A Dialogue with My Friend

A friend wrote to me: “Seems interesting. Let me know what you think of it once you finish reading [referring to my post that I was reading Carl Rogers’ book “On Becoming a Person”]. It’s interesting how you are straddling Advaita which seems to be your primary system of belief, with your reading of Western authors. What struck me was the quotation from Ramana Maharshi “Try to efface the notion that you are different from God….” that you posted and the title of what you are reading “On Becoming a Person”. I don’t know how you are doing the straddling but it seems to be an interesting exercise.”

I replied: “I understand it intellectually without any doubt whatsoever that we are already Brahman, and there is nothing other than Brahman (or Consciousness), the whole world being nothing but names-and-forms, including body-mind (so, my Sravana and Manana are complete) – the pot realizing intellectually that it is already and always was clay. Yet, despite the intellectual understanding of that indubitable Advaitic truth one finds it hard to shake off viscerally that one is body-mind because of various subconscious deep attachments and misconceptions. Of course, one is advised to Nididhyasana after Manana to get rid of the vasanas, Nididhyasana being the dwelling on the truth understood through Sravana and Manana.

“One other way you could interpret or make sense of my preoccupations is by realizing that it may not be possible at once to halt one’s mental trajectory by coming to a total and complete and immediate standstill, so then one has time to fill with activity, which is best done by following one’s Svadharma, which in my case happens to be the acquisition of and cogitation over intellectual wisdom, by holding on to the Advaitic truth understood through Sravana and Manana at the core of one’s being.

“Now, it is open to interpretation as to what Nididdhyasana consists of and how to go about it. But, I am interpreting Nididhyasana pretty broadly, and I see it as overcoming the obstacles within oneself to embracing the Advaitic truth, and that I see as possible to be achieved through various means, including reading western authors or any of the social sciences and humanities, as long as one does not lose sight of the fact that the body-mind is a mere “name-and-form” and “there are no others”.”

He replied: “Bravo Sambivon. Great answer. I was right you have discovered the path to being something without rejecting what is not your system of belief without finding about it. 🙏🙏🙏”

I wrote back: “Thanks __. Yes, I seem to have found the right balance. I could put it in quite another way. Jesus had said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” So, why not give the heart to God or Advaitic Truth and the mind to the world, because, after all, as long as one is burdened with a body-mind in an empirical world, one has to discharge one’s Svadharma at every moment of time. Of course, when Svadharma is done in the highest spirit of karma yoga, that is, without the sense of doership or considering oneself the agent of deeds (whether they be physical or mental) by knowing that the body-mind is not being actuated by ego but by God, then it is as good as doing Nididhyasana.”

My friend: I am finding your answers quite interesting and enlightening Samby.

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