Zeroing In

This is great and getting more exciting every day, thanks to you! I thought I was clear on all that already, but you've pointed out some misconceptions that were under my radar. 

This is a major one, I think; please let me know if this revelation is correct: 
Moksha/enlightenment/liberation has
nothing to do with the jiva "being aware," or becoming "more aware," or "being present," or "in the moment," or "in perpetual awareness."

True. In all of those scenarios, the "I" is taken to be this jiva who is more aware, or present, or in some perpetual state (not possible!) of feeling that it is not separate. Moksha is when the "I" is instead taken to be awareness, as opposed to the jiva, and when that is the case, you can see what happens to all the jiva stuff — it can be that or it can be anything else, and it's fine. 

As long as I take my identity to be awareness without a doubt, I could be oblivious to the goings-on of the present moment and yet be enlightened!

A: What "I" are you talking about? I-awareness is not a knower, so it is not oblivious or non-oblivious. I-awareness does not get enlightened. 

I'm realizing that some of this is going to be really confusing until you get some more hours logged with
Vedanta. It's a complete turn-around of what we have believed all our lives. And it's all totally logical, but it takes a while to get all the parts into place. Don't worry if you're not getting it right away. 

Q: This would make sense, since oblivion is a state, and as you stated: "I remain unchanged regardless of state." It has nothing to do with "being perceptive in the present moment" (or any other everyday definition of aware or awareness).

If the above is true, then it is perplexing that
James (and especially Rupert big time), use the test question, "Are you aware?" in order to prove to a student their true nature as Consciousness, I believe. When the student answers "Yes," Rupert says, "How do you know?" He continues, "You don't have to go to an object — you go to the direct experience of being aware — it's obvious — you just know." Similar to the zen writers and Tolle, he seems to be suggesting that Awareness can be experienced. Is this what James calls reflected awareness (that can be experienced as an object, because it is below the line)? Or am I missing something here?

A: Wow, you are good! I'm serious! Yes, exactly, this is reflected awareness, which is the subtlest form of awareness that appears in Maya (the appearance). And yes, reflected awareness is an object, and it is below the line. You get an A+! 

However, you are pure awareness (above the line). You are not reflected awareness. Reflected awareness is an object, and you are not an object. When you are made aware of that reflected awareness by James or Rupert, by asking the question "Am I aware?", it is pure awareness shining on that reflected awareness! How else can reflected awareness be known except in pure awareness, which must be you. If you are not present as pure awareness, then the object could not be known. "Known" is not the right word — words start to fail at this point. Sometimes I use "light" — It is in the light of pure awareness that anything at all appears. That light is you. This "I" that you are — that's this light. You are shining, and these objects all appear because of your shining on them. 

This is really subtle and advanced teaching! Clearly you are ready for it. 

Q: It also has nothing to do with "becoming Awareness."
  ...because the jiva is already completely Awareness, but just doesn't know it due to ignorance.

A: Yes. 

Q: In other words, there is no transformation of the jiva into Awareness:

A: Right. Very good. 

Q: it is just about the jiva "knowing beyond doubt that I am awareness."

A: Precisely. Let's add some other ways for jiva to say that. We can take one from James, "Identifying 'I' with consciousness rather than with the body and mind." I really think that one nails it very well. It cuts some of the vagueness. 

Q: I appear to be harboring subtle (or not so subtle) beliefs that liberation is the transformation of the jiva into Awareness, or a more "aware" state, or increasing the total time during my day (while still believing that time does not exist) during which I experience mindfulness versus being "absent-minded."

A: Yes. You have a vasana (habit) for equating a mindful experience with a mini version of what enlightenment is. And indeed, it does give the mind a new perspective to have those experiences, and they are nice! But they don't mimic moksha at all. Jiva is still here after moksha, having all her varying energy levels and mental clarity levels, but I no longer take myself to be that changing person. And so there is no good or bad in going in and out of any states. Not even a mindful state. I stay steady and free, regardless of whether jiva is mindful or not. 

Q: Could the phrase, "knowing beyond doubt that I am awareness," be equally effective if it were restated as: knowing beyond doubt that I am the One-substance," to remove the confusion of the term awareness which suggests an experience, state, or action?

A: Oh gosh, again, a very good advanced and subtle question. You are really zeroing in! I'm impressed! Indeed, I had this same problem and fought with "awareness" for a long time. I have used One and all kinds of other terms over the years because of just what you said — "awareness" suggests a "doing," and it's stated over and over that awareness is not a doer. So what the heck? 

Go ahead and use "One-substance" or whatever you like for now. It's fine. But like I talked about above, it's not really awareness in the sense of activity, knowing. It can't be described, but I can think of it more like a light, a shining. Think of your awareness right now — isn't it just so amazingly shining? Everything that appears is revealed by it, somehow, mysteriously. It can't be put into words. But if we use a term that omits that revelatory power, we are falling short. It's not just a One thing sitting there. It reveals, it shines. Still, use a term you are comfortable with, and let it change as your ideas change. 

Q: It also has nothing to do with consistently "maintaining" that (remembering, being constantly mindful of) "knowing" (beyond all doubt that I am awareness). This one I'm sure of because when you know something, you just know it; like you said. I don't have to keep reminding myself during the day that I'm Brad. However, until I know it (or realize that it is already true), it is a helpful tool to remind myself regularly. 

A: Yes, it's a useful tool, but after you know it, you no longer have to remind yourself. What you should be constantly mindful of is discriminating the "me" from the "not-me." And all the other tools Vedanta teaches! 

Q: James warned about applying one's current belief structure to the teaching, but (if all the above is correct) I didn't realize that I was doing it. You have been revealing this message all along, but I am just seeing it now.

A: It's hard not to do that. Because we're going on blind faith at first. So you really come to the teaching with an open mind, but pending your own investigation into these matters. You are not asked to have blind faith, but to try to put your other ideas aside while you test these out for validity. It's not easy because beliefs are ingrained. But they become easier to spot as just beliefs and not truth. Vedanta reveals truth, and it's unmistakeable. So it's easy at some point to drop old beliefs — they evaporate. 

Q: My ability to experience "no suffering" with mindfulness or samadhi has been a red herring — leading me to believe that's what "liberation" actually is! It feels liberating for sure, but it is certainly a temporary experience like you said.

A: Yep! We don't settle for temporary. We want the whole enchilada! 

Q: Equally misleading is the undeniable feeling that I'm experiencing something like awareness, after all, it is just about paying attention or "being aware" in the moment!

A: Well, you (jiva) are experiencing awareness (reflected awareness), as an object. We are not saying that there is no experience — there absolutely is experience for the jiva. We're simply saying that enlightenment is not an experience, because all experiences pass, but knowing who you are does not pass. 

Awareness is not an experiencer. I-awareness am free of experience. 

Q: It is ironic that my original email to you (the quandary of not being able to stay in awareness) was based on a false premise. That "temporary nature of awareness" was really bugging me. You are taking my original "wrong question" and pointing me toward the truth!

A: Yes, it was perfect! 

Q: Thank you again for all the detail and inline responses!

A: You're most welcome. I'm enjoying it. You're a live one, as James would say!

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