Tuesday, 31 March 2015

All phenomena are just a dream, and the only way to wake up is to investigate who is dreaming

In the seventeenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) Sri Ramana advises us that if we wish to know what we really are, we should completely ignore and reject everything else:
குப்பையைக் கூட்டித் தள்ளவேண்டிய ஒருவன் அதை யாராய்வதா லெப்படிப் பயனில்லையோ அப்படியே தன்னை யறியவேண்டிய ஒருவன் தன்னை மறைத்துகொண்டிருக்கும் தத்துவங்க ளனைத்தையும் சேர்த்துத் தள்ளிவிடாமல் அவை இத்தனையென்று கணக்கிடுவதாலும், அவற்றின் குணங்களை ஆராய்வதாலும் பயனில்லை. பிரபஞ்சத்தை ஒரு சொப்பனத்தைப்போ லெண்ணிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்.

kuppaiyai-k kūṭṭi-t taḷḷa-vēṇḍiya oruvaṉ adai y-ārāyvadāl eppaḍi-p payaṉ-illai-y-ō appaḍi-y-ē taṉṉai y-aṟiya-vēṇḍiya oruvaṉ taṉṉai maṟaittu-koṇḍirukkum tattuvaṅgaḷ aṉaittaiyum sērttu-t taḷḷi-viḍāmal avai ittaṉai-y-eṉḏṟu kaṇakkiḍuvadāl-um, avaṯṟiṉ guṇaṅgaḷai ārāyvadāl-um payaṉ-illai. pirapañcattai oru soppaṉattai-p-pōl eṇṇi-k-koḷḷa vēṇḍum.

Just as one who needs to sweep up and throw away rubbish [would derive] no benefit by analysing it, so one who needs to know oneself [will derive] no benefit by calculating that the tattvas, which are concealing oneself, are this many, and analysing their qualities, instead of collectively rejecting all of them. It is necessary to consider the world [which is believed to be an expansion or manifestation of such tattvas] like a dream.
The exact meaning of the Sanskrit word tattva depends on the context in which it is used, but it generally means what is real or actual (or at least what is supposed to be so), particularly the real essence or substance of anything, because its fundamental meaning is ‘itness’, ‘thisness’ or ‘thatness’, since tat means it, this or that (being the form that the third person singular neuter pronoun tad takes in compound words or phrases), and the suffix -tva is equivalent in meaning to the English suffix ‘-ness’. In this context the plural form of tattva refers to all or any of the various ontological principles, ‘realities’, ‘essences’ or basic constituents that all phenomena are believed to be composed of or derived from.

Each school of Indian philosophy has its own ontological theories and conception of what actually exists, so the identity, number and nature of the tattvas that they postulate varies, as does their analysis of them and of the relationship between them, but according to Sri Ramana (and to purer forms of advaita philosophy in general) the only real tattva is ourself, and all other tattvas are illusions or false appearances that seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of our ego, which is itself unreal. So long as any tattva or ‘thatness’ other than ourself seems to exist, we are not experiencing ourself as we really are, so he says here that all such tattvas conceal ourself, and hence we must reject or exclude them entirely in order to experience ourself as we really are.

The word that I translated as ‘world’ in the last sentence of this paragraph is pirapañcam, which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word prapañca, which is generally translated as world, universe or cosmos, but which actually has a broader meaning than just the physical universe. It is derived from the verb pac or pañc, which means to spread out, expand or develop (and hence the most probable derivation of the word pañca meaning ‘five’ is that that is the number of fingers displayed when a hand is spread out), and the prefix pra-, which means before, in front, forward or forth, so prapañca means what is spread forth or what has expanded out in front of us, and hence in its broadest sense it means all phenomena, both physical and mental — or in other words, everything that we experience other than ourself.

Therefore when Sri Ramana says here, ‘பிரபஞ்சத்தை ஒரு சொப்பனத்தைப்போ லெண்ணிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்’ (pirapañcattai oru soppaṉattai-p-pōl eṇṇi-k-koḷḷa vēṇḍum), which means ‘It is necessary to consider prapañca [to be] like a dream’, what he implies is that we should consider all phenomena — everything other than ourself — to be like any phenomena we experience in a dream. Just as everything we experience in a dream is just a creation or expansion of our own mind, so everything we experience in our present state of seeming ‘waking’ is just a creation or expansion of our own mind.
  1. We alone actually exist, so we are the only real tattva
  2. The only way to wake up permanently is to investigate who is dreaming
  3. In a dream there is only one dreamer or experiencer
  4. We are the centre and source of time and space
  5. Why do we not immediately experience ourself as we really are?
  6. Why is the practice of self-attentiveness is called vicāra or ‘investigation’?
  7. Physical space appears only in our mental space, and our mental space appears only in the space of our self-awareness
  8. Our awareness of ourself in sleep
  9. What happens to ourself when our body dies?
1. We alone actually exist, so we are the only real tattva

Since a plurality of tattvas or ontological principles are postulated only to explain the appearance or seeming existence of diverse phenomena (the totality of which are what constitutes the entire prapañca), if all phenomena are just an expansion of our own mind, and if our mind is just an illusory expansion or spreading out of ourself, the only real tattva or ultimate ontological principle is ourself. This is why in verse 43 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai Sri Ramana sings, ‘தானே தானே தத்துவம்’ (tāṉ-ē tāṉ-ē tattuvam), the essential meaning of which is that oneself alone is the tattva or ultimate reality, but with triple emphasis placed on the word தான் (tāṉ), which means oneself or myself (or in other contexts, yourself, himself, herself or itself). That is, in the phrase தானே தானே (tāṉ-ē tāṉ-ē), both the second tāṉ and each instance of the suffix ē function as intensifiers to emphasise the first tāṉ and thereby to convey the sense of ‘oneself alone indeed’, ‘oneself alone certainly’ or ‘only oneself itself’ — or perhaps more simply, if we translate the first tāṉ as ‘I’, which we can justifiably do, since ‘I’ and ‘myself’ (or ‘one’ and ‘oneself’) both denote the same thing, we can interpret the first tāṉē as ‘definitely I’ and the second one as ‘myself alone’, in which case தானே தானே தத்துவம் (tāṉē tāṉē tattuvam) would mean ‘definitely I myself alone am what is real’.

The same idea is also expressed by Sri Ramana clearly and emphatically the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே.

yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē.

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [our own essential self].
Since we ourself are the only thing that actually exists, Sri Ramana taught us that whatever else we may experience is no more real than anything we experience in a dream, and that whatever state we currently take to be our waking state is actually just another dream. If we were really awake, no dream could occur, so the dream of our present life is just one of a succession of dreams, each of which occurs only because we are in effect asleep, having forgotten or ignored what we actually are. Therefore if we investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as we actually are, our sleep of self-forgetfulness or self-ignorance will be dissolved, and along with it all our dreams will also cease.

2. The only way to wake up permanently is to investigate who is dreaming

After concluding the seventeenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? by saying that we should consider the entire prapañca or world of phenomena to be like a dream, in the next paragraph he says that there is no difference between waking and dream except that ‘waking is long-lasting and dream is momentary’. However, as I explained in my previous article, Is there any real difference between waking and dream?, he later said (as recorded by Sri Muruganar in verse 560 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai) that even this difference in duration is just an illusion. Therefore his conclusive verdict was that there is actually no significant difference between waking and dream, and that so long as we are experiencing any phenomena — anything other than ourself — whatever state we currently mistake to be waking is actually just another dream.

So long as we are interested in experiencing whatever phenomena appear in a dream, the dream will not cease, unless it is forcibly interrupted by another dream (such as the one that we now mistake to be waking) or we are overpowered by sleep. Our interest in experiencing a dream is therefore what sustains it, so we cannot wake up from a dream by investigating or observing any of the phenomena we experience in it.

Our interest in the phenomena we experience in a dream is caused primarily by the fact that we then experience ourself as one of those phenomena — that is, as a person who is a part of that dream world — and we experience ourself thus because we do not experience what we really are. If we were to experience ourself as we actually are, we would not mistake ourself to be a person in the dream, and thus the dream itself would dissolve, since it is sustained only by our illusion that we are that dream person.

Therefore the only way in which we can wake up not only from our current dream but also from the basic sleep of self-ignorance that underlies and supports every dream is to investigate ourself, the dreamer who is currently experiencing this dream, and thereby to experience ourself as we really are. So long as we are experiencing any phenomena — anything other than ourself — we are dreaming, so we can wake up only by trying to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from all phenomena of any kind whatsoever.

3. In a dream there is only one dreamer or experiencer

During the past sixteen months a friend wrote a series of emails asking me various questions, most of which were more or less closely related to this teaching of Sri Ramana that our current state, in which we seem to be awake, is actually just another dream, and that self-investigation is the only way to wake up from this and all other dreams, so this and the following sections of this article are adapted from the replies that I wrote to him.

In his first email my friend asked why this dream that we now take to be our waking state is common to everyone, or whether the idea that it is common to everyone is just an assumption, to which I replied:

When we are dreaming, it seems to us that everyone else that we see there is experiencing the same world that we are then experiencing, but when we wake up, we understand that all those seeming people were just part of our dream-projection.

Therefore yes, it is just the assumption of your dreaming mind that there are other people experiencing this world just like you. In a dream there is only one dreamer: one experiencer.

4. We are the centre and source of time and space

In his second email my friend wrote that he thought he had understood the concept of time but that he had not yet grasped the concept of space, and the reply I wrote to this is what I adapted as the article ‘I’ is the centre and source of time and space.

5. Why do we not immediately experience ourself as we really are?

In his next email my friend wrote that though he has understood that time and space are just assumptions, as also is his feeling that he is a separate entity, he feels as if he is ‘locked inside this body-mind mechanism’, and hence he asked ‘why the realization is not happening suddenly’, to which I replied:

We can experience ourself as we really are at any moment, provided that we really want to, so if we do not experience this now, it is because we do not yet want it enough.

Now we experience ourself as a body and mind, but this experience is illusory, so when we do experience ourself as we really are, this illusory experience that we are a body and mind will be destroyed. Since everything else that we experience through this body and mind is an illusion based on our primary illusion ‘I am Rob [or Michael], a person composed of body and mind’, when this primary illusion is destroyed by clear self-experience (or ‘realisation’, as it is often imprecisely called) the illusion that we experience anything else will also be destroyed.

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.

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. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
Therefore experiencing ourself as we really are entails giving up everything, so until we are willing to give up all our desires to experience anything other than ourself, we do not really want to experience ourself as we really are.

I think you will agree that if we are honest with ourself, we will each have to admit that our love to experience only ourself and nothing else whatsoever is not yet strong enough, and until it is strong enough, we will not be able to overcome all our other desires.

In order to strengthen our love to experience ourself alone and thereby to weaken all our other desires, we need to practise trying to experience ourself alone. Other than this practice of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation), there is no effective means by which we can cultivate increasing love to experience ourself alone.

Until we experience ourself as we really are, we will continue to feel that we are someone ‘locked inside this body-mind mechanism’, as you so aptly put it. This is what is called bondage, so the only liberation from this bondage is to experience ourself as we really are. As Sri Ramana says in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
[...] பந்தத்தி லிருக்கும் தான் யாரென்று விசாரித்து தன் யதார்த்த சொரூபத்தைத் தெரிந்துகொள்வதே முக்தி. [...]

[...] bandhattil irukkum tāṉ yār eṉḏṟu vicārittu taṉ yathārtha sorūpattai-t terindu-koḷvadē mukti. [...]

[...] Knowing one’s own actual self [by] investigating who is oneself who is in bondage, alone is liberation. [...]
6. Why is the practice of self-attentiveness is called vicāra or ‘investigation’?

In his fourth email my friend described how he is trying to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), and added: ‘Usually I watch this feeling of existence, but lately I realized that someone watching the existence is a projection by the mind. So I am this feeling of existence’. He then asked whether the practice is to ‘just turn attention to that feeling of existence’, and what the significance of the term ‘investigation’ is, to which I replied:

When we practise ātma-vicāra, we are trying to attend only to ourself, so the ‘I’ that is attending is the same ‘I’ that it is attending to.

This simple practice of self-attentiveness is called vicāra or ‘investigation’ because we are trying to experience ourself as we really are, or in other words, we are trying to find out who am I. Though we clearly know that I am, we do not clearly know what I am, so we have to investigate what I am by trying to attend to ourself alone.

So long as we feel that we are attending to anything other than ourself, or that the attending ‘I’ is something we have projected, we are not correctly attending to ourself alone. Therefore we have to investigate deeper until we are able to experience nothing other than ourself.

In section 435 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, page 423) it is recorded that when someone asked Sri Ramana how to concentrate on oneself, he replied: ‘If that is solved everything else is solved’. Therefore we have to continue investigating or examining ourself until we are able to experience ourself clearly as we actually are.

7. Physical space appears only in our mental space, and our mental space appears only in the space of our self-awareness

In his next two emails my friend again asked about our experience of space, saying that he understands that we experience it in relation to our ego, which we experience as being located here, the reference point from which any other point in space is experienced, and that he therefore wants to understand how we can deconstruct the illusion of this reference point (our ego) just by watching it. In reply I wrote:

Time and space do not exist independent of our experience of them, and we experience them in relation to ourself, whom we experience as the centre of our experience of them.

The place and time in which we currently experience ourself are what we experience as present, ‘here’ and ‘now’, and hence we experience all other places (points in space) as ‘there’ and all other times (moments) as ‘then’ — that is, as either ‘past’ or ‘future’. What makes the present place and moment seem to be present is therefore only the presence of ourself. Because I am present at this particular place and time, they seem to be to be present. Therefore what defines any place or time as present is the presence of ourself.

Our entire experience of space and time is centred around our experience of the place and time that we currently experience as present — that is, the place and time in which we currently experience ourself being present.

Because we now experience ourself as a physical body, we experience physical space in relation to the body we now experience as ourself. This physical space is a reflection of our mental space. Whatever we experience in our mind we experience as occupying a mental space in which we experience ourself (the experiencing ‘I’) as the centre, and since we experience the seemingly physical world in our mind, physical space actually exists only in our mental space.

Just as physical space (known in Sanskrit as bhūtākāśa) exists only in our mental space (known in Sanskrit as manākāśa or cittākāśa), our mental space in turn exists only in the space of experience, awareness or consciousness (known in Sanskrit as cidākāśa), because our mental space arises or appears only in waking and dream, and it subsides or disappears in sleep, and the space in which it thus appears and disappears is only our own experience or awareness.

In the absence of our mind (as in sleep), we are aware of nothing other than ourself, so the space of awareness in which our mind and everything else appears and disappears is only our own essential self-awareness. When we experience ourself alone (as in sleep), we do not experience any space or time, but when space and time appear, they appear in us, the space of self-awareness. Therefore the space of self-awareness in which everything else appears and disappears is both infinitesimally small (having no extent or duration of its own, since extent or duration are relative measures that require some other thing to be measured against) and infinitely large (being that which contains all extents and durations).

Since we alone are always present, in relation to time and space we are always present in the present moment (now) and the present place (here), but since time and space exist only in us, there is no time or place in which we are not present, and since we exist independent of time and space, we exist in no time or place. Therefore the sole reality underlying the appearance (and the disappearance) of time and space is ourself.

Everything other than ourself is just an illusion. That is, what actually exists is only ourself, and everything else (all time and space, and everything that exists in time and space) merely seems to exist but does not actually exist.

So long as we experience any time or space, we experience ourself as if we were existing in them, so we cannot experience ourself as we really are so long as we experience time or space or anything else other than ourself. Therefore we should ignore everything else and investigate only ourself — that is, we should try to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else.

As Sri Ramana says in verse 16 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
நாமன்றி நாளேது நாடேது நாடுங்கா
னாமுடம்பே னாணாட்டு ணாம்படுவ — நாமுடம்போ
நாமின்றன் றென்றுமொன்று நாடிங்கங் கெங்குமொன்றா
னாமுண்டு நாணாடி னாம்.

nāmaṉḏṟi nāḷēdu nāḍēdu nāḍuṅgā
ṉāmuḍambē ṉāṇāṭṭu ṇāmpaḍuva — nāmuḍambō
nāmiṉḏṟaṉ ḏṟeṉḏṟumoṉḏṟu nāḍiṅgaṅ geṅgumoṉḏṟā
ṉāmuṇḍu nāṇāḍi ṉām
.

பதச்சேதம்: நாம் அன்றி நாள் ஏது, நாடு ஏது, நாடும் கால்? நாம் உடம்பேல், நாள் நாட்டுள் நாம் படுவம். நாம் உடம்போ? நாம் இன்று, அன்று, என்றும் ஒன்று; நாடு இங்கு, அங்கு, எங்கும் ஒன்று; ஆல், நாம் உண்டு. நாள் நாடு இல். நாம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nām aṉḏṟi nāḷ ēdu, nāḍu ēdu, nāḍum kāl? nām uḍambēl, nāḷ nāṭṭuḷ nām paḍuvam. nām uḍambō? nām iṉḏṟu, aṉḏṟu, eṉḏṟum oṉḏṟu; nāḍu iṅgu, aṅgu, eṅgum oṉḏṟu; āl, nām uṇḍu. nāḷ nāḍu il. nām.

அன்வயம்: நாடும் கால், நாம் அன்றி நாள் ஏது, நாடு ஏது? நாம் உடம்பேல், நாம் நாள் நாட்டுள் படுவம். நாம் உடம்போ? இன்று, அன்று, என்றும் நாம் ஒன்று; நாடு இங்கு, அங்கு, எங்கும் [நாம்] ஒன்று; ஆல், ‘[நாள் நாடு இல்] நாம்’ நாம் உண்டு. நாள் நாடு இல்.

Anvayam (word-separation): nāḍum kāl, nām aṉḏṟi nāḷ ēdu, nāḍu ēdu? nām uḍambēl, nām nāḷ nāṭṭuḷ paḍuvam. nām uḍambō? iṉḏṟu, aṉḏṟu, eṉḏṟum nām oṉḏṟu; nāḍu iṅgu, aṅgu, eṅgum [nām] oṉḏṟu; āl, ‘[nāḷ nāḍu il] nām’ nām uṇḍu. nāḷ nāḍu il.

English translation: When investigated, except we, where is time and where is place? If we are a body, we will be ensnared in time and place. [But] are we a body? Since we are one, now, then and always, one, here, there and everywhere in space, there is [only] we, the timeless and placeless we [or: there is [only] we; time and space are not; we [alone are]].
So long as we experience time and space, we are experiencing ourself as if we were this ego, which always experiences itself as a body, though which we perceive a world constructed within a framework of time and space. As this ego, we experience ourself as the centre and reference point from which we experience every other point in time and space. Without experiencing ourself as this ego, we cannot experience any time or space, which is why we do not experience either time or space during sleep, in which we experience ourself without experiencing our ego or anything else.

Since this ego is an illusion that seems to exist only when we experience anything other than ourself, it will be dissolved and cease to exist only if we watch it — that is, only if we try to experience ourself alone. Therefore, since this ego is the root and foundation of our experience of time and space, and since it will cease to exist only if we try to watch, observe or attend to it alone, we can deconstruct the illusion of this ego (and the consequent illusion of time and space) just by watching it — that is, just by trying to attend to ourself alone.

8. Our awareness of ourself in sleep

My friend then wrote a long email, the gist of which was as follows:
Recently I was reading vigorously about time and space and pondering about the ego, and I realized something important, namely that I was giving too much importance to the waking state. I was considering everything only with respect to the waking state (such as that enlightenment will happen in this waking state, and that I will then live with enlightenment in this waking state), but I didn’t understand the fact (or took it too loosely) that this is just another state, and that there is therefore no need to give weight to it, because the core thing I need to ponder is being conscious, which is present in all the three states.

Another aspect which clicked me in the core is that in deep sleep I am aware of the absence of things, so it is also a knowledge, and hence I exist in all these three states. However, I am not aware of the absence of things (in deep sleep) in real time, but only know it from my memory when I wake up, whereas in dream and waking state I know I am having experiences in real time.

One thing I am sure of is ‘the presence’ or ‘the existence’, or that which I know exists, and I don’t need the help of any sense organs to say I exist, so the only thing I can do is to be with it, or to investigate it as you say, and that will make things clear.
He added that he had decided that now is the time to put this into practice, and that what he was trying to do was ‘just attending to the sense of being in waking state’, and he asked whether this is the correct practice.

Soon after writing this he wrote another email in which he said: ‘To have the knowledge of deep sleep state I need to use memory, a part of mind which was absent during deep sleep, so the mind was giving me the answer that I have slept joyfully, so how can I trust the answer of someone (mind) who was not present in the deep sleep state?’

I replied to both these emails as follows:

So long as you are trying to experience or be aware of yourself alone, you are trying to practise self-investigation correctly. In other words, you are going in the correct direction, so to speak, and are coming close to ‘doing’ it correctly. That is, you are coming close to experiencing yourself alone, but you have not yet succeeded in doing so, because if you had you would have experienced what you really are, and hence you would no longer experience yourself as Rob. Therefore you just have to persist in trying to be aware of yourself alone until you succeed, which you will certainly do sooner or later.

Regarding what you say about being aware of the absence of other things in sleep, but not in real time, that implies that during sleep we are not actually aware of their absence, but become aware that they were absent only after we wake up. In a sense that is true, because strictly speaking we can be aware that something is absent only when we think of it, and we do not think of anything in sleep. However, subtle and abstract things cannot be adequately expressed in words, so when discussing such things we have to go beyond the words themselves in order to understand what they are trying to indicate.

When we say that during sleep we are aware of the absence of other things, what we mean is that we are then aware but not aware of anything other than ourself. In other words, what we are actually aware of in sleep is only ourself.

In sleep we are not aware of time, but provided that we do not take the term ‘in real time’ too literally, it is true to say that in sleep we are aware of ourself ‘in real time’, because there is actually no time or state in which we are not aware of ourself.

Because our waking mind was absent in sleep, from its perspective it seems that we were not aware of anything in sleep, but we are nevertheless clearly aware that we were asleep. This is because though our mind was absent then, we ourself were still present, so we are aware now that we were aware of ourself being in sleep.

In this connection you may find it useful to read one of my recent articles, Our memory of ‘I’ in sleep (and also parts of the subsequent one, Why should we believe that ‘the Self’ is as we believe it to be?), in which I discuss our awareness of ourself in sleep and our subsequent memory of it.

9. What happens to ourself when our body dies?

In his most recent email my friend wrote that we have analysed waking, dream and sleep, but we have not considered ‘the state after this body-mind mechanism has disappeared’, so he asked whether I can tell him ‘some pointers to get a clue that I exist after death of this body’, to which I replied:

If we were actually this body, we would cease to exist when it dies, but are we actually this body even now? If we were this body, we could not experience ourself without experiencing it, but we do experience ourself without experiencing it in both dream and sleep, so this body cannot be what we really are.

Regarding your questions, ‘This awareness/consciousness can be a by-product of the body? Some neurons + chemical reactions happening in the brain which is projected as this consciousness?’, if this were the case, it would mean that the body (and hence the world also) exists independent of our awareness of it, and that this waking state is therefore not just a dream. This is what most people believe, but it is a blind belief that is not supported by any evidence. We tend to assume that it is so, but we cannot actually know that anything exists when we do not experience it, so it is at best a very dubious assumption.

According to Sri Ramana, this waking state is just another dream, and the body and world that we experience here are just creations of our own mind, as are the body and world that we experience in a dream. We experience a body and world only when we experience ourself as an ego or mind, so we have no reason to suppose that they are anything but a mental creation.

Whether or not we experience any body or world, we always experience ourself (our own self-awareness), so the belief that our self-awareness is dependent on the existence of a body is disproved by our own experience in sleep. When we dream or are asleep, we cease to be aware of this waking body but remain aware of ourself, and likewise when this body dies we will cease to be aware of it but will remain aware of ourself, so bodily death is just like falling asleep or passing into some other dream.

In waking and in dream we experience many things, but all those things other than ourself could be an illusion, so though other things seem to exist, we cannot be sure that anything other than ourself actually exists. The only thing that we can be sure about is that we actually exist, because even if everything else that we experience is just an illusion, we ourself must exist, since if we did not exist, we could not experience anything, whether real or illusory.

Moreover, since we experience ourself existing in sleep, when we do not experience anything else, the fact that we exist independent of whatever else we may experience in waking or dream is self-evident. Therefore we need not doubt this fact, or suppose that our existence could depend upon the existence of our body or any other thing, as is wrongly supposed by most present-day philosophers and scientists.

Our present body is experienced by us only in our current state of seeming ‘waking’, which is just one of our three states of daily experience, so just as we have no reason to suppose that any body that we experience as ourself in a dream exists when we are not experiencing that dream, we likewise have no reason to suppose that this body that we currently experience as ourself exists when we are not experiencing our current state.

However, the only way in which we can completely eradicate any scope for any doubt we may have about whether our current state is just another dream or a state of real waking, or about whether our current body exists when we do not experience it, is by experiencing ourself as we really are, and the only way we can experience ourself as we really are is by investigating ourself, who experience not only the seeming existence of other things in waking and dream, but also their absence in sleep.

82 comments:

Anonymous said...

The following sentence does not seem to be correct- "However, the only way in which we can completely eradicate any scope for any doubt we may have about whether our current state is just another dream or a state of real waking, or about whether our current body exists when we do not experience it, is by experiencing ourself as we really are"

When we experience ourself as we really are, we won't experience the world; That is a one way street. There is no way to come back to the world and check if it is real or dream. World ceases to exist for the liberated, but whether the world continues on its own for others cannot be verified because the liberated does not come back to this world to check it out.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous-
You seem to have missed the lakshyartha of this articles's concluding paragraph , which you quoted in your comment.

Sri Michael James was merely emphasizing the fact that we cannot have certain knowledge about anything else until we have certain knowledge about ourself , and that the only way to gain this experiential knowledge is by atma vichara.

Michael James said...

In reply to the first of the two anonymous comments above, the final sentence of this article, in which I say that we can completely eradicate any scope for doubt only by experiencing ourself as we really are, was obviously intended to be only for the benefit of the ego, which alone has scope for doubting anything. When we experience ourself as we really are, we will no longer experience ourself as this this ego, so it will no longer seem to exist, as it does now, and hence there will be no one left to doubt anything. In other words, since doubt exists only for the ego, eradicating the ego will obviously eradicate all scope for doubt.

Regarding your final two sentences, ‘There is no way to come back to the world and check if it is real or dream. World ceases to exist for the liberated, but whether the world continues on its own for others cannot be verified because the liberated does not come back to this world to check it out’, the ‘others’ you refer to are part of the world that now seems to exist in your view, so if no world actually exists, there can be no ‘others’ in whose view any world could even seem to exist. When we wake up from a dream, we do not suppose that the world we perceived in that dream may continue to exist in the view of any of the other people we saw in it, because we know that both that world and those other people were just a creation of our own dreaming mind.

According to the experience of Bhagavan, the world does not actually exist even now, and it seems to exist only in the view of our ego. Therefore if we investigate this ego and thereby discover that it does not actually exist, the seeming existence of the world cannot remain.

Our ego (which is just a mistaken experience of what we are) is the only grounds we have for believing that any world exists even now, so experiencing ourself as we really are is a perfectly reliable means of determining whether or not any world actually exists at all.

Sivanarul said...

“Moreover, since we experience ourself existing in sleep, when we do not experience anything else, the fact that we exist independent of whatever else we may experience in waking or dream is self-evident. Therefore we need not doubt this fact, or suppose that our existence could depend upon the existence of our body or any other thing, as is wrongly supposed by most present-day philosophers and scientists.”

With regards to Michael’s writing above, it is quite a challenge to remove this doubt even as a working hypothesis. There are two powerful opposing forces. First is the very strongly rooted “I am the body” idea. Second is scientific materialism that powerfully reinforces “I am the body” idea. Our lives are pretty much run by technology these days and technology is the huge success story of science. The web, mobile phones and GPS are part of everyday life and their successes in turn add tremendous credibility to anything science concludes.

So the question that the questioner asked Michael, “ ‘This awareness/consciousness can be a by-product of the body? Some neurons + chemical reactions happening in the brain which is projected as this consciousness?’” is the conclusion of science which says the waking state is the base reality of life. The mind projects dream state as a way to fulfill desires that cannot be fulfilled in waking state, and deep sleep is a state where the mind takes rest. Consciousness is simply an epiphenomenon of the brain which arises when matter gets complex enough.

In fact, science can say all spiritual experiences reported by spiritual saints and Jnani’s may just be the trigger of a sub-atomic particle. Just like, the recently verified Higg’s Boson, gives mass to matter, science can conclude that there is an undiscovered particle that the saints tap into in the body (by Vichara, Meditation Japa etc) that gives rise to their experiential reality. Once the body dies, that tapped into particle also dies and the experiential reality of the Jnani also dies with it. This does not mean I support the scientific conclusion on this matter. But it is also not easy to dismiss its conclusion.

Sivanarul said...

As a continuation of my previous comment, even experiencing “I” completely in isolation to anything else will not disprove the theory because the experience of isolation itself can be simply a trigger of an undiscovered subatomic particle like Higg’s Boson. In other words, a Jnani’s experiential reality of “Ajata” could be brain based that gets triggered based on certain conditions (internal and/or external). Once triggered, the state is irreversible as long as the body exists. Once the body dies, that state dies as well. The only way this theory can be disproved is that after physical death, if we realize ‘I’ still exists. As long as the Physical brain is involved (waking, dream, deep sleep), nothing definite can be said.

We have two compelling arbiters’ of reality. One is the rich spiritual tradition with its long list of saints, mystics and jnani’s (or Jnana alone). Other is the modern scientific enterprise with its illustrious scientists. Both provide very compelling arguments. It is unfortunate that it cannot be verified which one is right when we are still brain based.

Bob - P said...

Thank you for posting this article Michael, I will be reading a few more times.

In appreciation.

Bob

R Viswanathan said...

Sri Nochur Venkataraman stated once that the Ulladhu Narpadhu verses from 3 onwards are essentially the explanation for the core teaching of Bhagavan given in the first two verses of Ulladhu Narpadhu. Thus, if Bhagavan himself chose to explain the core teaching of self realization in so many Ulladhu Narpadhu verses and also in so many verses of Guru Vachaka Kovai, there is no wonder that we discuss in such an elaborate way every statement of or even pieces of Bhagavan's explanatory statements.

Sri Nochur Venkataraman in one of his discourses also described how Bhagavan would answer any question on the essential difference amongst the three paths, Advaita, Visishta advaita, and Dvaita: "All three paths advocate atma sakshatkaram, and hence let one reach that stage before examining or discussing these paths further"

Often, scientific reasoning is sought to be brought in the discussion of Bhagavan's teachings. On such instances, I remember Sri Nochur Venkataraman's another statement: for scientists, the questions, 'why?' and 'how?' are important where as for persons who genuinely want to realize the self, the question, 'who?' is solely important. Of course, it should be a non-verbal question, since a verbal question will only fetch a verbal answer.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Anonymous and Michael for the replies.

The analogy of snake/rope has been used traditionally to explain the world (Michael, you have mentioned this in a few of your articles). I see no reason why there cannot be multiple egos that are under the same illusion interacting with each other (just like several people can mistake the rope to be a snake and talk about killing it). If my illusion is gone, that does not mean illusions of other egos are gone.

I can still consider this world as a dream to help with Atma-Vichara, but my Atma-Vichara helps the ego that is me, not other egos. This is why Sri Ramana gave liberation to his mother and cow (I mentioned this in a comment to another article) - They are separate egos under illusion, so they need "their own" liberation. Otherwise the very fact that Sri Ramana is liberated is enough to eradicate the characters in his dream including his mother and the cow.

In the 7th paragraph of Naan Yaar you quoted, Sri Ramana says "It is necessary to consider the world like a dream". I see that he does not say it is like a dream, but he tells us to consider it like a dream (eṇṇi-k-koḷḷa vēṇḍum).

Thanks-

Anonymous said...

Anonymous-
The belief that there are 'multiple egos that are under the same illusion interacting with each other (just like several people can mistake the rope to be a snake and talk about killing it)' is a belief whose truth we can never verify conclusively , because we can never experience the consciousness which we believe is present in other jivas /egos. We always experience ourselves as one , even if we 'see through others eyes' or 'put ourselves in the shoes of others'. Thus , we can be certain only about the existence of this one consciousness.

Regarding what Bhagavan says in 17th paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? , even if he assures us that the world is a dream , our experience that it is waking state will not be changed merely by his words. For our practical benefit , Bhagavan chooses to advise us to consider this world like a dream , in order that we cease paying attention to (or thinking about) the world , and instead attend to ourself , the consciousness (chit) which certainly is (sat).

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, Neither position (single ego vs multiple egos) can be verified conclusively.

To me - the system of multiple egos seem to agree with several passages in Bhagavad Gita (and Shruti) better.

One other thing is that with the belief of multiple egos, I feel it worthwhile to point "others" who show some interest to Sri Ramana. Not saying it is good or bad, but just stating an implication of the belief.

Regards-

Michael James said...

Anonymous, in the final sentence of your comment of 3 April 2015 at 14:54, ‘I see that he does not say it is like a dream, but he tells us to consider it like a dream (eṇṇi-k-koḷḷa vēṇḍum)’, you seem to imply that you do not actually think that the world is like a dream, and that you prefer to believe that when Bhagavan said we need to consider it like a dream, he did not mean that it is actually like a dream. If this is what you meant, you are not following his advice, because you cannot consider that it is like a dream and at the same time believe that it is not actually like a dream. We cannot follow his advice to consider it like a dream unless we are willing to accept that he meant it is actually like a dream.

If we consider the entire world (the prapañca, the totality of all phenomena) to be like a dream, we must consider it all to be a mental creation — an expansion or fabrication of our own mind — and hence we must also consider all the people that we see in this world to be part of our own mental creation. That is, we should believe that the only one who experiences this world is ourself as this ego, and that we are therefore the only ego that needs to be liberated.

When we wake up from a bad dream, we do not worry about whether all our friends or other people in that dream have woken up, because we know that they were just a fabrication of our dreaming mind and hence do not actually exist at all. Therefore we cannot consider this world to be like a dream so long as we cherish the belief that there are any egos other than ourself.

The only reason why we believe that there are other egos who need to be liberated is that we believe this world is not really like a dream, and that all the other people we see in it are therefore separate egos just like us. Therefore if we want to follow Bhagavan’s teachings wholeheartedly and without any reservations, we have to accept the full implications of his teaching that the entire world is just a mental fabrication, an expansion of our own ego, and one of those implications is that there is no ego other than ourself, and that our own liberation (that is, our own waking up from the sleep of self-ignorance that underlies and gives rise to this dream) will in effect be the liberation of the entire world and all the other egos who seem to exist in it.

Regarding your latest comment, though Bhagavan taught us that there is only one ego, he also taught us that even this one ego that we now experience as ourself is not real (that is, though it seems to exist it does not actually exist), and that we can verify this conclusively by investigating ourself and thereby experiencing ourself as we actually are.

Mouna said...

Bhagavan always advocated that there is only one jiva (one ego, maya, mind, I-thought, samsara, etc…)
As Michael pointed out several times in his commentaries, “others” are only part of the I-thought, that is not even “my” or “your” I-thought, but “THE" I-thought”.
Although “neither position can be verified” conclusively, I for one go with Bhagavan's hypothesis, because so far is the one that gave me most favorable results (verifications) in understanding of how everything “works".

Yours in Bhagavan
Mouna

Anonymous said...

Michael, Thanks for the reply.

Could you please comment on the following? This is from "Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi" talk 571 where Sri Ramana talks about arguments against and for one jiva:

Begin quote-
‘If the Self is single, if one man is liberated, that means that all souls are liberated. In practice it is not so. Therefore advaita is not correct.’

The weakness in the argument is that the reflected light of the Self is mistaken for the original light of the Self. The ego, the world and the individuals are all due to the person’s vasanas. When they perish, that person’s hallucinations disappear, that is to say one pitcher is broken and the relative reflection is at an end.
--End quote

What does "one pitcher" refer to? Isn't Sri Ramana saying there are multiple pitchers?

Thank you-

Sivanarul said...

Whether there is one ego or multiple egos, liberation gained by one ego cannot be transferred or granted to other egos, unless the other ego has spiritual maturity and actively seeks liberation. Even in that case, it is not guaranteed (Palaniswami’s spirit escaping through his eyes, in spite of Bhagavan attending to him and pressing his heart to facilitate permanent sinking). The only thing a Sadhaka can do is to strive for his/her own liberation.

It can be said that those of us who are posting here do believe in multiple egos, at least in the Sadhana stage. Otherwise, why bother posting. If it is for our own sadhana’s sake, we can simply write it and keep it to our self. The act of posting implies a need to communicate with other egos and serves as a form of satsang. At the highest level, satsang may mean relationship to the sat/self. At the sadhaka level, it certainly means communication with multiple egos.

There are many of us who are deeply influenced by Bhagavan, but are not ready for his highest teachings yet. For those of us who cannot accept that waking state is a dream (at this point in time), the alternative is to realize that the entire lifetime is a bubble in water (நீர்மேல அமர்கின்ற குமிழியென நிற்கின்ற) in the words of Saint Thayumanavar, and that the bubble may burst any second and it may be best to use our time wisely striving for liberation.

Steve said...

Sivanarul, regarding the first line of the second paragraph of your comment, it can be said that some of us posting here believe in multiple egos, but others of us believe in Sri Ramana's fundamental teachings, one of which has been written countless times throughout this blog, including in the article above:

"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."

In other words, if I seem to exist as this ego, there will be other seemingly existent egos, in a seemingly existent world. I will interact with these other egos accordingly, that is, according to my prarabdha, created by my own free will. I am also able to use my free will wisely (as you allude to in the last line of your comment), by turning my attention away from a seemingly existent world of other egos, to investigate this seemingly existent ego, in order to know myself as I really am.

"Accepting that jīva is only one, may the courageous person who has discernment subside [penetrate or be firmly established] in the heart. [Only] to suit the mind of dull-witted people in whom such discernment has not blossomed [do sages and sacred texts speak as if] conceding that jīvas are many."
- Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 534

Bob - P said...

I think accepting that there is one ego / jiva and the illusory dream world is only experienced by the one false "I" ego takes huge courage.

It would imply that all others including sages and even Bhagavan himself and his teaching are nothing but myself.

This would also include Michael and this wonderful blog. They maybe nothing but my own imagination and in essence myself guiding me home so to speak.

But I also appreciate that as I am posting on this blog it does indeed imply I don't accept this. It is very difficult is it not.

I helps me to think that I am interacting with my self and in the end this one false "I" my so called self also has to go. I accept this.

What remains is beyond my limited comprehension and escapes description.

All I know is I am so thankful for this blog and all Michael's work as even if it is a just my imagination it is helping me beyond measure.

I am filled with gratitude.

Bob

Anonymous said...

Steve and Bob,

For me, accepting one jiva framework is not about courage. My problem is that I have spent quite a few years learning Bhagavad Gita, and I find it extremely difficult to explain certain verses by the one jiva position (in fact I would love to be able to).

The explanation may be that those verses are meant for the less intelligent; However that is not a satisfying explanation for me.

Off the top of my head:
Bhagavad Gita - 2:12, 2:27, 2:69, 4:5, 4:6, 4:15, 4:34, 9:11, 15:7, 15:15, 15:16, 18:61 and telling others about spiritual knowledge: 18:67

I understand that this blog is not about Bhagavad Gita and I am not trying to make it into one. I just wanted to state the reason for my question.

Regards

Sivanarul said...

Steve,
Thanks for your reply. Why go through the convoluted acceptance of “seemingly existent egos, in a seemingly existent world”. Why can’t it just be “existent egos, in a existent world”. As long as the dream exists, the dream is real. Do we say in the dream that the dream seemingly exists? It is only upon waking that we discard the dream and its entire contents as unreal. Will it not be easy for us to say in this satsang, there are egos who are named Steve, Sivanarul, Michael and all the other people that who post here, but the Self/Reality that pervades all of us is one and non-dual and upon awakening we will realize as such.

In the case of one ego versus multiple egos, irrespective of what Guru Vacaka Kovai says, it may be helpful to point out that the interpretation of Bhagavan’s writings is not consistent with Bhagavan’s actions. It is being said here that Bhagavan’s teachings imply that there is one ego (admitted as a concession) and when that ego is liberated, all other egos automatically get liberated (since they will be found to be non-existent). But Bhagavan did not follow this in action. Bhagavan prepared his mother for liberation over several years. On the day of final passage, he sat next to her for 8+ hours placing one hand on her heart and one on her head. It is said that she lived through many lifetimes over that 8+ hour period. Finally he facilitated sinking of the ego in the heart/Self. Even after hearing that peculiar sinking sound discernable to a Jnani, he still kept his hands for 5+ minutes to ensure the ego does not escape through the eyes like it did for Palaniswami. Since Bhagavan attained liberation at 16, by his writing, it would mean all egos such us Palaniswami, Mother and Cow Lakshmi already attained liberation (by his realization that they don’t exist). Then why, by his action, has he gone to such great length to ensure liberation of his mother’s ego? To me action speaks louder than words.

Sivanarul said...

Bob,
Your writing seems to indicate that you are torn between your current view of reality and Bhagavan’s teachings in writing. It may be helpful to study Bhagavan’s life in action through various sources such as Talks, Day By Day, Arthur Orbourne’s writings, S.S Cohen’s works, Annamalai swami’s writings via David Godman etc. What will be revealed is an amazing tapestry of life full of ahimsa, compassion, action in non-action, sharing whatever he gets with everyone, taking great interest in building projects, ensuring ashram management is run by first born of his brother’s family etc. His writings indicate non-duality. But he practiced duality towards Arunachala. He went to great lengths to ensure his mother got liberated. He has said that many great souls visit him in various forms (golden mongoose was one such) including as beggars. He has also said that many great mahatmas reside in various parts of Arunachala. If all of these were only in his dream, why give so much prominence to dream characters?. When we awaken from a dream, do we dwelve on such great length on the characters we saw in the dream?

Even the great Gaudapada, proponent of Ajata Vada, went to great length of writing Bhashya’s on Upanishads. According to Ajata nothing ever existed (even seemingly). If that was the case who was Gaudapada writing his Bhashya for and why? Adi Shankaracharya while preaching non-duality sang soul stirring devotional songs like Bhaja Govindam, Lingashtagam etc.

Bhagavan did not promote advaitic sadhanas like “Aham Brahmasi”, “Tat Tvam asi”. He only asked us to investigate who this ‘I’ was. For those who did not find Vichara suitable, he advised Meditation, Japa etc. In other words, the advaitic realization of non-duality happens after awakening and it is not something we need to concern ourself during sadhana.

If you like, please feel free to accept to yourself that Michael’s writings are helpful in reality and not in your imagination. Bhagavan’s actions never supported that he was doing anything in imagination

Steve said...

Anonymous, the full verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu is:

'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. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.'

I think courage is required, not because there is one (unreal) ego (of which multiple unreal egos are an extension), but because to know who we really are, we must give up this one ego; we must give up everything. I think the 'glue' that keeps us attached to what we mistake to be ourself is desire and fear -- we want to keep everything, and we fear giving up everything. It requires courageous indifference, if you will, and the way to develop and strengthen that is by 'investigating what this ego is'.

As for the Bhagavad Gita, I not familiar enough with it to be able to comment on it.

Steve said...

Sivanarul, I merely wanted to point out that the second paragraph of your previous comment was not quite accurate.

Sivanarul said...

Steve is spot on with his reply to Anonymous, in that courage is required to give up our desires and fears and that investigating the ‘I’ will give us that courage. But to do that, it is not required to believe in one ego or multiple egos. If it helps someone to believe in one ego, then by all means, please do so. If it gives you heartburn, then there is nothing to be gained by forcing the belief on yourself.

When laws are written, there is letter of the law and intent of the law. Similarly Bhagavan’s writings also have letter of the law and intent. Bhagavan’s letter of the law may indicate one ego. But what is the intent? It is to promote detachment or vairagya. If there is only one ego, then it is easier to attain detachment. But the same detachment can also be obtained by realizing that life is too short, happiness gained by sense objects is fleeting and repeated cycles of samsara is not worth for the paltry respite it provides through pleasure. The promise of the bliss of Self is alluring, permanent and worth our time. Note that detachment gained this way has nothing to do with one ego or multiple egos.

With respect to Anonymous question on Bhagavad gita, Lord Krishna has stated, that Nirguna Brahman is indeed very hard to attain through contemplation and advises his perplexed devotee Arjuna to surrender to him. He goes on to say that those who surrender to him (Krishna, Ishvara or any Personal God), he takes the responsibility of delivering them moksha.

For those of us who have a dualistic upbringing and belief, it is important to realize that dualism is not something you have to get rid of to realize the Self. Dualism can carry you through all the way and will reconcile with advaitic realization nicely in the end.

Rakaposhi said...

The discussion of one ego versus multiple egos shows clearly that we are blind men discussing about colours.
Although Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi is really a good example to us he cannot heal our blindness all at once. We cannot expect that our dense ignorance with the flash of one beam of light will change to unclouded happiness.
To see colours it may take many lives.
We can meet Sri Bhagavan only in the heart because the scriptures will be always object of misinterpretation. Even close disciples of Bhagavan sometimes seem to be not free of wrong conclusions and fallacies. We should concern that the first priority of Ramana's writings were concrete answers to definite questions of disciples. The derivation of whole philosophical principles from a few statements seems to miss the target.
If Aurobindo's critical remarks about Ramana are more than mind-induced outbursts of his ego I dont judge. But Aurobindo's arguments cannot simply be dismissed that Ramana himself has seen only through his Ramana-tinted spectacles.

Bob - P said...

Dear Anonymous
Please forgive my use of the word courage as it implied that I am doing this and being courageous !! I very much appreciate your opinion and what you say. I must add I have not long found Bhagavan and his teachings and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Plus I am very Ignorant of the Gita, I don't have the understanding to even properly reply to you, I was just writing in terms of how I have interpreted Bhagavans teaching and all the wonderful information on this blog. However it is my interpretation and I full appreciate I may be wrong.

All I know is this a wonderful blog.

In appreciation

Bob


Dear Sivanarul

Thank you so much for your kind reply.

Yes it is extremely hard to write about these matters. I must confess I do find it hard to write about it as when I read back what I say I know it is not correct and filled full of contradictions.

Thank you also for the recommendations, huge appreciation.

I think my reply may of given the wrong impression that I am cold towards others. This is very much not the case, I am very emphatic ever since a small child especially with animals and am a vegan, it is just I personally accept Michaels thoughts on everything is a projection of my mind including myself or my illusory "I" which is writing this reply.

Even the last paragraph is filed full of contradictions, it is most difficult.

Even though I accept that others, Bhagavan and his teaching is nothing but myself .. or should I say the self it does not mean I don't love them or I don't show compassion to others. I am very compassionate.

My thinking which may be wrong is Bhagavan and his teaching is my inner guru projected in the illusory walking state to guide my attention back to myself or back onto Bhagavan if you like. As Bhagavan is the self .... which is my real being not the illusory "I"

I hope that came out right.

In appreciation.

Bob












Sivanarul said...

Bob,
I apologize if my reply somehow conveyed the idea that you came across as cold or non-compassionate. Rest assured that you came across as a genuine seeker who is appreciative of Michael’s writings and wanted to thank him, but since he is only in your imagination, you weren’t sure thanking him was the right thing to do. It was only in that context I said that, you can thank him as if he was real. Bhagavan never practiced advaita for practical purposes. On his last evening, he tenderly looked at his attendant and said something like “The English say Thank You. We say Santhosam” meaning that he appreciates all the work the attendant had done in providing care for him.

If it helps in your sadhana to treat everyone else as being in your imagination, please continue doing so. I wish you the very best in your sadhana.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, I have replied to your first two comments above in a separate article, How we can confidently dismiss the conclusions of materialist metaphysics, which I have just posted here.

Michael James said...

Regarding the question asked above in an anonymous comment about the ‘one pitcher’ that Bhagavan mentioned in section 571 of Talks, he was referring there to the analogy of the moon reflected in several receptacles of water that he mentioned earlier in the same conversation, so ‘one pitcher’ means one of those ‘receptacles of water’.

This analogy is one of the traditional analogies that are given to reconcile the common belief in the multiplicity of jīvas with the philosophy of advaita. If we accept Bhagavan’s teaching that we are the only one jīva (soul or ego) and that all the other people we see are just like other people we see in a dream, this analogy is unnecessary, but as he is recorded to have said (in the first sentence of that section of Talks), ‘Multiplicity of individuals is a moot point with most persons’. That is, it is generally difficult for us to accept that our present state is just a dream and that all the people we meet in this state are therefore just a creation of our own dreaming mind, so until we are willing to accept this, advaita provides us with a compromise in the form of this analogy.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding your remark in one of your comments above, ‘It can be said that those of us who are posting here do believe in multiple egos, at least in the Sadhana stage. Otherwise, why bother posting’, whenever our mind is turned outwards, we perceive a world containing other people who seem to be sentient just like us, so as long as we are interacting in this world we need to behave as if other people exist and are sentient. Therefore when Bhagavan taught us that we are the only one jīva or ego, he obviously did not intend us to try to behave outwardly as if we believed this, but only intended us to apply this teaching in our inward practice of self-investigation.

We can accept his teaching that we are the only one jīva and at the same time find it useful to discuss this and other teachings of his with other people (just as we may discuss them with other people in our dreams), because we can consider it to be an external form of manana or reflection. When we have discussions such as the ones we often have on this blog, we are frequently confronted with different viewpoints, which can prompt us to think more deeply about what Bhagavan taught, why he taught it and how we should apply it in our practice of self-investigation.

This at least is my experience, and it is why I am grateful to people who ask me questions about his teachings (or rather why I am grateful to him for shaping this dream of my outward life in such a way that I experience people asking me such questions), because that helps me to keep my mind dwelling on his teachings and considering them from many different perspectives, which in turn helps to strengthen my conviction that the most important thing for me to do is to try to investigate what I actually am.

Bob - P said...

Dear Sivanarul

I have been thinking deeply about what you said, I must stress when I meet other people / animals or interact with other sentient beings like on this blog, I would never treat them as if they were a unimportant imaginary things. They are as real as I am along with this world .

On reflection I think it is more accurate for me to say I accept Bhagavans teaching about one jiva and this world including everything in it is a projection of my mind (including me) as it does make sense to me intellectually but practically treating people/ animals as separate sentient beings with individual feelings is definitely better and more practical while I interact with this world.

I whole heatedly agree it is very important to treat other sentient beings with great compassion and love. One of the reasons I was draw to Bhagavan was his love for not just people but for all his non human friends and how he treat ed them all the same with huge love and compassion.

I am so deeply grateful for Michael's blog and all his work along with you and everyone else who post here. It is an absolute blessing and I am learning and deepening my understanding all the time about Bhagavans teachings thanks to Michael and people like you.

This post is one such example. As you replies have made me think deeply on what I said. On reflection I think I should of worded my comments differently as it may of appeared rude. If it did I apologize profusely. Like I said previously I do find it very hard to write or express my thinking in these matters.

Anyway thank you Sivanarul and I also hope your own practice is going very well indeed.

Michael thank you very much for you last two comments they were extremely helpful.

In appreciation as always.

Bob

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Thanks for the comment about "pitcher" analogy. A follow up question - Is it that pitchers are different egos in their own world, without interacting with other egos? I know that is not possible to prove/disprove but the analogy could mean that. That way when one ego perishes, its world (along with everything in it - one pitcher) goes away, but other egos with their own worlds (pitchers) continue; again, individual egos never interact with one another.

One thing that one ego framework explains really well for me is the theory of karma. It is very difficult to propose that there are multiple egos in one world (so to speak) and that their karmas all match up so well. With one ego, my karma, my destiny, my happiness and my sorrow can be easily arranged in a world that is my mental creation.

Thanks-

Michael James said...

Bob, regarding one of your comments, in which you say, ‘[...] all others including sages and even Bhagavan himself and his teaching are nothing but myself. [...] myself guiding me home so to speak. [...] I[t] helps me to think that I am interacting with my self and in the end this one false “I” my so called self also has to go’, yes, everything that we interact with or experience is only ourself, because according to Bhagavan we alone exist.

However, since what we really are is one, indivisible and undifferentiated in any way, so long as we experience any differences between ourself and anything else or between the things that we experience, we are not experiencing ourself as we really are, but only as an ego. This is why Bhagavan taught us that in order to experience ourself as we really are we must try to experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from the appearance of anything else.

As soon as we rise as a separate ego, the power of grace (which is nothing but our own real self, whose nature is to experience and love everything as itself, since it alone exists) also rises and functions as guru, preparing the ground, so to speak, to draw us back to ourself. Therefore everything that we experience is a manifestation of the grace of guru, and its sole purpose is therefore to guide us back home, as you say.

Ucayali said...

Michael,
you write in your recent comment to Bob:
"Therefore everything that we experience is a manifestation of the grace of the guru, and its sole purpose is therefore to guide us back home[...]".
Since that statement does not exclude the experience of the "world" and "other people" there is no need to declare our (only mental) provisional tentative belief in the unreality of the world. Therefore for our practice of self-investigation any discussion if the ajnanis experience of the seeming world with its seeming multiplicity of egos is real or only just a dream seems to be dispensable.

Bob - P said...

Thank you very much Michael for your feedback about my recent comment and for helping me with my understanding of Bhagavan's teaching.

Bob

Sivanarul said...

Michael,
Thanks much for your replies. I have reproduced below my comments I wrote earlier in this thread.

“It is being said here that Bhagavan’s teachings imply that there is one ego (admitted as a concession) and when that ego is liberated, all other egos automatically get liberated (since they will be found to be non-existent). But Bhagavan did not follow this in action. Bhagavan prepared his mother for liberation over several years. On the day of final passage, he sat next to her for 8+ hours placing one hand on her heart and one on her head. It is said that she lived through many lifetimes over that 8+ hour period. Finally he facilitated sinking of the ego in the heart/Self. Even after hearing that peculiar sinking sound discernable to a Jnani, he still kept his hands for 5+ minutes to ensure the ego does not escape through the eyes like it did for Palaniswami. Since Bhagavan attained liberation at 16, by his writing, it would mean all egos such us Palaniswami, Mother and Cow Lakshmi already attained liberation (by his realization that they don’t exist). Then why, by his action, has he gone to such great length to ensure liberation of his mother’s ego? To me action speaks louder than words.”

I have two questions:
1. How do you reconcile the inconsistency between Bhagavan’s writing of one jiva versus his action as explained above? Shouldn’t his action take precedence over his writing? Doesn’t his action indicate there are multiple egos and each ego has to strive and attain liberation?
2. In your experience, has the belief in one jiva helped your Sadhana?

I can understand Bhagavan behaving as if multiple egos exist for practical purposes (basic bodily needs, medicine etc). I can also understand his writings and composing songs as practical interaction with his surroundings. But liberation is at the core of everything and if there is only one jiva why did he go to such great length to liberate his mother, after he had already attained it?

R Viswanathan said...

The kind of discussions going on prompt me to remember Sri Nochur Venkataraman's statements:

The jnanam of Baktha and the love of the Jnani is the same.

Jnani knows and abides while the Baktha abides and knows.

R Viswanathan said...

The old article of Sri Michael James seems to be of relevance to the discussion going on here:

Sunday, 4 March 2007
Non-duality is the truth even when duality appears to exist

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2007/03/non-duality-is-truth-even-when-duality.html

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul,
I read somewhere that Sri Ramana once said he does not do anything, but we see him doing things. So I can think of him giving his mother liberation etc., as things we see (he does not do any of those). He also mentioned that regardless of how much he tries it is difficult to explain how he does not have a body.

I think one reason for us to see people getting liberation could be that this is a way for us to know about liberation. We always ask whether we can get liberation following a path and we look for other people who have attained liberation following that path. So those are needed for our benefit.

Bob - P said...

An Anonymous friend asked the below question in a recent comment further up. Sorry I don't know how to link to it so I have just pasted it below.

{Thanks for the comment about "pitcher" analogy. A follow up question - Is it that pitchers are different egos in their own world, without interacting with other egos? I know that is not possible to prove/disprove but the analogy could mean that. That way when one ego perishes, its world (along with everything in it - one pitcher) goes away, but other egos with their own worlds (pitchers) continue; again, individual egos never interact with one another.

One thing that one ego framework explains really well for me is the theory of karma. It is very difficult to propose that there are multiple egos in one world (so to speak) and that their karmas all match up so well. With one ego, my karma, my destiny, my happiness and my sorrow can be easily arranged in a world that is my mental creation.}

This is a great question and I have pondered over the exact same question or a very similar question after reading this thread.

It would be great to hear some feedback about this question.

Thank you for asking this Anonymous.

Bob

Michael James said...

Anonymous, regarding your comment in which you say that you find it difficult to reconcile the one jīva teaching (ēka-jīva-vāda) with certain verses of the Bhagavad Gītā, this is because unlike for example Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, which Bhagavan wrote specifically for those of us who aspire only to experience ourself as we really are and who are ready to accept that the price to be paid for this is the annihilation of our own ego and consequently the giving up of everything else, the Bhagavad Gītā was written for a much broader range of people — that is, for people whose level of spiritual development varies greatly, many of whom therefore aspire for various intermediate goals rather than just the ultimate goal of complete ego-annihilation.

Therefore, because it was intended for a broad audience, the Bhagavad Gītā contains verses that cater to a wide variety of needs. The ultimate aim of all such verses is to prepare people to seek the annihilation of their own ego, but to do so some verses need to make concessions to the current beliefs, aspirations and understanding of different people, and hence we should not expect all verses to seem compatible with the highest level of teachings.

When we read texts such as the Gītā, we should not take the meaning of all their verses at face value, but should try to understand the intention behind what is said in each of them. If a parent tells their small child that it is not safe to go out on the street alone, we should understand that that is advice intended for that child at that age, and should not think that the parent means that even when that child grows up they should not go out on the street alone.

Just as advice that is applicable to a small child may not be applicable to an older person, so some of the verses of the Gītā may be applicable to some people but not to others. Therefore we need to read such texts with discrimination and judge for ourself the intention behind each verse and whether or not it is applicable to us at our present stage of development.

If our sole aim is to experience ourself as we really are and thereby to destroy the illusion that we are this ego (the finite person we now seem to be), we need to understand that self-investigation is the only means by which we can achieve this aim, and that advice to do pūjā, japa, dhyāna, yōga or any other such practice is therefore not applicable to us. Likewise, auxiliary teachings that are intended to help us in our practice of self-investigation (such as ēka-jīva-vāda and the view that our present life is just a dream) are applicable to us, whereas contrary teachings that are intended to help people who are following other paths are not applicable to us.

In other words, we first have to decide what is our aim, then we have to decide what is the means by which we can achieve that aim, and then we need to judge which teachings will help us to in our efforts to achieve our aim, and which teachings are intended not for us but for other people who currently do not have the same aim as we do.

Steve said...

What I really am is the peace/happiness of purely knowing my infinite being - sat chit ananda.

As a reflection of what I really am, I am a character named 'Steve' - one 'pitcher'. As 'Steve', I see myself as multiplicity - reflections within a reflection. A universe, a galaxy, a solar system, a world, and included in that world, various other characters - other 'pitchers'. Among those are family, friends, and others who see others seeing still others. There is a guru called Ramana Maharshi, and a character called Michael James who clearly explains the teachings of that guru, and how to 'again' know myself as I really am.

Fast-forward to the end of 'Steve' - the 'pitcher' has broken, the reflection and all the reflections within that reflection are no more. The reflection was seen only by the reflection, for no other reason than to come to its own end.

The rope never really became a snake, and so, never really again becomes a rope. There is now, and has only ever been, sat chit ananda.

R Viswanathan said...

Is there only one self or are there multiple selves? I give below an interesting account narrated by Robert Adams, as given in Sri David Godman's blog:
http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/06/robert-adams-again.html

A couple of weeks later a German lady came to the ashram. Apparently, she had made a donation of some kind, but she wasn’t happy for some reason. She was complaining to Ramana, but he just kept silent.

I asked the interpreter, ‘What does she want?’

The interpreter said, ‘She wants her donation back. She wants to go home, back to Germany.’

So she started to argue. Everything was going on in front of Ramana. She started to argue with one of the managers of the ashram and Ramana just looked.

Then Ramana said in English, ‘Give her back her donation and add fifty rupees to it,’ which they did, and she left.

This was his nature. He never saw anything wrong. He never took anyone out of his love. No matter what they did, who they were, where their ego was, he understood. He loved everyone just the same.

Remember the story of Ramana and the German lady, the one he returned the donation to, plus some extra money?

The following afternoon a devotee asked him, ‘Bhagavan, why did you do that?’ and Ramana explained, ‘When she gave us a donation, to whom do you think she gave it? She gave it to herself, for there’s only one Self. When she took it back, she took it away from herself. When she goes back to Germany, I’m sure she’ll have financial problems until she learns that anything you give is only giving to yourself, for there’s not two or three or four selves, there’s only one Self.’

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding the comment in which you ask Steve, ‘Why go through the convoluted acceptance of “seemingly existent egos, in a seemingly existent world”. Why can’t it just be “existent egos, in a existent world”. As long as the dream exists, the dream is real’, the distinction between what actually exists and what merely seems to exist is a crucial one, and should therefore not be dismissed lightly or considered to be in any way ‘convoluted’.

If we consider what Bhagavan wrote in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), which as you probably know means ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [our own essential self]’, we can infer that since we alone actually exist, whatever else seems to exist does not actually exist. Therefore, even though our ego seems to exist, it does not actually exist.

Likewise, even though a dream (or anything else that we as an ego may experience other than ourself) seems to exist, it does not actually exist, so rather than saying ‘As long as the dream exists, the dream is real’ it would be more accurate to say ‘As long as the dream seems to exist, it seems to be real’.

Therefore by using the adverb ‘seemingly’ to qualify ‘existent’ when describing the ego and the world, Steve was making an important point. Of course in our day-to-day life when talking about mundane objects and events, it is usually not necessary to use words such as ‘seem to’ or ‘seemingly’, but when discussing Bhagavan’s teachings it is often necessary or at least helpful to use such words.

Discerning what actually exists by distinguishing it from what merely seems to exist is what is called satyāsatya-vastu-vivēka (discriminating between the real and the unreal) and is what self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is all about. That is, when we investigate who am I, we are trying to discern what we actually are by distinguishing and separating ourself from what we currently seems to be.

Therefore, when considering and trying to practise Bhagavan’s teachings we need to constantly keep in mind this crucial distinction between what seems to exist and what actually exists.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding the comment in which you wrote that the intent of Bhagavan’s writings is ‘to promote detachment or vairagya’, it is actually much more than that (or at least much more than what these terms are usually understood to mean), because it is nothing less than to show us why and how we should experience ourself as we really are and thereby destroy the illusion that we are this ego. However, since the nature of our ego is to attach itself to things other than ourself, we cannot achieve complete detachment or vairāgya without annihilating our ego, so if we understand detachment in this radical sense, we could say that it is the intent of his writings.

So long as we remain attached to anything that our ego experiences or believes, we are still attached to our ego, and hence we cannot experience ourself as we really are. Therefore one of the intermediate intentions of Bhagavan’s teachings is to show us that that our ego and whatever it experiences is unreal, being just an illusion — something that does not actually exist but merely seems to exist in the deluded view of our ego. If we are not willing to accept his teaching in this regard, this shows how strong our attachment to our ego and what it experiences still is, so we should recognise this and attempt to overcome it by trying to understand why he taught thus, and most importantly by trying to practise investigating what we really are.

Even if we cannot now understand why he taught us that we should consider our life as a person to be just a dream, and why we should therefore consider ourself to be the only ego or jīva, or even if we find it difficult to accept such teachings, we should nevertheless try to understand and accept them. Though it may now seem difficult to do so, if we persevere in our manana and our practice of self-investigation, we will gradually gain increasing clarity of mind and heart, which will enable us to understand and accept even his most difficult teachings.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, regarding the comment in which you refer again to the pitcher analogy and ask, ‘Is it that pitchers are different egos in their own world, without interacting with other egos?’, you are correct in saying that the pitchers (or rather the reflection of the sunlight or the moon in each of them) is intended to represent the egos that we see acting in each body. That is, the pitchers represent the many living bodies (both human and non-human) that we see in this world, and the reflected sunlight or moon that is seen in each of them represents the ego that seems to exist in each such body.

However, according to Bhagavan, this world and all the people (the ego-inhabited bodies) that we see in it are just a dream, and hence they are a fabrication of our own dreaming mind. Therefore whereas our own ego is a reflection of our real self, all the other ‘egos’ are just a reflection of our own ego, so we are the only ego (the only one experiencing all of this) and none of the other ‘egos’ actually experience anything. This is what he clearly implies in the first half of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu when he says, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), which means, ‘If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything’.

From this verse (and also from many of his other teachings) we can infer that the ego he is referring to is only our own, and hence that everything else that we experience or imagine comes into seeming existence only when we ourself seemingly rise as this one ego. Therefore we should not imagine that there are any other egos, each living in a world of its own making, because when he says, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, he obviously means that when our own ego does not exist, nothing else exists (except of course what we really are).

Sivanarul said...

Michael,
Many thanks for your detailed replies. My readings of various other sources of Bhagavan (Talks, Day of Day, SS Cohen, Arthur Osbourne, Mountain Path etc) indicated that Bhagavan’s tent, in spite of being for ripe souls, was larger and accommodated many aspirant levels. However your replies, based on Ulladu Narpadu, indicates that the tent is really tiny and really meant for super ripe souls.

I have a deeply rooted Saiva Siddhanta upbringing, and I don’t see myself straying too far from it. I certainly believe that in the end, as espoused by Saint Thayumanavar and Rishi Thirumoolar (both of whom were highly regarded by Bhagavan) that both advaita and siddhantha will merge in the final realization of Siva/Self.

I will end this thread with the following taken from “Bhagavan and Thayumanavar” by
Robert Butler, T. V. Venkatasubramanian and David Godman. They provide a context for how our differences may ultimately find synthesis:

“The two major competing systems of religious and philosophical thought in South India have, for several centuries, been Vedanta and Saiva Siddhanta. Bhagavan’s own synthesis of the two apparently contradictory philosophies can be found in the following two replies:
Question: What is the end of devotion [bhakti] and the path of Siddhanta [i.e., Saiva Siddhanta]?
Bhagavan: It is to learn the truth that all one’s actions performed with unselfish devotion, with the aid of the three purified instruments [body, speech and mind], in the capacity of the servant of the Lord, become the Lord’s actions, and to stand forth free from the sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. This is also the truth of what the Saiva Siddhantins call para-bhakti [supreme devotion] or living in the service of God [irai pani nittral].
Question: What is the end of the path of knowledge [jnana] or Vedanta?
Bhagavan: It is to know the truth that the ‘I’ does not exist separately from the Lord [Iswara] and to be free from the feeling of being the doer [kartrtva, ahamkara].”

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,
Thanks for your reply. You had written as explanation with respect to Bhagavan going to great lengths to grant his mother liberation:

“I think one reason for us to see people getting liberation could be that this is a way for us to know about liberation. We always ask whether we can get liberation following a path and we look for other people who have attained liberation following that path. So those are needed for our benefit.”

It is not known that Bhagavan’s mother practiced Vichara in any serious way. In fact during the last 8+ hours she lived through many lifetimes in that short time span, due to the facilitation of Bhagavan. So she does not serve as an example of people attaining liberation following the path. What she serves is an example of the great benefit one can get from having the privilege of bearing a Jnani as son. She also serves as a great example of the benefit one derives from being close by to the physical presence of a Jnani.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
In the comment, dated 7 April 2015 at 16:16,reply to Sivanarul,
at the end of the second last sentence I think we should read "what we currently seem to be"-instead of "seems".
In the following comment of the same day at 17:49 ,second paragraph,second sentence,beginning with
"Therefore one of the intermediate intentions[...] to show us that that* our ego and whatever it experiences is unreal, being just an illusion[...]" I think the repetition of the word "that" is not necessary and not wanted to be written.

Michael James said...

Yes, Josef, you are correct about both my typos. Thanks for pointing them out, and I am sorry there is no edit facility to correct such typos in comments.

Michael James said...

Ucayali, in your comment you seem to imply that if ‘everything that we experience is a manifestation of the grace of guru, and its sole purpose is therefore to guide us back home’ (as I wrote at the end of my reply to Bob) there is no need for us to consider the world or the seeming multiplicity of egos to be unreal, but such a conclusion does not logically follow from what I wrote, because it is quite possible for everything that we experience to be unreal, like a dream, and yet nevertheless to be shaped by grace in order to guide us back home (that is, back to ourself — to experience ourself as we always actually are).

In my reply to Bob I expressed two distinct but compatible ideas about everything that we experience: firstly that it ‘is only ourself, because according to Bhagavan we alone exist’, and secondly that it ‘is a manifestation of the grace of guru, and its sole purpose is therefore to guide us back home’.

The first of these ideas is like saying that what seems to be a snake is actually only a rope. This does not mean that the snake is real as the snake that it seems to be, but only that it is real as the rope that it actually is. As a snake it is unreal, because no snake actually exists there. Likewise, all the multiplicity that we experience is not real as the multiplicity that it seems to be, but is real only as ourself, the single thing that it actually is. As multiplicity it is all unreal, because what actually exists is only ourself and not any multiplicity.

The second of these ideas is like saying that what we experience in a dream is a manifestation of grace, because it is intended to prompt us to investigate who is experiencing it and thereby to wake up. Bhagavan used to say that the guru is like a lion appearing in the dream of an elephant. According to a popular belief, elephants are so afraid of lions that if any elephant sees one in its dream, the shock of its fright will cause it to wake up. Though the lion that it sees in its dream is unreal, being a creation of its own dreaming mind, it nevertheless causes it to experience what is real — that is, to wake up and realise that it is not in any danger. Likewise, though the human form of our guru is unreal, being a part of the dream world that we are now experiencing, it prompts us to investigate ourself and thereby to experience ourself as we really are.

Bhagavan has clearly stated (in the final sentence of the seventeenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? and elsewhere) that it is necessary for us to consider this entire world to be like a dream, but he also often indicated that it is helpful to consider that everything we experience is shaped by the power of grace (which is nothing but the love that we as our real self have for ourself) in such a way as to be most conducive to leading us back to experience ourself as we really are. These two attitudes that he recommended are not in any way incompatible with each other, and they are both extremely beneficial attitudes for us to adopt when we are trying to turn our attention away from everything else that we experience in order to experience ourself alone as we really are.

Bob - P said...

Dear Michael

Thank you very much for your recent comments and for answering the question my anonymous friend mentioned about the one jiva / ego pitcher analogy.

Michael please forgive me but I think they were asking something else as well in their question. I hope they re post on this thread about it.

I have been wondering about this too ever since I read your book and studying Bhagavan's teaching.

First of all I accept Bhagavan's teaching (one Jiva / ego) and that my world is nothing but a projection of my mind, my waking and dream worlds are an illusion, deep sleep also lacks clarity too of my true being. Plus everything in my illusory world is as unreal as the illusory false "I" that creates them which you could say is the limited aspect of god existing along with the false world and false "I" trapped in duality.

Plus like you explain in your previous comments grace is yourself so to speak appearing in your illusory world drawing your attention back to yourself (ie) the false "I" in isolation which is responsible until it is seen through and vanishes or the snake vanished (never really existed) and all that remains is the self (the rope)
which is all there ever was ..... unaffected.

Michael I accept this and even if I have worded the above slightly wrong or incorrectly I must point out I am not questioning your comments as I agree with them.

But something I wondered along with my anonymous friend is could there be multiple illusory false unreal "I'" 's superimposed on / in the self each with their own illusory non overlapping self created worlds?

For example each illusory "I" creates it own illusory world all in that world is nothing but the illusory "I" there is not multiple jivas/ egos in its world as it creates it all, it is all an illusion including itself which is the creator of it.

The above accepts there is one jiva / ego teaching.

But could there be multiple / infinite illusory "I"s each with their own self created worlds whose entire content is nothing but a projection of that individual illusory "I" ?

The true self is completely unaffected as whether one falsity "seems" to appear on / in it or infinite falsities it makes no difference as the self alone is.

One illusory "I" or Infinite illusory "I" 's are all an illusion, it therefore would make no difference what so ever how many illusory snakes appear on the rope so to speak.

This would accept the one jiva / ego teaching but also accept multiple jiva teachings too?.

I must stress I am not trying to find a way out of the single jiva / ego teaching as I accept it whole heartedly and even though the above is irrelevant and does not affect my practise in any way I find the question absolutely fascinating.

Do you know if Bhagavan ever addressed a question like this?

If not what are your own views on this?

In appreciation as always Michael .

Bob



Anonymous said...

I'm really enjoying this site. This is my first post and I am happy to find discussion going on about these topics. It has only been recently that I came across all these special texts which came from Ramana however I was aware of his texts on self-enquiry. I have had some strong seemingly realizations along these lines...dream etc but did not know Ramana spoke of such things. Thank you so much for this site! I don't remember my google account so I'm just clicking on ANonymous - I'll put Danonymous at the end of my posts

Anonymous said...

Hi its me again...so many strange things have been happening - things I use to go to bed to sleep and dream about are happening in the wake (well I'm not awake but you understand) state. Like for instance I use to have dreams that I was driving in my car and people were driving in their cars and trying to tell me something - and not only in the car but it was frustrating because no one would actually speak to me about it and that's whats happening. How strange is that? And also I had this thing happen - wow its been a couple of years now...out of the blue this intense feeling/thought epiphany ha came that I wasn't awake and when was the last time that things were normal or real - I kept feeling like something was off and my whole body started intense shaking and then thinking started - wondering if I was in a car accident and was now in a coma because I can't wake up yet I know I'm dreaming...well that was part of it - and also I use to get the biggest panic attacks because I felt like (like whole body shaking with this) that I made up the whole life...all the people I love...everything - it wasn't a pleasant thing actually - at this time i was not really tasting awareness - that power that source so much as now so this really screwed me up well my ego rofl - so the whole dream thing I'm good with accepting but somehow never thought about there only being one ego ... it doesn't seem to make sense to me yet - When I think of Ramana if he didn't believe that anyone was real why would he be so nice to everyone - trying to help bring them to liberation...why would he be a vegan? or why would he feed everyone else first if he thought they were not real and maybe I am misreading what you are suggesting as I just found this site and was trying to read quickly. In any event I am happy to speak to you and read how your feeling. So great to find people discussing this. Also ... my dream got very big and I hope I wake up soon as my dream is very BIG! like yikes and I do have that feeling that I'm going to wake up soon but maybe that is my ego because I thought I would have been awake by now - I notice that power source is getting stronger...you understand what I mean. Thanks everyone! This is really crazy talk for an ego - I'm laughing - danonymous

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding the first of the two sets of questions you ask about ēka-jīva-vāda (the teaching that there is only one jīva or ego) in one of your comments, namely, ‘How do you reconcile the inconsistency between Bhagavan’s writing of one jiva versus his action as explained above [to ensure the liberation of his mother, Palaniswami and Cow Lakshmi]? Shouldn’t his action take precedence over his writing? Doesn’t his action indicate there are multiple egos and each ego has to strive and attain liberation?’ I do not see any inconsistency here, because he taught that everything we perceive in the seemingly external world is actually just a dream, so the actions you refer to are a part of that dream.

Regarding how we should interpret such actions, it is up to each of us to decide how we wish to do so. I do not know how accurately accounts of such actions have been recorded, or how correct are the interpretations that we read about them, but I know that though according to some accounts he did not succeed in giving liberation to Palaniswami, when this was once being discussed in his presence he remarked, ‘Who said it was a failure?’, which suggests that some of the accounts were confused and inaccurate. Be that as it may, I would guess that perhaps the safest way to interpret such actions would be to consider them to be intended simply to encourage us to trust in the love that he has for each of us and in the power of his love (or ‘grace’, as it is also called).

Regarding your suggestion that his actions should take precedence over his writings, I think it would be naïve and simplistic to claim this, because what he taught us by his written and spoken words could not be conveyed by any other actions, and certain things that he taught by his actions could not have been conveyed so effectively by words. Moreover, his actions were applicable to particular situations, and the only access we now have to them is through recorded reminiscences of those who were then present, but often we hear or read conflicting accounts or interpretations of his actions, so we have to be cautious about believing all the details we hear or read about them, and we can reliably form only a general idea of how he behaved in particular situations. Fortunately for us, however, he actually wrote his verbal teachings in texts such as Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, so we have direct access to his own words, and they will hopefully continue to be available for countless generations to come.

By his actions he taught us through example how we should live our outward life in the world, but he could not teach us about the need for us to investigate and experience ourself as we really are, so in this respect his verbal teachings are immeasurably more important for us than his actions. Moreover, many of his actions could easily be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, and we would almost certainly interpret them wrongly or at least inadequately if we did not know what he taught by words, so when we read or hear accounts of his actions, we need to consider them in the light of what he taught by words.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Sivanarul:

As you say, Bhagavan’s actions seem to indicate that he believed there are multiple egos, because for example he treated each person and animal kindly and with compassion, but he taught us in words that there is actually only one ego, namely the one we now experience as if it were ourself, so what we should learn from his actions is that though we are the only ego and though this entire world is just a dream projected by our ego, outwardly we should behave and conduct ourself in this world as if we consider it and all the people in it to be real.

Obviously his actions seem to suggest that he did not consider this world to be just a dream, but we know from his writings that we should consider it as such. Moreover, his actions seem to suggest that he experienced himself as a body and mind, just as we do, and therefore experienced himself doing actions by mind, speech and body, and that he also experienced things other than himself, but we know from his writings that in his experience no body, mind or anything else other than himself actually exists. Therefore his actions tend to deceive us about his experience, and only by bearing his written and spoken teachings in mind can we avoid being deceived by them.

Regarding your second question, ‘In your experience, has the belief in one jiva helped your Sadhana?’, I cannot answer this precisely, because his teaching that we are the only jīva or ego should obviously not be taken in isolation, because it is a key part of the entire package of his essential teachings. Many of his other teachings, such as that our entire life is just a dream, and that our ego itself is everything, because everything comes into existence only when it comes into existence, and nothing else exists when it does not exist (as he says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), would not make sense unless we are ready to accept that we are the only ego. Therefore, since my practice of self-investigation is motivated and guided by his teachings as a whole, I cannot say that it is helped by any one aspect of them in isolation.

Michael James said...

Danonymous, regarding the doubt you express in your second comment, I may partially have answered it in my latest two comments in reply to Sivanarul, but you may also find it helpful to read one of my other articles, Why are compassion and ahiṁsā necessary in a dream?.

Steve said...

How could we not accept that this is not just a dream? A real person would never be able to write like Michael! :)

Steve said...

Sorry, my previous comment should read:

How could we not accept that this IS just a dream?

!

Bob - P said...

This thread is absolutely wonderful!
As are all the others for that matter(lol)!
Steve I agree and If I am dreaming then regardless of whether it is a happy dream or a nightmare I still must wake up. (lol)!

Thank you.
Bob

P.s - Thank you Michael for your most recent comments answering Sivanarul questions and thank you Sivanarul for asking them they were most helpful.

Ucayali said...

Michael, thanks for your reply. You are quite right:
I failed to consider the compatibility of the two mentioned ideas about everything that we experience(firstly that it is only ourself and secondly that it is a manifestation of the grace of guru).
Also as you write the two attitudes that Bhagavan recommended are not in anyway incompatible with each other.

I am very appreciative of your statement ( made in the comment of 8 April 2015 at 20:30 in replying to Sivanarul) that though this world is just a dream projected by our ego outwardly we should behave and conduct ourself inthis world as if we consider it and all the people in it to be real. That viewpoint I regard as considerable importance when we speak about seeming(dreamlike, unreal) world and seeming multiplicity of egos. Because if not pointed out as such Ramana's teaching in that respects could be easily misunderstood and encourage egoistical and egocentric selfishness in the name of Sri Ramana.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding what you write in one of your comments about how large and accommodating Bhagavan’s ‘tent’ is, I agree that in one sense it is very large and accommodates everyone, because in his view we are all himself, and he loves us as such, so he behaved kindly towards everyone, and when people asked him questions he answered each of them in a way that was best suited to their own beliefs, aspirations and willingness to understand whatever he might say. This is why many people were and still are attracted by his outward life and appearance even though they had or have little or no interest in his essential teachings about investigating and knowing what we actually are.

This is why we have to distinguish many of the answers that he gave to such people from his essential teachings, because whenever he recognised that someone would not be willing to accept his essential teachings, he would not try to force his real views upon them. Therefore he expressed his essential teachings only in answer to those whom he recognised as being willing or potentially willing to accept them. For example, he gave the teachings in Nāṉ Yār? to Sivaprakasam Pillai because the first question he asked him was ‘Who am I?’ and his subsequent questions all arose from his eagerness to experience the truth of himself. Likewise he gave the teachings in works such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār to Sri Muruganar because he had come to him seeking to know the nature of what is real and the means to attain it. Since such devotees were so well attuned to the aim and purpose of his essential teachings, he could express those teachings to them without any reservations.

Regarding your remark that Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is ‘really meant for super ripe souls’, I think this is not quite correct, because I can say for myself that I am strongly attracted to the clear and simple teachings in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu even though I am very far from being a ‘super ripe soul’. In order to accept the teachings in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu all we need is to be willing to accept the need for us to try to experience ourself as we really are and the fact that the price to be paid for experiencing ourself thus is the dissolution of our own ego — our illusion that we are whatever person we now seem to be — and the consequent giving up of everything else that we now consider to be so dear to us.

We can accept all this without being a ‘super ripe soul’, because a ‘super ripe soul’ is someone who is willing to pay this price here and now, whereas many like me understand that we need to pay this price yet are inwardly reluctant to do so. Because of our reluctance, we have to struggle hard to practise being self-attentive, as he taught us to be, and we constantly fail in our attempts to be so, because our outward-going desires are still too strong. Therefore rather than saying that Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is ‘really meant for super ripe souls’, it may be more accurate to say that it is meant for anyone who is willing to try to be self-attentive, as a super ripe soul would naturally be.

Michael James said...

Bob, regarding your suggestion in one of your comments that there might be multiple egos superimposed on ourself, each living in ‘their own illusory non-overlapping self-created world’, this would be like suggesting that when you were asleep last night you might have been dreaming many separate dreams simultaneously, because in each dream you would have been dreaming yourself to be a different person, so there would be no overlapping between one dream and another. If you agree that such a suggestion seems absurd, and would be trying to stretch our imagination too far, you should perhaps likewise consider your suggestion that we might now be experiencing ourself as multiple egos, each experiencing its own illusory world, to be equally absurd.

According to Bhagavan we alone actually exist, and as we really are we always experience ourself only as we really are. Though it now seems to us as this ego that we are experiencing ourself as this ego, this is completely unreal, because we are always actually only what we really are. However, from the illusory perspective of our ego, we have to say that we can either experience ourself as we really are or as this ego, because we cannot experience ourself as both simultaneously. Just as we cannot simultaneously experience ourself as we really are and as an ego, we cannot simultaneously experience ourself as more than one ego. Therefore if we accept Bhagavan’s teaching that we alone actually exist, we must also accept that even if we seem to experience ourself now as an ego, we cannot experience ourself as more than one ego (albeit each in its own world) at the same time.

Moreover, since Bhagavan has taught us that our present experience of ourself as an ego is completely unreal, why should we — this unreal ego — delude ourself further by supposing that there might be other egos like us? If even this one ego is unreal, any other ego that it may imagine must be equally unreal — or even more unreal, if that were possible.

You imply that since according to your suggestion there would be only one ego in each world, this would not contradict Bhagavan’s teaching that there is only one ego, but it seems to me that it would contradict it, because he never qualified this teaching by saying that there is only one ego in each world. Only one ego means only one ego, and no more than that, either in this or in any other imaginary world. Moreover, since any world that we may perceive or imagine seems to exist only in our own deluded view, all the other egos and their individual worlds that you now imagine seem to exist only in your own view, so you are still the only ego that experiences anything.

Steve expressed this beautifully in one of his earlier comments in which he wrote about ‘reflections within a reflection’. Our ego is a reflection of ourself (what we really are), and any other egos that we imagine to exist are just reflections of our own ego, so unlike our own ego, which is a direct reflection of our original self, they are not direct reflections of the original, but only reflections of this one direct reflection.

Since this one direct reflection, our own ego, is itself unreal, any other reflections of it must also be unreal. Therefore rather than concerning ourself with any of the multiple reflections within this first reflection, we would be wise to follow Bhagavan’s advice that we should investigate only this first reflection and thereby trace it directly back to its source, which is what we really are.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael and everyone, this is very helpful and most interesting. I appreciate this beautiful body of work and plan on delving into it more. Much love
D Anonymous

Michael James said...

Bob, in continuation of my earlier reply to you today, I just want to add one further point:

When considering anything that Bhagavan has taught us, we need to step back a bit and try to understand why he taught so. For example, when he taught us that our life as the person we now seem to be is just a dream, and that we are the only ego who experiences this or any other dream, why did he teach this, and what benefit did he expect us to gain by accepting such teachings?

His sole aim in whatever he taught us was to encourage and help us to investigate ourself and thereby to experience ourself as we really are, so we need to consider how such teachings can help us in this endeavour. The natural tendency or propensity of our ego is to be interested in things other than ourself, but our interest in such things distracts our attention away from ourself and thereby prevents us from focusing all our interest, effort and attention on investigating ourself alone. The less we take interest in anything else, the more we will be able to take interest in trying to experience ourself alone.

Therefore Bhagavan taught us that all this is just a dream and hence an unreal fabrication of our own mind, and that it seems to exist only because we have risen as an ego, in order to wean us away from our interest in anything other than what we actually are, and thereby to enable us to turn towards, subside and merge back into what we actually are.

Therefore if we speculate about what may exist other than ourself, or take any interest in ideas about such things, we will be missing the point of what Bhagavan was trying to teach us. This is why we should avoid unnecessary speculation about the possible existence of anything other than ourself.

Bob - P said...

Dear Michael

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my comment so thoroughly. I really appreciate it. You wrote below:

(Moreover, since Bhagavan has taught us that our present experience of ourself as an ego is completely unreal, why should we — this unreal ego — delude ourself further by supposing that there might be other egos like us? If even this one ego is unreal, any other ego that it may imagine must be equally unreal — or even more unreal, if that were possible.)

I would like to thank you Michael for pulling my attention back away from intellectual speculation to myself. Trying to understand the self is impossible with my small finite illusory egoic mind it is a complete waste of time debating possible unverifiable theories. Like you say it takes my attention away from the illusory "I" that is thinking about all this compared to earnestly investigating and ultimately seeing through its own false nature.

My post is a very good example of me getting distracted from my practice and Bhagavan's teaching and allowing my mind to turn away from itself and explore outside of itself contemplating and trying to understand what cannot be understood. I hope my moment of weakness is a good lesson to others reading (contradiction I know) and helps them return their focus on their practice instead of trying to understand unimportant things like I just did.

You / myself is kindly guiding my attention back to what is important which is investigating myself and discouraging me from getting carried away with irrelevant intellectual tomfoolery.

You wrote below.

{You imply that since according to your suggestion there would be only one ego in each world, this would not contradict Bhagavan’s teaching that there is only one ego, but it seems to me that it would contradict it, because he never qualified this teaching by saying that there is only one ego in each world}

Thank you also for clarifying that Bhagavan never discussed, mentioned or taught what I asked about Michael. If Bhagavan did not mention it, teach it or see it as helpful or useful I do not need to know about it or focus my attention upon it. I must instead focus my attention on what he did teach ... which is to investigate myself earnestly and find out what I am ... my true being the real true "I" satchitananda.

I will not do this by thinking about or asking questions like I just did on your blog. Apologies.

Michael I whole heartedly agree with your appreciation of Steve's beautiful comment pasted below , thank you Steve I agree with what you say and wish I could express it as well as you did. I have pasted it below as it is so well said or should I say so well written.

{What I really am is the peace/happiness of purely knowing my infinite being - sat chit ananda.

As a reflection of what I really am, I am a character named 'Steve' - one 'pitcher'. As 'Steve', I see myself as multiplicity - reflections within a reflection. A universe, a galaxy, a solar system, a world, and included in that world, various other characters - other 'pitchers'. Among those are family, friends, and others who see others seeing still others. There is a guru called Ramana Maharshi, and a character called Michael James who clearly explains the teachings of that guru, and how to 'again' know myself as I really am.

Fast-forward to the end of 'Steve' - the 'pitcher' has broken, the reflection and all the reflections within that reflection are no more. The reflection was seen only by the reflection, for no other reason than to come to its own end.

The rope never really became a snake, and so, never really again becomes a rope. There is now, and has only ever been, sat chit ananda.}

I will carry on in the next post.

Bob

Bob - P said...

Carrying on from my last post after quoting Steve's wonderful comment.

This is beautiful, and like I said I agree with you and accept Bhagavan's teachings including is one jiva / ego teaching and that everything in my illusory self projected world is nothing but a reflection of the unreal direct reflection of myself / the self.

I must apologise because even though I accept the teaching unfortunately my troublesome mind started thinking. It started contemplating and speculating whether it was possible or if there could be infinite pitchers or multiple direct reflections of the one non dual self with each direct reflection creating its own self contained reality filled with nothing but secondary reflections of itself. Pitchers constantly breaking and forming in a great illusory non existent dance.

But like you wisely say Michael what's the point even thinking about all this when instead I could be turning my attention back on to all I do know which is myself or my own false "I". Plus if I successfully manage to turn the full 180 degrees not only will I vanish but my world, galaxy, universe and all contained within it including my unimportant speculations and ideas!!

You wrote:

{We would be wise to follow Bhagavan’s advice that we should investigate only this first reflection and thereby trace it directly back to its source, which is what we really are.}

How true, thank you again Michael, you also wrote:

His sole aim in whatever he taught us was to encourage and help us to investigate ourself and thereby to experience ourself as we really are, so we need to consider how such teachings can help us in this endeavour. The natural tendency or propensity of our ego is to be interested in things other than ourself, but our interest in such things distracts our attention away from ourself and thereby prevents us from focusing all our interest, effort and attention on investigating ourself alone. The less we take interest in anything else, the more we will be able to take interest in trying to experience ourself alone.

This was wonderful to read as it made me realise straight away my mistake and see you are kindly guiding my attention back on to myself.

You also wrote:

Therefore Bhagavan taught us that all this is just a dream and hence an unreal fabrication of our own mind, and that it seems to exist only because we have risen as an ego, in order to wean us away from our interest in anything other than what we actually are, and thereby to enable us to turn towards, subside and merge back into what we actually are.

Therefore if we speculate about what may exist other than ourself, or take any interest in ideas about such things, we will be missing the point of what Bhagavan was trying to teach us. This is why we should avoid unnecessary speculation about the possible existence of anything other than ourself.

Yes you speak the truth my mind was turned away from itself and engaged in contemplating unimportant unnecessary things. I will spend my time doing what I was doing before this lapse occurred which is not to speculate about Bhagavan's teaching but follow it and try my best to give myself to it completely. Forgive me.

This thread like I previously said is priceless along with all the others.

Thank you for your kindness Michael and for sharing your wisdom about Bhagavan's teaching.

In appreciation as always.

Bob

Anonymous said...

Regarding Michael's and Steve's comments about pot inside a pot and reflections of a reflection, I haven't seen such descriptions in any of the previous writings by the seers.

In fact Gaudapada writes in his karika (Chapter 3: translated by Swami Nikhilananda):
------
3 Atman, which is like akasa (infinite space), is said to be manifested in the form of jivas, which may be likened to the akasas enclosed in pots. The bodies, also, are said to be manifested from Atman, just as a pot and the like are created out of akasa. As regards the manifestation of Atman this is the illustration.

4 As, on the destruction of the pot etc., the akasa enclosed in them merge in the great akasa, so the jivas merge in Atman.

5 As the dust, smoke, etc. soiling the akasa enclosed in a particular pot do not soil the other akasas enclosed in other pots, so also the happiness, miseries, etc. of one jiva do not affect other jivas.
-----
It is interesting that Gaudapada uses the dream analogy a lot in the same karika and describes how the whole world is an imagination in the mind. He does not see any contradiction between the dream and pot analogies.

Regards

venkat said...

Anonymous,
Gaudapada in Mandukya Karika 2.16 states
"First of all is imagined the Jiva (the embodied being) and then are imagined the various entities, objective and subjective that are perceived".

This is, for me, identical to Bhagavan's statement that when the ego comes into existence, everything else comes into existence, etc.

In your Gaudapada reference 3.3, the operative words I think are "SAID TO BE", as in:

"Atman, which is like akasa (infinite space), is SAID TO BE manifested in the form of jivas".

Sankara, in his commentary on this verse, states "When the sruti, with A VIEW TO THE ENLIGHTENMENT OF THE IGNORANT, SPEAKS OF the creation or manifestation of the Jivas from Atman, then such manifestation, BEING ADMITTED AS A FACT, is explained with the help of the illustration of the creation of the pot, etc from the Akasa".

In other words, the admittance of multiplicity of jivas is just a device to help teach those who can't accept that all is a dream of the one jiva-atma.

Anonymous said...

Venkat,
I read Sri Shankara's commentary, and that makes sense. Thanks for the reply.
Regards

Gaugamela said...

Michael, in one of your recent replies to Bob dated 10 April 2015 at 12:02 you wrote about
our own ego as a direct reflection of ourself (what we really are).
In this connection you wrote that any other egos that we imagine to exist are not direct reflections of the original but unlike our own ego only just reflections of this one direct reflection.
Therefore rather than concerning ourself with any of the multiple reflections within this first reflection we should investigate only this first reflection and thereby trace it directly back to its source, which is what we really are.
Please Michael for better and clearer understanding explain further what is the nature of that reflector or that reflecting surface/medium/mirror.
Who or what(subject) does reflect light/consciousness in which way ?

Sivanarul said...

Michael,
Many thanks for your latest replies. I have to agree with Steve that this has to be a dream because if it was real you cannot write like this. You have certainly inspired me to study Ulladu Narpadu even if I am unable to follow it at this time.

Gaugamela,
Sri Gaudapada teaches that there never was any reflection to begin with (Ajata). Sri Shankara teaches that the reflection is caused by Maya, an inscrutable power within Brahman/Absolute Reality. The theory goes that Brahman appears to delude itself without actually deluding itself because of Maya.

Why does Maya do this? Why does Brahman appear to delude itself? In clear sunlight, the rope will never be mistaken for a snake. Only if there is at least partial darkness, the rope can be mistaken for a snake. Even though there never was a snake, due to partial darkness (late evening), the rope gets mistaken for a snake. If we had no concept of snake, the rope will never be mistaken for a snake even in partial darkness. So how does the concept of snake (ignorance) appear in Brahman? Again Maya is given as the answer. Maya itself is said to be inscrutable, so there is a limit to the explanation that scriptures can provide. In other words, this cannot be answered to the full satisfaction of our intellect. It is said if the Self is realized, then because the current questioner (ego) ceases to exist, there will be no questions regarding Maya or anything else.

Gaugamela said...

Sivanarul,
Thanks for your surely well-meaning and benevolent advice to Gaudapada and Shankara.
That jnanis look at the world from an other viewpoint than ajnanis is not surprising and undisputed.
When I put the above mentioned question to Michael James
I do not have an interest in mental concepts, stories or bizarre theories like "inscrutable Maya“ and „itself deluding Brahman“ which distract our attention away from attaining the egoless state even now. In my opinion the meshes of Maya belong to „the Lord Himself“ and we should learn to remain unaffected by Maya by direct knowledge and just being as we really are.
As you say scriptures cannot fully satisfy our intellect.
To say „If the self is realized and because then the current questioner (ego) ceases to exist
there will be no questions regarding Maya or anything else“
is like telling a shipwrecked non-swimmer in the middle of the ocean:
„If you would have finished your state of non-swimming you would reach savely the coast“.
I only wanted to get a direct and immediate instruction to comprehend the recommendation of „Investigate only this first reflection and thereby trace it directly back to its source, which is what we really are“ in practical, concrete, useful ,actual and real experience.

Erathosthenes said...

Michael,
you write in reply to Sivanarul,
10 April 2015 t 10:49,
regarding willingness to understand (whatever Bhagavan might say):
"...because whenever he recognised that someone would not be willing to accept his assential teachings, he would not try to force his real views upon them. Therefore he expressed his essential teachings only in answer to those whom he recognised as being willing or potentially willing to accept them."
Yes, we are not all so well attuned devotees to the aim and purpose of his essential teachings as Sivaprakasam Pillai or Sri Muruganar.
But "in order to accept the teachings in Ulladu Narpadu all we need is to be willing to accept the need for us to try to experience ourself as we really are and the fact that the price to be paid for experiencing ourself thus is the dissolution of our own ego and the consequent giving up of everything else that we now consider to be so dear to us".
But to obtain the mentioned willingness we should have beforehand the proper experience of life and purposefulness in life.
To experience the non-existence of the ego or to attain the egoless state are not to pull a rabbit out of a hat and do not fall out of the sky.
To defeat our strong outward-going desires (=inward reluctance) we have to struggle hard.
To have the power to struggle hard we need "divine" grace.
Some of us are willing to pay that price but some of us cannot conjure up their illusions.
So the last-named appear to lack the above concerned willingness but deep down maybe they want to gain it
if life situation and circumstances are going well suited to them.
So let the non-willing part of us find their own way to ascend into heaven.
ARUNACHALA SIVA

R Viswanathan said...

Much discussion in this post centered on Ulladhu Narpadhu.

A complete series of discourses on Ulladhu Narpadhu in Tamil by Sri Nochur Venkataraman is available in:

http://www.sriramanamaharshi.org/resource_centre/audio/ulladu-narpadu-talks/

Also, Sri Nochur Venkataraman had recently published an elaborate commentary on Ulladhu Narpadhu as a book titled: Swathmasukhi.

Both these will be so very beneficial for anyone who might be keen in obtaining a good understanding of Bhagavan's teachings, Ulladhu Narpadhu

Dasaman said...

Michael, regarding your reply of 2 April 2015 to Anonymus:
it may be true that
1. no world actually does exist even now;
2. it seems to exist only in the view of the ego;
3. by investigation we (will) discover that this ego as such including its role of discovering its own non-existence does not actually exist;
4. the seeming existence of the world cannot remain.

But if we as the ego would not have any lifelong task or purpose in life (prarabda karma) we would not at all (have to) appear as the seeming ego. Therefore it is senseless to give the ego a reprimand for being illusory or wrong perception. So we need not rebuke the ego for its doubts, powerlessness, audacity, profligacy, ignorance, imperfection, stubbornness, resistance, reluctance, contrariness and missing reliability.

Anonymous said...

If God is real there is no suffering.

How can one believe in God and still retain that the world is real?

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,

Very easily when one experiences pain, hunger or illness. To the one that does not treat the world as real under pain, hunger or illness, you have already awakened and I salute you.

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul, i just watched pornography and masturbated, how can you say i am awakened?


By reality of the world i meant the existence of other people. If God is, the people and their suffering cannot exist. Even the illusion of suffering cannot exist. There is only one illusory jiva who seems to experience the illusion of suffering, but he is the only one. There are no other sufferers.

If the world and its people are real, how can there be such thing as liberation? If there are others who are suffering, how can there be happiness? Religion admits the existence of heaven and hell. If you go to heaven, zipping cocktails and indulging in pleasures and then at the same time others are burning in hell for eternity, how can you be happy?

If the world is real there is no God and if God is real the world is not real.






Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,

Bernardo Kastrup provides a nice whirlpool metaphor to explain why many jiva’s can exist and how individual jiva’s can get liberated. Here it is:

“Think of consciousness (Brahman) as a stream. Water can flow along the stream through its entire length; that is, water is not localized in the stream, but traverses it unlimited. Now imagine a small whirlpool (Jiva) in the stream: It has a visible and identifiable existence; one can locate a whirlpool and delineate its boundaries precisely; one can point at it and say "here is a whirlpool!" There seems to be no question about how palpable and concrete the whirlpool seems to be. Moreover, the whirlpool somewhat limits and localizes the flow of water: The water molecules trapped in it can no longer traverse the course of the entire stream unbound, but become locked, swirling around a specific and well-defined location.

Now, there is nothing to the whirlpool but water itself. (Verily All this is Brahman). The whirlpool is just a specific pattern of water movement that reflects a partial localization of that water within the stream.”

There is no reason why there should be only one whirlpool in an ocean. There can be trillions of whirlpools (jiva’s) localizing (appearing), staying alive for a while and then merging back into Brahman at various points.

There is no reason why you cannot be liberated with the world and other people being real.

I am aware that this is not supported by Ulladu Narpadu.

http://www.bernardokastrup.com/2011/12/brain-as-knot-of-consciousness.html

Anonymous said...

I will now do self-inquiry for 3 hours, achieve self-realization and then tell you if the world is real or not. Ill be right back.

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul, how could the world be real?

Look at this video: http://www.zerocensorship.com/t/uncensored-isis-execution/132382-isis-drowns-prisoners-alive-blows-hostages-up-with-rpg-kills-others-with-explosives-graphic-video#axzz3rgjdcFiX

How can I possibly accept that these people are real? If God is real, these people have no existence outside my imagination and there is no suffering. These people must have the same reality as the people in my dreams.

How could i possibly accept them as real?

If this world is real, then other worlds must also be real. Will there be an end to all these worlds? Suffering will be endless. By admitting the reality of the worlds you are saying that eternal hell is real and people are burning there for eternity. And you say you believe in God?





Jabali said...

Anonymus,
first you try to find out who you are and if you are real.
Afterwards you can pass a judgement on the reality of the world or God.
Neither the world nor God do care about your considering whether they would be real or unreal. To name them as real or unreal is only brain-teaser.
Sense perceptions are not at all reliable. What reality has looking (at a video) ?
Can the mind judge the essence of the world or of God ?
Dive deep in you and find your source.
There is no other way.

Dharampal Chhikara said...

Dear seekers of real self recently I went to Arunachala shiva, Tiruvannamalai from Feb 7, 2016 to Feb 17, 2016 and had a great spiritual experience if inner transformation . This type of phenomenon is rarely experienced at other places except of course in Satya Sai Baba ashram Prsanthi Nilayam and places associated with Swami Vivekananda such as Vivekananda Cottage in Thousand Islands in USA- Canada border and Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanya Kumari. I experienced in the most natural a way the following truths:
1)... Bliss is our natural state
2) ....... Bliss is nothing but absence of thoughts
3). ........ Thoughts are other name of mind
4)........... Imagine and visualize that mind is returning back to its source that is self or soul and mind is completely stilled followed by current of bliss and peace.
5)........ Imagine and visualize Arunachala Shiva and Ramana Maharshi inducing spiritual power incessantly and and rest is beyond explanation by words but personal internal experience.
Every body must visit Arunachala Shiva and Ramanasramam in Tiruvannamalai to get the first hand experience of spiritual life of ancient Indian sages ashrams described in old literature of Hindu religion .
I am new to this blog and ask pardon if made any mistake knowingly or unknowingly but whatever I wrote is true and factual.