Tuesday, 3 November 2015

What happens to our mind in sleep?

A couple of months ago a friend called Vilcomayo wrote a comment on one of my earlier articles, Our memory of ‘I’ in sleep, in which he or she asked, ‘what exactly means “absence of the mind” in sleep? In a state in which our mind is/was absent or subsided, does/did the mind “go” to any other place or does/did it rather subside in its source?’, and today he or she wrote another comment reminding me about this question.

Before replying to this question I would first like to apologise to Vilcomayo for not replying earlier. I receive so many questions by email and in comments on this blog that I am unfortunately not able to reply to all of them immediately, and if I cannot reply to any of them soon enough they tend to join the large backlog of hundreds of questions that I have not yet had time to reply to and may never have time to do so. Therefore, Vilcomayo, you are perfectly justified in reminding me about your question, and I apologise not only to you but also to all the other friends whose questions I have not been able to reply to yet.

What happens to our mind in sleep is not actually an easy question to answer, because it is a question asked from the perspective of waking or dream, the two states in which this mind seems to exist, about sleep, which is the state in which it does not seem to exist. According to Bhagavan the mind does not actually exist even when it seems to exist, so the correct answer is that nothing happens to the mind in sleep, because there is no mind to which anything could ever happen.

However, so long as we seem to be this mind, this answer will not appear to be very satisfactory, so from the perspective of this mind it is said that in sleep it subsides back into its source, which is ourself. Though this is not entirely true, it is less far from the truth than saying that the mind goes to any other place, because there is no other place to which it could go, since anything other than ourself seems to exist only so long as we seem to be this mind.

According to Bhagavan what actually exists is only ourself (as he says, for example, in the first sentence of seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), so in the view of ourself as we really are there is only one state, which is eternal and unchanging self-awareness. Therefore the three alternating states that we call waking, dream and sleep are not real, but seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of this illusory mind, which itself does not actually exist.

However this mind seems to exist only in waking and dream, so these are the only two states of mind. What then is sleep? It cannot be called a state of mind, because the mind does not exist or even seem to exist in sleep. What exists in sleep is only ourself, so sleep is actually the state of our real self, and as such it is the only real state.

This one real state seems to be interrupted by the appearance of two other states called waking and dream, but this seeming interruption does not occur in the view of our actual self but only in the view of ourself as this mind. In other words, when we rise as this mind in either waking or dream, our one real state seems to have been divided into three states, in two of which we experience ourself as this mind and hence experience many other things also, and in one of which we do not experience anything other than ourself, not even our mind.

Sadhu Om used to explain this by saying that our waking body and our dream body are like two parallel walls erected in a vast open space. Just as two parallel walls would divide an open space into three parts, the appearance of our waking and dream bodies seems to divide our single permanent state into three transitory ones.

Therefore what happens to our mind in sleep is that it simply does not appear — that is, it does not seem to exist at all. However, from the perspective of our mind in either waking or dream it is not possible for us to conceive of sleep as a state in which our mind does not exist at all, so it is said that in sleep our mind has subsided and remains in a dormant or seed-like condition, which is then called by various names such as the kāraṇa śarīra (causal body) and the ānandamaya kōśa (sheath composed of happiness). These two terms, therefore, denote something that does not actually exist or even seem to exist while we are asleep, but that seems to exist only from the perspective of our mind in either waking or dream.

That is, since we know that whenever we fall asleep we will sooner or later rise again as this mind, we infer that in sleep this mind must exist in a latent or unmanifest condition, and since this latent condition is what causes our mind to rise again from sleep, it is called the ‘causal body’ or kāraṇa śarīra. Moreover, since what we actually experience in sleep is only peaceful happiness, which is our own real nature, this supposedly latent condition of our mind is considered to the one of the ‘sheaths’ or ‘coverings’ (kōśas) that conceal our actual self, and hence it is called the ‘sheath composed of happiness’ or ānandamaya kōśa.

However, according to Bhagavan what actually exists and what we actually experience in sleep is only our real self and not any sort of ‘body’ (śarīra) or ‘covering’ (kōśa), so what is called the kāraṇa śarīra or ānandamaya kōśa is only a theoretical entity that does not actually exist but that nevertheless helps to explain the re-emergence of our mind from sleep. Explaining the re-emergence of our mind from sleep is necessary only so long as we accept that our mind does now seem to exist, but Bhagavan asks us not to accept this but instead to investigate ourself to see whether we are really this mind that we now seem to be. If we investigate ourself sufficiently deeply, he assures us, we will find that we are not this finite mind or ego (which rises as ‘I am this body’) but are only infinite self-awareness (which shines eternally as ‘I am’ or ‘I am I’).

Since this mind or ego seems to exist only so long as we experience ourself as it, when we experience ourself as we really are we will clearly know that no such thing as ‘mind’ or ‘ego’ has ever existed or even seemed to exist. And since waking and dream seem to exist only so long as we experience ourself as this mind, when we know that this mind has never existed we will also know that waking and dream have never existed, and that the only state that has ever actually existed is our one real state of absolutely pure self-awareness, which is what we previously mistook to be sleep.

65 comments:

Anonymous said...

It cannot be correct that we experience ourselves in sleep and mind is absent. If that were true, everyone is realized during sleep. And once realized, he does not come back to the world.

That is why it is said that the mind is in the dormant state. The I thought exists in its primitive form.

Bob - P said...

Michael.. massive help, thank you. This has helped improve my understanding about the term and meaning of "casual body" As you wrote below:

{However, according to Bhagavan what actually exists and what we actually experience in sleep is only our real self and not any sort of ‘body’ (śarīra) or ‘covering’ (kōśa), so what is called the kāraṇa śarīra or ānandamaya kōśa is only a theoretical entity that does not actually exist but that nevertheless helps to explain the re-emergence of our mind from sleep.}

This was such a huge help to me.
In appreciation.
Bob

Vilcomayo said...

Michael,
first of all I want to express that you do not have to apologise for not replying earlier.
Because we are asking you incessantly questions and requesting constantly clarifications and not inversely. In contrast to you our dense ignorance is oppressive. Therefore we with our poor understanding of fundamental facts are always happy when you shed light on our doubts and nescience.
You say that because of the non-existence (superficial, fleeting and only seeming existence) of the mind it is not of considerable importance to know what happens to our mind in sleep. Moreover it happens nothing to the mind in sleep.
Due our current ignorance we seem to be this mind and therefore we cannot have any other view than the self-ignorant view of this illusory mind, which itself does not actually exist. But Bhagavan tells us what really exists is only ourself and in the view of ourself as we really are there is only one eternal and unchanging self-awareness.

So we have the same old problem that the seeming is stronger than the real.
Is that not a crazy situation ? Maybe I do exaggerate now: Mere 100 of 8.000.000.000 (8 billion) people know that waking, dreaming and sleep are not real but seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of this illusory mind of 7.999.999.900 people waking and dreaming! I just saw a television –report about the atrocity happen now in Syria . It is hard to believe that the mind does not exist or even seem to exist and therefore the acts of cruelty would not happen really.
Michael, how can be said that anything do not exist when it is felt on with body and mind ?
You call sleep "actually the state of our real self and as such the only real state". Is not the state of sleep on the contrary just a state of deepest faint/swoon and therefore of highest powerlessness and impotence ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Vilcomayo, you write in your above comment, 'You call sleep "actually the state of our real self and as such the only real state". Is not the state of sleep on the contrary just a state of deepest faint/swoon and therefore of highest powerlessness and impotence?'

How can the state of sleep be state of deepest faint/swoon, and therefore of highest powerlessness and impotence? How do you know for sure that this is the case? Was Vilcomayo (the ego) there in sleep to experience this powerlessness and impotence?

As Michael implies in this article, when even our ego does not exist in sleep, there cannot be any seeming existence of any such things as karana sarira (causal body) and anandamaya kosa (sheath composed of happiness) while we are asleep. Therefore we are pure self, or pure self-awareness in our sleep, and this state is full of power (chit-sakti), because it is the only state which exists. In this non-dual state there is nothing other than ourself to limit or curtail our power or potency.

In fact, when we seemingly rise as this ego, we scatter or disburse our power in the form of various thoughts, thus we seemingly lose our power or potency. This in my understanding. Regards.

Noob said...

Can it be that from the "sleep" state , driven by certain tendencies "I" thought arises and starts creating an illusion (by branching out into numerous other thoughts) that we call "a dream", gaining strength in this illusion it proceeds to develop this illusion into the world that we call "reality"? I wish I could grasp the moment when "the dream" starts forming to catch this "I" thought while it has not yet gained its strength. Funny things is that there are no two "I"s, but rather an illusion that happens on the grand screen of the self-conciseness, that we are.

R Viswanathan said...

"It is hard to believe that the mind does not exist or even seem to exist and therefore the acts of cruelty would not happen really."

Sure, this might be the view of many, when one watches the TV news or reads newspaper reports. I feel that one needs to get back to Bhagavan's teachings whenever such feelings erupt in one's mind, if one wants peace quickly. Sure, the time is the healer, and in the sleep state, one becomes free of such mental disturbances. One might say that it is only a temporary relief, but then to have permanent relief, I feel that there is no alternative to knowing the self or surrendering to the self, if one wants to follow and go by Bhagavan's teachings.

An anecdote given in the commentary of Ulladhu Narpadhu for the verse 13 by Sri Nochur Venkataraman (in his book 'Swathma Sukhi') might be relevant to find mention here:

When Bhagavan was once asked by a devotee as to whether his advice to turn selfwards in order to know who you are and thus be free of all worldly sufferings will really yield fruit, he answered as follows:

Two persons are sleeping in a room. One of them while dreaming that all his assets have been stolen shouts to catch the thief. If the other person is hearing this shout, should he run to catch the thief or just wake the dreaming person up? On waking up, will he not know that there was neither a thief nor a theft, but instead know that he alone exists? Likewise, if one gets to know the eternal, fundamental, and supreme truth, one will obtain clarity that all the worldly problems are only a dream and that one has never really got entangled in the misery/sad affairs.

Vilcomayo said...

R Viswanathan,
Quoting two lines of my recent comment you refer obviously to my comment.
I share the same opinion that we have always get back to Bhagavan’s teaching. As you say the sleep state is only a temporary relief-till the next waking/dreaming. But notice : Michael names the sleep as the state of our real self which is permanent. How can a permanent state provide only temporary relief ? We agreed: To have permanent relief there is no alternative to surrender the mind into the self.

Bhagavan’s experience and his teaching are a comfort to us and our emotional eruptions and mental disturbances. Therefore we should eternaly show our gratitude for Ramana’s decision to pioneer the way of self-investigation instead to sit for ever and ever under the big Banyan tree on the northern slope of Arunachala or to get immured in the legendary tunnel between the temples of Adi Annamalai and Tiruvannamalai.(Smile).
But are (we) current ajnanis justified to call the suffering of mankind as merely mental disturbances ? No, only realised sages - not we ajnanis as latent sages - are in the position to teach us such a salutary lesson.
Thanks for giving the metaphorical anecdote about the unreal dream-theft-thief. But I want to add a footnote: deep sleep is just entirely different from dream.
Of course we cannot stop to repeat again and again:
"If one gets to know the…truth, one will obtain clarity that all the worldly problems are only a dream and that one has never really got entangled in the misery/sad affairs".
That luxurious statement is only true (from the view of) for the knower of truth. The ignorant sufferer himself – like the allegorical dreamer- has first to wake up and open the window and to look more closely at the mentioned truth.
So let us persever in taking the absolutely needed steps against our heavy ignorance.

Vilcomayo said...

Sanjay Lohia,
in reply to your question:
I do not know for sure that it is the case what I assumed saying the above. The only thing that a ajnani can know for sure is that (s)he is a poor thought- producer full of ignorance. A ignorant man as I can at best hope for better times.(Smile).
In this regard I prefer the word of Sokrates:I know that I not know.
So long as we cannot prevent rising as this ego, we do not draw the essence of the „pure self-awareness in our sleep, and this state is full of power(Chit-sakti), because it is the only state which exists. In this non-dual state there is nothing other than ourself to limit or curtail our power or potency“ as you write.
Unless we are not able to save the pure self-awareness in the state of waking and dreaming we do not really share in our real happiness.
That is the reason why I tend to the view not to cheer the sleep state.

R Viswanathan said...

"But notice : Michael names the sleep as the state of our real self which is permanent. How can a permanent state provide only temporary relief ?"

Sorry, I wrote 'temporary relief' to mean that one gets relief from mental disturbances (by their absence) during sleep and that when the sleep state ends or gets interrupted, the mental disturbances resurrect. I do agree and confess that this statement of mine applies best to to the ajnanis like me.

"But are (we) current ajnanis justified to call the suffering of mankind as merely mental disturbances ? No, only realised sages - not we ajnanis as latent sages - are in the position to teach us such a salutary lesson."

Sorry gain. I did not mean to give it as lesson. I only reproduced the statement attributed to Bhagavan in that anecdote. I feel that if one accepts Bhagavan as Guru and as a realized sage, then it will only be helpful to not only take his statement as true but also try to take it as a guiding light to be free from the 'miseries', whenever one feels burdened with them.

Diogenes said...

Noob,
what is self-conciseness ?
Perhaps you mean self-consciousness ?
The idea of creating the world and the whole universe merely by the 'I' thought or mind is beyond the abilities of the mind itself.

Sivanarul said...

In regards to Viswanathan’s statement, “I feel that if one accepts Bhagavan as Guru and as a realized sage, then it will only be helpful to not only take his statement as true but also try to take it as a guiding light to be free from the 'miseries', whenever one feels burdened with them.”

As long as one is trying to be free from both ‘miseries’ and as well as ‘pleasures’, then it is certainly helpful to take Bhagavan’s statement as true (and Bhagavan would likely have intended it to be taken that way). But if one uses Bhagavan’s statement only to run away from suffering (as denial) instead of facing it and accepting it, but ignores the statement when immersed in pleasures, then I am not sure what the value is.

There is so much suffering both in individual’s life and society at large, as pointed by Vilcomayo. To treat all of that as a dream and not be bothered by it is fine, as long as one treats pleasures and joy as exactly the same and is not bothered by it also. But if one sits down and enjoys plenty of sweets (it is the Deepavali season), watches nice new movies, and in general has a good time and never treats any of that as a dream, then he is effectively using Bhagavan’s statement as a shield (a powerful shield indeed) for the ego to not have to deal with unpleasant things in either its own life or others life.

I generally view Bhagavan’s statements as “experiential truths” that one will realize upon awakening. He might have intended for very advanced sadhakas to take it as sadhana. But if beginner’s take that to be the truth, they might end up deceiving themselves.

R Viswanathan said...

"There is so much suffering both in individual’s life and society at large, as pointed by Vilcomayo. To treat all of that as a dream and not be bothered by it is fine, as long as one treats pleasures and joy as exactly the same and is not bothered by it also."

Very profound statement this is, as that of Lord Krishna in Bhagawat Gita. I would take it as an instruction coming from Bhagavan himself and pray for his grace to operate on me in such a way that I experience wholly the essence of this statement.

Gasherbrum said...

Michael,
when Bhagavan asks us to investigate ourself sufficiently deeply he should make us able to investigate ourself in the required depth,profundity and intensity.
Because most of us cannot shake off the yoke of tyranny of experiencing ourself as this ego/mind in the twinkling of an eye. Hence we hear with amazement the tidings that this mind has never existed. To know that the only state that has ever actually existed is our one real state of absolutely pure self-awareness, which is what we previously mistook to be sleep is surely an immense and breathtaking discovery. Such a superb knowledge transcends my powers of imagination.
OM NAMO BHAGAVATE SRI RAMANAYA...

Orpheus said...

Michael,
our mind has obviously freedom to do as it pleases. It has the impertinence to hide itself in a dormant, latent, unmanifest or seed-like condition. We should not put up with the fact that we cannot even theoretically explain the re-emergence of our mind from sleep.
Can the supposedly latent condition of our mind be relied on the statement that we actually experience in sleep only peaceful happiness ?

Tulasi said...

Michael,
You write:
[According to Bhagavan ...which is eternal and unchanging self-awareness.]
„Therefore the three alternating states …and sleep are not real, but seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of this illusory mind, which itself does not actually exist.
[However this mind seems…]. What exists in sleep is only ourself, so sleep is actually the state of our real self, an das such it is the only real state".

How can one of the alternating states – sleep- be considered as the only real state ? Is it not said that we are none of the three states but the fourth state ?
Has not our one real state of absolutely pure self-awareness to be named as the fourth state ?
How could the mind mistake the pure self-awareness as (to be) sleep ?

R Viswanathan said...

"How can one of the alternating states – sleep- be considered as the only real state ? Is it not said that we are none of the three states but the fourth state ?
Has not our one real state of absolutely pure self-awareness to be named as the fourth state?"

The following text, taken from the book Guru Vachaka Kovai (GVK) edited by Sri David Godman appeared to me as being relevant to the above comment or questions.

p 411; GVK verse 940: Whether the estimable state of turiya, true jnana, is described either as 'the excellent sleep totally devoid of waking' or 'the unique and unceasing waking that has nothing to do with forgetful sleep', you should know that both descriptions are entirely appropriate.

p. 412 Day by Day with Bhagavan 21st November 1945:
Question: What is the meaning of being in sleepless sleep?
Bhagavan: It is the jnani's state. In sleep our ego is submerged and the sense organs are not active. The jnani's ego has been killed and he does not indulge in any sense activities of his own accord or with the notion that he is the doer. So, he is sleep. At the same time he is not unconscious as in sleep, but fully awake in the self; so his state is sleepless. This sleepless sleep, wakeful sleep, or whatever it may be called, is the turiya [fourth] state of the Self, on which as the screen of all the three avasthas, the waking, dream and sleep, pass, leaving the screen unaffected.

Tulasi said...

R Viswanathan,
many thanks for the given text taken from GVK rich in substance.
Our true state, the estimable fourth state turiya, cannot be the unconscious forgetful sleep but being fully awake as sleepless wakeful sleep.
On that screen all the three alternating states pass, leaving the screen unaffected.

R Viswanathan said...

"How could the mind mistake the pure self-awareness as (to be) sleep ?"

The following conversation between Maharshi (M) and a devotee (D), taken from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi might be relevant to the above comment or the question.

Talk 609. Lady Bateman and others came to the hall at about 3-30 p.m. In a few minutes she asked in writing if one is nearer to Pure Consciousness in deep sleep than in the waking state.
M.: The sleep, dream and waking states are mere phenomena appearing on the Self which is itself stationary and also a state of simple awareness. Can anyone remain away from the Self at any moment? This question can arise only if that were possible.
D.: Is it not often said that one is nearer Pure Consciousness in deep slumber than in the waking state?
M.: The question may as well be: Am I nearer to myself in my sleep than in my waking state? For the Self is Pure Consciousness. No one can ever be away from the Self. The question is possible only if there is duality. But there is no duality in the state of Pure Consciousness. The same person sleeps, dreams and wakes up. The waking state is considered to be full of beautiful and interesting things. The absence of such experiences makes one say that the sleep state is dull. Before we proceed further let us make this point clear. Do you not admit that you exist in your sleep?
D.: Yes, I do.
M.: You are the same person that is now awake. Is it not so?
D.: Yes.
M.: So there is a continuity in the sleep and the waking states. What is that continuity? It is only the state of Pure Being. There is a difference in the two states. What is that difference? The incidents, namely, the body, the world and the objects appear in the waking state but they disappear in sleep.
D.: But I am not aware in my sleep.
M.: True, there is no awareness of the body or of the world. But you must exist in your sleep in order to say now “I was not aware in my sleep”. Who says so now? It is the wakeful person. The sleeper cannot say so. That is to say, the individual who is now identifying the Self with the body says that such awareness did not exist in sleep. Because you identify yourself with the body, you see the world around you and say that the waking state is filled with beautiful and interesting things. The sleep state appears dull because you were not there as an individual and therefore these things were not. But what is the fact? There is the continuity of Being in all the three states, but no continuity of the individual and the objects.
D.: Yes.
M.: That which is continuous is also enduring, i.e. permanent. That which is discontinuous is transitory.
D.: Yes.
M.: Therefore the state of Being is permanent and the body and the world are not. They are fleeting phenomena passing on the screen of Being-Consciousness which is eternal and stationary.
D.: Relatively speaking, is not the sleep state nearer to Pure Consciousness than the waking state?
M.: Yes, in this sense: When passing from sleep to waking the ‘I’ thought must start; the mind comes into play; thoughts arise; and then the functions of the body come into operation; all these together make us say that we are awake. The absence of all this evolution is the characteristic of sleep and therefore it is nearer to Pure Consciousness than the waking state. But one should not therefore desire to be always in sleep. In the first place it is impossible, for it will necessarily alternate with the other states. Secondly it cannot be the state of bliss in which the Jnani is, for his state is permanent and not alternating. Moreover, the sleep state is not recognised to be one of awareness by people, but the sage is always aware. Thus the sleep state differs from the state in which the sage is established. Still more, the sleep state is free from thoughts and their impression to the individual. It cannot be altered by one’s will because effort is impossible in that condition. Although nearer to Pure Consciousness, it is not fit for efforts to realise the Self.

Tulasi said...

R Viswanathan,
again I express my sincere thanks for giving of the illuminating conversation between Bhagavan and a devotee-taken from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi.
The conversation imparts the closeness of sleep state to Pure Consciousness in the sense of the absence of all what evolved from the 'I'thought. Also it makes clear
that "one should not therefore desire to be always in sleep. In the first place it is impossible, for it will necessarily alternate with the other states. Secondly it cannot be the state of bliss in which the Jnani is, for his state is permanent and not alternating. Moreover , the sleep state is not recognised to be one of awareness by people, but the sage is always aware. Thus the sleep state differs from the state in which the sage is established. Still more, the sleep state is free from thoughts and their impression to the individual. It cannot be altered by one's will because effort is impossible in that condition. Although nearer to Pure Consciousness, it is not fit for efforts to realise the Self".

Marduk said...

R Viswanathan and Tulasi,
in the above given conversation between Sri Ramana Maharshi and Lady Bateman
I notice that the lady agreed with Sri Ramana Maharshi on the point of his statement of denying that the individual and the objects have continuity. Regarding of the maintained discontinuity of objects I personally would not give my consent for it. I as body-mind-conglomeration live since nearly 50 years in the same flat. Although not in the sense of continuity of the state of Pure Being has that not be called as continuity of objects ?

R Viswanathan said...

"I as body-mind-conglomeration live since nearly 50 years in the same flat. Although not in the sense of continuity of the state of Pure Being has that not be called as continuity of objects?"
Very genuine question this appears to be. Just in case, this question has been raised despite being familiar with Bhagavan's teachings and/or with many articles of Sri Michael James, it is very unlikely that any explanation from me can be more convincing. Therefore, I would instead copy paste below some more portion of that conversation between Sri Ramana Maharshi and Lady Bateman (Talk 609), which might serve to answer the query a little bit more clearly:
Lady Bateman appreciated the discourse and thanked Sri Bhagavan. Later, she said that she would be leaving the next day.
Sri Bhagavan smiled and said: You do not leave one place for another. You are always stationary. The scenes go past you. Even from the ordinary point of view you sit in your cabin and the ship sails but you do not move. We see a picture of a man running several miles and rushing towards us but the screen does not move. It is the picture that moves on and away.
D.: I see, but I can understand it only after I realise the Self.
M.: The Self is always realised. Were Realisation something to be gained hereafter there is an equal chance of its being lost. It will thus be only transitory. Transitory bliss brings pain in its train. It cannot be liberation which is eternal. Were it true that you realise it later it means that you are not realised now. Absence of Realisation of the present moment may be repeated at any moment in the future, for Time is infinite. So too, such realisation is impermanent. But that is not true. It is wrong to consider Realisation to be impermanent. It is the True Eternal State which cannot change.
D.: Yes, I shall understand it in course of time.
M.: You are already That. Time and space cannot affect the Self. They are in you; so also all that you see around you are in you. There is a story to illustrate this point: A lady had a precious necklace round her neck. Once in her excitement she forgot it and thought that the necklace was lost. She became anxious and looked for it in her home but could not find it. She asked her friends and neighbours if they knew anything about the necklace. They did not. At last a kind friend of hers told her to feel the necklace round the neck. She found that it had all along been round her neck and she was happy! When others asked her later if she found the necklace which was lost, she said, “Yes, I have found it.” She still felt that she had recovered a lost jewel. Now did she lose it at all? It was all along round her neck. But judge her feelings. She is happy as if she had recovered a lost jewel. Similarly with us, we imagine that we would realise that Self some time, whereas we are never anything but the Self.
D.: I feel that I am transplanted into some other land than the earth.
Sri Bhagavan, while looking into some correspondence, heard it, smiled and said: This is the Kingdom of Heaven. The Kingdom of Heaven mentioned in the Bible and this world are not two different regions. “The Kingdom is within you,” says the Bible. So it is. The realised being sees this as the Kingdom of Heaven whereas the others see it as ‘this world’. The difference lies only in the angles of vision.
D.: How can we deny the world and the people therein? I hear some music. It is sweet and grand. I recognise it to be Wagner’s music. I cannot claim it to be mine.
M.: Does Wagner or his music exist apart from you? Unless you are there to say that it is Wagner’s music, can you be aware of it? Without being aware of it, can it be said to exist? To make it more clear, do you recognise Wagner’s music in your deep sleep? And yet you admit that you exist in sleep. So it is clear that Wagner and music are only your thoughts. They are in you and not out of you.
D.: It is beautiful.

Bob - P said...

[Sri Bhagavan smiled and said: You do not leave one place for another. You are always stationary. The scenes go past you. Even from the ordinary point of view you sit in your cabin and the ship sails but you do not move. We see a picture of a man running several miles and rushing towards us but the screen does not move. It is the picture that moves on and away.]

I wonder if this wonderful passage from Bhagavan inspired Douglas Harding with regards his experiments. He also said you have never moved a inch your whole life the world moves not you .. You don't walk along a road the road moves into you and disappears .. If you walk backwards you do not move the road emerges out from you ...... you are the source of everything and everything is in you ....... very interesting. I know Harding respected Bhagavan so very much.

Thank you for posting this and for your other posts above, extremely helpful.

In appreciation.

Bob

Marduk said...

R Viswanathan,
thanks for replying with a further portion of that conversation.
Regrettably I am not very familiar with Bhagavan's teachings and with articles of Sri Michael James.
Some statements of the mentioned conversation reveal glimmers of hope:
"The Self is always realised."
"True Eternal State - unchanging - is all along round our neck."
"Similary with us, we imagine that we would realise that Self some time, whereas we are never anything but the Self."
"The Kingdom of Heaven mentioned in the Bible is within us".
But what exactly sees "the realised being as the Kingdom of Heaven whereas the others see it as 'this world' "?
What nature are the 'angles of vision' which make the difference ?
It is not clear to me that... music are only my thoughts.
If they - Wagner and his music - are in me and not out of me, I would be (like) a gigantic universum .

Artemis said...

R Viswanathan, Marduk,
regarding the story of the seeming lost necklace of gems:
For Bhagavan and from his view all is clear and easy("Sri Bhagavan smiled and said: You do not leave one place for another...").
Although the precious necklace of knowing that time, space and all that we see around us are in us, maybe decorate already our neck, we as ajnanis have to recover this seeming lost jewel through effort.
Although we never lost actually the jewelery of knowing the truth we cannot play Bhagavan but we really have to find again through starting an intense search.
Our imagination that we would realise our self some time maybe absurd, foolish, unwise, imprudent, senseless and asinine but we have to destroy our self-forgetfulness knowingly with readiness to fight and suitable machinery of war.

Huascaran said...

Okay, according a quote of Sri Ramanasramam Home Page:
"This phenomenal world is nothing but thought. When the world recedes from one's view - that is when one is free from thought - the mind enjoys the Bliss of the Self. Conversely, when the world appears - that is when thought occurs - the mind experiences pain and anguish.
Can anybody tell me how to get free from thought or how I can prevent arising of thought in my mind ?
How can I overcome or surmount my peculiar aversion to self-investigation ?

Orontes said...

Hey you Gods of wisdom or wise insights !
I would like best to cast aside the idea that I am this body or this mind/brain.
How to make forget my own mind/ego ?
How can I make the mind to attend to its own source/nature ?
How can the pseudo-'I' get annihilated which is knowing only other objects, second and third persons ?
How to eradicate the feeling of being a separate entity and all the false and dense mental conceptions ?
How will the delusive mind drown and die in the state of self, the one existence-consciousness of Brahman ?
How can be chased away the delusion which has veiled the Light of Consciousness of unlimited bliss ?

R Viswanathan said...

"But what exactly sees "the realised being as the Kingdom of Heaven whereas the others see it as 'this world' "? What nature are the 'angles of vision' which make the difference ?"

To obtain clarity on such questions, it would be of great benefit to study Bhagavan's Ulladhu Narpadhu, which contains Bhagavan's teachings as Tamil verses (40 plus 2 introductory verses in total).

Please see Sri Michael James' website http://www.happinessofbeing.com/ramanopadesa_nunmalai.html#un_intro

The verses 14 to 18 can help one obtain clarity on time, space, and world. Following passages are taken from the above link:

In verses 14 to 16 Sri Ramana discusses the reality of space and time, and establishes the truth that ‘we’, who are devoid of time and space, alone are real.

In verse 14 he begins with the subject of space or ‘place’, and since in Tamil grammar the three persons are called மூவிடம் (mū-v-iḍam) or the ‘three places’, he says that if the first person, our false consciousness ‘I am this body’, exists, the second and third persons will also seem to exist, but that if we scrutinise the truth of the first person, it will cease to exist, and along with it the second and third persons will also cease to exist, and that the remaining single (non-dual) தன்மை (taṉmai) — ‘self-ness’, ‘essence’, ‘reality’, ‘first person’ or ‘state’ — alone is ‘self’, our own real state.

In verse 15 Sri Ramana goes on to discuss the reality of time, saying that the past and future stand clinging to the present (that is, their seeming existence depends upon the present); that while occurring they are both the present; that the present is ‘only one’ (that is, the only one time that we ever actually experience); and that trying to know the past or future without knowing the truth of the present is like trying to count without knowing ‘one’ (the basic number of which all other numbers are constituted).

In verse 16 he concludes his discussion of time and space by first asking the rhetorical question ‘நாம் அன்றி நாள் ஏது, நாடு ஏது, நாடும் கால்?’ (nām aṉḏṟi nāḷ ēdu, nāḍu ēdu, nāḍum kāl?), which means ‘when [we] scrutinise, except we, where is time [and] where is place?’ and which clearly implies that when we keenly scrutinise ourself in the precise present place and precise present moment, ‘here’ and ‘now’, we will discover that ‘we’ alone truly exist and that time and place are completely non-existent.

In verses 17 and 18 he teaches us the unreality of our present experience — both of ourself as a finite body and of the world as a collection of finite forms — by contrasting it with the experience of those who have known self.

In verse 17 he says that both for those who have not known self and for those who have known it, the body is certainly ‘I’, but that the difference between them is that to those who have not known self, ‘I’ is limited to the measure of the body, whereas to those who have known self, ‘I’ shines without any limit (and hence neither the body nor anything else exists as other than it).

In verse 18 he says that both for those who have not known self and for those who have known it, the world is real, but that the difference between them is that to those who have not known self, the reality is limited to the measure of the world, whereas to those who have known self, the reality abides devoid of form as the ādhāra (the support, substratum or ground) of the world. That is, whereas we experience the multiple forms of this world as real, a person who has known self experiences only its formless ground or underlying substance as real.

Noob said...

Things that are easy to study and analyse are always with us, namely:
1) waking state
2) dreaming state
3) "unconscious" state, i.e. deep sleep, anaesthesia, coma, etc
I used to assume that "my life" was counted in time periods of my "waking" state such as minutes, hours, days, months, years. However this logic is flawed as I left out dreaming state and unconscious states. The sense of time and space (world) is very different in the dreaming state and does not exist in the unconscious state, but in all the three states exists "I". Therefore what really is changing are not years but the states in which "I" finds itself. And this change of states is indisputable and so far the states keep alternating.

Diogenes said...

Noob,
please do answer my question of 5 November 2015 at 21:07.
Take notice that real 'I' does never find itself in any changing state because according to Bhagavan it is always unchanging.

Marduk said...

R Viswanathan,
many thanks for taking pains over me and giving the valuable hint to the extensive book of Michael James "Sri Ramanapadesa Nunmalai" and your estimable advice to Ulladu Narpadu which is included in the mentioned book. Sorry I was just indignant to study any long text. The whole website is obviously a treasure house of incomparable teachings.

Valle Sagrado said...

Michael,
from Sri Ramana's given evidence that there is no mind to which anything could ever happen we can only conclude what enormous, mighty and heart-rending experience the boy have made in July 1896.
(We) I regret to have to inform you Bhagavan that (we) I cannot join in the conversation with you because only sages like you know what actually exists from own experience.
(Our) My experiential knowledge and my experience horizon do not contain any comparable tremendous comprehension/exposure/familiarity. Because most of us can ask only from our perspective of waking and dreaming we have to place our humble trust in you. Therefore we ask you to tolerate our presence under your considerate patronage.

Damavand said...

Michael,
Another question from the perspective of our mind:
Which authority does give/grant the mind on the one hand the capability/power to not appear in sleep and on the other hand to appear in waking and dreaming ?

Suresh Lakshmanan said...

We are aware of only two states - Waking & Dreaming where we experience things happening to us. What happens to us in our deep sleep is an inference - our mind and body didn't exist at all, so there is no experiencer. But there is a clear indication of happiness when we wake up. Where does the happiness come when there is no mind and body to claim the experience? It directly comes from our Self. In sleep our mind resolves into the Self and we lose our individuality. So we go back to the source whence we came from. Here is a direct indication that it's possible gain happiness if we lose our individuality. We happily sleep daily. In fact, we die daily in deep sleep - the mind resolves into the self and when we wake up, we wake in the same body.

Hence Bhagavan always pointed us to this state for us to analyse because here is nature's kindness that the mind gets immersed in the self. There is a possibility for us to understand the peace and happiness that is inherent in the Self. But it's not useful as a spiritual progress because we are covered by nescience in deep sleep.

HE used to say, that the only real state is what existed in our deep sleep when there was no mind and body and all that we have to do is to get into the same state when we are awake - Wakeful sleep (Jagrat Sushupti) - where we are alertly abiding in the Self without giving evan a small room for the mind to arise.

Om Sri Ramanaya Namaha

Noob said...

To Diogenes:
1) The "I-thought" "creates" the mind and subsequently creates the "dream" world. Mind is a multitude of thoughts with specific "personal" tendencies. If I take a look at my dreams, even though sometimes there is a lot of action in the dreams, a multitude of people there with whom I interact, I can speak there, and even smell and taste sometimes, but in fact, is there anyone in those dreams but myself? Whatever building I maybe in there, that building is made exactly of the same "material" as myself (my consciousness). Therefore the question of life is to see if "the reality" follows the same rules as the "dream".
2) self indeed in ever unchanging, its the "scenery or states" that become "visible" to the "I-thought" that alternate.That scenery is also created by the same "I thought" and the scenery is sustained by the same "I thought" and in the end most probably the scenery IS the same "I-thought" and in the end that is self. I believe that the aim of the practice is to merge "The I thought" into self by using the only tool there is - that is attention. This practice is probably the only way to resolve the question of life mentioned in point 1 above. Trying not to be fooled by the scenery is only one part of the deal, the other is to vigorously seek the beginning. As long as the perception of the scenery exists, investigation is necessary. "...now that you claim that you see, your guilt remains" John 9:41

Damavand said...

Suresh Lakshmanan,
may I ask you to consider the following points:
1. Are we not also aware in sleep ?
2. The subject of the article is not "What happens to us in sleep" but
"What happens to our mind…"
3. It is not the same to say "our mind did’t exist at all" as Michael James writes "our mind in sleep does simply not appear – that is, it does not seem to exist at all".
4. That "our body did not exist in sleep" we cannot really claim because then there was no knowing mind.
5. Indication of happiness was at most at waking. But waking is not sleep any more.
6. We are always in Jagrat Sushupti. Only our mind does object to our inherent happiness and takes up not merely a small room but full space to arise.

Suresh Lakshmanan said...

@Damavand,

Not sure if i understood your question but let me try and answer your question in parts.

1) If we consider to have only 3 states of existence -- Waking, Deep sleep, Dream -- then we are NOT aware in deep sleep. It's everyone experience after waking up that we didn't know what happened in Deep sleep. We go into a timeless void and come back.

2. The subject "What happens to our mind in sleep" takes Dream and Deep sleep into account. Bhagavan is categorical in claiming that Dream and Waking state are the same, he in fact terms Waking state as a longer dream.

So, the mind exists in both dream and waking states -- it's nature is the same.

In Deep sleep, there is NO mind, the mind (with all it's propensities) resolves into the Self. Bhagavan explains clearly

"Just as the spider emits the thread (of the web) out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind leaves the Self, the world appears. Therefore, when the world appears, the Self does not appear; and when the Self appears (shines) the world does not appear"

3. Since our mind has resolved into the Self, it lost it's identity and for the time in Deep sleep partook the characteristic of the Self. But when it rises up, it comes back with all it's vasanas. It doesn't mean destruction of mind, but a temporary abeyance of the mind.

4. Precisely. No mind = No body.

5. The happiness experience after waking from Deep sleep is an indication of what happens when mind loses it's identity and resolves into the Self. It can only be inferred with intuition when one comes to waking state.

6. We are always in Reality except that we refuse to see it. Jagrat Shushupti is to get the timeless happiness we get in Deep sleep by being alert in not allowing the mind to arise by abiding in the source.

Sri Bhagavan commented:-
"In sushupti (deep sleep) one enjoys a whole ocean of bliss like a king; whereas in the other two states [waking and dreaming] the range of bliss is as wide as the classes of men, from the king down to the penniless."

Mr. Cohen: Sushupti is often characterised as the state of ignorance.

Bhagavan: No, it is the pure State. There is full awareness in it and total ignorance in the waking state. It is said to be ajnana (ignorance) only in relation to the false jnana (knowledge) prevalent in jagrat [waking state]. Really speaking jagrat is ajnana and sushupti prajnana (wisdom). If sushupti is not the real state where does the intense peace come from to the sleeper? It is everybody's experience that nothing in jagrat can compare with the bliss and well-being derived from deep sleep, where the mind and the senses are absent. What does it all mean? It means that bliss comes only from inside ourselves and that it is most intense when we are free from thoughts and perceptions, which create the world and the body, that is, when we are in our pure Be-ing, which is Brahman, the Self. In other words, the Be-ing alone is bliss and the mental superimpositions are ignorance and, therefore, the cause of misery. That is why samadhi is also described as sushupti in jagrat, the blissful pure being which prevails in deep sleep is experienced in jagrat, when the mind and the senses are fully alert but inactive.

Hill Top said...

Noob,

Your reference to dream state is very apt. Now tell me, has anyone ever woken up from a dream by their effort in their dream?
We may wake up due to an alarm going off or a family member waking us up; these happen from a domain which is outside the dream.

So all these thinking of waking up/efforts to wake up, I doubt it will ever wake one up.

Experiencing intense fear may wake one up; [I guess Bhagavan used to say that seeing a lion in dream, an elephant may wake up]. So utmost what we can do is expose ourself to the most scary/dangerous situation and hope the shock will wake us up. That too can happen only if we are destined to encounter such a event [e.g Bhagavan's 1896 fear experience].
I believe one has to be intensely aware and be prepared to face the shock -- the shock by definition can't be a known; it must be utter unknown. If we are not alert and ready, I think it may break the mind and send one to insanity.

What I'm saying may sound crazy, but I'm sorry -- just telling someone to do 'who-am-i' all the time and if there is no improvement, blaming the sadhaka is not fair.

Since Bhagavan asked us to doubt everything; including the doubter; I am sure he doesn't get angry with me for questioning his teachings :)

BTW if one believes in Guru's words and this real life is just like a dream, why people worry how things go? do you ever on waking up, wished the dream was different? we hardly even think 5 minutes or so of a dream -- it just vanishes. So why have desires/wishes to make this life one way or another. Let it go in whatever way.. if one realizes or not -- what's the big deal?

Michael James said...

Anonymous, I have replied to your comment in a separate article, which I have posted here now: Sleep is our natural state of pure self-awareness. I hope that what I have written in this new article will also serve as an answer to some of the comments written here by other friends.

Sivanarul said...

Hill Top,

Good points. Just want to share a few thoughts on the lines below.

“BTW if one believes in Guru's words and this real life is just like a dream, why people worry how things go? do you ever on waking up, wished the dream was different? we hardly even think 5 minutes or so of a dream -- it just vanishes. So why have desires/wishes to make this life one way or another. Let it go in whatever way.. if one realizes or not -- what's the big deal?”

Very few people can translate the “belief” into action. Anyone with reasonable intellect can talk the advaita or bhakthi talk. But when the time comes to walk the talk, very few people can do it. One can 100% believe in the Guru’s words that the real life is just a dream and as long as life’s circumstances are smooth, they can deceive themselves into thinking that they are indeed seeing the world as a dream.

Now let’s say they get a stroke and become paralyzed on one side and are left dependent on someone else for even their basic care. Suddenly life will not appear as a dream (for most people). It will be very traumatic and the identity with the ego and body will become extremely strong, if you need bed pan on a daily basis.

So I am not a big believer or fan of “life is just a dream”. I am more in line with Buddha’s first noble truth that Samsara is suffering and we need to find a way to get out of Samsara. With that attitude, then the purpose of Sadhana is to end Samsara through effort (and final act of grace being a closer) or as you wrote earlier to let go of everything and be in simple receptive peace (as best as one can).

Damavand said...

Michael,
thanks for considering the issue of our mind and sleep in greater depth in a separate article. As you have seen and noticed in our comments of insecure content our confusion about that subject grew up into a vague, discursive and dissenting mass of opinions.

Hill Top said...

Sivanarul,

Okay, do we agree with Bhagavan that a sense of happiness/misery does not come from external objects but is purely a state of mind? [otherwise, say a billionaire should be happy or someone in a loving relationship should be in bliss -- we see it's not the case..there is always something to worry about]. When the outward going mind temporarily halts.. the inner Self is experienced as peace/bliss.

So a beggar sitting in front of a temple can be in a state of bliss which is more than a king sleeping in a golden bed. right?

Again to see that the external events are not related to our misery -- is pretty straightforward; one loses a job, relationship, wealth... even health.. he can still be calm [after all each of us have just a few decades left on this planet... so it's not a big deal to lose material comforts or even relationships -- a closed door implies another door opening].
Say the hypothetical situation you describe.. how do you know you won't be in peace if that situation arises? the person who takes care of you, might feel immense joy doing it. how do we know it is going to be horrible?
The point is look back in your life.. every event that appeared most scary ..turned out to be not a big issue after a few months/years.. life goes on..and you do feel 'all is well'.
The mind/Fear just scares people.. all roads lead to Rome. In fact the scariest path is the most fun path.

'life is a dream' .. it's in the sense.. nothing gets lost or damaged if one goes in one path than another. It's exactly like watching a movie and lights come on at the end [ie at one's death.. when one wakes up from this 'waking life']. Of course if one wants to watch the movie titled 'doing saadhana to end samara thru effort' -- he/she is totally free to watch that movie. The point is doing nothing is just as fine as doing something.
All it takes is to trust totally on Master's words that when you wake up, the world/your-life was just a dream.

I believe when sages said 'summa iru' ... this is likely what they meant. Of course a mind which has 'saadhana/effort vasana' very strong.. will revolt at this idea of not working.. but again that is its nature.

Mouna said...

Hilltop and SIvanarul, namaste.

First Hilltop, you said: "I believe one has to be intensely aware and be prepared to face the shock -- the shock by definition can't be a known; it must be utter unknown. If we are not alert and ready, I think it may break the mind and send one to insanity.”
Well, to my knowledge, that preparation you are talking about is exactly the practice (alma-vichara and surrender in the case of Bhagavan’s teachings)

You said: "if one realizes or not -- what's the big deal?”
Well, according to many teachers, not only Bhagavan but also Buddha, if you identify with the body or ego you will keep coming back to this miserable existence (samsara/maya), so from the ego point of view, there is reincarnation. That’s the big deal, coming back again and again… Reincarnation is something that the ego cannot prove or disprove. (we agree that for real self there is not such thing)

Now Sivanarul, you said: "Anyone with reasonable intellect can talk the advaita or bhakthi talk. But when the time comes to walk the talk, very few people can do it.”
I couldn’t agree more. And if anyone has doubts, watch Fierce Grace, a documentary about Ram Dass (I assume you guys know who he is) where he tells the story of his stroke, and that after a lifetime of seeking and becoming a well-know “guru” and best-selling author (Be Here Now) he said (paraphrasing because I saw the movie long time ago) that when confronted face to face with an imminent death, all that he had learned before, taught, etc… really din’t count much, the fear was really big and brought him to his knees...

Hill Top said...

Mouna,

Yes, I do see the point that atma-vichara can prepare one to be more alert; I am not sure why this (ie being more alert) was not stated directly as a saadhana [I believe teachers like Gautama Buddha, Osho do it direct]. These teachers suggest how to be aware/alert more -- like first starting with the body (where hands, legs, head are moving/how they are moving, why they are moving) and then to thoughts (what thoughts are arising/passing-by). Slowly the senses become very alert -- say a shock is to see a group of flying elephants -- since we are very alert, we wont shut off the awareness (mind does freeze - no thoughts arising); we will continue to witness and there is a chance of waking up at that moment.
While who-am-i goes to the root .. I'm not sure how effective it is in practice; Of course I know Bhagavan has stated that this is the direct path (hence I should believe that it must be the most effective).

About reincarnation etc. I have no evidence to believe on any of these. I know what feeling miserable means. I know what feeling happy means. These are confirmed by my experience. I have no clue on what I was in my previous life or will be in another life. Also I don't think this existence is miserable. When I don't know what/where I was in my last birth, why should I believe that I will come back again?

I believe Ramana is one of the gurus who uses pure logic/rational explanation for those in atma-vichara. I don't see a need to resort to beliefs/stories like reincarnation. The real issue is to know why we feel sad/miserable/fearful at times .. why at times we are happy. And is there a way to prolong the time we feel happy (ie make it approach 100% of the time). Even assuming there is a Self, God etc are unnecessary; just how to feel like a 3 year-old all the time -- the sages have confirmed it is possible to be like such a child.

Noob said...

No one has to worry about what is going to happen, the one who sees is destined to die.

Noob said...

To hill top:
My waking up from a dream is a sort of a death of me in the dream. Mostly it never happens by my will, so is our death in this world.But only after being woken up by an alarm clock, do I realize that the dream is over, maybe here the alarm clock is called "grace".

Damavand said...

Suresh Lakshmanan,
thanks for your answer. But instead of further cultivating of the exchange of our views first I will study the new article of Michael James meticulously. After that my assessment about mind and sleep will be surely more comprehensive than now.

Diogenes said...

Noob,
thanks for replying. But you did not answer my question of 5 November 2015 at 21:07.
It does not matter. Now I want to bury myself eagerly in Michael's today's separate article about sleep as "our natural state of pure self-awareness". Therefore I stop all argueing with my limited understanding of that important topic.

Noob said...

To Diogenes,
Sorry, I was not sure about if there was a question.
What is self consciousness?
This is the very question I am trying to find the answer to....

Diogenes said...

Thanks Noob,
quoted from the today's new article of Michael James "Sleep is our natural state of pure self-awareness", last paragraph of section 1. Nan Yar? paragraph 1: in sleep we experience ourself in the absence of our mind:
"As Bhagavan often used to say, our self-awareness (which is sat-cit, the awareness of what is) is the fundamental reality, so it is like the screen in a cinema, which exists and remains unchanged whether pictures are projected on it or not. Our mind and its two states of waking and dream are merely pictures projected on this screen of self-awareness, and sleep is the state in which no pictures are projected on it."

Noob said...

Understanding the truth is not enough, experiencing it is what counts. "...now that you claim that you see, your guilt remains" John 9:41

Diogenes said...

Noob,
experiencing does not inevitably exclude understanding the truth.
Generally pay careful attention to what is the right interpretation of the Christian doctrine and the Bible.
Therefore learn the right lesson from what Jesus said to the Pharisees regarding the healing of physical blindness in connection with spiritual sight and blindness.

Sivanarul said...

Hill Top,

Last time (a week or so ago), we left off the topic of effort being an hindrance with the understanding that in some cases where the spiritual maturity is very high, Sadhana/Effort can indeed be a hindrance and that it does not apply to beginners or people who do not have high enough spiritual maturity (as determined by Grace). So we are on the same page on that, and there is not much to comment on that.

“Say the hypothetical situation you describe.. how do you know you won't be in peace if that situation arises? the person who takes care of you, might feel immense joy doing it. how do we know it is going to be horrible?”

I am aware of several people who had stroke resulting in full or low levels of disability. I can assure you that no caregiver of those people feel “immense joy” in doing it. They are going through typical human emotions of anger, resistance, helplessness and a deep sense of pain, suffering and loss. To find “immense joy”, in that situation, one must be either awakened or have a very high degree of spiritual maturity.

“I believe Ramana is one of the gurus who uses pure logic/rational explanation for those in atma-vichara. I don't see a need to resort to beliefs/stories like reincarnation.”

Bhagavan did not talk much about reincarnation and a belief in that is certainly not necessary for Sadhana or final absorption. However in cases where he delivered liberation, he is on record acknowledging that without his intervention the devotees would have to have reincarnated several lifetimes. Below is a link of David Godman’s talk titled Power of the Guru Part 1. The relevant acknowledgement comes between minutes 14:00 to 16:45 where Bhagavan attests that he saw his mother going through several lifetimes as slides on a cinema.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8wDe4ngpDw

I am not writing this for you to believe in reincarnation. But it is a general observation. Reincarnation is backed both by spiritual literature and by illustrious spiritual gurus. In addition there is lots of anecdotal evidence based on birthmarks, past life recollections, nde’s etc. There is no reason why if one is born “once” (as in this birth) that they could not have been born before or will not be born again.

Suresh Lakshmanan said...

@Damavand

True. His new post is comprehensive and should be a great help for everyone. Thanks.

Hill Top said...

Sivanarul,

True, we are in the same page on effort. The main point is how one sees effort as; usually effort means something undesirable (as opposed to say play). What I say is all paths can be effortless in the sense that one enjoys the path; someone may say sweep and clean and decorate a temple. If that person enjoys that act immensely, I won't call that as effort.
So if vichara is performed in an effortless way -- then I don't see it will be a hindrance.

Also if a person realizes effort is useless even in the most noble/urgent of the pursuits (ie to know God), he/she is bound to lose effort in mundane worldly things. This will automatically stop the mind from going outwards (worrying about material things, what people will say etc kind of thoughts). This mind will more easily turn inwards as in atma-vichara. So dropping effort could help even in normal sadhaka from what I see [teachers like J Krishnamurti, Osho call his choiceless-awareness; even Bhagavan has said once 'let what comes come, let what goes goes, why you worry?'; in another instance 'let whatever strange things come, let it/them come']

About the suffering situation, you only see thru' your senses what others may be telling. You never were in that situation to know how you will see it. Bhagavan has said in one of his writings (not sure if it's original or a translation of works like Vivekachudamani) that whatever you see thru' your 5 senses is unreal. So you may witness a current care-giver as though they are in pain/misery -- but you never went into their head/mind/being and see what they truly feel. The point is Mind is good at projecting dooms-day scenario -- it uses Fear as its aid to project a gloom-n-doom situation. It's very likely unreal. Also how you will feel in that situation cannot be inferred from seeing how others are experiencing that similar situation.

Regarding reincarnation I have no clear understanding; I just felt it may not be needed to solve our immediate human life problem (of addressing sadness/happiness/fear/worry). Any backing of literature is not useful -- unless we can feel it thru' experience. Else just a simple statement like 'tat tvam asi' should wake us all up. Just like there is no continuation of one dream from another, I feel once we die/wake-up.. we merge in one big pool of vasanas and disappear; I don't see a need for continuation [seems more like a trick by the separate-self/ego to maintain it's separate identity even thru' death]. Of course I can't truly relate to Ramana's experience of liberating His mother.

R Viswanathan said...

"So dropping effort could help even in normal sadhaka from what I see [teachers like J Krishnamurti, Osho call his choiceless-awareness"

There is some discussion of "choiceless-awareness" in Sri David Godman's blog:
http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.in/2008/10/desire-for-self.html

I reproduce below the relevant portion from the above link. (I may kindly be excused for doing this despite the truly valuable and valid remark made in the same comment that "Any backing of literature is not useful -- unless we can feel it thru' experience").

A young man from Colombo asked Bhagavan, ‘J. Krishnamurti teaches the method of effortless and choiceless awareness as distinct from that of deliberate concentration. Would Sri Bhagavan be pleased to explain how best to practise meditation and what form the object of meditation should take?

Bhagavan: Effortless and choiceless awareness is our real nature. If we can attain it or be in that state, it is all right. But one cannot reach it without effort, the effort of deliberate meditation. All the age-long vasanas carry the mind outward and turn it to external objects. All such thoughts have to be given up and the mind turned inward. For that, effort is necessary for most people. Of course everybody, every book says, “Be quiet or still”. But it is not easy. That is why all this effort is necessary. Even if we find one who has at once achieved the mauna or Supreme state indicated by “Be still”, you may take it that the effort necessary has already been finished in a previous life. So …, effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation. That meditation can take any form which appeals to you best. See what helps you to keep away all other thoughts and adopt that method for your meditation”.

In this connection Bhagavan quoted verses 5 and 52 from ‘Udal Poyyuravu’ and 36 from ‘Payappuli’ of Saint Thayumanavar.

Though all the scriptures have said it, though we hear about it every day from the great ones, and even though our Guru says it, we are never quiet, but stray into the world of maya and sense objects. That is why conscious deliberate effort is required to attain that mauna state or the state of being quiet.

While we still have minds, we have choices, motives and desires. Bhagavan advises us in these circumstances to choose the Self over the non-Self, and with a strong dose of vairagya (discrimination between what is real and important and unreal and unimportant) keep one’s attention on the Self by desiring awareness of the ‘I’ to the exclusion of all other desires.

The question ‘Who am I?’ indicates a desire to find the true nature of the ‘I’. If that thought ‘Who am I?’ is held strongly and continuously, it burns up all other thoughts and eventually consumes itself, the original desire to know the Self, leaving a desire-free ‘I’. However, for this to happen the desire for the Self must exceed the distracting power of one’s vasanas:

Bhagavan: If the will and desire to remember Self are strong enough, they will eventually overcome vasanas. There must be a great battle going on inwardly all the time until the Self is realised. (Conscious Immortality, 1st ed., p. 57)

The process by which a strong desire for the Self burns up the mind and all its desires was stated even more explicitly by Bhagavan in the flowing reply, taken from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 152:

Bhagavan: Long for it [God or the Self] intensely so that the mind melts in devotion. After the camphor burns away no residue is left. The mind is the camphor; when it has resolved itself into the Self without leaving even the slightest trace behind, it is realisation of the Self.

Hill Top said...

Thanks Viswanathan for the information.

Just to make it clear, when I say drop-effort, I assume the person has already dropped-effort in outer world; if not 100% at least close to that.
This is assuming the pressing problem for the sadhaka is to escape from misery/pain; reaching a state of perfect-bliss/seeing-God is secondary (or rather 2nd goal). I believe Gautama Buddha always taught about handling and escaping misery; he kept quiet on any questions on God/reincarnation - which makes sense as escape from misery is of a more urgent problem.

Once you have dropped effort on outer world, the mind has nothing in external world to grab. It just hangs in space and automatically turns inwards; in this state, I meant effort to know Self may not even be needed. Just one day out of the blue the waking up should happen [Osho says this as when you prepare the soil and keep it ready, rains come and one day when the spring arrives, flowers will bloom]. In the waiting time, you have already transcended misery.

Yes, turning inwards doing atma-vichara is likely to help us drop effort in external world. But seeing the futility of effort in external world [haven't each jiva experienced frustration after frustration in external world? assuming he has lived say 30/40 years in the body? so it's not too logically unreasonable to give-up effort on the external world; we may act like working with effort ..but we are not concerned of the out-come], it's more straightforward to drop effort in external world and be like a leaf floating (not swimming) on a river.

I do agree for most folks it may not be easy to just take the hands of the steering wheel..but once they see what is really happening to them (the trick mind plays with 'effort', 'will-power'), it's not too illogical to just accept & celebrate (no need to tolerate) whatever life brings forth.

Sivanarul said...

Hill Top,

Your latest reply was excellent with nice insight. Your assumption that the pressing problem for the sadhaka is to escape from misery/pain is right on the money. Many people turn to spirituality since their dream is not pleasant anymore (or is turning into a nightmare). Very few souls, like Bhagavan and Buddha, can turn when the dream is pleasant.

What do you see as “dropping effort on outer world”? Can you share some of your experiences of how you dropped effort?

You are describing a state where the ego has been weakened so much, that as per your simile, you become a leaf floating (not swimming) on a river. One has to be either very close to awakening or should have experienced intense suffering for the ego to have weakened so much. As Eckhart Tolle describes how in his 29’Th year, the suffering got so intense, that his ego collapsed under its own weight.

The reason why “dropping effort on outer world” is not as easy as it sounds is that while suffering might be intense enough to look for a solution, Maya/Samsara provides enough carrots as to prevent the dropping from happening. So then the solution is what Bhagavan said and quoted by Viswanathan “So …, effortless and choiceless awareness is reached only after deliberate meditation. That meditation can take any form which appeals to you best. See what helps you to keep away all other thoughts and adopt that method for your meditation” (Thank you Sri Viswanathan for that wonderful quote of Bhagavan).

Please do write about some of your experiences or thoughts on “dropping effort on outer world”.

Hill Top said...

Sivanarul,

The script of my life until say 6 or so years ago was very smooth and calm -- like a boat floating in a calm river (got everything what a person wished -- no disappointments in life); then out of the blue, there was like a 1000 ft water fall (imagine victoria falls on zambezi river). As you describe about Tolle, my experience was very much similar. The pain was so intense, I lost trust in my ego/logical mind. Until then I thought, I plan for the future -- that everything if thought out carefully, can be made to materialize/manifest in the outerworld as we wish. In fact when faced with the utter shock, I did see my mind retreat -- as though it accepted its defeat. [In that frozen state, I did get a vision or so of Lord Muruga who was like a witness to that event and hence I could kind of blame him for my state -- this led me to studying verses of kandar-anubuthi which revealed more about the workings of the mind ('keduvaai manane, kadhi kel, karavaathu iduvaai..vadi vel ninaivaai..')]. I actually came to Ramana only after 3 or 4 years praying to Muruga [some say Ramana is an incarnation of Muruga, which is another story altogether]]

I was fortunate to study math/computer-science and could dig deeper into the science of logic. Once I could vaguely (at first) understand Godel's incompleteness theorem -- I realized there could be Truths which our brain/mind can never prove. So if a Sage says there is God.. it is truly possible God exists. [Until then I was agnostic, even Atheist before reading folks like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett]. That theorem is a logical way of mind proving it's own limitation -- which is beautiful because now you don't even need Trust/Faith.. your system is already declaring its weakness/limitations.

With the advent of youtube, I could get most spiritual teachings from various authors easily. Started trying out simple strategies.. e.g Surrender on small things -- see if you are okay/happy [Nithyananda calls this 'Unclutch']. Also as you realize happiness is not dependent on external things, slowly give up things which are not absolutely needed [I would say currently I will be content with say 2 meals a day and a thatched hut -- not that it's my reality/ God has blessed me with lot more material comfort; point is you slowly coach your mind to be with less]. Yes non-attachment (vairaagya) helped a lot. I think I was lazy by nature :) so I shy'd away from anything that involved work/effort.

The greatest insight I got was from Ramana when he said your happiness is not due to external objects but it's because the mind temporarily halts/subsides (thoughts go down); so systematically I threw away things from my life which were contributing to more thoughts. I call this tps (thoughts per sec .. a term from Nithyananda). So if xyz bothers you, you drop xyz from your life [xyz = job, marriage/family, whatever else..]. This is very drastic and unless your quest for Truth is really really strong, you can't do these steps. The analogy is if there is a mosquito problem in house, you burn the house.. I did not burn the house. I burnt the whole street. :)

Hill Top said...


Basically knocking and opening all doors labelled Fear, I realized I was getting more and more calm and blissful and happier; a confirmation of most teachers. You don't really need xyz to feel happy.. in fact xzy was a bondage -- it's a source of pain/misery/anxiety than happiness. Again I don't suggest people voluntarily throw out xyz, just that if life takes xyz from you, don't lament. Just witness and you will realize it's for your greater good.

Hope I'm not rambling too much; just wish some points can help you or someone reading. In one word if I have to summarize: it's Courage. Again this came to me only because of utter frustration in outside world ..when I realized I have nothing to lose except to bang/kick open the most fearful doors. I liked this Osho sayings: if you have two paths to choose, always choose the most scary one. [By definition this path will be one which your mind says don't take].

As I kept surrendering more and more, I realized I was getting exactly what I wanted without effort. Sometimes the tests are too harsh -- until the very last minute or hour, you won't get what you want --- and suddenly it appears; it is magical/miraculous to say the least :) Thus slowly you realize you don't have to hold on to the steering wheel and you are already sitting in an autonomous self driving vehicle.

[Of course I miss out some important contributions in my journey.. people/things .. i think each jiva's journey is unique... the only important thing I see is 'how strong is the quest for Truth' ..if this quest is strong, doors will open automatically]

Sivanarul said...

Hill Top,

Thanks much for the detailed insight. It is very helpful. I figured you must have experienced a severe shock for the ego to have weakened that much. You still have work to do my friend. What audacity, you expect 2 meals a day and a thatched hut :-) (Just kidding!)

My life script also involved events, where in spite of careful, meticulous planning and by the book action, it turned out 180 degrees opposite to the expected outcome. But it did not result in a severe shock though, mostly due to my strong religious Saivite upbringing. That upbringing probably cushioned the shock and prevented the ego from getting a big dent. That is the disadvantage of having a religious upbringing, in that it prevents the ego from getting big dents through sudden shocks and making progress by leaps and bounds :-) That is not to say I regret that upbringing. On the contrary, I am extremely thankful for it.

With respect to your comment that Bhagavan was an incarnation of Muruga, it is shared by many devotees. There was an article on Mountain Path regarding that and there is a very nice article in David Godman’s site also. I do subscribe to that view that Bhagavan was a Sarupa of Lord Muruga. The two great saints of Arunachala in recent times were Saint Arunagirinathar and Bhagavan. Saint Arunagiri had Bhakthi in the foreground and Jnana in the background. Bhagavan had Jnana in the foreground and Bhakthi in the background. Together they exemplify the path of attaining the holy feet of Lord Muruga. Considering that Vel represents Jnana and Muruga vields Vel as his weapon of choice (that pierces through ignorance) and he is considered Jnana Panditha and Jnana Guru, it is not a stretch to conclude that a Sarupa of him (Bhagavan) arrived in Arunachala (the Site of Jnana) to exemplify the path of Jnana for modern times. Then there is Bhagavan’s well known statement “The son is obliged to Father” (Pillai Appavuku Adakkam)

With respect to your thought on Surrendering and sometimes the test being very harsh till the last hour or minute: Ishvara’s help is based on the “long-term” goodness for the Jiva and not necessarily what is good for this life. So in Ishvara’s infinite wisdom, if a lifetime of harshness is the best long-term medicine for the Jiva, then Ishvara’s help may not arrive. This is akin to a mother not responding to the child’s incessant cries of the medicine tasting really sour. The mother knows that the sour medicine is the cure for the child’s illness and hence will not intervene. One exception to this is if the child really creates a scene and goes on strike (Ishvara responded to Sri Sundarar’s pleas to cure his blindness, after Sundarar threatened to give up his life).

Sivanarul said...

So then the challenge for the Sadhakas who follow Surrender as their primary path, is to train the mind to accept Suffering (when it comes and when Ishvara does not intervene). This is quite a challenge, because our entire life we are trained to avoid pain and suffering at all costs. From an evolution standpoint, the human brain has a built in flight or fight response which goes in autopilot mode whenever any pain or suffering nears it.

The other challenge is that modern life revolves around planning to the last detail starting from school, marriage to the casket or cemetery to dissolve. There can be no room for surprises. All of these fatten the ego which then projects a powerful image that it is running the show.

So taking the hands of the steering wheel, as you say, even a little, is quite a challenge due to non-acceptance of suffering. Leaving behind the pleasures of the world is relatively easy compared to becoming agnostic to suffering. The reason is the big role the body plays. Let’s take the pleasure of chocolate or watching tv as an example. In both cases, if they are left behind, the body does not complain, so the mind after some initial complaining will quieten down and will move on. Now let’s say someone has chronic pain. In this case, the body is intimately involved and is not at a state of rest which then serves as a big catalyst for non-acceptance of pain and suffering .

Case in point: I had a bad headache today. Once the pain started, initially it was easy to see that the ‘I’ is still the watcher of the pain and does not itself have pain. Mid point, ‘I’ being the watcher fades away and Ishvara’s will also starts fading away. Once it became severe, all bets were off. Pain was running the show and after medication, couple of cups of Tea and a few hours, pain goes away. Body assumes a state of rest. ‘I’ the watcher is back and Ishvara’s will is also back.

So as you wrote in an earlier comment, there can be immense value in what you suggested and I am quoting it here: “I am not sure why this (ie being more alert) was not stated directly as a saadhana [I believe teachers like Gautama Buddha, Osho do it direct]. These teachers suggest how to be aware/alert more -- like first starting with the body (where hands, legs, head are moving/how they are moving, why they are moving) and then to thoughts (what thoughts are arising/passing-by)”

What you wrote above could be preliminary practices that will benefit some sadhakas whether they practice Vichara or Surrender or both. I think Vipassana meditation follows a lot of the above. If anyone who reads this has done Vipassana style meditation, please share your experiences and thoughts.

Thanks again for your valuable contribution. Please do post whenever you feel like it. There is no substitute for experiential insight, and you seem to have lots of it :-)

Hill Top said...

Sivanarul,

Glad my journey path was useful to you; nice to read about Ramana and Lord Muruga.
Yes, I do see that the shock for me cracked the shell of ego; you do need a powerful shock -- its' like starting a nuclear fission reaction -- to start it, you need a powerful bang (usually using conventional chemical explosives/bombs). Once the reaction starts (as they say reactor going critical), the chain-reaction is self-sustaining.

Again there is no need to really get scared of the shock. After like 6 or so years, I don't see that event as that big a deal. But at that time, it felt enormous. It's how a baby feels when you snatch a candy from its hand or say a pet fish dies for a toddler. To them, it's almost like end of the world.

Also from your previous reference, Gautama did get nightmare; only Ramana could be said as someone who never truly faced nightmare [Even to Ramana, the fear-of-death was the shock..just that for him, it lasted few seconds/minutes -- for folks like us, it may run into years]. For Gautama, seeing someone old/dead/sick was such a shock -- his whole life he saw only beauty and youth.

About surrendering and following choiceless-awareness.. this quote from Osho is useful..someone asked Osho, 'if I do what u say (ie live in surrender/no-planning), what can happen to my job/family... how will i survive?'. Osho's reply: "why do you want to survive?" [then saying ..arent' u already living in such frustration, suffering, hell.. etc].

I know my journey is still on..but I am happy about the leaps-n-bounds growth I experienced in last few years; best wishes to you too and to others as well. As Ramana said.. 'Everything will come out right at the end' :)

Sandhya said...

Michael,

I have a basic question. If world is projection of my mind and all that I know for certain is my existence, and what I see, hear is just a dream that appears to have the action of seeing, hearing , how real are the teachings of Ramana Maharshi ? Isn't Ramana Maharshi a character in my dream, which I projected through my mind? So, it seems like the teachings, the concept of realisation are all part of my imagination. So what is truly real here? I like your approach of being logical, but you seemed to have started of your journey with a belief. This spiritual journey doesn't seem to have a definite beginning and that frustrates me. I would love to hear your comments on this.

Suresh Lakshmanan said...

@Sandhya,

The guru is like a lion that startles an elephant out of it's dream.

"As a lion seen in a dream by an elephant, awakens him; so the Guru, who is a Sage, awakens the disciple from the dream of ignorance. (Guru Ramana Vachana Mala, 135)"


http://arunachala-live.com/wordpress/?p=1788

Michael James said...

Sandhya, I have replied to the questions you asked in your comment in a series of two comments on the other article in which you later reposted it.