non-duality magazine
Home About Enlightenment   Money Sexuality  Latest Books Poetry Art Photography Film Subscribe Contact
Aversion, Death, Rebirth, Vanity                        
 
AVERSION, DEATH, REBIRTH & VANITY

 

 

 SITARA

 

Sitara’s teaching is inspired by Advaita Vedanta and Direct Path. She writes here  www.advaita-vision.org/category/sitara/

 

and here www.astro-sitara.de/engl_advaitavedanta11_2010.html


 INTERVIEW

  

NDM: At the point of death and the breakup of the body, (see details here) what happens to the mind?

 

Sitara: According to Vedanta gross body and subtle body part in the moment of death. While the gross body disintegrates, the mind being part of the subtle body will “hang around” in subtle realms until the vasanas, will prompt another incarnation – provided that the time is ripe, i.e. the time for reincarnation needs to abide by the law and order of the universe (ishvara).

 

NDM: What if these supposedly enlightened people happen to still have sex after attaining the "knowledge", and still can’t break the sex habit/addiction even in their older age? 

 

For example, this Zen master Roshi had an un-sattvic mind at 105, so it appears from this NY Times article that Zazen didn’t seem to have worked very well in his case .

 

Swami Tapovanam in his book "Ishvara Darshana"  said that "he who pursues sensuous enjoyment cannot realize god.”  He said it is impossible to exhaust desire through enjoyment, the only way to overcome it is through right thinking. 

 

Sitara: I absolutely agree. Desire is inexhaustible. It will only cease with the understanding of who you are: abundance itself, nothing missing whatsoever.

 

NDM: Swami Tapovanam said "the relationship to a woman in marriage and the performance of a householders’s duties are for men of attachment, not of detachment.  Food is for the hungry, he who is no longer hungry requires no food.  Only those who long for worldly welfare need the performance of worldly duties. The man who has no desires does not require it.  What the vedas say about sexual pleasure is this.  This ought to restrain mans sexual freedom. Birds and animals have this sexual freedom but in man it leads to sorrow and suffering. It is true sastras enjoy the presence of a partner, during the performance of worldly and other worldly duties,  But why should those who have truly realized the true nature of worldly pleasures that cause ultimate pain and have cast away the seen as well as the unseen fruits of their work, by cultivating the spirit of total detachment , hanker after the woman’s body composed of flesh and blood, feces and urine. Is the man who plunges into his hot pursuit of happiness, wise or unwise, discreet or indiscreet"? 

 

Sitara: I do not know that particular book of Swami Tapovanam but I have read “Wanderings in the Himalayas” which throws a clear light on his personality. Swami Tapovanam was born 1889 and died 1916. He was an ascetic to the core; to him the body was something he disregarded 100 % at all times. For example he went to Tibet wearing nothing but his thin robe, being ill and weak, staying the nights in the freezing cold windy plains without shelter or blanket. He lived up to the yogic ideal.

 

But this is not my ideal. I do not share the traditional admiration for an austere life style. The life style of an enlightened one should be modest and if need be, he/she should be able, to face even the harshest conditions with equanimity. But I do not see any need to actively seek out harsh conditions. I do not even see the need to deny oneself natural bodily needs, such as food, water, shelter and even sexual expression.

 

For a suppressed sexuality there is very little chance to be transcended; on the contrary, the desire for it will be preserved, even enhanced. If sexuality is suppressed the identification with it will never cease. That’s why grihasta life was to precede vanaprasta and sannyasa since the beginning of time in India. But in kali yuga it has not been working out. In the past grihasta life has been the model of society in East and West alike but, in order to protect the family, sexuality has been suppressed everywhere anyway. As a consequence, the powerful biological need for sexuality went underground, where it became even more powerful and perverse (child abuse, rape etc).

 

NDM: When Swami Tapovan Maharaj, was asked about attaining liberation (moksha) through sensual pleasure, and tantra, He said it was like night and day. Two opposite poles. He also said that sanyasin, celibacy for life was the only for “true liberation”.  Anything other than this is not possible.

 

Sitara: He repeated what he was taught – but was he qualified to say what he said? Obviously he did not walk the path of tantra. In the societies of the past sexuality was suppressed to such a degree that it was simply inconceivable to be sexually active without identification (and so far this has not changed). The tradition of tantra seems to be the only one which holds up the possibility of disidentified sexual activities.

 

The way Swami Tapovanam talks about sexuality reveals that, like most other people on this earth, he knew only of identified sex. Of course those “most other people” will identify with what he said. But this does not mean that it is true. There is another possibility.

 

As far as I am concerned, enlightenment and sex do not exclude one another. Yet I am speaking of unidentified sex because identification with anything does exclude enlightenment.

 

Quoting Swami Tapovanam, Birds and animals have this sexual freedom but in man it leads to sorrow and suffering. It does so because of identification, not because of sexual activities. Man usually is identified with his sexual desires. In order to become enlightened he will have to leave his identifications behind, to certain a degree – nobody knows to what degree. After enlightenment sexuality is possible, yet only without identification, which means hunger, hankering, hot pursuit, requiring (see Swami Tapovanam’s words) won’t be part of the package.

 

While actions are being done in various ways by the gunas (qualities) of nature (body, mind, senses), deluded by the I-notion one thinks “I am the doer.”

 

Those who become wholly deluded by the gunas of nature become attached to the activities of the gunas.

 

Bhagavad Geeta 3, 27 and 29

 

“Enlightened sex” is very different from what we usually consider sexual. Normal sex is egocentric whereas with enlightenment sexuality can either end, or become a playful expression of life/love in the sense of the Geeta verses above,

 

There is no need for love to express itself sexually, but it can. As a matter of fact the union of love and sex is bound to prevent sexual abuse, rape etc. So if a teacher like Zen master Roshi sexually abuses his/her students he is evidently not fully accomplished. His sexuality has remained egocentric, which means there is still identification with a separate self within him.

 

Basically there is nothing wrong with sexuality; it is nature innocently expressing itself. On the other hand there is everything wrong with egocentricity, which has its roots in the identification with a separate self. If there is no longer any identification, sex can continue or not. In any case, love will continue to shine.

 

NDM: Is rebirth into a heaven, hell, human, animal, spirit, hungry ghost realm a reality?

 

Sitara: It is as real as our everyday reality. In Vedanta this kind of reality is called mithya, which is relatively real, whereas satya is ultimately real. Satya is the one and only true reality, called Atman/Brahman. Mithya is what seems to be reality: jiva, jagat and ishvara (the individual, the universe and the underlying law and order that makes our seeming reality possible).

 

All realms, whether physical or subtle, belong to the category jagat, universe, and are therefore mithya. Mind you, they are not more mithya than anything else that you encounter in your life.

 

From the satya perspective there is no jiva, no jagat, no ishvara, there is only pure being (satyam), pure consciousness (jnanam), limitlessness (anantam).

 

NDM: Does an enlightened person fear aging, sickness and death?

 

Sitara: No, this is impossible. Fear of death cannot arise in someone who has died to death.

 

NDM: Would an enlightened person wear seductive clothing, makeup, have plastic surgery, (implants, Botox, liposuction), or even color their hair to appear younger, more attractive for their self esteem, or to attract followers, disciples/clients?

 

Sitara: Basically no – if behind these behaviors were the above mentioned “fear of aging, sickness and death”. But it is not possible to judge the motive for a certain behavior from the outside. No-one knows what is behind a certain conduct, except the person who performs it.

 

Also, it is a matter of culture. In India, enlightened beings are very often Swamis or Swaminis. Of course they do not wear make up or dye their hair. In the West most enlightened beings are more or less involved in society, they may have girl/boy friends, they may have to speak up for their children in school, represent in a job and the like. It is very possible that they may enjoy a piece of garment they look good in, or a new haircut, i.e. they are less likely to behave like nuns or monks. I do not see any problem with this.

 

Even the degree of these behaviours being acceptable or not corresponds to the cultural environment. In many European countries it is still normal for an aging woman to turn grey and to leave it like that, whereas it seems that in the US this has become extraordinary except if you are homeless or antisocial. So why should someone who is enlightened needlessly want to be put into those categories? Also, in Europe or even in India there is a big difference between someone “just” putting on make up and someone undergoing plastic surgery; but is it the same in the US? I simply don’t know. I have always found Israeli women’s clothing excessively seductive. But is it considered the same in Israel itself? I don’t know. Culture is relative.

 

Part of culture is the distinction between what is to be expected from a woman and what is to be expected from a man. Most of the above mentioned issues apply only to women. What about a male guru with an impressive lion’s mane? Should he rather shave his head because he has got enlightened? And where is the dividing line between someone just talented in making him/herself beautiful and someone who does so for fear of being rejected?

 

There is no definite answer to these questions.

 

NDM: Would an enlightened person take sleeping pills, drink alcohol, take recreational drugs (smoke marijuana, LSD), or medication for mood control, anxiety, depression (Prozac, or Viagra)?

 

Sitara: Again this may be a matter of culture. Yogis have been smoking marijuana for ages in India. What if one of them has become enlightened? Would he necessarily stop smoking? You may argue that such he would not have any chance to become enlightened in the first place – but who knows? I would say, anything that is done in moderation cannot rule-out enlightenment. But then again we know of enlightened chain smokers like Sw. Chinmayananda or Nisargadatta Maharaj. Where was their moderation? Or was their enlightenment a fake?

 

As to medication for mood control, anxiety, depression (Prozac, or Viagra), I don’t really know what to say. If someone’s body does not produce enough serotonin he/she will turn out to be depressive. You add serotonin to the system by taking a pill every day and the depression may be over and done with. Will the serotonin rush into the body after enlightenment, making medication superfluous? I simply don’t know.

 

I would suppose that you cannot be an addict and be enlightened at the same time. But then again, I seem to be one of those very rare people with an absolutely non-addictive personality. So how weighty is my word in this respect? Most of my students have the one or the other problem with addiction and one of those few who has none has a tendency to compulsive behavior which is just the other side of the addiction coin (addiction = no control, compulsion = over controlled)l. They (my students) do work on those tendencies, vasanas, but to what degree do vasanas have to be eradicated in order to become enlightened? Nobody knows.

 

NDM: Would an enlightened person have an aversion to harsh or desolate living conditions, isolation, desert, jungle, forest, (excessively cold or hot weather climates), fear of wild animals, snakes, scorpions, bears, tigers, crocodiles, sharks and spiders?

 

Sitara: I suppose that this again is a matter of culture as well as of personality. Some people feel completely at home out in the jungle but then feel uncomfortable in the middle of New York City. Or the other way round. Others again don’t mind either way, enlightened or not. Also I think that the brain of the human animal nature has got certain built in alarm systems, which will be felt by enlightened as well as non-enlightened beings. So aversion to this or that, or fear based on those alarm systems is natural. It simply depends on the degree to which someone is able to handle that aversion or fear intelligently.

 

If your alarm starts because you encounter a big but harmless spider, see whether you can move away, and if you can’t, just meet the situation as it is.

If your alarm starts because you see a dangerous animal, run away or do whatever is needed to be done to save your life. It is appropriate to save your life if you can.

 

If your alarm starts because the airplane you are sitting in is diving head on to the ground, the enlightened should be able to stay calm. The alarm of the body-mind may go crazy but not he/she. There is absolutely nothing that can be done, life is over, so why not relax. Nothing is lost anyway.

 

The same applies to harsh or desolate living conditions: if you can, choose what you prefer, but if you cannot choose, meet whatever needs to be met with equanimity.

 

An enlightened being should be able to behave along these lines. If he/she makes a big fuss because there is a cockroach in their hotel room or someone has cooked non-vegetarian food in the kitchen that feeds them, I would recommend checking again whether your belief in their enlightenment might not be built on sand. But, again, take into account the culture the person is coming from. Most Indians will have no problem with a cockroach but could be very concerned with the non-veg food in their kitchen, whereas for a Westerner it may well be the other way round.

 

NDM: Can an enlightened person lose their temper, use foul language, or harsh speech, sarcasm, ridicule, make off color jokes?

 

Sitara: To a degree this may be possible in the beginning of enlightenment when some of the old personality structures are still active. But after some time all of this should subside.

 

NDM: Would an enlightened person make a legal disclaimer for their teachings, as to not be held responsible? (Please see example below).

 

Sitara: This again is probably cultural. It seems that in America people tend to sue each other over all and everything. So maybe in this culture there is a need to make these disclaimers even for spiritual teachers. I have not seen anything like this anywhere else in the world up to now.

 

Basically such a disclaimer is based on fear. But in a country where this fear is justified you need to protect yourself, just as you protect yourself from wild animals or hailstorms.

  

 

 END OF INTERVIEW

 


Example of a Non-dual Disclaimer

 
Here’s some small-print legal stuff that we are obliged to tell you – it’s for your protection as well as ours.

 

By using this website, purchasing or attending a one-to-one session, attending a meeting, satsang, or non dual retreat or otherwise engaging with (so and so), you acknowledge that you have read, comprehended and fully agreed with the following disclaimer.
 
This website is for general information and entertainment purposes only. Use of this website, or attending a meeting, non dual retreat or one-to-one non dual session with ( so and so ), or having an non dual email dialogue with him, is NOT a replacement for or substitute to face-to-face, in-person, qualified medical, psychological, psychiatric or legal advice, diagnosis or treatment. ( So and so ) is not a medical doctor nor a licensed psychotherapist. ( So and so) does not diagnose, cure, heal, or treat disease or psychological conditions or otherwise prescribe any kind of medication whatsoever.
 
If you think you are suffering from a medical or psychological disorder or condition, please consult your doctor or other appropriately qualified professional person or service immediately. You are invited to consult your doctor and/or therapist about one-to-ones sessions, meetings or retreats with ( so and so) in order to make an educated and informed decision as to whether or not they are right for you. IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING OR CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE OR FEEL THAT YOU MAY BE A DANGER TO YOURSELF OR OTHERS, PLEASE NOTIFY THE POLICE OR CONTACT YOUR LOCAL EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES IMMEDIATELY. Never, ever disregard professional advice or delay seeking professional advice as a result of something you have read on this site or from anything that ( so and so ) says or writes to you. ( so and so ) shall not be liable for claims or damages, and expressly disclaims any and all liability of any nature, for any action, or non-action, taken as a result of his one-to-one sessions, meetings or retreats.
 
The word “non dual counselling” here is not used as a medical term, but simply describes an in-depth, honest, exploratory, private and confidential conversation. Sessions with ( so and so ) may be considered “spiritual” or non dual in nature rather then therapeutic or prescriptive. A one-to-one non dual session, meeting or retreat is intended and designed to be informational and educational for you, and provide information, support and encouragement based on information what you choose to share with ( so and so). You are fully and solely responsible for all information that you provide to (so and so), for your interpretation of ( So and so') words and actions, and for all actions resulting from or relating to your encounter with (so and so)
 
(so and so) does not guarantee or warrant any particular outcome or result from your non dual session, meeting or retreat, or other kind of non dual encounter, with him, and makes no claims as to the effectiveness of the sessions.
 
Using ( so and so) services is entirely at your own risk without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied, including without limitation any warranty for information given, advice, or opinion. The services are requested by your own choice and with your inherent singular responsibility.

 

Thank you for your understanding.
 
End of disclaimer.