Working Out Your Karma

I have been in a very unhappy marriage for the last 10 years. There’s no affection, no sex, no kindness, no warmth, no communication. My wife has given me the silent treatment for the last 2 years. I am slowly going insane.

I realize that she is I and that I am she. There is only Self. So my question is the following: Would you stay in such a marriage if it drives you insane (literally) just to work out past karma? Or, would you leave? I remember the Buddha left his wife and children behind. Very confusing because he must have realized all was Self and that any action like leaving a wife and children behind was thus futile (there is no such thing as divorce; Self always is).

Not sure if you are married but you are a realized person so I wanted to ask your opinion. Sorry for the deep question.

Thank you,

V:  I’m sorry to hear that you’re unhappy but I’m a Vedanta teacher, not a marriage counselor. So I am not qualified to answer your question about marriage.  

But I can address your understanding of self and karma.  Realizing the non-duality of the self does not have anything to do with passively accepting one’s circumstances on the basis that they’re just an illusory appearance of one’s own self.  Sameness only applies at the absolute level of the self.  It does not apply to everyday circumstances.  In other words, not everything in life is equal, just because it’s all the self.  Some things are, relatively speaking, better, healthier and more constructive than others. 
Further, working out karma doesn’t mean accepting suffering and unhappiness.  Sure, everyone will have some degree of suffering and unhappiness in their karma.  But karma is not fate.  The point of the theory of karma is to put you in the driver’s seat. It says your current circumstances are the product of your past choices and actions.  The implication is that your future circumstances can be influenced by your current choices and actions.  

So once again, I am not qualified to give you relationship advice.  Nor am I interested in doing so because my purpose here is to teach Vedanta.  But I hate to hear that you’re unhappy.  So I wanted to say that Vedanta, non-duality and karma all allow for positive change in one’s “personal” well-being.  They are not in conflict with you doing what you feel is best for your happiness.  The point of this teaching is peace of mind.
All my best,

A: Your answer is incredible and I quote only partially: “But I can address your understanding of self and karma.  Realizing the non-duality of the self does not have anything to do with passively accepting one’s circumstances on the basis that they’re just an illusory appearance of one’s own self.”

I was stuck with this question for so many years and you understood it and gave the answer I was looking for so I will re-read it because it is so very very valuable.

Thank you very much,

Steady Wisdom: Day 100

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 100

I have realized my own self, which is bliss and peace.  Even though living in this world I am never bound in any way or under any circumstances.
-Dhyanasvarupam V.10

I am the self.  I am “bliss” because I am free from the limitations of the illusory body-mind.  I am “peace” because I am never disturbed by the state of the illusory body-mind.  Even when the illusory body-mind continues to live in the equally illusory world, I am never affected in any way or under any circumstances.  “Bliss” and “peace” are my very nature.  OM.

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Self Inquiry For Tough Times

When life is going smoothly, it’s easy to do self-inquiry and say, “I’m not the body.”  But what about when the going gets tough?  Am I able to maintain my poise and distinguish between myself and the body when it really counts? 

It’s clear that at some point in time the body will die.  That’s as guaranteed as the sunrise and sunset so there’s not much point in being overly concerned about it.      

Besides, if I’m consistently dedicated to self-inquiry then it should also be clear that while the body will surely die, I will not.  I am the eternal, ever-present, unchanging self.  I was never born so I will never die. 

So instead of obsessing over the news, dwelling on political nonsense or indulging in fearful speculation, I bring my mind back to the knowledge that I am the self over and over again.  I remind myself that what will happen in the world will happen, regardless of whether I obsess over it or fear it.  But no matter what happens, I am always completely fine.  So while I’ll surely take the necessary precautions to protect my illusory body, I do it with with peace of mind, always remembering who I really am.  OM.          

Steady Wisdom: Day 95

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 95

My nature is neither pure nor impure.  My nature is neither existence nor non-existence.  I neither have form nor am I formless.  My nature is the absolute reality, beyond them all. 
-Avadhuta Gita 3:45

To speak of one thing is to affirm the existence of its opposite.  So to say that I am pure is to affirm the existence of impurity; to say that I am existence affirms the reality of non-existence; to say that I am formless is to affirm the existence of form.

But I am one alone, without a second, without an opposite.  So while words can surely be used to point to my true nature, I can never be defined by words.  I am that “from which speech, along with the mind, turn back, unable to reach it.” At best, I can be described as, “Not this, not this.”  Knowing this, I abandon futile descriptions in the form of “the self is this” or “the self is that” and abide in myself alone.  OM. 

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Steady Wisdom: Day 33

Steady Wisdom: 108 Verses On Changing My Thinking

DAY 33

I am not an object of the five senses nor do they belong to me.  I am the ultimate reality so there is no reason to grieve.
-Avadhuta Gita 1:16

As the Kena Upanishad says, “I am the ear of the ear, the mind of the mind, the speech of speech, the breath of breath, the eye of the eye.”  For how can there be hearing, thinking, speech, breath or sight without me, pure consciousness?  As consciousness, I am not an object of the senses because the senses are objects known to me.  And as the ultimate reality, pure existence, the senses depend on me and not the other way around (for how can the senses exist without me, existence itself?).  Therefore, I am not afflicted by the suffering caused by the senses and I do not need the senses to be the limitless self I already am.  There is no reason to grieve. 

Read Series Introduction