Awareness Can’t Be Stuck In Experience


The book is on order.  I appreciate your comments.  I spent yesterday reading, highlighting, making notes and today going over the notes and highlights from both e-mails.

Ted: This good, Layne. The book will really help a lot. It lays out the whole logic of Vedanta in a very orderly and systematic way. I know that probably doesn’t sound very romantic, but a logical analysis of our experience that leads to crystal clear and irrefutable conclusions is the only way to ultimately remove the ignorance with which we have been so deeply conditioned. We can have all sorts of cool, mind-blowing experiences, but when their effects wear off — as they inevitably do since they are nothing more than impermanent objects (i.e. observable phenomena) — we are left wallowing in the same old cesspool of mental/emotional excreta if we haven’t assimilated the fact that we are not the experience nor are we in anyway affected by the experience. Yes, the mind and emotions are affected, but we as the pure awareness in which the experience appeared remain ever the same.

Layne: There was an experience today that’s been experienced before (I don’t really think about or remember these experiences until they happen again) when trying to contemplate and discriminate the apparently real I think especially after I read this in one of Sundari’s satsangs: Freedom is achieved when one can discriminate awareness from the objects that arise in it; in other words discriminating the real from the apparently real and never confusing the two again.

Ted: This is the essence of Vedantic self-inquiry. In Sanskrit it is referred to as atma-anatma-viveka, which means the discrimination (viveka) between the self (atma) and the “not-self” (anatma). It is the same thing as the discrimination between the real and the apparent, because the self, which is of the nature of pure awareness, is what is real, and all objects, which means everything perceivable, conceivable, and experienceable on both the gross and subtle levels of being, are only apparently real.

Layne: The words “real from the apparently real” struck a chord.  I tried to discriminate the current experience being had when I had the feeling of being trapped in consciousness.  Not trapped in a bad way, like house of mirrors trapped, but in a comforting kind of way.  The contemplation went along the lines of, yes, this appearance isn’t really real, it’s apparently real.  So then what am I looking at? and/or how/why did it get here? and/or what’s sustaining it? and/or what’s looking at it?

Ted: This is a good line of inquiry to follow. It is important, however, to understand that apparently real means that the object depends upon a more pervasive substratum for its existence. It exists and is experienced, but it has no independent existence of its own. The classic example used to illustrate the difference between the real and the apparent, as you well know, is the wave and the ocean. While the ocean exists whether waves are rising and falling within it or not, no wave can exist independent of the ocean.

The importance of understanding the dependent nature of apparent objects is crucial to sorting out the predicament in which you have found yourself in the experiences you describe. Since you, pure limitless awareness, are the substratum on which all apparent objects — which in this case are metaphysical epiphanies — depend for their existence, you cannot be trapped within any object.

While from the perspective of the apparent individual person who is identified with a particular mind-body-sense instrument it seems as though you — i.e. The person you take yourself to be, which is itself nothing more than an object obtaining within the true you, which is limitless awareness — are in the midst of the experience, if you “step back” and have a look from the perspective of pure limitless awareness you will see that the entire experience, including the apparent individual person with whom you are not only associated but have erroneously identified, is appearing within the scope of your being. This is a subtle shift in perspective and may take some time to assimilate — or not — but it is the essential key to freedom. It is the ultimate fruit of practice of the discrimination between the real and the apparent.

Once having assumed the perspective of your true self, you realize that what you are looking at is nothing other than yourself in the form of an object made of you, awareness, in the same way that the wave is made of ocean water; that what is sustaining it is you, awareness, in the same way that the ocean sustains the wave; and that what is looking at it is you, awareness, in the same way that the ocean — were the ocean conscious — would be aware of all that appears within it. As far as how and why the object appeared within you, awareness, that is simply due to the dual powers inherent in ignorance to veil your true nature as limitless, attributeless awareness and to project upon the “screen” of your pure being what essentially amount imaginary phenomena that are offspring of your vasanas, or storehouse of experiential impressions, which either appear as objects (as is the case in dreams, fantasies, hallucinations, and visions) or influence your interpretation of objects (as is the case in the waking state during which the apparent person you take yourself to be interacts with the seemingly “surrounding” world or objects that appear to be outside of and other than you, the apparent person).

In any case, what is most important to always bear in mind is that nothing you perceive, conceive, or experience, whether “within” or “outside” the apparent person with whom you, awareness, are associated is you. That is, all objective phenomena are you, but you are not them. While all objective phenomena depend on you for their existence, you are ever free of all objective phenomena. Whether objective phenomena appear or do not appear, you remain the “light” of awareness by means of whose illumination their presence or absence can be known.

Layne: Then there was the feeling that I was more intimate with it, sort of stuck to-in the appearance along with the appearance.

Ted: This feeling was just an object appearing within you, awareness. You, awareness, were not “stuck to” or “stuck in” the appearance along with the appearance, for as just explained the experience was occurring within you. And, moreover, you can’t be stuck in the appearance along with the appearance. Whatever was stuck in the appearance along with the experience is only another experienced object appearing within you. See how convoluted chasing experience and/or the experiencing entity gets? Weird as it may seem, you are never any of the objects, experiences, feelings, sensory phenomena, or even the knower who seems to know these things or the experiencer who seems to experience them. Even those subtle entities are objects appearing in you.

The bottom line is that you’ve got to pack it in on experience. No experience holds you; you hold all experience. But not as a discrete entity holding an object. You are simply the field of existence in which the entire universe — both its “inner”/subtle and “outer”/gross aspects — obtains.

Layne: The experience was just there for the sake of being there and I was just there for the sake of being there too…

Ted: The “just being there” part is correct, but there is no “sake” or reason for being there. Things just is the way they is. There is no grand plan or ultimate purpose.

Layne: …but it’s more like I had to be there…

Ted: You didn’t have to be there. You are everywhere. You cannot escape yourself.

Layne: …or the appearance was (obviously) there for me…

Ted: The experience was there — i.e. appearing — in you. “For you” suggests a purpose. And the idea of a purpose suggests an ultimate motive, something more-better-different than what is. In this sense, no experience would be there for you as awareness, for you are already whole, complete, and perfect as you are. In terms of the apparent individual, the only possible significance the experience could have is in terms of revealing your true limitless nature as awareness and thus jarring you out of your identification with the apparent individual for whom the experience was supposedly intended. Other than that, the experience had no more importance — in terms of the goal of freedom — than eating a hot fudge sundae or having sex or brushing your teeth.

Layne: …I was the only thing that couldn’t get out of it.

Ted: We’ve already covered the part about not being able to get out of the experience. The crumb of truth in this statement pertains to your limitless, ever-present, all-pervasive nature. You can throw away everything else — i.e. all objects, including the apparent person you take yourself to be — but you can never throw away yourself — i.e. pure awareness. Who would be doing the throwing? Who would be observing you doing it?

Layne: I think the part of being stuck is because I couldn’t change the experience, but I didn’t want or need to change it either.  The appearance was there for me, even though I couldn’t do anything about it or with it.

Ted: Experience is basically out of our control as apparent individual entities. Experience is the result of the vasanas associated with and expressing through the mind-body-sense complex of the apparent individual person we take ourselves to be interacting with the vasanas that constitute the apparent reality, or what we might call Isvara’s or God’s vasanas. This is the set-up projected my maya or ignorance. Due to this interaction, experience occurs. There is nothing we can do about it.

The choice we do have, however, is whether to identify with the apparent individual person and the experience or with the “witnessing” ever-detached awareness that is our true nature. It is by exercising this choice that we either remain “stuck” in the experience or get free of it by means of the recognition that we were never “in” it in the first place and that as limitless we are always free of all experience.

This is the fundamental reason why liberation is a matter of knowledge and not experience.

Layne: There’s a Nisargadatta quote that puts me in the same “frame of mind” sometimes if I seem to spontaneously contemplate it.

I know this was just an experience.  My big deal about experience is how I do get the f^&% out of it.

Ted: You can’t get out of something you weren’t “in” in the first place. All you can do is recognize that you have been out of it all along.

Moreover, there is no reason to get out of any experience. The impetus to get out of any experience is dissatisfaction. But when you know that as whole, complete, limitless awareness you are already perfect as you are, then there is no reason to have to change any circumstance, for you know that you are never affected by any object or experience.

Layne: I never tried to force anything with the Nisargadatta quote…

Ted: What’s the quote?

Layne: …because the last thing I need is a phony experience.

Ted: Actually, all experience is phony — i.e. apparent. But I know what you mean — no need to cook up more experience than that which is already occurring.

Layne: I got enough problems with the other ones if you know what I mean.

Ted: You have a good sense of humor. I totally get what you mean. That is what eventually brings us all to Vedanta. We are fed up with the false promises of experience. We want the truth.

Layne: But in delving a little deeper into Vedanta it occurs to me that this experience could be based on some kind of knowledge?  I won’t say self-knowledge, but something about the knowledge of experience?  Does this way of going about things seem somewhat legitimate to you?

Ted: I don’t know what the hell the second question means :-). But it is legitimate to continuously apply the discrimination between the real and the apparent to each and every situation, circumstance, encounter, interaction, and experience of your life 24/7. This is self-inquiry. Eventually, the application of knowledge with break the apparent shackles of the your conditioning and you will recognize your inherent freedom that is your true nature as limitless awareness.