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.

However, even if we take the term ‘self-realisation’ to mean experiencing ourself as we really are, what do we mean when we speak of a ‘self-realised’ person? Is there actually any such thing as a ‘self-realised’ person? So long as we experience ourself as a person, we are not experiencing ourself as we really are, so we are not ‘self-realised’. That is, we may have realised our full personal potential (whatever that means), but we have not realised what we actually are. Therefore in the context of the teachings of Sri Ramana, the concept of a ‘self-realised’ person is a contradiction in terms.

When we experience ourself as we really are, we will no longer experience ourself as person — an ego, a separate entity who experiences itself as if it were a body and mind — because this person is just a transitory appearance in the absence of which we still experience our existence in sleep. According Sri Ramana, what we really are is the one infinite, eternal, indivisible and immutable reality, other than which nothing exists. As he says in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்;
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṯpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa

பதச்சேதம்: தனாது இயல் யாது என தான் தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த சத்து அகண்ட சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa tāṉ terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta sattu akhaṇḍa cit āṉandam.

அன்வயம்: தான் தனாது இயல் யாது என தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த அகண்ட சத்து சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta akhaṇḍa sattu cit āṉandam.

English translation: If oneself knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what exists is only] beginningless, endless [or infinite] and unbroken sat-cit-ānanda [being-consciousness-bliss].
In such a state of ‘self-realisation’, what experiences itself is only our infinite real self, because our finite personal self (the ego) has ceased to exist, since it was just an illusion and therefore could not stand in the bright and all-consuming light of such absolutely clear self-awareness. In other words, the only thing that exists in that state is the one infinite ‘I’, so what experiences that infinite ‘I’ is only itself, because no personal ‘I’ exists (or even seems to exist) there to experience it.

Since there is no personal ‘I’ in that state of ‘self-realisation’, and since the one infinite ‘I’ need not and does not think or say that it has realised itself, there is no one there to think or say ‘I have realised who I am’ or ‘I know myself’. Therefore, in verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Sri Ramana says:
என்னை யறியேனா னென்னை யறிந்தேனா
னென்ன னகைப்புக் கிடனாகு — மென்னை
தனைவிடய மாக்கவிரு தானுண்டோ வொன்றா
யனைவரனு பூதியுண்மை யால்.

eṉṉai yaṟiyēṉā ṉeṉṉai yaṟindēṉā
ṉeṉṉa ṉahaippuk kiḍaṉāhu — meṉṉai
taṉaiviḍaya mākkaviru tāṉuṇḍō voṉḏṟā
yaṉaivaraṉu bhūtiyuṇmai yāl

பதச்சேதம்: ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான்’, ‘என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? ஒன்று ஆய் அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஆல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ’, ‘eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? oṉḏṟu āy aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai āl.

அன்வயம்: ‘நான் என்னை அறியேன்’, ‘நான் என்னை அறிந்தேன்’ என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும். என்னை? தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஒன்று ஆய்; ஆல்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ’, ‘nāṉ eṉṉai aṟindēṉ’ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum. eṉṉai? taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai oṉḏṟu āy āl.

English translation: Saying ‘I do not know myself’ [or] ‘I have known myself’ is ground for ridicule. Why? To make oneself an object known, are there two selves? Because being one is the truth of everyone’s experience.
Therefore if any person thinks ‘I have realised who I am’, they are obviously self-deluded rather than self-realised, because if they had realised what they really are, they would thereby have ceased to be a person, having merged completely in and as the one infinite reality, and hence would have no mind and would not think anything.

Though we may believe that certain people such as Sri Ramana do experience what they actually are, we cannot understand their state so long as we consider each of them to be a person — an individual with a body and mind — albeit one who treats us kindly and gives us spiritual guidance. So long as we experience ourself as a person, we cannot conceive what the state of true self-experience is, because in that state nothing other than ‘I’ exists (not as the person we now seem to be but as what we actually are). As Sri Ramana says in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
தன்னை யழித்தெழுந்த தன்மயா னந்தருக்
கென்னை யுளதொன் றியற்றுதற்குத் — தன்னையலா
தன்னிய மொன்று மறியா ரவர்நிலைமை
யின்னதென் றுன்ன லெவன்.

taṉṉai yaṙitteṙunda taṉmayā ṉandaruk
keṉṉai yuḷadoṉ ḏṟiyaṯṟudaṟkut — taṉṉaiyalā
taṉṉiya moṉḏṟu maṟiyā ravarnilaimai
yiṉṉadeṉ ḏṟuṉṉa levaṉ

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு என்னை உளது ஒன்று இயற்றுதற்கு? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku eṉṉai uḷadu oṉḏṟu iyaṯṟudaṯku? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

அன்வயம்: தன்னை அழித்து எழுந்த தன்மயானந்தருக்கு இயற்றுதற்கு என்னை ஒன்று உளது? தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): taṉṉai aṙittu eṙunda taṉmaya-āṉandarukku iyaṯṟudaṯku eṉṉai oṉḏṟu uḷadu? taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?

English translation: For those who enjoy tanmayānanda [‘bliss composed of that’, namely our real self], which rose [as ‘I am I’] destroying the [personal] self [the ego], what one [action] exists for doing? They do not know [or experience] anything other than self, [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘it is such’?
When our personal self is destroyed by the experience of true self-knowledge (which he describes here as tanmayānanda, bliss composed of tat, ‘it’ or ‘that’, the absolute reality called brahman, which is our real self), the mind, body and world that seemed to exist only in the view of that personal self (the ego) will cease to exist, and hence no one will then remain to do anything. What will remain in that state is only our real self, which is timeless and immutable, and hence devoid of all action, so since nothing other than ourself will then exist (or even seem to exist), we will not experience anything other than ourself. Therefore, since that otherless state of self-experience is completely devoid of even the slightest trace of any person, ego, mind or thought, we cannot adequately conceive the real nature of that state so long as we experience ourself as a person consisting of mind and body.

The otherless nature of that state is also expressed by Sri Ramana in verse 38 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham:
தானன்றி யாருண்டு தன்னையா ரென்சொலினென்
றான்றன்னை வாழ்த்துகினுந் தாழ்த்துகினுந் — தானென்ன
தான்பிறரென் றோராமற் றன்னிலையிற் பேராமற்
றானென்று நின்றிடவே தான்.

tāṉaṉḏṟi yāruṇḍu taṉṉaiyā reṉcoliṉeṉ
ḏṟāṉḏṟaṉṉai vāṙttugiṉun tāṙttugiṉun — tāṉeṉṉa
tāṉbiṟareṉ ḏṟōrāmaṯ ṟaṉṉilaiyiṯ pērāmaṯ
ṟāṉeṉḏṟu niṉḏṟiḍavē tāṉ.

பதச்சேதம்: தான் அன்றி யார் உண்டு? தன்னை யார் என் சொலின் என்? தான் தன்னை வாழ்த்துகினும், தாழ்த்துகினும் தான் என்ன? ‘தான்’, ‘பிறர்’ என்று ஓராமல், தன் நிலையில் பேராமல் தான் என்றும் நின்றிடவே தான்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): tāṉ aṉḏṟi yār uṇḍu? taṉṉai yār eṉ soliṉ eṉ? tāṉ taṉṉai vāṙttugiṉum, tāṙttugiṉum tāṉ eṉṉa? ‘ tāṉ’, ‘piṟar’ eṉḏṟu ōrāmal, taṉ ṉilaiyil pērāmal tāṉ eṉḏṟum niṉḏṟiḍa-v-ē tāṉ.

அன்வயம்: ‘தான்’, ‘பிறர்’ என்று ஓராமல், தன் நிலையில் பேராமல் தான் என்றும் நின்றிடவே தான், தான் அன்றி யார் உண்டு? தன்னை யார் என் சொலின் என்? தான் தன்னை வாழ்த்துகினும், தாழ்த்துகினும் தான் என்ன?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘tāṉ’, ‘piṟar’ eṉḏṟu ōrāmal, taṉ ṉilaiyil pērāmal tāṉ eṉḏṟum niṉḏṟiḍa-v-ē tāṉ, tāṉ aṉḏṟi yār uṇḍu? taṉṉai yār eṉ soliṉ eṉ? tāṉ taṉṉai vāṙttugiṉunm, tāṙttugiṉum tāṉ eṉṉa?

English translation: When oneself always abides inseparably in the state of self, without experiencing [any differences such as] ‘myself’ and ‘others’, who is there besides oneself? If whoever says whatever about oneself, what [does it matter]? What indeed [does it matter] whether one praises or disparages oneself?
If anyone claims to be self-realised yet takes offence when others do not recognise or believe them to be self-realised, they are clearly still experiencing differences between ‘myself’ and ‘others’, and hence they have not actually experienced the non-dual and otherless state of true self-experience. Since our mind and other minds, thoughts, bodies, other people, the world and everything else other than ‘I’ all exist only in the view of our ego, so long as we still experience any such thing (anything at all other than ‘I’), we are still experiencing ourself as an ego or personal self, and hence we are not experiencing ourself as we really are.

As I mentioned earlier, the term ‘self-realisation’ is often used to represent the Sanskrit term ātma-jñāna, and hence the term ‘a self-realised person’ is likewise used to represent the term ātma-jñāni, because ‘ātma-jñāni’ is generally understood to mean a person who experiences ātma-jñāna or true self-knowledge. However, what actually experiences true self-knowledge is not any person but only our real self itself, so the true meaning of ātma-jñāni is not a person who experiences ātma-jñāna but only our real self, which alone experiences itself as it really is. Even this, however, is a rather clumsy definition of this term ātma-jñāni, because when we say that our real self alone experiences itself as it really is, we are describing ourself (what we really are) as if we were a third person, so it would be more accurate to say that the term ātma-jñāni refers only to ourself, who alone experience ourself as we really are (though when we define it thus, what we mean by ‘ourself’ is obviously not the ego or personal self that we now seem to be, but only our real self — what we actually are).

Since the ātma-jñāni is therefore nothing other than our infinite real self, when we consider any person to be an ātma-jñāni we are obviously failing to comprehend the real nature of the state of ātma-jñāna, in which the ātma-jñāni (the self that knows itself), the ātma-jñāna (its knowledge of itself) and itself that it knows are all one and indivisible. In order to adequately comprehend this state, we must experience it ourself, because so long as we experience ourself as anything other than the one infinite and indivisible reality we cannot but experience a distinction between the knower (jñāni), the knowing (jñāna) and the known (jñāta) in whatever we may know or experience.

However, even if we understand this conceptually, it would not seem right to us to deny that Sri Ramana and certain other people are ātma-jñānis. How then to reconcile this seeming contradiction? The only way is the understand that an ātma-jñāni such as Sri Ramana is not the person, body or mind that he seems to be. So long as we experience ourself as a person, an ātma-jñāni will seem to us to be a person with a body and mind, just like us, but according to Sri Ramana the body and mind that seem to be the ātma-jñāni exist only in the deluded view of the ajñāni (the person who is self-ignorant and therefore experiences himself or herself as a body and mind), because in the clear view of the ātma-jñāni no mind or body exists at all, as he describes graphically in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham:
வண்டிதுயில் வானுக்கவ் வண்டிசெல னிற்றிலொடு
வண்டிதனி யுற்றிடுதன் மானுமே — வண்டியா
மூனவுட லுள்ளே யுறங்குமெய்ஞ் ஞானிக்கு
மானதொழி னிட்டையுறக் கம்.

vaṇḍiduyil vāṉukkav vaṇḍisela ṉiṯṟiloḍu
vaṇḍidaṉi yuṯṟiḍudaṉ māṉumē — vaṇḍiyā
mūṉavuḍa luḷḷē yuṟaṅgumeyñ ñāṉikku
māṉadoṙi ṉiṭṭaiyuṟak kam

பதச்சேதம்: வண்டி துயில்வானுக்கு அவ் வண்டி செலல், நிற்றல் ஒடு, வண்டி தனி உற்றிடுதல் மானுமே, வண்டி ஆம் ஊன உடல் உள்ளே உறங்கும் மெய்ஞ்ஞானிக்கும் ஆன தொழில், நிட்டை, உறக்கம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): vaṇḍi tuyilvāṉukku a-v-vaṇḍi selal, ṉiṯṟil oḍu, vaṇḍi taṉi uṯṟiḍudal māṉumē, vaṇḍi ām ūṉa uḍal uḷḷē uṟaṅgum meyññāṉikkum āṉa toṙil, ṉiṭṭai, uṟakkam.

English translation: The activity [in waking or dream], the niṣṭhā [the inactivity, absorption or samādhi] and the sleep that are [seemingly occurring] to the mey-jñāni [the knower of reality], who is asleep within the fleshy body, which is [like] a cart, are similar to a cart moving, standing or the cart remaining alone [with the bullocks unyoked] to a person sleeping in that cart.
Just like someone who is fast asleep in a cart and who is therefore not aware whether the cart is moving, standing with the bullocks yoked or remaining with them unyoked, the ātma-jñāni is (so to speak) asleep in whatever body and mind seems to be an ātma-jñāni in the view of others, so the ātma-jñāni is not aware of whatever that body and mind may seem to be doing, or whether they are just inactive or asleep. Metaphorically speaking, as an ajñāni we are asleep to what we really are but awake to the illusory appearance of our mind, body and the world, whereas when we experience ourself as we really are we will as the ātma-jñāni be asleep to the appearance of mind, body and world but wide awake to what we actually are. That is, the ātma-jñāni does not actually experience anything other than the one infinite self, because other than that nothing truly exists.

Though ancient texts talk as if there were more than one ātma-jñāni, and describe those ātma-jñānis as if they were each a person functioning in this world as a body and mind, and though they even distinguish different states of those ātma-jñānis such as jīvanmukti (meaning liberation while still alive in the body) and vidēhamukti (meaning liberation without the body), Sri Ramana explained that all such descriptions are given and such distinctions are made only to suit the ignorant view of ajñānis, who mistake the ātma-jñāni to be a body and mind, and hence such descriptions and distinctions seem to be true only in the confused view of ajñānis. In the clear view of the ātma-jñāni there is only one ātma-jñāni and absolutely no distinction between jīvanmukti and vidēhamukti, because this distinction is based on the seeming existence of the body, which has never existed or even seemed to exist in the infinite view of our real self, which alone is the ātma-jñāni.

Therefore, to avoid unnecessary confusion, we should clearly understand the difference between what the ātma-jñāni actually is and the body-mind-person that it (the ātma-jñāni) seems to be in our view so long as we experience ourself as a body and mind, and hence also the difference between what it actually experiences and what it seems to experience through the body and mind that we mistake to be it. If we are able to understand this difference, we should also understand that we need not concern ourself with questions about who is or is not an ātma-jñāni, because the only real ātma-jñāni is our own infinite self, the true nature of which we now seem to be not experiencing. Therefore, when we do not experience ourself as we really are, whatever we may believe we know about or may speculate about the state of anyone else is just an extension of our own ignorance about ourself.

In this context a Tamil poem composed by Sri Sadhu Om called யார் ஞானி? (yār jñāni?: ‘Who is a Jñāni?’, which is included in Sādhanai Sāram as verses 340-50 in the current Tamil edition and as verses 280-90 in the English version) is particularly relevant, so I will quote this entire poem and give an English translation of it here:
  1. ஞானியிவ ரென்றிவரஞ் ஞானியென்று தீர்க்குமதி
    ஞானமோ வன்றியஞ் ஞானமோ — ஞானியொன்றே
    ஆனவிரு பேரா யறியுமறி யாமைகண்ட
    ஞானியுமஞ் ஞானவிளை வாம்.

    ñāṉiyiva reṉḏṟivarañ ñāṉiyeṉḏṟu tīrkkumati
    ñāṉamō vaṉḏṟiyañ ñāṉamō — ñāṉiyoṉḏṟē
    āṉaviru pērā yaṟiyumaṟi yāmaikaṇḍa
    ñāṉiyumañ ñāṉaviḷai vām

    பதச்சேதம்: ‘ஞானி இவர்’ என்று, ‘இவர் அஞ்ஞானி’ என்று தீர்க்கும் மதி ஞானமோ அன்றி அஞ்ஞானமோ? ஞானி ஒன்றே. ஆன இரு பேர் ஆய் அறியும் அறியாமை கண்ட ஞானியும் அஞ்ஞான விளைவு ஆம்.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘jñāṉi ivar’ eṉḏṟu, ‘ivar ajñāṉi’ eṉḏṟu tīrkkum mati jñāṉam-ō aṉḏṟi ajñāṉam-ō? jñāṉi oṉḏṟē. āṉa iru pēr-āy aṟiyum aṟiyāmai kaṇḍa jñāṉi-y-um ajñāṉa viḷaivu ām.

    English translation: Is the intellect that decides ‘this person is a jñāni’, ‘that person is an ajñāni’, knowledge (jñāna) or ignorance (ajñāna)? The jñāni alone exists [and hence is only one, not many]. Therefore even the jñāni seen by the ignorance [the mind] that sees [jñānis] as many people is only a product of that ignorance (ajñāna).

  2. நீயேவோ ரெண்ண நினதெண்ணத் தொன்றேதான்
    தூயோர் மகானாச் சொலப்படுவோர் — மாயமாம்
    அவ்வெண்ண மெவ்வாறோர் ஆன்மபர ஞானியாம்
    இவ்வண்ணங் காண்பா யிதை.

    nīyēvō reṇṇa niṉadeṇṇat toṉḏṟēdāṉ
    tūyōr mahāṉāc colappaḍuvōr — māyamām
    avveṇṇa mevvāṟōr āṉmapara ñāṉiyām
    ivvaṇṇaṅ gāṇbā yidai

    பதச்சேதம்: நீயே ஓர் எண்ணம். நினது எண்ணத்து ஒன்றே தான் தூயோர் மகானா சொலப்படுவோர். மாயம் ஆம் அவ் எண்ணம் எவ்வாறு ஓர் ஆன்மபரஞானி ஆம்? இவ்வண்ணம் காண்பாய் இதை.

    (word-separation): nī-y-ē ōr eṇṇam. niṉadu eṇṇattu oṉḏṟē tāṉ tūyōr mahāṉā solappaḍuvōr. māyam ām a-vv-eṇṇam evvāṟu ōr āṉma-para-jñāṉi ām? ivvaṇṇam kāṇbāy idai.

    English translation:
    You [the ego that sees others] yourself are a mere thought. [Therefore] the person who is said [by you, this first thought] to be a holy person or mahātma [a great soul] is just one among your thoughts. How can that thought, which is [an illusory product of] māyā [your delusive self-ignorance], be the ātma-para-jñāni [the transcendent knower of self]? In this manner consider [or recognise] this.

  3. நல்லோ ரிவர்ஞானி நாமறிவோ மென்பதும்பொய்
    எல்லோரும் ஞானிகளே யென்பதும் பொய் — பல்லோ
    ரிருப்பதாய்க் காணலறி வின்மையடை யாளம்;
    ஒருத்தனே யுண்டதுநீ யோர்.

    nallō rivarñāṉi nāmaṟivō meṉbadumboy
    ellōrum ñāṉigaḷē yeṉbadum poy — pallō
    riruppadāyk kāṇalaṟi viṉmaiyaḍai yāḷam;
    oruttaṉē yuṇḍadunī yōr

    ‘நல்லோர் இவர், ஞானி, நாம் அறிவோம்’ என்பதும் பொய். ‘எல்லோரும் ஞானிகளே’ என்பதும் பொய். பல்லோர் இருப்பதாய் காணல் அறிவின்மை அடையாளம். ஒருத்தனே உண்டு: அது நீ ஓர்.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘nallōr ivar, ñāṉi, nām aṟivōm’ eṉbadum poy. ‘ellōrum jñāṉigaḷē’ eṉbadum poy. pallōr iruppadāy kāṇal aṟiviṉmai aḍaiyāḷam. oruttaṉ-ē uṇḍu: adu nī ōr.

    English translation:
    Even saying ‘this person is a good soul, a jñāni, we know’ is untrue. Saying ‘all people are jñānis’ is also untrue, [because] seeing as if many people exist is a definitive sign of ignorance. Only one person actually exists: know that is you [tat tvam asi].

  4. ஞானிக்கஞ் ஞானியில்லை ஞானியென்றஞ் ஞானியொரு
    மேனிக்கே நாம மிடுகின்றான் — ஞானியையும்
    தேகமாய்க் காணுந் திருட்டியினா லஞ்ஞானி
    யாகவே கண்டோ னவன்.

    ñāṉikkañ ñāṉiyillai ñāṉiyeṉḏṟañ ñāṉiyoru
    mēṉikkē nāma miḍugiṉḏṟāṉ — ñāṉiyaiyum
    dēhamāyk kāṇun diruṭṭiyiṉā laññāṉi
    yāhavē kaṇḍō ṉavaṉ

    பதச்சேதம்: ஞானிக்கு அஞ்ஞானி இல்லை. ஞானி என்று அஞ்ஞானி ஒரு மேனிக்கே நாமம் இடுகின்றான். ஞானியையும் தேகமாய் காணும் திருட்டியினால் அஞ்ஞானியாகவே கண்டோன் அவன்.

    (word-separation): jñāṉikku ajñāṉi illai. jñāṉi eṉḏṟu ajñāṉi oru mēṉikkē nāmam iḍugiṉḏṟāṉ. jñāṉiyai-y-um dēham-āy kāṇum diruṭṭiyiṉāl ajñāṉiyāhavē kaṇḍōṉ avaṉ.

    English translation:
    To the jñāni there is no ajñāni [because in the view of the jñāni no person or anything else other than our one eternally self-aware self actually exists]. The ajñāni applies the name ‘jñāni’ only to a body. By this [mistaken] view that sees even the jñāni as a body, he [the ajñāni] sees [the jñāni] merely as an ajñāni.

  5. எத்தனைமான் மாக்களிட மேகினுநீ யாவரட்ட
    சித்திகளைக் காட்டினுமச் சேட்டைகளிற் — புத்திசெலா
    துண்முகமா கென்றா ருனைத்திருப்பு வாரவர்தா
    னுண்மைமகா னென்றே யுணர்.

    ettaṉaimāṉ mākkaḷiḍa mēgiṉunī yāvaraṭṭa
    siddhigaḷaik kāṭṭiṉumac cēṭṭaigaḷiṟ — buddhiselā
    duṇmukamā keṉḏṟā ruṉaittiruppu vāravartā
    ṉuṇmaimahā ṉeṉḏṟē yuṇar

    எத்தனை மான்மாக்களிடம் ஏகினும் நீ, யாவர் அட்ட சித்திகளை காட்டினும், ‘அச் சேட்டைகளில் புத்தி செலாது உண்முகம் ஆகு’ என்று ஆர் உனை திருப்புவார், அவர் தான் உண்மை மகான் என்றே உணர்.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): ettaṉai māṉmākkaḷiḍam ēgiṉum nī, yāvar aṭṭa siddhigaḷai kāṭṭiṉum, ‘a-c-cēṭṭaigaḷil buddhi selādu uṇmukam āku’ eṉḏṟu ār uṉai tiruppuvār, avar tāṉ uṇmai mahāṉ eṉḏṟē uṇar.

    English translation:
    Even though you may go to however many mahātmas, and even though any of them may exhibit the aṣṭa siddhis [the eight kinds of supernatural power described in yōgic texts], know that whoever turns you [inwards to investigate yourself] saying, ‘Instead of letting your mind spread out in [pursuit of] such juggleries, become inward facing’, alone is a true mahātma [great soul].

  6. மகான்மாக் களைத்தேடி வானிமயங் கானம்
    புகான்மாதா னெங்கென்றுட் புக்கு — சுகான்ம
    சொரூபமா கட்டுமுன் தோன்றுமகா னெல்லாம்
    சொரூபமீ தேரமணன் சொல்.

    mahāṉmāk kaḷaittēḍi vāṉimayaṅ kāṉam
    puhāṉmātā ṉeṅgeṉḏṟuḍ pukku — sukhāṉma
    sorūpamā kaṭṭumuṉ tōṉḏṟumahā ṉellām
    sorūpamī dēramaṇaṉ sol

    பதச்சேதம்: மகான்மாக்களை தேடி வான் இமயம் கானம் புகு ஆன்மா ‘தான் எங்கு’ என்று உள் புக்கு சுகான்ம சொரூபம் ஆகட்டும். முன் தோன்றும் மகான் எல்லாம் சொரூபம். ஈதே ரமணன் சொல்.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): mahāṉmākkaḷai tēḍi vāṉ imayam kāṉam puhu āṉmā ‘tāṉ eṅgu’ eṉḏṟu uḷ pukku sukhāṉma-sorūpam āhaṭṭum. muṉ tōṉḏṟum mahāṉ ellām sorūpam. īdē ramaṇaṉ sol.

    English translation:
    May the ātman [the person or jivātman] who goes into the vast Himalayas and forests seeking mahātmas [instead] become sukhātma-svarūpa [the eternally blissful self] by going within seeking where itself is. All the mahātmas who had previously appeared in front [as if they were other people] will [then be known to] be svarūpa [our own self]. This is what Sri Ramana said.

  7. தன்னையறி முன்னந் தவசியரைத் தானறித
    லென்ன விதத்து மியலாது — தன்னை
    யொருசீவ னென்ற வுணர்வை யொழிக்கும்
    பெருமுயற்சி யொன்றே பிடி.

    taṉṉaiyaṟi muṉṉan tavasiyarait tāṉaṟida
    leṉṉa vidhattu miyalādu — taṉṉai
    yorujīva ṉeṉḏṟa vuṇarvai yoṙikkum
    perumuyaṯci yoṉḏṟē piḍi

    பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை அறி முன்னம் தவசியரை தான் அறிதல் என்ன விதத்தும் இயலாது. தன்னை ஒரு சீவன் என்ற உணர்வை ஒழிக்கும் பெரு முயற்சி ஒன்றே பிடி.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai aṟi muṉṉam tavasiyarai tāṉ aṟidal eṉṉa vidhattum iyalādu. taṉṉai oru jīvaṉ eṉḏṟa uṇarvai oṙikkum peru muyaṯci oṉḏṟē piḍi.

    English translation:
    Before one knows oneself, oneself knowing [the real nature of] tapasvis [those who are merged forever in the egoless state of ātma-jñāna, which alone is true tapas] is not in any way possible. [Therefore giving up all futile efforts to know who is a real jñāṉi] cling only to the exalted effort [namely ātma-vicāra or self-investigation] that will destroy [your illusory] awareness of yourself as a jiva [a person or ego].

  8. ஞானியரஞ் ஞானியென்று நாடும் விருத்தியினித்
    தானெழுந்தாற் சட்டென்று தள்ளிவிட்டு — ‘நானியார்’
    என்றவ் விருத்தி யெழுந்தவிடத் துட்டிருப்பி
    யொன்றுவதி லேகவன மூன்று.

    ñāṉiyarañ ñāṉiyeṉḏṟu nāḍum viruttiyiṉit
    tāṉeṙundāṯ caṭṭeṉḏṟu taḷḷiviṭṭu — nāṉiyār
    eṉḏṟav virutti yeṙundaviḍat tuṭṭiruppi
    yoṉḏṟuvadi lēgavaṉa mūṉḏṟu

    ஞானியர் அஞ்ஞானி என்று நாடும் விருத்தி இனி தான் எழுந்தால், சட் என்று தள்ளிவிட்டு நான் யார் என்று அவ் விருத்தி எழுந்த இடத்து உள் திருப்பி ஒன்று அதிலே கவனம் ஊன்று.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): jñāṉiyar ajñāṉi eṉḏṟu nāḍum virutti iṉi tāṉ eṙundāl, saṭ eṉḏṟu taḷḷi-viṭṭu nāṉ yār eṉḏṟu av virutti eṙunda iḍattu uḷ tiruppi oṉḏṟu adilē gavaṉam ūṉḏṟu.

    English translation:
    If any thought rises [in you] hereafter wanting to know [whether someone is] a jñāni or an ajñāni, rejecting it immediately [by] turning within investigating who am I [this ego who wants to determine the state of others], fix your attention and merge only in the source [yourself] from which that thought arose.

  9. இவர்ஞானி யஞ்ஞானி யென்றறிதல் விட்டே
    அவரிருப்ப தாக வறிவோர் — எவரென்
    றுசாவவது நானென் றுதிப்பவனை யாரென்
    றுசாவுகமெய்ஞ் ஞானியுதிப் பான்.

    ivarñāṉi yaññāṉi yeṉḏṟaṟidal viṭṭē
    avariruppa dāha vaṟivōr — evareṉ
    ṟucāvavadu nāṉeṉ ḏṟudippavaṉai yāreṉ
    ṟucāvuhameyñ ñāṉiyudip pāṉ

    பதச்சேதம்: இவர் ஞானி அஞ்ஞானி என்று அறிதல் விட்டே, அவர் இருப்பதாக அறிவோர் எவர் என்று உசாவ, அது நான் என்று உதிப்பவனை யார் என்று உசாவுக. மெய்ஞ்ஞானி உதிப்பான்.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): ivar jñāṉi ajñāṉi eṉḏṟu aṟidal viṭṭē, avar iruppadāha aṟivōr evar eṉḏṟu ucāva, adu nāṉ eṉḏṟu udippavaṉai yār eṉḏṟu ucāvuha. mey-jñāṉi udippāṉ.

    English translation:
    Giving up trying to determine whether these people are jñānis or ajñānis, when one investigates who is the one who perceives them as existing, it will be clear that it is ‘I’, so investigate who this ‘I’ who rises is. The true jñāni will [then] shine forth [as your own self, your pure self-awareness ‘I am I’].

  10. யாரானால் ஞானி நமக்கென்ன நாம்நம்மைப்
    பாராத மட்டும் பயனில்லை — ஆராயின்
    ஞானமே ஞானி நரவடிவ மன்றுபர
    வானமே நாமவ் வடிவு.

    yārāṉāl ñāṉi namakkeṉṉa nāmnammaip
    pārāda maṭṭum payaṉillai — ārāyiṉ
    ñāṉamē ñāṉi naravaḍiva maṉḏṟupara
    vāṉamē nāmav vaḍivu

    பதச்சேதம்: யார் ஆனால் ஞானி நமக்கு என்ன? நாம் நம்மை பாராத மட்டும் பயன் இல்லை. ஆராயின் ஞானமே ஞானி. நர வடிவம் அன்று. பர வானமே. நாம் அவ்வடிவு.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): yār āṉāl jñāṉi namakku eṉṉa? nām nammai pārāda maṭṭum payaṉ illai. ārāyiṉ jñāṉam-ē jñāṉi. nara vaḍivam aṉḏṟu. para-vāṉam-ē. nām a-v-vaḍivu.

    English translation:
    Whoever may be a jñāni, what is it to us? So long as we do not know ourself, it will be of no benefit. If we investigate, jñāna alone is the jñāni. It [the jñāni] is not a human form. It is only the transcendent space [of pure self-awareness]. We are that form [the transcendent space of self-awareness].

  11. ஆகவே ஞானி யவரிவரென் றாய்மதியைச்
    சாகவே செய்வாய்வி சாரணையால் — ஏகமாய்
    நானிதுவென் றுந்தியெழா ஞானமே ஞானியென
    மோனமதாற் காணல் முறை.

    āhavē ñāṉi yavarivareṉ ḏṟāymatiyaic
    sāhavē seyvāyvi cāraṇaiyāl — ēkamāy
    nāṉiduveṉ ḏṟundiyeṙā ñāṉamē ñāṉiyeṉa
    mōṉamadāṟ kāṇal muṟai

    பதச்சேதம்: ஆகவே ஞானி அவர் இவர் என்று ஆய் மதியை சாகவே செய்வாய் விசாரணையால். ஏகமாய் நான் இது என்று உந்தி எழா ஞானமே ஞானி என மோனம் அதால் காணல் முறை.

    Padacchēdam (word-separation): āhavē jñāṉi avar ivar eṉḏṟu āy matiyai sāhavē seyvāy vicāraṇaiyāl. ēkam-āy nāṉ idu eṉḏṟu undi eṙā jñāṉam-ē jñāṉi eṉa mōṉam adāl kāṇal muṟai.

    English translation:
    Therefore, by self-investigation [ātma-vicāra] annihilate the petty mind that seeks to know whether this person or that person is a jñāni. The correct way [to see the jñāni] is seeing by means of silence [the state in which the mind has never existed] that only jñāna, which being one [the sole existing reality] does not rise and jump out as ‘I am this’, is the jñāni.
In each of the final two verses of this poem Sri Sadhu Om says ‘ஞானமே ஞானி’ (jñāṉam-ē jñāṉi), which means ‘jñāna alone is the jñāni’. Jñāna means knowing or knowledge, and jñāni means knower or what knows, but generally in the context of Sri Ramana’s teachings and advaita philosophy jñāna means specifically knowledge in the sense of pure self-awareness, our fundamental knowledge ‘I am’, and jñāni accordingly means that which is thus aware of itself. Since we are aware of ourself, and since the self we are thus aware of is not other than us, the ‘we’ (or ‘I’) who is aware of it, pure self-awareness is a non-dual experience — an experience in which there is absolutely no distinction between the experiencer (ourself who experiences) and the experienced (ourself who is experienced). Moreover, since being self-aware is our very nature, our awareness of ourself is not anything other than ourself. Therefore, since pure non-dual self-awareness is what the word ‘jñāna’ denotes in this context, the jñāni or knower who experiences such jñāna cannot be other than that jñāna itself.

Therefore jñāna (in the sense of ātma-jñāna — self-knowledge or pure self-awareness) is our real self, and hence in the first sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Sri Ramana says ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (jñāṉam ām tāṉ-ē mey), which means ‘self, which is jñāna, alone is real’. To make it clear that the jñāna he refers to here is absolutely non-dual, solitary and devoid of any otherness, in the next sentence he distinguishes it from any knowledge of multiplicity, diversity, variety or otherness by saying ‘நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā ām jñāṉam ajñāṉam ām), which means ‘knowledge of manyness is ajñāna’. நானா ஆம் ஞானம் (nāṉā ām jñāṉam) literally means ‘knowledge which is manifold’ or ‘knowledge which becomes manifold’, but in this context it used to mean knowledge of manyness, as is clear from an earlier version of this verse, which is now verse 12 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ, in which the equivalent phrase he used in the second sentence was ‘நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa jñāṉam), which means ‘knowledge that sees manyness’.

The ‘knowledge that sees manyness’ is our ego or mind, which is the confused knowledge or adulterated self-awareness ‘I am this’ (in which ‘this’ represents anything other than our pure self-awareness ‘I am’). The nature of this ego is to experience things other than itself, and it cannot rise or endure as the ego without experiencing things other than itself. Therefore as soon as it tries to experience itself (‘I’) alone, it begins to subside, and if it manages to experience itself alone, it will merge forever in its source, which is ourself, the pure non-dual knowledge (jñāna) ‘I am’.

The ego and its knowledge of multiplicity are both unreal, because they do not actually exist but only seem to exist. However, their seeming existence depends upon the actual existence of our real self, because they could not even seem to exist if we (our real self) did not actually exist, so we alone are the one real substance that now seems to be the ego and all the diverse things it experiences, just as gold is the one substance that seems to be a diverse variety of gold ornaments, as Sri Ramana says in the second half of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
ஞானமாந் தானேமெய் நானாவா ஞானமஞ்
ஞானமாம் பொய்யாமஞ் ஞானமுமே — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

ñāṉamān tāṉēmey nāṉāvā ñāṉamañ
ñāṉamām poyyāmañ ñāṉamumē —ñāṉamān
taṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟaṇika ḍāmpalavum poymeyyām
poṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yuṇḍō puhal

பதச்சேதம்: ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய். நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம். பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று. அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): jñāṉam ām tāṉē mey. nāṉā ām jñāṉam ajñāṉam ām. poy ām ajñāṉamumē jñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu. aṇikaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal.

English translation: Self, which is knowledge (jñāna), alone is real. Knowledge that is manifold is ignorance (ajñāna). Even [this] ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist apart from self, which is knowledge. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist apart from the gold, which is real?
Because gold is a physical substance, it can be divided and shaped into an endless variety of forms, and whatever form it takes does not actually conceal the fact that it is gold. Therefore, though the variety of ornaments made of gold is a good analogy to illustrate how one substance can appear in many forms, we should not try to stretch the implication of this analogy too far, because unlike gold our real self cannot be divided into many parts, and it never actually becomes any different forms. This is why Sri Ramana emphasises here that knowledge of manyness is not only ignorance but is also unreal. Whereas gold is actually shaped into many different ornaments, self is immutable, so it never changes or becomes anything, and hence the ego and its experience of manyness are just an illusion or false appearance.

The appearance of everything — all duality, multiplicity, diversity, variety and otherness — is experienced only by the ego, so it depends entirely upon the appearance of the ego, as Sri Ramana says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

ahandaiyuṇ ḍāyi ṉaṉaittumuṇ ḍāhu
mahandaiyiṉ ḏṟēliṉ ḏṟaṉaittu — mahandaiyē
yāvumā mādalāl yādideṉḏṟu nādalē
yōvudal yāvumeṉa vōr.

பதச்சேதம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr.

அன்வயம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், அனைத்தும் இன்று. யாவும் அகந்தையே ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே யாவும் ஓவுதல் என ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, aṉaittum iṉḏṟu. yāvum ahandai-y-ē ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē yāvum ōvudal eṉa ōr.

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything [or everything is only the ego]. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
Since the ego is just a mistaken experience of ourself, if we investigate ourself by trying to experience ourself alone, without experiencing even the slightest trace of anything else, and if we thereby experience ourself as we really are, the ego will be destroyed entirely, and hence everything else will cease to exist. This is why Sri Ramana ends this verse by saying, ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr), ‘Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’.

Therefore in the state of ātma-jñāna — the state in which we experience ourself as we really are — there is absolutely no ego and hence no experience of anything else whatsoever. Since the entire multiplicity of other things seems to exist only in the self-ignorant view of the ego, it will no longer seem to exist when the ego is destroyed by the experience of ātma-jñāna, because in the absence of the ego there will be nothing to experience anything other than ourself, the pure non-dual knowledge ‘I am’.

Since ātma-jñāna is an experience that is completely devoid of even the slightest experience of any duality, diversity, multiplicity or otherness, there is nothing that could experience ātma-jñāna other than ātma-jñāna itself. Therefore as Sri Sadhu Om says: ‘ஞானமே ஞானி’ (jñāṉam-ē jñāṉi), ‘jñāna alone is the jñāni’. There is no jñāni other than jñāna itself, and jñāna is nothing but our real self, the one non-dual knowledge or self-awareness that experiences only itself and not anything whatsoever.

Therefore the ātma-jñāni is not a person — a human body or mind — but only our infinite self, and it does not experience anything other than ourself. Hence the ātma-jñāni is not anything other than ourself, so we can truly ‘see’ the ātma-jñāni only by experiencing ourself as we really are. Therefore until we experience ourself as we really are, whatever we may believe we know about the ātma-jñāni or the state of ātma-jñāna is just an idea, a thought that has risen in our mind, and is therefore just another product of our self-ignorance (ajñāna).

However, though our mind cannot conceive the state of the ātma-jñāni, we can at least avoid some of the worst misconceptions that are prevalent about the ātma-jñāni, such as that the ātma-jñāni is a person with a body and mind, or that the ātma-jñāni experiences the world as we do. We can also avoid being deceived by anyone who claims ‘I am an ātma-jñāni’ or ‘I have realised myself’, because even though the ātma-jñāni may sometimes appear in our experience as if it were a ‘person’ such as Sri Ramana, such a ‘person’ is completely devoid of ego and will therefore conduct itself with perfect humility, and will not claim to be anything special, since it sees no differences between itself and ‘others’. For example, in reply to someone who said to him, ‘Your realisation is unique in the spiritual history of the world’, Sri Ramana replied in English: ‘What is real in me is real in you and in everyone else. Where is the room for any difference?’ Such self-effacing humility is perhaps the surest outward sign of ātma-jñāna, if at all anything external could be said to be a sign of it.

Since ‘ourself, which is jñāna, alone is real’ (as Sri Ramana says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), and since the jñāni is therefore nothing but jñāna itself, it always remains as it is, immutable and without ever doing anything, so it does not actually become any person or human form. However, from the self-ignorant perspective of our ego it does seem to appear sometimes in a human form such as Sri Ramana, but after studying his teachings we should understand that the jñāni is not actually whatever human form it may seem to be, and that the only reason why it appears in such a human form is to teach us that in order to experience what is real we must turn our attention inwards, towards ourself alone, and thereby try experience ourself as we really are.

This is therefore another reason why we should not allow our attention to go outwards in an attempt to know whether this person or that person is a jñāni. Trying to know whether or not any particular person is a jñāni is a futile effort, not only because we cannot know what the inward state of anyone else actually is so long as we do not even know what we ourself are, but also because trying to know about others distracts our attention for no good reason away from trying to experience what we actually are. Even if we do decide that someone such as Sri Ramana is a jñāni, and even if that is in some sense true (at least from the limited perspective of our ego), we cannot truly understand his state or what is actually meant by being a jñāni, because whatever idea we may have about it is certainly not accurate, since we can only conceive it in terms of what we now experience, which according to him is only ignorance (ajñāna).

The common idea that a jñāni is a person who knows ātman, ‘the Self’, but who also knows the multiplicity and diversity of the physical world and events happening in time and space, is a wildly mistaken concept that has resulted from our own self-ignorance — our fundamental confusion that we are a body and mind. Therefore until we get rid of our present self-ignorance by experiencing ourself as we really are, whatever idea we may have about the experience of the jñāni falls far short of what it actually is. However, though our mind cannot know what that experience is, we can to some extent at least understand what it is not, and one thing that it is certainly not is an experience of any multiplicity or difference, or of anything else other than ourself alone.

So long as we think that a jñāni is a person or that he or she experiences anything other than ‘I’, we open the doors to numerous other misconceptions. One common misconception is that there are different states or different degrees of ātma-jñāna or self-realisation. For example, some people talk about others being ‘fully realised’ or ‘partially realised’, whereas in fact there is no such thing as partial ātma-jñāna or self-realisation, because we either experience ourself as we really are or we experience ourself as something else. So long as we experience ourself as anything other than what we really are, we are not self-realised or even partially self-realised, but are still immersed in self-ignorance.

However, though there can be no degrees of ātma-jñāna (or any differences in it at all), we could say that there are degrees of ajñāna in the sense that it can be more or less dense. The stronger our desire is to experience anything other than ourself, the denser our ajñāna is, so to speak, because such desire is what prevents us from experiencing ourself as we really are. Therefore, if we want to progress on the path towards ātma-jñāna, we must weaken our desires to experience anything other than ourself and correspondingly increase our love to experience ourself alone, and the only way to do this is to persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible.

To return now to verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which Sri Ramana said ‘என்னை அறியேன் நான், என்னை அறிந்தேன் நான் என்னல் நகைப்புக்கு இடன் ஆகும்’ (eṉṉai aṟiyēṉ nāṉ, eṉṉai aṟindēṉ nāṉ eṉṉal nahaippukku iḍaṉ āhum), which means ‘Saying “I do not know myself” [or] “I have known myself” is ground for ridicule’, both of these statements are ‘ground for ridicule’ because they both indicate the existence of the ego, since in the absence of the ego there would be no one to think either ‘I know myself’ or ‘I do not know myself’. However, whereas a person who thinks or says ‘I do not know myself’ is thereby not only demonstrating his or her self-ignorance but also acknowledging it, any person who thinks or claims ‘I know who I am’ or ‘I have realised myself’ is demonstrating his or her self-ignorance while at the same time denying it.

If we are to free ourself from our self-ignorance, the first thing we must do is to recognise that we are self-ignorant, and that our self-ignorance is the cause of all our other problems, because otherwise we will have no motivation to try to experience ourself as we actually are. Therefore recognising that we are now covered in an armour of self-ignorance is the first chink we can and must make in this armour, because then only can we begin to unravel it. In this sense we can say that if we recognise and acknowledge our own self-ignorance or ajñāna, it is at least less dense than it would be if we were to deny it either to ourself or to others. Therefore as a general rule we should be sceptical and wary about anyone who claims to be a jñāni or who says ‘I have realised myself’, because the chances are that such a person is either deluding themself or trying to delude others.

Moreover, as Sri Sadhu Om says in verse 10 of Yār Jñāni?: ‘யார் ஆனால் ஞானி நமக்கு என்ன? நாம் நம்மை பாராத மட்டும் பயன் இல்லை’ (yār āṉāl jñāṉi namakku eṉṉa? nām nammai pārāda maṭṭum payaṉ illai), ‘Whoever may be a jñāni, what is it to us? So long as we do not know ourself, it will be of no benefit’. We can derive true benefit from ātma-jñāna only when we experience it ourself, and we can experience it only by persistently practising ātma-vicāra — that is, trying to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else that we may experience.

When we experience ourself as we really are, we will discover that the only jñāni is ourself, because nothing other than ourself actually exists. Since the seeming existence of other people and even of the person we now seem to be is just an illusion created by our own self-ignorance, how can any of those other people be jñānis? By experiencing them as if they were other than ourself, we are experiencing them as products of our own ajñāna, so how can any product of ajñāna be a jñāni?

Even if we accept that from the relative perspective of our ego the jñāni does sometimes seem to be a ‘person’ such as Sri Ramana, we do not have any reliable means to know who is a jñāni so long as we do not experience what we ourself really are. Therefore we cannot truly know who is a jñāni, and even if we could know it, we would not derive any benefit from knowing it unless we try to experience ourself as we really are, so rather than concerning ourself with questions about who is or is not a jñāni, we should focus all our interest and attention only on trying to know who am I, this ego who is so eager to know about others.


Josef Bruckner said...

Many thanks, Michael,
it‘s really important to answer that interesting question.
I wiil read the article with rapt attention.

Gavin Huxham said...

Thanks Michael for your very clear post. It does certainly raise an eyebrow when someone can say 'I know who I am' and then go on to express surprise and frustration at (supposedly) not being correctly understood. As you rightly point out in such a case otherness is clearly indicated and still being experienced. Best Regards and thanks for this valuable blog.

Joel said...

Of course there is no such thing as a 'self-realised person'. There are no 'things' full stop. It is simply a manner of speaking. Reality is non-objective. Did it really require so many words to clear that one up?

There is neither a non-realised person, nor a self-realised person, since both are just objects. Yet you are happy, or perhaps not so happy, to describe yourself as an 'ajnani'. So is there any such thing as a 'non-realised person'? No, of course not. So it rather defeats the argument for a non-realised person, which doesn't exist, to critique the concept of a self-realised person, which similarly doesn't exist. What have you achieved? Merely stating the obvious for those, including yourself, who do not find it obvious.

Steve said...

"If speaking from self-realisation is only seen as 'showing off' here, and your blog is intended to be a compendium of one unrealised person's views for the benefit of other unrealised persons, then of course I will respect your wishes and say no more." - Joel

Are you forgetful, Joel, or simply too weak to live up to your own words?

Joel said...

"Are you forgetful, Joel, or simply too weak to live up to your own words?"

-- There is no need for that kind of pettiness. Michael has clearly referenced his post to something I said, so it is only fitting that I should respond.

Michael James said...

Joel, since you agree that there is no such thing as a ‘self-realised person’, do you think any person can ever be justified in claiming ‘I have realised who I am’? If so, how or in what circumstances can such a claim be justified?

Joel said...

"Joel, since you agree that there is no such thing as a ‘self-realised person’, do you think any person can ever be justified in claiming ‘I have realised who I am’? If so, how or in what circumstances can such a claim be justified?"

-- I am not a person, what do you expect me to say? I am the reality. A 'person' is a projection of the mind through which I communicate with you, another projection of the mind. Is there something difficult in this? You seem to imagine that realisation is competitive and that your ignorant lengthy remarks should go unchallenged. I acknowledge that you imagine you are challenging what you see as my own ignorant though more concise remarks. So where do we stand. A conversation is happening between the self and the self. You are either aware of it for what it actually is, or you imagine something else is happening.

Gavin Huxham said...

Joel, Steve is not being petty. Why not display your 'realisation' through remaining silent? Exposing Michael's 'lengthy ignorant remarks' with your words which are 'spoken from self-realisation', as you so elegantly put it, is unbecoming conduct for a jnani. Why don't you start your own website and blog so you can dispense the fruits of your obvious 'realisation' to the masses from such a platform. It is very popular these days with so many more 'realised ones' around than ever before. Thankfully Michael only gives us the teachings of our sadguru Sri Ramana in clear, easy to understand English. He does not patronise us with his own enlightenment. You however are clearly abiding as the jnani we all truely are and have attained the final goal so you have also transcended the three unreal states. Well done. Again I would suggest that the most appropriate response to this for the jnani is indeed silence.

Anonymous said...

Oh ! Look ! Here are some fresh translation, and it starts with this short Sadhu Om's... ah ! ah ! What a wonder Michael, what a wonder ! Praise be to you !

R Viswanathan said...

I understand from David Godman's interview with Maalok (available in David Godman's website) that Bhagavan was never for suppressing 'bad reports'. I copy-paste the relevant portion below for the benefit of the readers who would not have read that interview.

That being the case, I sincerely feel that while opposing Joel Biroco's views certainly is not inconsistent with Bhagavan's teachings, expecting or suggesting that he remains silent might be inconsistent with Bhagavan's teachings. I see that Joel has his own website, too (if I am right that this is it:

I trust that by the grace of Bhagavan something good will come out of the conversation between Michael James and Joel Biroco for all of us since essentially they both agree that only self remains or is, which is what Bhagavan too taught us. The aspects which they don't seem to agree with each other should not distract us from the main truth.

I copy paste the interview here.

When outsiders did make up stories about him, Sri Ramana would react with amusement rather than annoyance. When a disgruntled ex-devotee brought out an extremely libellous pamphlet about him in the early 1930s, the ashram manager wanted to go to court and sue the author to protect the good name of Sri Ramana and the ashram.
Sri Ramana dissuaded him and said, ‘Why don’t you instead sell it at the front gate. The good devotees will read it and not believe a word of it. The bad devotees will believe it and stay away. That way we will get fewer visitors here.’

The manager, of course, could never agree to such a proposal since the devotees would not stand for such a scurrilous booklet being sold on the ashram’s premises. However, the whole incident illustrates an interesting aspect of Sri Ramana’s character: not only was he unmoved by personal criticism, he occasionally enjoyed it, and at times even seemed to revel in it. It is said in the sastras that response to praise or blame is one of the last things to go before enlightenment happens. It was definitely absent in Sri Ramana. Let me mention one other story that very few people have heard about. There used to be a scrapbook in the hall where Sri Ramana lived. If there were any stories about him in the newspapers, someone would cut them out and paste them in the book. They were either neutral reports that gave information about his life, teachings and ashram, or they were very favourable testimonials. One day a highly critical report appeared in a newspaper. Sri Ramana himself cut it out and pasted it on the front cover of the scrapbook, overruling the horrified objections of all the devotees.

‘Everyone should have their say,’ he said. ‘Why should we keep only the good reports? Why should we suppress the bad ones?’

This is all a roundabout way of saying that there are no bad stories about Sri Ramana, so the question of suppressing them doesn’t arise.

To sum-up, Michael James' articles are so very beneficial for all of us that opposite views, if they really are, should also be beneficial for us.

Joel said...

Gavin said: "Why not display your 'realisation' through remaining silent?"

-- What makes you think I am at all interested in having 'my' 'realisation' somehow 'recognised'? And recognised by one who has said he is in no position to recognise it in any case. What purpose would that serve? This is purely your imagination. You are getting carried away with the grandiosity of the notion of 'realisation'. May you one day discover that it is much simpler than you suppose.

I'll remind you, and others, that my interaction with this website came after I made a simple four-line comment that Michael took such exception to that he has thus far 'answered' it through three enormous posts. If nothing else, I can be credited with getting him to put his thinking cap on so that all you passive observers of the realisation of others have something to entertain you.

As for 'unbecoming conduct for a jnani', what a laughable idea. Michael has just, at length, and through the doctrinal assertion of freshly translated Tamil extracts, written off the notion that there can be any such thing as a jnani, but now here you are claiming that there is such a thing as acceptable conduct for this non-existent object.

Gavin further said: "Again I would suggest that the most appropriate response to this for the jnani is indeed silence."

-- I try to keep it as short as I can.

Gavin Huxham said...

Joel, I do not consider anyone who claims to be 'speaking from realisation'(your words) while simultaneously attempting repeatedly to clarify their position, 'realised'. It feels a bit off to me, but then who am I anyway? It appears from your comments that you have come to know clearly and beyond all doubt 'who you are'. Yes by grace alone may I one day discover that 'realisation' is much simpler that I now suppose. I pray to Arunachala, who I understand to be my very self, to bless me in this regard and help me to curb my imagination as pointed out to me by you. I know nothing and I am merely a simple aspirant on the path of being devoted to I alone. I can't claim anything. Admittedly in my limited outlook 'others' appear to conduct themselves in various ways. When you come down to my level and interact with those who clearly are not very advanced such as myself you will have to make a few concessions to my ignorance. I agree with Viswanathan that no one should be silenced against their will and by all means welcome any further response. As you say at the very least it provides a few laughs and some entertainment if somewhat distracting from the task at hand which is of course attending to I alone. Best Regards.

Dana Lomas said...

Wow, so much to read about the problematic mind, and its maya myths, such as the imaginings of unrealized persons vs self-realized persons. If nothing else, at least consider Joel as a practiced editor. And surely, when it comes to contemplating illusory things, the mind is far less problematic if left to the more pragmatic task of figuring out where it last imagined the car keys to be.

Joel said...

Gavin said: "Joel, I do not consider anyone who claims to be 'speaking from realisation'(your words) while simultaneously attempting repeatedly to clarify their position, 'realised'. "

-- Do I look like I am trying to secure your approval?

Gavin further said: "When you come down to my level and interact with those who clearly are not very advanced such as myself you will have to make a few concessions to my ignorance."

-- Ramana used to sometimes 'make concessions' to people's ignorance, as when he talked about the presence of the self during sleep, while also contradicting it with the true teaching that the three states do not exist, and it is this concession to the ignorance of others that has brought us to the sorry position we are now in three long Michael James posts later.

Joel said...

Gavin also said: "at the very least it provides a few laughs and some entertainment if somewhat distracting from the task at hand which is of course attending to I alone."

-- Now I see why self-realisation eludes you. Because what else is there than 'I alone'? What you call 'distraction' is the 'I alone' too, but because 'you' identify 'yourself' with one who imagines himself distracted, you do not see it. As for the one 'attending' to 'I alone', you might want to enquire who that is.

Noob said...

The question is always the same, where this urge to post is coming from and who are you posting to/

Joel said...

Noob said: "The question is always the same, where this urge to post is coming from and who are you posting to?"

-- And what do you answer?

R Viswanathan said...

Any answer by the mind perhaps will only be a wrong answer. But persistently asking the question, I believe (based on the understanding of teachings of Bhagavan at conceptual level) will turn the mind inwards again and again and eventually result in revelation of ever-revealed - Sat Chit Ananda.

Joel said...

No me. No you. Just this that's here.

Steve said...

"No me. No you. Just this that's here."! I see now why you can't 'say no more'. Who could contain that kind of wisdom?

Joel said...

Steve said: "! I see now why you can't 'say no more'. Who could contain that kind of wisdom?"

-- While you're taking a break from attending to 'I', perhaps you could tell us who your sarcasm serves.

Joel said...

I think I'll stay here for quite some while. There's obviously a lot of mixed-up people here who would benefit from some straight talking.

So feel free to insult and belittle me if that is all you can manage after all this time studying Michael James's writings, I'm sure there will be something we can work with.

Steve said...

Joel, I've seen you on two different sites, using four different names, and your act just gets more and more tiresome.

I think you'll stay till you wear out your welcome, as you always do.

Joel said...

Steve, I've seen you on a few sites too, but you may as well be 'Anon'. The only reason I came to this site in the first place is because you kept spamming it at Batgap, so I took a look, read Michael James's post on sleep, and was inspired to make a four-line comment. I probably wouldn't have bothered any more with this site had Michael not deemed fit to take such issue with this comment, which even he concedes is not contrary to anything Ramana Maharshi said. So here we are today. It is as simple as that. People can follow the link to my site if they want to know more about me, and even drop me an email if they wish to discuss these matters further, as some have. As for you, you're just a name with surly disposition and a dead dog.

Max said...

Joel said "I think I'll stay here for quite some while. There's obviously a lot of mixed-up people here who would benefit from some straight talking.

So feel free to insult and belittle me if that is all you can manage after all this time studying Michael James's writings, I'm sure there will be something we can work with."

Why do you even bother?

The one and only reason I can think of is that you have to realise your own little I again and again. To boost your ego. Nothing more and nothing less.

Joel said...

Max said: "Why do you even bother?"

-- Because I care. Hold it against me.

Max said...

Ok Joel, you confirmed my assumtions.

Joel said...

Max said: "Ok Joel, you confirmed my assumtions."

-- Is there some value in reifying the illusory person you imagine yourself to be who holds these assumptions?

Joel said...

When the cartoon chickens have finished reacting to a cartoon fox, perhaps there will be a moment to reflect upon the subtext exhibited on this site, that one is not worthy of self-realisation unless one ties oneself up in all manner of hand-me-down ideas, from irrelevant considerations about the 'jnani' and the 'ajnani' to the cosh of 'mouna' (silence) used to hit anyone who dares to say something that might appear to a non-existent 'person' as somehow unsayable.

The bottom line is that Michael James has analysed a mere manner of speaking in meticulous detail to disavow notions that, if he was talking 'from realisation', he would have dismissed as obvious nonsense. Instead he dives into all manner of doctrinal extracts to prove a point that hardly even needs discussing, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he is fighting a ghost and has only engaged on this endeavour in the first place because he feels that my comments have somehow made him 'lose face' as a scholar of the great realisation. That's obvious enough to any student of human behaviour, but such was not my intention, and I suggest that if he looks back over all of this that he will see that my original four-line statement that began it all was not so controversial. And, for the benefit of those who have not followed this closely, I repeat it below:

"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."

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, you have written in this article as follows:

‘Therefore if any person thinks ‘I have realised who I am’, they are obviously self-deluded rather than self-realised, because if they had realised what they really are, they would thereby have ceased to be a person, having merged completely in and as the one infinite reality, and hence would have no mind and would not think anything’.

This needs some clarification. Obviously from our viewpoint, the jnani seems to think, write and communicate with us through words. Yes, we do understand intellectually that he has no ego or mind, but as long as we have an ego or mind he also seems to have an ego or mind, and seems to act in our deluded perspective.

I remember Bhagavan had once said that the fellow Venkataraman is long dead and gone. That means that Bhagavan was indicating, at least from our viewpoint, that he had attained his atma-svarupa. Therefore, why cannot a jnani say ‘I have realised who I am’? After all, I believe Jesus had said: 'I AM THAT I AM’. Therefore, in this case a jnani was asserting and declaring his jnana to us, at least from our perspective.

Of course, a jnani’s ego is dead, but can he not use language (in some rare cases) to indicate his jnana to us, as and when such need arises from our perspective?

Thanking you and pranams.

Joel said...

Even one who supposes they have an ego and a mind does not, because these 'things' don't exist at all This is why it is called 'illusion'. The so-called 'jnani' has not 'killed the ego' at all, nor is the ego 'dead', because there was never an ego to kill or die in the first place, nor has the 'jnani' 'subdued the mind', because there never was a mind.

Yet a mind can appear to be, and can appear to project a 'person' and 'a world' and 'a universe'. Really the 'mind' is a tool of virtuality conjured from the void of nothingness, it does not actually exist, it only seems to exist. When it is realised (by no-one, since the 'person' disappears in the realisation) that the mind never existed and that everything is an appearance, there is what has been called 'jnana'. And that's all it is. Nothingness masquerading as everythingness. The appearance continues, but it is no longer mistaken for reality as it appears in terms of its objective 'content', rather it is reality simply because there is longer any delusion about it, and so what we called 'the appearance' is actually 'the reality', because there is nothing else for it to be. This is what is meant by 'the self alone exists', although it hardly matters what you call it.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, because we mistake the jñāni to be a body, it seems to us that the jñāni is thinking, talking and acting like us, whereas in fact the jñāni is our infinite self, which does not think, talk or do anything. Being the one infinite self, other than which nothing exists, the jñāni does not actually experience anything other than ‘I’, so we can comprehend the state of the jñāni only by experiencing ourself as we actually are.

Since the jñāni does not think anything, or experience anything other than itself, it obviously does not think ‘I have realised who I am’. This is why I wrote that “if any person thinks ‘I have realised who I am’, they are obviously self-deluded rather than self-realised”.

As I also explained in this article, even if we consider that it is meaningful in a certain sense to say that a person is a jñāni, we have no reliable means of knowing whether any particular person is a jñāni or not. However, since the jñāni is devoid of ego and does not experience any differences such as ‘myself’ and ‘others’ (as Bhagavan says in verse 38 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham), as a general rule of thumb we can expect the jñāni to act with perfect humility and not to claim that he or she (the person who seems to be a jñāni ) is in any way special or different to anyone else.

Of course we cannot predict the behaviour of any person that the jñāni seems to be, and we cannot say that such a person will not do this or that, but to avoid being deceived by any person who claims to be a jñāni or ‘self-realised’, it is best to apply this general rule of thumb and thereby to infer that any person who behaves egotistically or claims themself to be in any way special or different to others is probably not a jñāni.

Dana Lomas said...

Mimicking Groucho Marx ... "I once killed an ego in this illusion ... How it got in this illusion, I'll never know!"

Steve said...

Joel, appearances continue to exist only while an ego still appears to exist. To see what Sri Ramana says about this, I would suggest reading the following:

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

'The perceiver and the perceived are both unreal'

'We can believe vivartavada directly but not ajata vada'

These are three of Michael's articles from September and October, the links to which are in the left-hand column.

Dana Lomas said...

To get back to an earlier question: How explain the seeming absurdity of an illusory entity talking about what seems to exist to it? Should not its illusory nature immediately render its 'opinions' equally illusory, and thus utterly superfluous? An apparent ego, declaring another such illusory appearance cannot be an apparent jñāni, because it still appears to be an illusory ego, all seems to be some nonsense right out of 'Alice in Wonderland' ... but carry on, I do enjoy a good absurdist fantasy play.

Steve said...

What better place than a dream to find absurdity?

Dana Lomas said...

Apparently some dream persons believe their dream is more 'real' than others.

Steve said...

And in whose dream would those 'some dream persons' be found?

Dana Lomas said...

"And in whose dream would those 'some dream persons' be found?"

Is there another one?

Steve said...

"Is there another one?"

Maybe an elephant's.....

"Sri Ramana used to compare the physical appearance of the guru and his teachings to the appearance of a lion in the dream of an elephant. An elephant is so afraid of lions that as soon as it sees one in its dream it wakes up. Though the lion it saw was unreal, the resulting waking is real. Likewise, though the physical form of the guru and the words of his teachings are all unreal, being part of our present dream, the waking that they bring about is real." - Michael James

Hopefully I won't get kicked off Michael's blog for quoting Michael. : )

Dana Lomas said...

"I once shot an elephant in my pajamas ..."

Hey, in whatever Maya myth Being being Being is Happiness, 'Who am I' to argue.

R Viswanathan said...

Michael James concludes in his comment: "Of course we cannot predict the behaviour of any person that the jñāni seems to be, and we cannot say that such a person will not do this or that, but to avoid being deceived by any person who claims to be a jñāni or ‘self-realised’, it is best to apply this general rule of thumb and thereby to infer that any person who behaves egotistically or claims themself to be in any way special or different to others is probably not a jñāni."

This encourages me to copy-paste what Robert Adams talked about Satguru compared to Pesudo-guru, although after self-realization, there exists no person !.

" I receive a lot of phone calls from people and they ask me, is this person a real liberated
person? Or is that person enlightened? Is this person self-realized? And I really do not
know what to say, because I do not give opinions about other people. But there are signs, three basic signs, whereas you can tell a true Master from a false one. And we'll go into that a little bit. It helps to know these things. I only discuss things like this with my disciples and devotees. So I consider you that, so we'll discuss it.

The first thing to know about this: How you tell if a person is real, is by his teaching. Does he have his own teaching or are his teaching from the scriptures? There are no new teachings. If a teacher tells you, "I've had a revelation, I was picked up by a flying saucer and taken to a far away galaxy and they initiated me and told me to go back and save the earth. And they gave me a mantra that I want to share with you, gibberish, gibberish,
gibberish, gibberish, gibberish, you say that twenty-five times and you become enlightened."

So if a teacher tells you something like that, be careful. If a teacher has his own
teaching be careful. But if a teacher confirms what has always been known. In other words, if a teacher lets you know, that you are the unblemished Self. That you are not the body or what appears to be, but that you are supreme intelligence, absolute reality, ultimate oneness, then you know you're on the right track because this is not new knowledge. This knowledge can be found in the Upanishads and the Vedas and in the ancient spiritual works. Never let a teacher tell you I've discovered my own teaching. That's one sign.

Another sign is: How a teacher lives personally. Investigate, find out. How does the teacher live apart from the teaching? When the teaching is over does the teacher meet certain friends outside and go to the nearest bar and get drunk? Does the teacher smoke ganja? Or go into all kinds of rituals? Find out how the teacher lives. Does the teacher
practice the teaching 24 hours a day? Or only when he comes to class? What kind of life does a teacher live? Find out for yourself.

And the third point is: Does the teacher charge money for a class? Does he have a weekend seminar where he charges three hundred dollars and tells you you'll become enlightened over the weekend? Be careful. A true teaching never costs anything, it's always free, always, and money is never discussed. It is also true, that a Sage gives up everything in order to give the teaching to others. So his disciples and devotees take care of him. And that stems from the heart. But he never asks for money personally. He may ask to help a friend or somebody else, but never for himself. Those are things you have to look into. To discover what is real and what is not. And there are two basic principles of self-realization. One is atma-vichara, self-inquiry and the other one is Bhakta, devotion, or self-surrender. By these two methods one may awaken."

Dana Lomas said...

Oh dear ... according to some dream in which Robert Adams appeared as a saviour, this illusory person will never have an illusory awakening (imagine rolling eyes emoticon here)

R Viswanathan said...

On the same topic of how to tell whether someone is a jnani, I copy paste some selected answers by David Godman in his interview with Maalok:

David: Let me start with Ramana Maharshi. I have been researching his life and teachings for a large part of the last twenty-five years and in all that time I have not come across a single incident that I would keep out of the public domain because it might give people a bad idea of him. His behaviour and demeanour at all times were impeccable. All the attributes we associate with saintliness were present in him: kindness, gentleness, humility, equanimity, tolerance, and so on. For decades he lived his life fully in the public spotlight. He had no private room of his own, so everything he did and said was open to scrutiny. Except when he went to the bathroom, he was never behind a closed door. Up until the 1940s, if you wanted to come and see him at 2 a.m. in the morning, you could walk into the hall where he lived and sit with him. Some people did occasionally invent stories about him to try to discredit him, but no one who had moved with him closely would ever believe them. There was simply no scope for scandal or misbehaviour because his life was so public, and so saintly. He never dealt with money; never spoke badly of anyone; he owned nothing except his walking stick and his water pot; and he was never alone with a woman. Only people who had never watched him live his life could invent scandalous stories about him and expect other people to believe them.

Sri Ramana himself readily admitted that enlightenment didn’t turn people into paragons of virtue. Like most great Masters before him, he said that it was impossible to judge whether someone was enlightened by what he or she did or said. Saintliness does not necessarily go hand in hand with enlightenment, although most people like to think that it should. Sri Ramana was a rare conjunction of saintliness and enlightenment, but many other Masters and enlightened beings were not. They were not less enlightened because they didn’t conform to the social and ethical mores of their times; they simply had different destinies to fulfil.

In Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Sri Ramana narrates the story of Kaduveli Siddhar, an austere ascetic who attracted public ridicule by having an affair with a temple dancer. A local king offered a reward to anyone who could prove whether this man really was a saint or not. At the time the challenge was issued, Kaduveli Siddhar was subsisting on dry leaves that fell from trees. When the dancer eventually gave birth to Kaduveli Siddhar’s baby, she thought that she had proved her point and went to the king to collect her reward.

The king, who wanted some public confirmation of their intimate relationship, arranged a dance performance. When it was under way, the dancer stretched out her foot towards Kaduveli Siddhar because one of her anklets had become loose. When he retied it for her, the audience jeered at him. Kaduveli Siddhar was unmoved. He sang a Tamil verse, part of which said, ‘If it is true that I sleep day and night quite aware of the Self, may this stone burst into two and become the wide expanse’.

Immediately, a nearby stone idol split apart with a resounding crack, much to the astonishment of the audience.

Sri Ramana’s conclusion to this story was, ‘He proved himself to be an unswerving jnani. One should not be deceived by the external appearance of a jnani.’

I find it fascinating that Sri Ramana, a man of impeccable saintliness, could say that behaviour such as this could not be taken to indicate that Kaduveli Siddhar was unenlightened.

Steve said...

It's a sorry elephant who isn't afraid of a lion.

Dana Lomas said...

Elephant? ... Lion? ... be gone with them both!

Joel said...

Steve said: "Joel, appearances continue to exist only while an ego still appears to exist. "

-- Perhaps you should read what I wrote again, only more carefully this time:

"The appearance continues, but it is no longer mistaken for reality as it appears in terms of its objective 'content', rather it is reality simply because there is no longer any delusion about it, and so what we called 'the appearance' is actually 'the reality', because there is nothing else for it to be. This is what is meant by 'the self alone exists', although it hardly matters what you call it."

In other words, what was formerly seen as the appearance is now realised to be the self. The changing as the appearance of the unchanging. If you imagine that the radiance of the self (formerly the appearance or phenomenon) ceases to exist because the ego is realised to be a fiction then you have confused yourself. What ceases is the subject-object duality that gave rise to separate objects, including 'you'. There is no longer 'world' or 'ego', but the phenomenon is realised to be the noumenon. All is self.

Dana Lomas said...

"... the phenomenon is realised to be the noumenon"

Fusion is attained ... Sounds like a blissful marriage

Joel said...

Michael James said: "because we mistake the jñani to be a body, it seems to us that the jñani is thinking, talking and acting like us, whereas in fact the jñani is our infinite self, which does not think, talk or do anything."

-- Good reason not to listen to what anyone says, let alone a jnani. But the fact is that Ramana Maharshi did in fact speak. While we may regard it as actually not speaking, in the Zen sense that the Buddha 'never said a word', nonetheless it is rather a dismissal of the form that you otherwise sanctify and appear unable to let go of. You will doubtless explain this in terms of being a proud ajnani, as you did previously, an ajnani waiting for something magnificent to happen whereby you will be the jnani, but the plain fact is that you are already the jnani as defined above, so how can you insist that you are an ajnani? Isn't this just an excuse for perpetuating the delusion of being separate?

Michael James said...

During the past three weeks many fatuous comments have been posted on these and my previous two articles by a few people who do not seem to be willing to engage seriously in the philosophy and practice of the teachings of Sri Ramana (which are the subject matter of this blog), but instead seem intent on asserting their own distorted or half-baked understanding of his teachings, while criticising other people’s understanding without even bothering to offer any coherent or consistent counterarguments.

Some comments have also expressed stray ideas from his teachings taken out of their original context and in such a flippant way that they seem trivial or even ridiculous, which is a very petty and mean-minded way to respond to any philosophy or set of ideas. It is easy to ridicule and trivialise any philosophy or system of thought by cherry-picking ideas from it and presenting them out of context, but that is not a reasonable way to engage with a serious philosophy, even if one does not agree with it.

I have therefore reluctantly decided to again start moderating all comments on this blog, and to block any comments that I consider to be of the type I have described above.

Steve said...

Although the world [the seen] which is in front of us and the mind [the seer] rise and set together, it is by the mind alone that the world shines. The whole [purnam] which is the base for the world and the mind to rise from and set in, but which Itself shines without rising or setting – that alone is the Reality.

- Ulladu Narpadu, Verse 7

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I agree with you when you write in your comment dated 22 November 2014 12:56 that:

'…as a general rule of thumb we can expect the jñāni to act with perfect humility and not to claim that he or she (the person who seems to be a jñāni ) is in any way special or different to anyone else.

'…it is best to apply this general rule of thumb and thereby to infer that any person who behaves egotistically or claims themself to be in any way special or different to others is probably not a jñāni.'

Bhagavan’s life is a good example of such perfect humility. He was humbler than the humblest, if we can use such a phrase. Similarly an advanced or matured sadhaka is also expected to behave with humility (though it may not be perfect), because his or her ego has already been undermined to a great extent.

Therefore, for a sadhaka it is always better to keep his or her ego in check, and we can do this only by constantly trying to attend to it even in the midst of our day to day activities.

Thanking you and pranams.

Anonymous said...

Bhagvan in his farewell letter to his family before leaving for Tiruvannamalai didn't even sign off with his name, so it seems that any semblance of ego-identity would have been rejected by him, including using the phrase self-realised person to describe his state. However, the discussion on whether a jnani can indeed be called a self-realised person is not purely academic, but very relevant since there are now so many frauds and pretenders ready to deceive people out there in the spiritual marketplace. An authentic guru should be recognized by the content of the teachings and not by a declaration by himself or others about self-realization. Michael, its a shame that your blog is getting trolled, but this is inevitable on the internet now. But its also a complete waste of your time and energy moderating them. Let them say whatever they want to say,and then just smile and ignore. Peace.

Dana Lomas said...

If the following story is to be believed, it would seem that Ramana had little concern about suppressing commentary, however 'untrue' it appeared to be ...

"There was a man from the state of Kerala who had written a biography of Sri Ramana Maharshi in Malayalam (that state’s regional language). Before sending the manuscript to press he decided to visit the Ashram and have it read aloud before Bhagavan.

Because Kunju Swami was born in Kerala and spoke fluent Malayalam, Bhagavan asked him to read the manuscript aloud, and also to look after the author’s needs during his visit. As Kunju Swami began reading, he could not believe what was written. The book stated that Maharshi was married and was the father of several children, and that one day, while living in the South Indian town of Madurai, he closed his eyes and was somehow magically transported to the Arunachala Hill. The book went on like this, containing many fictional accounts.

After the reading took place, the author had to leave quickly in order to catch a train back home. Maharshi was very gracious to him and asked Kunju Swami to be sure he had something to eat before leaving, and see to it that he reached the train station on time.

After seeing off the visitor, Kunju Swami hurried back to the Ashram, anxious to hear what Bhagavan thought of this highly exaggerated manuscript, which was about to go to press. Back at the Old Hall, he found Ramana Maharshi quietly attending to some small chore, completely unconcerned about anything else. Kunju Swami waited as patiently as he could, wondering if Maharshi might raise the subject. But he just quietly chatted with those present and sat silently.

Finally, Kunju Swami could not contain himself any longer and asked: “Bhagavan, how could you allow this book to get printed? It is full of inaccuracies. In fact, most of it is untrue.” Bhagavan looked at Kunju Swami for a moment then replied: “Oh, I see. You mean only this is untrue, and everything else is true?”

R Viswanathan said...

Is there a Jnani? I give below a very beneficial (to me) extract from Robert Adams Satsangs: The Collected Works; Talk 122; p1339-40.

The third question I was asked is: "Robert are you a Jnani. Are you a Sage? You can tell me I won't tell anybody else." Of course I had to laugh at something like this.

When a person who is a seeker or a disciple or does not have love in their heart, or ultimate surrender in their heart asks me a question like this, I can usually tell their motive and I keep silent. I hardly ever answer a person like this. But when a sincere devotee who does not understand, asks me this question, I have to answer the devotee and the answer is something like this; The word Sage, enlightenment, Jnani is really non-existent to the Sage. Those words are for the ajnani. The ajnani thinks there is something different between what he is now and what he is when he awakens. So they're are looking to see if the Sage or who they think is the Sage can tell whether they're a Sage. Yet there is no one to see anything like this. For that word doesn't exist.

We use the word Sage to explain to the seekers, to the disciples that there is a being who has awakened to the Self. Robert is not a Sage. Robert has nothing to do with being a Sage or a Jnani or anything else. Jnana is all-pervading. It is the reality. You are that reality, I am that reality. There is one reality. One understanding. One awareness and I am is that. I am is that, not Robert, but I am. And since you are I am, I am I-am, we're both in
the same boat. There is no separation.

Therefore there is no one to say that, "He is a Sage or a Jnani." For that would mean there was somebody left over who can claim to be a Jnani or a Sage. That would immediately mean that his being is not a Jnani or a Sage. Because he exclaims that he is. For the ego is the one that makes that exclamation. The ego is the one who exclaims, "Yes I am a
Sage." But when there is no ego, who is to say what? There is only silence. So again the best for you is to stay in the silence, remain in the silence and forever be free.

Now as I mention so often. Most of the disciples and seekers I always say to you, "Do not necessarily believe what I say." Why should you? Do not accept what I tell you, for you have no idea where I'm coming from. You have to find out yourself what you are. Check yourself out. Understand yourself and you'll understand me. Know yourself.

Gavin Huxham said...

Muruganar has said that no true disciple of Bhagavan will ever take on the role of guru or teacher,

“Devotees need not worry; Sri Ramana, who is the Ocean of nectar which is the fullness of Grace, Himself has direct contact with each of His devotees in the heart, without the need of anyone to mediate or intercede in the middle.” - Sri Ramana Jnana Bodham

It is difficult to understand Robert Adams, Lakshmana Swamy and others claiming to be devotees and taking on the role of guru. Why did they not simply point people who came to them towards Bhagavan and His teachings. They also seem to have told people that a so called 'living guru', i.e. one with a body, is necessary.

We can see from the example set by Sri Muruganar, Sri Natanananda and Sri Sadhu Om that the true devotee should outwardly live a simple, humble and unassuming life and not allow any devotee to take himself as teacher or guru. If anyone was 'realised' surely they were. They displayed perfect humility.

In my view it is shameful to come to Bhagavan and then pose as a teacher. Anamalai-Ramana is the guru for us all. I have heard Robert Adams say on one of his sat-sang recordings that some westerners only imagine they are feeling drawn to Arunachala and that Arunachala is not important for all of them. Arunachala is Self and surely important for all who are attracted to Bhagavan and His teachings. Really there is no need for any other teacher because of Arunachala.

R Viswanathan said...

In my view, whether someone really takes on the role of Guru will depend on how the aspirants who go to him/her feel about or take him/her to be. The teaching of Guru is from the heart and the teaching enters into the heart of the disciple - thus it is heart-to-heart transmission, and there really is no person involved in there.

I reproduce a portion of Talk426 (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi) below:

D.: What are the fundamental tests for discovering men of great
spirituality, since some are reported to behave like insane people?
M.: The jnani’s mind is known only to the jnani. One must be a jnani
oneself in order to understand another jnani. However the peace of mind which permeates the saint’s atmosphere is the only means by which the seeker understands the greatness of the saint. His words or actions or appearance are no indications of his greatness, for they are ordinarily beyond the comprehension of common people.

Michael James writes and talks, but this does not mean that he is taking on the role of Guru. But some of us might consider him as Guru because Guru is one who shows the light of jnana in you, and if his writings or talks do that, then he is also a Guru. However, 'he' here actually means his words which ceased to be mere sound syllables,if they had entered into the heart and not merely got stored in the brain.

Gavin Huxham said...

In my view Michael is a fellow devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana though I obviously see him in a respectful manner as a more senior aspirant and hold his clear understanding in very high regard. He is not the guru and I have no confusion about that. I don't see that whether someone takes the role of guru is only determined by how those who come to them feel about them, but rather also depends on whether they (the teacher) allow themselves to be taken as the guru. Many aspirants cannot trust how they feel and as a result we have the abundance of charlatan's and fake gurus around today who all have large followings of devotees who are sure that their teacher is the enlightened master they appear to be. There are many teachers and that is fine. My point is just that those who come to Bhagavan should not and need not then become teachers themselves.

Michael makes it clear that he talks about the teachings to remind himself that the most worthwhile thing we all should be doing is putting the teachings into practice and he generously shares his musings in that regard with us. Therefore he is not posing as a teacher. He has a very clear understanding of Bhagavan's teachings. We certainly benifit from his knowledge of Tamil and close association with Sri Sadhu Om who in turn moved closely with Sri Muruganar as you are no doubt aware.

I have heard Robert Adams instructing his students in meditation, "breathe in and say who am I?, hold your breath say I am not the body, breathe out say I am he". In other places he is telling people to concentrate on the right side of the chest as if that has anything to do with self abidance. In the clear light of Bhagavan's teachings we can understand that the breath is a thought as are those mental questions and statements mentioned above, the body is a thought and so is the right side of the chest. And all this from someone who was allowing people to see him as the guru. This is just distracting from the practice as taught by Bhagavan and clarified through Michael's writing and translations that we need only attend to ourself- 'I', turning our attention away from the body, breath and all thoughts. Again my own personal feeling is just that we don't need Robert Adams or anyone else offering half baked meditations or interpretations of Bhagavan's teachings and these thoughts always arise in my mind when I see his name mentioned or any other guru who talks about Ramana and self enquiry. We can go direct to the source and Michael in an invaluable aid for all English speakers who don't know Tamil.

Michael James said...

Viswanathan, in the sense in which Bhagavan used it, the term guru is not to be taken lightly. According to him, the guru is not a person but only our own real self, but because our minds are outward turned it does sometimes manifest externally in human form in order to teach us that the only reality is ourself and that to experience it as it is we must therefore turn within. The human form of Bhagavan was such a manifestation, but as he made clear the sole purpose of such a manifestation is to teach us that we must seek what is real within ourself, so contrary to popular belief it is not necessary for the human form of the guru to be still living once it has given its teachings, nor is it necessary for there to be a lineage (sampradāya) of gurus.

For those of us who are following the teachings of Bhagavan, no other guru is necessary, and hence as Gavin pointed out in his comment, no true disciple would ever allow anyone else to take himself or herself as guru. This was something that Sadhu Om often said, and he pointed to Muruganar as the prime example of this. After Bhagavan left his physical body, many of his devotees turned to Muruganar for guidance, and some of them even began to regard him as guru, but he always advised such people that they should take Bhagavan alone as their guru, and that no other guru is necessary among his followers, so no true follower of his would allow anyone to regard themself as a guru. The reaction of Sadhu Om whenever anyone wanted to take him as guru was exactly the same.

Therefore we can say that a hallmark of a true follower of Bhagavan is that they would encourage everyone to take Bhagavan alone as their guru and would never allow anyone to regard or treat them as guru. They would also not say or imply that a ‘living guru’ (in the sense of a person whose body is still alive) is necessary. As Sadhu Om used to say, the guru alone is truly living, because it is the eternal and hence ever-living reality, but if we take the term ‘living guru’ to mean a person whose body is living, such a ‘living guru’ will one day be a dead guru and hence (according to the idea that a guru must be living) useless.

In your final paragraph you refer to me and say ‘some of us might consider him as Guru’, but if anyone does so they have clearly not understood the meaning of the term guru as used by Bhagavan. I am in no way a guru or even remotely qualified to be one, because I am just an ordinary aspirant trying to follow the path of self-investigation taught by him. I may be able to translate his teachings and explain them according to my limited understanding, but that does not and cannot make me qualified to be the guru of anyone. When I have not even saved myself from my own self-ignorance, if I were to try to save anyone else or to pose as their saviour, I would be like the blind leading the blind, as Bhagavan says in verse 10 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ (which is also verse B15 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai).

R Viswanathan said...

I have great regard for David Godman and Nochur Venkataraman as much I have for Michael James, the reason being that much of what I learnt about Bhagavan's teachings is through these three people, and of course due to the grace of Bhagavan. After hearing from Nochur and David Godman about the greatness of Robert Adams, I started reading his book Silence of the Heart and also Collected Works of Robert Adams. As I read through Robert Adams articles, I really felt as though Bhagavan himself is talking - in American English to Americans. May be that I am not good enough to notice the inconsistencies (in some articles) with Bhagavan's teachings, but I really feel that it as a blessing in disguise since I only see Bhagavan in whatever I read of Robert Adams. Even in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, there are apparent discrepancies between the answers of Bhagavan, but then, this is often explained that the answers are according to the mind-set or receptivity of the questioners and that the core teaching is always the same - that there exists only self.

I have heard Nochur saying that soon after the physical disappearance of Bhagavan, many devotees even some ardent ones did not have the heart to continue to stay in the place where Bhagavan's physical presence was no longer there (despite the teaching of Bhagavan which they have been receiving all the while - that there is no body), but, within a short time, the teaching of Bhagavan did have an effect on them, and they were all back to feel the power of Bhagavan's presence once again. Such is the power of Bhagavan's teachings that one's admiration of others does not mean that one starts considering others also as Gurus, but instead, one sees Bhagavan in them also.

Nochur used to say that it is Guru Thathvam and and not Guru which will be entering into one's heart.

R Viswanathan said...

It is a great coincidence that in the book 'Human Gospel of Ramana Maharshi (Western version) as Shared by V. Ganesan with John Troy), Robert Adams and Lakshmana Swamy figure in continuous sequence.

781-793: Robert Adams
"He roamed India for several years, meeting with sages and saints. Again, Bhagavan appeared in a dream and guided him, ―You go back to your country and spread this teaching of Self-Enquiry to aspirants in America. Bhagavan was very adamant: ―Do not start an institution. Do not be a guru. No publicity! If More than fifteen people gather around you, then
remove yourself from that town but continue to share the teaching. He
traveled in an RV. Nobody knew of his spiritual stature because he
sought no publicity. Only a select few knew. By the time he arrived in Hollywood, he was deeply affected by Parkinson‘s disease. He was unable to move, so he had to stay there. A woman named Mary and her friends took care of Robert and helped him disseminate Bhagavan‘s teaching of Self-Enquiry. Satsang with him was so powerful that when he came and sat in the hall, he just looked at everyone for twenty minutes,
wordlessly inviting them to go into silence. It did not matter how many people were there."

795-799: Lakshmana Swamy
"He remained immersed in silence throughout the night. The next day, he went to the New Hall, wrote a note in Telugu to Bhagavan and handed it over to him. Bhagavan read it aloud: ―Bhagavan! In your presence and by the quest, ‗Who Am I?‘ I have realized the Self. I need your blessings. Bhagavan looked at him and smiled, nodding his head in approval. Then he spoke two sentences to Lakshmana Swami, which were his last words: Where are you coming from? Lakshmana Swami replied, From Gudur.Is it not in Nellore district?‖ Lakshmana Swami nodded. Lakshmana Swami was already rooted in the state of the Self; the Master‘s spoken words steadied and firmly established him in the Inner Felicity of Self-realization. For the next thirteen years, Lakshmana Swami did not speak a word. He stayed in a hut in Palakothu."

Kattu Siva said...

please translate the term "Gurutvam" (of Arunachala)
or paraphrase the meaning of it.
(The Power of Arunachala, Page 2).

R Viswanathan,
would you please explain the meaning of the term "Guru Thathvam".

Michael James said...

Kattu Siva, the Sanskrit suffix ‘-tva’ (which becomes -tvam in Tamil) is more or less equivalent to the English suffix ‘-ness’, so gurutva (or gurutvam in Tamil) means ‘guruness’ or ‘guruhood’, the condition or status of being guru.

The Sanskrit word tat means ‘it’ or ‘that’ (a pronoun that is often used to refer to brahman, the absolute reality, but that in other contexts can refer to anything), so tattva or tattvam (which Viswanathan spelt as ‘thathvam’) means ‘it-ness’ or ‘that-ness’, and is a term that is often used to denote the reality in general or anything that is considered to be real, and can also mean what is essential, an abstract principle or the significance of anything. Thus the term ‘guru tattva’ cannot be translated precisely in English, but it means more or less the ‘it-ness’, reality, essence or abstract principle that is guru.

Kattu Siva said...

Thanks Michael for information about

R Viswanathan said...

Nochur gave a discourse on Maya and Guru Tatvam in Tamil in 2008:

For more on Guru Tatvam, I copy-paste from a selected section from:

"So long as there is a world, there are Gurus and Vedas to guide the struggling souls in the path of Self-realization. Let each man take the path according to his capacity, temperament, and understanding. His Sadguru will meet him along that path. While we all look forward to a tangible guide in human form as guru to a spiritual journey seeking the intangible and invisible. It is the obvious and inevitable instinct, yet it need not necessarily be so.

Constant and sincere striving and seeking shall definitely get a guru, the guru can at once appear in human form directly or through many things it could be good book, an incident which creates a great impact, a soul stirring music that takes you into a trance, a bakthi filled lyrical song etc.

Many things can become a guru as it did for Dattatreya who had 24 gurus the list and details given in notes below each of which teaches some of the highest philosophy for a proper spiritual life and it also emphasizes the fact that we cannot defy or deny the importance of anything without observing and understanding it properly without any prejudice.
A sudden incident can happen in one’s life through divine grace that can deliver the divine soul at once for the world to benefit as it did in the case BHAGAWAN SHRI RAMANA MAHARISHI.

But mostly and mainly for all human beings and even those great sages, saints, prophets, world teachers, incarnations, great men who happen to manifest in human form the guru is also in human form to give a few examples even Narada learnt from Sanatkumara, Maitreyi from Yajnavalkya, Bhrigu from Varuna, Indra from Prajapati, Svetaketu from Uddalaka, Lord Krishna from Guru Sandipani, Lord Rama from Guru Vasishtha. Greatest among the divine beings sat at the feet of Guru Dakshinamurti.

First to get a good guru one must have a pure mind and be intensely virtuous, the raise above body-consciousness. These are basic preparatory process for discipleship only then a guru can kindle the spiritual fire.
Then when in the grip of a spiritual guru you slowly but surely realize the self realized soul in you. Then go onto reach the ultimate tattvam. As it is mentioned in Ribu geetha
The real guru is one who teaches you that, you, yourself, the indicated meaning of the word “you”(tvam), are indeed, Brahman, the indicated meaning of the word “That”(Tat), that is, you are indeed the perfectly full, pure Supreme Brahman"

Bhagavan also mentioned about 24 Gurus in Talks.

R Viswanathan said...

From the interview of David Godman (DG) with Robb Sacks (RS):

RS: All these people seem to be Self-realised. Did you pick them for this reason? How did you know that they are Self-realised?

(my inference: 'these people' referred to here are Lakshmana Swamy, Saradamma, Papaji, Annamalai Swamy)

DG: The simple answer is that no one who is not a jnani can really tell who is in that state, and I would not claim to be in that state myself. Ramana told people that the peace one feels in the presence of such beings is a good indication that one is in the presence of an enlightened being, but this is a sign not a proof.
When I first went to see Lakshmana Swamy in the late 1970s, I did not go there with any intention of evaluating him. But as soon as I looked into his eyes, something inside me said, ‘This man is a jnani’. Nothing has ever caused me to doubt that first impression. I don’t know how I came to that conclusion because I had never had that kind of thought before with anybody else. Something inside me just knew. Up till the time I first met him, I had been meditating intensively for most of the day for a period of about eighteen months. My mind was fairly quiet most of the time and I really felt that I was making good progress on the road to Self-realisation. However, within a few seconds of being looked at by Lakshmana Swamy, I was in a state of stillness and peace that was way beyond anything that I had experienced through my own efforts. That one darshan effectively demonstrated to me the need for a human Guru, and it also demonstrated to me that there were still people alive in the Ramana lineage who seemed to have the same power and presence that I had read about in so many Ramanasramam books. Since that day a large portion of my life and energy has been devoted to serving such beings and writing about their life and teachings.

RS: What is Self-realisation? The terms ‘glimpse’ and ‘waking-up experience’ appear in Nothing Ever Happened. Did you invent these terms? What is the relationship between a glimpse or waking-up experience and Self-realisation?

DG: I would say that Self-realisation is what remains when the mind irrevocably dies in the Heart. The Heart is not a particular place in the body. It is the formless Self, the source and origin of all manifestation. Self-realisation is permanent and irreversible. I also suspect that it is quite rare. Many people have had glimpses or temporary experiences of a state of being in which the mind, the individual ‘I’, temporarily stops functioning, but I don’t think that there are many people in the world in whom the ‘I’ has died.
Papaji used to say, ‘What comes and goes is not real. If you have had an experience that came and went, it was not an experience of the Self because the Self never comes and goes.’

I think this is an interesting comment. If it is true, it means that most waking-up experiences are merely new states of mind. It is only when the mind dies completely, never to rise again, that the Self really shines as one’s own natural state.

The terms ‘glimpses’ and ‘waking-up experiences’ that you refer to are temporary. They come and they go because the ‘I’ itself has not been permanently eradicated. A powerful Guru may be able to give a glimpse of the Self to just about anyone, but it is not within his power to make it stick. If the person has a mind that is full of desires, those desires will eventually rise again and cover up the glimpse.

RS: Can you name any people who are teaching today who are Self-realised?

DG: I could hide behind my earlier statement and say that I am not qualified to say who is enlightened and who is not. That is true, but I have absolute faith that Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma are in that state. I don’t want to make comments about anybody else.

I would end my comment by borrowing the statement from DG: the articles of Michael James in this blog and the comments that follow represent association with Bhagavan and I take it as Bhagava's blessing.

R Viswanathan said...

"Viswanathan, in the sense in which Bhagavan used it, the term guru is not to be taken lightly."

This warning flashed in my mind when I was reading 'Sadhaka Sanjivani', Commentary on Bhagawat Gita by Swami Ramsukhdas Chapter 13.7.

"Thus a striver, regards his imperfect knowledge, as perfect. So the Lord by the term 'Acaryopasanam', wants to emphasize the fact, that a striver, following the path of knowledge, should practise spiritual discipline, under the guidance of a teacher. In
the thirty-fourth verse of the fourth chapter also, Lord Krsna said to Arjuna, "Go to the liberated souls, prostrate yourself at their feet, render them all forms of service, and question them with a guileless heart, then they will unfold knowledge to you." In this
way, wise men remove the defects of a striver, which he himself
does not know, easily, and enable him to realize, the Lord.

A striver, should go to such a preceptor, who according to
him is endowed with, the following traits.
1. He should be a liberated soul.
2. He should know, the Disciplines of Action, Knowledge, and Devotion etc., in the right perspective.
3. His company and words, remove doubts even without being referred.
4. His company, gives solace and peace.
5. His relationship with a striver, is only for his welfare,
without having any selfish motive.
6. He does not expect anything, of the striver, in the least.
7. All his activities are directed, towards the welfare of strivers.
8. His company,enhances the spiritual inclination, of strivers.
9. His company, sight, discourses and remembrance, remove wicked traits and develop divine traits, in the strivers.
10. He is uncommon, and singular and has, no equal.

So a striver, should serve and obey such a preceptor, with
faith and reverence. He should live with a preceptor, only for
his emancipation. He should not worry about, what his preceptor
does and what he does not do, and why he does so, and so on.
He should depend on his preceptor, and act according to his behest, and hints. If such a preceptor, does not accept a striver
as his disciple formally, the striver should not insist on it. He should accept him, as his preceptor by heart. If such a liberated soul, is not available, a striver should take refuge, in the Lord. By doing so, either the Lord Himself guides him as a preceptor, or makes a preceptor available.

A striver who aims at God-realization, should serve the saints from his heart, because their grace, bears quick fruit.
He should, have this conviction and act accordingly.

R Viswanathan said...

Today, I attended Sri Nochur Venkataraman's discourse in Chennai (first of three part discourses on Guru Mahima). He stressed the importance of Sushupthi in saying that investigation or recognition in waking state of the experience of happiness experienced in deep sleep state will help one to realize that the awareness that one is not a body or mind will lead to the goal, the nature of which is happiness (or peace).

He also cited Manisha Panchakam, the slokas of Sankaracharya saying that they give description of who is Guru. I give below the link which gives the Manisha Panchakam slokas in Sanskrit and its translation in English.

Kattu Siva said...

Thanks R Viswanathan for explaining the term guru tattvam in your comment of 30 November 2014 03:22