I continue to read your satsangs and benefit. They have been a major part of my daily practice and sometimes I can’t not share the love with others.
I do have a few questions for you. You shared, “When are you not aware? Even in deep sleep you are there. If you were not, how would you know upon waking up that you had slept soundly?”
Do I know that I have slept well because awareness is always present or do I just feel, in the present moment, rested and therefore infer that I have slept well?
Ted: Your present recollection that you slept well is an inference. But you also know that awareness was present because you cannot remember something that you were not present to experience.
Moreover, you know that awareness was present because if awareness had become non-existent then not only would you have not awakened, but the entire manifest universe would’ve ceased to exist, never to reappear. In fact, if it were possible for awareness to cease to exist, then non-existence would be the fundamental reality, for it would be that into which existence, which is the essential nature of awareness, could resolve. Were such the case, then nothing could’ve ever come into being in the first place because something can’t come out of nothing. So, simply by virtue of the fact that existence is now, we know that it has always and will always be, so to speak. Awareness “itself,” of course is completely “beyond” or exists “prior to” and is entirely independent of time and space, for even time and space are objects obtaining within it.
Garrett: How can we actually know what is or is not happening during deep sleep? I struggle a bit with the logic or proof that is communicated with the deep sleep example.
Ted: We can’t actually know what is happening during deep sleep, for nothing is happening. And the intellect, which is the knowing instrument, is essentially dormant. It hasn’t ceased to exist, but its activity has been reduced to a single, almost imperceptible thought of limitlessness. In this state, it is not capable of assimilating knowledge, however, so it does not realize that it is “catching a glimpse,” as it were of its true nature, and, thus, upon awakening is as self-ignorant as ever.
Garrett: Also, how do we know beyond all doubt that awareness is always present? Especially if it is truly imperceptible by its nature and our instrument of mind.
Ted: This was answered above.
Garrett: I do understand the something can’t come from nothing argument. Could it be that our ability to be aware is simply a faculty/function of the mind?
Ted: No. The mind is noting more than inert subtle matter. It is essentially a machine whose “components” (i.e., manas/mind, buddhi/intellect, chitta/memory), and ahankara/ego) perform the functions (i.e., perceiving, integrating, doubting, deliberating, discriminating, determining, deciding, directing, remembering, conceiving, etc.) that we call knowing when it is illumined and thereby enlivened (i.e., lent sentiency) by awareness.
Given this fact, there are two reasons that awareness cannot be a product of the mind. First, consciousness cannot arise from something inert. Second, the effect cannot be its cause (i.e., cause in this sense meaning “substrate,” for the limitless, attributeless, and impersonal nature of awareness renders it actionless and, thus, pure awareness has no causal nature).
Garrett: Another topic: some people speak of the soul as being eternal. Yet isn’t the soul, if it is differentiated from Brahman, an object and therefore not the self nor eternal?
Ted: Yes. We could equate the soul with the subtle body if we are differentiating the “vasana bundle” imbuing the body-mind-sense complex with its unique character and expressing through it from absolute, all-pervasive awareness. The subtle body is only reflected awareness and, thus, does not comprehensively define the self and is not eternal (i.e., existent beyond the parameters of time and space).
Garrett: Finally and I know you spoken on this but I am still not clear. It seems our primary purpose, separate from our svadharma, is to become free. Freedom not for the jiva but from the jiva. Do I just have to let go into the idea that we don’t know why awareness would have any need to separate into form and play this game of forgetfulness called life as a jiva other than awareness is limitless and therefore this play is just an expression of that limitlessness?
Ted: Yes. There is no purpose for pure awareness seemingly assuming the myriad forms that comprise the manifest universe. We cannot deny that it does, but there can be no ulterior motive. For one thing, awareness is not a personal entity, so it has no desire to play or do anything else. For another, because awareness is all-pervasive and perfectly full, it would have nothing to gain or lose by doing or not doing, obtaining or avoiding, keeping or eliminating anything. Nothing can enhance or diminish that which is all that is and is entirely unaffected by the character of the objects and events transpiring within it and even the seeming presence or absence of apparent objects, which are nothing more than projections with no independent substantiality of their own, appearing within its scope of being.
Garrett: Hope you are well.
Ted: I am indeed very well, my friend.
Love back atcha J