowledge given to me by Vedanta, I would believe myself to be at the mercy of real fluctuating emotional states, and by acting in response to them.  As it is, I find it unpleasant sometimes but try to use it as another opportunity to observe without involvement, resting in the bliss of existence. Nothing is changing.

Sundari: The endocrine system is the subtlest manifestation of the way the gunas play out in the body, and extremely powerful as you know. When any of our hormones are out of whack the body is thrown out of balance completely. There are so many hormones, all of them important in some way, I doubt we even know that much about their deeper intricacies or have even identified all of them.  But certainly, dopamine is a hugely important one as it affects so many body functions as well as our psychological well-being. It can be equated with the whole spectrum of the upside and downside of all three gunas, from pure sattva to the mania of rajas to the deepest tamas, depending on how little or how much we have or need.  As you say, without the knowledge of the gunas and how they function you would feel you were at their mercy.  Thank God for Vedanta!



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