Below is an email to me from a student confused and angry at me for Deeya’s leaving our Sangha. I am sure this bother many of you because her presence lit up our Sangha for many. I will not comment on why she left, because I am not certain myself. Do know she and I continue to love each other, and both of us continue to love all of you out there.
“This is problematic (self-realization) if one is to believe Robert and Ramana that the mind and all it contains is to be emptied … completely!
“This seems an impossibility for as this issue has raised ..we cannot always know what indeed our mind contains … and so the effort will be endless… and futile.
“Perhaps that is why you have deviated from their teachings … I didn’t understand this … I thought you had betrayed your teacher … and lineage…
“Can you see how it is I am so confused ?
“I thought that at the time all the problems with Deeya were surfacing that it was not a coincidence that ALL of Robert’s teachings became available to us.. Such a boon from the sage… a sign …a sign …! was how I saw it…
“So I have immersed myself totally in his teachings day and night … listening, pondering, practicing …
“The resulting peace and bliss and subtle energies encountered in the void is wonderful … but it doesn’t last and life and it’s vicissitudes again appear to take over …and of course thinking !
“So to finish I seem to have three choices ..
“1. Keep doing what Robert recommends diligently and devotedly without expectation…
“2. Come back fully to you and your teachings , knowing that it is unlikely that I will ever get to be in your presence and receive your Grace…
“3. Lastly, go back to where it all began with the other Robert (Sailor Bob)- because he is alive and not too far away .... but is a very, very, ‘dry” jnani , and yet if I ignore the words and just be with him … it is so blissful that I want to jump with joy. I have not heard him talk of surrender to the guru… and that is what I really want to do …
“I have great faith in what both you and Robert say about the value of the living teacher …and my most ardent desire is to Self- realize … it just grows and grows …
“I was going to sell up everything and come to you and Deeya … and now that is thwarted….
“So you see I am confounded and confused … can you make any suggestions please…
M, do you know what self-realization means?
It means that you know who you are. That's all. But that means “who you are on all levels,” not just the Absolute level of unchanging Witness, the "source," or Parabrahman.
Sometimes in real life, you are peaceful emptiness, sometimes the witness, sometimes bliss, sometimes lonely, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, sometimes in physical pain.
Then again, that only refers to the waking state. Other times you are in dream sleep, sometimes in deep sleep, and rarely in what Robert called the gap: the transitional state between dreaming and waking, which Robert sometimes says is the real you (just bare awareness with no thinking, judging or interpreting).
But always you have sentience at the core: the ability to experience, feel and know.
Nisargadatta calls dwelling or resting in this level of your existence, being the witness.
He calls the witness real because that ability to experience and know is required every moment of your life. It does not change. Everything else changes. All experience is in flux.
Because experience is always changing, Robert calls all experience “unreal” or “illusory.” Nisargadatta agrees. For them, the only real is dwelling (abiding in) in that deep, impersonal witness state which gives great peace.
Yes, I have deviated from Robert’s and Nisargadatta’s teachings because I do not define everything that happens in Consciousness, that is the experiencing of my entire world of phenomena as well as my own body, my emotions, my hungers, desires, and fears, as being unreal just because they constantly change.
Nisargadatta and Robert would consider loving a cat as unreal because the cat-entity is not permanent. Same with loving a lover. Neither the lover, nor your body, nor the loving lasts unchanging forever. The same holds with a stomach ache, tooth ache, hunger, sex, and current dwelling place; everything changes and passes.
So I ask you, do you really want to live that way, not owning your emotions, desires, body, love for animals or other people because these things always pass?
And I ask why would anyone want to live that way? Is it just so they can dwell in the peacefulness of not being involved with anything or anyone? Is this what you want? This is what Robert teaches, to have nothing to do with the world, or to take your own problems and frustrations as real and to live more and more in that gap between waking and sleeping, where you are aware of everything, but none of it "touches you"; the phenomena, the emotion, the external event is there, but it does not touch you because there is no you to be present or to take ownership of the emotion or event.
Yes, it may give great peace for a long time, but it also removes you from the sorrows of life, but also the joys. It removes you from involvement even though your body and mind live on, but are treated as not real. Do you really want that?
Remember, the Self-Realization of Robert and Nisargadatta is to rest in the impersonal witness state, the Absolute, just watching joy and sorrows arise and then fall away, without taking ownership of them because they pass.
Secondarily, in that gap state, there is also no awareness of you as a separate self. There is no sense of identification or ownership of the emotion, the love, or the external object. Even love takes on this impersonal nature, for there is no self to love, and the object is temporary.
This is exactly the Buddha’s point of view: non-attachment as a goal to find peace.
But I reject this viewpoint as being narrow, and as failing to actually live life, both the downs and also the ups, to the fullest.
I want to live life feeling responsible for the lives of others, of animals and people I love.
To do that I have to consider them as real, even if they only live a short time, or only stay close a short time. I regard my love for them as real, and that’s why I feel obligated to be responsible for their well-being. If I considered them unreal or illusory, why would I care? This is where Robert and Ramana leave you: indifferent to the world and to others because they are not real, and the love you feel for them or yourself is strictly impersonal; if they suffer, have joy, or die, it does not affect you, your core, because you as a human are also impersonal. For you, you are just that impersonal awareness without identification as a person, and without responsibility.
I deeply reject this. From living in this state for 15 years an overpowering experience of love came to me and awakened me to the utter, undeniable reality of love and other emotions, and my existence as a sentient being within a world that was real-enough to believe in, even if it changed from moment to moment, and with real persons, animals, and environment that needed to be shepherded and cared for.
It is my reawakened love and compassion for others that make me take this stance. This is what happened to Buddhism a thousand years after the Buddha. Mahayana Buddhism was born where the ideal of a snuffing out of desires (Self), or Nirvana, gave way to the Four Vows of rescuing every sentient being in the world “from suffering and distress” before one is allowed to escape suffering into Nirvana.
This is also the Christian ethic of “Doing onto others as you would have done unto you,” as well to love others as yourself. Christ was not interested in painting the world as unreal so that you didn’t have to suffer; he wanted everyone to have compassion and love for all sentient beings.
Once you regard your body as real, and the world is real, you begin a journey of becoming “re-embodied” or “re-incarnated” into humanity. Indeed, you realize yourself not only as the Absolute principle of “sentience,” "the gap," but also as a physical body, with a mind, energies, and with emotions, existentially embedded into a physical and energetic reality.
You become like Christ: divinity in the form of a sentient presence, come alive in physical form with a karmic destiny, but with enough uncertainty to preclude pre-determination. That is, the need arises to consciously make choices as to how we live, or to do so spontaneously when we live from our heart’s core of loving acceptance of all that we are as well as the same towards the world: loving acceptance.
No M, you do not want to be with a distant, impersonal Jnani, or stay with Robert without regard to what he is saying. Instead, I ask you to accept all levels of your beingness, including emotions, personal love, responsibilities, your energetic body, and, of course, your transcendent existence as the Absolute. You are a complete, multi-dimensional being, from Absolute witness, to a physical being infused with Life Force (Shakti), as well as pure sentience (Shiva).
Please come back to Satsang on Sundays. Some day Deeya will return to us with her physical presence, and I know her heart is always with us even though she chooses to be in seclusion now. Feel the love and the circulating energies and bliss we ALL feel in each others’ healing presence. The Life Force, Shakti, is very strong every Sunday, and we want you back to share in it.