Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Just being (summā irukkai) is not an activity but a state of perfect stillness

A friend wrote to me recently asking, ‘Is there any way to ascertain whether the feeling of “I” is being attended to? Is it enough if the mind’s “power of attention” is brought to a standstill?’ He also quoted the following (inaccurate) translation of question 4 and Sri Ramana’s reply in the second chapter of Upadēśa Mañjari (‘A Bouquet of Teachings’, or ‘Spiritual Instructions’ as this English translation in The Collected Works of Sri Ramana Maharshi is called), and asked ‘How can remaining still be considered as intense activity? Is being still a state of effort or effortlessness? I am slightly confused’:
4. Is the state of ‘being still’ a state involving effort or effortlessness?

It is not an effortless state of indolence. All mundane activities which are ordinarily called effort are performed with the aid of a portion of the mind and with frequent breaks. But the act of communion with the Self (atma vyavahara) or remaining still inwardly is intense activity which is performed with the entire mind and without break.

Maya (delusion or ignorance) which cannot be destroyed by any other act is completely destroyed by this intense activity which is called ‘silence’ (mauna).
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

Friday, 20 February 2015

Self-investigation and body-consciousness

A friend recently sent me a PDF copy of The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and referring to the sixth chapter of it, ‘The Inner Body’, he wrote:
The chapter that talks on the inner body is quite remarkable, by taking the attention away from thoughts/body/sense perceptions and into the energy field of the body, there is the clear and vibrantly alive feeling “I Am” and nothing else. Going deeper into it, the feeling of inside and out dissolves, subject and object dissolve, and there is this sense of unlimited, unbound (by the limits of the body) and unchanging beingness or I Amness. Can this be likened to self-attention? Or more clearly, is this the same practice? Because in both we are removing attention from everything except the feeling “I Am” and focussing it on the feeling. Could it be that only the description is different? Where you describe it as focussing the attention on the consciousness “I Am” Eckhart describes it as focussing the attention on the aliveness/consciousness that pervades the physical body to the exclusion of all thoughts. He goes on to describe the state of pure being when the attention goes more deep.
This article is adapted from the replies I wrote to this and to two subsequent emails.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Why is it necessary to consider the world unreal?

In several comments on some of my recent articles various friends have tried to argue that we need not be concerned about whether or not the world is real or exists independent of our experience of it. For example, in his first comment on Science and self-investigation Periya Eri wrote:
What is wrong in our deep-rooted “but unfounded” belief that the world exists independent of our experience of it? The statement saying that the world is unreal does not in the least change the fact that we have to master all difficulties in our life. The same evaluation goes for the conclusion that the world does not exist at all independent of our mind that experiences it. And the same is true of the statement that even the mind that experiences this world is itself unreal. Also the account that the mind does not actually exist at all and that after its investigation it will disappear, and that along with it the entire appearance of this world will also cease to exist. […]
In reply to this I wrote a comment in which I said:

Monday, 9 February 2015

Self-attentiveness is not an action, because we ourself are not two but only one

In the final paragraph of one of my recent articles, The connection between consciousness and body, I wrote:
So long as we allow ourself to attend to anything other than ourself, our body and all the other extraneous things that we thus experience seem to be real, so Sri Ramana advises us to try to attend only to ourself, the ‘I’ who is conscious of both ourself and all those other things. Therefore if we wish to follow his path and thereby to experience what this ‘I’ really is, we should not be concerned with our body or any connection we may seem to have with it, but should focus all our interest and attention only on ourself, the one absolute consciousness or pure self-awareness ‘I am’.
Referring to this, a friend wrote to me asking:

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The terms ‘I’ or ‘we’ refer only to ourself, whether we experience ourself as we actually are or as the ego that we now seem to be

In a comment on one of my recent articles, The fundamental law of experience or consciousness discovered by Sri Ramana, Palaniappan Chidambaram asked, ‘If the whole sadhana [spiritual practice] is in just being one self […] then why do we use the term vichara or investigation? When thoughts come we don’t investigate but just ignore and turn attention to ourselves. So ideally there is no investigation or enquiry?’, to which I replied in a comment:
Since pure self-awareness is our essential nature, being ourself entails being clearly aware of ourself alone. Therefore trying to be aware of ourself alone is the only means by which we can succeed in being what we really are.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

The connection between consciousness and body

A friend wrote to me recently saying that in a German book on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu called Über das Selbst (‘About the Self’) the author has written that the absolute consciousness is connected through our navel, and asked me to comment on this. The following is adapted from the reply I wrote:

I assume that what is meant here by the term ‘consciousness’ is what is conscious, which is the sense in which it is generally used in the context of the teachings of Sri Ramana or any other form of advaita philosophy. It is important to clarify this, because ‘consciousness’ is used in a variety of different senses, so its exact meaning is generally determined by the context in which it happens to be used.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Why are compassion and ahiṁsā necessary in a dream?

Last June, a few weeks after I posted on my YouTube channel the May 2014 video of me answering questions at a meeting of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK, a friend called Jim wrote to me asking:
In your latest YouTube upload you talk about being vegetarian, and sweatshops, and signing petitions. I’m confused in this point. So much is said about this waking state being exactly like our dream state, what does it matter what we eat, or wear, or where our clothes are made? If in a dream I’m eating a chicken, a carrot or a car bumper none of it matters. Upon waking I realize it’s just a dream all created by my mind. There is no boy toiling in a sweatshop upon my waking right? So why is the waking state different?
The following is adapted from the long reply I wrote to him, and also from shorter replies that I wrote to two of his subsequent emails:

Sunday, 4 January 2015

The fundamental law of experience or consciousness discovered by Sri Ramana

My previous article, Our aim should be to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else, was adapted from an email I wrote to a friend in reply to some questions he asked me about the practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), which led to an exchange of further emails on the same subject. Therefore this article is adapted from the subsequent replies that I wrote to him.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Our aim should be to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else

A few months ago a friend wrote to me asking about the practice of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation or self-enquiry) and whether his description of his practice indicated that he was practising it correctly, and he ended his email saying:
I have tried the technique of diving into the heart exhaling your breath, explained in the small book The Technique of Maha Yoga published by Ramanashramam, [...] but this does not seem to work in my case.
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Science and self-investigation

A friend recently asked me to comment on an article entitled The Universe as a Hologram by Michael Talbot, saying that ‘it brings the scientific viewpoint very close to the mystic vision of reality’, and after I replied to him he sent a second email in which he tried to explain why he believed that science is relevant to Sri Ramana’s teachings, saying:
Before physics delved deeply into the nature of matter, conviction about the unreality of the perceived world could only be based on complete faith in the teaching. In the modern world however, beliefs are founded upon rational and scientific grounds. Particle physics has provided us with scientific grounds for such faith i.e. belief in the unreality and illusoriness of the perceived world, since it has shown that what we regard as solid matter is actually non-substance.
The following is adapted from the replies I wrote to these two emails:

Friday, 19 December 2014

Does the world exist independent of our experience of it?

A friend wrote to me a few months ago quoting a passage from section 616 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, p. 598) in which Sri Ramana says: ‘ahankara (ego) shoots up like a rocket and instantaneously spreads out as the Universe’ (which paraphrases the teaching that he gave still more clearly and emphatically in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம். […]’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), which means ‘If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence. If the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. The ego itself is everything. […]’). It seems my friend has difficulty accepting this teaching, because after quoting this passage from Talks he wrote:
What is he talking about??? ... Is all the hard won knowledge of physics and the evolution of the universe so much nonsense?

This is consistent, certainly, if you believe everything is a dream and you’ve just woken up from a good sleep and created the universe.

I am afraid such mysticism is beyond me...and I mean no disrespect to Bhagavan Ramana.
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

Saturday, 13 December 2014

The need for manana and vivēka: reflection, critical thinking, discrimination and judgement

In many recent comments on this blog, particularly on articles such as Our memory of ‘I’ in sleep, Why should we believe that ‘the Self’ is as we believe it to be?, Is there any such thing as a ‘self-realised’ person? and Other than ourself, there are no signs or milestones on the path of self-discovery, various friends have shown a tendency and willingness to accept uncritically whatever certain other people have written or said. Believing uncritically whatever we may read or hear is dangerous, even if we believe that whoever wrote or said it is an authority, because if we do not use our powers of critical thinking and discrimination (vivēka) we are liable to be misled into believing many mistaken ideas and interpretations, which would cloud and confuse our understanding and could divert us away from the straight and narrow path of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).

Sunday, 30 November 2014

How to experience the clarity of self-awareness that appears between sleep and waking?

A friend wrote to me recently saying that she had been following various spiritual paths since childhood and that finally last year Sri Ramana had appeared in her life as the ultimate teacher, but that eight years ago she had had an experience while waking from sleep that she later identified with what Sri Ramana said about the clarity of self-awareness that can be experienced immediately after we wake from sleep and before it becomes mixed with awareness of a body and world. She tried her best to describe what she had experienced, but if it was indeed the adjunct-free clarity of self-awareness that Sri Ramana referred to, it would be impossible to describe it in words or even to conceive it by thoughts, because it would have been (and could only ever be) experienced in the complete absence of any thoughts or words, and hence it is beyond their reach.

Therefore from her description of her experience I cannot say for certain that it was that adjunct-free clarity of self-awareness, or if not, exactly what it was, but it may well have been such a clarity. However, whenever we do experience such an intense clarity of self-awareness, we lose it as soon as our mind becomes active, and if we then remember or think about it, whatever we remember or think is something other than what we actually experienced, because what we experienced was ‘I’ without any mental activity such as thinking or remembering. Therefore, though we may think that we can ‘relive’ such an experience by remembering it, we cannot actually relive it except by persistently trying to experience perfect clarity of self-awareness here and now.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Other than ourself, there are no signs or milestones on the path of self-discovery

A few months ago a friend wrote to me asking in Tamil:
ஆத்ம விசாரம் என்பது ‘தன்மையுணர்வை நாடுதல்’ எனப் புத்தகங்கள் கூறுகின்றன. இதையே நானும் நேரம் கிடைக்கும்போதெல்லாம் பயின்றும் வருகிறேன். இவையெல்லாம் மிகச் சுலபமாக தோன்றினாலும் உண்மையில் இது ஓரு சூட்சுமமான பாதையாகவே இருக்கிறது. நான் சாதனையைச் சரியாகத்தான் செய்துக்கொண்டிருக்கிறேனா, பகவானின் வாக்குகளை சரியாகப் புரிந்துக்கொண்டிருக்கிறேனா என்ற சந்தேகம் எப்போதும் என்னை வாட்டி வதைக்கிறது. இந்தப் பாதையில் சரியாகப் போய்க்கொண்டிருக்கிறேன் என்று அறிந்துக் கொள்ள ஏதேனும் அறிகுறிகள் அல்லது மைல்கற்கள் உள்ளனவா?
which means:
Books say that self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is ‘investigating the first person awareness’. I too am practising only this whenever time is available. Though all these appear to be very easy, in truth this is such a subtle path. The doubt ‘Am I doing sādhana correctly? Am I understanding Bhagavan’s words correctly?’ is always vexing and tormenting me. Are there any signs or milestones [to enable me] to know that I am proceeding correctly on this path.
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote (in English):

Sri Ramana’s path is a path of vicāra — investigation or exploration — so we can follow it only by trying to investigate what this ‘I’ is and thereby learning from our own experience what following it correctly actually entails.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Is there any such thing as a ‘self-realised’ person?

In the comments on my previous two articles, Our memory of ‘I’ in sleep and Why should we believe that ‘the Self’ is as we believe it to be?, there has been some discussion about the subject of being a ‘self-realised’ person, with one friend claiming ‘I have realised who I am’ and others expressing doubts about that, so in this article I will examine this concept of being a ‘self-realised’ person and consider whether it accurately represents anything that truly exists.

Firstly I will consider the common use of the term ‘self-realisation’ as a translation of the Sanskrit terms ātma-jñāna or ātmānubhava, which respectively mean self-knowledge and self-experience in the sense of experiencing or being clearly aware of ourself as we really are. Though ‘realise’ can mean to recognise, understand, ascertain or become clearly aware of something, it is a rather vague and ambiguous term to use in this context, because it has various other meanings such as to accomplish, achieve, fulfil, actualise, effect, bring about, acquire or cause to happen, so ‘self-realisation’ is not the most appropriate term to use as a translation of ātma-jñāna or ātmānubhava, particularly since in psychology the term ‘self-realisation’ means self-actualisation or self-fulfilment in the sense of achieving one’s full personal potential.

Though he did not speak much English, Sri Ramana understood it enough to recognise that ‘self-realisation’ is not a particularly appropriate term to use in the context of his teachings. He therefore used to joke about it saying that ourself is always real, so there is no need for it to be realised, and that the problem is that we have realised what is unreal (that is, we have made the unreal seem to be real), so what we now need to do is not to realise our ever-real self but only to unrealise everything that is unreal, particularly our seemingly real ego, which is the root cause of the seeming reality of everything else.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Why should we believe that ‘the Self’ is as we believe it to be?

In a comment on my previous article, Our memory of ‘I’ in sleep, a friend called Joel wrote:
Why do you talk of the Self remembering itself? It IS itself, so what is there to remember? The notion of the Self ‘remembering’ the Self during deep sleep when now awake is merely a creation of the mind to justify a continuity through the three states that actually is not in need of justification, because apart from the mind there are no three states.
The following is my reply to this comment:

One of the mistakes you are making here, Joel, is that you are taking an argument, assuming its conclusion to be true, and claiming that the argument is therefore unnecessary. But without the argument, what reason do you have for believing its conclusion to be true? If we believe a certain proposition to be true, but have no reason for believing it, our belief in it is unjustified. An argument is simply a reason or a set of reasons for believing a certain proposition or idea to be true, so when we consider whether or not a certain belief is true or justified, we need to consider whether the arguments or reasons for believing it are sound.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Our memory of ‘I’ in sleep

In one of my recent articles, The essential teachings of Sri Ramana, I wrote:
Though we generally believe that we are not aware of anything in sleep, it would be more accurate to say that we are aware of nothing. The difference between what I mean here by ‘not being aware of anything’ and ‘being aware of nothing’ can be illustrated by the following analogy: if a totally blind person and a normally sighted person were both in a completely dark room, the blind person would not see anything, and hence he or she would not be able to recognise that there is no light there. The normally sighted person, on the other hand, would see nothing, and hence he or she would be able to recognise the absence of light. The fact that we are able to recognise the absence of any experience of anything other than ‘I’ in sleep clearly indicates that we exist in sleep to experience that absence or void.

The fact that we do actually experience sleep can also be demonstrated in other ways. For example, if we did not experience sleep, we would be aware of experiencing only two states, waking and dream, and we would not be aware of any gap between each successive state of waking or dream. But we are aware that sometimes there is a gap that we call sleep, in which we experience neither waking nor dream. We do not merely infer the existence of this third state, sleep, but actually experience it, and that is why we are able to say after waking from a period of deep sleep: ‘I slept peacefully and had no dreams’.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

There is only one ‘I’, and investigation will reveal that it is not a finite ego but the infinite self

A friend wrote to me a few months ago saying that after reading the teachings of Sri Ramana and Nisargadatta he was confused about whether the ‘I’ we should investigate in ātma-vicāra (self-investigation) is the ego (the jīvātman or finite individual self) or our real self (the ātman or infinite self), and he asked whether there is any difference between their respective teachings, and whether perhaps Sri Ramana refers to the jīvātman whereas Nisargadatta refers to the ātman. The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

Your comment that you are a little confused about the ‘I’ referred to in ātma-vicāra suggests that there could be more than one ‘I’, which is obviously not the case. As we each know from our own experience, and as Sri Ramana repeatedly emphasised (for example, in verses 21 and 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘தான் ஒன்றால்’ (tāṉ oṉḏṟāl), ‘since oneself is one’, and ‘தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? ஒன்று ஆய் அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஆல்’ (taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? oṉḏṟu āy aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai āl), ‘To make oneself an object known, are there two selves? Because being one is the truth of everyone’s experience’), there is only one ‘I’. When this one ‘I’ experiences itself as it really is, it is called self or ātman, whereas when it experiences itself as something else it is called ego, jīva or jīvātman.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

We cannot experience ourself as we actually are so long as we experience anything other than ‘I’

In one of my earlier articles, Ātma-vicāra: stress and other related issues, I wrote:
You also ask: ‘when you are doing self-inquiry should your concentration be so good that you are not even aware of what’s going on around you, like the ceiling fan running, a baby crying etc. or is it OK if you are aware of the background noises like that?’ Yes, ideally you should not be aware of anything other than ‘I’. For example, if you were absorbed in reading a book that really interests you, you would not notice the sound of a fan or any other background noises, and if you did notice some sound such as a baby crying, that would mean that your attention had been distracted away from the book. Likewise, if you are absorbed in experiencing only ‘I’, you will not notice anything else, and if you do notice anything else, that means that your attention has been distracted away from ‘I’, so you should try to bring it back to ‘I’ alone.

Sunday, 12 October 2014

The essential teachings of Sri Ramana

A friend wrote to me recently saying, ‘My humble opinion with total respect: far far too many words. Can you indicate where in your web page is your essential succinct truth’, to which I replied trying to give a simple summary of the essential teachings of Sri Ramana as follows:

You are probably right: far too many words.

Sri Ramana’s teachings are actually very simple, and can therefore be expressed in just a few words, but our minds are complicated, so sometimes many words are necessary in order to unravel all our complex beliefs and ideas and to arrive at the simple core: ‘I am’.

‘I’ is the core of our experience (since whatever we experience is experienced only by ‘I’), and is also the core of his teachings. Everything that we experience could be an illusion, and everything that we believe could be mistaken, so it is necessary for us to doubt everything, but the only thing we cannot reasonably doubt is ‘I am’, because in order to experience anything, to believe anything or to doubt anything I must exist.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

We can believe vivarta vāda directly but not ajāta vāda

In a comment on my previous article, The perceiver and the perceived are both unreal a friend called Sanjay asked whether advaita vāda is a synonym of vivarta vāda, to which I replied in another comment:
Sanjay, advaita means ‘non-two-ness’ (a-dvi-tā), so advaita-vāda is the argument or theory that there is absolutely no twoness or duality. The most complete and radical expression of advaita-vāda is therefore ajāta-vāda, because according to ajāta-vāda not only does twoness not actually exist but it does not even seem to exist.

However, vivarta vāda is also compatible with advaita-vāda, because according to vivarta vāda twoness does not actually exist even though it seems to exist. That is, vivarta vāda accepts that distinctions (dualities or twonesses) such as the perceiver and the perceived (the ego and the world) seem to exist, but it argues that their seeming existence is just a false appearance (vivarta) and hence unreal.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The perceiver and the perceived are both unreal

In a comment that he wrote on one of my earlier articles, What should we believe?, a friend called Venkat asked:
Bhagavan said that ajata vada was the ultimate truth, in his experience. He also said that eka jiva vada (drsti srsti vada) was the 'closest' to ajata vada.

How did Bhagavan see these two being different, given that eka jiva vada says there is no existent creation, it is just the perceiving of it (i.e. it is a dream)?
I replied to this in another comment:
Venkat, you should be able to understand the answer to your question by reading my latest article, Metaphysical solipsism, idealism and creation theories in the teachings of Sri Ramana, so I will give just a brief reply to it here.

According to ēka-jīva-vāda and dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, there is one ego or jīva who perceives this world, which does not exist except in the view (the perception or experience) of that one ego. Therefore what causes the appearance of creation (sṛṣṭi) is only the perception (dṛṣṭi) of the ego.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Metaphysical solipsism, idealism and creation theories in the teachings of Sri Ramana

In a comment that he wrote on one of my recent articles, What should we believe?, Sankarraman referred to an article on David Godman’s blog, Swami Siddheswarananda’s views on Bhagavan’s Teachings on Creation, in which David discussed some opinions that Swami Siddheswarananda (former president of the Mysore branch of the Ramakrishna Math and founder of the Centre Védantique Ramakrichna in France) expressed about Sri Ramana’s views on solipsism and the idealistic theory of creation known as dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda in the third section of an article that he wrote in 1946 for the Golden Jubilee Souvenir, in which he claimed:
The philosophical outlook of Maharshi tends very often to be confused with that of solipsism or its Indian equivalent, drishti-srishti-vada, which is a sort of degenerated idealism. That Maharshi never subscribes to that view can be known if we study his works in the light of orthodox Vedanta or observe his behaviour in life. [...] (Golden Jubilee Souvenir, third edition, 1995, p. 69)
In his article David explains in his own way why Swami Siddheswarananda was wrong to believe that Sri Ramana did not teach dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, and in his comment Sankarraman expressed his own views on this subject and asked me to explain my understanding in this regard, so the following is my reply to him:

Swami Siddheswarananda had genuine love and respect for Sri Ramana, but from what he wrote in the Golden Jubilee Souvenir it is clear that his understanding of some crucial aspects of Sri Ramana’s teachings (and also of what he called ‘orthodox Vedanta’) was seriously confused. Dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (or drishti-srishti-vada, as he spelt it) is the argument (vāda) that creation (sṛṣṭi) is a result of perception or ‘seeing’ (dṛṣṭi), as opposed to sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, which is any theory (whether philosophical, scientific or religious) that proposes that creation precedes perception (in other words, that the world exists prior to and hence independent of our experience of it). The classic example of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi is our experience in dream: the dream world seems to exist only when we experience it, so its seeming existence is entirely dependent on our experience of it. Since Sri Ramana taught us that our present so-called waking state is actually just a dream, and that there is no significant difference between waking and dream, it is obvious that he did teach dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda.

Friday, 19 September 2014

How to avoid doing āgāmya and experiencing prārabdha?

In a comment on one of my recent article, The karma theory as taught by Sri Ramana, Sanjay wrote:
Sir, if I my ego subsides completely for some length or duration of time by attending only to ‘I’ alone, obviously my free-will or agamya will become inactive, but during such subsidence, will my destiny of fate (prarabdha) will also remain inactive, or my mind, speech and body will continue to act as per prarabdha? If it continues to act, who experiences these actions and the resulting experiences of my prarabdha, which I was supposed to experience then?

Secondly, I believe, you have said in this article that as long as our ego is intact, we will continue to act as per our prarabdha, and simultaneously our mind, speech and body will also be able to do actions creating agamya, by exercising its free will, if it does not contradict our prarabdha. I remember a recorded conversation with Bhagavan somewhat to the effect:

Devotee: I can understand that all the major events in my life are predestined, like say, my marriage, my job, any major accidents, etc., but suppose if I pick up this hand-fan now, is it also predestined? Bhagavan: Yes, everything is predestined.

If this is accurately recorded, it means that what Bhagavan is saying is that we have no free-will of our bodily actions (and by implication of actions by speech). Do we understand that though our mind has a free-will to desire against or something instead of our predestined prarabdha, but our speech and body are completely pre-programmed, and bound by a pre-existing script, like a cinema show?

What are your views on these two doubts of mine?
So long as our mind, speech and body seem to exist, they will be made to act in whatever way is required for their destiny (prārabdha) to be experienced, irrespective of the extent to which our ego has subsided. However, we will experience those actions and experiences as our actions and experiences only to the extent that we attend to them, so to the extent that we are able to attend only to ‘I’ we will not experience them.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Why did Sri Ramana teach a karma theory?

This article is the second half of my explanation of the first verse of Upadēśa Undiyār, the first half of which I posted in my previous article: The karma theory as taught by Sri Ramana.

According to Sri Ramana, what we should be concerned with is only being and not doing. We need be concerned with karma — that is, with what we do — only to the extent that we should try as far as possible to avoid doing any action that will cause harm (hiṁsā) to any sentient being, but our primary concern should be not with what we do but only with what we are. Therefore we need not investigate karma in any great depth or detail, but should focus all our effort and attention only on investigating the ‘I’ that feels ‘I am doing karma’ or ‘I am experiencing the fruit of karma’. As he says in verse 38 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

Friday, 5 September 2014

The karma theory as taught by Sri Ramana

Since I started my website one of my long-standing aims has been to include in it detailed and explanatory translations of all of Sri Ramana’s original Tamil writings, but amidst all my other work I have not yet had time to do so. Last month I decided to make a start by writing such a translation of Upadēśa Undiyār (உபதேச வுந்தியார்), but I have so far completed writing only an introduction and a detailed explanation for the first verse.

Due to circumstances that now make it necessary for me spend much more of my time working to increase my currently inadequate income, I will not have time to complete this translation and explanation of Upadēśa Undiyār in the near future, so I have decided in the meanwhile to post here my translation and explanation of the first verse, and since it is a very long explanation, I will post it as two consecutive articles, this and the next one: Why did Sri Ramana teach a karma theory?

Friday, 29 August 2014

The crucial secret revealed by Sri Ramana: the only means to subdue our mind permanently

A friend wrote to me recently asking in Tamil:
பகவான் அருளியபடி ஆத்ம விசாரம் செய்ய நாம் ‘நான்’ என்னும் எண்ணத்தின் மீது கவனம் செலுத்த வேண்டும் என பல புத்தகங்களில் கூறப்படுகிறது. ஆனால் ‘நான் யார்?’ என்ற கட்டுரையிலோ, மனம் எப்போதும் ஓர் ஸ்தூலத்தையே பற்றி இருக்கும் எனவும், மனமென்பது ‘நான்’ என்னும் எண்ணமே எனவும் குறிப்பிடப்பட்டிருக்கிறது. இது உண்மை எனில், அந்த எண்ணத்தை ஸ்தூலத்திலிருந்து எவ்வாறு தனியே பிரித்து அதன் மீது கவனம் செலுத்துதல் ஸாத்தியம் ஆகும்? இது அஸாத்தியம் என்பதால் ‘எண்ணங்கள் தோன்றும் இடம் எது?’ என கூர்ந்து கவனித்தலே விசார வழி என நான் நினைக்கிறேன்; பின்பற்றியும் வருகிறேன். இது சரியா?
which means:
In many books it is said that to do self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) as taught by Bhagavan we must direct our attention on the thought called ‘I’. But in the essay Nāṉ Yār? it is said that the mind exists by always clinging to a sthūlam [something gross], and that what is called mind is only the thought called ‘I’. If this is true, is it possible to separate that thought in any way from the sthūlam and to direct attention towards it [that thought]? Since this is impossible, I think that keenly observing ‘what is the place where thoughts rise?’ alone is the path of vicāra; I am also following [this]. Is this correct?
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote (partly in Tamil but mostly in English):

Friday, 22 August 2014

The featurelessness of self-attentiveness

The friend who had asked the questions that I answered in What do we actually experience in sleep? wrote another email to me in which he asked whether timelessness is also one of the ‘features’ of our featureless experience in sleep, and which he concluded by asking: ‘Do you have a favorite practice that makes sense to share? (I’m still angling for a goodie ;-))’. The following is adapted from my reply to him:

Time and duration are features that we experience in waking and dream, but not in the featureless state of sleep. However, even to say that we experience time and duration in waking and dream requires some clarification: what we actually experience is change, both in our mind and in our body and the physical world around us, and this constant flow of change creates the illusion that we call ‘time’. Therefore since no change occurs in our experience during sleep, the illusion of time is absent there.

Since we do not experience any time in sleep, we do not think either ‘I was’ or ‘I will be’, but only experience ‘I am’ — our own being or existence in the ever-present present moment.

Friday, 15 August 2014

Establishing that I am and analysing what I am

In my previous article, We must experience what is, not what merely seems to be, I wrote:
‘I’ definitely does exist, because ‘I’ is what experiences both itself and all other things, so even if all other things merely seem to exist, their seeming existence could not be experienced if ‘I’ did not actually exist to experience it. The existence of ‘I’ is therefore necessarily true, whereas the existence of anything else is not necessarily true, because nothing else experiences either its own existence or the existence of anything else, so though things other than ‘I’ do seem to exist, it is possible that they do not exist except in the experience of ‘I’.
Referring to this paragraph, a friend called Sanjay asked in a comment:
You say here: ‘The existence of ‘I’ is therefore necessarily true…’, but you have also said earlier that: ‘…because ‘I’ is what experiences both itself and all other things…’. Therefore if ‘I’ experiences both itself and all other things then it is our mind, our limited or reflected consciousness, then how can ‘I’ be necessarily true, as you have said earlier in this above paragraph. Should we not consider this ‘I’ to be our imagination, though it is our first imagination – that is, our thought-‘I’?
The aim of this paragraph that Sanjay referred to was only to establish the fact that I am, and was not to analyse what I am. It is of course necessary for us to analyse what I am, because we need to distinguish what I actually am from what I merely seem to be, but the arguments that are used to analyse what I am are different to the arguments that are used simply to establish that I am, whatever I may be. That is, the latter arguments simply establish that something that we experience as ‘I’, ourself, does definitely exist, even though this definitely existing ‘I’ may not be whatever it now seems to be.

Friday, 8 August 2014

We must experience what is, not what merely seems to be

In a comment on one of my recent articles, How to attend to ‘I’?, Palaniappan Chidambaram asked: ‘Is being completely present to what is there is same like attending to “I”?’

Before attempting to answer this question, we need to consider what is meant by ‘what is there’, and whether this is the same as what should be meant by it. The obvious meaning of ‘what is there’ is what exists, but many things that we generally take to be existing may not actually exist, because they may only seem to exist. Therefore what we should mean by ‘what is there’ or ‘what exists’ is what actually exists and not what merely seems to exist.

‘I’ definitely does exist, because ‘I’ is what experiences both itself and all other things, so even if all other things merely seem to exist, their seeming existence could not be experienced if ‘I’ did not actually exist to experience it. The existence of ‘I’ is therefore necessarily true, whereas the existence of anything else is not necessarily true, because nothing else experiences either its own existence or the existence of anything else, so though things other than ‘I’ do seem to exist, it is possible that they do not exist except in the experience of ‘I’.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Self-awareness is the very nature of ‘I’

Last month a friend called Venkat asked me several questions in a series of three comments that he wrote on one of my recent articles, Is consciousness a product of the mind?, so this article is written in answer to his questions.

In his first comment he wrote:
Thanks very much for your response. I agree that it is not possible to know whether the external world (and the body-mind) exist independently of the perception of it. Equally, I don’t think that it is possible to prove that the world is just an illusion, a perception in consciousness.

So I agree that one has to examine / question what the ‘I’ is. You imply that the result of this is the certainty that only consciousness is real and all else (including ‘my’ body mind) is an illusion.

You commented in this blog, that Bhagavan’s ‘I am’ can be equated to the awareness that is aware of the awareness of a perception, and that we should turn our attention to this awareness. But is it possible to be ‘aware of the awareness that is aware’? since under Vedanta’s neti neti, one cannot be aware of this awareness, one can only BE this awareness, as I think Bhagavan says.

So two questions. Firstly, is the point of this attention on awareness to recognise that the feeling of ‘I’ is just another perception that arises, equivalent to all other perceptions and is neti neti [‘not this, not this’]? And second what does BEING awareness mean?
Yes, I agree that just as we cannot know that our body and this world exist independent of our experience of them, we equally well cannot know that they do not exist independent of our experience of them. In other words, we cannot know whether their seeming existence is a mind-created illusion or not, though there is no doubt that our mind does at least play a major role in creating the mental picture of this body and world that we experience. That is, what we actually experience is not any body or world as such, but only a mental picture of them consisting of ever-changing sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations, and we seem unable to ascertain whether this mental picture is created entirely by our mind, as in dream, or is at least partly caused by anything (any actual body and world) that is external to or independent of our mind.

Friday, 25 July 2014

What should we believe?

In my previous article, What is enlightenment, liberation or nirvāṇa?, I wrote:
Since experiencing ourself as we really are is what is called enlightenment, liberation or nirvāṇa, if it dissolves this dream that we call our waking state, then it would also dissolve the appearance of the rest of humanity whom we experience in this dream. If the dreamer wakes up, not only is he or she liberated from the dream, but also all the people who seemed to exist in that dream world will also be liberated from it.

All this reasoning is based upon our supposition that this world is all just our dream, but we cannot know for certain whether or not this is actually the case until and unless we investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as we really are. So at present all we can say for certain is that if we attain enlightenment, liberation or nirvāṇa, it will not do any harm to the rest of humanity, and that if this world and all the people in it are just like the world and the people we see in a dream, then our own liberation will in effect liberate the whole of humanity.
Commenting on these two paragraphs, a friend wrote to me:

Saturday, 19 July 2014

What is enlightenment, liberation or nirvāṇa?

In an anonymous comment on one of my recent articles, Self-investigation, effort and sleep, someone asked several questions, including the following:
[...] What exactly is enlightenment, liberation, or nirvana, and what use is it really? [...] what effect does it have on the rest of humanity? [...] if there are very, very few (1 in a billion?) who manage to achieve liberation what is the point of it all? It seems a complete lottery to me because the Self chooses whom it will and we cannot know the basis on which it chooses. [...]
He also wrote an email to me referring to this comment, so I replied answering each of the four questions he had asked, and the following is adapted from what I wrote to him:

Saturday, 12 July 2014

A paradox: sphuraṇa means ‘shining’ or ‘clarity’, yet misinterpretations of it have created so much confusion

As a conclusion to my previous two articles, Demystifying the term ‘sphuraṇa and Self-awareness: ‘I’-thought, ‘I’-feeling and ahaṁ-sphuraṇa, I would like to observe what a paradox it is that a word that means ‘clarity’ has created so much confusion. That is, in the sense in which Sri Ramana used them, the terms ஸ்புரணம் (sphuraṇam) and ஸ்புரிப்பு (spurippu) both mean only ‘shining’ or ‘clarity’, so it is paradoxical that they have been misunderstood and misinterpreted to such an extent that their clear and simple meaning has been obscured and that they have therefore created a huge amount of confusion in the minds of his followers and devotees, particularly those who rely upon English translations and interpretations of his teachings.

If the meaning of these terms as they were used by Sri Ramana had been correctly understood and explained in English books, none of the mystery and confusion that now surrounds them would have arisen. When they are correctly understood, they are actually terms that convey profound and rich meaning and that help to clarify the practice and aim of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Self-awareness: ‘I’-thought, ‘I’-feeling and ahaṁ-sphuraṇa

During the past few weeks I have written many comments about ahaṁ-sphuraṇa and related subjects in reply to comments that others have written on some of my recent articles, and since Sanjay Lohia suggested in one of his recent comments that I should gather together all such comments and make them available as an article, I decided to compile and adapt them (along with one email on the same subject) as this article, which I hope will serve as a useful supplement to my previous article, Demystifying the term ‘sphuraṇa.

Since this is a long article that discusses various different but related issues, I have divided it into the following ten sections:

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Demystifying the term ‘sphuraṇa

In two comments on one of my recent articles, Since we always experience ‘I’, we do not need to find ‘I’, but only need to experience it as it actually is, Palaniappan Chidambaram asked me some questions about ahaṁ-sphuraṇa, and I replied in a series of three comments. These questions asked by Palaniappan also started a discussion about ahaṁ-sphuraṇa in a long series of comments on another more recent article, Why do we not experience the existence of any body or world in sleep?, and I replied to some of the points raised in that discussion in several comments towards the end of it. Since in another comment Sanjay Lohia suggested that I should gather together all the comments I have recently been writing in reply to comments written by others and make them available as an article, I will compile and post here all my recent comments regarding ahaṁ-sphuraṇa (perhaps with some additional explanations to link them all together) as my next article: Self-awareness: ‘I’-thought, ‘I’-feeling and ahaṁ-sphuraṇa.

Another friend, R Viswanathan, suggested in one of his recent comments that in the context of this discussion about ahaṁ-sphuraṇa it would useful if I were to reproduce here an article entitled ‘Demystifying the Term Sphuraṇa’, which I wrote last year for the Autumn 2013 newsletter of the Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK. The editor of this newsletter, Alasdair Black, had asked me to write an article for it, so since I am often asked questions about ahaṁ-sphuraṇa, and since a lot of confusion has been created about this term in English books and articles, I decided to write an article to try to clarify what this term actually means. However, when I read that article again in the light of our recent discussions about ahaṁ-sphuraṇa and thought more about this subject, I began developing some of the ideas that I had expressed in it, so this present article is a much enlarged version of that original article.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Is consciousness a product of the mind?

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Self-investigation, effort and sleep, Venkat wrote:
May I ask for your comments on the following.

Science tells us that our fundamental building blocks (chemicals . . . electrons, protons, neutrons . . . ultimately energy waves) are inter-dependent and non-differentiated. For whatever reasons, the universe has evolved, and from which has evolved body-minds. These body-minds are fundamentally non-separate. Bhagavan's self-enquiry is for the seemingly separate ‘I’ to see this non-differentiated non-separateness and thereby to dissolve.

If you agree that this model is feasible, is consciousness a product of the mind? Nisargadatta talks about consciousness as a product of the food-body-mind, and the Absolute that is aware of this consciousness.
Since the reply I drafted is too long to post as another comment on that article, I am giving it here:

Venkat, what science tells us is a combination of observations and theories that have been developed to explain those observations in terms of other observations and currently accepted theories, and also to predict future observations, but what science cannot tell us is whether what it has observed is real or illusory. Science is based on our generally unquestioned belief that the world is real and exists independent of our experience of it, but our experience does not and cannot support this belief.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Why do we not experience the existence of any body or world in sleep?

In a comment on my previous article, What do we actually experience in sleep?, Wittgenstein wrote with reference to my ‘gap’ argument that the featureless gap called ‘sleep’ that we experience between some consecutive states of waking and/or dream ‘also characterizes the discontinuity of world-body (they always pair up), space-time, causation and ego (all belonging to non-self, jada). So, in a single attempt we do come to know the continuity of the background self (sat-chit) and the discontinuity of the non-self. Further, such discontinuous entities should be unreal even when they appear’, and then went on to discuss why we do not experience the existence of the world or any other non-self items in sleep. In general I agree with his inferences, but the following are my own reflections on this same subject:

Because our natural predisposition (or rather the natural predisposition of our mind) is to believe (at least while we are experiencing them in the waking state) that this body and world are real and exist independent of our experience of them, we wrongly assume that the reason we do not experience them in sleep is that we were unconscious then. However, if we analyse our actual experience in our three states of waking, dream and sleep, we can understand that (for reasons such as those that I explained in my previous article, What do we actually experience in sleep?) we are in fact conscious in sleep, even though we are not conscious of any body or world then. We therefore have to question our assumption that this body and world exist when we are asleep, and also our underlying assumption that they exist independent of our experience of them.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

What do we actually experience in sleep?

A friend wrote to me recently asking me to further clarify what I had written in Chapter 2 of Happiness and the Art of Being about sleep being a state in which we are still conscious or aware that we exist, and after I replied to him he wrote again saying that though he would like to be convinced that he is aware in sleep, he is still not entirely sure that this is the case. The following is adapted from the replies that I wrote to his two emails.

First reply:

When you say, ‘I fall asleep and I’m not aware of anything’, what exactly do you mean by saying ‘I’m not aware of anything’? Do you mean that you are not aware at all, or that you are aware of nothing? Please do not rush to answer this question to yourself, but think about it carefully.

Consider the difference between the experience of a totally blind person (B) and a normally sighted person (S) when they are both in a completely dark room. B does not see anything because he does not see at all, so he does not know that the room is dark, whereas S sees nothing, so he knows that the room is dark. Is our experience in deep sleep like that of B or S?

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Self-investigation, effort and sleep

In the final paragraph of a comment that he wrote on my previous article, Since we always experience ‘I’, we do not need to find ‘I’, but only need to experience it as it actually is, Wittgenstein wrote:
From point 4 above [Due to the opposing nature of consciousness and non-consciousness, laya and vichara (self attention) are mutually exclusive], it is clear that one can not be self attentive while in sleep. That being so, there is a statement [believed to be made by Bhagavan] in Mudaliar’s book [DDWB] that if self attention is maintained and one drifts into sleep, it would continue even in sleep, which is difficult to understand. Does this simply mean that one would sooner or later wake up with a reminder to be self attentive? Or is there something else meant [assuming Bhagavan really made this statement]?
As Wittgenstein says, we obviously cannot make any effort to be self-attentive while we are asleep, but if we try to be self-attentive now while we are awake we will eventually be able to experience sleep in this waking state, as Sri Ramana says in verse 16 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ (in which he summarised what Sri Muruganar recorded him as having said in verses 957-8 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai):

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Since we always experience ‘I’, we do not need to find ‘I’, but only need to experience it as it actually is

In my previous article, The mind’s role in investigating ‘I’, I replied to some of the comments on my earlier article, How to attend to ‘I’?, and in this article I will discuss some of the other issues raised in the comments on that article.

In some of the later comments on that article, mention is made about the difficulty some people have in ‘finding I’ in order to attend to it, which suggests that what I tried to explain in that article was not sufficiently clear. What I tried to explain there was that the idea ‘I cannot find I’ or ‘I have difficulty experiencing I’ implies that there are two ‘I’s, one of which cannot find or experience the other one, whereas in fact there is only one ‘I’, which we each experience clearly, and which there is therefore no need for us to find.

Sri Ramana used to say that trying to find ‘I’ as if we do not already experience it is like someone searching to find their glasses when in fact they are already wearing them. Whatever else we may experience, we always experience it as ‘I am experiencing this’, so any experience presupposes our fundamental experience ‘I am’. We have never experienced a moment when we have not experienced ‘I’, but because we are so interested in the other things that we experience, we tend to take ‘I’ for granted (just as we take the screen for granted when we are watching a film), and hence we usually overlook the fact that we always experience ‘I’.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

The mind’s role in investigating ‘I’

In a comment that he wrote on my previous article, How to attend to ‘I’?, Jacques Franck referred to a sentence in which I wrote, “Therefore our aim is to experience ‘I’ alone, in complete isolation from all other things, and in order to experience it thus, we need to try to be aware only of ‘I’ and thereby to ignore everything else”, and commented: ‘It sounds simple and complicated at the same time [...] Because when I try to do this, I have the feeling that my mind is trying to do this. So is it normal that in first place the mind is a little involved or much involved [...]?’

Yes, since our mind or ego is what we now experience as ‘I’, the ‘I’ that investigates itself is only our mind. One obvious reason for this is that our real self (what we actually are, or in other words, ‘I’ as it actually is, rather than as the mind that it now seems to be) always experiences itself as it actually is, so there is no need for it to investigate itself. The mind seems to be ‘I’ when I do not experience myself as I actually am, so it is only this mind that needs to investigate itself in order to experience ‘I’ as it actually is.

When we try to investigate ourself by attending only to ‘I’, it is our mind that is trying, but in its attempt to attend to ‘I’ it is actually undermining itself — that is, it is undermining our illusion that it is ‘I’, and when this illusion is dissolved our mind itself ceases to exist, since it seems to exist only when we experience it as ‘I’.

Friday, 16 May 2014

How to attend to ‘I’?

A friend wrote to me recently saying that he had been practising meditation for many years, and that since he heard of Sri Ramana he had become fascinated by him and had read as much as he could about his teachings, but that he could not understand how to concentrate on and experience ‘I’. The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

When you write, ‘I am having some trouble experiencing the I’, that seems to imply that there are two ‘I’s. The first ‘I’ (the ‘I’ in ‘I am having some trouble’) is clearly experienced by you, because if it were not you would not be aware that it is having some trouble, so why should this ‘I’ that you clearly experience take the trouble to experience some other ‘I’, which you think you are not able to experience?

The fact is that we all experience ‘I’ or ‘I am’, and the ‘I’ that we experience is the one and only ‘I’ that we can ever experience. Moreover, ‘I’ is our most fundamental experience, and is the basis for everything else that we experience. However, though we clearly experience that I am, we do not clearly experience what I am, so we need to investigate this ‘I’ in order to experience it as it really is.

Friday, 9 May 2014

There is no difference between investigating ‘who am I’ and investigating ‘whence am I’

Recently a friend wrote to me a series of emails asking many questions about the practice of ātma-vicāra. The following is adapted from the three replies I wrote to him:

First reply:

Bhagavan never advised us to ask ‘who am I?’ but only to investigate who am I. In this context, the verbs he used most frequently in Tamil were நாடு (nāḍu) and விசாரி (vicāri), both of which mean to investigate or examine.

Because such verbs are often translated as ‘enquire’, and because enquire can mean either investigate or ask, in many English books it is recorded as if Bhagavan said ‘ask’ whereas in fact he meant investigate.

Friday, 2 May 2014

Ātma-vicāra: stress and other related issues

A friend recently wrote to me asking whether ātma-vicāra should be a state of relaxation or whether it can create stress, and also several other questions about the practice of ātma-vicāra and its relationship with Sri Ramana’s praise of Arunachala. The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

When practising vicāra, our entire attention should be focussed only on ‘I’, and since such self-attentiveness is our natural state, it should not involve any stress whatsoever. It is only when we try to resist being self-attentive by thinking of anything other than ‘I’, that we unnecessarily create conflict, and as a result of such conflict stress may be experienced.

When our attention moves away from ‘I’ towards anything else, we create the appearance of multiplicity, and in multiplicity conflict and stress can arise. But when our attention does not move away from ‘I’, we experience no multiplicity and hence there is no scope for any conflict or stress. Therefore any stress that we may experience is a clear sign that we have allowed our attention to move away from ‘I’, so we should try to turn our attention back towards ‘I’ alone.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Scientific research on consciousness

A few months ago an academic psychologist whose current research is exploring ‘the conscious experience’ wrote to me inviting me to give feedback on some of his research findings based on his theory of ‘Consciousness Quotient’, and he explained: ‘I am trying to describe the conscious experience as accurately as possible, including as many perspectives as possible’. I replied to his invitation, and this led to a series of emails between us in which he tried to answer what I wrote and to explain his viewpoint in more detail. The following is adapted from the six replies I wrote to him.

First reply:

Thank you for this kind invitation, but I am not sure whether I can contribute in any way to your research, because the questions I would ask about consciousness and conscious experience perhaps go beyond the scope of your project.

To give you an idea of what I mean, I would start by questioning the meaning of the word ‘consciousness’, which I believe is ambiguous, because it used differently in different contexts. On the face of it ‘consciousness’ means either the quality or state of being conscious, which immediately raises several questions such as: What is it that is conscious? Is consciousness an inherent or a contingent quality of that thing? In other words, is consciousness a permanent or a temporary state of what is conscious?

Friday, 18 April 2014

Why is ātma-vicāra necessary?

A friend recently wrote to me saying that he felt that in my article Does the practice of ātma-vicāra work? I did not really answer the question in a direct manner, and he tried to explain why he felt this. The gist of what he wrote was as follows: after many years of practising self-attention, he had arrived at a firm conviction that there is only one self, not one self in search of another self, and that ‘I am the Self’; there is only the Self, so the striving, the searching and the attaining of the Self is only an illusion created by the mind, and Ramana said that the mind doesn’t exist; therefore he is firmly convinced that ‘I am the Self’ and that he only has to abide in the Self; although the illusion of the world is still there, with the mind and thoughts, it doesn’t change the fact that there is only the Self; whether or not the mind is destroyed now, it doesn’t really matter, because it is only an image on the screen and has no reality; so is ‘realisation’ necessary? Won’t jñāna [self-knowledge] occur when the body dies? Therefore he concluded that until the body and mind are destroyed by death, what is important is to have the conviction that ‘There is only the Self and nothing else’, and that ‘I am That’.

In some subsequent emails he also asked about ‘progress’ (with reference to an example that Bhagavan gave of detonating a canon: preparing it for detonation takes time, but once prepared, it is detonated in an instant) and about fear that arises during the practice of ātma-vicāra, and also asked whether certain experiences could be explained in terms of kuṇḍalinī. The following is adapted and compiled from the replies I wrote to him:

Yes, there is only self, and self is what we always experience as ‘I am’. However, so long as we experience ourself as a person (an entity consisting of body and mind), we experience not only ‘I’ but also many other things, and this creates the illusion that ‘I’ is something limited: one thing among many other things.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Ātma-vicāra and nirvikalpa samādhi
(Interview on Celibacy: Part 5)

This is the final of the following five instalments, which are a slightly modified reproduction of an interview in which I answered seven questions asked by the editor of the online Non-Duality Magazine for their current issue entitled The Celibacy Question:

Friday, 4 April 2014

Ahiṁsā and sexual morality
(Interview on Celibacy: Part 4)

This is the fourth of the following five instalments, which are a slightly modified reproduction of an interview in which I answered seven questions asked by the editor of the online Non-Duality Magazine for their current issue entitled The Celibacy Question:

Friday, 28 March 2014

No differences exist in the non-dual view of Sri Ramana
(Interview on Celibacy: Part 3)

This is the third of the following five instalments, which are a slightly modified reproduction of an interview in which I answered seven questions asked by the editor of the online Non-Duality Magazine for their current issue entitled The Celibacy Question: