The Dharma of Less Disturbance

Dear Ted,


So, the ego is hell bent on not releasing this vasana right now.  This ego that is holding on for dear life to its long-held knower/doer/owner role, is the biggest pain of all! “But, they’ll never ‘know’ ‘they’ were ‘wrong’”, it says.

Ted: Oh, holy one, let us bow before you and anoint your lotus feet. You, who know so well what is best for everyone, please impart your wisdom and fix us all. For too long we have denied your presence and the peace and harmony your guidance would establish in our lives. No more, please advise us now what should be done, how we should feel, what we should think. For when we are all acting in accordance with thy desires, all will be well.

On the other hand, who the fuck appointed you savior of the apparent reality? The apparent reality is the abode of ignorance. Let it be what it is. Concentrate on cleaning up your own backyard before issuing directives concerning how the neighbors should maintain theirs.

And on the third hand, the ticket to the show of the apparent reality is to be “wrong.” Ignorance is the enjoyment until such time as the drama it provides no longer provides enjoyment (or at least some perverse form of titillating appeal). Let the ignorant enjoy their ignorance until the suffering becomes too great. Until such time as the apparent person is fed up with suffering and longs for a solution, any “guidance” or “help” you may offer will fall on deaf ears anyway. One has to be ready, willing, and able to hear the truth…which invariably requires lifetimes of banging one’s head against the wall of samsara before one figures out that all one’s efforts to leave its claustrophobic quarters are futile, for, as has become painfully obvious, the door is not where one supposed it to be. Only then will one be open to hearing about the escape hatch through the roof.

But on the four hand (we are dealing with a goddess of the Vedic tradition, are we not?), one should be ever ready to engage in the “good fight” to uphold dharma. For dharma only obtains through the effort of those who observe and defend it. If others actions are adharmic, then it is your sacred duty to call their attention to such transgressions and take appropriate action to put an end to their evil ways, ideally “sattvic-izing” their mind with a healthy dose of non-dual wisdom.


The point is that there are any number of ways to respond to any situation. The most important consideration in terms of self-inquiry is which response produces the least mental/emotional disturbance or allows you the greatest degree of “separation” from the apparent disturbances that do arise. Since as an inquirer what you are after is ultimate inner freedom, it is your dharma to do whatever response or perspective affords you the most peace of mind.

Layla: It continues, “If I ‘Accommodate’ (Value of Values), they will just think I was the one who was wrong.  How can I Iet that go?”

Ted: Yes, god forbid you should be misjudged by others or, worse, that your deep wisdom should go unappreciated.

Okay, end of sarcastic remarks. Hope you took them in the light-hearted spirit they were offered :-).

Layla: Self-inquiry is used to try and dissect it and really investigate it, and let the ultimate fear come to ‘light’ – so that the ignorance surrounding it can be removed, once and for all.  Offer the thoughts back to Isvara, and accept whether a good, or not so good, response emerges.  At least some instances of ‘better’ responses are being noticed…  J

Ted: Just to clarify, “better” responses in terms of self-inquiry means less psychological disturbance. It has little to do with what you say or do, though it stands to reason that your words and deeds will be colored by the thoughts underlying them. In other words, when your mind is sattvic (i.e., calm and clear), your actions will invariably align with dharma. However, the way of approaching the issue is not to try to act in a certain manner that you believe is “good” or “right” or, worse, “spiritual” or “holy,” but to align your thoughts with the teachings and let the actions take care of themselves.

Layla: While standing firm in non-duality, I know others are pure Awareness (regardless of whether they know it or not – just like ‘me’).  Yet, this belief is not so firm that (during interactions) I can see them as ‘fine’ and relate with them as such.  Clearly I don’t see ‘me’ as fine, either!  So, I constantly remind this jiva that I am not trying to BE pure Awareness, I am not like pure Awareness, I AM THAT.  I am That, which everything is made of, that everything exists because of, that everything exists within, and the entire thing is my projection and creation (jiva shrishti).  All these thoughts are in me, but I am not them.

Ted: Exactly. Keep applying this understanding to each and every situation, interaction, encounter, and experience of your life and eventually it will break the back of ignorance. This is the work. Nobody ever said escaping the booby hatch was easy. It takes constant vigilance and arduous effort. While it is true that liberation is not gained through action but understanding (for one is already free), it is nevertheless the case that planting the teachings in mind and tending to them until they take solid root does require effort. The difference is that this action results in eternal knowledge rather than an ephemeral experience.

Layla: Several satsangs have referred to pressing the pause button and discriminating which I is ‘desiring’ a specific ‘result/change’.  It also said to negate the thought by applying the opposite thought as it arises in the mind.  If you are familiar with Byron Katie, is this the equivalent of applying the turnarounds in The Work?

Ted: Yes, it is referred to in Sanskrit as pratipaksha bhavana.

Layla: I had to dig to get to the root fear in this entire home situation.  I believe it is: the mind feels it needs validation of her ‘worth’ from her spouse.  Not only that, she needs ‘it’ on her terms!  So, the turnaround, or opposite thought, is “I don’t need validation.  I am whole and complete, indivisible, all pervading, unchanging, non experiencing Awareness.”  Is this the way the opposite thought exercise would work?

Ted: You got it. But don’t just repeat the idea like a parrot. Contemplate it deeply in light of the teachings, especially the prakriyas (i.e., the methods of practicing discrimination through a careful analysis of one’s own experience, such as the analysis of the three states, the analysis of the five sheaths, the discrimination between the seer and the seen, the discrimination between the cause and the effect, etc.), all of which are various means of practicing atma-anatma-viveka, the discrimination between the self and the “not-self” or the real and the apparent, which is the heart of Vedantic self-inquiry and the key to moksha (i.e., liberation from dependence on objects or ultimate inner freedom).

Layla: I know I ‘get’ it, but this particular vasana is so deeply entrenched in the Subtle Body that it will take time for the fan to stop moving.  Just reassurances being sought…  J

Ted: You are on the right track, my friend. Keep contemplating the teachings and applying the knowledge and eventually the fan will come to rest.

Layla: As usual, with tons of gratitude for your patience and wisdom.



Om and prem,