Questioner: I have a question, if Ajnanam (ignorance) is removed* that means the whole source of Samsara is removed. In such a case why should the Jnani (realised sage) even have Prarabdha Karma*. That also should not be present right?
Tom: In Truth, there is not even any such thing as a Jnani (meaning a person or body-mind that is ‘realised’) – there is only That Objectless Subject-Self-Brahman. So there is no karma whatsoever for ‘a Jnani’ (a Jnani here meaning the Self). The self has no duality, and no karma. Karma is born of ignorance and is maya, unreal. They are one and the same – karma and ignorance – or one comes from the other. This is also what is taught in the Upanishads (eg. Adhyatma Upanishad) and by Shankara, both in his commentaries and in texts such as Vivekachudamani.
*Removal of ignorance is the same as Self-Realisation, so say the Upanishads, so says Shankara.
**Tom: Prarabdha Karma is the portion of karma that, according to the Vedas, gives rise to the body in the present birth and will play out and determine the specifics of the present life. A simple translation could be ‘destiny’ or ‘what is destined for this life’. The idea of this question is that, for example, if you have ‘been bad’ in the past and have accumulated negative karma as a result, even though you have realised the Self, this negative karma may continue and cause suffering for you even after Self-Realisation. The Upanishads are clear that all karmas and all suffering end upon Self-Realisation, so one need not even fear the negative results of one’s past actions if one realises the Self.
Q. I have a question. If mind guides us while we are awake and in dream, and in sleep we are not conscious (because mind is switched off), doesn’t that imply mind is what we mistake for ‘consciousness’ or ‘awareness’?
Tom: Yes, that is correct. We consider ourselves to be awake/conscious in both the waking state and the dream (whilst we are dreaming) and asleep/unconscious in deep sleep.
Actually it is just the mind, ie. ignorance/duality, that is awake in ‘waking’ and dream and we are actually fully conscious in deep sleep – it is just the mind that is ‘asleep’.
This is why the in the Bhagavad Gita verse 2:69 it states: ‘What all [ignorant] beings consider as day is the night of ignorance for the wise, and what all [ignorant] creatures see as night is the day for the introspective sage.’
Tom: Yes, ego-mind-thought must die for realisation to occur. Those who are still attached to the body-mind-world and still take themselves to be the body say otherwise.
Ego is ignorance. Ego is duality. It is the ego that creates/projects the body-mind and world, like in a dream. When ego goes, everything goes, and all that remains is the Self. It cannot be put into words or understood by the mind. In truth ego never existed at all.
Objections to this such as ‘how does the sage function without ego’ only occur in ignorance of taking the sage to be the body and in the presense of ego-ignorance seeing body-mind-world.
The paradox of this cannot be explained in words, but when the mind becomes so completely and utterly still so that time and space and personhood all cease to exist, this ‘Self’ is somehow ‘known without knowing’.
Sometimes to those who are on the spiritual path, it can seem like those who are in full ignorance are happier. It can feel like ignorance is bliss, but it isn’t. It’s deep, deep suffering.
There are few things about spiritual seeking…First, the spiritual seeker has a certain type of sensitivity, which makes them more sensitive to suffering, because they are more aware of it often. That self-aware aspect can intensify suffering that wouldn’t bother other people so much. Some spiritual seekers have fairly nice lives outwardly. But inwardly they are suffering intently because they are more sensitive to their suffering because the awareness is there.
The other thing about the spiritual path is that it is often an isolating path, which also makes it difficult. There is no one to share it with, very few people understand this, because most people are not seekers of liberation, they are seekers of other things.
The other thing is there is nothing you can do about it. Say ignorance was bliss, probably with this there is no turning back! I’m sorry to say, you can’t go back!
Sri Ramana Maharshi did not say you have to love me, you have to devote yourself to me – that is not the essence of the teaching at all. That is actually to miss the point to what he is actually pointing towards. He said you’ve got to follow my teachings. You have to follow the Guru’s instruction.
This video was recorded live during a Satsang meeting with Tom Das.
Q: Would you say it’s a choice to pretend I am not Brahman ie. to believe I am the body mind?
Tom: This question is being asked from the ‘I am the body-mind’ point of view. In truth you are Brahman, you have always/will always be Brahman, there is only Brahman, there is no ignorance. The mind may ‘choose’ to identify as Brahman or as the body-mind, but you are not the mind either way.
Q: Does anything stop me from ending all egoic tendencies right now?
Tom: Egoic tendencies are based upon the ‘I am the body-mind notion’
Q. Would you say ignorance is a moment to moment choice?
Tom: Ignorance is not real, so there is no moment to moment choice – only from the point of view of the mind is there this choice – which is an illusory/ignorant point of view ie. to say ignorance is a moment to moment choice is to identify with the body-mind.