Thursday, 20 March 2014

Ātma-vicāra is the only means by which we can experience ourself as we really are
(Interview on Celibacy: Part 2)

This is the second 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:
  1. Self-investigation and sexual restraint
  2. Ātma-vicāra is the only means by which we can experience ourself as we really are
  3. No differences exist in the non-dual view of Sri Ramana
  4. Ahiṁsā and sexual morality
  5. Ātma-vicāra and nirvikalpa samādhi
Question 2: Some say that Sri Ramana told his followers that “only a very, very minuscule fraction of seekers are ‘ready’ to become fully enlightened through self-inquiry. He insisted that such a person would’ve had to have worked through many, many lifetimes of earnest, rigorous and skilful spiritual practice in order to be primed for this technique.”

Do you know if he had any other teachings designed for those who were not primed or ready for this, other than his atma vichara method?


Michael James: As I explained above [in the preliminary paragraphs of my answer to question 1 in Self-investigation and sexual restraint], statements are often attributed to Sri Ramana that he did not actually say, and this is clearly one such statement. On numerous occasions he said that ātma-vicāra (self-investigation or self-enquiry) is the only means by which we can experience ourself as we really are, and he explained the reasons for this very clearly in his original writings. Only to those who were unwilling to accept this did he talk about other types of spiritual practice, but he explained that no other practice could be a direct means to true self-experience, and that at best such practices can purify the mind and thereby give it the clarity to understand and accept that in order to experience ourself as we really are we must investigate ourself by attending only to ‘I’.

He taught that ātma-vicāra is not only the only means by which we can experience ourself as we really are, but is also the easiest of all kinds of spiritual practice. In verse 4 of Āṉma-Viddai he says:
கன்மா திகட்டவிழ சென்மா திநட்டமெழ
வெம்மார்க் கமதனினு மிம்மார்க் கமிக்கெளிது
[...]

kaṉmā dikaṭṭaviṙa jeṉmā dinaṭṭameṙa
vemmārg gamadaṉiṉu mimmārg gamikkeḷidu
[...]

பதச்சேதம்: கன்ம[ம்] ஆதி கட்டு அவிழ, சென்ம[ம்] ஆதி நட்டம் எழ, எம் மார்க்கம் அதனினும் இம் மார்க்கம் மிக்கு எளிது. [...]

Padacchēdam (word-separation): kaṉma-ādi kaṭṭu aviṙa, jeṉma-ādi naṭṭam eṙa, e-m-mārggam-adaṉiṉum i-m-mārggam mikku eḷidu. [...]

English translation: To untie the bonds beginning with karma [that is, the bonds of action and of all that results from it], [and] to rise above the ruin beginning with birth [that is, to transcend and become free from the miseries of embodied existence, which begin with birth and end with death], rather than whatever [other] path, this path [ātma-vicāra] is exceedingly easy. [...]
Therefore he taught that ātma-vicāra is both the only direct means and the easiest means, so it is suitable for anyone who genuinely wants to know what they really are. In verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār he says:
மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa.


பதச்சேதம்: மனத்தின் உருவை மறவாது உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. மார்க்கம் நேர் ஆர்க்கும் இது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maṉattiṉ uruvai maṟavādu usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. mārggam nēr ārkkum idu.

English translation: When one investigates the form of the mind without forgetting, [it will be clear that] there is no such thing as ‘mind’. This is the direct path for everyone.
In the next verse he explains that though ‘mind’ is a collective name for all thoughts, the root of all thoughts is only the thought called ‘I’ (the ego), so in essence what is called ‘mind’ is only this ‘I’. Therefore what he means in verse 17 by ‘investigating the form of the mind’ is investigating this root-thought ‘I’. As he explained elsewhere, this thought called ‘I’ is cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot that (seemingly) binds the conscious to the non-conscious, because it is a confused mixture of the pure consciousness ‘I am’, which alone is real, and a physical body, which is an unreal superimposition. Thus the ego or thought called ‘I’ is nothing other than our real self, the pristine ‘I am’, appearing as something that it is not, namely a body. Hence it is like a rope that appears to be a snake.

If we look carefully at such a snake, we will see that it is actually only a rope, and thus we will recognise that there was no such thing as a snake there at all. Likewise, if we look carefully at this mind (the ego or thought called ‘I’), we will see that it is actually only the pure and infinite consciousness ‘I am’, and thus we will recognise that there was no such thing as ‘mind’ at all. Therefore the first line of this verse, ‘When one investigates the form of the mind without forgetting’, is a description of uninterrupted ātma-vicāra, and Sri Ramana says that this is not only the direct path (the direct means by which we can experience ourself as we really are), but also the direct path ‘for everyone’. In other words, it is not only for a select few who are somehow specially qualified for it, but for everyone who wants to experience what this ‘I’ really is.

The only ‘qualification’ we need to investigate ‘I’ is that we should want to experience what this ‘I’ actually is, but this is like saying that the only people who are qualified to put food in their mouth, chew it and swallow it are those who want to eat it. Just as we would not compel anyone to eat if they do not want to, Sri Ramana never attempted to compel anyone to practise ātma-vicāra if they did not want to do so.

If anyone claims that they want to attain liberation or self-knowledge but that they do not want to practise ātma-vicāra, they would be like a person who claims that they want to read a book but that they do not want to look at what is printed in it. Just as it is necessary to look at what is printed in a book in order to read it, so it is necessary for us to investigate ourself by carefully attending to this ‘I’ in order to experience it as it really is.

The actual practice of ātma-vicāra is just trying to experience ‘I’ as it really is by attending to it keenly and vigilantly, so as Sri Ramana often pointed out, the nature of this path and of its goal are essentially the same: both entail only experiencing ourself. As he says in verse 579 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai:
மன்னுசொரூ பாத்துவித மாட்சியால் வேறுகதி
தன்னைத் தவிர்த்தில்லாத் தன்மையால் — துன்னு
முபேயமுந் தானே யுபாயமுந் தானே
யபேதமாக் காண்க வவை.

maṉṉusorū pādduvita māṭciyāl vēṟugati
taṉṉait tavirttillāt taṉmaiyāl — tuṉṉu
mupēyamun dāṉē yupāyamun dāṉē
yabhēdamāk kāṇka vavai.


பதச்சேதம்: மன்னு சொரூப அத்துவித மாட்சியால், வேறு கதி தன்னை தவிர்த்து இல்லா தன்மையால், துன்னும் உபேயமும் தானே, உபாயமும் தானே. அபேதமா காண்க அவை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maṉṉu sorūpa adduvita māṭciyāl, vēṟu gati taṉṉai tavirttu illā taṉmaiyāl, tuṉṉum upēyam-um tāṉē, upāyam-um tāṉē. abhēdam-ā kāṇga avai.

Because of the non-dual nature of [our] enduring self, [and] because of the fact that excluding self there is no other gati [refuge, means or goal], the upēya [the aim or goal] which [we are to] reach is only self and the upāya [the means or path] is only self. Know them to be non-different (abhēda).
Since differences entail duality, they are diametrically opposed to the non-dual nature of self, so in its view no differences actually exist, and hence whatever differences we experience are just a false appearance. Therefore, since our goal is self, which is absolutely non-dual and hence completely devoid of differences of any kind whatsoever, any practice whose nature is fundamentally different to it cannot be a means to experience it. Hence, since pure unadulterated self-awareness is the nature of self, it must also be the nature of the means by which we can experience it. Hence, since ātma-vicāra is just the attempt we make to experience such pure self-awareness or self-attentiveness, it is the only means by which we can merge and become one with our real self.

For some people who felt inclined toward the path of bhakti or devotion, Sri Ramana recommended that they should surrender themselves entirely to God, so he sometimes said that self-investigation and self-surrender are the only means by which we can attain liberation or self-knowledge. However, he also made it clear that self-investigation and self-surrender are not two different paths but one and the same, because in order to investigate and experience ourself as we really are we must be willing to give up our present false self, our mind or ego, which is what we are not, and in order to surrender this false self, we must know what our real self actually is. Therefore in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) he said:
ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம். […]

āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṯku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal ātma-niṣṭhā-paraṉ-āy iruppadē taṉṉai īśaṉukku aḷippadām. […]

Being completely absorbed in ātma-niṣṭhā [self-abidance, the state of just being as we really are], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than ātma-cintana [self-contemplation], alone is giving ourself to God.
It is true that most people are not interested in practising either ātma-vicāra or complete self-surrender as described here by Sri Ramana, so in that sense they are not ‘ready’ for it, but this is simply because they do not want real ‘enlightenment’, which is the state in which we experience ourself as we really are, thereby giving up the false self that we now mistake ourself to be. Unless we are willing at least to begin separating ourself from the body and mind that we now experience as ‘I’, we are not yet ready for either ātma-vicāra or complete self-surrender.

Though most people at any given time are not yet willing to practise either ātma-vicāra or complete self-surrender, in due course (either during the lifetime of their present body or during that of some future body) each of them will reach the point where they sincerely want to experience themself as they really are and are therefore willing to begin letting go of their false self, and as soon as they reach this point they will be willing to practise the only correct and direct path to this goal, which can be described either as ātma-vicāra or complete self-surrender.

Most people are not interested in practising any spiritual path, and though many others like to do so, most of them are drawn to paths other than ātma-vicāra or complete self-surrender. None of those other paths can be a direct means to self-knowledge, because we cannot know ourself without attending to this ‘I’ (which is the practice called ātma-vicāra) or without giving up whatever we wrongly take to be ourself (which is complete self-surrender), but they can be a rather circuitous means to it, because they can purify the mind, cleansing it (at least to some extent) of some of its grosser desires and attachments, and thereby giving it the clarity to understand that the only means to attain liberation or self-knowledge is to investigate what this ‘I’ that want to attain them actually is.

In verses 2 and 3 of Upadēśa Undiyār Sri Ramana says:
வினையின் விளைவு விளிவுற்று வித்தாய்
வினைக்கடல் வீழ்த்திடு முந்தீபற
      வீடு தரலிலை யுந்தீபற.

viṉaiyiṉ viḷaivu viḷivuṯṟu vittāy
viṉaikkaḍal vīṙttiḍu mundīpaṟa
      vīḍu taralilai yundīpaṟa.


பதச்சேதம்: வினையின் விளைவு விளிவு உற்று வித்தாய் வினை கடல் வீழ்த்திடும். வீடு தரல் இலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉaiyiṉ viḷaivu viḷivu uṯṟu vittāy viṉai-kaḍal vīṙttiḍum. vīḍu taral ilai.

English translation: The fruit of action having passed away [remains] as seed [and thereby] causes [one] to sink in the ocean of action. [Therefore action] does not give liberation.

கருத்தனுக் காக்குநிட் காமிய கன்மங்
கருத்தைத் திருத்தியஃ துந்தீபற
      கதிவழி காண்பிக்கு முந்தீபற.

karuttaṉuk kākkuniṭ kāmiya kaṉmaṅ
karuttait tiruttiyaḵ dundīpaṟa
      gativaṙi kāṇbikku mundīpaṟa.


பதச்சேதம்: கருத்தனுக்கு ஆக்கும் நிட்காமிய கன்மம் கருத்தை திருத்தி அஃது கதி வழி காண்பிக்கும்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): karuttaṉukku ākkum niṭkāmiya kaṉmam karuttai tirutti aḵdu gati vaṙi kāṇbikkum

English translation: Action (karma) done [with love] for God and without desire [for any personal benefit] purifies the mind and [thereby] it shows the path to liberation.
All spiritual practices other than ātma-vicāra are actions or karmas, because they entail attending to something other than ‘I’, which means that our attention is moving away from ourself towards that other thing or things, so ātma-vicāra is the only spiritual practice that is not a karma, because it does not entail any movement of our attention away from ourself, its source. Therefore what Sri Ramana says in these two verses applies to all spiritual practices other than ātma-vicāra, so what he is in effect saying is that if we do any other spiritual practice with the correct attitude (that is, motivated not by desire for any gain or benefit for oneself as a person, but only by love for God or any such spiritual ideal), it will purify our mind and thereby enable us to recognise what the correct path to liberation is. In other words, it will enable us to recognise that ātma-vicāra is the only means by which we can liberated from the bondage of mind and action.

Whatever spiritual practice we may do, and for whatever motive we may do it, there must be an ego or finite ‘I’ to do it and to have that motive, so any spiritual practices other than ātma-vicāra will help to perpetuate the illusion that this finite ‘I’ is real. Only in ātma-vicāra do we investigate this ‘I’ to see whether or not it is actually real, so ātma-vicāra is the only spiritual practice that can directly undermine this illusory ‘I’ and expose its unreality.

Therefore in verse 14 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham Sri Ramana teaches us that by practising ātma-vicāra we will achieve the true aim of all forms of spiritual practice, each of which can be classified as being a form of one of the four yōgas, namely karma (the path of desireless action), bhakti (the path of devotion), yōga (the path of union) or jñāna (the path of knowledge):
வினையும் விபத்தி வியோகமஞ் ஞான
மினையவையார்க் கென்றாய்ந் திடலே — வினைபத்தி
யோகமுணர் வாய்ந்திடநா னின்றியவை யென்றுமிறா
னாகமன லேயுண்மை யாம்.

viṉaiyum vibhatti viyōgamañ ñāṉa
miṉaiyavaiyārk keṉḏṟāyn diḍalē — viṉaibhatti
yōgamuṇar vāyndiḍanā ṉiṉḏṟiyavai yeṉḏṟumiṟā
ṉāhamaṉa lēyuṇmai yām.


பதச்சேதம்: வினையும், விபத்தி, வியோகம், அஞ்ஞானம் இணையவை யார்க்கு என்று ஆய்ந்திடலே வினை, பத்தி, யோகம், உணர்வு. ஆய்ந்திட, ‘நான்’ இன்றி அவை என்றும் இல். தானாக மனலே உண்மை ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉai-y-um, vibhatti, viyōgam, aññāṉam iṉaiyavai yārkku eṉḏṟu āyndiḍal-ē viṉai, bhatti, yōgam, uṇarvu. āyndiḍa, ‘nāṉ’ iṉḏṟi avai eṉḏṟum il. tāṉ-āha maṉal-ē uṇmai ām.

English translation: Investigating to whom are these, karma, vibhakti, viyōga and ajñāna, is itself karma, bhakti, yōga and jñāna. [This is because] when [one] investigates [oneself], [it will be clear that] they [karma, vibhakti, viyōga and ajñāna] never exist without ‘I’ [which is itself not real]. Only being permanently as self is true.
The aim of any spiritual practice is to rectify some defect or deficiency, such as karma (action), vibhakti (lack of devotion), viyōga (separation from God) or ajñāna (ignorance of self), but no such defect or deficiency can exist without a finite ‘I’. If this ‘I’ were real, its defects and deficiencies might also be real, but if it is just an illusory appearance, they too must be illusory appearances. Therefore before trying to rectify any defect or deficiency, we should first try to see whether or not this ‘I’ is real.

As Sri Ramana says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār (which I quoted above), if we examine this ‘I’ (the mind or ego), we will find that it does not actually exist, so when it seems to exist it is just an unreal appearance. Therefore, since its seeming existence will cease when we carefully examine it (just as the seeming existence of the illusory snake will cease when it is carefully examined), the only effective way to rectify all its seeming defects and deficiencies entirely and forever is to examine it. In other words, investigating this ‘I’ that seems to possess and experience so many defects and deficiencies is the only effective means by which we can achieve the goal of all spiritual practices.

Until we investigate this ‘I’, it will continue to seem real, and hence all its defects and deficiencies will also seem to be real. Therefore trying to rectify its defects and deficiencies without investigating whether it is real is like cutting the leaves and branches off a dense bush: until its root is destroyed, it will continue sprouting new leaves and branches. Likewise, until we annihilate this false ‘I’ by examining it, its defects and deficiencies (its desires, fears, attachments, selfishness, ignorance, pride and so on) will continue sprouting in one form or another.

Just as what seemed to be a snake was actually only a rope, so what now seems to be this finite, defective and deficient ‘I’ is actually only the one infinite, indivisible and immutable real ‘I’. Even when it seems to be finite and hence defective and deficient, this ‘I’ is actually infinite and hence devoid of any defect or deficiency, so when we investigate ‘I’ we will discover that it was never defective and deficient. Therefore in the final sentence of this verse Sri Ramana says, ‘Only being permanently as self is true’, meaning that we have never been anything other than the pure adjunctless ‘I’, which is the one eternal, infinite and perfect reality.

The fact that ātma-vicāra is the only means by which we can experience ourself as we really are and thereby destroy the illusion that we are a mind or ego was repeatedly emphasised by Sri Ramana both in his original writings and in the answers that he gave to questions asked by anyone who genuinely wanted to know the nature of reality and the means to experience it. For example, in Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) he says:
[...] மனமற்ற நித்திரையில் தின மனுபவிக்கும் தன் சுபாவமான அச் சுகத்தை யடையத் தன்னைத் தானறிதல் வேண்டும். அதற்கு நானார் என்னும் ஞான விசாரமே முக்கிய சாதனம்.

[...] maṉam-aṯṟa niddiraiyil diṉam aṉubhavikkum taṉ subhāvam-āṉa a-c-cukhattai y-aḍaiya-t taṉṉai-t tāṉ aṟidal vēṇḍum. adaṯku nāṉār eṉṉum jñāṉa-vicāram-ē mukhiya sādhaṉam.

[...] to attain that happiness, which is one’s own [true] nature that is experienced daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of the mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary. For that, jñāna-vicāra [knowledge-investigation] who am I alone is the principal means. (first paragraph, with bold type as in the original text)

நானார் என்னும் விசாரணையினாலேயே மன மடங்கும்; [...]

nāṉ-ār eṉṉum vicāraṇaiyiṉāl-ē-y-ē maṉam aḍaṅgum; [...]

Only by [means of] the investigation who am I will the mind subside [entirely and permanently]; [...] (sixth paragraph)

மனம் அடங்குவதற்கு விசாரணையைத் தவிர வேறு தகுந்த உபாயங்களில்லை. [...]

maṉam aḍaṅguvadaṯku vicāraṇaiyai-t tavira vēṟu tahunda upāyaṅgaḷ-illai. [...]

To make the mind subside [entirely and permanently], there are no adequate means other than vicāraṇā [self-investigation]. [...] (eighth paragraph)

[...] மனத்தை யடக்குவதற்குத் தன்னை யாரென்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டுமே யல்லாமல் எப்படி நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது? தன்னைத் தன்னுடைய ஞானக்கண்ணாற்றானே யறிய வேண்டும். [...] பந்தத்தி லிருக்கும் தான் யாரென்று விசாரித்து தன் யதார்த்த சொரூபத்தைத் தெரிந்துகொள்வதே முக்தி. சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்; [...]

[...] maṉattai y-aḍakkuvadaṯku-t taṉṉai yār eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum-ē y-allāmal eppaḍi nūlgaḷil vicārippadu? taṉṉai-t taṉṉuḍaiya jñāṉa-k-kaṇṇāl-tāṉ-ē y-aṟiya vēṇḍum. [...] bandhattil irukkum tāṉ yār eṉḏṟu vicārittu taṉ yathārtha sorūpattai-t terindu-koḷvadē mukti. sadā-kālamum maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṯku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar; [...]

[...] For restraining the mind it is necessary to investigate oneself [in order to experience] who [one really is], [but] instead [of doing so] how [can one experience oneself by] investigating in books? It is necessary to know oneself only by one’s own eye of jñāna [knowledge or awareness]. [...] Knowing one’s yathārtha svarūpa [real self] [by] investigating who is oneself who is in bondage is alone mukti [liberation]. The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] always keeping the mind in [or on] ātmā [self]; [...] (sixteenth paragraph)
Likewise, in verse 27 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he explains that ātma-vicāra is the only means by which we can experience the real non-dual state of self, which is what is indicated in the mahāvākyas or ‘great sayings’ of the Vēdas such as ahaṁ brahmāsmi (I am brahman [the absolute reality]) and tat tvam asi (that [God or brahman] you are):
நானுதியா துள்ளநிலை நாமதுவா யுள்ளநிலை
நானுதிக்குந் தானமதை நாடாம — னானுதியாத்
தன்னிழப்பைச் சார்வதெவன் சாராமற் றானதுவாந்
தன்னிலையி னிற்பதெவன் சாற்று.

nāṉudiyā duḷḷanilai nāmaduvā yuḷḷanilai
nāṉudikkun tāṉamadai nāḍāma — ṉāṉudiyāt
taṉṉiṙappaic cārvadevaṉ sārāmaṯ ṟāṉaduvān
taṉṉilaiyi ṉiṯpadevaṉ sāṯṟu.


பதச்சேதம்: ‘நான்’ உதியாது உள்ள நிலை நாம் அது ஆய் உள்ள நிலை. ‘நான்’ உதிக்கும் தானம் அதை நாடாமல், ‘நான்’ உதியா தன் இழப்பை சார்வது எவன்? சாராமல், தான் அது ஆம் தன் நிலையில் நிற்பது எவன்? சாற்று.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘nāṉ’ udiyādu uḷḷa nilai nām adu-v-āy uḷḷa nilai. ‘nāṉ’ udikkum tāṉam-adai nāḍāmal, ‘nāṉ’ udiyā taṉ-ṉ-iṙappai sārvadu evaṉ? sārāmal, tāṉ adu ām taṉ-ṉilaiyil niṯpadu evaṉ? sāṯṟu.

English translation: The state in which ‘I’ exists without rising is the state in which we exist as that [brahman]. Without investigating the source from which ‘I’ rises, how to attain the annihilation of oneself, where ‘I’ does not rise? [And] without attaining [this ego-annihilation], say, how to abide in the state of self, in which one is that?
The two rhetorical questions that he asks in this verse clearly imply that: (1) we cannot attain the egoless state, in which ‘I’ exists without rising as a finite mind, unless we investigate ourself, who are the source from which this ‘I’ rises; and (2) we cannot abide in our natural state of self, in which we are nothing other than brahman, unless we attain the state in which we do not rise as a separate ‘I’. In other words, we cannot experience ourself as ‘that’ or brahman, the one absolute reality, unless we investigate ourself, the source from which the ego-‘I’ arises.

In verse 22 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he asks another rhetorical question with a similar meaning:
மதிக்கொளி தந்தம் மதிக்கு ளொளிரு
மதியினை யுள்ளே மடக்கிப் — பதியிற்
பதித்திடுத லன்றிப் பதியை மதியான்
மதித்திடுக லெங்ஙன் மதி.

matikkoḷi tandam matikku ḷoḷiru
matiyiṉai yuḷḷē maḍakkip — patiyiṯ
padittiḍuda laṉḏṟip patiyai matiyāṉ
matittiḍuda leṅṅaṉ mati.


பதச்சேதம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதியில் பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): matikku oḷi tandu, am-matikkuḷ oḷirum matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki patiyil padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl matittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? mati.

அன்வயம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் பதியில் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): matikku oḷi tandu, am-matikkuḷ oḷirum patiyil matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl matittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? mati.

English translation: Consider, except by turning the mind back within and immersing it in God, who shines within that mind giving light to the mind, how to know God by the mind?
Though this verse seems to be couched in the dualistic terminology of devotion, what it is actually describing in that terminology is only the practice of ātma-vicāra, because the word pati (which literally means the master, lord or God) here denotes the true nature of God, which is nothing other than our own real self. As such, God shines within our mind as our essential self-awareness, ‘I am’, and thereby he gives our mind the light of awareness or consciousness by which it is able to know both itself and the appearance of all other things. Therefore Sri Ramana asks how we can know God, our essential self, by our mind except by turning our mind back within and immersing it in the clear light of pure self-awareness, which is God.

Here ‘turning the mind back within and immersing it in God’ denotes the practice of ātma-vicāra, which is trying to turn our mind or power of attention away from all other things, back towards itself, ‘I’, and thereby to make it merge and become one with its own essential self, which is God, the source of its light of awareness. Therefore, by asking how it is possible for us to know God except by thus ‘turning the mind back within and immersing it in God’, Sri Ramana clearly implies that we cannot know God, the one absolute reality, except by practising ātma-vicāra.

Next instalment: No differences exist in the non-dual view of Sri Ramana

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Some people say that from the ultimate view point what Bhagavan and J.Krishnamurt say constitute the one and the same truth, ' Manonasa', the annihilation of the mind. According to them, whereas JK takes the Buddhistic position of ' Anatta', that is the void of self in all phenomena, Bhagavan, in a more easier way, accepts the existence of a transcendental 'I', which is occluded by the idea of an unreal adjunct like body being attached to it, and through self-investigation one could trace the origin of the adjunct - bound ' I', as a result of which there arises the vibration of the true ' I' , bereft of all external accoutrements leading to the state of total silence of the mind. In this context, do you feel that there is any validity in the argument that both JK and Bhagavan are for the self-same truth of the destruction of the mind, the former advocating the method of choiceless awareness negating the existence of an ' I' even in the very beginning, and the latter positing the reality of a pseudo ' I ' existing, and its unreality having to be transcended, the former advocating the method of apophatic as against the latter the cataphatic. What is your view? There is no second opinion about Bhagavan being an enlightened being. Is JK also enlightened or speaking from the realm of the mind?

Michael James said...

What we know — indeed all that we know for certain — is the simple truth that I am, but we do not clearly know what I am, so it seems that the only wise thing to do is to investigate what or who am I.

Since we do not know for certain whether anything other than 'I' actually exists (because anything that we experience other than 'I' could be an illusion, like all the things that we experience in a dream), what is the use of investigating anything else before we know for certain what this 'I' actually is?

This is why Bhagavan Ramana advised us to give up all other investigations and earnestly pursue only self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).

If we have understood the wisdom of this advice, we will take no interest in knowing whether JK or anyone else is 'enlightened' or whether what others teach is the same as or different to this simple and clear path of ātma-vicāra.

Trying to know about others is anātma-vicāra (investigating what is not 'I'), so it will not help us to experience ourself as we really are.

Josef said...

Dear Michael,
your comment to the anonymous question(er)reaches my complete agreement.