Is Annette a Cipher?


Q:
First, I want to thank you. A couple of days ago, I read your July Q&A's where you advised one of your correspondents to address his mood, before continuing his spiritual search. As I have been experiencing quite a bit of existential anxiety lately (and been stubbornly reluctant to do anything practical about it – you know, because "attaining enlightenment" was going to get rid of it for me), I decided to take your advice for myself, and started taking anti-anxiety medication. Doing so has brought me great relief. So, again, I thank you.
 
In addition to this, I sometimes have simple questions that I'd like to ask the non-dual teachers and authors that I watch (mostly on YouTube) and read, but I have never felt comfortable doing so. After perusing your website, I feel comfortable asking you some of these questions, and am hopeful that you might be willing to give me your insights into my occasional inquiries.

If you are willing, my first simple question is this: As experienced from the view of pure consciousness, is Annette merely a cipher? Or in plain English: Do you now see yourself essentially as a cipher?
 
A: Thank you so much for writing me. It is very gratifying to know that you somehow found that rather buried information about the mood issue, and that you were able to find some help from it. I think perhaps I should make that information more front and center, in a blog post, because I know many people suffer from similar things. And it has such a stigma in the spiritual world – like you say, "enlightenment will fix it" is the common belief! By the way, did you read the part about the amino acid therapy? I finally vanquished the anxiety and depression with 5-HTP and a couple other amino acids I read about in Julia Ross' book "The Mood Cure." 5-HTP is the precursor of serotonin, and it's easy to get low on serotonin through aging, antibiotic use, and other things. So it's just a replacement therapy for serotonin and it worked wonders for me. 

Ah it's so nice to be able to talk about "world" stuff and non-duality in the same letter! They co-exist, and we don't just ignore duality or say it isn't there. It is there, and we interact with it (although we may not have any control over it :-)).

To answer your question – well, it's not a short answer. But I'll try to hit the main points. 

I know that I am not the one who is moving around and doing and enjoying in the world. Although I do "live" as that person, I see her activities and thoughts and feelings as part of this inscrutable thing called duality, which really has no other purpose than to perpetuate itself. The apparent person is conditioned to react within that duality, but I do not have to make the mistake of thinking that she is me. So I "live" as Annette in the world, but
I am not in the world. I know that I am real, and that whatever exists in the world is not real. 

So maybe you could say I see Annette as a kind of shell, one for which there is great compassion and love. And she does not seem separate from the other "actors" in the dream. The whole dream seems like one piece. 

As me – the real me – I just know that what I am is unchanging, still, peaceful. As soon as I take something in the world to be true, I notice all the motion, the agitation. But I know that this agitation is not real, and I am not agitated by it. I can't be the one in there getting agitated, because I am real, and that world is not real. 

As for the view from pure consciousness...frankly I have no idea. I'm not sure anyone does, save maybe Ramana Maharshi or someone like that. I don't think enlightenment is very well explained, and there is a lot of confusion about what it is. You are free and unlimited, already. That's all it is. So enlightenment already is. But then, how does the conditioned mind become free? That's a different story. Does it become free by zooming up to "pure consciousness"? Well, that's not possible because there is no mind in pure consciousness, no thought, no anything. I think what we are all trying to do is live free of limiting constructs that make us suffer. That is pretty simple, really, once you give up the idea that the world is where you're going to find that freedom. That's not possible. So we just explore, what is NOT the world? And am I in the world? If I'm not, what am I? 

I think the search for these answers has to be pretty personal, since we are all conditioned differently. I hope you have seen my Vedanta page – James Swartz has taken me a long way in understanding the nuts and bolts of all this stuff. Yes, it's just ONE ultimately – just the Self, YOU – but the person has a lot of layers of resistance that need to be understood. 

I did not directly answer your question. From the standpoint of pure consciousness, there is only one, no duality. There isn't even a thought to have about Annette. So I can't comment on that standpoint. It's a mystery to me. But from my standpoint, at this stage of my self-inquiry, I would say that I know I am not the one who lives, acts, thinks and feels in the world. I do not exist in the world. I exist independent of the world. I do not change, I do not have form, limits, I am not bound by time or space.
 
I guess that's good enough for now. Hope it helps. I would love to answer your inquiries any time, so please feel free to write again soon.