Thank you for your thorough research on these topics, they are a significant aid in understanding Ramana’s teaching.Therefore in this article I will try to explain to Ken why these arguments of his do not adequately address the issue I was discussing in my previous article, namely the confusion that arises if we believe that our actual self veils itself and sees itself as numerous phenomena.
Beyond that, it seems to me that we are getting into an area ruled by semantics.
For example, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character. As such, he “is unreal and never existed”. However, his lack of existence is a semantic one. From our viewpoint, we certainly find a difference between our current world (with at least two different Sherlock Holmes series in production) and an alternative universe where Conan Doyle never invented the character Sherlock Holmes.
In a similar way, we go to sleep and have a dream. When we wake up, we realize that the events in the dream were unreal. “Nothing ever happened”. But we cannot say that our night was the same as a night where we did not dream at all.
And, if we go into the dark garage and mistake the coiled rope for a snake, we can certainly say “the snake is unreal and never existed”. However, there is a difference between going into the garage and immediately recognizing the rope, or else going into the garage and mistakenly seeing the snake. If there were no difference, then Ramana would not have advised, in Ulladu Narpadu 35:
“The subsided mind having subsided, knowing and being the Reality, which is (always) attained, is the (true) attainment (siddhi). [...] (Therefore) know and be (as) you (the Reality) are.”
If there were no difference between seeing the snake and seeing the rope, then he would have said instead:
“The mind is unreal and does not exist, so do not practice self-attention, go home, watch cricket and stop bothering me.”
So, a universe where there was never any appearance of temporary phenomena, never any maya, never any mistaken identification, never any ego... just satchitananda.... is perhaps theologically, metaphysically, and/or philosophically identical to this universe.... but it is not entirely identical, otherwise Ramana would have never answered Pillai’s question of “Who Am I?”.
The Advaita Vedanta standard of “real” and “exists” is very meaningful — it tells us what is important. But if we use it in all contexts, we end up with “Neo-Advaita”, i.e. “Nothing ever happened, the ego never existed, so go home and watch T.V., that will be $50, thanks.”
In Path of Sri Ramana, Sadhu Om is careful to apply absolute metaphysical standards to theology and philosophy, but not otherwise. For example, he stated:
“The sole cause of all miseries is the mistake of veiling ourself by imagining these sheaths to be ourself, even though we are ever this existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda).”
This is similar to my statement quoted from 9 September 2016:
“Because there is nothing other than the Self, so there is nothing that can force the Self to do anything. The Self is alone, so it decides to “veil” itself and limit itself as a multitude of ‘individuals’. This is the Lila, the play.”
The Upanishads, Shankara and Ramana all agree that there is nothing other than the Self. So, there cannot be anything that forces the Self to do anything.
Sadhu Om characterizing veiling as a “mistake”, while I characterize it as a “decision”. Well, certainly those two things are compatible. Plenty of decisions are found to be mistakes (such as deciding to drive when you have drunk far too much alcohol).
Before the “veiling”, there was no ego, so Sadhu Om can only be referring to the Self as the one who veils.
Tuesday, 25 October 2016
Wednesday, 19 October 2016
Note that the Self is what is watching the movie [...] (4 September 2016 at 17:45)Ken, in these remarks you have attributed properties of our ego (and also properties of God) to ‘the Self’, which is ourself as we actually are, so in this article I will try to clarify that our actual self does not do anything and is neither aware of nor in any other way affected by the illusory appearance of our ego and all its projections, which seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of ourself as this ego.
[...] the ego is actually the Self in another form. (4 September 2016 at 23:27)
The Self is God [...] The Lila (play) of the Self (Brahman/Atman) is that it “veils” itself so it itself thinks it is limited. As “veiled”, it is watching the movie. When it decides to stop watching the movie, and the lights go on, it then sees it is actually the Self. Hence “Self-” “realisation”, i.e. realizing that it is the Self. (5 September 2016 at 04:16)
The ego stops giving attention to “2nd person and 3rd person”, i.e. sense perceptions and thoughts. The Self sees this and if it is convinced of complete sincerity, then it terminates the ego (this is the “action of Grace performed by the Self” according to Ramana — paraphrased). [...] since the Self IS your own basic awareness, then it is entirely aware of everything you have ever thought, said or done. (5 September 2016 at 04:26)
The Self (atman) is: The present moment [and] That which is looking. (7 September 2016 at 03:26)
This is what is called “The Play of Consciousness” (lila in Sanskrit). [...] The Self makes the “mistake” of identifying with a character in the world. (8 September 2016 at 02:09)
The Self definitely wants to see the movie, otherwise the movie would not even exist. (8 September 2016 at 17:49)
Because there is nothing other than the Self, so there is nothing that can force the Self to do anything. The Self is alone, so it decides to “veil” itself and limit itself as a multitude of “individuals”. This is the Lila, the play. (9 September 2016 at 00:04)
Posted by Michael James at 12:26
Labels: ajāta, Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi, bhakti (devotion), ego, Guru Vācaka Kōvai, Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?), self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, Sri Muruganar, transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu), Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ, Upadēśa Undiyār
Wednesday, 12 October 2016
Recently while preparing the next instalment for the January 2017 issue I came across the notes I had made on 19th August 1978 of an explanation that Sadhu Om had given about the first ten verses of Upadēśa Undiyār, but as usual my notes were not very detailed and I could see that in some respects I had not accurately recorded what he used to explain about each of those verses, so I had to edit and elaborate them in order to convey what I remember him explaining about them on various occasions. Since in its final edited form this portion of my notes conveys quite clearly what he often used to explain about these verses, I decided to reproduce it here:
Thursday, 6 October 2016
God is not actually the witness of anything but the real substance underlying and supporting the illusory appearance of the witness and of everything witnessed by it
In accordance with this important teaching of Sri Ramana in verse 8 of Upadēśa Undiyār, in this song Sri Sadhu Om gently weans the minds of those who may consider God to be other than what they experience as ‘I’ away from that idea, firstly by emphasising that his real form is suddha-mauna-cit or ‘pure silent consciousness’ (verse 3); secondly by implying that he is the ‘one blissful substance’ that exists within our heart and that we can experience by seeking it with love (verse 4); thirdly by saying that only after we experience him within ourself will we be able to experience that everything that exists is him (verse 5); and fourthly by saying that he exists within us as the witness of all our thoughts, and that he will appear clearly within us only where and when all our thoughts subside (verse 6).The following is what I wrote in reply to her question:
Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Sunday, 2 October 2016
Wednesday, 31 August 2016
You say self-enquiry is nothing but “attentive self-awareness”. I get the “attentive” and “awareness” parts. I don’t get the “self” part coz all I am aware of now is my body and thoughts, including the “I-thought”. So, do you mean I should be attending to the awareness of “I-thought”? That could make sense coz it is kinda attending to the snake (I-thought) and finding lo and behold that it is a rope (self). So, why then don’t you say self-enquiry is “attentive I-thought-awareness”? I hope my doubt makes sense.The following is my answer to this:
Sunday, 21 August 2016
Saturday, 13 August 2016
Why is it so necessary for us to accept without reservation the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings?
Monday, 1 August 2016
I read a lot of Krishnamurti when younger, and I do agree that his approach may have been unnecessarily complicated.The following is my reply to him:
Krishnamurti focused on self-exploration of one’s mind. If you are angry, dissect it to find out what is deeper than it, etc. In effect, you would be looking at all the little adjuncts of the ego to see each one as false.
But ultimately, Krishnamurti’s main theme was “The Observer is the Observed”, which he repeated frequently.
So, in that sense, there is no difference in Krishnamurti’s ultimate teaching and Ramana’s. When you do self-enquiry you are Self looking at Self. When you are looking at the feeling of I AM, the looker is also that same I AM feeling, or, in other words, the observer is the observed.
Sunday, 17 July 2016
When you write, ‘I seem to be “witnessing” or aware of the I am thought all the time now’, what exactly do you mean by ‘the I am thought’? The reason I ask is that people tend to objectify everything, so some people assume that the I-thought is some sort of object that one can watch, but the term ‘I-thought’ is just another name for the ego, which is not an object but the subject, the one who is aware of all objects. Therefore what we need to watch or ‘witness’ is not any object but only ourself, the subject (the ego or thought called ‘I’).
Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Saturday, 2 July 2016
Names and forms are all just thoughts, so we can free ourself from them only by investigating their root, our ego
Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Sunday, 19 June 2016
Wednesday, 8 June 2016
Monday, 6 June 2016
Tuesday, 31 May 2016
Wednesday, 25 May 2016
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Sunday, 8 May 2016
If the ego were the act of thinking, we could investigate it simply by observing our thinking, which is obviously not the case. To investigate this ego we must ignore all thinking and observe only the thinker, the one who is aware of thinking and of the thoughts produced by thinking. Therefore it is necessary for us to clearly distinguish the thinker from its thinking, and also from whatever it thinks.
Thursday, 5 May 2016
What is a person? It is a set of phenomena centred around a particular body, and it has both physical and mental features. Though its physical and mental features change over time, however extreme those changes may be we identify it as the same person because it is the same body that displays those changing features. It starts its life as a baby, and it may end it as an old man or woman, but throughout its life and in spite of all its changes it is the same person. As we all know, there seem to be many people in this world, and each of them seem to be sentient, but what makes them seem to be so?
Friday, 8 April 2016
Self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) entails nothing more than just being persistently and tenaciously self-attentive
May I give a short description what happens in my poor experience of practising self-investigation in the following passage: The attentiveness with which one investigates what one is has to be accomplished by the ego. The ego is a bundle of thoughts. So attentiveness is also a thought. The attentive thought ‘who am I’ is entrusted to try to extinguish/erase other rising thoughts and simultaneously or after that to investigate to whom they have occurred. It is clear that it is to me. By further investigation ‘who am I’, I do not clearly recognize if the mind subsided or returned to its birthplace, that is myself. Because the same (my) attentiveness has to manage to refuse the spreading/developing of other thoughts (without giving room [place/field] to other thoughts) and rather eliminate them, other thoughts are on my mind well waiting for refusal of their completion. Thus I am far away from grabbing the opportunity that the thought ‘who am I’ itself is destroyed in the end (like the fire-stir-stick). What is wrong in my strategy or where I am on the wrong track?The following is my reply to this:
Thursday, 24 March 2016
Wednesday, 16 March 2016
Sunday, 28 February 2016
The role of logic in developing a clear, coherent and uncomplicated understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings
Monday, 8 February 2016
Wednesday, 6 January 2016
Why do I believe that ātma-vicāra is the only direct means by which we can eradicate the illusion that we are this ego?
Thursday, 10 December 2015
Given that the ego/mind is non-existent, and just a thought that pass across the screen of consciousness, what is it that choose to be attentively self-aware? Pure consciousness just is, and the body/mind/world are just thoughts/perceptions that flow across that screen. So the thought to be attentively self-aware is just another thought on that screen. I am struggling what is it that then directs attention. Apologies if I’m not being very clear.When I read this comment, I noted it as one that I should reply to, but it soon led to a thread of more than thirty comments in which other friends responded to and discussed what he had written, so in this article (which has eventually grown into an extremely long one) I will reply both to this comment and to a few of the ideas expressed in other comments in that thread, and also to many later comments on that article that were not directly connected to what Venkat had written but that are nevertheless relevant to this crucial subject of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).
Tuesday, 17 November 2015
I had mentioned to you that in my view there appear to be three different approaches to self-investigation, i) self-enquiry, which involves asking who am I and going to the root of the I thought, ii) meditating on I am, excluding the arising of any thought, and concentrating on I am, and iii) trying to notice the gap between two thoughts, expanding the gap, and being without any thought, summa iru. You had replied that these are not three different approaches but constitute only one approach. Could you please elaborate your comment?This article is adapted from the reply that I wrote to him.
Wednesday, 11 November 2015
As this anonymous friend wrote, this seemingly common sense reasoning is why it is generally said that our mind or ego exists in sleep in a dormant condition (known as the kāraṇa śarīra or ānandamaya kōśa), but such reasoning oversimplifies the issue, failing to recognise not only some important nuances but also some fairly obvious flaws in its own arguments. Let us therefore consider this issue in greater depth in order to see whether we can understand Bhagavan’s teachings in this regard more clearly.
Tuesday, 3 November 2015
Before replying to this question I would first like to apologise to Vilcomayo for not replying earlier. I receive so many questions by email and in comments on this blog that I am unfortunately not able to reply to all of them immediately, and if I cannot reply to any of them soon enough they tend to join the large backlog of hundreds of questions that I have not yet had time to reply to and may never have time to do so. Therefore, Vilcomayo, you are perfectly justified in reminding me about your question, and I apologise not only to you but also to all the other friends whose questions I have not been able to reply to yet.
What happens to our mind in sleep is not actually an easy question to answer, because it is a question asked from the perspective of waking or dream, the two states in which this mind seems to exist, about sleep, which is the state in which it does not seem to exist. According to Bhagavan the mind does not actually exist even when it seems to exist, so the correct answer is that nothing happens to the mind in sleep, because there is no mind to which anything could ever happen.
Saturday, 31 October 2015
Monday, 19 October 2015
In his first email Ladislav wrote:
My issue: still I can’t feel ‘I’ or my self. I also tried to repeat in my mind the word ‘I’ or ‘I am’, but still I have not succeeded (i.e. I don’t feel anything other than before. I don’t feel myself). I don’t look for sensation but I seek sense of self. Please can you advise me, what do I do to know feeling self?In reply to this I wrote:
When you say ‘I can’t feel I’, are there two ‘I’s, one of which cannot feel the other? Are you not always just one ‘I’? Are you not always self-aware? Are you not always aware that ‘I am’? There is nothing more to know than this.
Monday, 12 October 2015
I have a question if attention has to be drawn (intentionally) to the self, or is it enough if I just remain as I am, surrendering the filthy ego to God? No “fixing the mind into self”, nor “looking for the source” or “I-thought”, but just remaining?I wrote a brief reply, and he replied asking some further questions, so this article is adapted from the two replies I wrote to him.
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
I am still struggling with understanding the concept of ‘Who am I’. Am I looking for that which existed before my body and mind came into this existence, i.e. emptiness/fullness etc.? Do I explore the personal ‘I’ and from where it arose? I understand that I am that source from which the body came into the dream but when I explore it there is nothing there and I cannot feel the love that is supposed to be the real me. Also why is the dream of life so unpleasant when it has come from a source of love? What is the point of the dream? I find it frightening and I worry so much about the animals/the environment and I feel such pain. Why would the self create such a dream?In reply I wrote:
Yes, we are looking for that which existed before our body and mind came into existence, but that exists not only then but also now and always, because it is what we actually are, so since we cannot go back in time we must find it here and now.
Tuesday, 22 September 2015
To clarify what he was trying to express he also asked several other questions such as ‘is it right to say the non-dual infinite being consciousness is not a blank void of nothingness, it is just a reality beyond what the limited mind can understand so it appears a blank when tried to be recollected from the illusory dualistic waking state[?]’ and ‘is it right to say when I experience myself as I really am with perfect clarity of self-awareness this previous seeming blank empty nothingness / void I once linked to deep sleep will now be the one true reality as waking & dream would have dissolved into it and the deep sleep state will now be all there ever was / has been[?] The veil of lack of clarity would have been lifted for ever’, before finally expressing his hope that ‘this once seeming cold empty blank void perception of the deep sleep state will not be so but in contrast it will be a reality of pure bliss ... pure happiness of being where I experience everything as myself .. it won’t be cold empty void at all’.
This article is therefore an attempt to reassure Bob that the experience of true self-knowledge is not as scary as it may seem, and that it is something way beyond any idea that our finite mind may have of it.
Saturday, 29 August 2015
Now we turn to the positive side of the question, whether meditation on the Heart is possible. Bhagavan declares it to be possible, but not in the form of investigation, as it is done when the ‘I’ is the subject. Meditation on the Heart must be a special meditation, provided the meditator takes the Heart to be pure consciousness and has at least, an intuitive knowledge of what pure consciousness is. Only that meditation succeeds which has this intuitive knowledge, and is conducted with the greatest alertness, so that the moment thoughts cease, the mind perceives itself in its own home — the Heart itself. This is certainly more difficult to do than to investigate into the source of the ‘I’, because it is a direct assault on, rather direct contact with, the very source itself. It is no doubt the quickest method, but it exacts the greatest alertness and the most concentrated attention, denoting a greater adhikara (maturity).This passage is the later half of Cohen’s commentary on the following passage from section 131 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, page 119):
D.: There are said to be six organs of different colours in the chest, of which the heart is said to be two finger-breadths to the right of the middle line. But the Heart is also formless. Should we then imagine it to have a shape and meditate on it?
M.: No. Only the quest “Who am I?” is necessary. What remains all through deep sleep and waking is the same. But in waking there is unhappiness and the effort to remove it. Asked who wakes up from sleep you say ‘I’. Now you are told to hold fast to this ‘I’. If it is done the eternal Being will reveal Itself. Investigation of ‘I’ is the point and not meditation on the heart-centre. There is nothing like within or without. Both mean either the same thing or nothing.
Of course there is also the practice of meditation on the heart-centre. It is only a practice and not investigation. Only the one who meditates on the heart can remain aware when the mind ceases to be active and remains still; whereas those who meditate on other centres cannot be so aware but infer that the mind was still only after it becomes again active.
Saturday, 22 August 2015
Since discussion of these two separate subjects continued side by side for a while, in one comment a friend called Wittgenstein suggested that it would be useful to consider the first teaching that Bhagavan gave to Kavyakantha in order to see whether he gave any indication at that time that ātma-vicāra is a two-stage process. Wittgenstein concluded that there was no such indication, but asked me to correct him if he had drawn any wrong conclusions from that teaching, so this article is written in reply to him.
Saturday, 15 August 2015
Shiba, when you write in your first comment, “Atma is true Self. To fix attention on I-thought leads to Atma. Real atma-vichara begin when our minds are fixed in Self. I-thought is best clue to reach Atma and begin real atma-vichara. To concentrate on I-thought is preliminary stage and when other thoughts disappear and I-thought go back to the source (Atma), the next stage, real atma-vichara begin. I think those who can graduate from the preliminary stage are rare. I don’t know when I can graduate from the preliminary stage...”, you imply that ātma-vicāra consists of two distinct stages, and that only the second of these is ‘real atma-vichara’, but this is not actually the case.
Ātma-vicāra does not consist of any distinct stages, because it is a single process in which our self-attentiveness is progressively refined until we experience nothing other than ourself alone. Moreover ātman is ourself as we really are, whereas our ego or ‘I-thought’ is ourself as we now seem to be, so these are not two distinct things, but only one thing appearing differently. Since what we now experience as ourself is only our ego or ‘I-thought’ (which is a confused mixture of ourself and adjuncts), when we investigate ourself we are investigating ourself in the form of this ego, but as we focus our attention or awareness more and more keenly and exclusively on ourself, our ego subsides more and more, until eventually it will vanish in pure self-awareness, which is ourself as we really are (our real ātman).
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
நானெதென் றாய வஃது நலிவதற் கேதே தென்றால்
நானெனு மக விருத்தி ஞானத்தின் கிரண மாகும்
நானெனுங் கிரணத் தோடே நாட்டமுட் செல்லச் செல்ல
நானெனுங் கிரண நீள நசித்துநான் ஞான மாமே.
nāṉedeṉ ḏṟāya vaḵdu nalivadaṟ kēdē deṉḏṟāl
nāṉeṉu maha virutti ñāṉattiṉ kiraṇa māhum
nāṉeṉuṅ kiraṇat tōḍē nāṭṭamuṭ cellac cella
nāṉeṉuṅ kiraṇa nīḷa naśittunāṉ ñāṉa māmē.
பதச்சேதம்: நான் எது என்று ஆய அஃது நலிவதற்கு ஏது ஏது என்றால், நான் எனும் அக விருத்தி ஞானத்தின் கிரணம் ஆகும். நான் எனும் கிரணத்தோடே நாட்டம் உள் செல்ல செல்ல, நான் எனும் கிரண நீளம் நசித்து நான் ஞானம் ஆமே.
Padacchēdam (word-separation): nāṉ edu eṉḏṟu āya aḵdu nalivadaṟku ēdu ēdu eṉḏṟāl, nāṉ eṉum aha-virutti ñāṉattiṉ kiraṇam āhum. nāṉ eṉum kiraṇattōḍē nāṭṭam uḷ sella sella, nāṉ eṉum kiraṇa nīḷam naśittu nāṉ ñāṉam āmē.
English translation: If anyone asks what the reason is for it [the ego] being destroyed when one investigates what am I, [it is because] the aham-vṛtti [ego-awareness] called ‘I’ is a [reflected] ray of jñāṉa [pure self-awareness]. When together with the ray called ‘I’ the investigation [attention or scrutinising gaze] goes more and more within, the extent [or length] of the ray called ‘I’ being reduced [and eventually destroyed], [what will then remain as] ‘I’ will indeed be jñāṉa [pure self-awareness].
Friday, 31 July 2015
If we were walking along a narrow path in semi-darkness and were to see what seems to be a snake lying on the path ahead of us, we would be afraid to proceed any further and would wait till the snake had moved away. However, if after waiting for a while we see that the snake does not move, we may begin to suspect that it is not actually a snake, in which case we would cautiously move forwards to look at it more closely and carefully. If it were not actually a snake but only a rope, our investigation or close inspection of it would reveal to us that what we had been looking at and afraid of all along was only a rope, so our fear of it would dissolve, and with a sigh of relief we would continue our walk along the path.
Our investigation or close inspection of the seeming snake would begin only after we have begun to suspect that it may actually not be a snake but only something else, such as a rope, so once this suspicion has arisen, we would stop insisting to ourself that it is a snake that we are looking at, but would instead consider it to be a seeming snake and perhaps a rope. This is similar to our position when we begin to investigate ourself, this ego. We investigate ourself or look closely at ourself only because we suspect that we may actually not be the ego that we now seem to be, but may instead be something else altogether. Now that this suspicion has arisen in us, we need not continue insisting to ourself that we are only an ego, but can with an open mind begin investigating ourself in order to find out whether we are this ego or something else.
Saturday, 18 July 2015
However, I actually began to write this article before that discussion started, and I did so in response to a comment on one of my earlier articles, What is unique about the teachings of Sri Ramana?, in which a friend called Viswanathan wrote:
[...] I feel that if one continues with total faith in whatever path one goes in, be it Bakthi Margam or Jnana Margam, the destination will be the same — realization of self. [...] it appears to me that it might be just an illusory divide in one’s mind that the two paths are different or that one path is circuitous and the other path is shorter.Though there is some truth in what he wrote, we cannot simply say that the path of devotion (bhakti mārga) and the path of knowledge (jñāna mārga) are not different without analysing what is meant by the term bhakti mārga or ‘the path of devotion’, because bhakti mārga encompasses a wide range of practices, of which only the ultimate one is the same as self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), which is the practice of jñāna mārga.
Thursday, 25 June 2015
The term nirviśēṣa or ‘featureless’ denotes an absolute experience but can be comprehended conceptually only in a relative sense
Since the concept of nirviśēṣatva (featurelessness or absence of any distinguishing features) is a significant and useful idea in advaita philosophy, and since it is very relevant to the practice of self-investigation, I decided to write the following detailed answer to this question:
Thursday, 18 June 2015
Michael, sometimes it is said that the source of the ego (all thoughts, ‘I’-thought) is the heart. And the same heart is said to be the source of the breath. Therefore thoughts and breath have the same source. So if one holds one’s breath no thoughts would rise.In reply to this I wrote a comment in which I explained:
I cannot confirm that and I did not learn it in my experience of meditation. Please could you comment on this or clarify.
Friday, 5 June 2015
In your most recent post there appears to be two subtly different forms of Self-Inquiry. On the one hand, there is a section in which we are told to turn the attention directly at the ego-I, investigating it. Doing so, it will disappear and be known to be a phantom. On the other hand, in another section, we are told to investigate the source, or “place” from which the ego-I rises in order to annihilate it.
Sunday, 31 May 2015
Saturday, 30 May 2015
In order to understand the essence of Sri Ramana’s teachings, we need to carefully study his original writings
Thursday, 28 May 2015
The important principle that he [Sri Ramana] teaches us in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is that this ego is only a formless and insubstantial phantom that seemingly comes into existence, endures and is nourished and strengthened only by grasping form (that is, by attending to and experiencing anything other than itself), so we can never free ourself from this ego so long as we persist in attending to anything other than ourself (that is, anything that has any features that distinguish it from this essentially featureless ego). Therefore the only way to free ourself from this ego is to investigate it — that is, to try to grasp it alone in our awareness. Since this ego itself is featureless and therefore formless, and since it can stand and masquerade as ourself only by grasping forms in its awareness, if we try to grasp this ego alone, it ‘will take flight’ and disappear, just as an illusory snake would disappear if we were to look at it carefully and thereby recognise that it is not actually a snake but only a rope.