Thursday, 7 May 2015

What is unique about the teachings of Sri Ramana?

Last Sunday I talked via Skype with a friend in Argentina about the teachings of Sri Ramana, and at the end of our discussion he asked me to write a summary of the main ideas that I had explained to him, because English is a foreign language to him, so he wanted to be sure that he had correctly understood and grasped all that I had said. This article is the summary that I wrote for him, so some of the ideas that I express in it were what I said in reference to what he had told me. For example, what I say about our inability to meditate on ourself continuously for five hours, or even five minutes, was with reference to what he told about how in the past when he was practising other forms of meditation he was able to meditate continuously for five hours, but that now when he tries to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) he finds that he is unable to do so for even five minutes.

The following is the summary I wrote:

To summarise what we talked today, one of the main points I was trying to emphasise is how radically different Bhagavan’s teachings are, because his path of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) leads in the opposite direction to all other human endeavours, whether they be worldly endeavours, religious endeavours or even so-called spiritual endeavours.

All other endeavours are directed away from ourself, towards something other than ourself, whether it be material goals, artistic goals, intellectual goals, emotional goals, a supposedly separate God, or even a state such as salvation, liberation, mōkṣa or nirvāṇa when such a state is conceived as something that we can achieve and that is therefore other than ourself — that is, other than what we always really are. Bhagavan, on the other hand, teaches us that there is nothing for us to achieve other than experiencing ourself as we really are, and that we can experience ourself as we really are only by turning our back on everything else and trying to be aware of ourself alone.

Even other so-called spiritual paths lead us away from ourself, because every other type of spiritual practice entails attending to or meditating upon something other than ourself, whether it be God, a divine image or name, an idol, a prayer, a mantra, a cakra or some other point in our body, our breathing or prāṇa, a thought, a mental image, a state such as samādhi, or whatever else people may meditate upon or aspire to achieve. What is unique about Bhagavan’s teachings, therefore, is that he does not direct us to attend to anything other than ourself alone, so whereas all other spiritual paths direct our attention away from ourself, his path of ātma-vicāra alone directs our attention back towards ourself — and only towards ourself, not in the least towards anything else whatsoever.

The direction in which our ego or mind naturally flows is outwards, away from ourself and towards other things. Therefore any spiritual practice other than ātma-vicāra is simply allowing our mind to flow in its natural direction, away from ourself. But when we practise ātma-vicāra, we are trying to go in the opposite direction, back towards ourself alone, so it is like trying to swim upstream, against the current of the river. If we wish to return to our source, there is no alternative for us but to swim against the current of our own mind, because the current of our mind is always leading us away from ourself.

We alone are the source from which we have risen as this ego or mind, so if we wish to return home, the only way is for us to turn our entire attention, interest, effort and love back towards ourself. If we allow our mind or attention to go out towards anything else, even towards God or an idea such as nirvāṇa (if we consider God or nirvāṇa to be anything other than ourself), we are going away from ourself, and hence away from our original source and real home.

Our ego or mind rises and endures only by attending to things other than ourself. As soon as we wake up in the morning we become aware of other things, and we continue attending to other things until we fall asleep, and exactly the same happens whenever we dream. Hence (as I frequently explain in this blog, such as here) Bhagavan teaches us that it is only by attending to and experiencing other things that we rise and endure as this ego, and that we can therefore never destroy this ego by attending to anything other than ourself. By meditating on or attending to anything other than ourself, we are only nourishing and sustaining our ego, not weakening it in any way.

Therefore in order to destroy the illusion that we are this ego, the only means is for us to try to attend to ourself alone. This is the unique secret that Bhagavan Sri Ramana has revealed to us, and no one before him had ever made this simple fact so abundantly clear.

Nothing can be easier than attending only to ourself, but it seems to us to be difficult because we as this ego do not want to die. However much we may suffer, we foolishly want to continue experiencing ourself as this miserable ego. This is why our mind is always going outwards, away from ourself, because that is how this ego or mind survives. Therefore when we try to turn our attention back towards ourself in order to experience ourself alone, our mind rebels and tries its best to think of anything other than ourself.

This is why we cannot meditate on ourself continuously for five hours, or even five minutes. Even to do so for five seconds without a break is difficult. Therefore we need to gradually and gently cultivate the habit of turning our attention back to ourself whenever it strays away towards anything else. It does not matter however many times it strays, so long as we persevere in trying to turn it back towards ourself alone whenever we notice that we have become aware of anything else.

68 comments:

Aconcagua said...

Michael,
it is naturally to us as identified strongly with the ego to avoid dying. But how can one commit suicide in the above sense to destroy himself ? Only the same authority who/which created that illusion will be able to destroy quite the same illusion that we are this ego. (In Hinduism Brahman is conseptualized as the "creative principle which lies realized in the whole world".)
If the real self as the highest reality does not provide the needed power no other power will solve the task to get out of samsara. Sri Ramana is the best example for that statement. As a seeming unsophisticated schoolboy he did not try to destroy himself - only the power of Arunachala alone all at once finished his former illusory state.
It is clearly plausible that we can therefore never destroy this ego by attending to anything other than ourself.
Im my still faint and young experience it demands immense power to persevere in trying to turn back towards ourself alone whenever we notice that we have become aware of anything else. Sometimes I as the rebelling ego feel that it would never work to prevent the ego from survive - not even when I would be buried permanently into the middlepoint or top of Arunachala. But that very thought should be eliminated immediately and instantly in the place of its origin.

Michael James said...

Aconcagua, firstly, the ‘creative principle’ is what is called Brahmā, who is conceived as the personal form of God responsible for creation, and who is therefore one of the trimūrti or three principal forms of God, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Śiva, who are respectively responsible for the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the universe. Therefore Brahmā should not be confused with brahman, which is the impersonal and absolute reality that underlies the illusory appearance of the universe and its creation, sustenance and dissolution.

As the absolute and infinite reality, brahman does not create or do anything, but just is. However, though brahman is spoken of as if it were a third person, it is not actually a third person, because it alone exists, and since it is infinite, nothing other than it could ever exist. It is therefore the sole reality of ourself, the first person. In other words, it is what we actually are. Therefore it is ourself, and nothing other than ourself, as affirmed by the mahāvākyas such as ‘ahaṁ brahmāsmi’ (I am brahman), ‘ayaṁ ātmā brahma’ (this self is brahman), ‘prajñānaṁ brahma’ (pure consciousness is brahman) and ‘tat tvam asi’ (that you are).

What then created this ego? According to Bhagavan this is the wrong question to ask, and there is no adequate answer for it, because if we investigate this ego, which is what we now seem to be, we will find that it does not actually exist, because what we actually are is always only the one reality that is called brahman, other than which nothing exists.

Therefore, when it is said that our ego will be destroyed when we experience ourself as we really are, the word ‘destroyed’ is used only in a metaphorical sense, because it is like saying the illusory snake is killed when we see that it is actually only a rope. Just as no snake actually existed to be killed, no ego actually exists to be destroyed.

Bhagavan did not try to destroy himself when he was overcome with an intense fear of death as a schoolboy. He simply investigated himself in order to discover whether he was something that would die when his body dies, and as a result he experienced what he really is. Therefore he taught us to do likewise.

We cannot destroy the non-existent ego, but so long as it seems to exist (that is, so long as we seem to be what we are not) we must investigate it (that is, we must investigate what we seem to be) in order to experience what we really are.

Even now we are what we really are, so we are the real self, which is what is called ‘Arunachala’. Therefore when it is said that we need the power of Arunachala or our real self to help us experience what we really are, that is just a metaphorical way of saying that we must use our own power to experience what we really are. So long as we misuse our power to attend to anything other than ourself, we are feeding and nourishing the illusion that we are this ego, so we should use our power correctly to attend only to ourself, because then only will we be able to experience ourself as we really are.

The power to experience ourself as we really are already lies within us, so we can ultilise it properly if we want to. This is why Bhagavan said, for example (in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?):

‘ஒருவன் தான் சொரூபத்தை யடையும் வரையில் நிரந்தர சொரூப ஸ்மரணையைக் கைப்பற்றுவானாயின் அதுவொன்றே போதும்.’

oruvaṉ tāṉ sorūpattai y-aḍaiyum varaiyil nirantara sorūpa-smaraṇaiyai-k kai-p-paṯṟuvāṉ-āyiṉ adu-v-oṉḏṟē pōdum.’

‘If one clings fast to uninterrupted self-remembrance until one attains oneself, that alone will be sufficient.’

Therefore we need not and should not look for or depend upon any power outside ourself, but should only try our best to attend to ourself alone, because according to Bhagavan ‘அதுவொன்றே போதும்’ (adu-v-oṉḏṟē pōdum): ‘that alone is sufficient’.

Sivanarul said...

I write this with deep respect and admiration for Michael’s writings and the enormous benefit that it provides fellow sadhakas.

“Even other so-called spiritual paths lead us away from ourself”. Using so-called results effectively in questioning the legitimacy of other spiritual paths. I firmly believe that atma vichara can stand on its own merits without have to delegitimize other practices. Let’s grant that other spiritual paths do lead us away from ourselves. But they are not taking us to materialism. They are not taking us to desires. Let us take yoga meditation in the traditional sense. If a yogi achieves cessation of thoughts and attains nirvikalpa Samadhi, he/she has obviously progressed significantly in the path. At that stage the grace of the Self scoops in and finishes the job. This is not different from Vichara in that an aspirant matures to a certain point by Vichara alone and then in the final stage the grace of the Self finishes the job.

“Therefore any spiritual practice other than ātma-vicāra is simply allowing our mind to flow in its natural direction, away from ourself”. It may true that other spiritual practices turn us away from ourself, but it is not true that other practices allow our mind to flow in its natural direction. The mind is described as a monkey who has drunk liquor. A monkey by nature is restless and to that when liquor is added it goes crazy. That constant running here and there is the mind’s natural direction. Yoga meditation in the traditional sense makes the mind flow in the opposite direction in that it makes it stay put in one place (mantra/rupa/breath).

“All other endeavours are directed away from ourself, towards something other than ourself, whether it be material goals, artistic goals, intellectual goals, emotional goals, a supposedly separate God, or even a state such as salvation, liberation, mōkṣa or nirvāṇa when such a state is conceived as something that we can achieve and that is therefore other than ourself — that is, other than what we always really are”

Again categorizing separate God and moksa in the same ballpark of material goals, artistic goals and intellectual goals, tends to delegitimize separate God and moksa. Having a vision of Personal god is not the same as becoming a billionaire (material goal). Moksa as described in other spiritual traditions is not any different than becoming what we always really are. For example in Saiva Siddantha, the final state is said to be “Siva Sayuja Nilai” which effectively means dissolution of the ego and firm abidance as Siva. If Siva is replaced with Self, it means firm abidance as the Self.

Sivanarul said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

I don’t think the end goal pointed by Bhagavan is any different than other main spiritual traditions (at least those that trace their source to Upanishads). What is unique of Bhagavan’s teachings is that he imparted the teachings of Upanishads as a practical sadhana. So while “Aham Brahmasmi” may be the end result, as a practical sadhana he imparted that instead of delving on “Aham Brahmasmi” we should investigate the source of the one saying “Aham Brahmasmi”.

To summarize, all spiritual paths lead to the same Absolute Reality in the end (directly or indirectly). Some proceed in a slower pace than others. Atma vichara is a direct path that is believed to be the shortest and fastest. Those who are suited for it may very well take advantage of it. Those who think they are not suited for it (for whatever reason), rest assured that other spiritual paths will either lead into atma vichara in the end or directly lead to Absolute Reality. This is based on the observation and historical record of sages, saints, mystics, jnani’s having attained the finality without having atma vichara as their practice from beginning to end.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, the aim of what I wrote in this article was not to ‘delegitimize other practices’ or to say that any intermediate spiritual goals are no better than material goals, but was only to explain the uniqueness of the path of ātma-vicāra taught by Bhagavan. Other spiritual paths may lead in a roundabout way to the same ultimate goal, and other spiritual goals such as purification of the mind may be stepping stones on the way to our ultimate goal, but ātma-vicāra is the only means by which we can return directly to our source, which is what we always are, and therefore what we actually are even now.

What I wrote about other spiritual practices was only to contrast their indirectness with the directness of ātma-vicāra. Attending to anything other than ourself cannot lead us directly back to ourself, even though it may lead us indirectly back to this path of ātma-vicāra, which alone can lead us directly back to ourself. Whatever other path we may follow, sooner or later we must come to this path of ātma-vicāra, because we cannot experience ourself as we really are unless we experience ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else, and trying to experience ourself alone is what is called ātma-vicāra.

Regarding your statement, ‘If a yogi achieves cessation of thoughts and attains nirvikalpa Samadhi, he/she has obviously progressed significantly in the path’, according to Bhagavan any ‘nirvikalpa samādhi’ or cessation of thoughts that is achieved by any means other than ātma-vicāra is only manōlaya, and therefore cannot help us any more than sleep can to make any progress on the path towards experiencing what we really are, as he illustrated by the story that he often told about the yōgi who was immersed in such nirvikalpa samādhi for three hundred years on the banks of the Ganga, yet whose first thought on waking up was to ask angrily why he had not been given the water he had asked for immediately before going into samādhi.

Regarding your statement, ‘It may true that other spiritual practices turn us away from ourself, but it is not true that other practices allow our mind to flow in its natural direction’, any practice that directs our attention away from ourself is allowing our mind to flow in its natural direction, because as I explained, the natural direction in which it flows is towards anything other than ourself. By making our mind think of only one object, such as a mantra, rūpa or prāṇa, we may be restraining it from jumping here and there, but we are still allowing it to go away from ourself, and thus we are continuing to feed and sustain it.

Regarding what I wrote about God, mōkṣa and nirvāṇa, I did not say or imply that any of these are actually anything other than what we really are, and I was careful in one context to qualify ‘God’ as ‘a supposedly separate God’ and ‘mōkṣa’ and ‘nirvāṇa’ by saying ‘when such a state is conceived as something that we can achieve and that is therefore other than ourself — that is, other than what we always really are’, and later to qualify ‘God’ and ‘nirvāṇa’ by saying ‘if we consider God or nirvāṇa to be anything other than ourself’. God, mōkṣa and nirvāṇa are not actually anything other than ourself, but so long as we consider them to be anything other than ourself, by meditating on them or seeking to attain them we are directing our mind away from ourself.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Sivanarul:

Regarding the question of whether ‘the end goal pointed by Bhagavan is any different than other main spiritual traditions’, it all depends upon what each person considers the ultimate goal of any other spiritual tradition to be. What Bhagavan taught to be our real goal is only to experience ourself as we really are, so for anyone who considers this to be the ultimate goal of any other spiritual tradition, then they are obviously not different goals, but for anyone who considers the ultimate goal of any other spiritual tradition to be anything other than just experiencing ourself as we really are, then they are different goals.

Bob - P said...

Great summary Michael, reading your articles / posts are always invaluable in reinforcing Bhagavan's teaching.

Bhagavan has in essence simplified the path to the extent that its simplicicty seems almost to easy or obvious!!

But why is something so simple so difficult(lol)!! The ego is a powerful illusory non existent adversary.

But as you always say even though there is no feedback about how far we have turned back to ourself or how much further we have to turn to dissovle in ourself we must keep trying earnestly filled with gratitude that we have found Bhagavan and his teaching.

From my own personal limited dualistic perspective your writings and frequent blog posts / articles are a huge help and I look forward very much to visiting your blog and reading your words.

I have heard you say that there is no need to thank you because answering question keeps your own mind focued on Bhagavan's teaching.

But even so it helps me to express my apprecition and gratitude to you and to bhagavan.

So thank you Michael

Bob

Sivanarul said...

Michael,
Thanks for the clarification. As someone who has been following your writings for several years, I know you do not disparage other spiritual practices, but sometimes it creates the appearance of it due to the exclusive emphasis on atma vichara. Your writings carry immense credibility about Bhagavan’s devotees. There are many of us, both during Bhagavan’s lifetime and after, who follow other spiritual practices (with or without vichara), who are also deeply influenced by Bhagavan. I just wanted to convey the message that other practices do lead to atma vichara and moksha in the end.

The point regarding nirvikalpa Samadhi was to convey that the person who has that has progressed significantly in the path. While as per Bhagavan, the yogi will wake up after 300 years asking for water, is meant to convey that the yogi has not achieved manonasa. There is no disagreement on that. All I meant to say was that a person who has frequent nirvikalpa samadhi’s is very close to the final state, and the grace of the Self will sooner or later result in manonasa and dissolution of the ego.

For all we know, Bhagavan himself might have been a great yogi in previous lifetimes who had several nirvikalpa samadhi’s during those lifetimes, that paved the way for the intense vichara he undertook in this lifetime.

Stray dog said...

Sivanarul,
I think after July 1896 Sri Ramana did not undertake any or intense vichara because there was nothing to discover to him as the highest consciousness.

Sivanarul said...

Stray dog,
I did not write that Bhagavan undertook vichara after his one and only one intense undertaking. The intense vichara that I wrote in this lifetime was referring to that one and only one episode.

Aconcagua said...

Michael, when I refered to the hinduistic „Brahman“ I did not mean the one of the trimurti who is responsible for creation but the pure consciousness brahman.
Maybe brahman did not create or do anything because as the absolute and infinite reality he/it just is.
But this inactive brahman ourself does/ did not prevent the rising up of the seeming appearance of the ego. Theoretically it had could refuse to watch/ accept the rising of that illusory mirage-game .
Instead of intervening brahman prefered to sleep or keep quiet. So the playground of the non-existent illusion was easily prepared. But who is entitled to criticize the absolute reality in this way or to look at brahman accusingly ?
Now our fate is to spoon up all of the soup. We quite willing get put right what the mahavakyas affirm : we are that pure consciousness.
So we can iron out the ‚industrial accident‘ of self-forgetfulness.
Fortunately a way out was left for us: we have the chance to utilize properly the power which lies already within us to experience ourself as ‚Arunachala‘, that is as we really are, - if we want so.
So let us pull the chestnuts out of the fire - for us !
Let us check the pronouncements of the sages of the Upanishads that we are the universal substrate behind changing appearances. So let us not remain resigned in the marsh of dualistic experience of subject and object and the illusory phenomenal world.
Therefore when it is said that the knowledge of brahman is not mere epistemic knowledge but a direct unambigious knowing
so let us use our own power to experience what we really are.
According to Bhagavan let us not wait before clinging sufficient fast to uninterrupted self-remembrance !

Stray dog said...

Sorry, Sivanarul,
that I did not read your reference to Ramana's intense death experience in Madurai as undertaken intense vichara as you meant.

Noob said...

IF WE HERE , THAT MEANS WE ON THE WAY.

R Viswanathan said...

"Whatever other path we may follow, sooner or later we must come to this path of ātma-vicāra"

This statement reminds me of Sri Nochur Venkataraman's often repeated statement "Sunga chavadi thappadhu".

Sri Nochur would tell a story of how a person desirous of evading the toll tax (for the goods being transported in a bullock cart) took a circuitous route, but on the way slept off, but the bull as was its custom, came to the toll gate and stood there. On waking up, the person sees that he is at the toll gate and thus has to necessarily pay the tax.

He narrated the story to convey the necessity that ultimately one has to come to the path of self investigation.

Bob - P said...

It seems there are many ways to get to the gate that we / I have to pass through so to speak.

There are many routes leading to it. I think of the gate being Atma vichara. In the end it has to be used to reach our / my goal.

All other spiritual paths will get us eventually to the gate (self investigation)

We are most fortunate and blessed that we have found the gate in this life time and are not endlessly wandering around on paths merely leading to it.

We should be so grateful and rejoice that our own externaly projected guru (Bhagavan) who is nothing but ourself has so lovingly placed us right at the gate.

We are being lovingly pulled towards ourself and there is nothing we can do now to escape.

All we have to do is stop struggling so we / I can pass through it, only when we lovingly surrrender to the inevitable can we dissolve into our own real non dual self shining self.

Easier said than done I know but I am personally filled with joy and gratitude that I have reached the gate!!!

Bob

Anonymous said...

Here is something from David Godman's blog (http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.fr/2008/06/narayana-iyer.html).


I (Narayana Iyer) once asked him: ‘Bhagavan, it is said that all roads lead to Rome. All religions lead to the same goal. How, can it be said that the quest “Who am I?” is the only way and the direct way?’

He replied: ‘Yes, all roads lead to Rome. But, on reaching Rome, you have to go to the citadel – the sanctum. What I say is just that.’



Sivanarul said...

Bob,
This is written with deep respect and friendly in intent. Please read it in that light. Even though it is written to you, it is meant to all sadhakas to become more compassionate towards other practices other than vichara.

With respect to your comment “We are most fortunate and blessed that we have found the gate in this life time and are not endlessly wandering around on paths merely leading to it.”

Rest assured that people following other spiritual practices (prayer,meditation, japa etc) are not endlessly wandering around. They are following a systemic practice prescribed by duly qualified saints (Thirumoolar, Patanjali etc) that have been proven to result in moksha.

Let’s say getting a doctoral degree is the end goal of life and atma vichara is equivalent to getting admitted to a Ph.D. program. Everyone who wants a doctoral degree must go through the program. If someone is studying his 12’th grade or Bachelor’s degree, would you look at him and say, “you are endlessly wandering around”. Isn’t it understood by all of us that he is following a systemic program that will eventually get him through Bachelor’s and then Master’s and then finally the Ph.D. Would you look at your sixth grade class now and say “I wandered around studying that class”.

For those of you for whom vichara is the path, it is taken that you have passed through the other stages in earlier lifetimes. Having now been admitted to the Ph.D program, it does not help either you or students at earlier classes, if you main the attitude that those students are endlessly wandering.

Sivanarul said...

Continuing previous comment:

Many of you rely on Bhagavan’s writing for this attitude. As Jnani, Bhagavan saw the Self in all other people and hence prescribed the Ph.D program as a general prescription. When he looked at a person individually he often modified his prescription. Take Annamalai swami for example. For 10 years, he did not give him time for vichara or meditation. Instead he made him work really hard in hot sun on building projects. Then suddenly one fine day he declared, your karma is over and you can now begin a period of intense vichara. Bhagavan knew that before that karma has been worked out, Annamalai swami will not progress in his vichara. Hence his prescription for him for 10 years was simply work (without having the attitude that I am working).

A good teacher (Bhagavan) sees the potential in all of his students and motivates all of them to achieve the best. Many times the teacher will push them to strive harder. But a teacher will never take a 2’nd grade student and place in 10’th grade (unless in very rare case where the student is exceptionally brilliant).

I respectfully request those of you who have been blessed with vichara as their path not to look down on students at earlier classes. We are simply an earlier version of you.

Sivanarul said...

In continuation of the earlier comment:

Just want to clarify that it doesn’t matter to me if you look down at earlier classes. I am quite happy and contended in whatever class I am in on now and trust that the inner guru will guide me to the next class when the time is right. It is for the benefit of the student who may be forced (spiritual pressured) into believing that he must do vichara immediately to progress and may jumpstart it before his time. That student need to trust their own inner guru and practice what feels best for them and feel confident that they are not wasting their time. Remember you will never look back at your 6’th grade and call it a waste of time.

It may also be worth noting that in terms of effort, the majority of effort is done in kindergarten to master’s degree. For those who have put the proper effort in those classes tend to breeze through their Ph.D program easily. For the student who gets admitted into the program without taking qualifying classes will struggle a lot to progress. That is why Annamalai swami was made to work for 10 years before being admitted into the program.

Yes, vichara is the final step. But in duration, it may be just a minute of intense effort as in the case of Bhagavan, when all previous steps have been completed diligently.

Bob - P said...

Dear Sivanarul
After carefully reading your comment I agree with you and think I should of written my original comment differentely:

"We are most fortunate and blessed that we have found the gate in this life time and are not endlessly wandering around on paths merely leading to it."

The below is better I feel after taking on board your comment.

"We are most fortunate and blessed that we have found the gate in this life time and are not still travelling towards it."

The word endlessly wandering was not a good choice of words. It is relevant to myself admitted but you are right it could be misunderstood and imply anyone not following Bhagavan's teaching is endlessly wandering around directionless.

My own journey which lead me to Bhagavan has taken me to many different teachers along the way. From Zen To "Seeing" (ie) Douglas Harding from Peace Pilgrim to Nisargadatta.

Thank you Sivanarul
Bob


R Viswanathan said...

'Yes, vichara is the final step. But in duration, it may be just a minute of intense effort as in the case of Bhagavan, when all previous steps have been completed diligently.'

I totally agree with the above statement, especially when I read that Sri Michael James himself who is in this path of Atma Vichara for almost four decades confesses that he too gets distracted even now, perhaps not as often as he would have been when he started his journey in this path.

I recall Sri Nochur Venkataraman saying that Bhagavan would say that even just to get rid of the sankalpam that it will be difficult for one to realize the self in this birth itself, one would need to be reborn.

Therefore, I feel that if one continues with total faith in whatever path one goes in, be it Bakthi Margam or Jnana Margam, the destination will be the same - realization of self.

As Sri Nochur Venkataraman would say: arindhavan adangi aganum; adanginavan arindhaganum (that is, who knows the self should abide in it, and who abides in self should know it), it appears to me that it might be just an illusory divide in one's mind that the two paths are different or that one path is circuitous and the other path is shorter.

Sivanarul said...

Bob,
Thanks for the reply. My writing was directed at myself as much it applies to others. In the Saiva Siddhantha tradition, four progressive steps are prescribed namely Cariyai (external worship in temple), Kiriyai (external and internal worship at home), Yoga and Jnana. Saiva Siddhantha says that Cariyai, Kiriyai and Yoga leads to Jnana and Jnana alone leads to moksha.

In the past (even now very occasionally), I use to comment either in word or thought that people who follow Cariyai and Kiriyai are wasting their precious time and Siva/Self is very far for them. How mistaken and arrogant of me to make such statement about how the Self will respond based on reading a few books and doing a few practices. For all I know the Self may very well decide to fast track a person who is on Cariyai to race through the other 3 steps and grant him/her moksha, while the person on the path of yoga/jnana may still be limping.

As you, I am also influenced by many teachings starting from Saiva Siddhanta, Bhagavan, Sri Nisargadatta, traditional advaita, Rupert Spira, Buddhism and Eckhart Tolle. Michael’s and David Godman’s writings have especially helped me to understand Bhagavan’s highest teachings better. I do not see any conflict in any of these teachings and they have helped me at various times in various circumstances.

Sivanarul said...

One other thing that I am amazed by and deeply respectful of is how Michael James and David Godman have dedicated their life to Bhagavan’s teachings and trust the Self to take care of their basic needs. I have always felt that Spiritual knowledge should be free and I deeply admire Michael publishing all his books for free, but the givers also have basic needs of food, shelter, clothing and medicine.

I have read about Peace Pilgrim (that Bob mentioned) and how she traveled on foot for 40+ years relying on whatever providence may provide. Blessed indeed are those who have the courage to put themselves at the mercy of the Self. You all serve as a huge inspiration for people like me who gets irritated if my morning tea is a little late.

Bob - P said...

Thank you Sivanarul.
Yes I agree with your kind words about Michael & David's work being such a huge help, how very true.

We are truly blessed.
In appreciation.
Bob

R Viswanathan said...

"As you, I am also influenced by many teachings starting from Saiva Siddhanta, Bhagavan, Sri Nisargadatta, traditional advaita, Rupert Spira, Buddhism and Eckhart Tolle. Michael’s and David Godman’s writings have especially helped me to understand Bhagavan’s highest teachings better. I do not see any conflict in any of these teachings and they have helped me at various times in various circumstances."

I expressed a somewhat similar statement sometime ago that I feel it as a blessing that I do not find any inconsistency between the Satsangs of Sri Robert Adams and Bhagavan's teachings. Sri Michael James clarified in a rather long article the following:

"One friend wrote to me recently quoting something that had been written or said by someone who is supposed to be a follower of Sri Ramana, and when I replied pointing out to him some serious differences between what he had quoted and what Sri Ramana taught, he replied saying that he considered it a blessing that he did not see such differences but saw only Sri Ramana’s teachings in whatever was written or said by certain of his followers. Evading or failing to do careful manana and to use vivēka while studying the teachings of Sri Ramana, and thereby allowing oneself to mistake ideas that are inconsistent with his teachings to be the same as his teachings, is certainly not a blessing, because without using vivēka (discrimination, discernment or judgement) we cannot progress on this path, but are liable to be diverted away from it and are sure to remain stuck in self-ignorance."

Sri Michael James ended that article with this sentence:

"Therefore if anyone has had sufficient patience and interest to read this absurdly long article, I hope it will encourage them to think deeply and critically about the teachings of Sri Ramana and whatever else they may read or hear, and thereby to develop and nurture their own manana and vivēka."

This was my reply:

"Thank you so much for such a long article with each section, so carefully chosen, to help persons like me who frequently quotes from Robert Adams, David Godman, Nochur Venkataraman, and Swami Ramsukhdas. "

The link to the article referred to is:
http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-need-for-manana-and-viveka.html

Sivanarul said...

Viswanathan,
I have read that reply from Michael when he wrote it and the context to which it applies is for those that think that other teachings are the same as Bhagavan’s teachings. What Michael wrote is correct, since no one else can speak for Bhagavan other than Bhagavan himself.

All I wrote was that I do not see any conflict in the teachings I read and follow. I do not claim that all those teachings are the same. Saiva Siddhantha is not the same as Bhagavan’s teaching. They share many similarities, but are not the same.

Saiva Siddhantha taught me Ahimsa, Bhakthi and Jnana and provided me with a vast collection of devotional songs from Thevaram, Thiruvasagam, Thirupugazh etc. that I turn to. Buddhism taught me to be non-judgmental and compassionate towards myself and others. Eckhart Tolle taught me the power of now. Rupert Spira has a wonderful way of communicating advaita.

Bhagavan taught me to investigate the ‘I’ which is at the root of everything that happens. Before Bhagavan, I never entertained advaita, since I thought how could I who has all these needs and desires be Brahman. But Bhagavan said, never mind ‘Aham Bramhasmi’. You know you exist. Find who is it that exists. Let the end be whatever it happens to be. Why theorize about it now? Begin with ‘I’ which is the only thing that can never be doubted.

I have benefited from all of the above at one time or the other and I am grateful for it.

Aconcagua said...

Yes Sivanarul,
at the moment
any moment
at the same moment...
at present...

Bob - P said...

I also found Robert Adams very helpful I have all his transcripts and audio satsangs.

According to David Godman Bhagavan thought very highly of him when he visited from America.

I also found Douglas Harding's very practacal and experiential method of self enquirey to be extremely helpful in helping to silence my mind and focus my attention on the experiencer / perciever / ego / false conciousness. Bob myself.

If I am not mistaken according to Bhagavan's teachings there is only one Jnani / Guru .. Ourself guiding us back to ourself ..

It is my understanding that external gurus will appear in our false projected reality in various forms and provide teachings to us in the way that is most suitable to help us. To help us realise we have to look within and investigate the looker / false conciousness / ego / false I. Until it dissolves in ourself.

This for me was one of the hardest things to accept as I took much comfort with externalised separate gurus like Bhagavan.

Another extremely helpful text I found along the way to Bhagavan was the Nisargadatta Gita written Pradeep Apte.

David Godman once said said that both Nisargadatta & Bhagavan both taught the same path with very slight differences. Apparantly Nisargadatta once said one of his regrets was he did not have the chance to prostrate at Bhagavan's feet.

I respect all teachers but now I have found Bhagavan I am personally very happy to stop my search and do what he teachers as best as I can.

I find that all teachers in the end are basically saying the same thing - look within.

For me Michael's Blog is an absolute treasure.

In appreciation as always.

Bob

Stray dog said...

Michael,
compared with your recent article "The term nirvisesa or 'featureless' denotes an absolute experience [...]", section 3. Our ego is distinct from brahman only in appearance, not in substance,
here your description of the same ego sounds quite different. You brand the ego less favourably as "miserable" , unwilling to die ...

Michael James said...

Viswanathan, I have replied to your comment of 9 May 2015 at 17:30 in a separate article, Can we experience what we actually are by following the path of devotion (bhakti mārga)?.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sivanarul and Bob,

I just saw Sivan Arul's comparison of Self Enquiry sadhaks to that of Ph D course and that other methods are valid and justifiable in their own right, they being the lower classes like PUC, Academic degree etc.

Here we are conveniently ignoring a fact:

a mature sadhaka of bhakthi marga cannot be compared against a immature sadhaka of self enquiry.

Let us take my case. I do self enquiry daily. But I do have many mean desires and I enjoy movies and cinema in weekends. Now simply because I have chosen self enquiry as a method, I am suddenly not entitled to join Ph D course.

That would mean that any entry level sadhaka of self enquiry is entitled to Ph D degree.

Anyone can study Ph D books , but the right to admission is decided in the Ishwara's university.

Further , in every marga, like Bhakthi, Karma, Raja yoga etc. there are all these levels of sadhak and schools.

In our self enquiry also there is LKG, UKG Degree, PHD etc.

It is wrong to suddenly promote one and all into Ph D simply because one has started self enquiry.

Secondly, Sivanarul - you seem to respect and appreciate Saiva Siddhanta , Thirumoolar etc. but deep inside your heart you consider them only as entry door to final self enquiry. That is totally wrong. every path is great and complete in its own rights.

Bhagavan Sri Ramana never ever spoke only of Self Enquiry.

The seeming quotations from Bhagavan saying self enquiry is the final resort etc. is conveyed the concerned individual based on his samskara.

A jnani will never give a general mass advise -- so we who has never met Bhagavan can never know what is his tailored teaching for us.

There were plenty of exammples in Sri Ramana literature of people attaining full liberation without the self enquiry, Azhagammal, Echhamal, Mudhaliar Patti, Papa Ramadas, Papaji etc. many many have indeed attained the final state by service to Guru, nama japa etc.

So let us only focus on Self Enquiry and stop comparig this Ph D school analogy.

Regards,
Krishna

Sivanarul said...

Krishna,

Thanks for your comment. I am with you in stressing the value and importance of every path (especially Bhakthi as defined in Bhakthi Yoga, not as a reformulation of Jnana) including Buddhism and any other spiritual path for that matter. If you read my comments, they will reflect the same.

“I just saw Sivan Arul's comparison of Self Enquiry sadhaks to that of Ph D course and that other methods are valid and justifiable in their own right, they being the lower classes like PUC, Academic degree etc.”
“Secondly, Sivanarul - you seem to respect and appreciate Saiva Siddhanta , Thirumoolar etc. but deep inside your heart you consider them only as entry door to final self enquiry. That is totally wrong”

With regards to your above comment, yes, I am a devoted student of Saiva Siddhanta (in addition to being influenced by Bhagavan and Buddha). Saiva Siddantha lists 4 progressive steps in the spiritual path, namely Chariyai (external workship), Kiriyai (external and internal worship), Yogam (Siva Yogam) and Jnanam (internal worship / enquiry). Siva Jnana Botham of Meykandar lists the path of Jnana to lead to Mukthi and Chariyai, Kiriyai and Yogam to lead to Jnana. Saint Arunagirinathar unequivocally declares in Kandar Anubuthi (“Yaan agiya Yennai Vizungi verum thanai Nilai Ninrathu Tharparamay”) meaning “Having absorbed my ego, the Self remained as itself”.

Hence Jnana is defined as the final step in the Saiva Siddhanta literature (and not just by me). However Jnana as defined in Saiva Siddhanta is not enquiry alone but includes internalized Bhakthi of Lord Siva and complete surrender to the Lord (“Irai Pani Nittral”). I was only comparing Jnana to the Ph D course and used Self-Enquiry as Jnana’s equivalent, since in this site they are treated synonymously.

Also Jnana (as defined in Saiva Siddhanta) is not tied to Eka Jiva Vada or requires considering the world to be a dream. Instead it requires seeing all things as manifestation of Siva (“Verily all this is Brahman”).

Irrespective of whatever label we may put to things, in the end, it comes to offering the ego unconditionally to the Self/Lord Siva. Whether the ego dissolves as salt in water (Meykanda Saiva Siddthantha) or like camphor in fire (advaita saiva siddhantha) will be known upon dissolution. For now, one can adopt whatever one is comfortable with.

Thank you for your comment stressing the value of every step. We need more people like you :-). I can say that, since for now, I think there are many jiva’s :-)

Sivanarul said...

Reposting, since it looks like earlier post did not go through.

Krishna,
Thanks for your comment. I am with you in stressing the value and importance of every path (especially Bhakthi as defined in Bhakthi Yoga, not as a reformulation of Jnana) including Buddhism and any other spiritual path for that matter. If you read my comments, they will reflect the same.

“I just saw Sivan Arul's comparison of Self Enquiry sadhaks to that of Ph D course and that other methods are valid and justifiable in their own right, they being the lower classes like PUC, Academic degree etc.”
“Secondly, Sivanarul - you seem to respect and appreciate Saiva Siddhanta , Thirumoolar etc. but deep inside your heart you consider them only as entry door to final self enquiry. That is totally wrong”

With regards to your above comment, yes, I am a devoted student of Saiva Siddhanta (in addition to being influenced by Bhagavan and Buddha). Saiva Siddantha lists 4 progressive steps in the spiritual path, namely Chariyai (external workship), Kiriyai (external and internal worship), Yogam (Siva Yogam) and Jnanam (internal worship / enquiry). Siva Jnana Botham of Meykandar lists the path of Jnana to lead to Mukthi and Chariyai, Kiriyai and Yogam to lead to Jnana. Saint Arunagirinathar unequivocally declares in Kandar Anubuthi (“Yaan agiya Yennai Vizungi verum thanai Nilai Ninrathu Tharparamay”) meaning “Having absorbed my ego, the Self remained as itself”.

Hence Jnana is defined as the final step in the Saiva Siddhanta literature (and not just by me). However Jnana as defined in Saiva Siddhanta is not enquiry alone but includes internalized Bhakthi of Lord Siva and complete surrender to the Lord (“Irai Pani Nittral”). I was only comparing Jnana to the Ph D course and used Self-Enquiry as Jnana’s equivalent, since in this site they are treated synonymous.

Also Jnana (as defined in Saiva Siddhanta) is not tied to Eka Jiva Vada or requires considering the world to be a dream. Instead it requires seeing all things as manifestation of Siva (“Verily all this is Brahman”).

Irrespective of whatever label we may put to things, in the end, it comes to offering the ego unconditionally to the Self/Lord Siva. Whether the ego dissolves as salt in water (Meykanda Saiva Siddthantha) or like camphor in fire (advaita saiva siddhantha) will be known upon dissolution. For now, one can adopt whatever one is comfortable with.

Thank you for your comment stressing the value of every step. We need more people like you :-). I can say that, since for now, I think there are many jiva’s :-)

Sivanarul said...

Third try reposting. Looks like both my earlier postings got deleted. Will try to post in 2 comments, in case length was the issue.

Krishna,
Thanks for your comment. I am with you in stressing the value and importance of every path (especially Bhakthi as defined in Bhakthi Yoga, not as a reformulation of Jnana) including Buddhism and any other spiritual path for that matter. If you read my comments, they will reflect the same.

“I just saw Sivan Arul's comparison of Self Enquiry sadhaks to that of Ph D course and that other methods are valid and justifiable in their own right, they being the lower classes like PUC, Academic degree etc.”
“Secondly, Sivanarul - you seem to respect and appreciate Saiva Siddhanta , Thirumoolar etc. but deep inside your heart you consider them only as entry door to final self enquiry. That is totally wrong”

With regards to your above comment, yes, I am a devoted student of Saiva Siddhanta (in addition to being influenced by Bhagavan and Buddha). Saiva Siddantha lists 4 progressive steps in the spiritual path, namely Chariyai (external workship), Kiriyai (external and internal worship), Yogam (Siva Yogam) and Jnanam (internal worship / enquiry). Siva Jnana Botham of Meykandar lists the path of Jnana to lead to Mukthi and Chariyai, Kiriyai and Yogam to lead to Jnana. Saint Arunagirinathar unequivocally declares in Kandar Anubuthi (“Yaan agiya Yennai Vizungi verum thanai Nilai Ninrathu Tharparamay”) meaning “Having absorbed my ego, the Self remained as itself”.

Sivanarul said...

Continuation of previous comment:

Hence Jnana is defined as the final step in the Saiva Siddhanta literature (and not just by me). However Jnana as defined in Saiva Siddhanta is not enquiry alone but includes internalized Bhakthi of Lord Siva and complete surrender to the Lord (“Irai Pani Nittral”). I was only comparing Jnana to the Ph D course and used Self-Enquiry as Jnana’s equivalent, since in this site they are treated synonymously.
Also Jnana (as defined in Saiva Siddhanta) is not tied to Eka Jiva Vada or requires considering the world to be a dream. Instead it requires seeing all things as manifestation of Siva (“Verily all this is Brahman”).

Irrespective of whatever label we may put to things, in the end, it comes to offering the ego unconditionally to the Self/Lord Siva. Whether the ego dissolves as salt in water (Meykanda Saiva Siddthantha) or like camphor in fire (advaita saiva siddhantha) will be known upon dissolution. For now, one can adopt whatever one is comfortable with.

Thank you for your comment stressing the value of every step. We need more people like you :-). I can say that, since for now, I think there are many jiva’s :-)

Krishna said...

Hi Sivanarul and others,

Thanks for your replies. Even bhakthi can be a Ph D course.

These are all not opt analogies.

I will tell you something -- during his time Maharishi Sri Ramana encouraged everybody to read extracts from Ribhu Gita which contains nothing but affirmations and negations .

Bhagavan Sri Ramana taught that regular , repeated reading of Ribhu Gita will even culminate in ultimate samadhi. This Ribhu Gita endorsement by Maharishee cannot be denied because it has been recorded in multiple resources and by various devotees. One close devotee ( i think NRK) has also published an abridged small booklet of Ribhu Gita.

When kunju swami asked Bhagavan for advice, Bhagavan advised him to change from one practice to other when it becomes boring , like from japa to parayana, self enquiry etc.

It is no doubt that Bhagavan gave Self Enquiry as a primal advice but he did encourage other paths like Ribhu Gita parayana etc.

I am not telling this for you alone, but for many people here.

But the ultimate truth of eka jiva and drshthi-shrushti should be accepted as Truth even though we may not appreciate its value now.

Sivanarul said...

Krishna,

“But the ultimate truth of eka jiva and drshthi-shrushti should be accepted as Truth even though we may not appreciate its value now.”

What does accepting as truth mean? How does it affect one’s behavior, action and sadhana externally or internally? Let’s take accepting ahimsa as a truth. That implies one refrain from eating meat and not harming any sentient being. That is a concrete action arising out of a belief. Any belief system should have a corresponding action/implementation (like ahimsa), otherwise what is the use?

It looks like you have accepted eka jiva as truth. How has that affected your life or sadhana or outlook? I like writing replies to other jiva’s / sentient beings and not to my reflections. If I truly believed you are my reflection, I will have no motivation to write to you or anyone else. It would be equivalent to talking to my reflection that appears when I walk in hot sun. Why would I do that?

As I wrote in earlier comments, neither Sri Shankara nor Bhagavan’s actions justify Eka Jiva vada. I am open to the idea, if it can help in my sadhana in any way. But so far, no one has put together a good use case for me. Developing Vairagya is not a use case, since that can be developed with Buddha’s first noble truth and impermanence.

Anonymous said...

dear Sivanarul,

you have opened many aspects here. actually my mind is restless so my words may look harsher, but my real objective is to bring some clarity. so please read in that spirit. also there will be lot of spelling mistakes.

first and foremost, this is the problem with intellect and scholarship. Be it eka jiva or drishti-shrusthi, let us park it for some time.

It all depends on how and why somebody comes to Sri Ramana Maharshi.

As regards me, even though I already read lot of vedantic books and philosophies and was there in different vaishnava school for some time, the primary force behind my coming to Ramana Maharshi was a great catroscope in my life.

in that overwhelming sorrow somewhere in 2010, I ran to Sri Ramanasramam taking an early morning bus from Bangalore , the memories still fresh in my mind.

When I went to Bhagavan's Samadhi and new hall, the Ribhu Gita chanting was going on. After unloading my sorrow, I accepted Arunachala and Ramana as my home and heart.

From that moment, whatever Sri Ramana told in his dialogues and teachings are vedas and Upanishads for me. Not the other way. I don't care if it is Talks or Letters or Ulladhu Narpadhu or Guru Vachaka Kovai.

As long as something is blessed and reviewed even broadly by Sri Ramana, I try to take those teachings.

I later learnt about Eka Jiva and Drushti Shrusthi in GVK book and also by DG's blog. I accepted both of them without hesitation.

The only criteria being my Guru has told this, it must be true. I don't appreciate my brain experience and derive a software technology use case to see utility.

My Guru told, it ends there. I later only bothered to verify many neutral accounts and also Lakshmana Sarma's tamil ulladhu narpadhu.

To this day, for me , self enquiry and Arunachala devotion are my two eyes. two wings and whatever.

I don't know to postulate a thereom and prove utility to anybody, simple fact of this eka jiva vadham clears my stress.

Anycase, for scholarly people like you, I have below points. these are weak points and in no moment, the intellectual brain of scholarly people will counter argue to my below points. still let me write.

I) Eka Jiva vadha does not say that I am your reflection. it is involuntary projection out of you, in a spontaneous way, the Triads of God, Jeeva and World comes at same time. there is no micro second gap.

Yes, you have quite involuntarily somehow started this, but there is a higher pure Self in the form of Ishwara to govern your world , your karma etc. so it is not a full freedom ride projection.

this manifestation has arisen in you without any reason or beginning or end (because there is no time there) . So this much only you can learn thereotically. how to get liberated, you have to approach a Guru and be submissive and hear and practice.

If your Guru says something please obey without questioning. if you need to question, continue your search until your ego surrenders to your Guru.

There need not be use case for Drushti -Shrushti.

it all depends on how far and to what degree you love Bhagavan Ramana.

I am not enlightened or any authority on all this complex topics.

My life around Sri Ramana is very simple, just listen, accept and take whatever I can in the form of bliss.

Sivanarul said...

Krishna / Anonymous,

I am assuming it is you (Krishna) that posted the above reply. Thanks for the reply. I am not sure what prompted your rather sharp tone.

It is unfortunate that instead of providing any reasonable answer to my genuine question on Eka Jiva, your reply comes across as, “My guru said so. I don’t have to explain anything. It clears my stress”. That is a perfectly valid answer for why you believe in Eka Jiva vada as long as you don’t ask anyone else to accept it also. But remember, my question was based on your statement that,

“But the ultimate truth of eka jiva and drshthi-shrushti should be accepted as Truth even though we may not appreciate its value now.”

Since you wanted me to accept eka jiva, and since I am open to it as long as I understand what it means in practice, I was simply asking what does it mean to practice eka jiva? Belief in ahimsa means not eating meat. In that vein, I was simply asking how to practice eka jiva . This is what I meant by use case. It has nothing to do with technology, intellect or scholarship, which are unfounded assumptions on your part. You say you accepted the teaching since the guru says so. Fair enough. My question was simply how you are putting that into practice, because for me accepting something means putting that into practice. I am not sure why that should result in the sharp tone.

Continued in next comment…

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment…

Here is your quote:

“If your Guru says something please obey without questioning. if you need to question, continue your search until your ego surrenders to your Guru.”

Here is your other quote from an earlier reply:
“A jnani will never give a general mass advise -- so we who has never met Bhagavan can never know what is his tailored teaching for us.”

I certainly agree with both of your quotes, but you do not seem to agree with your own quotes. You want me to accept Eka Jiva based on the Guru’s general mass advice writing (in Ulladu narpadu, GVK etc) even though since I have never met Bhagavan I can never know what his tailored teaching for me is?

Good luck with your Sadhana.

Sivanarul said...

I did some more research on Eka Jiva vada, to see how much acceptance it has within the advaita community and whether it is essential for Sadhana. From what I found, there is not much acceptance and is not deemed essential for Sadhana. Here is a link for a good discussion on eka jiva vada and aneka jiva vada from dennis’s site:

http://www.advaita-vision.org/more-on-ekajiva-vada/

Glad to see that I am not the only one who could not accept Eka Jiva vada :-). Dennis points out all the questions that I have and formulates it much better than I could. Here is a synopsis:

Dennis:
Here are a few more thoughts I had, not really carefully thought out, I’m afraid:
It seems to me that the difficulty arises because of the usual reason – failing clearly to differentiate at all times between a pAramArthika and a vyAvahArika statement. The j~nAnI knows he is brahman, yes, but nevertheless, all thoughts, speech and action are made by a jIva. I.e. as a j~nAnI (for the sake of argument), I know that the world and all jIva-s are mithyA and that this BMI through which I appear to function in the world is also mithyA. So, if I wish to be strictly accurate, should I not say that there are NO jIva-s, not that I am the only jIva?
There is a phrase in English: wanting to have your cake and eat it. It seems that to claim that I am the only jIva and the jagat with all its jIva-s is mithyA is not commensurate with helping other jIva-s, teaching etc. If (as a jIva) the entire world is only in your head, what is the point! You use the dream metaphor in your exposition. When one has a lucid dream and, while dreaming knows that one is in a dream, this is a license to do whatever you want in total disregard of everyone else in the dream because you know that they are all part of your imagination.
On the other hand, believing in nanajIva vAda:
Either:
a) I am a j~nAnI. I know that the world is mithyA and that, in reality, there are NO jIva-s. Or
b) I am an aj~nAnI. I experience the world and this includes many jIva-s.
I suggest there is NO situation in which, as an aj~nAnI, I experience myself as the only jIva and genuinely believe there are no other jIva-s. This is a hypothetical theory only and I do not see that it serves any useful function. If I did believe it, what would be the incentive to go ‘further’? As effective god of the whole of creation, where is the need for brahman or mokSha. If I suffer, I have only myself to blame!

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment:

Finally Dennis closes it out with pretty much how I feel, which is, if it helps you and you can believe it, that's fine and dandy. If you cannot, that is fine also.

Dennis:

That is a great relief – thank you! Exactly what I thought! Effectively, therefore, one can say that if the seeker finds it useful to accept ekajIva as an interim understanding, that is fine. If he/she prefers to stick with the more empirically reasonable anekajIva, then that is fine too. Both have to be dropped for the final realization. I will add these messages as a conclusion. Thanks again for clarifying this!

Sivanarul said...

One last thought on this:

Many people do not realize what accepting Eka Jiva means, but simply accept it without realizing its ramifications. Eka Jiva effectively negates the need for Ishvara (as Personal God). It formulates Brahman and Jiva only and has no need at all for Ishvara.

Sadhana without Ishvara can appeal to people who did not have a religious or spiritual upbringing and who do not believe in a Personal God. Fair enough. But for people from the traditional Bhakthi school, Ishvara plays a pivotal role. Even if Ishvara becomes an illusion at the end, it will be the very last illusion to go (From the Bhakthi formulation, Brahman and Ishvara are one, and it is the ego that goes and not Ishvara, but that is beside the point). With Eka Jiva, you are losing Ishvara at the very beginning. Also note that in traditional advaita, Ishvara plays a pivotal role and is the very last illusion to go.

It is really ironic that people who seem to be highly dependent on Ishvara to get them through the up’s and down’s of life, declare that they believe and follow Eka Jiva. Remember, as a believer in Eka Jiva, there is no Ishvara for you to fall back on. There is no Bhagavan for you to fall back on (other than a lion appearing in an elephant’s dream).

Then why did Bhagavan write about it? I can only assume it is for a really tiny subset of people who do not need Ishvara for their Sadahana. It was not meant for jiva’s for whom Ishvara is the right, front and center of their Sadhana (irrespective of whether one does self-enquiry or not).

Even the tiny subset who accept this teaching, who do not feel the need for Ishvara, say there is a point after which they are not able to proceed and it is Grace (another name for Ishvara) that has to take them from there on. So all they are saying is that, they do not need the help of Ishvara in the beginning, but they do need Ishvara's help in the end.

Mouna said...

Dear Sivanarul, Vanakkam

The "advaita community" as you define it doesn't necessarily mean acceptance of Bhagavan's teachings, as strange as that might sound. In general, I would define it more accurately as "vedantic community" because many of the views exposed in those groups (Mr Dennis White included) come from a traditional Vedanta point of view.

Just to give you an example, the traditional Vedanta view of learning the shastras is that you MUST go through a qualified teacher that is part of the parampara or lineage of at least one of the lineages established by Sri Sanakaracharya. And as you guess, that puts Bhagavan out of the loop, since he never studied with anybody. He is mostly considered a saint and a yogi, more than an advaitin teacher.

I was part of the Yahoo Advaiting List for some years (where Mr Dennis White was or is maybe still a part of) and I can tell you this by direct experience and interaction in that list. If you want to complement Vedanta studies in the traditional form, there might be no better place than the Advaitin List, since the members of the List have a firm and rooted knowledge/understanding about the shastras.

Bhagavan's Updesa Saram is part of the syllabus of Vedantic teaching, unfortunately the version used is not the one written by Lakshmana Sharma, who was in close contact with Bhagavan when he wrote it. So it is interpreted also under the traditional vedantic canon.

Yours in Bhagavan,
Carlos

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Vanakkam. Thanks for the info about the Advaitin List. I was not aware of it and I will look into it. At some point I do want to read more on traditional advaita teachings.

I am quite familiar with the traditional advaita school’s insistence on learning Shastra from a traditional Sampradhaya teacher as a MUST for enlightenment. I have also read some disparaging / questionable comments about Bhagavan made in that community (notably from James Swartz). I generally view them as sibling rivalries (although I know they seem to accept Bhagavan only as an anomaly sibling who they are forced to reconcile with, due to Bhagavan’s extreme popularity in the West and Bhagavan’s impeccable life story and saintly life). But I don’t want to throw the baby along with the bath water. Traditional advaita has a 5000+ year history and plays a very important role in the broader spiritual community and these teachers play an important role in transmitting those teachings.

What brought me to Bhagavan was his life story, his impeccable saintliness, his willingness to forgive people for mistakes they commit and his demonstration by example, how one can live life in complete surrender to Ishvara (Arunachala). It was Bhagavan that made traditional advaita palatable to me. It was Bhagavan who gave me the freedom to accept those of his teachings that I can and reject those that I cannot. It was Bhagavan who first taught me the importance of ‘I’ in the search.

So I am very grateful to him. I am sure he would not mind me considering him as real and not as a lion in my dream :-) If he does mind, too bad, he is stuck with me.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji, pranams

I completely understand your point of view, believe me.
One little phrase you said raised a red flag: "It was Bhagavan who gave me the freedom to accept those of his teachings that I can and reject those that I cannot."

If I were you I'll change the word "reject" in that phrase and replace it for "put on hold". Do you agree?...

Yours in Bhagavan,
Carlos

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Completely agree. I meant reject to mean for now, not forever. Life has taught me well not to say "never forever" :-). Who knows what Ishvara has in store for me? I am a beginner’s beginner, so it would be really foolish of me to close any door that Ishvara may want me to walk into, in the future. That door might very well be Eka Jiva :-) Too bad, if I walk into that door, you all will become my dream characters.

Mouna said...

S-ji,

"I am a beginner’s beginner"

Aren't we all unless dissolved-in-Him?

"Too bad, if I walk into that door, you all will become my dream characters."

Glad to be one of your characters since you are already one of mine! :-)

Be well my friend,
Carlos Mouna

Anonymous said...

Dear Sivanarul,

This is Krishna here, who replied earlier as Anonymous.

You are right that my tone is unnecessarily sharp and bit with anger.

As I told in the beginning of that comment, I nowadays write with a free flow of what comes to my mind without giving much emphasis to words and its harshness.

I totally agree with you, but I could not explain , why answers come with this much force from me.

It is true that Bhagavan would not give a general advise to everybody and when somebody meets a jnani, he will get the most opt and as near as possible cirucmstance in his replies.

Some people never got any answer to their questions from Bhagavan, because the Self simply consumed those questions without prompting Bhagavan to reply. Actually all of Bhagavan's actions are of the Self or Atma since he did not have mind. So it is no wonder the Self reacted in inexplicable ways with different visitors.

But coming to Bhagavan's writings, they are considered to be goals and what is his core teaching.

Let us assume A approaches Bhagavan Ramana and Bhagavan asked him to pray to a vigraha of vittal in duality mode of devotion.

Now A is supposed to do two things:

i) Start doing that practice which Bhagavan suggested
ii) At the same time, understand the Bhagavan's ultimate position through his authentic scriptures and have a harmony of a belief system within him taking all that to be true.

Now i) and ii) is really contradictory in theory and as per intellect.

Still one has to totally ignore his intellect and be at ease with Bhagavan.

Let me tell you something -- without agreeing 100% with what your Guru has written, even though we love the Guru, the inner conflict will be there as residual impression and that will anytime bounce back. Grace will not be able to operate as efficiently as possible in such a scenario.

So it all depends on what we need from Bhagavan Ramana. If we require only Grace and spiritual progress (without intellectual conviction or intellectual progress) then it is better to keep all this very simple and simply abide by Bhagavan's teachings. At the max to ignore these complex topics and carry with our self enquiry.

If on the other hand, if we are interested in philosophical reconcilation, it is better to look it elsewhere like Sri Madhusudhana Saraswathi's works, works like Vedanta Paribhasha etc. where these complex topics are analyzed in very detailed manner.

And before closing, there is no end for philosophical debates and different sub schools within Advaita.

That is why when Kunju Swami told like you that he is going to some Mutt for a traditional vedantic course, Bhagavan asked him not to go and keep it simple.

Not sure how harsh my tone this time, but let me tell from my heart, I write all this in free flow and quite raw, uninterrupted from the source.

Wittgenstein said...

Sivanarul,

Most of the things you have written about eka jiva vada are very reasonable. This made me reconsider this topic and in the following comment I have written my own views. I thought it might interest you.

Wittgenstein said...

‘World is a dream’, eka jiva vada and atma-vichara
The teaching ‘world is a dream’ is generally misquoted and misunderstood. Having misunderstood, it is tempting to arrive at the following conclusions.
1. The world is unreal like a dream.
2. If one ‘accepts’ this teaching, it would lead to undesirable actions.
3. To avoid such undesirable actions, the ones who advocate such teaching involve themselves in desirable actions, to set example for a sadhaka.
4. Such a teaching is not necessary for sadhana.
5. Those who ‘accept’ this teaching consider themselves [spiritually] superior to the ones who take up other sadhanas.
6. Ishwara is rejected here.
These conclusions do not have basis. When Bhagavan says in ‘Nan Yar’, “பிரபஞ்சத்தை ஒரு சொப்பனத்தைப்போ லெண்ணிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்” [we should consider the world as a dream], we should notice the word ‘consider’. He never says, “World is a dream”. There is no point in ascribing unreality to the world, as long as we have finished investigating our reality. Bhagavan would say the world is as real as us and in order to ascertain the reality of the world it would be better to investigate our reality (since the world does not say it exists and we are the one who says so). Further, we do not say the dream is unreal as long as we are dreaming. Similarly, if the world is a dream, as long as we experience the world, does it not appear real to us? How can we call it unreal?
What is the sense in which we should consider the world as a dream? Since upon waking we realize that the dream world with multiple jivas in it was an emanation from a single jiva and since dream is not substantially different from waking, it is possible that even the waking world with all jivas in it is an emanation from a single jiva. Therefore, we are talking about a possibility here, which has sound basis and hence worthy of being taken up as a hypothesis to be tested. The sound basis is that the difference in waking and dream is only of degree, not of kind.
Further, even this single jiva appears (along with suffering) from sleep and disappears (along with suffering) into sleep. Therefore, it is desirable (in order to eliminate suffering) that the emergence of such a single jiva is to be totally annihilated. Bhagavan says it is possible to do so by investigating the source of this single jiva [this is the testing phase of the hypotheis]. That the ego will be dissolved permanently at the end of this investigation is what we take on trust – we can experience it only when we reach that end. However, our confidence in the efficacy of this investigation increases as we investigate more and more. Therefore, the idea behind the teaching that we should consider the world as a dream is to prompt us [as a guiding principle] into investigating the source of the eka jiva. Therefore, the teaching that we should consider the world as a dream and eka jiva vada are intertwined.
The one who is thus still investigating experiences himself as a body and hence the world is as real as the body for him, with all the jivas in it. In what way is he better than the dualist as far his experience is concerned? I don’t find any superiority or inferiority here. For practical purposes, we can define a scale of inferiority-superiority: those who currently experience themselves as the body are inferior and the ones who experience themselves as they are are superior.

Wittgenstein said...

This is a continuation from my previous comment.

Now, investigating this source is not an action. Action is jada and the investigation overlooks any jada. Actions have a law of their own and the one who takes up this investigation understands that tinkering with actions is not within his range of freedom, since he experiences himself as the body and hence he (as a body) is bound by the laws of the body. The only freedom he has is to investigate himself. Therefore, there is no point in thinking we have unlimited licence to do anything that we want. On the other hand, to do something or not is not in our hands. However, whatever we do, we can attend to ourselves, if we wish so. There is no point in bringing up arguments related to actions here. Further, it should be remembered that Sri Ramana’s stand point is ajata (not eka jiva vada) and there is no action and not even this single jiva in ajata. In fact, eka jiva vada is of no use when we experience ourselves as we are, at the end of the testing phase.
The mechanism seems to be something like this. Nana jiva vada keeps pulling us all the time and from time to time [when not being carried away by it] we doubt it in the spirit of eka jiva vada and self-investigate [that is, investigate the eka jiva from which these multiplicity springs] to settle the doubts, find ourselves being pulled by nana jivas again, doubt them, investigate and so on till the investigation ends and only ajata remains.
I am not familiar with other sadhanas. However, when Bhagavan says in Ulladu Narpadu, verse 26 that when the ego [eka jiva] rises, everything else [world and the other jivas] rise and goes on to say that investing the source of the ego is getting rid of everything (including the ego). Therefore, he was indicating that eka jiva vada is the key for atma vichara.
We cannot get into atma vichara without eka jiva vada. To illustrate this, consider what would Bhagavan say when we see another person. Would he not prompt us to ask, “Who is the person that is in front of me? Does he say he is a person or am I saying he is a person? Even if he says he is a person, is that not what I hear from him? For whom does this person appear including the claim that he is a person? Since it is for me, who am I?”. And hence attention turns to ourselves. This attention turning to ourselves is atma vichara and the questioning is the spirit behind it. Is not the spirit behind it eka jiva vada? We are investigating even our own appearance and as long as we are investigating, we cannot take it to be unreal. On the other hand, for a dualist, who treats everything as ultimately real, what is the use of atma vichara? There is no need to question our reality as far as we take it to be ultimately real. We can only question it when we doubt it and as long as we question it, we cannot come to a conclusion about its reality.

Wittgenstein said...

This is continuation of my previous comment.

The one who has only nana jiva vada at his disposal and discards eka jiva vada should explain why he would do atma vichara [which is investigating the source of the eka jiva] at all. This is very perplexing for me.
In Nan Yar Bhagavan says, “சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்” [Keeping the mind (attention) always fixed in atma [ourselves] is called atma vichara. Further he says in the same essay, “ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்றுமிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம்” [Getting established in atma without leaving room for other thoughts is offering oneself to Ishwara]. From the above two statements it is clear that ‘offering oneself to Ishwara is equated with atma vichara. Further, as the spirit behind atma vichara is eka jiva vada, it stands clear that for the one who is self-investigating, Ishwara is the self-awareness on which he keeps his attention during all ups and downs and plateaus of his life. Ishwara is very much available to such a person at all moments.

Wittgenstein said...

Mouna,
'Upadesa Saram' you mention is the Sanskrit version of 'Upadesa Undiyar' (in original Tamil). This translation is by Bhagavan himself. Lakshmana Sarma translated 'Ulladu Narpadu' (from original Tamil) into Sanskrit.It is called 'Sri Ramana Hridayam'.

Wittgenstein said...

Just as a summary of my views on eka jiva vada, I thought of sharing these words.

There can’t be any standalone eka jiva vada. We are under the sway of nana jiva all the time, giving all our attention. Nana jiva is part and parcel of world. However, time to time, due to the spirit of the investigation [founded on eka jiva vada] in the form, ‘Who am I [for whom all these nana jivas appear]?, we turn our attention to ourselves. With more and more of this turning-in, the nana jivas start losing our attention steadily. Finally, both nana jivas, along with iswara, and their apparent substratum [eka jiva] will be consumed once for all in jnana [the ultimate substratum], as they form the triad world-soul-god [nana jiva-eka jiva-iswara]. Iswara is the self-awareness that we have now. By attending to the self-awareness, we are actually worshipping iswara. The triads always work together [there is no one element of the triad without the other]. And as long as they work, we will be experiencing ourselves as this body. If this is understood, in my opinion, most disputes will be resolved.

Mouna said...

Wittgenstein,
Thank you for the correction, you are absolutely right. (What was I thinking when I wrote that posting?)
But although I know why I got confused in the moment, the posting still stands, Vedanta scholars use Upadesa Saram as a vedantic text for instruction (along with Tattva Bodha as an introductory text) since Upadesa Saram lays down nicely, like the different chapters of the Gita, the process of vedantic understanding and practice from beginning to end.
But they (vedantins) also comment and use Sat-darshanam, although the Ganapati Muni version, not Lakshmana Sharma’s one, rarely mentioning that Bhagavan wrote those verses (UN and UU) first in tamil and then translated them in sanskrit, specially Upadesa Untiyar / Upadesa Saram (Ulladu Narpadu / Sri Ramana Hridayam-Revelation / Sat-Darshanam was translated both by Lakshmana Sharma with Bhagavan’s help but also by Ganapati Muni, the controversial version).

venkat said...

Hi, some of the traditional Vedantins go on to say that those disciples of Bhagavan, who go about saying "who am I" is his primary teaching have misunderstood him and / or that they are trying to create a cult around Bhagavan. They don't believe self-investigation can give you knowledge / jnana, only the shastras through a qualified teacher can do that. Consequently, they try to say that Bhagavan has been misunderstood by these cultists, who haven't listened to his full teaching. They seem to overlook the fact that Bhagavan himself wrote Nar Yar.

On eka jiva vada, there is acceptance of it from the most authoritative 'traditional' source. The 35th Sankaracharya of Sringeri said (in Exalting Elucidations, p.280) in almost similar terms to Bhagavan:

Q; What is creation?
A: Perception alone is creation. There is no creation other than perception. Perception of a thing is its origination.
Q: What about Isvara?
A: He too is part of your dream. In reality there is neither cause nor effect. One has bondage as long as one considers that one has bondage. He who feels that he is free is indeed free.
Q: Is the removal of the wrong idea that one has bondage the means to attain moksha
A: Yes. So far I was speaking with drsti-srsti vada in mind. This however is not suitable for many people because their minds are not pure enough to imbibe it. People accept that the dream state is unreal. However if told that the waking state is equally unreal they would feel disturbed. That is why the sastras do not speak much of the drsti-srsti vada.

Again, on p.305:
“The variations seen [in advaita philosophy] are in the description of the world, God and the individual self. The differing views serve to cater to the requirements of aspirants of differing competence and temperament. To a highly competent and advanced aspirant the eka-jiva-vada is appealing. Difficulty may arise if others are also taught in the same fashion. So for them nana-jiva-vada (the view that there are many jivas) is presented. Suresvaracarya has clarified, “By whatever method one gets knowledge of the inner Self, that means should be considered proper. Such methods are several”

Sivanarul said...

Wittgenstein,

Thank you so much for your very lucid, well-articulated and excellent comments on eka jiva. It is one of the best cohesive explanations I have ever read on it. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

I have some urgent work to catch up on, so my reply being written in a hurried manner, is not going to do justice to your excellent comments. But I do want to get some thoughts out now, do some reflection on what you wrote for a week or so, and then reply back with more questions/comments, if need be.

What I meant by Eka Jiva denying Ishvara, is Ishvara outside of oneself. Ishvara, within as Self-Awareness, is clearly accepted by all systems (Jnana, Bhakthi etc). Many like me depend on Ishvara outside of us more than the one who is within is. It is akin to inner guru and outer guru explained in Bhagavan’s literature. Ishvara as inner guru directs us to go to Ishvara as outer guru (as in temples, mantras, japa, meditation etc). Ishvara as outer guru then purifies the mind (via those practices) and sends us back to Ishvara that resides within us. This back and forth happens repeatedly, until the ego is dissolved or absorbed, wherein the distinction between inner and outer also dissolves and Ishvara is seen everywhere (experientially realizing the vedic statement, “Verily all this is Brahman” meaning “Verily all this is Ishvara” since both Brahman and Ishvara are the same in the Siddhanta Bhakthi literature denoted as Para Siva or simply as Siva). So Eka Jiva will only work for people who do not need the help and guidance of Ishvara external to themselves. I certainly need the help, guidance and support of Ishvara in external form. That is why I have discarded Eka Jiva for now and to be considered at a future time.

You raise a very valid and excellent question that why would one, who believes in duality or nana jiva vada, take up vichara in the first place? This is going to require some serious soul searching to answer and what I write below is not the proper answer to it. But I do want to get some thoughts out. Even a beginning student, once he/she has read some basic spiritual literature and spent some time reflecting on it, becomes aware of the fact that the mind/ego does not like quieting down. More importantly it does not like the focus turned on itself. It comes up with all kinds of reasons why it needs to go outside. The student becomes really curious, why is it so? Why does the mind/ego does not like attention turned on itself? Vichara (I like to think of it as Meditation on ‘I’) is then a way to see what happens if one increases the time/frequency of turning attention within. I use Vichara, Meditation, Japa, Mantra all in the same vein in that they are exercises in trying to see what would happen if the mind quietens down.

I really like your rationale for packing Vichara with Eka Jiva, considering the world as a dream etc. It is a nice full package. But, for now, I am taking it as a la carte. I will reply more on this in a week or so, mostly for the benefit of students like me who have been deeply influenced by Bhakthi literature and Sadhanas.
Just saw Venkat’s reply before posting this, and thought his last comment was very appropriate and am including it “Suresvaracarya has clarified, “By whatever method one gets knowledge of the inner Self, that means should be considered proper. Such methods are several”.

venkat said...

Just to add, I would suggest the Mandukya-karika, arguably the most significant upanishad, and which articulates ajata vada, also hints at eka jiva vada. In 2.16 it says:

"First of all is imagined the Jiva (the embodied being) and then are imagined the various entities, objective and subjective, that are perceived."

For my part, I think it is impossible to prove whether my perception of the world and other jivas, is actually seen from another perspective, from another point in space by another jiva. I only have the evidence of what appears before this mind, none other. And if this jiva-mind dissolves too, then what else is left.

So even if you don't take eka jiva vada literally, I think it can be appreciated that it is pointing to the fact that you alone exist. Now find out what that 'you' is. And don't be distracted by other things.

Bob - P said...

Thank you very much Wittgenstein that was extremely helpful to read.
In appreciation.
Bob

Sivanarul said...

Krishna,

Thanks for your latest reply. It is definitely conversational in tone and thanks for keeping it that way.

I think the disconnect may be due to your equating that any debate or discussion for/against Bhagavan’s writings (or any other writings for that matter) means not keeping things simple and that we are not at peace. Debates and discussions have their place and time in spiritual unfoldment and is part of spiritual growth. For aspirants like me who are not yet mature, they provide a way to keep our focus on spirituality as much as we can (and turning our way from materialism).

Many people do not realize how much materialism pervades their life. You yourself wrote in an earlier reply, that you spend your weekends watching t.v. and movies. If you truly believe in Eka Jiva and follow 100% Bhagavan’s teachings, how do you reconcile that with watching movies or t.v. shows? (We all can agree that movies have no basis in reality). I am not trying to put your behavior down. I myself have several behaviors that I am working on eradicating and may never succeed in eradicating. So please don’t take it personal. I say that simply to highlight that people can deceive themselves that they are adhering to something 100%, when upon introspection it will be clear that it is not true. To me, discussing about Eka Jiva (for or against) is better than watching t.v., since the discussion is much closer to reality whereas t.v. definitely falls on the edge of the unreality spectrum.

Continued in next comment:

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment:

“Let me tell you something -- without agreeing 100% with what your Guru has written, even though we love the Guru, the inner conflict will be there as residual impression and that will anytime bounce back. Grace will not be able to operate as efficiently as possible in such a scenario.”

The above quote of yours requires an elaborate reply and I may not find time to do it in the near future. At some point I want to address this insistence that when it comes to Bhagavan’s teachings it is either 100% or it is not of much use. The big assumption here is that aspirants come with a clean slate to Bhagavan’s teachings, they absorb Bhagavan’s teachings and hence they should follow 100%. This may be true for a few aspirants. But most are exposed to various spiritual traditions and have various kinds of religious and spiritual upbringing and they need to reconcile the teaching to their own level of maturity and capacity.

Second the statement tends to assume that unless one agrees 100% with Bhagavan’s teaching, it will produce inner conflict and that will somehow impede the flow of grace. I can say honestly that I don’t have any inner conflict whatsoever in not accepting eka jiva. Grace will operate to the extent Ishvara wants it to operate, no more and no less.

Bhagavan never in his lifetime asked anyone to follow 100% of his teachings. For that matter, he did not ask anyone to follow anything at all, unless they asked him something. At that point, he told them his highest teachings. If they couldn’t agree with it, he went down to the level to what they could agree and prescribed it.

Even in Bhagavan’s lifetime, a significant number of devotees assumed they know better than Bhagavan and started advising even him. This is typical behavior of some disciples. First they go to the guru to solve their problem. They spend some time with the guru, absorb some or all of his teachings (intellectually). They turn around, look at other devotees who are not at their absorption level and proclaim to those devotees that their progress will somehow impede unless they follow it exactly as he/she is following.

What is lost in such statement is that the guru himself did not require that all of his devotees follow his teachings in the exact same manner. More importantly, it is a failure to recognize that Bhagavan as Ishvara resides in the heart cavity of each and every devotee and sentient being and directs that devotee in accordance to the maturity and capacity of that devotee. Fellow devotee’s lives outside the body/mind/intellect complex of the devotee they are proclaiming to and have no access to information that Bhagavan as Ishvara in the heart cavity has.

It would be best to let Bhagavan as Ishvara in the heart cavity do his job on each and every devotee. If fellow devotees come together in that spirit and trust Bhagavan in that manner, it may be the best puja one can do for Bhagavan.

Ramesh said...

All authors here agree on one point: "to destroy" the ego (ahanthai uru azithal)

Can effort in any form destory the ego? Can we buy Lord (Sensient) with effort (insensient)?

Refer Sri Muruganar's statement: "I never did any Sadhana.... "

Also refer "Sadhak Sanjivani" by Swami Ramsukh Das ji English detailed commentary on Bhagvad Gita

Aconcagua said...

Ramesh,
the word "destroy" is also equivalent with abate, diminish, lessen, let up, quieten, subside, but is further synonymous with abolish, annihilate, crush, demolish, eradicate,extinguish,extirpate, overturn, overwhelm, raze, ruin, shatter, slay, smash, subdue, wipe out, wreck.

Sivanarul said...

In regards to Ramesh’s statement:

“Can we buy Lord (Sensient) with effort (insensient)?”

The intent of effort is not to buy the Lord. Effort quietens the senses and mind and prepares the jiva to be offered to the Lord for absorption.

But effort can indeed buy the Lord. There are plenty of examples in the spiritual literature to support that notion. Bhagavan has himself said that he is afraid of two people, in that he cannot refuse anything they ask (Mudaliyar Patti and someone else I can’t remember now). If you take effort to mean as love for the lord, then Mudaliyar Patti had effectively bought Bhagavan through her love and service to him.

With regards to the below statement:

“Refer Sri Muruganar's statement: "I never did any Sadhana.... "”

Being around Bhagavan is the highest Sadhana one can do. What else would he have to do? For those of us who do not have the physical presence of a Jnani, Sadhana is the only way out.

Sivanarul said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

Once could say Bhagavan had effectively bought Arunachala through his intense love right from the time he first heard the word Arunachala till his last breath where he heard the chanting of Arunachala Siva. One could also postulate that just like Bhagavan was afraid of the two devotees, Arunachala itself was afraid of Bhagavan because Arunachala cannot refuse anything that Bhagavan asks.

Bhagavan asked Arunachala to cure both his mother’s bodily ill (typhoid) and worldy ill of Samsara. Arunachala, of course could not refuse and granted both. While Bhagavan’s mother spiritually matured significantly under the guidance of Bhagavan, it was not enough for liberation and the last day had come. But Arunachala who cannot refuse Bhagavan, made mother live several lifetimes during the 12 hours and finished the granting of liberation. Bhagavan himself has said that mother lived several lifetimes during those 12 hours.

The point here, especially for people for whom Bhakthi and Surrender are the main Sadhana, to understand that love for the lord (effort is not quite the right word) is the most powerful tool we have. It is so powerful that the Lord cannot refuse granting us liberation, provided our love is of the highest caliber. Our effort is then to focus on attaining the highest love for the lord through Bhakthi, Jnana and Service to Ishvara.

Sankarraman said...

Regarding the Advaitn list, I wish to point out that they are filled to the brim with Sastra Vasanas, repeatedly discussing such stereotyped and monotone concepts like Avidya, Maya, the duality of Atman-Brahman, etc, all their aim being no more than polishing and honing the intellect, such people being involved only in what Bhaghavan calls ' Kosa-Vichar,' and not the exalted ' atma- vichara,' taught by Bhaghavan. So let us not be entrapped in such dangerous detours.

Mouna said...

Sanakarraman, namaste

Let's not throw out the baby with the bath waters, everything has a place... and a time.
I have been part of the advaitin list for some years in the past and even get to know (in person), some of the people involved. In my case, it helped me a lot to understand the shastras and many of the advaitic texts, that further on, helped me understand Bhagavan's teachings. Many of the people involved are true sadhakas, it is just that their way and/or tools of practice runs by digging deep into the manana side of the sadhana process.
What we don't know is what level of nididhyasana hides behind all those words, so we really can't judge (or can't generalize), in this case, a book by its cover.
Paths are many and the way of Ishwara is hidden to our veiled eyes, so the best we can do is attend to our own business and try to be attentive to our own 'kosha-vichara' following the path and sadhana that best suit our understanding.
In the end "we" are in the same boat as long as the dream goes on.

Yours in Bhagavan,
Mouna