Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Is there more than one way in which we can investigate and know ourself?

A friend recently sent me an email in which he asked:
I had mentioned to you that in my view there appear to be three different approaches to self-investigation, i) self-enquiry, which involves asking who am I and going to the root of the I thought, ii) meditating on I am, excluding the arising of any thought, and concentrating on I am, and iii) trying to notice the gap between two thoughts, expanding the gap, and being without any thought, summa iru. You had replied that these are not three different approaches but constitute only one approach. Could you please elaborate your comment?
This article is adapted from the reply that I wrote to him.
  1. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 16: ātma-vicāra is only the practice of keeping one’s attention on oneself
  2. Our aim should be to destroy the illusion that we are this ego
  3. Upadēśa Undiyār verses 24 and 25: experiencing ourself without adjuncts is experiencing what we actually are
  4. To destroy our ego we must try to be attentively self-aware
  5. Being attentively self-aware is what is called vṛtti-jñāna
  6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: our ego rises and endures by attending to other things, so it will die only by attending to itself
  7. We can investigate and know what we actually are only by trying to be self-attentive
  8. Self-enquiry means investigating who am I, not merely asking who am I
  9. Since we alone are the source of our ego, investigating our source means investigating what we actually are
  10. Investigation entails meditation, but not every meditation entails investigation
  11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: our ego and its thoughts are mutually dependent
  12. Being attentively self-aware entails just being without any thought
  13. All we need to focus on is ourself, because we are thereby doing everything that Bhagavan instructed us to do
1. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 16: ātma-vicāra is only the practice of keeping one’s attention on oneself

When you say ‘there appear to be three different approaches to self-investigation’, what exactly do you mean by ‘approaches’? If you mean three different ways of practising self-investigation, that would be incorrect, because there is only one practice that can be called ātma-vicāra or ‘self-investigation’ in the sense in which Bhagavan used this term. As he said in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
[...] சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்; [...]

[...] sadā-kālam-um maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṟku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar; [...]

[…] The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] keeping the mind always in [or on] ātmā [oneself]; […]
‘மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பது’ (maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadu) literally means ‘putting [placing, keeping or fixing] the mind in [or on] oneself’, so since in many languages, including both Tamil and English, putting or keeping one’s mind on something (for which in Tamil and some other languages the locative case is used in place of the English preposition ‘on’) is an idiomatic way of saying attending to that thing, what Bhagavan clearly implies in this sentence is that the term ātma-vicāra or ‘self-investigation’ means only the simple practice of keeping our attention fixed firmly on ourself. Therefore the only way to practise self-investigation is to try to be self-attentive as much as possible.

However, if what you mean by ‘three different approaches to self-investigation’ is three different angles from which one can come to this one practice, in the sense of three different ways in which one can conceptualise or describe it, then yes, there are a variety of different ‘approaches’ to it or ways in which it can be conceptualised and described. However, all the different angles from which one can approach it and ways in which it can be described are approaches to or descriptions of only one practice, namely the practice of simple self-attentiveness or ‘keeping [one’s] mind always on oneself’.

2. Our aim should be to destroy the illusion that we are this ego

Therefore, though Bhagavan made it clear that there is only one correct way to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), he described this one practice in various different ways because there is more than one way in which it can be conceptualised. However, since this practice is not objective but purely subjective, in the sense that it entails being aware of nothing other than ourself alone, it is a state beyond thought and hence beyond the power of words to describe it, so he often said that no words can describe it adequately. Therefore whatever descriptions he gave of it were only clues or pointers, so it is up to each one of us to understand what his words were pointing at or indicating.

In order to understand his descriptions of this practice correctly, we need to consider them in the context of his entire core teachings. As he often explained, we are always self-aware, but in waking and dream we are aware not only of ourself but also of other things, and we become aware of other things only when we rise as an ego. Rising as an ego means becoming aware of ourself as something other than what we actually are, particularly a body, so he often said that what is called ‘ego’ is nothing other than the illusory awareness or experience ‘I am this body’.

Whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself, whether in waking or in dream, we are aware of ourself as a body, so since awareness of anything other than ourself is a thought or mental fabrication, the root of all thoughts is only this primal thought ‘I am this body’, which Bhagavan often referred to as the thought called ‘I’, which is our ego. Since this ego is a wrong knowledge or illusory experience of ourself, we can destroy it only by experiencing ourself as we actually are. Therefore the sole aim of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is to experience ourself as we actually are and thereby to destroy our ego, the illusory experience ‘I am this body’.

But how can we experience ourself as we actually are? We are always aware of ourself, so experiencing ourself as we actually are obviously does not entail becoming aware of anything that we are not already aware of. As Bhagavan often used to say, self-knowledge (ātma-jñāna) must be what we already experience, because if it were something that we do not experience now but will experience only at some point in the future, it would not be permanent, since whatever appears or comes will sooner or later disappear or go. Therefore, if ātma-jñāna is the eternal reality, it must exist and shine (that is, it must be experienced by us) even now.

What is called ātma-jñāna is therefore simply our ever-present self-awareness, so what is sometimes described as the attainment of ātma-jñāna is not actually an attainment of anything new but is only the removal of our seeming wrong knowledge or illusory experience of ourself as this ego. How then to remove or destroy this wrong knowledge of ourself?

3. Upadēśa Undiyār verses 24 and 25: experiencing ourself without adjuncts is experiencing what we actually are

This wrong knowledge of ourself, which is our ego or thought called ‘I’, is not a non-awareness of ourself, because we can never cease to be aware of ourself, since self-awareness (ātma-jñāna) is our very nature — what we actually are. It is just an awareness of ourself as something that is not actually ourself, namely a body, so it is a confused mixture of our real self-awareness and an illusory awareness of a body and other things. Therefore in order to remove or destroy our ego or wrong knowledge of ourself we need to separate our essential self-awareness from our non-essential awareness of a body and other things in order to experience our pure self-awareness alone, in complete isolation from even the slightest awareness of anything else.

Since we are always self-aware, self-awareness as such is not sufficient to destroy our ego. Indeed our ego could not rise or seem to exist if we were not self-aware, because it is a mixture of our real self-awareness and awareness of extraneous adjuncts such as a body. This awareness of extraneous adjuncts is what Bhagavan refers to as உபாதி உணர்வு (upādhi-uṇarvu) in verse 24 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இருக்கு மியற்கையா லீசசீ வர்க
ளொருபொரு ளேயாவ ருந்தீபற
      வுபாதி யுணர்வேவே றுந்தீபற.

irukku miyaṟkaiyā līśajī varga
ḷoruporu ḷēyāva rundīpaṟa
      vupādhi yuṇarvēvē ṟundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: இருக்கும் இயற்கையால் ஈச சீவர்கள் ஒரு பொருளே ஆவர். உபாதி உணர்வே வேறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): irukkum iyaṟkaiyāl īśa jīvargaḷ oru poruḷē āvar. upādhi-uṇarvē vēṟu.

English translation: By [their] existing nature, God and souls are only one substance. Only [their] awareness of adjuncts is different.
In this context īśa or ‘God’ means brahman, which is what we really are, whereas jīva or ‘soul’ means our ego, which is what we seem to be. Since brahman alone actually exists and since it is indivisible, in its view there is no awareness of adjuncts, whereas in the view of ourself as this ego there is awareness of adjuncts, so in the next verse Bhagavan says:
தன்னை யுபாதிவிட் டோர்வது தானீசன்
றன்னை யுணர்வதா முந்தீபற
      தானா யொளிர்வதா லுந்தீபற.

taṉṉai yupādhiviṭ ṭōrvadu tāṉīśaṉ
ḏṟaṉṉai yuṇarvadā mundīpaṟa
      tāṉā yoḷirvadā lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம், தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām, tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl.

அன்வயம்: தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால், தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl, taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām.

English translation: Knowing [or experiencing] oneself leaving aside adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [he] shines as oneself.
‘தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது’ (taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu) literally means ‘Knowing oneself leaving aside adjuncts’, which implies being aware of ourself without being aware of anything else whatsoever. However, in order to destroy our ego, merely being aware of ourself alone is not sufficient, because though we are aware of ourself alone in sleep our ego is not thereby destroyed, so what Bhagavan means here by ‘knowing oneself leaving aside adjuncts’ is more than just being aware of ourself alone as we are in sleep.

4. To destroy our ego we must try to be attentively self-aware

As I mentioned earlier, self-awareness as such is not sufficient to destroy our ego, because we are always aware of ourself. To illustrate this, Bhagavan sometimes used to give the analogy of sunlight, the mere presence of which is not sufficient to burn a pile of cotton, but which will burn the cotton if it is focused by a magnifying lens into a sharp and intense point on it. Just as sunlight needs to be intensely focused in order to burn cotton, our ever-present self-awareness needs to be intensely focused in order to consume our ego.

How can we focus our ever-present self-awareness? Only by means of our power of attention or attentiveness. That is, though we are always self-aware, we are generally not attentively self-aware, because we are more interested in being aware of other things than we are in being aware of ourself alone, so our attention is usually directed away from ourself towards other things. Therefore in order to destroy our ego we must try to be attentively self-aware. That is, we must try to focus our entire attention on ourself alone.

Attention or attentiveness is a very powerful weapon, because it is also the only means by which we can know or experience anything (and hence it is the means by which we create the illusory appearance of this entire universe). What attention essentially is is our ability as this ego to select from a range of options what we want to be aware of at each moment, so it is a reflection or limited form of our cit-śakti (our power of awareness or consciousness), which is the supreme power of our real self.

When we remain as we really are, we are aware only of ourself (as we are in sleep), because there is actually nothing other than ourself that we could be aware of, but as soon as we rise as this ego, we become aware of many things other than ourself, so we are then free (at least to a limited extent) to choose which of those many things we want to be principally aware of at each moment. This ability to choose or select what we focus our awareness on is called attention.

Attention is therefore a function of our ego or mind and not of our actual self (ātma-svarūpa), because in the view of our actual self there is only one thing that we could ever be aware of, namely ourself. This is why we cannot be attentively self-aware when we are asleep, because in sleep our ego does not exist, and without our ego there is no attention, because nothing then exists except our pure self-awareness.

Though we are self-aware in waking and dream, as we are in sleep, and though we have the option and ability to be attentively self-aware, because our ego and its power of attention are then functioning, we are generally not attentively self-aware, because we are more interested in being aware of other things than we are in being aware of ourself alone, as we are in sleep. When Bhagavan advises us to try to be asleep while we are awake or dreaming, what he means is that we should try to be aware of ourself alone, and the only way in which we can be aware of ourself alone in waking or dream is by trying to be attentively self-aware. That is, instead of attending to and thereby being aware of anything else, we should try to attend to and thereby be aware of ourself alone, because only by being attentively aware of ourself alone (that is, only by focusing our entire awareness only on ourself) can we destroy the illusion that we are this ego, whose nature is to be always aware of something other than ourself.

5. Being attentively self-aware is what is called vṛtti-jñāna

As I explained in Our ego can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna (self-attentiveness) (the thirteenth section of my previous article, Sleep is our natural state of pure self-awareness), in some ancients texts self-awareness is referred to as jñāna (in the sense of ātma-jñāna or svarūpa-jñāna) whereas the state in which it is intensely focused is called vṛtti-jñāna, and hence in such texts it is said that jñāna alone is not sufficient to destroy our ego, because it can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna. In this context vṛtti-jñāna means ātma-vṛtti or self-attentiveness, which is the state in which our self-awareness is keenly focused by means of vigilant attentiveness.

The term vṛtti cannot be accurately translated into English, because there is no single term in English that conveys the same range of meanings, but in most cases in a spiritual context it means any mental activity or function and can therefore usually be translated as ‘thought’. In this particular context, however, it means attentiveness, because attentiveness is a function of our ego or mind and it is only by directing its attention away from itself that our ego forms or produces thoughts.

Self-attentiveness is sometimes described using terms such as svarūpa-dhyāna or ātma-cintanā, which are both terms that Bhagavan used in Nāṉ Yār? (in the tenth and thirteenth paragraphs respectively) and which mean meditating on or thinking of oneself, because we can meditate on or think of ourself only by directing our attention back towards ourself. Therefore just as svarūpa-dhyāna or ātma-cintanā both mean self-attentiveness, ātma-vṛtti also means self-attentiveness, and vṛtti-jñāna means attentive self-awareness (because in this context jñāna mean self-awareness). Therefore when it is said that our ego can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna or ātma-vṛtti, what is meant it that it can be destroyed only by our being attentively self-aware.

6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: our ego rises and endures by attending to other things, so it will die only by attending to itself

One of the most fundamental and important principles of Bhagavan’s teachings is that by attending to anything other than ourself we are nourishing and sustaining our ego, whereas by attending only to ourself we will dissolve it, so the teaching in ancient texts that our ego can be destroyed only by vṛtti-jñāna is in perfect accord with this principle taught by Bhagavan, which he expresses particularly clearly and beautifully in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

uruppaṯṟi yuṇḍā muruppaṯṟi niṟku
muruppaṯṟi yuṇḍumiha vōṅgu — muruviṭ
ṭuruppaṯṟun tēḍiṉā lōṭṭam piḍikku
muruvaṯṟa pēyahandai yōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும், உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை. ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum, uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai. ōr.

அன்வயம்: உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும். ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum. ōr.

English translation: Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows [spreads, expands, increases, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight. Investigate [or know thus].
Since in this verse Bhagavan describes our ego as an உருவற்ற பேய் (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy) or ‘formless phantom’, what he implies by the term ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi) or ‘grasping form’ is our ego grasping anything other than itself, and since our ego can ‘grasp’ anything only by attending to and thereby being aware of it, ‘grasping form’ means attending to anything other than ourself. Therefore, since this ego can rise and stand only by attending to other things, if it tries to attend to itself alone it will subside and disappear, which is what he implies here by saying ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’. This is why Bhagavan often said that we can destroy our ego only by means of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), by which term he means observing ourself or being self-attentive.

7. We can investigate and know what we actually are only by trying to be self-attentive

The purpose of any investigation is to gain knowledge about whatever is being investigated, and any investigation entails observation, because if we do not observe something we cannot obtain direct experiential knowledge of it. The basic tool that we must use to observe or investigate anything is our attention. To observe physical phenomena, we also need to use other instruments, such as one or more of our five senses, and in some cases we may also need to use further instruments such as a microscope or telescope, but whatever other instruments we may need to use to observe anything, we cannot use such instruments without using our most fundamental instrument, namely our power of attention.

In the case of trying to know ourself, we cannot use any instrument other than our attention to observe or investigate ourself, so self-investigation must entail being self-attentive. Unless we try to be attentively self-aware, we will not be able to know or experience ourself as we actually are, which is the aim and purpose of self-investigation.

Therefore if we carefully consider Bhagavan’s core teachings and the fundamental principles around which they are formed, as we have been doing above, it should be clear to us (1) that all our problems and shortcomings are caused only by our experiencing ourself as this ego, which is not what we actually are but merely what we seem to be; (2) that we can destroy this illusory ego only by experiencing ourself as we actually are; and (3) that we can experience ourself as we actually are and thereby destroy this ego only trying to be self-attentive or attentively self-aware. If we have clearly understood these fundamental principles taught by Bhagavan, it should be obvious to us that what he means by the term ātma-vicāra or ‘self-investigation’ is only trying to be vigilantly and steadfastly self-attentive — that is, attentively aware of ourself alone.

Obviously we cannot investigate ourself without attending to ourself, and if we attend to anything else we are not investigating ourself but only whatever other thing we are attending to. Therefore self-investigation must entail attending only to ourself and to nothing else whatsoever. If we have understood all this clearly and coherently, it will be obvious to us that there cannot be more than one way in which we can investigate ourself, and that that one way is simply to try to be self-attentive as much as possible.

Because our awareness of ourself is now mixed and confused with awareness of extraneous adjuncts and other things, when we begin to practise self-investigation most of us cannot immediately succeed in separating and experiencing our pure self-awareness alone, in complete isolation (kaivalya) from even the slightest awareness of anything else whatsoever, but this is what we should aim to experience whenever we investigate ourself. Therefore though our self-attentiveness is not yet perfect, being still mixed to a greater or lesser extent with awareness of other things, the practice of self-investigation entails nothing other than trying to be as perfectly self-attentive as possible.

Therefore, though Bhagavan described the practice of self-investigation in various different ways, each of his descriptions of it is just another way of describing this one practice — the practice of trying to be keenly self-attentive. Hence we should consider each of his descriptions of it to be another clue that he has given us in order to help us to cling to being attentively self-aware or to regain our self-attentiveness whenever we find that our attention has been distracted away towards anything else.

Therefore, if understood correctly, what you described in your email as ‘three different approaches to self-investigation’ are not actually different practices but only different descriptions of the same one practice of trying to be attentively self-aware. To make this clear, let us consider each of the three descriptions you gave.

8. Self-enquiry means investigating who am I, not merely asking who am I

The first description you gave was ‘self-enquiry, which involves asking who am I and going to the root of the I thought’. The first point to clarify here is that the practice that Bhagavan advised was not merely to ask who am I but was only to investigate who am I, and there is obviously a big difference between investigating who we are and asking ourself who we are. We cannot experience what we actually are merely by asking ourself the question ‘who am I?’ but only by investigating ourself experientially.

We can understand this with the help of a simple analogy. Suppose Bhagavan had advised us to investigate what is written in a particular book. We obviously cannot find out what is written in it merely by asking ourself ‘what is written in this book?’ No matter how many times we may ask ourself this question, we cannot know what is written in it unless we open it to see what is written there. Likewise, no matter how many times we may ask ourself the question ‘who am I?’, we cannot know what we are unless we look carefully at ourself to see or experience what we actually are. Looking carefully at ourself is what is called self-investigation or investigating who am I.

To use another analogy, suppose you notice some unidentified object and you want to know what it is. Merely asking yourself ‘what is it?’ will not help you to know what it is. Only if you go closer to it and look at it very carefully will you be able to find out what it is. For example, if the unidentified object is something that looks like a snake but is actually only a rope, you will be able to see what it actually is only by carefully observing or inspecting it. Likewise, what we now seem to be is a finite ego, but we will be able to see what we actually are only by carefully observing or inspecting ourself, and such observation or inspection is what is called investigating who am I.

9. Since we alone are the source of our ego, investigating our source means investigating what we actually are

The second part of your first description is ‘going to the root of the I thought’, but this again is not quite how Bhagavan described this practice. The ‘I thought’ or thought called ‘I’ is our ego, which is the root of all our other thoughts, so what we need to know is not some other root of this root, but only the source from which this root has sprouted. The source from which we sprouted or rose as this ego is obviously just ourself, because other things come into existence only when we rise as this ego (as Bhagavan taught us, for example, in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam), so there is nothing other than ourself from which our ego could have arisen.

Therefore when Bhagavan advised us to investigate, seek or look for the source or place from which our ego or thought called ‘I’ has arisen, what he meant is that we should try to experience or be aware of what we actually are. Hence the only means by which we can go to or find the source of our ego is by carefully observing ourself in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are. Therefore, as I explained in one of my earlier articles, There is no difference between investigating ‘who am I’ and investigating ‘whence am I’, investigating from where this ego has arisen is just an alternative way of describing the practice of self-investigation or investigating what we actually are.

10. Investigation entails meditation, but not every meditation entails investigation

The second description that you gave of this practice of self-investigation was ‘meditating on I am, excluding the arising of any thought, and concentrating on I am’. Since ‘I’ is a pronoun that refers only to ourself, and since ‘am’ is a verb that expresses the existence of ourself, ‘meditating on I am’ obviously means meditating on ourself, which entails directing our attention only towards ourself and not towards any other thing. Therefore ‘meditating on I am’ is obviously just another way of describing the simple practice of self-attentiveness or being attentively self-aware.

Since no thought can arise unless we attend to it, thoughts arise only when we allow our attention to go away from ourself, so the only effective way to exclude the arising of any thought is to direct all our attention back towards ourself alone. Therefore ‘meditating on I am’ or ‘concentrating on I am’ necessarily entails ‘excluding the arising of any thought’, so this second description of yours (or ‘approach’, as you call it) is only an alternative description of the practice of being exclusively self-attentive.

Though Bhagavan sometimes described this practice of self-investigation as ‘meditating on oneself’ or ‘meditating on I (or I am)’, using terms such as svarūpa-dhyāna or ātma-cintanā (as he did, for example, in the tenth and thirteenth paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?), he described it more often as an investigation than as a meditation, and he had a good reason for doing so, because we cannot investigate anything without meditating on it (in the sense of observing or attending to it), but we can meditate on something without investigating it, so every investigation entails meditation, but not every meditation entails investigation.

For example, if we meditate on a name or form of God, we are not investigating it, because investigation is meditation done with a particular purpose or intention, namely the intention to find out, discover or know more about whatever we are meditating upon. If we meditate on a name or form of God, our purpose or intention would probably be to express our love for him, or it could be in the hope that we will thereby gain some benefit from him, and if we meditate on our breathing or on some particular point in our body, our intention may be to develop our power of concentration, to control our thoughts or whatever, so such meditation is not an investigation or attempt to gain knowledge about the object on which we are meditating.

When we investigate ourself, on the other hand, we are meditating on ourself in order to know what we actually are. Therefore the reason why Bhagavan emphasised that this practice is an investigation is that we should not consider it to be merely an exercise in concentration or an attempt to ward off all other thoughts, because our sole aim and purpose should be to experience ourself as we actually are.

Therefore though self-investigation does entail meditating on ourself, it is quite unlike most other practices that are called meditation, because when we turn our attention back towards ourself we are attempting directly to experience what we actually are. This is why Bhagavan described this practice of meditating on ‘I’ or ‘I am’ as investigating who am I.

11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: our ego and its thoughts are mutually dependent

The final description you gave of this practice was ‘trying to notice the gap between two thoughts, expanding the gap, and being without any thought, summa iru’. What exactly is ‘the gap between two thoughts’, and what exists in that gap? Sleep is a good example of this gap, so what we experience in any gap between two thoughts is exactly what we experience in sleep, namely ourself alone, and neither any more nor any less than that. Therefore ‘trying to notice the gap between two thoughts’ means trying to experience ourself in waking or dream as we experience ourself in sleep.

Thinking is a process of forming and simultaneously experiencing thoughts, but though we speak of forming and experiencing thoughts as if they were two separate parts of this process, they are actually one and the same, because we form thoughts only by experiencing or being aware of them. What forms and experiences thoughts is only ourself as this ego, so no thought can arise without this ego.

However, as Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, this ego can rise and endure only by ‘grasping form’, which means by forming and experiencing thoughts, so just as no thought can arise or stand without this ego, this ego cannot arise or stand without any other thoughts. This ego and its thoughts are therefore mutually dependent, as indicated by him in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
This ego itself is just a thought, because it can rise and stand only by grasping the form of a body as itself, and any body that it grasps as itself is just a thought that it forms and experiences within itself. Therefore, to emphasise that this ego is only a thought, Bhagavan often referred to it as the thought called ‘I’ or ‘I am this body’, and because it is the thought that forms and experiences all other thoughts, he said that it is the root of all thoughts.

Therefore ‘the gap between two thoughts’ is not just a gap between any two consecutive other thoughts, but also a gap between two consecutive risings of this ego. In this gap no thought — neither our ego nor any other thought — can exist, so what exists and is experienced in any such gap is only ourself, whose nature is pure self-awareness. Therefore ‘trying to notice the gap between two thoughts’ means trying to be aware only of ourself, and ‘expanding the gap’ means trying to cling to our pure self-awareness so firmly that we do not become aware of anything else. Hence this final description that you give is yet another description of exactly the same practice, namely trying to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

12. Being attentively self-aware entails just being without any thought

In the final part of this final description you say ‘being without any thought, summa iru’, which amounts to the same thing, because if we are attentively aware of ourself alone, no other thought can arise (since thoughts can arise only if we attend to them and are thereby aware of them), and because being attentively aware of ourself alone is not an action or ‘doing’ of any sort but only our natural state of just being (summā iruppadu). Attending to anything other than ourself is an action or karma, because it entails a movement of our mind or attention away from ourself towards that other thing, whereas being attentively aware of ourself alone is not an action, because it does not entail any movement of our mind or attention away from ourself. Therefore what is called ‘just being’ (summā iruppadu) is only the state in which our mind or ego remains merged in ourself, as Bhagavan says in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
சும்மா விருப்பதாவது மனத்தை ஆன்மசொரூபத்தில் லயிக்கச் செய்வதே.

summā-v-iruppadāvadu maṉattai āṉma-sorūpattil layikka-c ceyvadē.

What ‘just being’ (summā-v-iruppadu) is is only making the mind dissolve in ātma-svarūpa [our own actual self].
However, when this state of ‘just being’ or being attentively self-aware is described as ‘being without any thought’, we should not mistake ‘being without any thought’ to be our aim, because even in sleep we are without any thought but our ego is not thereby destroyed. Being aware of ourself alone is being without any thought, as we are in sleep, but (as I explain in several of my recent articles, such as Why is it necessary to be attentively self-aware, rather than just not aware of anything else? and Sleep is our natural state of pure self-awareness) in order to destroy our ego we must not only be aware of ourself alone but must be attentively aware of ourself alone. As I explain above (in section 5), being attentively self-aware is what is called vṛtti-jñāna, and as Bhagavan often explained, it is the only means by which our ego can be destroyed.

Therefore though Bhagavan explained the practice of self-investigation in a variety of different ways, what he was actually describing in each of these ways was only this one practice of trying to be attentively aware of ourself alone, because there is no other means by which our illusion that we are this ego can be dissolved and annihilated.

13. All we need to focus on is ourself, because we are thereby doing everything that Bhagavan instructed us to do

After I wrote the above reply to my friend, he replied saying, ‘There are so many explanations or interpretations of Bhagavan’s teaching that one gets confused’, and he explained that because of the confusing explanations he has read in various books and articles he is never sure what he should focus on when he sits down to practise self-enquiry: whether on investigating who am I, meditating on ‘I am’, pushing aside thoughts as they arise, trying to be still, without any thought, or focusing on who is the thinker of the thoughts as they arise. I therefore replied:

All you need to focus on is yourself, who are what is aware of everything else, and who is the only thing you are aware of in each one of your three states (waking, dream and sleep). If you focus on or become aware of anything you are not aware of in sleep, that is something other than yourself, so you should then try to turn you attention back towards yourself, who are aware of it.

This is what Bhagavan clearly implied in the sentence from the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? that I quoted at the beginning of my previous reply:
சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்.

sadā-kālam-um maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṟku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar.

The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] keeping the mind [one’s attention] always on oneself.
This is such a clear and simple instruction, and it tells us all that we need to know in order to practice ātma-vicāra: just try to fix your mind or attention on yourself.

Everything else that Bhagavan said about this practice is just clues to help us keep our attention on ourself. For example, if you try to focus all your attention only on yourself, that is the correct way to do everything else that you mentioned, namely to investigate who am I, to meditate on ‘I am’, to push aside thoughts as they arise, to be still, without any thought, and to focus on who is the thinker.

Other thoughts can rise only if we allow our attention to slip away from ourself, so as long as our attention is focused only on ourself, no other thoughts can rise. Therefore if we become aware of any other thought (that is, anything other than ourself), that means that our attention has slipped away from ourself, so we should draw it back to ourself, thereby ending (or ‘pushing aside’) whatever other thoughts had arisen.

Moreover, since our mind is active only when we are attending to other thoughts, we can truly be still (or just be, summā iru) only if we attend to ourself alone. Thus whatever Bhagavan instructed us to do can be done properly only by our attending to ourself alone, so please do not be misled by anyone who advises us to do anything other than just trying to be self-attentive.

278 comments:

1 – 200 of 278   Newer›   Newest»
Vain struggle said...

Michael,
is it completely wrong to ask whether it might be an intention of the alone actually existing and indivisible brahman that seemingly 8 billion egos are always aware of themselves but do not leave aside extraneous adjuncts ?
What purpose could have their evident destiny to be not(never) able to reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists and to realise the pure, undifferentiated Being of the Self or the Absolute.

Guanako said...

Michael,
how can one who is more interested in being aware of other things than in being aware of himself/herself alone have the power of attention or attentiveness ?
How can such one whose attention is usually directed away from himself/herself towards other things try to focus his/her entire attention on himself/herself alone ?

Michael James said...

Vain struggle, there is only one truly useful question that we can ask about this ego, namely whether it actually exists, and we can ascertain the answer to this question only by investigating ourself, who now seem to be this ego. Any other question that we may ask about it would be based on the assumption that it actually exists, so it would be a red herring and would distract us away from investigating ourself.

For example, you ask what is the purpose of the ego and its seeming inability (which is not actually an inability but only an unwillingness) to know that it does not really exist, but how can it have any purpose if it does not really exist? Looking for a purpose for it reinforces our illusion that it exists, so we should avoid all such futile enquires and should instead just try to investigate whether it is what we actually are, as it now seems to be.

According to Bhagavan, if we investigate what we actually are (who am I), we will eventually experience ourself as the one infinite and indivisible space of pure self-awareness, other than which nothing exists, so the illusion that we are this finite ego will thereby be dissolved. Experiencing ourself as this ego, as we do now, is no more real than a dream, so the other 8 billion egos (as you refer to the present human population) whom we see in this dream are no more real than people we see in any other dream. So long as a dream lasts, all the people in it seem to be real, but when the dream ends we realise that they were just a mental fabrication. Likewise, so long as we experience ourself as this ego, all the other people we meet or see seem to be real, but when our ego is dissolved by clear awareness of ourself as we actually are, the appearance of those other people will dissolve along with it.

The term ‘brahman’ denotes ourself as we actually are, so since we alone actually exist, there is nothing for us to desire, and hence brahman has no desire, intention or volition and never does anything, but just is. This is why in the fifteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? Bhagavan compares ‘God’ (a term that in that context means brahman) to the sun, which rises without any icchā (wish, desire or liking), saṁkalpa (volition or intention) or yatna (effort or exertion), but by whose mere presence all the activities on earth take place. Neither this ego nor its illusory creation (this and every other conceivable world and everything in them) could seem to exist or do anything if it were not for the presence of ourself, but when we experience ourself as we actually are we will discover that we have never had any desire or intention, nor did we ever do anything or undergo any change.

Michael James said...

Guanako, we all have a power of attention or attentiveness, but because we are habituated to using this power to be aware of other things, which are relatively gross, we are initially not able to focus our attention precisely on ourself, who are the subtlest of all things. Therefore we need to refine and sharpen our power of attention by persistently trying to be self-attentive.

Perseverance in this practice of being attentively self-aware is the only means by which we can cultivate the necessary love (bhakti) to be aware of ourself alone, and this love will give us the ability or skill to keep our entire attention fixed firmly on ourself without allowing it to be distracted away towards anything else.

Vain struggle said...

Thank you, Michael, for your reply and remembering me what THE ONLY ONE TRULY USEFUL QUESTION is about this ego.
However, I did not ask what the purpose of the ego as such is but my question was based on the assumption that there might be a purpose of the obviously destined seeming inability or actual unwillingness of the present human population to know that it does not really exist. I did not intent to imply any purpose of the seeming existence of the ego.
But I may assume that your answer would be the same as before.

Guanako said...

Thanks Michael James, for answering my questions.
What I wanted to express was that the fact that most of us have got into the habit of using this power of attention to be aware of relatively gross things cannot be pure coincidence. Perhaps our/their predestined aim in life and their limited abilities do not permit to focus our/their attention precisely on ourself, who are the subtlest of all things. But nevertheless you of course instruct us to cultivate the necessary love to be aware of ourself alone by the only means of perseverance in the practice of being attentively self-aware. Yes, our own bhakti will give us (all) in some way the needed skill to keep our entire attention fixed firmely on ourself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes 'how can it [the ego] have any purpose if it does not really exist? Looking for a purpose for it reinforces our illusion that it exists, so we should avoid all such futile enquires and should instead just try to investigate whether it is what we actually are, as it now seems to be. Similarly Bhagavan says that God or our true self has no samkalpa or volition.

Therefore neither our ego has any purpose for its seeming existence, nor God has any purpose. If at all, we want to assume a purpose for the seeming existence of our ego, it could only to be destroy itself, so that we can experience ourself as we really are. Regards.

Bob - P said...

The section Sanjay quoted above from Michael's article I found very Reassuring.
Thank you very much Michael for this very helpful article.
In appreciation
Bob

Bob - P said...

Section 13 is priceless, Michael explains it so simply.
We must not focus on having no thoughts if we are focused on ourself alone no thoughts will rise as a side effect( bad choice of words) of that attention / practise. We must focus on what we want which is to know ourself by investigating ourself.
If I try not to think of a blue elephant it will result in me thinking of a blue elephant but if I think of a peacock = No blue elephant thought will rise as I am focusing on a peacock.
Attending / investigating myself is all I / we need to as best and earnestkly as we can.

Thankyou you once again Michael.
Bob

Jamadagni said...

Sanjay Lohia,
can we really or seriously expect that the ego will destroy itself ?
Only persistent self-investigation will make it vanish.
But in this respect you are right: The effort of self-investigation can and has to be done only by the ego.

Michael James said...

Vain struggle, you refer to destiny in both of your comments and you seem to assume that our seeming inability or unwillingness to know ourself as we really are is destined. However, according to Bhagavan what is destined is only whatever we as this ego are to experience so long as we allow our attention to go outwards, away from ourself. Turning within to be aware of ourself alone is purely a matter of free will, and it is the only correct use that we can make of our free will, so no destiny can either enable us or prevent us from trying to be self-attentive.

What we are destined to experience is only a selection of the fruit of our past karmas, the actions that we have done by misusing our free will, so since self-attentiveness is neither a karma nor a fruit of any karma (because it is not a ‘doing’ of any kind but only our natural state of just being), it is in no way affected by destiny.

It is up to us: do we want to try to just be aware of ourself alone (which will result in the subsidence and eventual dissolution of our ego), or do we want to rise as this ego to be aware of other things? At each moment we are free to choose whichever of these two options we prefer, and only when we allow ourself to make the wrong choice of being aware of anything else are we affected by destiny.

Anonymous said...

I briefly dreamed of Ramana today.

I was trying to find internet connection (Wifi) to play video games. But i couldnt get any connection, not even a single bar. And then Ramana appeared saying something like: "Do you think i have forsaken you"? and suddenly the Wifi came from inside Ramana´s body with full bars, enabling me to connect to the internet.
And then i immediately ignored Ramana and rushed to play video games.

Upon waking up I was very disgusted and angry that i would ignore Ramana Maharshi and go play stupid video games, but then i remembered... I am doing this all the time in the waking state arent i?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Jamadagni, you ask 'can we really or seriously expect that the ego will destroy itself ? Only persistent self-investigation will make it vanish'.

Who does this persistent self-investigation? It is only our ego, therefore our ego's role in our self-investigation cannot be denied. But this is not the whole story. I believe the love and motivation to attend to ourself alone comes from our pure chit-sakti. This pure chit-sakti is the supreme power of grace.

Therefore we can say that our effort to attend to ourself alone is a joint collaboration of our ego and grace, as it were. This is my understanding, but I am not sure whether whatever I have written here is correct. May be Michael can correct me and answer your question for the benefit of all of us. Regards.

Michael James said...

Sanjay and Jamadagni, ultimately it is only grace that will destroy our ego, because grace is the clear light of pure self-awareness, which alone can reveal the truth that this ego has never actually existed, and it is also grace that gives us (this ego) the love to be self-attentive and thereby to subside within. However this ego does have an important role to play in this process of its own annihilation, because it must be willing to let go of everything else, to which it is now clinging for its survival. This letting go is what is called ‘surrender’, and it can be achieved completely only by our trying to be exclusively self-attentive, as indicated by Bhagavan in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:

ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம்.

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

Being completely absorbed in ātma-niṣṭhā [self-abidance], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than ātma-cintanā [self-contemplation or ‘thought of oneself’], alone is giving oneself to God.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, Thank you for your clarification, specially when you write, 'However this ego does have an important role to play in this process of its own annihilation, because it must be willing to let go of everything else, to which it is now clinging for its survival. This letting go is what is called ‘surrender’, and it can be achieved completely only by our trying to be exclusively self-attentive, as indicated by Bhagavan in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?'

But as you say, 'ultimately it is only grace that will destroy our ego'.

Thanking you and pranams.

Jamadagni said...

Thank you, Michael for your explanatory statement of the role of grace, surrender and this ego in the process of its own annihilation.

Michal Borkowski said...
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Michal Borkowski said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Venkat said...

Michael,
Given that the ego / mind is non-existent, and just a thought that pass across the screen of consciousness, what is it that choose to be attentively self-aware?
Pure consciousness just is, and the body/mind/world are just thoughts/perceptions that flow across that screen. So the thought to be attentively self-aware is just another thought on that screen. I am struggling what is it that then directs attention. Apologies if I'm not being very clear.

Nanda Devi said...

Venkat,
so long as we are not completely absorbed in atma-nistha [self-abidance] do not care about the arising of thoughts on the screen of our pure consciousness.
But do understand that the thought to be attentively self-aware is not the same as to be attentively self-aware.
As Michael James says : Merely the 'thought of oneself' [atma-cintana] [self-contemplation] alone is giving oneself to God.

R Viswanathan said...

Thanks so much, Sri Michael James, for this article, which explains the practice of self enquiry so very fundamentally. The Ulladhu Narpadhu verse 28 especially appeals to me as one that gives the essence of practice of Atma Vichara, although as Sri Lakshmana Sarma placed the verses from 26 to 28 under Vichara Adhyayam in his commentary (in Tamil). Sri Nochur Venkataraman also in his book Swathmasukhi gave a brief account of practice of Atma Vichara in his commentary for verse 28 of Ulladhu Narpadhu. Please give reference to the articles written by you which deal with these three verses. Although the book Ramanopadhesa Noonmalai by Sr Sadhu Om and yourself give word by word translation and brief description or discussion on Ulladhu Narpadhu verses, I feel that we would benefit even more greatly if there have been previous articles (or if there could be future articles) based on these verses.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, you write 'what is it that choose to be attentively self-aware?
Pure consciousness just is, and the body/mind/world are just thoughts/perceptions that flow across that screen. So the thought to be attentively self-aware is just another thought on that screen. I am struggling what is it that then directs attention'.

Michael has made it abundantly clear in his articles and other places that it is only our ego which can chose to attentive, and this attention can be directed towards any object or towards the subject, ourself. Our self-awareness (the screen) is just self-aware, but it cannot choose to direct its attention towards any objects or towards itself (ourself). Our pure self-awareness just is, therefore it has no instrument with which it can direct its attention towards any object or towards 'I am'.

You write, 'So the thought to be attentively self-aware is just another thought on that screen'. Yes, the thought or idea that we should be attentively self-aware is just another thought on that screen of pure self-awareness, but when we are actually attentively self-aware it is not a thought. In such a condition we are in a state of actionless being, which is not a karma or action. Regards.

R Viswanathan said...

Correction in my previous comment: Sri Lakshmana Sarma placed verses 27 to 29 in Vichara Adhyayam and not 26 to 28 as I wrote.

venkat said...

Thanks Nanda and Sanjay.

I appreciate what you have written. As you say, "only our ego can choose to be attentive". But our ego is non-existent, illusory; it is just a thought. How can a thought CHOOSE to be attentive? The choice to be attentive implies some entity that can control attention. But we all know and accept that there is no entity in the first place. Or are we saying that the I-thought can in some way control the flow of other thoughts?

Perhaps this is one of those questions like 'why has this illusory world arisen in consciousness', that just cannot be answered. An I-sense just arises, which feels that it is identified with a particular body-mind. So Bhagavan's antidote is to turn that I-sense back upon itself . . . and at some point it evaporates leaving stillness, consciousness, peace.

Sivanarul said...

Venkat,

Just like the dream is real as long as one is dreaming, the ego is real as long as the dream of life is happening. Only upon awakening the ego can be seen (experientially) as nonexistent or illusory. The choice of attention is then decided by this ego (‘I’) and it does makes choices on a daily basis to what it wants to do or be. One of the choices it can make is to turn its attention on itself.

In the here and the now, three entities are real which are Body, Mind (as thoughts) and Ego (as I or Awareness of those thoughts). Let’s leave whether the world is real or not alone. There is no point in saying these three entities are not real as long as one is bounded and enslaved by these three.

Sivanarul said...

As a followup to the above comment:

Shri S.N Shastri in his introduction article of Panchadasi of Vidyaranya swami writes the following with respect to reality:

“There is a wrong notion that according to Advaita the world is a mere illusion. What
Advaita says is that the world is not real in the sense in which Brahman is real.

Advaita accepts three orders of reality.

Brahman, which is eternal and changeless, is the absolute reality, known in Vedanta as paaramaarthika satyam.

The world has empirical reality,known as vyaavahaarika satyam, which means that as long as a person has not become free from avidya and has not realized his real nature as Brahman, the world is real for him. It is on this basis that all the rituals, injunctions and prohibitions laid down in the Vedasbecome applicable to such a person. In other words, until a person realizes that he is not the body or mind or senses but Brahman, the world is real for him. The object of Vedanta
is to make man give up his wrong identification with the body and realize his true nature.What is meant here is not mere intellectual knowledge, but actual experience, which is otherwise known as realization.

The third order of reality consists of such cases as a rope appearing as a snake, a piece of nacre being mistaken for silver, and the experiences in dream. This order of reality is known as praatibhaasika satyam.”

Mouna said...

Dear Sivanarul, Vanakkam

It all depends on what kind of definition of "real" you use to say what you just said.
According to Bhagavan and Advaita Vedanta for something to be real it needs to be permanent, unchangeable and self-recognized, characteristics that neither ego, dream, body, world, etc have.
The objection would be that that is "my experience", but even that "experience" ceases to be so in deep sleep, so "our experience" of all this is also subject to doubt.
It all depends on what conceptual foundations we establish the parameters to investigate ourselves...
I wrote the above before reading your second post continuation. One last thought,
vyaavahaarika and praatibhaasik a satyam are both mithya or maya or ego/mind in Bhagavan's terms, so discardable when it comes to consider the real, Ajata.

Yours in Bhagavan

Steve said...

If multiplicity is an illusion, the choice between two things is also an illusion, as is the world, the body, and the mind. If 'the ego is real as long as the dream of life is happening', why would it choose to turn its attention on itself? Are there two realities to choose from? Three?

venkat said...

Sivanarul, under eka jiva vada, those 3 orders of reality collapse into two - the real state and the dream state.

Bhagavan in his writing points out that there is no difference between waking state and dream state, and that deep sleep is pure consciousness (which is consistent with him recommending eka jiva vada).

So under eka jiva vada, what is it that has the thought of turning attention on itself, given the ego is part of the dream? Or is the thought of turning attention on itself, also just part of the play which consciousness is watching - and there is in fact nothing to be done and no one doing this turning?

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Vanakkam. Real, as I see it, is whatever that produces a ripple AND makes ‘I’ react to that ripple. In simpler terms, as long as one reaches for pain medication when one is in pain, as long as one treats Gold as valuable and mud as invaluable, as long as birth of someone they love rejoices them and death of someone they love despairs them, then the pain, gold and birth/death are all real and the ‘I’ that reacts to all of this is also real.

vyaavahaarika and praatibhaasik as satyam are discardable, experientially, in Ajata, only after awakening. Of course, “intellectually” for Sadhana or Bhavana, one can discard them at any point, especially if it helps them.

Sivanarul said...

Steve,

"If 'the ego is real as long as the dream of life is happening', why would it choose to turn its attention on itself?”

It turns because it clearly sees Samsara being pervaded with Dukkha (Suffering) and intellectually it has found out that turning on itself is one of the ways to end Samsara and thus Dukkha. Anyone who has experienced considerable pain and suffering can easily relate to why and where from the urge to end Dukkha arises.

Mouna said...

Sivanarul,

What you described in your first paragraph is the "common sense" view (the scientific one also) that what is real is what is perceived and felt by the senses.

About the second paragraph, there is no such thing as Realization in deep sleep, or is it? Realization is another fabrication of the mind in waking and dream state to explain what cannot be explained, Reality.
And yes, and I'm talking from "experience", it really helps sadhana and bhavana (and physical pain and fear of death) to consider the world, body and god as mithya or apparent ( or unreal), what it does is that suffering disappears, pain could be there but the relationship to it is broken (of course all of this within the dream)...

But at this point we will need to agree that we disagree in certain essentials point in relation your relationship to Bhagavan's teachings and our understanding of what they are.

Yours in Bhagavan

Sivanarul said...

Venkat,

I currently do not subscribe to Eka Jiva vada, so I will leave it to someone who subscribes to it to answer your question.

My approach to Sadhana is based on the clear seeing that Samsara is Dukkha and that the way to end Dukkha is to end Samsara. The way to end Samsara is then the various methods prescribed in the spiritual literature.

By the way, are you the same Venkat, who posts on Advaita UK site? If you are, then the last heated discussion that took place there was very informative. Please continue posting there as you do provide very valuable quotes.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Realization may become a fabrication (like the necklace which was thought to be lost, an intense search ensued and finally was found to be in the neck all the time). I am in the search stage. You may be in the finally found stage. So you can certainly tell that the necklace being lost was a fabrication, whereas I cannot.

Bhagavan’s teachings are followed in various capacities by different people based on their Vasanas and tendencies. For me considering God/Ishvara as mithya is a non-starter. Luckily Bhagavan’s teachings and Advaita have Ishvara front and center of their teachings (in addition to the teaching of treating them as Mithya). So certainly we can agree to disagree and I don’t see any change in that for the near future :-)

Have a great day! Let me end this conversation from verses from Aksharamanamalai:

“Let me not like an unsupported tender creeper droop and
fade. Be a strong staff for me, hold me up and guard me.”

“Let attachment to the physical body end, O Arunachala, and
let me see and be for ever the splendour of your being.”

“Accepting those who approach you with attachment,
destroy their individuality and then shine free from wrong
attachment and identity with individuals; O Arunachala.”

“(a) I am a fool who prays for help only when overwhelmed
by misery. Yet do not abandon me, O Arunachala.
(b) I am a fool and coward who bullies my inferiors and
quails before my superiors. But do not on that account
make me weaker and more confused, O Arunachala.
One should worship God at all times, in prosperity and
adversity alike. But I turn to you only in my helplessness, in
adversity.”

“To escape rebirth, one must
think of God at the moment of death. For this, one must by God's
grace practise thinking of God all through one's life, so that one
automatically and effortlessly thinks of God at the last moment.”

Mouna said...

Sivanarul,

Right on the mark.
You are a brother in Bhagavan.
Yours in him
m

Steve said...

"It turns because it clearly sees Samsara being pervaded with Dukkha (Suffering) and intellectually it has found out that turning on itself is one of the ways to end Samsara and thus Dukkha."

Sivanarul, you're close, but according to Bhagavan, it's the only way. Samsara and dukkha, like everything else, seem to exist only because the ego seems to exist, and do not exist if the ego does not exist.

May your capacity to follow Bhagavan's teachings steadily increase!

Sivanarul said...

Steve,

Thank you for your kind statement that my capacity to follow Bhagavan's teachings steadily increase. May Bhagavan indeed bless me as such and may I have your blessings also (as from someone who has progressed in the path more than I).

I don't know whether that increase will ever result in me to say "it is the only way". May be it will, may be it won't. I am a firm believer that the ocean can be reached by various rivers following various paths, even if the last 10 feet is a single path. I consider Vichara as that last 10 feet and not the only path from beginning to end that all rivers must follow.

Bhagavan’s written teachings to me are like medical information in WebMD. They are accurate, contain very valuable information, but they are not a substitute for the Doctor’s advise. In fact on several occasions, my Doctor asked me to follow the exact opposite of what was written in WebMD.

The real Bhagavan’s teachings are instructed by Bhagavan/Ishvara from the heart. He shines as the inner guru, who is aware of my present condition, can accurately diagnose and treat me according to what is right for this Jiva. May I also receive that inner Bhagavan’s blessings.

Steve said...

Sivanarul, I wasn't born practicing atma-vicara either, but I did eventually come to see that it isn't just another path or part of a path, it's where all paths come to an end.

My 'blessing' is sincere. :)

Noob said...

As Michael has already mentioned, it is the Grace that relinquishes our burden, does it matter how long it takes for us to see the Truth? For me it does not, even one step is well worth the effort. I believe that even the slightest effort to try to see the Truth, to find the answers to what is this I that sees this world the way it sees it, to try to look at myself, to watch myself is at least brings me closer to the End.

R Viswanathan said...

" even one step is well worth the effort"

Guru Vachaka Kovai (GVK) verse 965: If you, thinking of God, take one step towards Him, in response, He, who is more kind than a mother, thinking of you, takes nine steps - such a long distance - and accepts you. So great is his grace.

Muruganar: The essential point of the verse is: 'There is no need to have doubt in His grace.'

The above passage has been taken from GVK edited by Sri David Godman (p.421).

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, you write, 'As you say, "only our ego can choose to be attentive". But our ego is non-existent, illusory; it is just a thought. How can a thought CHOOSE to be attentive? The choice to be attentive implies some entity that can control attention. But we all know and accept that there is no entity in the first place. Or are we saying that the I-thought can in some way control the flow of other thoughts?'

Bhagavan says in paragraph seven of Nan Yar?:

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [our own essential self]. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigaḷ [imaginations, fabrications, mental creations or illusory superimpositions] in it, like [the imaginary] silver [seen] in a shell. These three appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously. Svarūpa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] alone is the world; svarūpa alone is ‘I’ [our ego, soul or individual self]; svarūpa alone is God; everything is śiva-svarūpa [our actual self, which is śiva, the absolute and only truly existing reality].7

Yes, this ego (which Bhagavan calls 'soul' here) is non-existent, illusory and just a thought, but when this ego (which is the conscious subject) comes into seeming existence, its power of attention also comes into seeming existence. Bhagavan also describes our ego as chit-jada-granthi. As this granthi, it is a seeming mixture of pure consciousness and a jada body and all its other adjuncts. Therefore when we limit our consciousness to a name and form, we can direct our this adjunct-bound consciousness to know and experience other things, or we can choose just to cling to ourself, ignoring everything else.

Therefore this thought called 'I' or ego can and does control the flow of thoughts. If this was not possible, no spiritual effort would have been ever possible, and all sastras would have become redundant. Regards.

venkat said...

Hi Sivanarul -thank you for you kind comments.

Sanjay,

You say "we limit our consciousness . . . we can choose to cling" but WHO is this "we"?

There is no creation, there is no destruction, there is no one liberated and no one bound. Therefore sastra must be redundant.

When Bhagavad talks about chit-jada-granthi, I understand it to mean that in our dream we see a set of perceptions that are closely and continuously linked with a particular point in space-time ("my body"), as distinct from the rest of the world. As a result an I-thought arises which identifies with this particular set of perceptions and seeks to protect and enhance itself relative to the rest of the the perceptions ("the world") that is seen. Hence begins the false idea of separation.

So my understanding is: Bhagavan is pointing out to us, as consciousness to consciousness, that this I-thought is false, non-existent. It seems that Bhagavan essentially challenges this I-thought, which includes the thought that it is a mind-controller-doer, to look upon itself and find itself. But in such contemplation, these thoughts must fall quiet. And what is left is pure consciousness. Hence, under eka jiva vada, the body-mind-world will no longer be seen; the dream ends. This is why deep sleep is just pure consciousness.

Michael, it would be great to get your clarification on this.

Best wishes,
venkat

venkat said...

Apologies Michael, you have in fact already addressed this here:

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/metaphysical-solipsism-idealism-and.html

You explained v17 of Upadesa Undiyar:

"When [one] investigates the form of the mind without forgetting, anything called ‘mind’ does not exist. For everyone this is the direct [straight, proper, correct or true] path."

Therefore, when we experience ourself as we really are, it will be clear to us that even ēka-jīva-vāda and dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda are not true, because the ego (the ēka jīva, the one finite self) is itself actually non-existent, and hence both its perception (dṛṣṭi) and the creation (sṛṣṭi) that seems to exist because of its perception are likewise non-existent. Thus the ultimate truth is that ‘I’ (our real self or ātman) alone exists and nothing else has ever come into existence, so neither the ego nor the world has ever really existed. This is what is known as ajāta, a term that literally mean ‘non-born’, ‘non-originated’ or ‘non-engendered’, and that therefore implies that no creation has ever occurred — that nothing has ever been created or come into existence.

Sorry, I should have done my homework

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, you write 'You say "we limit our consciousness . . . we can choose to cling" but WHO is this "we"?'

This 'we' is our ego or the thought called 'I'. Our pure self-awareness or self-consciousness does not limit itself or choose to attend to thoughts or itself. It is only when this ego comes into seeming existence due to some inexplicable reason that we limit our consciousness. Regards.

Gargoyle said...

The true meaning of 'I' or 'We' can be found in this article of Michael's from 2008...scroll down to #6
http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2008/06/true-nature-of-consciousness-can-be.html#meaning-of-i
I thought since the question was asked and I have just been reading this past article I may as well pass it along
Cheers

venkat said...

Thanks Gargoyle.

R Viswanathan said...

"Though Bhagavan defines self-enquiry as 'keeping the mind fixed in the Self' in 'Who am I?', I think that this is an advanced level of the practice that most people aspire to rather than experience. Until that is possible, attention to the sense of 'I' and a concomitant rejection of all thoughts that try to attach themselves to it is the Bhagavan-prescribed route back to the Self."

"Self is what remains when the one that directs attention disappears."

The above statements are very recent ones by Sri David Godman, which I reproduce here with the genuine feeling that they might be beneficial to many who are in the self-enquiry path. While the first comment was his reply to a comment on his recent video on self enquiry, the second comment was his reply to my email to him quoting that comment and seeking to know a little more on that comment.

I once again wrote to Sri David Godman expressing my understanding of and inference from these statements; and raised a few questions such as those raised here by some for the present article.

"I understand that the one who or what directs the attention is mind or subtle intelligence, both coming under the category of non-self (or anatma vasthu). Does not the attention or power of attention belong to the mind or subtle intelligence, too? Would this mean that the mind utilizes it's own property of attention on itself? Who commands or directs or controls this act? Again the mind, isn't it? Of course, I realize that this kind of intellectual analysis is also an act of mind or intelligence for whatever reason.

With a firm conviction that the mind should be always directed inwards and if one tries his best to remain without sleeping and without paying attention outwards, will not one succeed at some point of time to be able to remain fixed in the self, when Bhagavan's grace determines the time based on how strongly one has surrendered oneself to the power of that grace or presence?"

His reply to me was:
"Too many words and too much hair-splitting. Self-enquiry is not something you analyse like this. It is something you do to keep the mind away from pointless busyness such as this."

My reply was one of thanksgiving: "I sincerely take this crisp reply as a upadesam from Bhagavan himself, since it is very similar to what Bhagavan gave to Sri Kunjuswamy (as I read from your book): attend to what purpose you came here first for."

Anonymous said...

Viswanathan writes David Godman's comments

"Too many words and too much hair-splitting. Self-enquiry is not something you analyse like this. It is something you do to keep the mind away from pointless busyness such as this."

Superb. Sums it up quite well.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viswanathan, you quote David Godman who wrote to you 'Though Bhagavan defines self-enquiry as 'keeping the mind fixed in the Self' in 'Who am I?', I think that this is an advanced level of the practice that most people aspire to rather than experience. Until that is possible, attention to the sense of 'I' and a concomitant rejection of all thoughts that try to attach themselves to it is the Bhagavan-prescribed route back to the Self'.

I think I would like to request David Godman or anybody else to let us know where did Bhagavan indicate that 'keeping the mind in Self' is an advanced level of practice that most people aspire to rather that experience? Also, as Davis says, how do I know when my attention to the sense of 'I' terminates, and I remain fixed in the Self?

According to my understanding, which Michael has been relentlessly and tirelessly reiterating, our practice of self-investigation is just an one step practice, and this one step is trying to turn our attention towards ourself alone. Yes, eventually only our real self will remain as a result of such intense and prolonged self-investigation, as David has also written. Regards.

Mouna said...

Sanjay,

"I think I would like to request David Godman or anybody else to let us know where did Bhagavan indicate that 'keeping the mind in Self' is an advanced level of practice that most people aspire to rather that experience?"

You misunderstood, Bhagavan didn't say that, that is David Godman's opinion. Regards.

Anonymous said...

When one scrutinizes the form of the mind without forgetfulness [that is, without pramada or slackness of attention], [it will be found that] there is no such thing as mind; this is the direct path for all.

Updesha Undhiyar verse 17

Anonymous said...

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2008/06/self-enquiry-underlying-philosophy-can.html

Anonymous said...

I see a lot of discussions about "methods". Methods don't work. Dream ends when it ends. You cannot end a dream by force. Try it next time when you have a dream.

Most of the people who are regarded as "realized" where already at a stage ripe for the "cross-over". Sri Ramakrishna says that the realization is instantaneous. Your realization that what you thought is a snake is actually a rope happens in an instant. There is no half-way; There is no time when know it is a rope but still act like it is a snake. Once you know, there is no going back. Sri Sankara says as soon as you think about it (neti, neti), you realize.

Most of the people who "realized" while meeting Sri Ramana were already at that stage where any method (or no method) will push them over the edge. Sri Ramakrishna used to go into Samadhi by observing dark clouds. An ordinary person can spend years looking at dark clouds but nothing will happen. This is why regardless of the "method" nothing happens for most people even after trying it for years.

The caterpillar becomes butterfly when the time comes. The truth will defeat the false in the end. But you can't make it happen or force it. But unfortunately most people don't like to be told to wait. For them "methods" are prescribed. There is no cause for the world, and no cause for "realization". But it is very hard for people to accept. They need cause for everything - even realization. Your actions cannot bring about the release. When the vasanas subside, the time will be right. Then you need no method. Self will prevail in the end whether you do anything or not.

Steve said...

"Who am I?", the caterpillar asked.

Mouna said...

Anonymous,

Quote: "When the vasanas subside, the time will be right. Then you need no method. Self will prevail in the end whether you do anything or not."
You just blow up your whole dissertation up by employing the words "When" and " then"...

Anonymous said...

Mouna said:
You just blow up your whole dissertation up by employing the words "When" and " then"...

No, I did not. There are limitations to words, and I tried to use "" wherever I could, to convey that. This is the same reason why several passages in the Vedas appear to contradict one another (limitation of words). In addition, I wrote the whole thing in less than 5 minutes (hence the use of "where" instead of "were" in the sixth sentence).

Dualists have long used these kinds of silly arguments (resulting from limitations of words and examples) to counter Advaita. Try explaining Sri Ramana's eka jiva position and you will see what I mean. One has to take the explanations/examples for what they are intended to convey.

The fact remains that people who argue about the "best method" and do that method for years have nothing to show for it. On the other hand, there are people who "did" many other methods or no method have "reached" the ultimate state because it was their time.

I am not surprised that it upsets a lot of people. That is precisely why "methods" are given. So if you are inclined, by all means practice your "method".

Noob said...

"Since all living beings desire to be always happy without what is called misery, since for everyone the greatest love is only for oneself, and since happiness alone is the cause of love, [in order] to attain that happiness, which is one’s own [true] nature that is experienced daily in [dreamless] sleep, which is devoid of the mind, oneself knowing oneself is necessary. For that, jñāna-vicāra [knowledge-investigation] ‘who am I’ alone is the principal means."

If one is happy, there is nothing else to achieve/attain. Otherwise "oneself knowing oneself" is necessary.

Mouna said...

Anonymous,

Just to be clear, I said you blew your dissertation is because at the very beginning you said: "Methods don't work. Dream ends when it ends" and then at the end you go saying: "WHEN the vasanas subside, the time will be right. Then you need no method."
Vasanas just don't subside like that, right? Otherwise you have to disagree with Bhagavan. "THEN" you need no method, of course after realization you don't need a method, that's Advaita 101 my friend.
But until then you do, or at least you follow the instructions of people that "seem" to know a little more than "you" like in the case of Bhagavan. It is called sravana and manana. But you can have it anyway you want my friend, after all, and you are right in one thing, the dream will end soon, now, if you will wake up into another dream over and over, that's another story.
I don't disagree, that other methods work, but the "no method" method (after all that is what the "no method" is, another method), I really have my serious doubts about its efficacy.

PS: we don't get upset here, it's all mind-stuff anyways.. :-)


Anonymous said...

anonymous says

"Dream ends when it ends. You cannot end a dream by force. Try it next time when you have a dream."

contrary to the above.....I have woken myself from many dreams, on purpose, intentionally and forcefully.



Anonymous said...

Mouna said "Vasanas just don't subside like that, right?"

In fact they do. First and second verses of Brahmasutra: Athato brahma jijnasa, Janmadyasya yathah - after many many births one gets curious about brahman and asks - birth etc. come from where? This happens when vasanaas have become a bit weak due to experiences of several life times. Now, that person did not do any "method" to get to that state. So it does not stand to reason that he needs a method after that. The "next stages" also happen by its own accord. Not because of a magic new "method" someone came up with.

Also you said "it's all mind-stuff anyways". That is precisely the point. All these methods and discussion on the best methods are all mind activities and cannot bring about "release". When the time is right, release happens and there will be the appearance of a "method" or cause (as in all activities in the world). But the method is for namesake only. It is not the method that results in "release".

To anonymous who says he has woken himself from many dreams... That means you were able to make decisions that are independent of the dreams which indicates you were partially awake to begin with.

Ok, I think I have come to the end of my comments on this topic. Take care-

venkat said...

I have to say that the logic of advaita, and ajata vada, inevitably has to mean that there can be no method, no cause, no effect, no one bound, no one to be liberated. We hear it, we say we believe it . . . but then we want to realise it - which is clearly contradictory.

We next hide behind the concept that as long as we think we are an ego, we need to strive to see that it is non-existent. So we try to grasp at methods to fulfil this need of the ego to achieve 'success' in realisation. The problem is that our ego is not prepared to let go, surrender, however much we say want to. So the methods are a means of postponement, to pretend we are doing something, because we are not pure or advanced enough yet.

For the avoidance of doubt, I unfortunately include myself in 'we'.

Bhagavan's is the simplest and most elegant 'method', fulfilling Occam's razor, without adding any frills or further concepts: look at yourself and keep doing so until you see that you are the watcher, and not the ego that is being watched. In a way, it doesn't matter if you 'realise' or not (except perhaps to reduce suffering in the present) - since in any event the dream will end with 'physical' death.

Amrita said...

Michael,
Section 11 Ulladu Narpadu verse 26: our ego and its thoughts are mutually dependent
you say :
1. „Thinking is a process of forming and simultaneously experiencing thoughts, but … one and the same, because we form thoughts only by experiencing or being aware of them.“
2. „What forms and experiences thoughts is only ourself as this ego, so no thought can arise without this ego.“
3. „This ego itself is just a thought, because it can rise and stand only by grasping the form of a body as itself, and any body that it grasps as itself is just a thought that it forms and experiences within itself.“
In order to understand the above statements in their complete significance could you please give a more detailed description what a thought is.

Rudraksha said...

Michael,

1. „If the ego does not exist, everything does not exist."
2. „Hence the ego itself is everything."
Is it not contrary to your previous article Section 9 Upadesa Undiyar verse 17 where we read ?:
„Our ego or mind does not actually exist at all, even now.“

Mouna said...

Anonymous,
This exchange reminds me of the time I was part of an advaitin list with infinite back and forth academic discussions, this blog is closer to my heart because it deals with simple and verifiable "methods" and facts (Bhagavan Sri Ramana's teachings that many traditional vedantins are not very familiar and also not very fond of, although it might not be your case), at least in that list we had names ( that feels a little more insecure)!

"Ok, I think I have come to the end of my comments on this topic. Take care"

You too my friend, you too...

Sivanarul said...

“PS: we don't get upset here, it's all mind-stuff anyways.. :-)”

Mara says thus:

Mounaji and other Advaitinji’s, see what advaita has done to you guys. It has made you lose a basic human emotion of getting upset. What have you gained by repeatedly asking who am I? Even if asked a trillion times, the answer is always ‘I am I’. Now here is the way of Mara, which does not involve losing any human emotion. Go and watch the Bond thriller “Spectre”. Have a night out on the town. Have some clean fun. Let’s say 20 years pass by. Wouldn’t you rather have had some clean fun than simply been asking ‘who am I’?

Ok, I know. You are all long time advaitins and I am not going to convince you that easily. But here is some medicine from your own cup. You are already Brahman and are already realized. You never ceased to be that. Through your own power of Maya, you deluded yourself without actually deluding yourself, to have some fun. You created me to remind you in case you get astray with all these advaita stuff.

Now you ask, what about all those rishi’s sayings? Well they didn’t have Netflix on demand, they didn’t have cable television, they didn’t have movie theatres, they didn’t have restaurants, they didn’t have electricity. All they had was themselves and they didn’t know what to do. So they kept on asking “Who am I’.

Now you ask, what about Bhagavan? Well Bhagavan was a great sport. See he did “Who am I’ for just a minute. Then he decided, this is not fun anymore. He settled down near a nice mountain and had all human emotions. He cried, he laughed, he helped his mom and brother. He helped the kitchen staff by cutting vegetables. He even watched a movie and ate pooris. He did not care of Eka Jiva or the world is an illusion. He had some good, clean fun and enjoyed his life. Brahman is very happy with him because that is exactly why Brahman projected him without actually projecting him.

If any these have not convinced you, at least come to duality. You can at least enjoy the bliss of God in a subject object relationship. What is the point of becoming bliss itself? Who will be there to taste it? At least be the bee that tastes the honey and not insist on this advaita business that wants to transform you into honey.

Well at least, I hope you all did not lose your sense of humor :-)

R Viswanathan said...

"What are Sri Ramana's teachings? If you ask people who have become acquainted with his life and work, you might get several answers such as "advaita" or "self-inquiry." I don't think Sri Ramana's teachings were either a belief system or a philosophy, such as advaita, or a practice, such as self-inquiry.
Sri Ramana himself would say that his principal teaching was silence, by which he meant the wordless radiation of power and grace that he emanated all the time. The words he spoke, he said, were for the people who didn't understand these real teachings. Everything he said was therefore a kind of second-level teaching for people who were incapable of dissolving their sense of "I" in his powerful presence. You may understand his words, or at least think that you do, but if you think that these words constitute his teachings, then you have really misunderstood him."

Reference: http://davidgodman.org/interviews/rs2.shtml

"People came to Sri Ramana with the standard seekers' question: 'What do I have to do to get enlightened?' One of his standard replies was the Tamil phrase 'Summa iru'. 'Summa' means 'quiet' or 'still' and 'iru' is the imperative of both the verb to be and the verb to stay. So, you can translate this as 'Be quiet,' Be still,' Stay quiet,' 'Remain still,' and so on. This was his primary advice.
However, he knew that most people couldn't naturally stay quiet. If such people asked for a method, a technique, he would often recommend a practice known as self-inquiry.

Though Sri Ramana said that this was the most effective tool for realizing the Self, it must be said that very few people actually achieved this goal. For most of us the mind is just too stubborn to be overcome by this or any other technique. However, the effort put into self-inquiry is never wasted. In fact, it's a win-win situation for most people; either you get enlightened, or you just get peaceful and happy."

Reference: http://davidgodman.org/interviews/al1.shtml

Mouna said...

Sivanarul,

Love your sense of humor.
I don't know about Spectre, prefer the Mission Impossible ones! (They have more mind stuff and less CGI!)

Yours in 000 (zero zero zero, the most inconspicuous agent of the universe)

Steve said...

'Be quiet,' Be still,' Stay quiet,' 'Remain still,' and so on. This was his primary advice.

This is atma-vicara as I know it, and as Bhagavan, through Michael, still teaches it.

R Viswanathan said...

"'Be quiet,' Be still,' Stay quiet,' 'Remain still,' and so on. This was his primary advice. This is atma-vicara as I know it, and as Bhagavan, through Michael, still teaches it."

The following text is taken from Sri Michael James' recent article:
http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.in/2015/02/just-being-summa-irukkai-is-not.html

"சும்மா இருக்கை (summā irukkai) means just being, merely being, leisurely being, silently being, being without activity or being still, so it would be absurd to say that it is an intense activity. It is a state of just being still — remaining without any action whatsoever — but it does require intense effort, because it entails focussing our entire mind or attention on ourself alone.

Sadhu Om used to explain this using an analogy. In a reservoir the water is standing still, but in order for it to do so the dam must hold it firmly. If the dam loosens its hold by cracking or breaking, the water will at once start moving, rushing to get out through the crack or break. Here the dam represents the state of keenly focused self-attentiveness, and the water represents our mind. So long as we are attending only to ourself, our mind remains perfectly still, but as soon as we slacken our self-attentiveness, our mind rushes out to experience other things.

Until we succeed in turning back the full 180 degrees to experience ourself alone, thereby destroying forever the illusion that we are this mind, being self-attentive requires effort, because the natural propensity of our mind is to go outwards to experience other things. Therefore in order to be motionlessly poised in a state of unwavering self-attentiveness we need to make intense effort, until we manage to turn the full 180 degrees, whereupon we will discover that self-attentiveness (pure self-awareness) is our real nature, so only then will we experience summā irukkai (just being) as our natural state and hence as effortless and unavoidable."

Sanjay Lohia said...

David Godman had written to Viswanathan, 'Though Bhagavan defines self-enquiry as 'keeping the mind fixed in the Self' in 'Who am I?', I think that this is an advanced level of the practice that most people aspire to rather than experience. Until that is possible, attention to the sense of 'I' and a concomitant rejection of all thoughts that try to attach themselves to it is the Bhagavan-prescribed route back to the Self'.

Bhagavan says in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar:

When [we] scrutinise the form of [our] mind without forgetfulness [that is, without pramada or slackness of attention], [we will discover that] there is no such thing as 'mind' [separate from or other than our real self]. For everyone, this is the direct path [the direct means to experience true self-knowledge].

David says, 'Though Bhagavan defines self-enquiry as 'keeping the mind fixed in the Self' in 'Who am I?', I think that this is an advanced level of the practice that most people aspire to rather than experience', whereas Bhagavan clearly says in the above verse of Upadesa Undiyar> that this practice of self-attentiveness is the direct path for all.

Bhagavan has not said that atma-vichara or keeping our attention fixed on ourself is an advanced level of practice. In fact he sings in his song Atma-Vidya-Kirtanam, '...so very easy is the science of self! Ah! So very easy!', and he repeats this line in all the verses of this song. Regards.

Steve said...

I'm not sure what your point is, Viswanathan. You quote David Godman as saying,

"People came to Sri Ramana with the standard seekers' question: 'What do I have to do to get enlightened?' One of his standard replies was the Tamil phrase 'Summa iru'. 'Summa' means 'quiet' or 'still' and 'iru' is the imperative of both the verb to be and the verb to stay. So, you can translate this as 'Be quiet,' Be still,' Stay quiet,' 'Remain still,' and so on. This was his primary advice.
However, he knew that most people couldn't naturally stay quiet. If such people asked for a method, a technique, he would often recommend a practice known as self-inquiry."

This seems to imply that self-inquiry (atma-vicara) is something other than Sri Ramana's 'primary advice'. Do you agree with this, or with what you quoted from Michael's article?


Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Steve, what David says appears confusing. The practice of 'summa iru' and the technique of self-inquiry is exactly the same, and this was Bhagavan's 'primary advice'. In fact Michael's this article entitled Is there more than one way in which we can investigate and know ourself? deals with this very topic, and makes it abundantly clear that there is only one way to investigate and know ourself. Regards.

R Viswanathan said...

The statements of Sri David Godman and Sri Michael James which I quoted do not cause confusion for me. Instead, they help me to become clearer that with persistent and intense effort put forth in self investigation (or self enquiry of self attentiveness) one can finally regain the state of stillness, which is effortless and unavoidable.

Steve said...

At least one of us is not confused!

Regards to you, Sanjay.

Bob - P said...

I wouldn't worry Steve it is very easy to get confused.

I find Sanjay & Viswanathan posts on this blog to be so helpful, both of them are extremely knowledgeable about Bhagavan's teaching.

I personally think it is good when we admit our limited understanding Steve as it shows we are not taking ourselves too seriously along with our opinions, I agree whole heartedly with Sivanarul (further up) we must keep a sense of humour.

That's why reading and exploring all the previous articles on this blog (left side bar) are invaluable in helping quell our confusion.

I am no stranger to feeling confused and this blog and all the comments are an incredible antidote.

We are all so blessed that Michael made it.

All the best Steve.
Bob

P.S - Sivanarul your posts always make me smile !!! Thank you !!!!

Steve said...

Thanks Bob, but I'm not at all worried. Yes, thanks to Bhagavan and Michael I'm clear about the practice of atma-vicara, it's David's quote about it I found confusing. Maybe he's confused.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Glad that you and Bob liked the joke.

“Yours in 000 (zero zero zero, the most inconspicuous agent of the universe)”

I think Yours in “111” is more in tune with advaita. Also 111 almost looks like III (I-I-I).

Bob,

I wholeheartedly agree with you, in that reality, creation, projections are all way over my head. I know I exist. Everything else is up for grabs and subject to change and fleeting. I was just listening to a Buddhist Dharma talk yesterday where the speaker was saying Buddha was able to recollect about 159 eons (big bangs) via his meditation. Mind boggling! I can’t even remember what I ate yesterday :-)

In the end, I think we will be ok if we do no harm, follow ahimsa, do sadhana to the best of our abilities and patiently wait for Grace to act. The Katha Upanishad clearly says we are at the mercy of the Self for it chooses to whom it will reveal itself. So we may as well lighten up and enjoy a few laughs.

From the Katha Upanishad:

This Atman cannot be attained by study of the vedas
, nor by intelligence, nor by much hearing. He whom the Self
Chooses, by him the Self can be gained. To him this
Atman reveals Its true nature. (I.2.23)

Sivanarul said...

Steve,

David Godman is a beloved and well respected member of Bhagavan’s community. His books have helped me and thousands of others tremendously (and I turn to them often). So I wouldn’t characterize him as being confused, after him having dedicated his last 30+ years exploring Bhagavan's teachings.

I would say he and Michael have different interpretations of Bhagavan’s teachings, on certain topics, and each one of us is free to choose which interpretation we want to adopt and follow.

Have a great day!

Tirich Mir said...

Michael,
we often see bodily weakness, frailty of old age, disease and death of the body.
Let us assume that many of us seekers are or will be not able to give up everything and to destroy this ego for ever before physical death. Therefore knowing ourself might include to know whether the ego will grasp any other subtle form of body after leaving the physical body because of death.
May I ask some questions which wander off the subject ?
1. Which kind of body would the ego grasp or what kind of thought does it form and experience within itself in the moment of death and after that ?
2. Is there at all a life as an astral/mental/causal body ?
3. Which influence would have such a life on the structure of a future physical body ?
4. Is there at all a world on the opposite side of the river called (physical) life ?
5. Did Bhagavan ever answer such a question ?
6. Did Bhagavan always without exception refer/advise the questioner only to seek the source of the 'I' – thought in the now ?

who? said...

I would like to post my reflections on the discussion here on the topic of interpretation of Bhagavan's teachings. This is also an occasion where i pay obeisance and express my gratitude to the tireless writer of this blog.

I find these teachings to be extremely simple, without any ambiguity or embellishments, when i read the writings and translations of Acharya Michael James. I reverently address him as 'Acharya', because in my opinion, he is a pure mouthpiece of Bhagavan's teachings, being a sincere and dedicated practitioner and devotee of them.

These teachings about the truth of being are so simple, that paradoxically it is difficult to understand and remember them, because our mind thrives upon and is enamored by multiplicity and diversity. Thus, only a pure devotee, cleansed of attachments to a certain degree, can portray the teachings in the complete, unadorned purity and oneness.

The original works of Bhagavan, when focused upon exclusively and in entirety, explained patiently and devotedly, leave no room for ambiguity. And i, for one, thank Acharya Michael for this.

R Viswanathan said...

As Sri Sivanarul pointed out, Sri David Godman lives by Bhagavan's teachings since the time he came to Tiruvannamalai in 1970s. Since I have been in this path just for the last six years, I sincerely feel that I am not competent enough to remove anybody's confusion although I am able to quote from the articles of Sri David Godman or Sri Michael James, having read them with interest and being very thankful to both for whatever understanding I feel that I have acquired so far.

If Sri David Godman's statements I quoted are confusing, it is very easy to get cleared of the confusion by going to the respective link and reading the whole interview fully. If the confusion still persists, it is still more easier to have it cleared of by emailing to him directly. My experience is that he responds promptly to questions related to Bhagavan's teachings, usually by quoting Bhagavan himself.

Anonymous said...

As Sivanarul wrote, I also don't think David Godman is confused. I have also interacted with him and he has explained things very lucidly and clearly. He has spent time with Jnanis like Papaji, Annamalai Swamy, Lakshmana Swamy and Saradamma who were all devotees of Bhagavan and were all self realized along with spending time with Nisargadatta. It is not Sadhu Om alone, with due respects to him, who has understood Bhagavan's teachings perfectly. I have read all of the above Jnani's teachings including Sadhu Om's and find no confusion. To say that we are very clear about something and another person is confused just shows our own ego and maybe, just maybe over comprehension is not clear.

We seem to be arguing a lot about self inquiry being the direct path and superior to all other paths but i doubt if people who have followed self inquiry for decades are realizing their self by the 100's or 1000's. It may be true that all paths end there but a person may spend practicing self inquiry for 30 years while another may be devotional for 10 years and may get realized like Bhagavan himself in a second after the 10 years. There are many other factors like one's ripeness, association with a Jnani etc etc. Its not just a method or a technique.

It is also not beyond the realms of possibility that two people, Michael and David Godman have very good understanding of Bhagavan's teaching but just express them in different ways.

The Vedas are very clear. Truth is one and is expressed in many ways. Just because we have a preference for understanding one particular way doesn't mean all other ways are invalid or all other Jnanis didn't know what they were talking about. There seems to be more effort in defending one's own(or Sadhu Om's) view/interpretation of Bhagavan's teaching rather than practicing it, which is very simple and to keep one's mind still by self inquiry or any other method.

Sivanarul said...

“The Vedas are very clear. Truth is one and is expressed in many ways.”

That in a nutshell is the core belief of Sanatana Dharma. It does not exclude any religion, spiritual practice or even materialism. It articulated all 4 (Dharma, Artha, Kama and Moksha) as attainments open for all of mankind and maintains that Artha and Kama when practiced with Dharma, will ultimately lead to Moksha.

Bhagavan was one of the greatest exponents of Sanatana Dharma and his acceptance of all practices is amply evident in how for two years he came and inspected Natesa Iyer’s Idol worship and said Nice.

Listen from 7:00 to 9:00

Talks on Sri Ramana Maharshi: Narrated by David Godman - Natesa Iyer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Wz-lnLHQAk

R Viswanathan said...

Talk 518 (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi):

The Pandit asked about the operation of Grace. Is it the mind of the Guru acting on the mind of the disciple or anything different?

M.: The Highest Form of Grace is Silence (mowna). It is also the highest upadesa.

D.: Vivekananda has also said that silence is the loudest form of prayer.

M.: It is so, for the seeker’s silence Guru’s silence is the loudest upadesa. It is also Grace in its highest form. All other dikshas (initiations), e.g., sparsa, chakshus are derived from mowna (silence). They are therefore secondary. Mowna is the primary form. If the Guru is silent the seeker’s mind gets purified by itself.

Talk 13(Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi):

“Is a Master necessary for realisation?” Mrs. Piggot asked first.
M.: The realisation is the result of the Master’s grace more than teachings, lectures, meditation, etc. They are only secondary aids, whereas the former is the primary and the essential cause.

Devotee: What are the obstacles which hinder realisation of the Self?
M.: They are habits of mind (vasanas).

D.: How to overcome the mental habits (vasanas)?
M.: By realising the Self.

D.: That is a vicious circle.
M.: It is the ego which raises such difficulties, creating obstacles and then suffers from the perplexity of apparent paradoxes. Find out who makes the enquiries and the Self will be found.

D.: What are the aids for realisation?
M.: The teachings of the Scriptures and of realised souls

D.: Can such teachings be discussions, lectures and meditations?
M.: Yes, all these are only secondary aids, whereas the essential is the Master’s grace.

Anonymous said...

Here is Swami Krishnananda (Swami Sivananda's disciple) from one of his discourses
/**
Whole-souled love of God cannot come by human effort. Human effort is inadequate for the purpose, because it would be something like attempting to carry burning coals with a piece of straw. We cannot do it. Even the great master Acharya Sankara did not properly answer this question when he himself raised this point in his commentary on the Brahma Sutras. How does knowledge arise in the jiva? It is not by human effort, because effort towards knowledge is possible only when there is knowledge, and we are asking how knowledge arises. How can the love of God arise in a person? It cannot arise by effort, because who can have the energy to put forth such effort as to invoke the power of God which can rouse such a feeling for God? So, the great Advaitin Sankara himself says—apparently contrary to his own doctrine, we may say—that it is Ishvara-anugraha. Īśvarānugrahādeva puṁsām advaitavāsanā (Avadhuta Gita 1.1), says Dattatreya in his Avadhuta Gita: The feeling for the unity of things arises due to the grace of God. Īśvarānugrahādeva—only by that, and by no other way. It is very difficult to understand what all this means.

Thus, while from one side it looks as though hard effort is necessary, on the other side it appears that we have to be passively receptive to the ingress of divine grace, always awaiting the call, and yearning for that light and blessing which can come upon us at any time. Whatever be the means by which such a love of God can rise in ourselves, this is indispensable and there is no other alternative. Nānyaḥ panthā vidyat’yanāya (Svet. Up. 3.8): There is no other alternative for us. No other path can be seen; there is no other way out. This is a must for each and every person. When that intensity of feeling arises, miraculous experiences automatically follow, which is the glorious consummation of yoga.
***/

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Who?, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment in which you write, 'The original works of Bhagavan, when focused upon exclusively and in entirety, explained patiently and devotedly, leave no room for ambiguity. And i, for one, thank Acharya Michael for this'.

Yes, Acharya Michael is a beautiful and most appropriate description of our friend, philosopher and guide, Sri Michael James. Yes, if one reads Michael's writings with keen love and interest, one should have no doubt as to what Bhagavan's core teaching is. Regards.

Anonymous said...

Here is an e.g. of Bhagavan's Ramana's devotion told by Papaji from one of his Satsang's from the book "The Truth is". Papaji was a devotee of Krishna for 25-30 years before he came to ramana and answers a question regarding that
/**
Devotee: Why didn't you take Maharshi's advice of who you are seriously and instead continued Krishna's worship?
Papaji : What he spoke I took very seriously. He never said for me to not love Krishna. There is no difference between Krishna and Maharshi, Everybody thinks that devotion is something other than knowledge. On one occasion I was with the Maharshi when some Vrindavan devotees of Krishna, who were on their way to Meenakshi temple stopped to see him. They gave Maharshi a picture of Krishna and I saw Maharshi melt in devotion dropping tears from his eyes. Then I knew there wasn't a better devotee than Maharshi. Tears are one of 3 or 4 symptoms of devotion. Some others are a choked voice, absolute stillness of mind like being wonderstruck, and the hairs of your body standing up, those are some symptoms.
**/

Village idiot said...

Swami Krishnananda,
sorry, what means the mark /** at the end of the first line and
***/ at the end of your comment ?

Steve said...

“The Vedas are very clear. Truth is one and is expressed in many ways.”

Nazi Germany, ISIS, and slaughterhouses are also expressions of the one truth, but it may take a while to clearly experience the one truth via those expressions. Devotion or any other path -- including doing nothing -- may be quicker, but they are still only expressions of the one truth.

Fortunately, this blog is here to show us that any expression is self-ignorance, the fix is self-attention, and the one truth is only ourself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Well said Steve. Yes, as you say, any expression is self-ignorance. Therefore this world, which is taken to be an expression of our true self by many but which can be more accurately described as an expression of our ego, is very much an expression of self-ignorance.

Our job is not to attend to any expressions, but to attend to the one who is seeing, attending or observing these expressions. Regards.

Village idiot said...

Happy Maha Deepam !!!

Anonymous said...

I suppose reading and writing comments in this blog is not an expression and is considered self attention. Good to know that.

Village idiot said...

Anonymous,
what is the issue you want to express ?
What is your supposition, which kind of ideas or which hypothesis do you harbour ?

Steve said...

No Anonymous, but this blog (the articles more so than the comments) is a good place to learn about self-attention.

Village idiot said...

Steve,
what do you want to learn about self-attention ?
How can anything or what can be to learned about being self-attentive ?
Can anybody teach you to be the master in your own home ?

Steve said...

Self-attention gives us self-knowledge, Village Idiot. That's all.

Village idiot said...

Steve,
without self-knowledge you would not at all exist.
So nobody and nothing can give you self-knowledge.

Steve said...


"...nobody and nothing can give you self-knowledge."


Unless you seem to be self-ignorant.

Mouna said...

Village Ididot,

"How can anything or what can be to learned about being self-attentive?"

With self-attention you don't learn anything (cause you are "it"), you "unlearn", so to speak, what you are not.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Is there anything more to self attention than keeping ones focus on the "i am" feeling? What else is there to learn about it? Does intellectualizing it over and over again actually give self knowledge as opposed to focusing on the "i am" feeling since this whole thing is beyond the mind, intellect and the senses?

Steve said...

Anonymous, the main thing to learn about self-attention is simply that it is the antidote to self-ignorance, which is attention to 'the mind, intellect, and the senses'. 'Intellectualizing over it', at least to a point, often helps us understand what we are doing and why.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

This is my understanding and correct me if i'm wrong. Bhagavan said that if one focuses persistently on the "I am" feeling which is self attention, this will prevent other thoughts from arising and make the mind still. Bhagavan said that this is as much as a person can do and after that its grace of the self which will destroy that I thought and the snake (the "i am" feeling) which was never there to start with will disappear and only the self remains. So all that one needs to do is to focus on this "I am" feeling and in tamil he uses the words "santhatham, salipara, santhoshamagave" meaning continuously, without a fuss and happily paying attention to the "I am" feeling.

If this is the teaching and if we say that we have faith in Bhagavan's words, what else is there to learn. On the one hand we say we have faith in his words and on the other hand we are talking about learning and intellectually understanding. Either we don't have faith in his words or we are trying to intellectualize it more and more.


Here is Bhagavan's own words:
/**
This vivid Realisation, as a direct and immediate experience of the supreme Truth, comes quite naturally, with nothing uncommon about it, to everyone who, remaining just
as he is, enquires introspectively without allowing the mind to become externalised even for a moment or wasting time in mere talk.
**/

So what is all this writing, reading etc if not outward expressions and externalizing the mind. It only seems to be enhancing ones ego in terms of arguments even if we pretend that we are not arguing to prove a point, as opposed to focusing on the "i am" feeling and all this applies to me as well.

Thats why I agreed with Viswanathan's comments of David Godman
"Too many words and too much hair-splitting. Self-enquiry is not something you analyse like this. It is something you do to keep the mind away from pointless busyness such as this."

I think he is right on dot.

Anugraha said...

Anonymous,
developing one's ability to keep the mind away from pointless busyness is possible by focusing one's mind on the omnipresent grace of the immortal light which is also called Jyothi of Tejolinga i.e. ARUNACHALA.

Steve said...

"This is my understanding and correct me if i'm wrong. Bhagavan said that if one focuses persistently on the "I am" feeling which is self attention, this will prevent other thoughts from arising and make the mind still. Bhagavan said that this is as much as a person can do and after that its grace of the self which will destroy that I thought and the snake (the "i am" feeling) which was never there to start with will disappear and only the self remains."

Anonymous, I'm guessing you learned that understanding somehow. It sounds like that might be enough for you, but different people, for different reasons, want or need different amounts of talking, learning, writing, reading, etc. That's basically all it is.

I agree with you that Bhagavan is right on the dot when he says that the experience of the truth will come to everyone who remains as he is, without allowing the mind to become externalized even for a moment or waste time in mere talk. So stop with all these questions! :)

Anonymous said...

Steve,

You said, "Yes, thanks to Bhagavan and Michael I'm clear about the practice of atma-vicara, it's David's quote about it I found confusing. Maybe he's confused."

You said above that you were very clear about atma vichara and that david was Godman was confused and then continued making comments on other comments and talked about learning about self attention and hence my questions. I'll stop them now and attend to myself:-)

Anonymous said...

Anugraha,

I know what the "I am" feeling is but I don't know how to focus on the "omnipresent grace of the immortal light which is also called Jyothi of Tejolinga i.e. ARUNACHALA."

Do you mean the physical form of the mountain? otherwise pardon me its just a phrase for me?

R Viswanathan said...

A very similar statement to that by Sri David Godman which I quoted here was there in a comment for another recent article by Sri Michael James, and Sri Michael James himself gave his response for that, although briefly. I reproduce that portion below so that it helps those who may not remember that discussion.

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.in/2015/05/in-order-to-understand-essence-of-sri.html

RafeStoneman said...
This is a very thorough presentation, thanks for the detail and dedication to put this post together.

I would add that there is one key factor to Ramana's teaching that has been essential in my life. Actually visiting Arunachala. This in the end is a mysterious power that ultimately is totally beyond all words. The silent presence is the transmission in the Heart. This I truly feel was Ramana's primary focus, and self-inquiry was a secondary focus for those with a very intellectual orientation.

Truly, anyone interested in Moksha, regardless of what tradition appeals to them, will benefit by going to Arunachala.

Thanks again, Michael for all you convey in humble surrender to Sri Ramana!

Michael James said...
Yes, Rafe, Arunachala is the embodiment of silence (which is what we really are, our true heart), and self-investigation is the way to experience that silence (by surrendering our ego-self to it). Everything that Bhagavan taught is intimately connected and forms a single coherent whole.

Bob - P said...

Dear Sivanarul

I have not visited Michael's blog since my last post so just replying now.

Thank you for your message Sivanarul.

*[in that reality, creation, projections are all way over my head. I know I exist. Everything else is up for grabs and subject to change and fleeting]*

I agree with you whole heartedly my friend I am never afraid to admit my ignorance sometimes I feel as ignorant as a mole trying to base jump of a sky scraper. All I know is I exist and I must try my best to investigate myself to find out what I really am. You are right everything else is up for grabs. So very well said !!

Thanks for your quote below.

*[From the Katha Upanishad:

This Atman cannot be attained by study of the vedas
, nor by intelligence, nor by much hearing. He whom the Self
Chooses, by him the Self can be gained. To him this
Atman reveals Its true nature. (I.2.23)]*

How true, I am trying to limit my reading now to just a few books including Michael's book "Happiness and the Art of Being" as it is much easier for me to understand compared to others. I think this is huge testimony to Michael's ability to explain Bhagavan's teaching. I also make sure to keep visiting Michaels Blog to look out for new articles as they are so helpful to me as I am sure they are for other friends.

Plus in all fairness the Vedas are way over my head intelectually Sivanarul. Bhagavan has simplified everything for us but from my own perspective even that is over my head sometimes!!! So out of nowhere Michael appears into my life and his wonderful work manifests before my very eyes to help me understand the simplified !!!!

With regards to my spiritual maturity that about says it all !!!!! Speaking from my own perspective so I don't offend anyone I believe the reason Bhagavan has come into my life is nothing to feel proud of it is because I am suffering a very severe case of ignorance!! .. He is the best doctor and I am the worst patient I literally need to be spoon fed the medicine !!! I feel ashamed but so very grateful at the same time.

If I ever start to feel proud of myself or think I am beginning to completely understand the teaching I always remember that, I remember I am the worst patient and it reduces my inflated ego and my feeling of cleverness in a instant.

Thank you Sivanarul
Warmest regards to you

Bob

Bob - P said...

Dear Steve

You said

*[Thanks Bob, but I'm not at all worried. Yes, thanks to Bhagavan and Michael I'm clear about the practice of atma-vicara, it's David's quote about it I found confusing. Maybe he's confused.]*

I misunderstood your previous post Steve I thought you meant you were confused about the teaching not Sanjay and R Viswanathan. But I understand from your reply that I misunderstood and you meant that you are very clear and Sanjay & R Viswanathan are the ones who are confused. Plus you end by suggesting that David Godman might be confused.

Steve to be honest with you I personally think that is quite rude.

It is evident to me from reading your posts that you are very knowledgeable Steve, much more than me and I'm not afraid to admit it to you plus you are very confident about your own understanding. I wish I had your confidence. But in other ways Steve I don't.

Plus I sincerely believe that to put others down and be little them to reinforce your own sense of certainty is not a very nice thing to do. I personally think it is better to build others up not pull them down. Treating everyone how you would like to be treated I think is universally good advice while we mistake our self to be many.

Steve I don't know you in all fairness maybe you do understand Bhagavan's teaching more thoroughly than David Godman. That could very well be true. I am also aware that David and Michael sometimes don't agree on some aspects of Bhagavan's teaching but they never belittle each other in the process.

There is always respect.

Actually I think Michael is a perfect example of humility. He is extremely knowledgeable (understatement) has forgotten more than you and me know about the teaching but is so very humble and kind. He helps everyone whether they ask an advanced question or people like myself who ask very simple questions way beneath his level of understanding.

There is never sarcasm in his posts nor is the a sense of superiority.

I think we should all take a leaf out of Michael's book in more ways than one Steve.

I don't often post long posts like this one or my previous one to Sivanarul I mostly come on just to read Michael's wonderful articles and to thank him for them. So I will leave it there.

Anyway Steve I sincerely hope there are no hard feelings, I respect you and I hope your own practise is going very well. Like wise I hope you soon manage to investigate yourself intensely enough so you experience your self as you really are.

I hope you offer me the same well wishes.

Warmest regards Steve.
Bob

P.S - This exchange between us does nothing but reinforce our own ignorance Steve it puts it on display for all to see, we must laugh at ourselves and investigate who is laughing.

Steve said...

Bob, you still misunderstand my comments, and perhaps the whole conversation, but it's all still up there for review.

I have no hard feelings, but I'm afraid my personality is what it is. I try to use it as little as possible.

Anonymous said...

From : http://www.vedanta.gr/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SadhuOM_ParamountImportanceOfSelf-Attention_Parts-1-7_ENA5-2.pdf

"Whenever any doubts, questions or new ideas arise, reflect on whether they could arise in your sleep. Obviously they could not, so they are external to you. Therefore forget them and remain as you were in sleep." Sadhu OM

R Viswanathan said...


"From : http://www.vedanta.gr/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/SadhuOM_ParamountImportanceOfSelf-Attention_Parts-1-7_ENA5-2.pdf"

Thanks so much for giving the link wherein the extracts of the diary notes of the interaction between Sri Sadhu Om and Sri Michael James are given. It is a great treasure since it corresponds to the period of 1977 to 1980 during which period I guess that Sri Michael James would have had in his mind so many questions to ask Sri Sadhu Om (although this link seems to be giving the notes for the initial two two months).

Do you have the link which gives the diary of the rest of the period?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viswanathan, Thank you sharing the link of the articles The Paramount Importance of Self Attention (Parts 1-7). I think I have not read these, so I have taken a print out of these and will read it soon.

I also feel and believe that these articles are pure gems, and if possible all these articles should be put together in the form of a book. I am not sure if this will be ever possible, may be Bhagavan willing this will be possible sometime in future. Yes, as you say, in the meanwhile, the link of the subsequent articles will be most welcome. May be Michael may consider uploading these articles in his website. He may go on adding to these in his website as and when they are printed in the Mountain Path. Regards.

Anonymous said...

For the rest of the period, it is published in Mountain path (you can download old issue on ramanasramam website, but only 2014, 2015 are not yet available) Perhaps Michael will be able to put on his website a full pdf copy of it, and if we are lucky enough, maybe he will put on his website a fresh translation of Sadhu Om's "Arunachala Venba". All will come in due time... that is to say ...as soon as possible !

Anonymous said...

"Effort is unnecessary for self, because self-attention is natural and effortless. Effort is only needed for the mind. It is the nature of self to attend to self, and it is the nature of the mind to attend to second and third persons. Sādhanā is only for the mind, and the effort to attend to the feeling 'I' is only to keep the mind quiet — in its natural state of pure self-awareness."

Sadhu Om, The paramaount importance of self-attention

Sivanarul said...

“Steve said...
“The Vedas are very clear. Truth is one and is expressed in many ways.”

Nazi Germany, ISIS, and slaughterhouses are also expressions of the one truth, but it may take a while to clearly experience the one truth via those expressions. Devotion or any other path -- including doing nothing -- may be quicker, but they are still only expressions of the one truth.

Fortunately, this blog is here to show us that any expression is self-ignorance, the fix is self-attention, and the one truth is only ourself.”

The above expression of Steve is one reason why many aspirants in the broader Bhagavan’s camp get confused as to their practices (especially those who are not familiar with Talk’s, Days by Day, Aksharamanamalai, Bhagavan’s actions, Mountain Path, Call Divine etc) and Michael’s main message of turning the attention to ‘I’ gets obscured and produces the opposite effect.

I really don’t understand why Nazi Germany and slaughterhouses are written in the paragraph along with Devotion and other paths. What relation do they have? It simply amounts to maligning those paths, to whose benefit?

What Steve wrote above with respect to a hierarchy of how quick one can get to truth (Slaughterhouses being the slowest and Vichara being the fastest) seems reasonable to the intellect, especially if one is convinced that Vichara alone from beginning to end will result in the truth. But Grace does not follow rhyme or reason and is not bound in anyway by intellectual truths.

Continued on next comment...

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment...

The great sage Valmiki (who wrote the epic Ramayana, which is a revered scripture) was a highway robber named Ratnakar who used to rob people after killing them. Yet Grace descended on him and he instantly turned to a rishi who is revered by 1.5 billion people on earth.

Angulima was another serial killer and robber to whom Grace descended on via Buddha, the awakened one. Angulima is a revered figure in Buddism, especially the Theravada tradition.

Hence to suppose any hierarchy, while still being an aspirant, bears the assumption that one knows how Grace will work. This is why passing judgements on other paths (that they will be slower or just an aid) does not befit serious spiritual aspirants and does not benefit Bhagavan’s teachings.

I will admit, I have been judgemental of temple worship and pilgrimages in the past as something people wasting their time on. The various discussions on this site made me see my flaw and I have become very respectful of those sadhana.

It is my honest belief, that aspirants will serve themselves and Bhagavan better, if they are more inclusive of all paths, just like Bhagavan himself was.

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul,

I also believe that if one touts a path as the direct path, supreme path etc etc, it should encompass all the paths. I also did not get where from Nazis, ISIS in a discussion about other methods. But I would mention Hindu Mythology, the worst so called demons Hiranyakashipu, Hiranyaksha and Ravana were 3 successive incarnations and in just 3 births they attained God. Now that would be a conundrum for most people. But it is very simple. By the virtue of hating God they thought about him constantly and it is the intensity of thought about him that matters rather than the method.

Sri Ramakrishna says that if you worship a name and the form of God, that very dualistic God will also lead you to the knowledge of Brahman.

If one wants a proof and practical example of this, I suggest reading the book
"Yoga, Enlightenment and Perfection"

http://www.exoticindiaart.com/book/details/yoga-enlightenment-and-perfection-NAC922/

Its the story of Sringeri Sarada Mutt's Sri Abhinava Vidyatirtha swami's sadhana and realization at the age of 19. He started his sadhana at the age of 14. His predecessor Sri Chandrasekhara Bharati was one of the most respected saint in India. And Chandrasekhara Bharati's guru Narasimha Bharati had tremendous respect for Bhagavan Ramana. The article below shows that.

http://murtymandala.blogspot.in/2011/03/maharshi-and-pontiff-of-sringeri-math.html

But in the book "Yoga, Enlightenment and Perfection" , Swami Abhinava Vidyateertha explains how he was guided by the vision of Lord Shiva and was taught yoga in his dreams and how Shiva himself led him to Nirvikalpa samadhi step by step. This is exactly what Ramakrishna said.

Now before people dismiss all these visions, dreams as a product of mind, it pays to remember that Sringeri mutt was started my the great Advaitin Sankara himself and they are all advaitins.

Advaita says all is god and not my method is the best or the superior one. Advaita is just a final state and can be attained by any method be it dualistic or not. That it is the final state can be uttered only by a man of realization and not by others like me because at this point, i'm just proceeding on the belief of the words of others, be it Sankara or Ramana.

But it is useless to get into arguments regarding this if one is not open minded. Advaita if it is the ultimate state should encompass all not separate it.

Anonymous said...

Also, just because one follows a certain method and Guru it doesn't mean other methods are invalid and have to be put down. Bhagavan himself once reprimanded Kunjuswami because Kunjuswami had been to another ashram and refused to bow down to that Guru there. I personally try to follow self inquiry because it suits my nature but I would never put down any other method and what credibility do we have to put down other methods? All we know is few intellectual arguments and at times excessive, as David Godman put it. Even if I follow self inquiry as my main path, I have found many useful things in other paths.

Swami Vivekananda had a name for such excessive intellectualizing. He called it "intellectual opium eating" :-) For the record he was also an Advaitin and he started the Advaita ashrama in Haridwar.

Anonymous said...

http://www.vedanta.gr/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/ChandrashekBharati_Dialogues-with-The-Guru_RK-Iyer_ENA5.pdf

You may want to check out the above book, "Dialogues with the Guru", a series of conversations with Sringeri's Chandrasekahara Bharati. There is one on Advaita which might be interesting to many.

Sivanarul said...

To further elucidate Anonymous’s point, demeaning other paths may drive some aspirants away, who can really benefit from writings and comments on this site. After my last heated exchange with Sanjay, I have contemplated several times not to follow the site and comments anymore and switch to something that is more inclusive (like Bhagavan himself). But I decided to persist and I am glad I did, because out of the blue, some real gems appear that proves really helpful to me. The last one came from HillTop whose words seem to come from deep experience and insight.

I believe a spiritual path and practice should result in expanding one’s heart to be more inclusive and not exclusive. I also believe that as one progresses on the path one becomes less sure of things and not surer. We are one spiritual family with different practices based on our vasanas, capabilities and what Ishvara ordained for us.

Ulladu Narpadu and Naan Yaar are meant to be used to quietly reflect within our heart and to help our inner practice. Bhagavan would have never intended them to be used as a cover to pass sweeping judgements externally to other jiva’s. I know that by Bhagavan’s actions, which never ever was judgmental.

Contrary to what he wrote in Ulladu Narpadu, he practiced duality towards Arunachala and loved that mountain to the core of his being. When asked about it, he said, you practice duality towards so many things. why shouldn’t I practice duality towards Arunachala?

Contrary to what he wrote, he specifically prayed to Arunachala to cure both his mother’s bodily ill of typhoid and the samsaric ill of birth. I take that to be a direct Upadesha, demonstrated by the guru via action, the importance of prayer.

To those who say Bhagavan did not do any of this, and things just happened under his presence. Fine, then it is Isvhara who did all of those. Isvhara being Saguna Brahman and Lord of Maya then instructed us by action the importance of prayer and the value of devotion.

Bhagavan was the very embodiment of compassion ,non-judgemental and was/is an all-inclusive Jnani. Let us please not use his works against him.

Anonymous said...

To give an example of inclusiveness, there is an anecdote about Chandrasekhara Bharati of Sringeri who was an Advaitin and self realized. A westerner approached him once and said that he wanted to get converted to Hinduism to attain the supreme state. Chandrasekhara Bharati told him that if he truly understands the teachings of Christ and follows it, he would achieve the same state and there was no need of any conversion. That is what I call inclusiveness.

Whereas here many a times, forget about other teachings and other Guru's, even Bhagavan's own devotees and their viewpoints are put down to the exclusiveness of Sadhu Om's, if they do not agree with Sadhu Om's interpretation or differ from his in words.

Also, something Sivanarul said is very true. What is Giripradakshina if not dualistic worship. You can dress it up any way you want, one as the subject is going round another object a physical one. How is this any different from people going around idols in a temple, one going around Panchavati (where Rama stayed) or Tibetans and Hindus going around Mount Kailas? When this is brought up people just ignore it outright and say Arunachala is the self and all that stuff. Why do people go around Bhagavan's samadhi? Isn't Bhagavan within oneself?

Mouna said...

"Whereas here many a times, forget about other teachings and other Guru's, even Bhagavan's own devotees and their viewpoints are put down to the exclusiveness of Sadhu Om's, if they do not agree with Sadhu Om's interpretation or differ from his in words." (don't know who wrote it because it's "anonymous")

Talking about inclusiveness and all that, if Mr anonymous meant this blog, the tone and words of this quoted paragraph seem pretty judgmental to me...

Yours in Bhagavan.
Mouna

Steve said...

Make no mistake about it, atma-vicara is indeed a practice of exclusivity. There is room only for yourself.

Steve said...

...which makes it completely inclusive.

Sivanarul said...

The discussion was not about whether the practice of atma-vichara has room only for oneself. I think by definition that is obvious. What the discussion was can be easily understood by anyone who reads the thread.

For aspirants who understood what the discussion was, Bhagavan in Talks 401, provides the answer for us that are inclusive:

“Dhyana may be external or internal or both. Japa is more important than external form. It must be done until it becomes natural. It starts with effort and is continued until it proceeds of itself. When natural it is called Realisation.

Japa may be done even while engaged in other work. That which is, the One Reality. It may be represented by a form, a japa, mantra, vichara or any kind of attempt. All of them finally resolve themselves into that One Single Reality. Bhakti, vichara, japa are only different forms of our efforts to keep out the unreality”

I am sure one can quote from Naan Yaar and Ulladu Narpadu that contradicts the above. But the above aligns nicely with the core principles of Sanatana Dharma and Bhagavan’s actions and that is enough for me to have faith in it.

Bob - P said...

Dear Steve

On review I did misunderstand some of your comments, apologies, but if you also review the thread you will see I wasn't the only one who thought you suggested that David Godman was confused about the teaching. Sivanaraul & an Anonymous friend also thought that to be the case? I don't think I misunderstood the whole conversation as you suggest.

Like I posted in my last comment I just thought it was a bit rude to suggest that about Mr Godman who has spent most of his life understanding and practising Bhagavan's teaching.

Even though you chose not to return my well wishes and replied with another belittling statement I still send my best wishes to you because of what Bhagavan wrote / taught at the end of Nan Yar? (Paragraph 19)

All that one gives to others one is giving only to oneself. If [everyone] knew this truth, who indeed would refrain from giving

So I send you my sincere best wishes and warmest regards Steve.

Bob

Anonymous said...

Maybe Bhagavan has never said what follow, but it is interesting :

"The intricate maze of philosophy of different schools is said to clarify matters and reveal the truth. But in fact, they create confusion where none need exist. To understand any­ thing there must be the Self. The Self is obvious. Why not remain as the Self? What need is there to explain the non­-self?" (From Conscious Immortality)

https://www.facebook.com/RamanaHridayam

Anonymous said...

Mouna,

You said "Talking about inclusiveness and all that, if Mr anonymous meant this blog, the tone and words of this quoted paragraph seem pretty judgmental to me..."

and i could turn this around and say that you are in turn being judgmental about me and this could go on and on. Why did you make this statement about me? Simply because you wanted to highlight my being judgmental and so you had to make that statement. For the same reason I said what I said. As Christ(I think it was Christ) said when you point a finger at someone the 4 other fingers point back at you.

I am not out here to pick an argument with anyone but my point was simple as Sivanarul has been trying hard to point out many times. Bhagavan's teachings was wide and varied and it often depended on who the receiver was. To say that self inquiry was his only teaching is something I don't agree with and whenever there has been attempts to show that many of his other devotees had followed other paths and realized their self as well as the fact that Bhagavan himself never tried to change many of the devotees ways.

In fact I don't even disagree that the "I" has to go but where I disagree is the fact that one can follow any method and it will lead the person to that point. This has been proved by many saints as well as Bhagavan's own devotees and I don't want to go through that list again and again. This inquiry into the "I" can happen in an instant, like it happened to Bhagavan, to any one who has become ripe by other methods of worship. If self inquiry were the fastest and only method that could do that then
a) All the gazillion saints and mystics which span all religions through different methods were lying.
b) All the people who practice self inquiry are realizing their self by their 100's or 1000's. Obviously thats not the case otherwise so many lines would not be written in this blog about so simple a technique. Its only because our vasanas will not allow us to do self inquiry, that we are writing page after page. So just doing inquiry to realize the self is a noble goal but how many are able to do it?

Whereas there could be many who get their through other methods as well because they were spiritually ripe, had less vasanas, had the proximity of a Jnani etc. Ultimately all these intangible factors play a big role rather than the specific technique. Infact most of Bhagavan's devotees who did self inquiry themselves realized it because of Bhagavan's presence. Otherwise why would Sadhu Om stick to Bhagavan's proximity for 5 years till his body's demise. he could have learnt the technique in a weeks time, gone to some far away cave and realized his self.

Thats as much as I can say.

Anonymous said...

There is the story of Bhagavan's devotee Vilacheri Mani Iyer who is said to have told Bhagavan that he does not understand self inquiry and kept begging him for his grace and one day when he held Bhagavan's leg, he just told Mani "Just remain still saying Siva Siva.." and Mani took this as a cue and started reapeating "Siva, Siva" and is said to have realized his self towards the end of his life. Again I believe it was Bhagavan's proximity. Almost every scripture talks about the benefit of being near a Jnani. Here is Bhagavan himself, from the "The Power of Presence by David Godman"
/**
Sankalpa can be translated as 'will' or 'intention'. Bhagavan, along with many other Masters, held that Jnanis have no sankalpa. In this state the self makes the body behave in a particular way and makes it say whatever needs to be said, but there is no individual choice involved in any of these words or actions. Narayana Iyer once had a most illuminating exchange with Bhagavan on this topic, an exchange that gave a rare insight into the way that a Jnani's power functions:

'One day when I was sitting by the side of Bhagavan I felt so miserable that I put the following question to him: "Is the sankalpa of the jnani not capable of warding off the destinies of the devotees?"

'Bhagavan smiled and said: "Does the jnani have a sankalpa at all? The jivanmuktha can have no sankalpas whatsoever. It is just impossible."

'I continued: "Then what is the fate of all of us who pray to you to have grace on us to save us? Will we not be benefited or saved by sitting in front of you, or by coming to you?..."

'Bhagavan turned graciously to me and said: "...a person's bad karma will be considerably reduced when he is in the presence of a jnani. A jnani has no sankalpas but his sannidhi[presence] is the most powerful force. He need not have sankalpa, but his presiding presence, the most powerful force, can do wonders: save souls, give peace of mind, even give liberation to ripe souls. Your prayers are not answered by him but absorbed by his presence. His presence saves you, wards off karma and gives you boons as the case may be, [but] involuntarily. The jnani does save the devotees, but not by sankalpa, which is non-existent in him, only through his presiding presence, his sannidhi"' (The Mountain Path 1968, p.236)
**/

Again, my point is that these intangibles form a greater force and the technique or method is just one parameter and it could be any method or upasana.

Mouna said...

Anonymous, Namaskars

A short note to tell you that no harm was intended with my "judgment" post and that at this very moment I don't have time but I'll respond to it within a few days.
Since then, all the best

yours in Bhagavan
Mouna

Mouna said...

Anonymous,

After thinking about it, in relation to the "judgment" post, I'll keep quiet.
But again, my intention wasn''t to judge or hurt anybody's feelings.

Namaskars,
Mouna

Anonymous said...

Mouna,

I never took your comment as judgmental. All I was trying to say was that if I have to express my disagreement I have to say what I felt just like you said what you had to, to me. There is no way getting around it or the other better alternative is to keep quiet as you have said, which is what I should also be doing thereby following Bhagavan's teachings. :-) Anyway, I already said what I wanted to say about the point I was trying to make.

Sivanarul said...

I am not sure I can add anything more to Anonymous’s quite eloquent post, covering pretty much what I wanted to say. But I do want to add a few more things as I feel it might help a few aspirants.

I think many writings and comments on this blog are based on the genuine belief that Vichara is the only way the ego will be rooted out. Since Bhagavan’s writings in Ulladu Narpadu and Naan Yaar seem to suggest such a belief, I certainly understand the earnestness and missionary style advocacy of it. But as anonymous pointed out, there is much more going on than a particular technique in the rooting of the ego and Grace is not bound by any technique when it decides to act. It is generally believed that the Self will not reveal itself if the waters are muddy (impure). But when grace decides to act, it will clear even the muddiest water and will enable the Self to reveal itself. When this is deeply understood, one really stops judging any spiritual practice and as well as materialism, hedonism or any other ism, knowing that grace can act on anyone for any reason with no notice irrespective of whether they are the purest gem or the impurest person in the multiverse. It really makes one deeply humble to know that Grace can bypass the person who thinks and acts pure and can instead awaken a murderer.

It is also helpful to remember that Bhagavan, via his actions, bypassed his own writings of Ulladu Narpadu and Naan Yaar. I have already provided a few examples in the earlier comments. Let me provide a new one. After Bhagavan’s mother passed away with Bhagavan helping her ego to subside in the Self, Bhagavan declared that she had attained liberation and is a Jnani.

Now he could have simply told people to give her a good burial. But instead he said that they should carefully follow the instructions found in Thirumanthiram for burying a Jnani. Isn’t Bhagavan’s entire teaching based on rooting out the ‘I am the Body’ idea? Isn’t the very definition of a Jnani supposed to be one that has rooted out the ‘I am the Body’ idea? So wouldn’t a good burial suffice? Why did Bhagavan go out of his way to make sure that the instructions of Thirumanthiram be followed? For those who say Bhagavan did not do anything and only his presence did it, I say when I refer to Bhagavan I am referring to that presence that force. I am not referring to the ego Venkataraman which died when it was 16.

Continued on next comment....

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment...

We all know Vichara was close to Bhagavan’s heart and some of us are highly skilled in that practice, while others struggle with it. I will provide an exclusive way and inclusive way of promoting Vichara.

Exclusive Way:

Vichara is the only Sadhana that will result in the rooting of the ego. All other Sadhana’s, at best, are aids that are unnecessary and many times may become bottlenecks to the eventual practice of Vichara. This is supported by Ulladu Narpadu verses x, y and z and from Naan Yaar verse a and b. If you say you are Bhagavan’s devotee, then you have no choice but to practice Vichara as the ONLY practice, even if you find it difficult. Just practice it and it will get easier. Also, adopt Eka Jiva Vada and world as an illusion since they go hand in hand with the practice of Vichara. Ignore Bhagavan’s actions that contradict this since Bhagavan seemed to do things only from the onlooker’s perspective, but he really did not do anything. But don’t apply the same logic to his writings. Ulladu Narpadu and Naan Yaar were really written by him whereas his actions were not done by him. Ishvara is an illusion, since he is not there in deep sleep. If ‘I’ arises, everything else arises.

Inclusive Way:

Vichara is a key Sadhana in rooting out the ego along with other Sadhana’s that you may find easy to work with such has Puja, Japa, Breath Meditation, OM Meditation, GiriValam etc etc. The key thing to develop is a deep earnestness to realize the truth. Just because Vichara seems hard to you, don’t completely give up Vichara. Do the Sadhana’s that you find easy to work with. Let those sadhanas take the bulk of your time. But whenever you get a few moments, during lunch break, or any other break, turn your attention on the ‘I’ and try to keep it there for a few seconds or a minute or two. Then go back to your work or other Sadhana. Eventually Vichara may take hold of you or it may not. It does not matter as long as you are earnest that you want to realize the truth. If you have a religious background, that’s wonderful because Ishvara can play a very big role in your sadhana. As long as you have the ‘I am the Body’ idea, Ishvara is very real and the biggest help you are going to find on the path. When you can be like Bhagavan, completely immersed in the bliss of the self in Pathala Linga without any reaction to insects eating your flesh, then you have earned the right to say Ishvara is an illusion. Otherwise, just like GVK says not to practice advaita toward’s one’s guru, do not practice advaita towards Ishvara.

I follow and promote the inclusive way and I believe Bhagavan’s actions supports it. I believe many more people will start practicing Vichara if it is said in the above inclusive manner.

Sivanarul said...

Just want to expand on my previous comment regarding the role of Ishvara in Sadhana. After this, I am done writing for the day :-)

Whenever anyone writes that Ishvara is an illusion, one needs to consider the background of the writer.

If Bhagavan has written it or said it in Talks, knowing his background, we know that such statements are made from an absolute reality standpoint. Bhagavan has no more Sadhana to do and from an absolute reality standpoint whatever he says is experiential and may or may not apply to our individual case.

If an aspirant says it, consider their background. One possibility is that they could have had an atheist or non-religious background. They got exposed to Bhagavan’s teachings and advaita. The teachings simply ask them to focus on ‘I’, which is as secular as it gets. So there is no reason for them to get involved with Ishvara and hence very easy for them to write or say that Ishvara is an illusion. That is the natural position for them to take and this comment is not meant for them.

The second possibility is that they did have a religious or spiritual background but after getting exposed to Bhagavan’s teaching and/or advaita, they have come to the conclusion that Ishvara is an illusion. This comment is meant for aspirants under this category. I respectfully submit that neither Bhagavan’s teachings nor advaita “requires” you to consider Ishvara as an illusion during Sadhana. Such a position, imho, is a misunderstanding and could result in letting go of one the biggest help that one could have in Sadhana. The following are some points to ponder.

Sri Shankara, regarded as one of the greatest advaitins, sang powerful hymns towards Ishvara. It was Ishvara who came under the disguise of Chandala and corrected Sri Shankara’s momentary lapse towards ‘I am the Body’ idea.

Bhagavan practiced duality towards Ishvara (Arunachala) and sang Aksharamanamalai.

Continued in next comment…..

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment……

When one say’s Ishvara is not found in deep sleep, they are missing the point that Ishvara shines within the ‘I’ in deep sleep. Ishvara never leaves ‘I’ in all three states. Only the world and it’s objects leaves the Jiva in deep sleep.

Due to misunderstanding, the Jiva takes the position that since it has understood advaita and under the authority of Bhagavan’s writing, it can dismiss Ishvara lightly as an illusion. Once this position is taken, then all related Sadhana drop off. But the Jiva never drops off movies, television, tasty food, wife, children, friends or work as an illusion but comes up with good reasons why they are necessary.

Also note that most advaitic texts (GVK, Ozhivil Odukkam etc) forbid practicing advaita towards one’s guru. Ishvara being Dakshinamoorthy (guru of all guru’s), shouldn’t that apply to Ishvara as well?

Jiva takes also the misguided position that Ishvara is one step lower than a Jnani. The reasoning goes that Jnani is Brahman whereas Ishvara is caught up with manifestation. What it implies is that the Jiva thinks that once awakened, it will realize it being a Jnani but poor Ishvara is stuck with manifestation and will be one step lower than it.

Here is a quote from Bhagavan that refutes such a position:

“If you can become a jnani, a mukta (liberated person) and the immortal Brahman, is it not reasonable to suppose that Siva and Vishnu who are infinitely greater than you, have such jnana and are therefore the Immortal Brahman?”

So if you had a religious upbringing and are still an aspirant, considering Ishvara as an illusion is like poking your own eyes. You certainly have the freedom to do it. But it does not make sense to do it basing it on Bhagavan’s or advaitic teachings, for they are not asking you to do it.

Anonymous said...

A few more things i'd add are the following
a) Almost everyone knows how much of a stickler Bhagavan was for eating sattvic food and even insisted on this to Westerners when they asked about this. Now if Bhagavan's only teaching was self inquiry, would he not have said , "If you practice self inquiry, doesn't matter what you eat, what you do", but on the contrary he always emphasized sattvic food's importance. Now if Bhagavn's teachings were just self inquiry, why would he do that?
b) If one reads the biography of Annamalai Swamy, "Living by the words of BHagavan" ( and probably his interactions with other devotees as well) there are instances when Annamalai swamy suffered from anger, lust etc, Bhagavan promptly tried to mitigate them by other ways. Why would he do that? He could have simply said "Do self inquiry" and on the contrary Bhagavan never allowed Annamalai Swamy to meditate for the first 12 years when he was with him. He gave him loads of building work and saw to it that he did not have even time to meditate and at the end of it said, "Your karma is over" and now go and meditate. He advised another devotee TK Sunderasa Iyer's son never to get into debt.
Many things Bhagavan suggested are not unique at all. Infact in Raja Yoga or Ashtanga Yoga, they come under Yama and Niyama or do's and don'ts like brahmacharya, control of senses, ahimsa etc. Only difference is that in Yoga and other traditions such things are codified clearly where as Bhagavan adviced his devotees informally and did it on a case by case basis. Now if his teaching was only self inquiry, why would he do all this and give advice like not to get into debt? He insisted on not wasting even one grain of rice and said that he will have to answer Arunachala. Why teach all this when all is Brahman and there is no creation. Why should he speak from both absolute as well as relative standpoints?
All this clearly proves that Spirituality is not about just a technique. You need to be pure inside out. In Raja Yoga Meditation is just the 7th stage among 8 stages because you need to have purified yourself even to be able to meditate. For many of, why are we distracted so much by all this writings and argumente. It simply because our vasanas will not allow us to meditate or do self inquiry and we need to observe and correct many other facets simulatneously while doing self inquiry.
Also, if one reads Kunjus Swami's accounts, he makes it very clear and gives several e.g.s to show that self inquiry was not Bhagavan's only teachings. I will try to paste them if I get them. Remember Kunju Swami was with Bhagavan for 32 years whiel Sadhu Om was with him only for 5 years so Kunju Swami would have seen a lot more of Bhagavan's interactions.
I have always found it more helpful to read about the lives of the Jnanis and how they live both before and after they attain Jnana rather than just their words because, their words are from the absolute standpoint. For e.g. often
a) They will say you are already that, but do we get that immediately.
b) They may say there is no need to do sadhana but look at their own life, they would have done tremendous sadhana.
c) They will say do not go here and there in search of a guru but look at their life. It will be the opposite.
d) They will say you can attain it by being a householder leading a normal 9 to 5 life but look at their own lives, e.g. Muruganar, papaji, Nisargadatta etc. Almost all of them ignored their so called family duties atleast for a big period and went in search of a guru or the truth. Above all they all had the association of Jnani.
So I'd look at how they lived rather than just what they taught. What is there to teach in their works after all? They'd say all is brahman and how does that statement help. We can parrot that statement for ages and nothing will happen.

Mouna said...

Who is Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi?

• For many many many people Bhagavan simply doesn't mean anything. They never heard that name, or seen any image of him.
• For many many people Bhagavan is just a person born in India, usually related with an old photograph of a kind old man, a middle age half-naked man or an intense gazing young boy staring at the camera.
• For many people He is a saint to be revered with daily pujas, repeating his name and/or worshiping his image.
• For some people He is a teacher of Vedanta, and for others is a teacher of Advaita Vedanta, who taught by example through the means of compassionate actions, talks, writings, poems, songs but most important, silence.
• For a few, Bhagavan is the dream figure that embodying the Self, gives us dreamers the opportunity to wake up. The lion that wakes up the elephant from his dream.
• For "I" He is "I". Oneself. Brahman.

The different "Bhagavans" relate to us in the same way we see and experience ourselves in relation to our own body, mind and self.

A body sees only bodies, worlds, objects of different kind.
A mind feels emotions, sees thoughts and concepts, day-dreams and dreams with dream-bodies, dream-worlds, dream-objets and dream-thoughts of different kinds.

Self only knows Self.

Which Bhagavan do I relate most?...


Yours in Him,
Mouna

Anonymous said...

Mouna,

You said "Which Bhagavan do I relate most?..." and you have nailed it. That "I" in your question as long as we have an ego is different for each one of us and thats precisely why a generic and a specific teaching cannot be ascribed to Ramana or any other teacher. And if you already see him as the Self in all then you don't need him at all.

R Viswanathan said...

I would suggest to Tirich Mir that the following link may serve to be of some help until Sri Michael James finds time to answer the questions raised. The article and the responses by the author (Sri David Godman) for some very interesting comments posted by readers are, as always, so very helpful for an aspirant like me. I feel that they might also be relevant to some comments raised in the present article.

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.in/2010/01/reincarnating-jnanis.html

I will reproduce two passages from the response of Sri David Godman (in the comment section of the above link) which appealed to me most:

1) Bhagavan's mother's samadhi and Mastan's samadhi were both, at Bhagavan's request, constructed according to the design laid out by Tirumoolar. I am not sure what happened in the case of Lakshmi, but I am sure that something similar was done. When Seshadri Swami passed away, Bhagavan lent his copy to the people who were burying him so that he could be buried properly.

The key elements are a cubic pit, lined with stone, inside which are three stone walls arranged in a triangle. The body is placed inside the triangular structure, and the gaps are filled in with camphor and vibhuti.

This particular set of instructions was also followed when Bhagavan passed away. If you want to visualise him as he exists under the ground, he is sitting cross-legged in padmasana, a few feet below ground level, facing towards Arunachala. I mention this because for years I somehow imagined him facing the entrance of the samadhi hall. Nowadays, if I want to talk to him face to face, I go round to the side nearest the old hall and communicate from that direction.

2) Sorry, but I forgot to address your main query: If so, can any benefit be derived from samadhis of Gnanis. Someone please answer this as I am torn between surrender to samadhis of Guru and self-enquiry.

It is my belief and experience that there is a power in the samadhi of Bhagavan that is spiritually beneficial for those who feel it and choose to focus on it. I could extend that statement to the whole of Ramanasramam, and not just restrict it to the immediate vicinity of the samadhi. There is a power there that I am sure has come from Bhagavan's long association with the place. That particular location is soaked and imbued with his presence. Even Lakshmana Swamy, who occasionally says that samadhi shrines do not contain the power of the living Guru, once said that there is a strong residual power in Ramanasramam that comes from Bhagavan having been there for so long. He said that he noticed it every time he came to visit.

Oddly enough, different people feel it in different places and at different times. Some people find the old hall more powerful than the samadhi hall, and some people feel the power more strongly at a particular time of day.

I once asked Papaji if spending all my time editing Bhagavan's words and stories was a distraction from what I should be really doing.

He replied, 'Any association with Bhagavan is a blessing. You have been drawn to think about his words all the time. That is a good satsang because those words have power, and while you are thinking about them, you are in contact with Bhagavan.'

Something similar could be said to anyone who feels drawn to the samadhi as a focus for his or her devotion to Bhagavan: if it keeps your attention on Bhagavan, it is both satsang and a blessing.

Steve said...

"Which Bhagavan do I relate most?"

Of the options given in Mouna's comment, only one of them is real. To anyone who is more interested in relating to the unreal, I would strongly recommend avoiding Michael James' writings!

Sivanarul said...

Steve says:

“To anyone who is more interested in relating to the unreal, I would strongly recommend avoiding Michael James' writings!”

If one is truly interested only in the real, why even follow Michael James’ writings? Do Michael’s writings have any more reality than the unreality we have chosen to be interested in? To the one who is truly interested only in the ‘I’, why follow anything other than ‘I’?

Asking to avoid the site, is not the way Satsang is done and not helpful at all.

Steve said...

"If one is truly interested only in the real, why even follow Michael James’ writings?"

Because they point to the real. It's okay Sivanarul, you're probably safe in the comments...as long as you avoid Michael's.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji, Vannakkam.

“For a few, Bhagavan is the dream figure that embodying the Self, gives us dreamers the opportunity to wake up. The lion that wakes up the elephant from his dream.
• For "I" He is "I". Oneself. Brahman.”
Based on your statement “us dreamers”, it looks like you relate to Bhagavan with the few. May I ask, why then you usually end your comments with “Yours In Bhagavan” or “Yours In Him”? Why bother associating with a character that appears in your dream?

For the many many, many and some people:

Please do not follow advaita towards the guru. This is explicitly forbidden in all advaitic texts I have read. Until one is firmly established in the Self, the guru and Ishvara are powerful forces that help us in all sorts of ways. To call them “an elephant from your dream” based on intellectual conviction and not experiential realization does gross injustice both to them and to your Sadhana.

Sivanarul said...

Steve,

How much pointing one need? You are, obviously based on earlier statements, an advanced aspirant. Why do you think you need more pointing? Once you have really understood Eka Jiva and the world is an illusion what more is there to point, other than to buckle up and focus on the ‘I’?

It is very easy to dismiss other aspirants as seeking unreal based on intellectual understanding. It is fair to say many of us who seek “unreal” do have a good intellectual understanding of the teachings.

Mouna said...

Dear Sivanarulji, Pranams

"Yours in Bhagavan" is a figure of speech that to my ears sounds better than "Regards" and at the same time is a more polite remembrance of my guru (inner and outer).

The "elephant" is us, not the Guru/Ishwara. The Guru/Ishwara is the lion that wakes up the elephant from within its dream. So no offense for the Guru.

You are right about not using advaita towards the guru, that's also why "Yours in Him".

M.

(PS: Where are we during deep sleep, and where is the Guru for that matters?... Guru/Ishwara is what's left when "we" are not there)

Steve said...

"How much pointing one need? You are, obviously based on earlier statements, an advanced aspirant. Why do you think you need more pointing?"

I must not be as advanced as you take me to be.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Sorry for the mix up of elephant/lion. I meant the way you explained (was just typing fast).

I know, based on many earlier conversations, you don’t intend offense in any of your writings and even in disagreements, you end them nicely. I am writing this more for the generic aspirant and especially myself, so that I don’t end up ever calling my Guru’s as lions (yes, I am a very poor student who needs many many Guru’s to help me progress)

Unless you are permanently abiding in the Self, calling the Guru, as Lion, as something that appears in your dream ends up belittling the Guru based on how one conventionally treats dream characters. It amounts to looking at a person who is before you and saying “You are nothing but my dream character. You may be helping me, but it is more of dream help”. Try this when you are asking for help from someone and see the quality of help you get. The guru and Ishvara don’t care whether we ask nicely or not and the quality of their help will not differ. But when we speak nicely to so many people in the world, shouldn’t we speak nicely to our guru and Ishvara?

Many of the advaitic teachings are not meant to be used are said in conversations. They are meant to be experienced. If one adopts them for Sadhana/Bhavana purposes, then that is something that is supposed to be observed within oneself and not meant for expression outside.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji my friend,

It was my Guru Sri Ramana that gave me the image of the lion and the elefant. At the same time I do firmly believe that if Bhagavan was in front of me, "he" would be happy to know that I consider him my lion.

He also told me to keep advaita in my heart and thoughts but not my actions within the transactional reality, so I couldn't agree more with you on that point.
That's why also I am very fond of Arinachala, Lord Shiva, Lord Krishna and have 5 images of Bhagavan in my work environment (plus many of other different saints/gurus/jnanis). Respect and gratitude is my motto in that regard. Wouldn't be here (psychologicaly speaking) if it wasn't for "their" help. And also at the same time I know that those "symbols" are pointers to something indescribable that lies at the center of "being/existence" itself. This doesn't diminish a all the importance of them, on the contrary.

But here (this blog) is not our usual conversations, where we discuss politics and sports, here we dive deep into our the fundamental tools, sadhanas, experiences, disappointments, understandings, etc so it is ok, to my eyes of course, to speak ajata, duality and non, and to use it while we discuss if that is what we feel and understand.
Again, all this respecting each other, and most of all respecting where each of us come from in our understanding, knowing that deep inside, we are all in the same boat, or allow me to use the advaitic term, dream.

Vanakkam,
Yours in Bhagavan,
Mouna

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Excellent and very eloquent post. Thanks for sharing. You should write more of these kinds of postings :)

I agree with you, that on this site, it is perfectly valid to discuss any advaitic (or spiritual) concept and teaching. But the conversation that we are having with respect to Sadhana and other things were being discussed at vyavahara level of reality. By calling the guru as a lion, immediately changes the level of reality and impedes or avoids the discussion taking place.

“At the same time I do firmly believe that if Bhagavan was in front of me, "he" would be happy to know that I consider him my lion.”

It is my opinion that if Bhagvan was in front of you, “he” would be happy that you “REALIZE” him my lion and not “CONSIDER” him my lion. Of course, that is just my opinion and who knows what Bhagavan would feel.

Practicing Bhagavan’s “advanced” teachings is one thing (no one is saying that one should not do that), but preaching that the “advanced” teachings is the ONLY way is an entirely different thing. I have never seen you do that, so that was not meant for you.

The inclusive way I wrote earlier is the kinder, compassionate way of practicing and advocating for Vichara even if one treats everyone else as dream characters.

I guess enough writing for the day. Time to do some meditation focusing on the breath :-)

Vannakkam, Namaskar and have a great day!

Mouna said...

"Vannakkam, Namaskar and have a great day!"

You too my friend.

Anonymous said...

Steve,

Ignore unreal comments like these and focus on the Real and Michael's writings. You seem to follow all these unreal comments or comments about unreal, take it whichever way you want, with great enthusiasm and don't seem to want to inquire as to who it is that bothers about these, so you better get to the task before patronizing others. On the one hand you say you are clear about Vichara and say others are confused and then come right back and say that you are learning Vichara, so make up your mind and feel free to ignore my stupid comments since they are unreal and the rants of a deluded person who can only see duality. Just quoting some quotes of Bhagavan doesn't make anyone realized.

If you are realized then these comments wouldn't bother you, if you aren't you are in the same boat as us, so don't act realized before you are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viswanathan, you had quoted David Godman about his views on the power in the Samadhi of Bhagavan. In November 2013 I had corresponded with Michael on this very topic. I share below some extracts of our email exchange:

Sanjay: A jnani's samadhi-shrine is a sacred place and is believed to have some special powers (in our relative plane). It is believed that if one prays at this shrine, it can grant our requests, can grant us boons, can reduce the effects of our bad karmas etc. The same is said about Sri Bhagavan's samadhi-shrine. Is it true in some way?

Michael: Yes, a jnani's samadhi-shrine is certainly a sacred place and it does have power, but what makes it powerful is not anything to do with the physical world or the 'relative plane', but is only the jnana in which the jnani had merged. Therefore if we pray at such a shrine, what we should pray for is only jnana and not any material or relative benefits. If we pray for any relative benefits, they may be granted, but from the spiritual perspective praying thus is foolish.

Regards.

Sivanarul said...

To: Acharya Michael

Thanks to Anonymous who helped shape quite a bit of conversation of various Sadhana and inclusiveness. I do want to address Michael’s writings itself and make a direct appeal to Michael.

I agree with Who? and Sanjay, that Michael is certainly an Acharya. I regard him with admiration and deep respect. Anyone who has spent 30+ years absorbed with Bhagavan’s teachings, who gives away his understanding for free and spends so much time in explaining nuances and lives like a recluse is way advanced than me and I say Pranams to Michael and all acharya’s like him (David Godman and many other illustrious disciples of Bhagavan).

As anonymous suggested, Michael's writings do tend to align very tightly with Sadhu OM’s interpretation and sometimes “appears” to put down other interpretation. Knowing that Michael trained with Sadhu OM, his interpretation aligning with Sadhu OM is to be expected. I am not commenting on that. But the “appearance” part is what this comment and appeal is for.

Given Michael’s kindness with his time and his expressed interested in explaining Bhagavan’s teachings, any “appearance” that puts down other interpretations or Sadhana effectively reduces the number of aspirants his writings can reach or touch. I know he has said he writes for his own sake and his writing is his Sadhana. Let’s say then reaching a wider (beginner, intermediate and advanced) audience is a secondary goal.

The appeal to Acharya Michael is to please try to reduce the “appearance” of putting down other Sadhana. If you read this comment, please scroll up a few more comments up and please read my exclusive and inclusive way of promoting Vichara. Many of us are really turned away by the exclusive promotion and we would greatly benefit if the “appearance” becomes more inclusive. There has to be a way by which the importance of Vichara can be stressed without appearing to put down other Sadhana.

I apologize, if this comment in any way comes across as disrespectful of Michael.

Sivanarul said...

Looks like my previous posting did not go through. Trying for second time:

To: Acharya Michael

Thanks to Anonymous who helped shape quite a bit of conversation of various Sadhana and inclusiveness. I do want to address Michael’s writings itself and make a direct appeal to Michael.

I agree with Who? and Sanjay, that Michael is certainly an Acharya. I regard him with admiration and deep respect. Anyone who has spent 30+ years absorbed with Bhagavan’s teachings, who gives away his understanding for free and spends so much time in explaining nuances and lives like a recluse is way advanced than me and I say Pranams to Michael and all acharya’s like him (David Godman and many other illustrious disciples of Bhagavan).

As anonymous suggested, his writings do tend to align very tightly with Sadhu OM’s interpretation and sometimes “appears” to put down other interpretation. Knowing that Michael trained with Sadhu OM, his interpretation aligning with Sadhu OM is to be expected. I am not commenting on that. But the “appearance” part is what this comment and appeal is for.

Given Michael’s kindness with his time and his expressed interested in explaining Bhagavan’s teachings, any “appearance” that puts down other interpretations or Sadhana effectively reduces the number of aspirants his writings can reach or touch. I know he has said he writes for his own sake and his writing is his Sadhana. Let’s say then reaching a wider (beginner, intermediate and advanced) audience is a secondary goal.

The appeal to Acharya Michael is to please try to reduce the “appearance” of putting down other Sadhana. If you read this comment, please scroll up a few more comments up and please read my exclusive and inclusive way of promoting Vichara. Many of us are really turned away by the exclusive promotion and we would greatly benefit if the “appearance” becomes more inclusive. There has to be a way by which the importance of Vichara can be stressed without appearing to put down other Sadhana.

I apologize, if this comment in any way comes across as disrespectful of Michael.

Sivanarul said...

Looks like my posting again got deleted. Trying it for the third time in two posts:

Post1:

To: Acharya Michael

Thanks to Anonymous who helped shape quite a bit of conversation of various Sadhana and inclusiveness. I do want to address Michael’s writings itself and make a direct appeal to Michael.

I agree with Who? and Sanjay, that Michael is certainly an Acharya. I regard him with admiration and deep respect. Anyone who has spent 30+ years absorbed with Bhagavan’s teachings, who gives away his understanding for free and spends so much time in explaining nuances and lives like a recluse is way advanced than me and I say Pranams to Michael and all acharya’s like him (David Godman and many other illustrious disciples of Bhagavan).

As anonymous suggested, his writings do tend to align very tightly with Sadhu OM’s interpretation and sometimes “appears” to put down other interpretation. Knowing that Michael trained with Sadhu OM, his interpretation aligning with Sadhu OM is to be expected. I am not commenting on that. But the “appearance” part is what this comment and appeal is for.

Sivanarul said...

Post2:

Given Michael’s kindness with his time and his expressed interested in explaining Bhagavan’s teachings, any “appearance” that puts down other interpretations or Sadhana effectively reduces the number of aspirants his writings can reach or touch. I know he has said he writes for his own sake and his writing is his Sadhana. Let’s say then reaching a wider (beginner, intermediate and advanced) audience is a secondary goal.

The appeal to Acharya Michael is to please try to reduce the “appearance” of putting down other Sadhana. If you read this comment, please scroll up a few more comments up and please read my exclusive and inclusive way of promoting Vichara. Many of us are really turned away by the exclusive promotion and we would greatly benefit if the “appearance” becomes more inclusive. There has to be a way by which the importance of Vichara can be stressed without appearing to put down other Sadhana.

I apologize, if this comment in any way comes across as disrespectful of Michael.

Sivanarul said...

Tirich Mir,

“Let us assume that many of us seekers are or will be not able to give up everything and to destroy this ego for ever before physical death. Therefore knowing ourself might include to know whether the ego will grasp any other subtle form of body after leaving the physical body because of death.”

Well said. Your assumption is shared by many seekers once they start serious Sadhana. I am only a fellow seeker and don’t have any experiential knowledge. But my answers are based on decent understanding of Sanatana Dharma and Bhagavan’s teachings. Take it for what it is worth.

1. Which kind of body would the ego grasp or what kind of thought does it form and experience within itself in the moment of death and after that ?
It is believed that awareness continues in subtle and causal bodies. Death only impacts the physical body.

2. Is there at all a life as an astral/mental/causal body ?
Yes.

3. Which influence would have such a life on the structure of a future physical body ?
It is believed that the last thought one has during physical death plays a big role in the future physical body. However the future body is entirely up to the discretion of Ishvara. He runs the show, pulls all the strings and we (as ego) are puppets under him.

4. Is there at all a world on the opposite side of the river called (physical) life ?

Yes. Why shouldn’t there be? Science is now certain that within 20 years, alien life will be found somewhere in the universe. If life has happened in one space/time coordinate (earth, 2015), why shouldn’t it not happen in other coordinates?

Sivanarul said...

5. Did Bhagavan ever answer such a question ?
Not too directly. But we can infer from various conversations he generally was in agreement with the findings of Sanatana Dharma. Please find below an excerpt from Saranagathi Dec 2015 issue regarding Bhagavan’s mother’s liberation. It answers question about reincarnation:

"Commenting on the final day when he had attended on her with such care, Bhagavan later said, “Innate tendencies, vasanas or subtle memories of past experiences leading to future possibilities, became active. Scene after scene rolled before her in the subtle consciousness as the outer sense had already gone; the soul was passing through a series of experiences that might possibly have required many more births but for the quickening process worked out by the special touch given on the occasion. The soul was at last disrobed of the subtle sheaths before it reached the final destination, the supreme peace, nirvana from which there is no return to ignorance.”

6. Did Bhagavan always without exception refer/advise the questioner only to seek the source of the 'I' – thought in the now ?
No. His advice was dependent on the questioner. His preferred method was to advise the questioner to see the source of ‘I’. But if the questioner was unable to do that, he provided methods based on the capacity and strength of the questioner. For the devotees who lived with him (Annamalai Swami, Mother), he shepherded their liberation through various advices and methods suitable to their level of maturity at that time.

Sivanarul said...

Tirich Mir,

Regarding question 6 of yours, here is an answer from Kunju swami who is a very highly regarded devotee of Bhagavan. I am a big believer in this recommendation as you can tell from many of my comments :-). Talk of synchronicity that I stumbled upon below saying and I take that Bhagavan approves my inclusive suggestion :-)

“Before recommending any path to an aspirant Bhagavan would first find out from him what aspect or form or path he was naturally drawn to and then recommend the person to follow it. He would sometimes endorse the traditional stages of sadhana, advancing from worship (puja) to incantation (japa), then to meditation (dhyana), and finally to Self-enquiry (vichara). However, he also use to say that continuous and rigorous practice of any one of these methods was adequate in itself to lead to Realization.”

http://luthar.com/2010/01/20/bhagavan-sri-ramana-maharshi-by-kunju-swami/

un passant said...

From Mountain Path, Sadhu Om :

https://ramanafiles.s3.amazonaws.com/mountainpath/2014%20I%20Jan.pdf

Someone once said to Bhagavan, “Bhagavan, this self-enquiry is very difficult. Can I instead practise such-and-such a yoga or meditation?’ to which he nodded in assent. After that person left, some of the devotees were wondering why Bhagavan seemed to give his consent to such practices, so he explained: “He says, ‘Self-enquiry is difficult’, which means that he does not want to practise it, so what can I do? Even if I tell him not to practise this other yoga or meditation, he still won’t practise self-enquiry. In a few months he will return and say that meditation is difficult, and ask whether he can do japa instead. And after practising japa for some time, he will find his mind still wanders, so he will then come and ask if he can sing stotras. All this will mean that he is unfit to do anything. If one is able to make even a little effort to sing stotras or do japa or any other sadhana, one can make the same amount of effort to attend to the feeling ‘I am’."

Dear Michael, when will you put a full pdf copy of "The Paramount importance of self-attention" on your website ? Thanks.

who? said...

Sivanarul,

In this comment you appeal to Michael James to "please try to reduce the “appearance” of putting down other Sadhana" and wonder that "There has to be a way by which the importance of Vichara can be stressed without appearing to put down other Sadhana."

In my opinion, Acharya Michael never even appears to put down other sadhanas; on the contrary, he has, on numerous occasions, acknowledged their efficacy in the proper measure. If it appears to some readers that Michael is 'putting down' other practices, they have complete freedom to ask Michael about it on this blog; he will be post a reply clarifying the doubt as soon as he can. This is what has been happening since the inception of this blog.

So it can be confidently asserted that Acharya Michael sticks to the core verbal teachings of Bhagavan without patronizing other practices. However, if you (or anyone else) has any evidence of Michael James appearing to treat other practices with disdain, kindly bring it to our attention in this thread.

The emphasis with which he writes about 'Sadhu Om's interpretations' (as Anonymous puts it) is completely the right of Michael; we cannot begrudge him for expressing the teachings as he sees fit. We have complete freedom to choose whether, and to what extent, these writings reflect Bhagavan's teachings.

who? said...

Michael,

I also wish to read the further parts of "The Paramount Importance of Self-attention".
If it is available, kindly post a link to the pdf edition.

Sivanarul said...

un passant,

With regards to your quote:

Bhagavan, whenever he made an individual recommendation, it was based on seeing through the current level and maturity of the aspirant. In the quote you provided, it seems that Bhagavan after seeing through the aspirant had made the determination that the aspirant, at this time, is not ready for any Sadhana at all. Generalizing that for everyone is not apt.

“If one is able to make even a little effort to sing stotras or do japa or any other sadhana, one can make the same amount of effort to attend to the feeling ‘I am’."

Let us take our worldly skills as an example. Isn’t it obvious that each one of us is highly skilled in certain things and is really bad in certain others? People with great artistic skills usually are very poor in analytical skills and people who have great analytical skills are poor with artistic skills. It is well established in science, different parts of the brain is involved in different skills.

Spiritual skills/practices are no different. The brain is still being used and some of us have devotional predisposition and some of us have analytical predisposition.

Sivanarul said...

who?,

I have made several comments regarding or related to it, and Michael has graciously responded too many of it. It is not just me that feels that there is an “appearance” of either explicitly or implicitly dismissing the value of other practices. Several people in comments have raised it also.

Here is a sample:

“Can we experience what we actually are by following the path of devotion (bhakti mārga)?”

“All our prayers and other devotional activities are useful only to the extent that they help us in our effort to be ever more steadfastly self-attentive.”

“What is unique about the teachings of Sri Ramana?”

“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.”

“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”

Continued in next comment…

Sivanarul said...

The first statement basically looks at prayer and devotional activities and basically reduces its use to helping in effort to be self-attentive. The history of Sanatana Dharma says otherwise and lists the use to be all the way to moksha.

The second statement basically dismisses all practices (other than vichara) as allowing the mind to flow in its natural direction. That basically dismisses the entire Patanjali yoga system. Mind flowing in its natural direction is usually taken to be as going towards objects (world). The breath is considered a bridge with one leg in physical and other leg in subtle plane. Hence focusing on the breath is NOT allowing the mind to flow in its natural direction.

The third statement basically dismisses any practice done towards Ishvara/God as going away from our original source and real home. So if one does pilgrimage, goes to temple, all of these is inferred as going away from original source. As Anonymous pointed out, going around Arunachala is however still considered going towards original source, because Arunachala is our Self. The Idols that are in the temple which have been installed following Vedic protocol, is somehow not the Self and is considered going away from our original source.

For many aspirants, sadhana is duality towards Ishvara and advaita upon moksha. The original source and real home is indeed Ishvara where the ego ‘I’ gets dissolved. This is well supported by Bhagvan’s surrender approach specifically meant for people with a religious and devotional background. As Anonymous aptly said, Bhagavan does not equate to self-enquiry alone.

Steve said...

"Bhagavan does not equate to self-enquiry alone."

If we understand that Bhagavan is only our one infinite self, then Bhagavan does equate to self-enquiry alone.

Sivanarul said...

“If we understand that Bhagavan is only our one infinite self, then Bhagavan does equate to self-enquiry alone.”

It is not a matter of UNDERSTANDING. It is a matter of REALIZING that Bhagavan is only our infinite self. Until that realization happens, Bhagavan does NOT equate to self-enquiry alone.

Steve said...

Obviously not for YOU!

Steve said...

When 'realization happens', where is Bhagavan? Where are YOU?

Sivanarul said...

Not just for ME but for many sadhakas and saints throughout Sanatana Dharma and Buddhism that have attained Moksha through methods other than Self-Enquiry from beginning to end. What I am saying is something supported by 5000+ years of Sanatana Dharma.

Sivanarul said...

I will know where I AM after realization happens. It has not yet happened.

Steve said...

"I will know where I AM after realization happens."

Where is I AM now?

Sivanarul said...

I AM is now. Where else can I AM be other than the now?

This intellectual play does not awaken anyone. If you have doubts, just ask Michael who has been trying for 40+ years.

It is obvious that you and I have very different notions of Sadhana. What is the point to our conversation, since we are not going to learn anything from each other?

Let's agree to disagree. Have a great day!.

Steve said...

"Where else can I AM be other than the now?"

You know where you are, you just have to figure out who you are.

You have a great day, too!

bibibubu said...

Sadhu Om, The Paramount importance of self-attention :

"Bhagavan says that atma-vicara is the direct path, not because he expects us to attack the mind directly, but because he expects us to turn directly towards self, ‘I am’, and by thus remaining in self to ignore the mind. Thus atma-vicara is, so to speak, avoiding and hiding from the mind instead of fighting it face to face. This is what is signified by Rama’s method of killing Vali. Vali had a boon that he would receive half of the strength of anyone he faced in battle, so he was automatically more powerful than any opponent he had to face. Therefore even Rama could not have killed him in face-to-face combat, so he had to hide behind a tree and shoot him from behind. Just as Vali gained half the strength of his opponent, if we try to fight the mind in direct combat, we will be giving it half of our strength, because our attention is what sustains and nourishes it, so the more we attend to it (that is, to its constant flow of thoughts), the more we are giving it strength. Therefore the only way to destroy the mind is by attending only to ‘I’ and thereby ignoring all the other thoughts that constitute the mind."

Anonymous said...

World war 3 is coming soon. Our families will be tortured and killed. What a wonderful life!


Village idiot said...

Steve,
regarding your comments of 25 November 2015 at 17:23 and 17:39.
What I have tried to express is this:
Self-knowledge is only an other word for self-consciousness or self-awareness.
Because self-knowledge is always present and nothing but self-awareness is really existing, therefore it cannot be "given" in the close sence of that verb.
Likewise no mental knowledge can provide anything directly/immediately for the purpose of being attentively self-aware.

Anugraha said...

Anonymous,
referring to what you write on 26 November 2015 at 02:39:
Though ARUNACHALA has also a physical form of a rocky mountain it is in essence nothing but our self-awareness. Knowing mentally the feeling 'I am' is not the same as being mere 'I am'.

Durgai Amman said...

Anonymous,
world war 3 is not coming soon but is already going on.
We always will receive/get what we deserve.
Did you deserve a "wonderful" life ?
If (y)our families would be tortured and killed why did you (we) not have the power to defend them ?
Of what use will be your fearful ego ? To be afraid of your fate is a terrible deceitfulness of your scaredy-cat-ego and is not worthy of (y)our eternal indivisible irrepressible unchanging indestructible awareness. With head held high you should put (y)our trust in the omniscient omnipotence of the eternal truth.
Only boldness and courage will make you an appropriate fighter for (y)our immortal heritage. Therefore pray for the purity of your fundamental convictions to crush the dreadful head/face of the horrible devil of delusion.
Chin up, do not become disheartened !

Anonymous said...

You are right.

The ego is the most useless thing ever to exist (or seem to exist). It is a mockery really.

Must surrender.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, anonymous, I agree with you when you write, 'The ego is the most useless thing ever to exist (or seem to exist). It is a mockery really. Must surrender'. In fact this body and mind which we take to be 'I', and this entire world-appearance and all its problems exists because of our ego. Therefore our first and foremost duty is to annihilate our ego, by experiencing ourself as we really are. Regards.

Wittgenstein said...

Sivanarul,

I have read some of your comments on atma vichara and if I have grasped it correctly you mean to say it is an advanced technique for advanced sadhakas. I would like to share some of my opinions on this with you.

If we randomly pull someone on the street and ask if they are aware, they would say yes. That reveals the fact he can attend (as they we did not ask a sleeping person) to his self-awareness. Therefore, anyone can do atma vichara, as it is just being attentively self-aware. Special skills are not needed.

Now, if someone decides not to go for atma vichara (for whatever reason) and shows interest in other practices, Bhagavan would still guide him. Bhagavan does not force anyone. Everything happens with our cooperation. Having picked a devotee, he will take care of that devotee till the very end. You have been picked up and guided by him in your practice. If you are sure of this, you should not bother/worry about what others say about practices other than atma vichara. It is between you and Bhagavan.

Here is a crude analogy. If we go to a restaurant that serves, say, south indian vegetarian food and demand a multi-cuisine menu, we will not get it. We choose the restaurant and the food in it.

Just a final note: Our Michael is not a person who would belittle a practice other than atma vichara (I know this from his writings), although his main focus and thrust is atma vichara.

Anonymous said...

Wittgenstein, atma vichara is actually very difficult to grasp. I remember first time i heard about it i was very confused. First i was repeating "Who am i?" like a mantra. I remember conteplating whether to say it in english or in my own home language (estonian). I chose english, because it sounded better. I never actually attended to the I, but only to the words i was chanting mentally.

Then a bit later i was confused to which I i should be attending to. As i understood there were 3 I´s. When i finally understood that there is only one I and attending to it (myself) is the aim, i did not know how to actually attend to it.

Took me over a year to intellectually grasp Ramana´s teaching.

Wittgenstein said...

Anonymous, the difficulty is due to the presentation style of various authors (which reflects their understanding).

who? said...

Sivanarul
This is my belated reply to your comments addressed to me, in which you pointed out 3 snippets of Michael's writing, and then went on to give your interpretation of those quotes.

In your interpretation of all 3 quotes, you found certain explicit or implicit dismissal of sadhanas other than atma-vichara. You seemed to be fairly convinced of the veracity of your interpretations. Your faith in those interpretations discourages me to post a reply analyzing each quote and your interpretation of the quote, in the light of what i've understood from Bhagavan's verbal teachings.

Thus, without your explicit approval of my analysis of your interpretations, i do not wish to continue our current discussion. However, i would like to encourage you to reread the articles from which you quoted; in them Michael explains everything in proper context, and clarifies all doubts.

I wish you best for your sadhana.

Annamalaiyar said...

Anonymous Estonian,
to grasp Ramana's teaching in one year you are very rapidly on the way to Bhagavan of Arunachala, the favourite child of the effulgent Lord of Arunachala.
My first book I read about Sri Ramana was 1979.
It was written by Lucy Cornelssen in German on the occasion of
the centenary of Ramana's "birthday". But I am still on the way to grasp all his teachings. However, we can be sure that we will cease to identify with the body and will be released from the clutches of Maya.
Arunachala ! Thou dost root out the ego of those who meditate on Thee in the heart,
Oh Arunachala !

Sivanarul said...

Wittgenstein,

Thanks very much for your insightful reply. That really is the inclusive way of advocating and promoting Vichara and was very helpful.

“If we randomly pull someone on the street and ask if they are aware, they would say yes. That reveals the fact he can attend (as they we did not ask a sleeping person) to his self-awareness.”

Rupert Spira promotes this kind of Vichara basically asking the question “Am I aware”? If asked that question to oneself, there is a tiny gap in time and the mind, for a very brief moment, goes silent and the answer comes out as yes. I do find this kind of Vichara to be easier (for others it may or may not be).

“Now, if someone decides not to go for atma vichara (for whatever reason) and shows interest in other practices, Bhagavan would still guide him. Bhagavan does not force anyone. Everything happens with our cooperation. Having picked a devotee, he will take care of that devotee till the very end. You have been picked up and guided by him in your practice. If you are sure of this, you should not bother/worry about what others say about practices other than atma vichara. It is between you and Bhagavan.”

This is the kind of inclusive message that is true to Bhagavan’s teachings, compassion and action. I generally do not bother or worry about exclusive messages. But when you are repeatedly exposed to exclusive messages, it eventually gets to you. That is the power of advertising (repeatedly seeing/hearing the same message) and that is why all companies spend billions of dollars in advertising, for it is proven to work. For me, having a strong religious upbringing in Sanatana Dharma, that has an inclusive message of all religions, paths and practices as different rivers that end up in the same ocean (Absolute Reality), it pains to read exclusive messages in my own backyard. I will certainly take up on your advice and would have to let go of the botheration and develop deep faith that Bhagavan will indeed take care of me till the very end, as you say.

Continued in next comment...

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment...

“Just a final note: Our Michael is not a person who would belittle a practice other than atma vichara (I know this from his writings), although his main focus and thrust is atma vichara.”

I, 100% agree with you. That is why I wrote there is an “appearance” and also mentioned Michael’s kindness with his time. That is how I perceive and a few other aspirants have also expressed similar opinions, over various articles. This is his blog and he has 100% freedom to write however he wants irrespective of the appearance it creates. But knowing his kindness and his genuine interest in conveying Bhagavan’s teachings, it is my opinion that if his writings appear to become more inclusive of other Sadhana, it would benefit lot more Sadhakas.

To anyone who is following this thread (Wittgenstein already has an inclusive approach and it is not meant for him):

As fellow travelers on the spiritual path, there is a lot of common ground we must first walk before we can really take different paths. One of the key things is to restrain the mind from constantly going out towards sense objects (Yogas Chitti Vritti Nirodahah). The mind is so habituated in going outside, that it is not an easy task to withdraw. It again and again will assert itself as “Spectre is a nice movie. Let’s go see. The new Stars wars is the best movie of all times. Let’s go see once it is released. That food is awesome. Let’s go eat there.” There is not end to its constantly going out.

Given that outgoing tendency, we first have to be to tame it to a “reasonable” level. In other words, initial practices are to tame it to stay inside so that serious practices can commence. What is this inside? This inside can mean ‘I’. It can also mean the breath, parayana, OM meditation, service to others, surrender to Ishvara and all of these together.

The breath especially is one of the most secular and powerful things available. Just like ‘I’, the breath is there in all three states. For those who argue that the body was not there in deep sleep and hence breath was also not there, Bhagavan has said that, Ishvara through his grace, keeps the breath flowing for the survival of the jiva. Hence for all practices purposes, we can safely take that breath is there in all three states. Staying and focusing on the breath has such a calming effect that it is one of the key practices advocated by the Buddha.

It is this common ground that we first have to walk together. So instead of narrowly trying to define ‘I’ as only ‘I’, when we travel the common ground, a better definition of ‘I’ is to include breath, OM and Ishvara (as per our liking). Even Sri Guadapada, the proponent of Ajata Vada, in his commentary on Mandukya Upanishad, represents Brahman as OM. So for those of us who consider ourselves as beginners, let’s walk the common ground together with this expanded definition of ‘I’. At the end of the common ground, we will be shown what to do next by Bhagavan/Grace/Ishvara.

Sivanarul said...

Who?

Thanks for your kind reply.

“In your interpretation of all 3 quotes, you found certain explicit or implicit dismissal of sadhanas other than atma-vichara. You seemed to be fairly convinced of the veracity of your interpretations. Your faith in those interpretations discourages me to post a reply analyzing each quote and your interpretation of the quote, in the light of what i've understood from Bhagavan's verbal teachings.
Thus, without your explicit approval of my analysis of your interpretations, i do not wish to continue our current discussion.”

As you say, I am fairly convinced of the veracity of my interpretation. Few other aspirants have also expressed interpretations that match mine. There does seem to be an “appearance” that Michael’s writings are not kind to Sadhanas other than Vichara. This “appearance” can only be felt clearly if you practice other Sadhana. For those who practice Vichara alone, this appearance may not be visible. That may be why it is not visible to Michael himself.

As I wrote to Wittgenstein, knowing Michael’s kindness and his genuine interest in explaining Bhagavan’s teachings, it is my opinion, that if he addresses this in his future writings, it will help many more Sadhakas than it currently does. Many of us are walking the common ground as I wrote earlier and for us ‘I’ means ‘I’ + breath + OM + Ishvara (some combination of those or more).

I agree with you that there would no point in continuing our discussion, as I am fairly convinced of the veracity of my interpretation. I also agree with your earlier statement that Michael is indeed an Acharya who I admire and respect very deeply.

I wish you also the very best in your Sadhana.

Algeciras said...

Michael,
section 11. Ulladu Narpadu verse 26
„…if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist".
That clause we obviously cannot take literally (word for word).
For example, when I am sleeping the ego does not exist.
But can we really say that then nothing does exist ?
To put it plainly and simply according to my experience the piece of land, the monkeys, dogs , moskitos, the trees, the birds, snakes, bats, the air and the noise level, the building, bathroom, toilet and sleeping room, the bed with mattress, sheet, pillow, blanket, duvet cover, the bedside table, pocket torch, alarm clock, my body and my wife’s body and so on do not at all really disappear. That mentioned items are not perceived at that time by the ego which has not arisen then. That fact would be easily proved by a film camera which would film all the scene.
Would/Could you please explain, in what sense we should understand this verse correctly ?

Heraklit said...

Michael,
you say
1. „Thinking is a process of forming and simultaneously experiencing thoughts, but … one and the same, because we form thoughts only by experiencing or being aware of them.“
2. „What forms and experiences thoughts is only ourself as this ego, so no thought can arise without this ego.“
3. „This ego itself is just a thought, because it can rise and stand only by grasping the form of a body as itself, and any body that it grasps as itself is just a thought that it forms and experiences within itself.“
In order to understand the above statements could you please give a more detailed description what a thought is.

Thutmosis said...

Michael,

1. „If the ego does not exist, everything does not exist."
2. „Hence the ego itself is everything."
Is it not contrary to your previous article Section 9 Upadesa Undiyar verse 17 where we read ?:
„Our ego or mind does not actually exist at all, even now."

Sivanarul said...

SivaJnanaBotham of Sri MeyKandar, 8’th sutra, explains the common ground that we have to traverse.
ஐம்புல வேடரின் அயர்ந்தனை வளர்ந்து எனத்
தம்முதல் குருவுமாய்த் தவத்தினில் உணர்த்தவிட்டு
அன்னியம் இன்மையின் அரன்கழல் செலுமே

The Jiva who was captured by the 5 Senses was brought up by them and fully associated himself with them. Ishvara took the form of Guru and instructed the Jiva that he does not belong to the 5 senses but he belongs to Ishvara himself. Having deeply realized this instruction, the Jiva begins the journey of disassociating from the senses and associating with Ishvara (or I, if Ishvara is not part of your Sadhana).

We can assume that for any sincere Sadhaka, the instruction has already happened and the transition has begun. Due to the long association with the 5 senses, the Jiva cannot easily dissociate from them, in spite of the deep realization that he does not belong to them. For this dissociation to happen, Sadhaka has to do follow whatever method he finds suitable. This dissociation is the common ground we have to travel before deep association with Ishvara / I can happen. Once the dissociation has reached a very high level, the mind has been tamed to such an extent that it is not running the show anymore. At that point, serious/advanced sadhana commences/progresses and grace finally finishes it (Grace can at any point finish it even before dissociation).

Tirich Mir said...

R Viswanathan,
thank you for giving the link to David Godman's article regarding reincarnating-jnanis.

Tirich Mir said...

Sivanarul,
thank you for taking much time and effort to reply to my questions of 24 November 2015 at 15:28.

Wittgenstein said...

Sivanarul,

It is true that there should be certain amount of attenuation of mind for getting into atma vichara. ‘Watching the breath’ is one such method even Bhagavan recommended (and you have said Buddhists use it). Bhagavan used to say by watching the breath we are implicitly investigating its source, which is the same as the source of the mind. Sri Sadhu Om also has a section on this in his book Sadhanai Saram. With this technique the activities of the mind settle down and thoughts become non-intrusive. At that point we might recognize the background of awareness which was always there but previously masked by the activities of mind. Recognition of it is actually attending to it (otherwise how do we know it?). The background ‘seems’ to come to the foreground. This shift in the attention from breath to us (that is, attention to self-awareness or atma vichara) can happen at the proper time determined by Bhagavan. Of course, the ‘proper time’ could be several lifetimes.

Similar examples can be given for japa. We know the spiritual instructions Bhagavan gave to Kavyakanta. It had this intended shift from japa to atma vichara. Apparently such a thing did not happen with Kavyakanta, as far we know it. It does not matter. Bhagavan has lot of patience and he loves his Nayana. Once Arthur Osborne’s family was parting from Ramanasramam and apparently his daughter asked Bhagavan not to forget her. Bhagavan is reported to have said, “Even if you forget me, I will not forget you”. So wherever Kavyakanta or we go, he will catch us. That is for sure. It is actually the guru who picks up the disciple, not the other way round.

It is very good that we all have have been brought to Bhagavan. Having arrived here, we can pick the practice that our heart says is the best because that is what Bhagavan is also saying, as he is in our heart. Rest is upto him.

venkat said...

Algeciras

If I may, the answer to your question is found in a chapter "Jnani and the world" in the book Maharishi's Gospel.

A short excerpt:
"In sleep, there is neither mind nor world. When awake there is the mind and there is the world. What does this invariable concomitance mean? You are familiar with the principles of inductive logic, which are considered the very basis of scientific investigation. Why do you not decide this question of the reality of the world in the light of those accepted principles of logic"

Essentially Bhagavan is saying we are that screen of consciousness on which the body-mind and world appear. Thus the waking world is no different from the dream world - both are just images on the screen.

Thutmosis - hopefully this answers your question as well. Bhagavan says there is no ego and there is no world, in reality. They emerge concurrently as images / illusions on the substratum - the screen of consciousness.

venkat said...

Dear Sivanarul,

Please do not take this comment as trying to belittle bhakti or other paths to moksha. As you and others have said, they are important facets to all of us at different stages in our journey.

However you implied that vedanta says that all such paths can lead to moksha. Sankara explicitly states that karma yoga (under which he essentially subsumes japa and bhakti) is a purification step towards jnana yoga -the path of knowledge. And that it is only by knowledge that you can be free; because the world arises out of ignorance, false association; and only knowledge can counter ignorance. This knowledge is not indirect knowledge from books, but a direct knowing. And this is what Bhagavan's self-enquiry leads you to - a direct knowing of who you are and who you are not.

Bhagavan often equates Bhakti and Vichara, in that one needs to be totally devoted to finding the truth of who you are, and of abiding in the Self. He says that you cannot split them.

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