Is Anything Really "Not-Me"?


Q:
I have been wrestling with a minor question that may be just another terminology issue. But I feel like I may be missing some connection or could just be overthinking it.
 
It involves discrimination, and I believe it comes down to the "no-separation versus different" distinction you explained before – which I understand.
 
I know that the whole purpose of self-inquiry is to distinguish I-Consciousness from objects. In other words, to distinguish me from the not-me (or Self from the not-Self, or the real from the apparently real). I know that
everything is an apparent object/not-Self/not-me, except I-consciousness/Self/me/the only realness.

A: Good.
 
Q: So, as a discrimination practice, using me/not-me, I would go about my day "pointing" at various objects, subtle and gross, and say, "You are not-me."

Here is the question or possible over-thinking part: As soon as I say to an object, "You are not-me," I would then immediately argue, "But that IS me: that apparent object appears in me and is made of the light of me-consciousness. In fact, everything that arises IS-me, in that it is non-separate from me!"

A: Ha! You really are sharp!!!! You're exactly right.

Now I have to argue the other side of this. All objects should be taken as “not-me” until the identification with the pure “I” is complete, at which time all objects are known to be pure awareness. Your question is coming from a position of identification with awareness, which is great. But until that identification is really solid, there will also be identification with the jiva, and that is when the “not-me” tool is helpful and necessary.
 
Q: You gave the good example all pots are clay. The pot is clay appearing in form. This describes/defines non-duality, which is no-separation, not-two, one consciousness. While there is no separation between me and the not-me – a oneness – there is NOT equality. 

A: That’s correct. The equation is only true in one direction. The apparent objects are all me, but I am not any object appearing.

Q: This is because there is a critical difference between me and the not-me: the real and the apparently real. This difference is that the not-me/object is completely dependent upon me for its apparent existence, because it is not independently existing consciousness itself. 

A: Good!

Q: Just as the moon generates no light of its own, the moon is completely dependent upon the independently-shining sun. So, everything is dependent upon me, the independently-existing light of Consciousness. 

A: Exactly. 
 
Q: As I'm writing this, I'm thinking there is an answer to my own question somewhere here that I can't put my finger on: in the fact that the moon is not "made of sunlight," it is only made of reflected sunlight. So, objects are only "made of" reflected consciousness and thus are not-real. 

A: No, that's not the case. Objects are made of pure awareness, not reflected awareness. And reflected awareness is also an object, made of pure awareness.

Your initial interpretation of the moon analogy was correct, but you can't rely on that analogy to reveal anything else. You can’t take these analogies too literally. An analogy, since it is talking about Maya, can only go so far in its usefulness. The sun-moon analogy is meant to illustrate, as you pointed out, that the objects (moon) appear to be self-lighted (as jivas appear to be aware on their own), when in fact the only light there belongs to consciousness.

Q: Therefore, per non-duality, there is only oneness, which suggests that concept of no-separation makes no-sense, since there never were "two" to be separated in the first place. 

A: This is correct. 
 
Q: Yet, I'm still not finding a mental resolution to my spontaneous argument above, which basically is: Just using this terminology of me/not-me, how do I find the not-me when everything is me? It seems that the me/not-me terminology is flawed. If so, newbies to self inquiry should be made aware of this distinction.

A: You are right that the me/not-me terminology is ambiguous, but it’s not flawed. You are right that “it is all me,” from the absolute standpoint. But again, I want to point out the fact that we are dealing with the awareness-correct AND the jiva-correct, the whole time we self-inquire. The majority of the work that Vedanta does is to undermine those beliefs in the subtle body (the jiva), the mistaken identification of reflected awareness with the jiva. Newbies to Vedanta are mostly dealing with this aspect of self-inquiry. You were unusual in that you got a very fast understanding of your true nature once some small doubts were cleared up. Most people new to Vedanta aren’t that quick about it.

But you will notice on the
charts, “Not-Self” is always in quotes, since there is nothing that is not-Self. So we are always reminded, in Vedanta, of the absolute non-dual reality of who we are, but we don’t want to leave out the jiva who still very much feels separate. When we say “not-me,” part of the work is to know if you are talking about the jiva or awareness. So you were very astute in noticing that “not-me” is NOT talking about me-awareness.

Q: Or, in discrimination, do I somewhat ignore the no separation aspect, giving more emphasis on the difference aspect, because the difference aspect is "more important" in terms of my non-dependence on objects? 

A: Well, yes, exactly. That's what you're trying to do at that point, as the jiva.

To be honest, the "It's all made of me" teaching never resonated much with me, and that's the good thing – any teaching that works for you will do, and you don't have to get all of them. If one doesn't resonate, forget it. Ultimately, now I'm seeing other people, other things, other times, etc. to all be non-different from me, so it is taking root. But I didn't need it for moksha. 

Q: "More important" is a reference to your quote: The really good news is, I am free of all that appears within me. In other words, freedom/non-dependence is the important prize. I realize the no-separation aspect also supports non-dependence, because I-Awareness could never be dependent upon that which is itself/myself.
 
The bottom line might be for me: just don't use “me and not-me” as the terminology for inquiry!

A: Don’t use it if it doesn’t resonate, and at some point you may want to use it. All these tools are available, but not required.
 
Q: Better inquiry terminology for me recently has been “I am That” (Awareness) and “I am NOT that” (apparent objects). For example, I am NOT the body, NOT the depression, NOT the experience: I point at these objects and say, “I am NOT that.” As a reminder of no separation, I sometimes add: even though those apparent objects Are-Me, I am NOT them.

A:
BEAUTIFUL!!!!! You're a true jnani! Good job. 

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