Sushi: I understood what you said earlier and applied it. In fact, I had read a book by Tolle that encourages body scanning as a technique to prevent the ego from rising, or even if it rises, to be able to cut it off without involvement.
Jagjot: Yes, body scanning is a well-known practice. It allows releasing tension in specific body parts by bringing attention. However, what works best will come from your own experience. Notice one thing though, who wants to prevent the ego from rising?
If you can get to the root of THAT, which wants to “do” something about the ego, you will realize you’re already free.
Sushi: If all acts are of the source, why do we sometimes engage in undesirable acts? Or is it that there is no good or bad? Is it that there is just the act, good or bad is in our mind alone?
Jagjot: All acts are from the source (call it God or pure consciousness) Sushi. Even the ignorance that we are the ego is by the source. The source is all there is. The question of desirable and undesirable acts is of the contemplating mind. Yes, people sometimes act unconsciously, and society as a whole indeed is (and has been) collectively dysfunctional.
My point is that your undesirable acts are truly not yours. It is your ego that claims ownership over the thoughts to trap you into feeling guilty. And the immediate reaction is, “I should not think this or that way.” The way you act is not in your control.
When people push our triggers, the reaction happens sometimes. If we feel regret for hurting someone, we can apologize, and that ends the matter there and then. But the ego comes later and says, “I’m an angry person. I should not have done that. Now I should do hard sadhana to purify my soul.” You see, these never-ending dialogs keep the ego going.
The ego can also be delusional sometimes. For example, it may hurt someone and blame the source by calling it God’s will to escape the consequences. But you see, the witnessing awareness exposes such antics of the ego, and it has no choice but to accept that it is not the doer.
Sushi: How can the ego hurt someone when it is not the doer?
Jagjot: It is true that the ego is not the doer, but simply convincing ourselves of the same through thoughts and words does not bring about this realization. In other words, non-doership is not merely an intellectual understanding. It is an “impersonal understanding” that we also call spiritual awakening.
The reaction happens through the mind-body organism, and afterward, the ego comes up to take ownership. In the context of what I explained earlier, the ego deludes itself by taking ownership of “non-doership as a concept” rather than allowing the surrender to happen. Before the understanding, ego believes that it is real and the doer of its actions, creating pain and suffering.
For example, after listening to their Guru, two devotees begin analyzing the concept, “I am not the doer.” One disagrees with the concept saying it’s nonsense. An argument ensues, which takes an ugly turn.
The one who believes in the non-doership concept slaps the other for having a different opinion. Now realizing what happened, he immediately uses the concept to justify this action. He says, “I did not slap him. It happened through my hand because it was the will of the source.”
You see, in this case, the ego is coverted. It has gained a back door entry. It truly does not believe that it is not the doer but uses the concept to escape consequences.
The ego undertakes the self-inquiry if it’s the will of the source. How sincere the inquiry is, is also the will of the source. And how successful the inquiry will be, is also the will of the source.
Good and bad is a concept in mind. It is identification with the thinking mind. From the nature’s viewpoint, everything is the same. Clinging to either good or bad is suffering. The realized one has a complete acceptance of the fact that duality is an appearance of interconnected opposites: pleasure and pain, good and bad, moral and immoral, and so on and so forth.
The source creates mind-body organisms like Mother Teresa, and the same source creates psychopathic organisms like Adolf Hitler. Every human has the potential to be like either of the above. While the ego remains fixated on an individual to blame and condemn, in reality, the individual is an appearance of the infinite as finite.
Freedom from the idea of good and evil is liberation.
I hope this is not too confusing?
Sushi: It’s not confusing, but it does leave one clueless. What rises in my mind can’t be controlled by me, so I don’t need to identify with it or be bothered by it. Is that the only way to put an end to it?
Jagjot: Being clueless is a part of the confusion. It is the beginning of “I don’t know.” When the confusion is total, and the mind is devastated, the knowledge that “l can’t know” follows. J Krishnamurthy would say, “see it with total attention for what it is.”
What arises in mind comes about because of past conditioning. Thoughts, in and of themselves, are not the problem. The problem is the involvement that follows thinking. A thought is only problematic when it is perceived as threatening for the image that the ego fiercely guards. Otherwise, random thoughts keep appearing throughout the day and are never bothersome.
Whether you identify or don’t identify with what rises in your mind is not in your control. There is nothing you can do as such in this process other than allow the understanding to unfold the way the source wants to. The very thought of putting an end to suffering creates more suffering. Surrender is acceptance of the fact that nothing is in our control cause we’re not the doers.
There is no guarantee that the understanding, in your case, will happen through this message. It may happen through some other message or teaching. Ramesh Balsekar said that it would be wrong to say that there’s only one path or teaching that can bring about self-realization. But fundamentally, all teachings are pointing to the same truth.
Sushi: I feel it’s not in my hands – it was never in my hands – to transform. It happened because of a force I never knew existed. It just took over my mind and body, and all I can do is relax and let it do its job. Whatever the end result, I must surrender to it. Perhaps that’s when I may understand it better. Am I wrong?
Jagjot: Okay, let me elaborate on this.
No, you’re not wrong. Nothing is indeed in our control. When this is fully understood, detachment to thinking happens on its own, and the questions dissolve. The whole idea of these discussions is actually not to find the answers but to dissolve the questions.
Answering the questions never clears the confusion. Because every answer creates more questions, but that’s the way it has to be. It’s spiritual seeking. The mind has to exhaust; only then does surrender happen. “You” don’t surrender. Surrender happens when the ego suspends movement, which is the end of spiritual seeking. And this is not just an intellectual realization, as I mentioned earlier.
In my experience, modern psychology is based on creating an integrated mind that is productive for a group or society. Whether it’s Freudian psychoanalysis or Carl Jung’s shadow work, it’s all concerned with the individual’s struggle to bring the unconscious to the conscious mind.
And don’t get me wrong, all of it is extremely beneficial, but you see, the sense of personal identification as an individual, in and of itself, is suffering. Separation from the source is suffering. End of separation is freedom.
So when one is troubled, psychologists come up with a diagnosis like anxiety, depression, etc., based upon the DSM guidelines, which is their holy grail. They tackle the problem through psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, antidepressants, cognitive behavior therapy, and other means. They try to solve the problem, and it helps, but none of it can reach the root of mental afflictions.
That said, the teaching of Advaita (non-duality) is not a solution to mental health or any worldly problems. One requires a certain level of awareness to absorb the message. So if the mind is severely troubled, it’s better to seek professional advice first.
It’s not that one becomes a perfectly individuated human being with this message, but that one accepts the imperfections. Acceptance itself brings about detachment. Light of awareness by itself dispels darkness. Nothing needs to be done as such. Nothing ever was or ever will be in your control. Yet you’re free in this very moment.
Only the mind’s conditioning prevents you from recognizing your true nature. Your reaching out to me is not a coincidence. The divine energy or source is guiding you at each and every step. I’m merely a signboard.
The invitation is always open for you to merge into unconditional love. In your case, the source initiated self-inquiry; it will only do the rest. You may or may not like it, but what’s destined for you is inevitable.
But it doesn’t mean that you suspend your inquiry, meditation, or any spiritual practice that you do. That’s because you can’t know the will of the source. If, in your case, the awakening has to happen through deep meditation, inquiry, reading, listening, or some other way, then it will unfold that way.
It may also happen without you doing anything or wanting it to happen. You really can’t know. So you precisely do what you think you should do.
It is not the ego that accepts. Acceptance happens! And this is precisely where the confusion is. It is the most painful realization for the ego. It’s an awful-awful message that says we are uniquely programmed biological machines with no control over anything. The ego sees the message as threatening; therefore, it fights tooth and nail to survive. It considers the message to be nihilistic or fatalistic.
But here’s the thing. Your inability to do anything does not imply that nothing will ever happen. The mind lives in its own fantasy. We want things to happen the way we visualize them in our minds, but the source is not obligated to fulfill our imagination.
The process of ego dissolution is one of the most painful things that usually shows up as severe depression. In my understanding, this is what “dark night of the soul” means. However, people throw the phrase casually nowadays.
Once the realization happens, one of the most beautiful things unfolds, I.e., the awakening of the heart. The heart does not choose like the mind. It does not have discriminatory capability. It directly taps into intuition. The heart does not fear because it knows that you are eternal and indestructible. Only the mind identifies with limitations.
It brings peace where you remain blissfully in the “being” irrespective of the outside situations. You are pure awareness, but you’ve identified yourself with something limited. Watch your mind and examine how it creates identifications. Notice where feelings and emotions come from.
Don’t do this vigilantly as a practice, but whenever you recall. Witnessing the mind burns the deepest afflictions by bringing them to the conscious surface.
And yes, you are right about relaxation. Most people take the waking dream we call life too seriously. We’ve lost our ability to relax as we remain continuously occupied by thoughts most of the time. We become so absorbed in our thinking that we miss out on the joy of the moment. We seek pleasures in the external world, whereas real joy is within.