More Conversation about Liberation (Moksha)


A:
From some of what you’ve written, I think it’s possible you already have moksha. What do you think of that?

Q: The bottom line is that I'm unsure, which by definition is doubt, so the answer must be no moksha yet.

A: What's your definition of moksha?

Q:
To start, I don't have a good vision of what moksha is "like."
 
A: I think you need a definition. Because to focus on what it's like, as opposed to what it is, is emphasizing experience. 
 
Enlightenment (
moksha, liberation) is knowing beyond doubt that I am awareness. This knowing takes place in the intellect of the jiva, which means, of course, that enlightenment is for the jiva. It's not for me, awareness. I'm already free. Moksha is for the intellect, the mind. The jiva is the only thing that is bound, so it's the only thing that needs liberation. The jiva recognizes, through knowledge, that its true nature is pure awareness, and in this knowledge is the liberation from the limited body-mind.

Enlightenment doesn't happen to me awareness. I'm already free and unlimited. So the jiva gets free, in seeing that it never was bound in the first place. And from awareness' standpoint, nothing happened. So when we get into what it's like, well, I know I am awareness and what it's like for awareness? It's not a relevant question. And what happens to the jiva post-
moksha is minimally relevant. Everything that happens from that point is just fine, it's all the same. Jiva is free of the imagined bonds of duality. 

Q: I understand the concept of non-dependence upon objects.
 
A: Yes. I am, free of objects and their goings-on. So when I know I am awareness, or as James sometimes says, I take my primary identity to be awareness, then I am untouched by goings-on. 
 
Q: I understand that it is not about a particular experience/feeling/state.
 
A: Right, because I remain unchanged regardless of state. 

Q: You have described it as less pressure.
 
A: Yes, because everything in the world is the same. It's all equal in its unreality. No pressure to move toward or away from anything. It's tricky to talk about what it's like, because as jiva, there can still be an experience of something unwanted, but it's seen as just fine anyway, since I am not the jiva. So the "no pressure" thing is more like an overflow feeling for jiva from the identification with awareness. 
 
Q: and the jiva's experience is free & clear.
 
A: Did I say that? That's not right. Jiva can be having any experience, and it can often be totally not clear. When sattva is present, yes, there is a feeling of freedom and clarity, but rajas and tamas still appear, as they are the three energies of the world that constantly come and go. Jiva stays in the world and is still subject to the three gunas. 
 
Q: You have stated that there is no more "compulsion to try to make freedom happen in the world."

A: Yes. Because it's impossible! 

Q: I identify more with awareness than with the body-mind-person, but not completely.

A: Good! 

Q: I hesitate on the "beyond all doubt" part of the question: "...do you know beyond all doubt that you are awareness?"

A: That's key, and you'll know it when your doubts are gone. 

Q: While I've gained valuable knowledge with Vedanta study and inquiry so far, I don't detect any significant changes; even if I'm not expecting to gain anything, the falling away of ignorance should be noticeable in some manner, if only "confidence in knowledge" (removal of doubt). Of course, my exposure to Vedanta is less than two weeks right now!
 
A: Oh gosh, and here I am talking to you like you're an old veteran! Give it time. It's a lot to take in. 

What do you think needs to happen for you to have moksha?

Q: I'm currently viewing it as a synonym for enlightenment.
 
A: Yes, it is. I should have made that clear. 
 
Q: …which means: the end of suffering. 
 
A: Yes, you could add that to my above definition. It means knowing that you are not the suffering one. The suffering one is the jiva. The jiva appears in you, awareness, which is always free of suffering and every other state. 
 
Q: Isn't "the end of suffering" an experience, even in the absence of something?
 
A: Yes, good analysis! It's not that enlightenment is the end of suffering for the jiva, it's that the knowledge dawns that "I" is not the jiva at all, but is actually awareness. So then what happens to the suffering? What happens to the suffering jiva? Both are seen to be objects appearing in me, and they do not affect me. 

Q: This needs to happen: My attitude is that anything can happen and it's okay – I know it's the right thing since that's what's here. But again, that sounds like an experience: equanimity.
 
A: Well, it is an experience, but I'm not saying that that experience is enlightenment, or that you should have that experience as a goal. Enlightenment is taking my identity to be awareness, and a spillover result to jiva is equanimity. But again, if this equanimity gets jostled by life events, it's not important to jiva, who doesn't ever lose sight of his true identity as the unchanged, unjostled  one. 

Q: More inquiry and study: I am new to Vedanta, so I need to continue the investigation to see where it leads...So I'm not sure what "happens" as ignorance is progressively removed.
 
A: Yes, just stick with it. 

Q: I have a current belief that sustained mindfulness practice will end suffering, because it is based on direct experience: This is my old "abiding as awareness" paradigm: when I am "consciously" present (mindful in the moment) and the objects spontaneously flow through...I experience objects as only awareness itself, in different forms, and it is the same awareness that is responsible for the continuity between the objects. I know the relative vs. the absolute when I settle into this. The story of my latest dramatic life event becomes a brief passing thought- or feeling-object, no more significant than the sound of coffee pouring, then the rising swirls of steam. I know this experience without a doubt. I think it is the experience of limitless awareness. If moksha was an experience (I know it's not), I believe this is what it would feel like.
 
A: This is great! I think what you are describing is a samadhi that you can get into at will, as we discussed before. And it's wonderful. But like you said, it is an experience, and it passes. And what remains, unchanged? You do. Awareness. 
 
The flaw in the logic of the experience-based enlightenment theory is that one remains identified with something in the world (the one whose suffering ended, in this case). It's the identification with a world-bound sufferer or non-sufferer that is the problem. If the suffering leaves for a world-bound person, it can return, can't it? How can you ever finally be free of that? The only way is to recognize that the suffering and non-suffering ones are appearing in you, the pure awareness, and that you are free of suffering by your nature. That is
knowing which one you are. It's not experiencing which one you are, because awareness is not a thing that can be experienced. You can only be it, and know that your being is awareness and nothing else. 

What does a person with moksha have that you don't? 

Q: My definition is still sketchy, but I have assumed one who acquired moksha would know they found it immediately. But that implies an experience/event, which I understand to be error! 
 
A: Yeah, this is tricky territory. James talks about a "shift," but it’s not a shift for the jiva, exactly. It’s a shift from “I am the body-mind” to “I am awareness,” so that can’t be jiva having a shift, can it? Shifting itself out of existence? I think it's more of a tipping of scales, from mostly thinking I'm jiva to mostly thinking I'm awareness, and it kind of teeters for a long time, and finally it tips over and can't go back. 

Q: In the book I have, referring to enlightenment, James states:
Henceforth the individual knows that it can weather any existential storm. When you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are awareness, you no longer desire to feel good, because you know you are the source of goodness. 
 
A: Oh yeah, that's a good point! He's the pro. 

Q:
Regarding a moksha-view of the world, another quote of James' in the book is: Do you experience objects out there in the world or do you experience them in your mind? I experience them in my mind [referring to himself].

Except when mindfully "abiding as awareness," as described above, I still experience objects in the world for the most part. 
 
A: He says at other times that he experiences them in the world, too. What he's saying is that they don't really exist in the world, and that knowledge is clear to him. 

What expectation do you have regarding moksha?

Q: I believe that it is inevitable…
 
A: Awesome! James says so, too. 
 
Q: …although I read somewhere that it is ultimately dependent on Grace – but isn't everything!
 
A: The timing isn't up to you, but it will happen! 

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