You think you are free. That you have free will. Who is it that you think is free? You, as a body/ego, are not free. The ego is a bundle of karmas and your life is providing an arena for those to be played out…and to acquire new ones. You have responsibilities: job, family. Where is the freedom? You feel constrained by a body that gets sick, gets old. Where is the freedom?
You give way too much importance to the body/ego personality living a life. You think that is all there is and you pour all of your energy into sustaining things that do not last.
YOU as a being of pure consciousness, YOU as part of the Absolute are free. Know the difference and the struggle ends. As a being of pure consciousness, You are free to place the attention of the body/ego wherever You want. That, and only that, is under Your control. This is Your power; wield it with good intentions.
“Know within your heart that your life is tailor-made for awakening” ~Mooji
“All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players,” is a line from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and what students of non-duality strive to understand. The idea here is that we (our ego/body) are merely actors performing a script: a script that has already been written by the Absolute and is being produced by the Shakti, the creative power of the universe. The implication is that we cannot be the doer of anything.
Nisargadatta discusses non-doership in “I Am That,” devoting an entire section on this point. While there is no easy way to understand this, if we recognize that we are not these bodies that move, talk, eat, or sleep, but are something beyond the physical manifestation, then we’ve taken the first step.
Advaita Master Mooji examines the world with all its activity in this video talk, “You know it’s a movie,” and asks if we can avoid the temptation to identify with or get drawn into the drama. He discusses that the “human being is itself an effect in consciousness. It is not the operator or controller of consciousness.” He goes on to explain that there is the mortal (our bodies) and the immortal (the being of consciousness). Only one of them is real.
Identity with the ego causes life to be claustrophobic. We are held prisoner by our own minds thinking that we are these bodies. “Who are you?” you are asked. “I’m a woman, a man, a mother, a father, an American, a cab driver…..” When we break the chains of the false identities that bind us to a material (un)reality, we catch a glimpse of our true state – Pure Awareness – Pure Beingness.
Remember, the ego is nothing more than a bundle of karmas and since “your karma defines your dharma” as Ram Dass says, the character in the play will experience what it needs to experience – let it be. The script has already been written. The ego will dutifully execute its lines and actions never missing a cue or its mark.
During any sadhana, the seeker will be faced with unflattering aspects of oneself. In my personal sadhana, which is shaktipat sadhana, these aspects are merely karmas that the Shakti is removing. My teacher tells us that all we can do is watch, but that doesn’t always help the character (ego) when it is experiencing the emotionality of anger, jealousy, judgment, and the like. Even with the tools and techniques my teacher has given us to detach from the “emotional roller coaster,” as he likes to put it, getting caught up in negative emotions seems to be a normal part of the process.
The good news is that as karmas are removed, we find fewer buttons get pushed and life goes along in a smoother fashion. That is not to say that the external parts of life get easier; that is to say that we remain calm in the face of whatever happens, because the karmic trigger is gone. Acceptance of ‘what is’ is easier allowing one to go with the flow of life.
It wasn’t until shaktipat that I came to realize the ego is nothing more than a bundle of karmas. These karmas prevent us from knowing who we really are, which is pure Divine Consciousness, and perpetuates the duality, the notion that we are separate from everyone and everything, with which we experience our reality.
So therein lies the problem. With nearly 7 billion people on the planet, every single one of them, by nature of their individual karmas, have their own perception of how the world should be and many attempt to force this perception on the rest of us. Until we understand the non-dual nature of reality – that all is One – conflict and suffering will continue to plague us. You don’t need to have shaktipat in order to understand non-duality. Any spiritual path will lead you to this conclusion; shaktipat just happened to be the path I landed on.
My teacher likes to use the example of scarves covering the light of a lamp as a metaphor for the layers of ego or karmas that hide the light of our true selves. But in this analogy, the removal of the layers appears to be a gentle process. For me, as well as some of my fellow students on this path, the removal of karmas can sometimes feel more like ripping off a band-aid covering a still open wound. You feel exposed and vulnerable. Sometimes an ‘ego-loathing’ (in lieu of self-loathing) sets in. We are urged not to indulge in ‘mea culpas,’ but instead to be gentle with ourselves through this process. This will help us recognize the divinity within not only ourselves, but in everyone else out there struggling with the illusion of duality.
One day, my teacher was answering a fellow student’s question and he remarked about how our egos are “…dancing with Maya.” Maya, a Sanskrit term, loosely means ‘illusion.’ It is really our perception of what is real that is illusion. What we see as real is merely the manifestation of the One Reality. However, we perceive our physical world, including ourselves, as separate from the One Reality or God. The truth is that there is no separation. The idea of separation is the illusion.
I’ve used this analogy before, but if you remember the TV show Star Trek Voyager, the crew was able to entertain themselves on the holodeck. This was a place where various holographic worlds were created and story lines played out with the crewmembers acting out roles. While they were in the story, everything seemed perfectly real to them. But, of course, none of it was. So, while we think of the world we live in as real, which it isn’t – physicists say reality is more holographic in nature -we, our egos that is, are merely characters in a play acting out a script on the world stage.
In the first Matrix movie, Morpheus continually tries to show Neo who he really is – or isn’t, which is Thomas Anderson living a tedious life within the confines of a computer generated ‘reality.’ Through a number of experiences, Neo is freed from the limited perceptions of his mind and by the end of the movie knows the truth. He sees the physical world as the computer generated illusion and therefore knows that the bullets that are meant to kill him are not real.
The reason we can’t accept the world as illusion is because we don’t see that the material ‘stuff’ the world is made of is not ‘stuff’ at all. Physics has proven that nothing is solid. What’s more, the kinetic theory of solids, liquids and gases tells us that nothing is static, which means the ‘particles’ that make up matter are always in motion. However, these ‘particles’ of matter are atoms and when you look at atoms you will find that subatomic matter is not matter at all but energetic patterns. Physicist and author Fritjof Capra in his book, the Tao of Physics, says, “…the constituents of matter and the basic phenomena involving them are all interconnected, interrelated and interdependent; that they cannot be understood as isolated entities but only as integrated parts of the whole.” He goes on to say that “…particles are processes rather than objects,” and that, “…subatomic matter is continually creating and destroying itself through the emission and absorption of virtual particles.”
We are witness to this creation and destruction all the time. The change of seasons is a perfect example. Also, we recognize the impermanence of our world in the rise and fall of civilizations throughout history, as well as the birth and death of stars and other universes.
Eastern mysticism sees creation, perpetuation and destruction in the universe as the dance of Lord Shiva Nataraja (pictured above). It is Shiva’s dance that sustains the universe. From a physics standpoint, this is an elegant explanation of the continuous ‘dance’ of the interconnected patterns of energy that we perceive as the material world. Fritjof Capra goes on in his book, the Tao of Physics, to explain the details of this metaphorical representation as follows:
“The upper right hand of the god holds the drum to symbolize the primal sound of creation, the upper left bears a tongue of flame, the element of destruction. The balance of the two hands represents the dynamic balance of creation and destruction in the world accentuated further by the Dancer’s calm and detached face in the center of the two hands, in which the polarity of creation and destruction is dissolved and transcended. The second right hand is raised in the sign of ‘do not fear’, symbolizing maintenance, protection and peace, while the remaining left hand points down to the uplifted left foot, which symbolizes release from the spell of maya. The god is pictured as dancing on the body of a demon, the symbol of human ignorance which has to be conquered before liberation can be attained.”
Our perception of a material-based reality keeps us blind to the truth and bound to the rhythm of birth and death and rebirth powered by karma, which means ‘action.’ The bonds of karma (action) are broken only when we recognize that we, and all that we experience, are not separate from the One Reality or God, but are part of it. When that happens moksha or ‘liberation’ is the result.