Now I know what it means to let go of everything

Advaita Post, Volume 14 No. 10

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Text satsang

An Advaita talk with Douwe Tiemersma Gouda, August 28, 2011

Now I know what it means to let go of everything

When can you speak from the greatest clarity? That’s when you recognize – all at once – the original truth concerning your self-being, containing the whole of your life. That happens quite easily when you are at the end of your life, when that life is ending. A lot has been written about this by many people. Then they experience their entire life as one great whole in a very clear manner. How can that be? It’s a very different way of experiencing than when you see events as images each set alongside one another. It’s the entirety of your whole life and that life is going to end. You stand just a little bit on the edge of this cosmos of that life and internally you have knowledge of what kind of life form it was, with all the many aspects that were present there in that life. Everyone certainly has a certain notion of this. Therefore, I bring it up now. You can take up a position from which you overlook the whole space of that life with those forms that have been present in it, viewing it as one whole. That whole will disappear. Where to? Into something about which nothing more can be said.

When it concerns a total liberation then the whole life with all these aspects will need to become totally free. Nisargadatta has said that this totally liberating realization is always accompanied by dying. When you are very attached to life then of course a lot of resistance arises because you have your identity in this life and you don’t want to give that up. But when nevertheless it proceeds, there may still be a liberation at the end when there is a consciousness of: now I know what it means to let everything go. It can also be that everything isn’t so heavy anymore and then it all becomes much lighter. Then there’s much more movement in a positive sense. Then the last quality is just Ananda. But even when that sense of dying isn’t so evident, still the totality of that whole life will need to be released.

In the advaita approach this can proceed very gradually and that can occur in different ways. One important way is that of being aware of yourself while you’re engaged in activity, while you’re listening, while you’re looking, while you are engaged in everyday life. What does that mean, to be aware of your whole situation? You can position yourself as it were, a little bit above or a little bit behind and from there see how life proceeds. For example, with perceiving, with seeing. You can see yourself sitting and looking at this lamp. I, as bodily perceiver, behold an object there – the lamp. But simultaneously, I see myself looking at the lamp. Can you do the same thing again? I see myself as an observer of the situation, in which I bodily observe that lamp. Then philosophers say: “nonsense, of course you can repeat that ad infinitum, it’s absurd.” No, if you actually do it two or three times it is enough, but you must do it very concretely. Philosophers just think about it, but when you actually do it, you should just see what happens. Then all personal properties with all kinds of ego-elements disappear. Then what’s the situation of the self-being? There is a quality of consciousness but actually nothing more. You can confirm that for yourself.

On that first level of awareness – I see myself looking at the lamp – you frequently have all kinds of personal elements there that you have brought with you to that level so you are still going to judge. For example: “I have to improve my vision.” That’s the everyday awareness, which is the same for everyone. There, you can criticize yourself. But renew your awareness, also of the critic. Then you see that these elements of comment making are already minimized or no longer present. So in this sense, more and more of those personal characteristics and conditionings continue to disappear. This awareness will need to go further. Can you see that it’s going in the direction with which I began – of the end of life – and that you then can be aware of the entirety of life just as it happened? It’s an expansion of consciousness. There remains an ever wider realm of self-being and you can renew your awareness there. At a certain point that awareness has proceeded so far that there’s actually nothing more to be said about it. The final is only an ‘I am’ without interpretation. Maybe too, an ‘I am consciousness, bliss-being’, but in a universal sense without forms, without any further qualities. So the whole cosmos of life and of these last qualities of life dissolve in the original source. You can’t say anything more about it, but you certainly do experience that this origin is there. That is your origin.

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