Wednesday, 16 March 2016

We are aware of ourself while asleep, so pure self-awareness alone is what we actually are

In many of my articles in this blog, including my most recent one, The role of logic in developing a clear, coherent and uncomplicated understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings (particularly in sections six and twelve), I have written about Bhagavan’s teaching that we are aware of ourself while asleep, but it is such a crucial aspect of his teachings that I do not hesitate to write about it repeatedly, because it is a concept that many people seem to have difficulty grasping, and because thinking about it deeply and understanding it clearly is an extremely valuable aid to us in our practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra). In fact, until we are able to recognise clearly that we are aware of ourself even when we are aware of nothing else whatsoever, as in sleep, while trying to investigate ourself we will not be able to distinguish our fundamental self-awareness from our awareness of all other things, including our body and mind.
  1. Bhagavan’s entire teachings are based on the premise that we are always aware of ourself
  2. Why we must be aware during sleep
  3. Why is it necessary for us to recognise that we are aware of ourself while asleep?
  4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham verse 31: the ātma-jñāni is aware of no difference between waking, dream and sleep
  5. The importance of distinguishing our permanent self-awareness from our temporary awareness of adjuncts
  6. Pure self-awareness is a timeless experience, so we are not aware of time while asleep
  7. The common assumption that awareness depends upon the brain being active is a fallacy
  8. We are intransitive awareness, which is permanent, whereas transitive awareness is temporary
  9. We can never be unaware that we are aware
  10. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 23: we are both what exists and what is aware that we exist
  11. The only element of our ego that actually exists is its essential self-awareness
  12. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 26: being aware what we are is not transitive awareness but just being the intransitive awareness that we actually are
  13. Silence is the only intransitive language, so it alone can reveal the true nature of pure intransitive awareness
  14. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 13: real awareness is ourself, whereas awareness of other things is ignorance
  15. We can never forget ourself completely, because though as this ego we have forgotten what we are, we are always aware that we are
  16. Sleep is our true and eternal state of pure self-awareness, so it seems to be imperfect only from the perspective of our ego
  17. To destroy our ego and thereby sleep eternally, we must try to be attentively self-aware while awake or in dream
  18. Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ verse 16: by constant practice of ātma-vicāra we should try to experience sleep during waking and dream
1. Bhagavan’s entire teachings are based on the premise that we are always aware of ourself

The fact that we are always aware of ourself, even in sleep, is one of the most fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, because it is the premise on which all his other teachings are predicated, and hence it was implied by him in the simple answer that he gave to the first question that he was asked by Sivaprakasam Pillai, ‘நானார்?’ (nāṉ-ār?), ‘Who am I?’, namely ‘அறிவே நான்’ (aṟivē nāṉ), which means ‘aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] alone is I’ (and which he later included in the second paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?). The awareness that he referred to in this context as அறிவு (aṟivu) is not awareness of anything else but of ourself alone, so what he implied by saying ‘அறிவே நான்’ (aṟivē nāṉ) is that pure self-awareness alone is what we actually are.

He also implied this in many other contexts. For example, in the first sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he wrote ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), which means ‘oneself, who is jñāna [knowledge or awareness], alone is real’, and in the last sentence of verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār he wrote ‘உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்’ (uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam), which means ‘uṇarvu [awareness or consciousness] alone exists as we’.

2. Why we must be aware during sleep

When he thus says that we are awareness, he obviously implies that we are always aware, because we could not be anything that we are not always. If we were not aware while asleep, awareness could not be what we actually are, so if we persist in thinking that we are not aware during sleep, we have not really understood or been convinced by his teaching that awareness alone is what we actually are.

When we are asleep we are not aware of anything other than ourself, but we are nevertheless aware of that absence of any awareness of any other thing. Since we remember having been asleep, we must have been aware of being in such a state, because if we were not aware of being in it, we would be aware of no gap at all between successive states of waking or dream. Since we are clearly aware not only of two states, namely waking and dream, but also of a third state in which we are not aware of any of the phenomena that we are aware of in waking and dream, we are aware not only of the presence of phenomena in those two states but also of the absence of any phenomena in sleep. Just as being aware of their presence is awareness, being aware of their absence is awareness, so even a little reflection along these lines should enable us to recognise the simple and irrefutable fact that we are aware in all these three states.

3. Why is it necessary for us to recognise that we are aware of ourself while asleep?

Recognising this clearly is the key not only to understanding the whole of Bhagavan’s teachings in a coherent manner but also to being able to practise being accurately self-attentive, because if we do not have the subtlety, acuity and clarity of mind to distinguish our simple self-awareness from our awareness of all other things, we will not be able to focus our attention only on our self-awareness in isolation from awareness anything else, such as our body or our mind. Therefore we should consider deeply and contemplatively what we were aware of in sleep, because that will help us to go much deeper into the practice of being attentively self-aware in our present state.

The rising of our ego in waking and dream obscures the clarity of pure self-awareness that we experienced while asleep, so our memory of the simple unassociated self-awareness that we experienced then is now to a greater or lesser extent clouded by our awareness of ourself as this ego and of everything else, but the more we think self-attentively about what we experienced in sleep, the more clearly we will be able to remember our experience of unalloyed self-awareness in that state. That unassociated and hence unalloyed self-awareness that we experienced in sleep is the fundamental self-awareness that we experience in all states and at all times, even though it is now obscured by our ego, so to the extent that our memory of the pure self-awareness of sleep is clear, we will be able to attend precisely to it now in this waking state or in any other dream.

If we do not have sufficient subtlety, acuity and clarity of perception to recognise that we were aware of ourself while asleep, it will be very difficult for us to focus our attention precisely on ourself while awake or dreaming, so carefully considering what we experienced in sleep should go hand in hand with our practice of self-attentiveness, because the clarity of each will help to make the other more clear. Our aim when investigating ourself is to distinguish ourself clearly from everything else with which we have now mixed and confused ourself, and we can distinguish ourself thus only to the extent that we are able to focus our entire attention precisely on ourself alone, so being able to recognise clearly and without doubt that we were aware of ourself while asleep is essential to the effective practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra).

Moreover, being able to recognise that we are always aware of ourself, whether or not we also happen to be aware of anything else, is essential to understanding the basic theory of Bhagavan’s teachings, because if we were not aware of ourself while asleep, we would have no adequate reason to believe that we are not this mind but only pure self-awareness, and hence we would have no reason even to try to investigate what we actually are. Therefore any devotees of Bhagavan who have not clearly grasped the simple fact that we are perfectly aware of ourself while asleep cannot have a complete, coherent and unconfused understanding of his teachings, and they will not even be able to understand clearly what the practice of ātma-vicāra actually entails.

4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham verse 31: the ātma-jñāni is aware of no difference between waking, dream and sleep

Some devotees acknowledge the fact that Bhagavan taught us that we are aware of ourself during sleep, but because they have not thought sufficiently deeply about what he taught us in this regard, they assume that only an ātma-jñāni can actually know that they are aware while asleep. This is obviously a very confused and incoherent assumption, because during sleep we could not have been aware of ourself unless we were aware that we were aware of ourself. Therefore when Bhagavan pointed out to us that we are aware of ourself while asleep, he did not intend to imply that we are aware of ourself even though we are not aware that we are aware of ourself, but only intended us to consider our experience carefully and self-attentively and thereby to recognise that we are never not aware of ourself.

An ātma-jñāni is one who has merged and dissolved completely in the pure self-awareness that we always actually are, so in the clear view of an ātma-jñāni nothing other than pure self-awareness actually exists or even seems to exist, and hence there are not three states but only one. Though in the self-ignorant view of the ego an ātma-jñāni may seem to be a person who experiences waking, dream and sleep just like any other person, what the ātma-jñāni actually experiences is only pure self-awareness, devoid of even the slightest awareness of anything else, so the ātma-jñāni is always in the state that we call ‘sleep’ but that is actually the only real state.

This is clearly implied by Bhagavan in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham:
வண்டிதுயில் வானுக்கவ் வண்டிசெல னிற்றிலொடு
வண்டிதனி யுற்றிடுதன் மானுமே — வண்டியா
மூனவுட லுள்ளே யுறங்குமெய்ஞ் ஞானிக்கு
மானதொழி னிட்டையுறக் கம்.

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

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

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

English translation: To the mey-jñāni [the knower of reality], who is asleep within the fleshy body, which is like a cart, activity [of mind or body], niṣṭhā [steadiness, inactivity or samādhi] and sleep are just like, to a person sleeping in a cart, that cart moving, standing or the cart remaining alone [with the bullocks unyoked].
That is, just as the various states of a cart are not experienced by a person who is sleeping in it, the various states of body and mind are not experienced by the jñāni, who is sleeping eternally in the infinite and indivisible state of pure self-awareness. Though in the self-ignorant view of an ajñāni the jñāni seems to be a person occupying a body and engaging in alternating periods of activity and inactivity, much like any other person, the jñāni is actually nothing other than our own real self (ātma-svarūpa), in whose the clear view what actually exists is only itself, so the jñāni can never be aware of even slightest difference between waking, dream and sleep. For the jñāni there is only one state, namely the infinite, eternal, immutable and indivisible state of pure self-awareness, which is what we (from the ignorant perspective of our ego in waking and dream) mistake to be sleep.

5. The importance of distinguishing our permanent self-awareness from our temporary awareness of adjuncts

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Why should we believe what Bhagavan taught us?, an anonymous friend wrote: ‘I am rather bored with all this logical discourse and would rather just practice Atma Vichara but there is one statement or proposition in Michael’s original formulation of Bhagavan’s teaching that isn’t at all clear to me and I would like discussed; namely that we are “aware” (though not “attentively aware”) of ourselves in deep sleep. Are we really?? I for one am not sure that I would say that. […] This question has a very large impact obviously on the entire argument’.

In order to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) effectively we need to understand clearly what this investigation entails and what exactly we should be trying to investigate and discern. Therefore our impatience to practise it should not make us ignore the importance of clearly and correctly understanding the simple but extremely subtle principles on which this practice is based, because if we do not clearly understand the fundamental principles that Bhagavan taught us we are likely to practise it wrongly or at least not so precisely or effectively. Therefore instead of rushing into the practice of ātma-vicāra without properly understanding it, let us start by carefully considering the fundamental principles he taught us, such as the fact that we are always aware of ourself, whether we are also aware of other things (as we are in waking and dream) or not (as we are in sleep).

According to Bhagavan ātma-vicāra is the only adequate and completely effective solution to the root of all our problems, namely our ego, which is a confused and illusory mixture of pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are, and awareness of extraneous adjuncts such as this body and mind, which are what we now seem to be. So long as we experience ourself as a body and mind, we are mistaking this confused mixture of our self-awareness and our awareness of these adjuncts to be our real self-awareness, and hence we are not experiencing ourself as we actually are but only as this ego. Therefore in order to experience ourself as we actually are we need to distinguish our essential self-awareness from the superimposed awareness of whatever adjuncts we currently mistake to be ourself, which we can do only by focusing our entire attention on our pure self-awareness alone. This focusing of our attention on our essential self-awareness is what is called ātma-vicāra or self-investigation, and in order to do it effectively we need to clearly recognise that we are aware of ourself even when we are not aware of any body or mind, as in sleep.

The Tamil term that Bhagavan generally used to refer to our self-awareness is தன்னுணர்வு (taṉ-ṉ-uṇarvu), and our awareness of adjuncts such as this body and mind is what he described in verse 24 of Upadēśa Undiyār as உபாதியுணர்வு (upādhi-y-uṇarvu). In waking and dream we mistake our உபாதியுணர்வு (upādhi-y-uṇarvu) or adjunct-awareness to be our real தன்னுணர்வு (taṉ-ṉ-uṇarvu) or self-awareness only because we allow our attention to dwell on things other than ourself, so when we withdraw our attention from all other things while falling asleep, our awareness of adjuncts dissolves and what remains is only our pure self-awareness.

However, if we have not even begun to distinguish our essential self-awareness from our awareness of adjuncts by trying to be self-attentive during waking or dream, while we are in either of these two states it will seem to us that because we were not aware of any adjuncts while asleep we were not even aware of ourself. Therefore in order to develop sufficient subtlety, acuity and clarity of mind to be able to recognise that we are aware of ourself even when we are not aware of any adjuncts or anything else other than ourself, as in sleep, we need to practise being self-attentive as much as possible while we are awake (and also whenever we remember to do so while we are dreaming).

By being keenly and vigilantly self-attentive we are purifying our mind and thereby increasing the clarity of our essential self-awareness by distinguishing it from our awareness of body, mind and everything else, so the more we manage to be self-attentive while awake or dreaming, the more clearly we will be able to recognise that we are always aware of ourself, whether or not we also happen to be aware of anything else. To the extent that we are thus able to distinguish our fundamental self-awareness from our awareness of extraneous adjuncts we will be able to focus our attention precisely on ourself, so by persistent practice of being self-attentive we will eventually be able to focus our entire attention only on our actual self-awareness to the complete exclusion of even the slightest awareness of any adjuncts or of anything else other than ourself.

Being so keenly and clearly aware of ourself alone in complete isolation from even the slightest awareness of any adjuncts is what Bhagavan described in verse 25 of Upadēśa Undiyār as ‘தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது’ (taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu), which means ‘knowing oneself leaving aside adjuncts’, and which he says is knowing God, because God shines as ourself. This is the state of pure self-awareness that we are seeking to experience when we practise ātma-vicāra, so clearly recognising that self-awareness is what we always experience and is therefore the screen or substratum on which the transient states of waking, dream and sleep appear and disappear is essential to enable us to succeed in this aim.

Therefore when we practise ātma-vicāra we are trying to discern the pure self-awareness that we actually are, distinguishing it from our awareness of adjuncts such as this body and mind, which are what we now seem to be, so clearly discerning the fact that we are aware of ourself even when we are not aware of any adjuncts, as in sleep, is intrinsic to this practice. If we are not able to clearly recognise the simple fact that what we experience in sleep is not a complete absence of all awareness but only our pure self-awareness bereft of awareness of anything else, how will we be able to penetrate deep into the state of being attentively aware of ourself alone?

The reason why sleep seems to most of us to be a state devoid of self-awareness is that we are so habituated in waking and dream to mistakenly confusing our awareness of adjuncts (upādhi-y-uṇarvu) to be our real self-awareness (taṉ-ṉ-uṇarvu) that the absence of any awareness of adjuncts in sleep seems to us to be an absence of self-awareness. Therefore we will be able to recognise that we were clearly aware of ourself while asleep only to the extent that we become familiar in waking and dream with being attentively self-aware and thereby being able to distinguish our permanent self-awareness from our temporary awareness of extraneous adjuncts such as this body and mind.

Though this practice of self-attentiveness or ātma-vicāra is the only effective means by which we can clearly recognise that we are always aware of ourself, both when we are aware of other things and when we are not, reflecting carefully and deeply on the fundamental principles that Bhagavan has taught us, particularly the principle that self-awareness is what we actually are and that we are therefore always aware of ourself, even when we are aware of nothing else whatsoever, as in sleep, will help us to go ever deeper into this simple practise of being attentively self-aware. Therefore let us not neglect or undervalue the importance of carefully pondering upon and clearly understanding all the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings and the logical arguments that he gave us to show why we should believe these principles.

6. Pure self-awareness is a timeless experience, so we are not aware of time while asleep

In the same comment this anonymous friend also wrote: ‘And if we claim that we are somehow aware of time passing [in sleep], what about coma or general anaesthesia. In the latter state there is very definitely no awareness of time passing, hence surely no awareness of o(0)urselves at all’. This argument seems to be based on the assumption that being aware of ourself entails being aware of time, which is not actually the case.

Time is a mentally fabricated dimension in which change seems to take place, so in the complete absence of any change we would have no sense of time. In sleep we are not aware of anything other than our immutable self, so we are not aware of any change or of any time. Time seems to exist only in waking and dream, when we experience ourself as this ego or mind.

Being a mental phenomenon, time is experienced only by our ego or mind and not by our real self. Time is fabricated by our mind in order to allow for the illusion of change. When no change seems to be taking place, as in sleep, coma or general anaesthesia, no time seems to exist, but when change of any sort seems to occur, as in waking and dream, time seems to exist.

The activity of our mind is what creates the illusion of time and change. In waking and dream our mind is active, and hence there is the illusion of time and change, but in sleep our mind has subsided completely, so there is no illusion of time or change.

Since our fundamental self-awareness, which is all that we experience in sleep, coma or general anaesthesia, but which we also experience in waking, dream and every other possible state, is permanent and immutable, it never undergoes any change, so it is an essentially timeless experience. Time appears and disappears, so it is a temporary phenomenon, whereas our fundamental self-awareness, ‘I am’, is the enduring background upon which it appears and disappears, like a cinema screen on which moving pictures appear and disappear.

Therefore our anonymous friend is correct in saying that in sleep and other such states there is definitely no awareness of time passing, but he or she is not correct in inferring that there is therefore no awareness of ourself. Time is a part of the mind-created illusion that obscures (but never entirely conceals) our awareness of ourself, because we experience time only when we mistake ourself to be this mind, and when we are aware of ourself as this mind we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. Only when we are not aware of ourself as this mind or as any mind-fabricated phenomenon, such as this body, are we aware of ourself as we actually are, so the mindless state of sleep is our natural state of pure self-awareness.

Since pure self-awareness is a timeless experience, it exists eternally, and hence we experience it permanently, both when time seems to exist, as in waking and dream, and when no time seems to exist, as in sleep. The only reason why we imagine that we do not always experience pure self-awareness is that we now mistake ourself to be phenomena such as this body and mind. Because this body and mind now seem to be ourself, our pure self-awareness now seems to be contaminated with awareness of these and other phenomena. And because this body and mind, which now seem to be ourself, do not exist in sleep, it seems to us now that we were not aware of ourself in sleep, whereas what we are actually not aware of in sleep was any of these phenomena that we mistake to be ourself in waking and dream.

7. The common assumption that awareness depends upon the brain being active is a fallacy

In the first comment on my previous article, The role of logic in developing a clear, coherent and uncomplicated understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings, the same or another anonymous friend wrote: ‘In states of coma or general anaesthesia (when essentially the brain shuts down completely) it could be argued that you are completely unaware of being aware’.

The reference here to the brain suggests that this anonymous friend assumes that awareness depends upon the brain being active and that we therefore cannot be aware when our brain is not active. This is a fallacious assumption, because the brain is a phenomenon known only by our mind, and our mind seems to exist only in waking and dream. In waking we as this mind experience ourself as this particular body, whereas in dream we as this mind experience ourself as some other body, so since these are two different bodies they have two different brains, and hence if it is argued that awareness depends on the brain being active, we would have to ask which brain: the brain of this body or the brain of our dream body?

Since in our experience any body and brain can seem to exist only when our mind seems to exist, and since our mind does not seem to exist at all when we are in sleep, coma or general anaesthesia, we have no adequate reason to believe that any body or brain exists at all in these states. Therefore it would be correct to say that our brain shuts down in these states only if it actually exists then, which is a dubious assumption. If our present body is a creation of our own mind, like any body that we experience as ourself in a dream, it exists only in this waking state and not in dream, sleep, coma or general anaesthesia, in which case its brain does not merely shut down but ceases to exist altogether in any state other than this.

Therefore let us not assume that awareness is in any way dependent on this or any other brain. Being aware of phenomena in waking or dream does depend upon our being aware of ourself as a body, so this makes it seem as if our awareness of phenomena is dependent on the brain in whatever body we currently experience as ourself, because the brain is the organ in the body in which mental activity seems to occur. However, since body and brain are both phenomena experienced by our mind, we have no adequate reason to assume that they exist independent of our mind, so the fact that mental activity seems to occur in them is probably just an illusion (and according to Bhagavan it is indeed so).

8. We are intransitive awareness, which is permanent, whereas transitive awareness is temporary

Being aware of phenomena is transitive awareness (which is what Bhagavan called சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu) or சுட்டுணர்வு (suṭṭuṇarvu), in which the word சுட்டு (suṭṭu) means pointing at, aiming at, referring to, indicating or showing, and அறிவு (aṟivu) and உணர் வு (uṇarvu) both mean awareness or consciousness), whereas just being aware is intransitive awareness, so since we could not be aware of phenomena if we were not aware, transitive awareness depends upon intransitive awareness. Therefore the basic form of awareness is only intransitive awareness (being aware without being aware of any object), and transitive awareness (being aware of objects) is an epiphenomenon — a non-essential effect or by-product of being intransitively aware, but which does not affect intransitive awareness is any way whatsoever.

That is, in order to be aware of any phenomena we must be aware, but in order to be aware we do not need to be aware of any phenomena, because we were aware in sleep even though we were not then aware of any phenomena (as we can understand from the simple fact that we are now aware that in sleep we were not aware of any phenomena). Therefore even if awareness of phenomena (transitive awareness) were dependent on neurological activity in the brain, that would not mean that awareness itself (intransitive awareness) was dependent on such activity.

Though we can be aware without being aware of any phenomena, as we are in sleep, we could not be aware without being self-aware, because being aware entails being aware that we are aware, and in order to be aware that we are aware we must be aware both that we are and that what is aware is ourself. Therefore being intransitively aware and being self-aware are inseparable, and are actually one and the same thing, because self-awareness is the very nature of intransitive awareness.

Therefore when Bhagavan says that we are aware of ourself while asleep, he does not mean to imply that we are an object of our awareness, because we are what is aware, and hence we can only be the subject and never the object. However, since the subject is a subject only in relation to the objects of which it is aware, in sleep we are not even a subject because there are then no objects of which we could be aware. Being aware of ourself is not a subject-object relationship, so being self-aware is not transitive awareness but only intransitive awareness — awareness being aware of nothing other than itself (which is ourself).

The intransitive self-awareness that we experience during sleep is a completely featureless experience, so in comparison to all the numerous and varied features that we are aware of in waking and dream it seems to our mind to be a state devoid of awareness, whereas in fact it was devoid only of transitive awareness but not of intransitive awareness. Intransitive awareness is the foundation or background on which transitive awareness appears and disappears, so it is the fundamental reality, without which there could be no awareness of any phenomena or anything at all.

Therefore when Bhagavan says that we are awareness (as he did, for example, in the sentences of Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār that I cited in the first section), he did not mean that we are transitive awareness but only that we are intransitive awareness. Hence when we practise ātma-vicāra we are trying to distinguish our basic intransitive awareness, which is what we actually are, from our transitive awareness, which is what seems to exist only in waking and dream but not in sleep.

9. We can never be unaware that we are aware

In the comment that I referred to at the beginning of the seventh section our anonymous friend suggested that ‘In states of coma or general anaesthesia […] it could be argued that you are completely unaware of being aware’, but this is an absurd proposition, because we could never be unaware of being aware. If we are aware, we must be aware that we are aware, and if we were completely unaware, we would not be aware of anything at all, so in any state we must be either aware or completely unaware. We cannot be both.

However, though we are aware in states such as sleep, coma and general anaesthesia, many of us fail to recognise this when we are awake, so I assume this lack of recognition is what our anonymous friend mistakes to be being ‘completely unaware of being aware’. What we are actually unaware of in sleep and such states is any phenomena, so since we mistake awareness of phenomena (transitive awareness) to be the only kind of awareness, we assume that we were not aware at all in any state in which we were not aware of any phenomena.

Since we are aware that we are not aware of any phenomena in sleep, coma or general anaesthesia, we were not completely unaware in such states, because we must have been aware in order to be aware that we were not aware of any phenomena. Awareness of phenomena (transitive awareness) occurs only when we are aware of ourself as this ego or mind, as in waking and dream, and it does not occur in sleep, coma or general anaesthesia, because in such states there is no ego or mind. However, since we are aware not only of the presence of awareness of phenomena in waking and dream but also of the complete absence of any awareness of phenomena in states such as sleep, we are aware — intransitively aware — in all these states, whether or not we are aware of any phenomena.

10. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 23: we are both what exists and what is aware that we exist

In the same comment this anonymous friend quoted a sentence that I had written in final section of my previous article, How can we recognise clearly that we are aware of ourself while asleep?, namely ‘In fact logically we could never not be aware of ourself, because if we were not aware of ourself we would not exist at all, because what we essentially are is only self-awareness’, and remarked, “I leave it up to the analytic philosophers on this site to decide on the ultimate validity of this statement. It seems to me there might be some issues here around that old bugbear word ‘existence’”.

There can be issues concerning the term ‘existence’ because people often assume that just because something seems to exist it must actually exist, which is not necessarily the case, so when we talk about existence we need to distinguish seeming existence from actual existence. There are also philosophical issues concerning the question of whether or not existence is a property of each thing that exists, but these are issues that need not concern us here, because Bhagavan’s teachings are primarily concerned not with properties but only with the one substance that actually exists, which is our own real self and which is what he called உள்ளது (uḷḷadu), which means ‘what is’ or ‘what exists’. Therefore when discussing existence in the context of his teachings, the only issue we need be concerned about is whether whatever we are talking about actually exists or merely seems to exist.

When I wrote, ‘if we were not aware of ourself we would not exist at all, because what we essentially are is only self-awareness’, what I meant by ‘exist’ was not ‘seem to exist’ but ‘actually exist’. Whatever else we are aware of may not actually exist even though it seems to exist, because everything other than our actual self could be an illusion. The only thing that must actually exist is ourself, because we are aware of ourself and sometimes of other things also, and we could not be aware of anything, whether real or illusory, if we did not actually exist. We may not actually be whatever we now seem to be, but we must actually exist, because if we did not we would not be aware of ourself as anything.

Because we are aware of many phenomena that seem to exist but do not seem to be aware, and because we assume that phenomena exist even when we are not aware of them, we assume that existence and awareness are two distinct things. However, according to Bhagavan they are actually not two but just one thing. What actually exists is aware of its own existence, and whatever is aware of its own existence must actually exist, as he explains in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
உள்ள துணர வுணர்வுவே றின்மையி
னுள்ள துணர்வாகு முந்தீபற
      வுணர்வேநா மாயுள முந்தீபற.

uḷḷa duṇara vuṇarvuvē ṟiṉmaiyi
ṉuḷḷa duṇarvāhu mundīpaṟa
      vuṇarvēnā māyuḷa mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: உள்ளது உணர உணர்வு வேறு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḷḷadu uṇara uṇarvu vēṟu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarv[u]-ē nām-āy uḷam.

அன்வயம்: உள்ளது உணர வேறு உணர்வு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḷḷadu uṇara vēṟu uṇarvu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam.

English translation: Because of the non-existence of [any] uṇarvu [awareness] other [than uḷḷadu] to know uḷḷadu [what exists], uḷḷadu is uṇarvu. Uṇarvu alone exists as we.
What is aware (uṇarvu) cannot be other than what exists (uḷḷadu), because if it were other than that it would not exist and hence could not be aware. Likewise, what exists cannot be other than what is aware, because if it were other than that it would not be aware that it exists, and hence it would seem to exist only if it were known by something that is other than itself, which would be impossible, since anything other than what exists would not exist. Therefore what exists is itself what is aware that it exists, so what actually exists and what is actually aware are one and the same thing.

Since we are aware that we exist, we must actually exist, because if we did not actually exist we could not be aware. Therefore we are உள்ளது (uḷḷadu), what exists. And since we not only exist but are also aware that we exist, we are உணர்வு (uṇarvu), awareness. In other words, since we who exist are aware that we exist, we are not only what exists but are also what is aware of our existence, so our existence itself is our awareness of our existence, and our awareness ‘I am’ is what we actually are. Therefore just as we could not be aware if we did not actually exist, we could not exist if we were not actually aware.

This is why I wrote in the sentence quoted by our anonymous friend: ‘In fact logically we could never not be aware of ourself, because if we were not aware of ourself we would not exist at all, because what we essentially are is only self-awareness’. If we were not what is aware, we could never be aware that we exist, so since we are aware that we exist, we must actually be what is aware. Therefore since we are what is aware, we can never not be aware, because if we were ever not aware we would have ceased to be what we actually are.

Being aware is not a contingent or accidental condition, because it is what we actually are. Only what is actually aware can ever be aware, and being actually aware means that we can never not be aware. Transitive awareness (awareness of phenomena or anything other than ourself) is a contingent condition, because in waking and dream we are transitively aware, whereas in sleep we are not. However, in order to be transitively aware (that is, aware of any phenomena) we must be intransitively aware, and in order to be aware of the absence of any phenomena we must likewise be intransitively aware, so whereas transitive awareness is a temporary condition and hence unreal, intransitive awareness is permanent and hence real, because it is what we actually are.

Since what actually exists (uḷḷadu) is what is aware that it exists, and since being aware that it exists does not entail any transitivity (any subject-object relationship, that is, any relationship between one thing that is aware and another thing of which it is aware), what actually exists is intransitively aware. Therefore intransitive awareness is the very nature of what actually exists, so since we ourself are what actually exists, we are intransitive awareness. Hence we can never not be intransitively aware, even though in sleep we are not transitively aware of anything whatsoever.

11. The only element of our ego that actually exists is its essential self-awareness

Though I wrote in the previous section, in the sentence prior to quoting verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār, ‘whatever is aware of its own existence must actually exist’, I did not mean to imply that our ego or mind actually exists as such, because though as this ego we are aware of ourself, our ego is a confused mixture of self-awareness and awareness of other things, and as such it does not actually exist. The only element of the ego that actually exists is its fundamental self-awareness (its essential intransitive awareness), because its awareness of other things (its contingent transitive awareness) is just a temporary appearance and hence unreal.

That is, though transitive awareness seems to be real when it appears in waking or dream, it is actually just an illusion, because what is transitively aware is only our ego, so transitive awareness arises, stands and subsides along with its root, this ego, and if we investigate this ego we will find that it does not actually exist as such. This ego is just an illusory appearance, like the illusory appearance of a snake when a rope is mistaken to be such. If we inspect such an illusory snake sufficiently carefully, we will see that it does not exist as such, and that what seemed to be that snake and therefore actually exists is only a rope. Likewise, if we inspect our ego sufficiently carefully, we will see that it does not exist as such, and that what seemed to be this ego and therefore actually exists is only pure intransitive self-awareness.

Whether it seems to be this transitively aware ego, as in waking and dream, or not, as in states such as sleep or ātma-jñāna, our pure self-awareness always exists and is intransitively aware, so it alone is what we actually are. Therefore if we cling to the idea that sleep is a state in which we are completely unaware, we are thereby in effect clinging to the illusion that we are only this transitively aware ego and refusing to accept the primary premise of Bhagavan’s teachings, namely the proposition that what we actually are is only awareness — awareness that is eternal, immutable, intransitive and self-aware.

12. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 26: being aware what we are is not transitive awareness but just being the intransitive awareness that we actually are

While discussing the distinction between intransitive awareness and transitive awareness, this would be an appropriate place to answer another comment written by a friend called Mouna, but before doing so I will explain the context in which he wrote it. Another friend called Venkat had written a comment in which he remarked, ‘This point about pure self-awareness not aware of any other objects, and yet the instruction of atma vichara being to fix one’s mind on self-awareness, is difficult to understand. It is like the illusory snake being asked to fix its attention on the real rope!’, to which I replied:
Venkat, Wittgenstein has already given a good answer to your comment, explaining what is happening in the background, as it were, but Bhagavan would often give a simpler answer to such questions, saying in effect that the illusory snake need not try to fix its attention on the real rope, because all it need do is to fix its attention on itself, since it will thereby find that it is actually just a rope. In other words, it is sufficient if we as this ego just observe ourself, who now seem to be this ego, because by doing so we will find that we are not what we seem to be but only infinite self-awareness.

So long as we experience ourself as this ego, our self-awareness seems to be finite — limited in time and space to the extent of this body — so we cannot fix our attention on the infinite self-awareness that we actually are. However, if we fix our attention on this finite self-awareness that we now experience as ourself, that is sufficient, because its limitations seem to exist only so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself, and hence when we manage to be aware of ourself alone, we will find that this same self-awareness that now seems to be finite is actually infinite — devoid of all limitations — and hence what alone really exists.
In the answer written by Wittgenstein that I referred to here he had ended his explanation by citing a statement in section 240 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, page 201), in which it is recorded that Bhagavan said, ‘You are hazily aware of the Self. Pursue it. When the effort ceases the Self shines forth’, regarding which another friend called ‘Viveka Vairagya’ wrote a comment in which he asked, ‘How is one now “hazily aware of the self”? What does such awareness consist of?’, to which I replied:
Viveka Vairagya, ‘hazily aware of the self’ is probably not a very accurate translation of whatever Bhagavan said in Tamil, but I think what he meant is that though we are aware of ourself, our self-awareness is not sufficiently clear, because though we are clearly aware that we are, we are not clearly aware what we are (since we are now aware of ourself as this finite adjunct-mixed ego). However, if we ‘pursue’ (that is, keenly and persistently observe) our present self-awareness, it will shine increasingly clearly, until eventually it will dissolve our ego entirely (like the rising sun dissolving a tropical morning mist) and remain shining alone in all its full splendour, which is what Bhagavan meant by saying that oneself ‘shines forth’.
In response to this Viveka Vairagya wrote another comment in which he asked, ‘So, basically we need to hold on to our sense of “I” or Being without thinking any other thoughts, right?’ , to which I replied, ‘Yes, Viveka Vairagya, that is all. We just need to hold on to being attentive to ourself as we are now aware of ourself, and thereby what we actually are will become clear’. These last two replies of mine prompted Mouna to write a comment in which he remarked:
Throughout these years I always felt a little bit uncomfortable with your statement: “...because though we are clearly aware that we are, we are not clearly aware what we are”. It might be simply semantics or my limitations of the English language (not being a native English speaker) but although I understand what the intention of a phrase like this could point to or imply, it might in the end create more confusion to an untrained mind like mine.

To be clearly (or even not so clearly) aware of what we are (or of anything for that matter) implies some-thing to be aware of (ergo an observer of that). So from one point of view, and in this context, we will never be aware of what we are, we can only know that we are and by abiding in that knowledge, then we are being it (since knowledge equals being like Bhagavan’s Ulladu Narpadu first mangalam states). When ego disappears, either apparently for some time (deep sleep, swoon, anesthesia) or dies (manonasa), there is or shouldn’t be any-one to know any what, there is simply being. Being and knowledge, but pure knowledge, not the objectified one which or who will know what that being is.

Complete extinction or disappearance of the ego would be the key here, rather than clarity of what we are. (Although I assume that is what is meant by clarity of what we are, correct?)
In reply to this I wrote a comment in which I explained:
Mouna, because of the inherent limitations of language, whatever is said about this subject is liable to create confusion if the intended meaning is not clearly understood, and this is particularly the case with the issue you have raised in your comment.

As you say, there is actually nothing more for us to know about ourself than ‘I am’ (the awareness that we are), which is what we know already, and this is why Bhagavan often used to say that ātma-jñāna is not a new knowledge that we must attain in future, because what is to be known is known already. The problem is not that we do not know ‘I am’, but that we know more than just ‘I am’, so what we need is not to gain any new knowledge but only to shed all knowledge other than ‘I am’.

Therefore the reason why Bhagavan concedes that we are not clearly aware what we are is not that we need to know anything more than just ‘I am’, but that we now have a wrong knowledge about ‘I am’ (a deluded awareness of what we are), because we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ (that is, ‘I am this ego, mind, body and so on’), so what is meant by ‘being clearly aware what we are’ is simply being aware that we are without the superimposition of any adjuncts such as this ego, mind or body. Therefore you are correct in saying, ‘Complete extinction or disappearance of the ego would be the key here, rather than clarity of what we are’, but as you also add, ‘that is what is meant by clarity of what we are’.

This is a simple way of answering your implied question, but it actually deserves to be answered still more carefully, which can best be done in terms of the distinction between transitive awareness (or suṭṭaṟivu, as Bhagavan generally called it) and intransitive awareness, which is the real awareness that we actually are, so since this is a subject that I am discussing in some depth in the article I am now writing about our awareness in sleep, I will give a more detailed reply to this comment of yours in that article.
Since Mouna wrote in his comment, ‘To be clearly (or even not so clearly) aware of what we are (or of anything for that matter) implies some-thing to be aware of (ergo an observer of that)’, it seems that he interpreted the term ‘being aware what we are’ to mean some sort of transitive awareness or suṭṭaṟivu — that is, an awareness of something other than ourself — but this is not what this term is meant to imply, because what we actually are can never be anything other than ourself. As Bhagavan implied in many of his verses, such as verse 20 of Upadēśa Undiyār, verse 30 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 2 of Āṉma-Viddai, the only correct answer that can be expressed in words to the question ‘நான் யார்?’ (nāṉ yār?) or ‘I am who?’ is ‘நான் நான்’ (nāṉ nāṉ) or ‘I am I’, because we cannot be anything other than ourself alone.

‘I am I’ is awareness of ourself as we actually are, and it is not a transitive awareness, because it does not entail any transition or transfer of our awareness from ourself to anything else, whereas ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ is awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are, so it is a transitive awareness, because it entails a transition or transfer of our awareness from ourself to something else. When it is said that as this ego we do not know what we are, it means that we are not aware of ourself as ‘I am I’, because we are instead aware of ourself as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’. Therefore to know what we are, we just have to cease experiencing ourself as anything other than ourself, which means that we have to annihilate our ego, the illusory awareness of ourself as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’.

However, since our ego is an illusory awareness of ourself — an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are — it can be destroyed only by correct awareness of ourself, which means awareness of ourself as we actually are. Therefore when Mouna wrote, ‘Complete extinction or disappearance of the ego would be the key here, rather than clarity of what we are’, he was overlooking the fact that the extinction of our ego can be accomplished only by clarity of what we are — that is, by clear awareness of ourself as we actually are.

Being aware of what we actually are does not mean being aware of anything other than ‘I am’, which is our awareness that we are, so being aware what we are means just being aware that we are without being aware of anything else whatsoever. Being aware of ourself as we actually are is therefore an absolutely intransitive awareness, whereas being aware of ourself as this ego is a transitive awareness, because it is an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are.

The English word ‘transitive’ is derived from the Latin transitivus, which means going across, passing over or transiting, so a verb is said to be transitive if it takes a direct object (because it describes an action or condition that goes across from the subject to the object), and intransitive if it does not take any direct object. Therefore, awareness of anything other than ourself is called transitive awareness, because it entails our awareness or attention transiting away from ourself towards some other thing, whereas mere awareness (being aware without being aware of any object) or awareness of ourself alone (which is the same as mere awareness) is called intransitive awareness, because it does not entail our awareness or attention transiting away from ourself towards anything else. Likewise the Tamil word சுட்டு (suṭṭu) means pointing at, aiming at, referring to, indicating or showing, so சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu) and சுட்டுணர்வு (suṭṭuṇarvu), which both literally mean ‘pointing awareness’, are terms that Bhagavan frequently used to refer to transitive awareness — awareness of anything other than ourself — because it entails our awareness or attention being pointed away from ourself towards something else.

The root of all transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu or suṭṭuṇarvu) is only our ego, which is a mixture of our intransitive self-awareness and our transitive awareness of certain adjuncts (upādhis ) that we experience as ourself. Since we become aware of the seeming existence of anything other than ourself only when we rise as this ego, and since we could not rise or stand as this ego if we did not mistake ourself to be a body and other related adjuncts, the primal form of சுட்டுணர்வு (suṭṭuṇarvu) or transitive awareness is உபாதியுணர்வு (upādhi-y-uṇarvu), our awareness of whatever adjuncts currently seem to be ourself.

Being aware of ourself as we actually are entails being aware of ourself without even the slightest mixture of any adjunct-awareness (upādhi-y-uṇarvu), which is what Bhagavan describes in verse 25 of Upadēśa Undiyār as ‘தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது’ (taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu), which means ‘knowing oneself leaving aside adjuncts’, so it is awareness devoid of the very seed of transitive awareness. Therefore being aware what we actually are is quite unlike any other form of awareness, including awareness of ourself as this ego, which is the root of all other forms of awareness, because it is completely devoid of transitivity or ‘pointing’ (suṭṭu).

Being transitively aware (that is, aware of anything other than ourself) is an act of knowing, because it entails a movement of our mind away from ourself towards something else, whereas being intransitively aware (that is, aware of nothing other than ourself) is not an act of knowing, because it does not entail any movement of our mind, attention or awareness away from ourself. Hence being intransitively aware is not an action or activity of our mind but is a state of just being — that is, just being the mere awareness that we actually are.

Therefore, since awareness free of transitivity is not an act of knowing but a state of just being aware, in verse 26 of Upadēśa Undiyār Bhagavan says:
தானா யிருத்தலே தன்னை யறிதலாந்
தானிரண் டற்றதா லுந்தீபற
     தன்மய நிட்டையீ துந்தீபற.

tāṉā yiruttalē taṉṉai yaṟidalān
tāṉiraṇ ḍaṯṟadā lundīpaṟa
     taṉmaya niṭṭhaiyī dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தானாய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம், தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால். தன்மய நிட்டை ஈது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām, tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl. taṉmaya niṭṭhai īdu.

அன்வயம்: தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால், தானாய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம். ஈது தன்மய நிட்டை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl, tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām. īdu taṉmaya niṭṭhai.

English translation: Being oneself alone is knowing oneself, because oneself is not two. This is tanmaya-niṣṭha [the state of being firmly established as tat, ‘it’ or ‘that’, the one absolute reality called brahman].
Transitivity or ‘pointing’ (suṭṭu) of awareness occurs only when two things are involved, one of which is aware of the other, so since we are not two things but only one, pure self-awareness or knowing ourself as we actually are does not entail any transitivity whatsoever. This is why in the second line of this verse Bhagavan said, ‘தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால்’ (tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl), which means ‘because oneself is not two’, implying thereby that this is the reason why we cannot know ourself transitively (that is, by an act of knowing) but only intransitively (that is, by just being the pure self-awareness that we actually are).

This is also what he implied in the last two lines of verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
தனைவிடய மாக்கவிரு தானுண்டோ வொன்றா
யனைவரனு பூதியுண்மை யால்.

taṉaiviḍaya mākkaviru tāṉuṇḍō voṉḏṟā
yaṉaivaraṉu bhūtiyuṇmai yāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? ஒன்று ஆய் அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஆல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? oṉḏṟu āy aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai āl.

அன்வயம்: தனை விடயம் ஆக்க இரு தான் உண்டோ? அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஒன்றாய்; ஆல்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): taṉai viḍayam ākka iru tāṉ uṇḍō? aṉaivar aṉubhūti uṇmai oṉḏṟu āy; āl.

English translation: To make oneself a viṣaya [a phenomenon or object of one’s awareness], are there two selves? Because being one is the truth of everyone’s experience.
In verse 26 of Upadēśa Undiyār and this verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan not only indicates to us the nature of the goal that we will ultimately achieve, but also gives us an extremely valuable clue about the nature of the path of ātma-vicāra by which we will achieve it. That is, when he explains that ātma-vicāra is the practice of investigating ourself, observing ourself, looking at ourself, attending to ourself, being attentively aware of ourself or fixing our mind in or on ourself, he does not mean that we are an object that we can investigate, observe, look at, attend to or be aware of. Investigating, observing, looking at, attending to, being aware of or fixing our mind on an object is a transitive form of knowing, whereas investigating, observing, looking at, attending to, being aware of or fixing our mind on ourself is an intransitive form of knowing — a form of knowing that entails just being aware as we are in sleep, when we are not aware of anything other than ourself.

As Sadhu Om used to say, though we use the term ‘attending to ourself’, attention to ourself is not a case of ‘paying attention’ but just ‘being attention’. That is, since attention is a selective form of awareness, the essence of attention is just awareness, and since the essence of awareness is just intransitive awareness, which is what we actually are, we can be aware of ourself as we actually are only by just being intransitively aware — that is, aware but without giving even the slightest room to the rising of any transitive awareness (awareness of anything other than ourself).

Therefore what is meant by the terms ‘being aware what we are’ and ‘being aware of ourself as we are’ is just being intransitively aware — aware without rising as this ego to be aware of anything other than ourself. Since what is aware of anything other than ourself is only our ego, we cannot be aware of anything else without rising as this ego, and likewise we cannot rise or stand as this ego without being aware of things other than ourself, so this ego and transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) are inseparable. Therefore we can experience what we actually are only by just being pure intransitive awareness — awareness of nothing other than ourself, ‘I am’ — because that alone is what we actually are.

13. Silence is the only intransitive language, so it alone can reveal the true nature of pure intransitive awareness

As I wrote at the beginning of my initial reply to Mouna, ‘because of the inherent limitations of language, whatever is said about this subject is liable to create confusion if the intended meaning is not clearly understood’, because no words can adequately express what we actually are or what it is to be aware of ourself as we actually are. The reason for our inability to express this in any language is that language is inherently transitive in nature, because whenever we use language in either speech or writing we are using it to say something — to convey some meaning. Even if we use it to speak or write nonsense, that nonsense is still an object produced by our speaking or writing, so its production was a transitive action — an action that produced something.

Since language is inherently transitive, we can use it adequately only to convey what we know transitively, and not what we know intransitively. This is why no words in any language can adequately convey what we experience in sleep, except in purely negative terms, and why we cannot adequately express in words what self-awareness or awareness of ‘I’ actually is.

Whatever we experience transitively has certain features, which we can describe or attempt to describe in words, whereas what we experience intransitively has no features that could be adequately expressed or described in words. Even if we try to use language to express to ourself in our own mind what self-awareness or our sense of ‘I’ is, we would be lost for words and would just have to keep silent — that is, silently aware of our ineffable self. This is why Bhagavan used to say that silence is the supreme language and the only language that can convey the truth of ourself.

However, even to say that silence conveys the truth of ourself is not quite true, because it implies that the truth of ourself is an object conveyed by silence, and that its conveyance is therefore transitive, neither of which are the case. This is why in verse 5 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam Bhagavan described the silent teaching of the ādi-guru (the original guru, Dakshinamurti) as ‘செப்பாது செப்பி’ (seppādu seppi), which means ‘speaking without speaking’, ‘saying without saying’ or ‘telling without telling’, and asked rhetorically: ‘அப்போது அவ் வத்துவை ஆதி குரு செப்பாது செப்பி தெரியுமா செய்தனரேல், எவர் செப்பி தெரிவிப்பர்?’ (appōdu a-v-vattuvai ādi-guru seppādu seppi teriyumā seydaṉarēl, evar seppi terivippar?), which means ‘If at that time the ādi-guru made that vastu [ēkātma-vastu, the ‘one self-substance’, which alone is what always exists] known [by] speaking without speaking, who can make it known [by] speaking?’

Though Bhagavan taught us through the medium of words, he explained that no words could ever reveal the true nature of ourself, so his words could only indicate the means by which we can experience ourself as we really are. However, because words cannot adequately convey the meaning that he intended to convey through them, we will be able to grasp the intended meaning of his words only to the extent that we manage to turn our mind within to be silently and vigilantly self-attentive. This is why śravaṇa (hearing or reading his words), manana (reflecting on their meaning and implication) and nididhyāsana (contemplation, the practice of being self-attentive) together form a single iterative process that must go on repeatedly until our ego is eventually dissolved in the perfect clarity of pure self-awareness.

Self-attentiveness (nididhyāsana) is the practice of attuning our mind with the perfect silence of pure self-awareness that is always shining in our heart, so it alone can give us the clarity and acuity of mind that we require in order to grasp the full depth and subtlety of meaning and implication that Bhagavan intended to convey through his words. Therefore the more we practise being silently self-attentive, the more clearly we will be able to understand what we read or hear of his words, and hence the more deep and subtle our manana will become.

When trying to explain what Bhagavan meant when he said that his real teaching is only silence, some devotees say or write that by his silent presence he transmitted his grace or self-knowledge, but though this may seem to be true from the perspective of a self-ignorant devotee in his presence, it is not actually correct, because the silence that he referred to is absolutely intransitive, since it is nothing other than the pure self-awareness that we actually are and that is always shining in and as our heart, the very core of ourself. Transmission of anything is a transitive action, because it entails one thing transmitting another thing to something else, so since Bhagavan’s silence is our own actual self (ātma-svarūpa), other than which nothing exists, it does not actually transmit anything to anyone.

Bhagavan described silence as the perfect language because unlike all other languages it is absolutely intransitive, and its intransitivity is what makes it the ideal language for ‘speaking without speaking’ or ‘revealing without revealing’ the true experience of pure self-awareness, because pure self-awareness is absolutely intransitive, and hence its very nature is absolute silence. In other words, pure self-awareness, which is the source and substance of both our ego and everything that this ego knows transitively, reveals itself intransitively in silence just by being itself, and if we are to hear its silent revelation, we can do so only by being perfectly silent — that is, intransitively and hence silently aware of ourself alone.

14. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 13: real awareness is ourself, whereas awareness of other things is ignorance

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Why should we believe what Bhagavan taught us?, a friend who writes under the pseudonym ‘Viveka Vairagya’ quoted an extract from what HWL Poonja (or Papaji, as his devotees call him) is supposed to have said, as recorded on the Consciousness page of the Satsang with Papaji website. Since Poonja was a devotee of Bhagavan, unsurprisingly much of what he said in this extract seems superficially to be more or less in accordance with what Bhagavan taught us, but some of it seems to be unclear and confusing, and in several respects he deviated significantly from Bhagavan’s teachings, particularly with regard to what he said about sleep, namely: ‘This is a dull state because there is no awareness at all so you may not recognize it. In deep sleep you forget yourself completely’.

This is quite contrary to one of the most fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, namely the principle that what we actually are is only awareness, and that we are therefore always aware of ourself, not only in waking and dream but also in sleep. The fact that we are clearly aware of ourself while asleep is the crucial premise on which Bhagavan predicated his entire teachings, or at least the essential core of them, and it was therefore emphasised by him repeatedly and unequivocally, such as in the following statement recorded in the first chapter of Maharshi’s Gospel (2002 edition, page 9) (which is also recorded in slightly different words in section 313 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, page 286)):
Sleep is not ignorance, it is one’s pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking. Your real nature covers both and extends beyond.
Sleep seems to be dull state and devoid of awareness only in the view of the self-ignorant and extroverted mind, but the more keenly and vigilantly we practise being self-attentive the more clear it will become to us that it is actually a state of pure self-awareness, devoid of awareness of any other thing. Therefore we have to wonder why Poonja believed that ‘there is no awareness at all’ in sleep. If he had practised and clearly understood Bhagavan’s teachings, how could he have overlooked the crucial fact that we are clearly self-aware even while asleep?

For many people the idea that sleep is a state of complete and perfect awareness and that waking is a state of total ignorance, as stated by Bhagavan in this passage recorded in Maharshi’s Gospel and Talks, is difficult to accept, because it is so contrary to all that we have been accustomed to assuming and believing. However it is such a fundamental and crucial premise of Bhagavan’s teachings that we cannot afford to ignore it or to fail to grasp it and its significance clearly, so in order to reflect on it more deeply let us consider how closely it is related to what he teaches us in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
ஞானமாந் தானேமெய் நானாவா ஞானமஞ்
ஞானமாம் பொய்யாமஞ் ஞானமுமே — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

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

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

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

English translation: Oneself, who is knowledge, alone is real. Knowledge that is many is ignorance. Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist apart from oneself, who is knowledge. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist apart from the gold, which is real?
ஞானம் (ñāṉam) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word ज्ञान (jñāna), which means knowing, knowledge, cognisance, consciousness or awareness, and அஞ்ஞானம் (aññāṉam) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word अज्ञान (ajñāna), which means ignorance, particularly in the sense of spiritual ignorance or self-ignorance. As Bhagavan asserts in the first sentence of this verse, what is real is only ourself, and what we are is only jñāna — knowledge or awareness. In this context jñāna does not mean knowledge or awareness of anything other than ourself, so it is not transitive awareness but only intransitive awareness — pure self-awareness.

In the second sentence ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam) literally means knowledge or awareness that is many, manifold, diverse, different, distinct or separate, so it implies knowledge or awareness of multiplicity, diversity and otherness, and hence it refers to transitive awareness — awareness of phenomena or things other than ourself. Such knowledge or awareness, says Bhagavan, is not real knowledge but only ignorance (ajñāna). Therefore by saying ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘knowledge of multiplicity is ignorance’, he implies that the awareness of multiple phenomena in waking and dream is not real knowledge or awareness but only ignorance. This is why he said in the above-cited passage of Maharshi’s Gospel, ‘Sleep is not ignorance, it is one’s pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking’.

In the third sentence of this verse, ‘பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று’ (poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu), which means ‘Even [this] ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist apart from oneself, who is knowledge’, he implies that transitive awareness (awareness of thing other than oneself) is unreal and therefore could not seem to exist without ourself, the fundamental intransitive awareness, which alone is real. To illustrate what he means by this he refers to the analogy of gold ornaments, which do not exist independent of gold, which is their substance, and thus he implies that we ourself are the substance that seems to be all this awareness of multiplicity or diversity.

That is, since we exist in waking, dream and sleep, and since we are aware of ourself in each of these states, we are the fundamental intransitive awareness, without which there could not be any transitive awareness. And since transitive awareness seems to exist only in waking and dream but not in sleep, it is impermanent and hence unreal. Therefore the transitive awareness that we experience in waking and dream is not real, and hence it is not true awareness but only ignorance.

Only if we believe that this transitive awareness is our real awareness will we conclude that since it does not exist in sleep, sleep is ‘a dull state’ in which ‘there is no awareness at all’, as Poonja is supposed to have said. However, if we have understood why Bhagavan said that awareness of multiplicity is actually just ignorance and completely unreal, and if we have practised trying to attend only to the pure intransitive awareness that we actually are, we will not mistake the absence of transitive awareness in sleep to be a complete absence of all awareness, because we will clearly recognise that our fundamental intransitive awareness endures whether this illusory transitive awareness appears or disappears.

15. We can never forget ourself completely, because though as this ego we have forgotten what we are, we are always aware that we are

Poonja not only claimed that sleep is ‘a dull state’ in which ‘there is no awareness at all’, but also emphasised this claim by adding, ‘In deep sleep you forget yourself completely’. What does he mean by saying this? How can we ever forget ourself completely? It is true, as he implies in his next sentence, that in sleep we forget our body, senses and all objects, but none of these phenomena are ourself, and we do not forget ourself completely, because we are always self-aware, even when we are not aware of any phenomena, since self-awareness is our very nature — what we actually are.

Regarding ourself, what we forget in sleep, as we also forget in waking and dream, is what we are, but we can never forget ourself completely, because we are always clearly aware that we are. However, even to say that, as in waking and dream, in sleep we have forgotten what we are is true only from the perspective of our ego or mind, which seems to exist only in waking and dream but not in sleep. What exists and what we are aware of in sleep is only our own actual self (ātma-svarūpa), which is always aware of itself as it really is, so as such we never forget what we are.

Forgetting what we are is the nature of our ego, which does not exist in sleep, so it is only from the perspective of this self-ignorant ego that we say that in all these three states we have forgotten what we are. As far as sleep is concerned, however, this is true only in the sense that our ego does not remember what it is even in sleep, but that is because it does not exist then.

The reason why forgetfulness of what we are is the very nature of our ego is that this ego is a mistaken knowledge of ourself — an illusory awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are. Therefore this ego seems to exist only so long as we are aware of ourself as anything other than what we actually are, so when we turn our attention within and manage thereby to be attentively aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from even the slightest awareness of anything else, we will clearly experience ourself as we actually are and thereby our ego will be annihilated entirely and forever.

Since our ego is forgetfulness of what we are, and since without our ego there would be no such forgetfulness (since there would be nothing other than our actual self, which can never forget itself), sleep is actually the only one of these three states in which forgetfulness of what we are does not exist or even seem to exist at all. Only in waking and dream are we aware of ourself as anything other than what we actually are, so it is only in these two states that we seem to have forgotten what we actually are. However, though in sleep we do not actually forget what we are, from the perspective of our ego in waking and dream it seems as if we had forgotten ourself as we actually are while asleep.

16. Sleep is our true and eternal state of pure self-awareness, so it seems to be imperfect only from the perspective of our ego

There is actually no defect at all in sleep, because all defects exist only for the ego, which does not exist in sleep. Even now this ego does not actually exist, but it seems to exist, whereas in sleep it does not even seem to exist. So long as it seems to exist, we seem to go into and come out of sleep, so the only problem with sleep is that it is temporary, because we seem to come out of it whenever we rise as this ego in either waking or dream. However, this is not a problem in sleep, but only in waking and dream, in which we seem to have come out of sleep, so it is a problem only for our ego, which is the root and sole experiencer of all problems.

What we call ‘sleep’ is actually our true and eternal state of pure self-awareness, from which we can never really come out, so the reason we seem to come out of it is not any defect in sleep but only a defect in our ego. That is, we seem to come out of sleep only because we did not enter sleep as a result of being vigilantly self-attentive but only as a result of being too tired to continue any of the mental activity that characterises waking and dream. Because this ego subsides in sleep due to tiredness, the illusion that we are this ego is not thereby destroyed, so it is only temporarily abeyant or dormant in sleep, and hence it rises again from sleep once it has regained sufficient vigour by resting as our actual self.

17. To destroy our ego and thereby sleep eternally, we must try to be attentively self-aware while awake or in dream

Because our ego is an illusion — an awareness of ourself as something that we are not — it can be destroyed only by our being aware of ourself as we actually are, and we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself, so in order to annihilate our ego we must try to be aware of ourself alone. Though we are aware of ourself alone during sleep, our ego is not thereby destroyed, because in sleep we become aware of ourself alone only as a result of the subsidence of our ego, whereas our ego will be destroyed only when it subsides as a result of our being aware of ourself alone. Therefore in waking or dream, while we experience ourself as this ego, we must try to be aware of ourself alone, so we must try to focus our entire attention only on ourself.

In other words, it is only by trying to be attentively self-aware that we can destroy our ego, and we can be attentively self-aware only in waking or dream and not in sleep, because attention is a function of our ego, which does not exist in sleep. That is, since attention is our ability to be selectively aware of something — either of ourself or of something else — what can attend is only our ego and not our actual self, because in the view of our actual self nothing other than itself exists or even seems to exist, so it cannot select to be aware of anything other than itself. Only when we rise as this ego do we become aware of the seeming existence of other things, so it is only as this ego that we can choose to be selectively aware either of ourself or of something else. Therefore we will destroy the illusion that we are this ego only when we as this ego try to be aware of nothing other than ourself alone.

When by persistent practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) we refine and sharpen our power of attention sufficiently to be able to focus it precisely on ourself alone, we will thereby become aware of ourself as we actually are, and thus our ego (which is our illusion that we are anything else, such as this body and mind) will be destroyed forever, whereupon we will discover that the state that we previously experienced as sleep — a temporary gap between periods of waking or dream — is actually our own natural and eternal state of pure self-awareness, from which we have never actually risen as this ego.

18. Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ verse 16: by constant practice of ātma-vicāra we should try to experience sleep during waking and dream

Since what we experience in sleep is our real state of pure self-awareness, which is perfectly intransitive (unlike the self-awareness of our ego, which is partially transitive, since it is mixed and confused with awareness of adjuncts), what we are trying to experience while practising self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is exactly the same intransitive self-awareness (that is, self-awareness uncontaminated by even the slightest trace of any adjunct-awareness) that we experience in sleep. Therefore considering carefully and contemplatively the intransitive nature of the pure self-awareness that we experienced in sleep can help us to a great extent to penetrate deep within ourself while practising ātma-vicāra, because what we should be trying to focus our attention on at this present moment is that same essential intransitive self-awareness, which is what we experience even now in the very core of ourself.

The fact that sleep is what we should be trying to experience by means of ātma-vicāra in either waking or dream (or preferably in both) was clearly indicated by Bhagavan in verse 16 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ (in which he summarised something that he had earlier explained in more detail, which Sri Muruganar had recorded in verses 957-8 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai):
நனவிற் சுழுத்தி நடையென்றுந் தன்னை
வினவு முசாவால் விளையும் — நனவிற்
கனவிற் சுழுத்தி கலந்தொளிருங் காறும்
அனவரத மவ்வுசா வாற்று.

naṉaviṯ cuṙutti naḍaiyeṉḏṟun taṉṉai
viṉavu musāvāl viḷaiyum — naṉaviṟ
kaṉaviṯ cuṙutti kalandoḷiruṅ gāṟum
aṉavarata mavvusā vāṯṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: நனவில் சுழுத்தி நடை என்றும் தன்னை வினவும் உசாவால் விளையும். நனவில் கனவில் சுழுத்தி கலந்து ஒளிரும் காறும், அனவரதம் அவ் உசா ஆற்று.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): naṉavil suṙutti naḍai eṉḏṟum taṉṉai viṉavum usāvāl viḷaiyum. naṉavil kaṉavil suṙutti kalandu oḷirum kāṟum, aṉavaratam a-vv-usā āṯṟu.

அன்வயம்: என்றும் தன்னை வினவும் உசாவால் நனவில் சுழுத்தி நடை விளையும். நனவில் கனவில் சுழுத்தி கலந்து ஒளிரும் காறும், அனவரதம் அவ் உசா ஆற்று.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): eṉḏṟum taṉṉai viṉavum usāvāl naṉavil suṙutti naḍai viḷaiyum. naṉavil kaṉavil suṙutti kalandu oḷirum kāṟum, aṉavaratam a-vv-usā āṯṟu.

English translation: The state of sleep in waking will result by subtle investigation, in which one always examines [or keenly attends to] oneself. Until sleep shines blending in waking [and] in dream, incessantly perform that subtle investigation.
உசா (usā), which is a noun that Bhagavan uses in both sentences of this verse, means subtle investigation or minute examination, and in the first sentence what he means by it is explained by him in the relative clause ‘என்றும் தன்னை வினவும்’ (eṉḏṟum taṉṉai viṉavum), which can mean either ‘in which one always investigates [examines or keenly attends to] oneself’ or ‘which is always investigating [examining or keenly attending to] oneself’. Though the verb வினவு (viṉavu) can also mean to question, in this context it does not mean this in a literal sense, because questioning is a gross activity of the mind, whereas what is required to experience the subtle self-awareness that shines intransitively not only in sleep but also in waking and dream is an extremely subtle and steady attentiveness, so in this context Bhagavan uses வினவு (viṉavu) in the sense of investigate, examine or keenly attend to.

Only by such silent, steady and subtle self-attentiveness (attentiveness or alertness that has no object and that is therefore perfectly intransitive, remaining motionlessly in its own source, ourself) can we clearly experience the infinite and eternal self-awareness that always shines as our very essence, whether or not our ego and any of the other illusory phenomena of waking and dream appear or not.

221 comments:

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Viveka Vairagya said...

Did Ramana Maharshi Think or Have Thoughts?
(as quoted by Gary Weber on https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B9IyLjPYAVCYbmo5TXZEaVBxZzA/edit?pref=2&pli=1)

Questioner: Do you have thoughts?
Bhagavan Ramana: I usually have no thoughts.
Questioner: And when someone asks you a question?
Bhagavan Ramana: Then, too, I have thoughts when replying, not otherwise.

Viveka Vairagya said...

An Awakening Experience
(from www.scribd.com/doc/113131786/Happiness-Beyond-Thought-A-Practical-Guide-to-Awakening)

“A veil was lifted. All of a sudden there was recognition that I’m not my thoughts. Everyone always says it but I never felt it. It turns out I’m actually not the voice in my “head” that says stuff. That’s separate from me. Immediately after was the recognition “I am awareness” … I really am ad hoc. Thoughts occur, feelings occur, body occurs (physical sensations), I witness.… It’s so big, though, the feel. I am AWARENESS, not just I am aware. That’s big … Better: awareness is aware.… it’s less personal than me.… and regardless of what I want, what is is and what will happen will happen.”---Gary Weber's Student

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, regarding the replies attributed to Bhagavan in the dialogue you quote in your first comment, it is very unlikely that he would have replied in such as way. Numerous statements that he never made are nowadays attributed to him and quickly spread through the internet, so instead of assuming that all such statements are authentic or reliable we should consider whether they are compatible with his fundamental teachings, which the replies you quoted are certainly not.

Even if he did say anything remotely similar to these replies, he would have done so only because he was replying to someone who was either unable or unwilling to understand even the simplest of the basic principles of his actual teachings. One such principle is that the root of all thoughts is only our ego, which is itself a thought — our primal thought called ‘I’ — because this ego alone is what projects and experiences all other thoughts. Another such principle is that if we investigate this ego sufficiently keenly, we will find that it does not actually exist, because what actually exists is only ourself, who are pure self-awareness and therefore free from even the slightest awareness of anything else. Therefore, since no ego ever existed or even seemed to exist in the clear view of Bhagavan, how could he have had any thoughts?

Because people mistake him to be a person with a body and mind, and because they see his body active and answering questions, they imagine that he must have had thoughts. However, as he often explained, the body and mind that we mistake to be him exist only in our self-ignorant view and not in his clear view. This is why he said in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham (which I cited in section 4 of this article) that like a person sleeping in a cart, who is not aware of whether the cart is moving, standing or unyoked, the ātma-jñāni is not aware of whether the body and mind are active, inactive or asleep.

Regarding your second comment, the person you quote in it says ‘All of a sudden there was recognition that I’m not my thoughts’, but according to Bhagavan the ‘I’ who is aware of ‘my thoughts’ and who says ‘I’m not my thoughts’ is the ego, which is itself a thought. Likewise the one who is aware that ‘Thoughts occur, feelings occur, body occurs’ and who believes ‘I witness’ is only this ego, because thoughts, feelings, body and all other phenomena exist only in the view of this ego, so it alone is what witnesses them. Therefore what this person describes is certainly not a real ‘Awakening Experience’, as you describe it in the title you give to this comment of yours.

To avoid being misled by insubstantial statements or claims such as the ones you have quoted in these two comments, it is necessary for us to repeatedly study Bhagavan’s original writings, particularly Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, and to think very carefully about them and the fundamental principles that he teaches in them. If we have clearly understood and imbibed all the principles that he teaches us in these three key texts, we will easily be able to see through many of the confused and confusing ideas that you have quoted in these and other recent comments that you have posted here.

Bob - P said...

Thank you very much Michael I look forward to reading your latest article over the next few days.

In appreciation
Bob

Noob said...

There cannot be any separate awakening in this world, which can only be seen by our ego. Assuming otherwise is like implying that when you dreamed you saw a guy who became a janny, while both you and a janny in your sleep is just a passing image through the transcending self awareness. Once the ego is destroyed there will be no world to tell about the accomplishment.

jacques franck said...

There is another source from the post of : Viveka Vairagya said...
Did Ramana Maharshi Think or Have Thoughts?

We can find this quote from :

From the section: "GURU" (page 19-20) in the book, "MORE DOUBTS AND 100
MORE ANSWERS ," compiled and edited by A.R. Natarajan. Published by Ramana
Maharshi Centre for Learning, Bangalore, India.

Little book sell to the book shop of ramana ashram...

I tried to locate the source because the book is only some quote without indication.

Yes from the point of view of the jnani there is thoughts but from the ajnani there is not....

Namaste...

venkat said...

Michael,

This is a superb post - you should consider sending it to Mountain Path.

We often read that atma vichara is to try to be aware of the awareness that is aware of objects; one may miss the point that this awareness that is aware of objects is the 'I' thought, the snake, and not the 'pure' awareness that is not aware of anything except itself, the rope.

I know you are sceptical about Nisargadatta. but he is recorded to have said:
“In the Paramatman there is no awareness of existence, there is awareness of awareness only. As soon as awareness of existence comes there is a duality and the manifestation comes.”

Best wishes,
venkat

Michael James said...

Venkat, what Nisargadatta meant by saying ‘In the Paramatman there is no awareness of existence, there is awareness of awareness only. As soon as awareness of existence comes there is a duality and the manifestation comes’ is not at all clear, because it implies that awareness and existence are two distinct things, which according to Bhagavan is not the case.

‘Awareness’ and ‘existence’ are of course two rather abstract terms, so what they each refer to depends on the context in which they are used. However, since there can be no awareness without something that is aware, and no existence without something that exists, whenever such terms are used we should ask ourself whose awareness or whose existence. The only awareness we know directly is our own, and the only existence we can be sure about is our own, because the existence of other things could be an illusion (and according to Bhagavan is an illusion).

Therefore since paramātman is ourself, and since nothing other than ourself actually exists, the only awareness and existence in paramātman is our own, or rather ourself. Since we exist and are aware, our existence and our awareness are nothing other than ourself, so being aware of our awareness is the same as being aware of our existence.

As Bhagavan explains in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār (which I cited and discussed in section 10 of this article), உள்ளது (uḷḷadu), ‘what exists’ or ‘existence’, and உணர்வு (uṇarvu), ‘what is aware’ or ‘awareness’, cannot be two distinct things, because if awareness were other than existence it would not exist and hence could not be aware, and if existence were other than awareness it could not be aware that it exists. Therefore if there is awareness of awareness in paramātman, as Nisargadatta says, that awareness of awareness must also be awareness of existence.

In being aware of our existence, no duality is entailed, so duality arises only when we seem to be aware of the existence of anything else, and hence we have to assume that what Nisargadatta meant by saying ‘As soon as awareness of existence comes there is a duality and the manifestation comes’ was that as soon as awareness of the existence of any other thing arises there is duality. However if this is what he meant, he did not express himself very clearly, as he could easily have done simply by specifying that he meant the existence of other things rather than the existence of ourself (who are both existence and awareness). Moreover, if this is what he meant, then he should not have begun by saying ‘In the Paramatman’, because in paramātman there is actually no existence other than our own.

Sandhya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sivanarul said...

Conversation between Yoda and Luke Skywalker
Y: Be with the Force Luke.
LS: Master Yoda, please tell me more about the Force.
Y: What can I say about the Force. It is beyond all conception and mentation.
LS: Can’t you tell anything at all?
Y: Yoda Thayumanavar said that it can be thought of as an energy field which contains within its grace , the entire multiverse, and that which pulsates as life within the life of all creation.
LS: I thought you are the only Yoda. How can Thayumanavar be a yoda too?
Y: Yoda hood is one. Its manifestations are many.

LS: Where can I find this Force?
Y: Both within you and without you. It is everywhere. The best place to find it is within you.
LS: Are you saying it is within me?
Y: Technically no. You are within it. But let’s go with the notion that it is within you.

LS: But I can’t find it with any of my senses.
Y: It is beyond the reach of the sense organs. How you find it, is a mystery known only to the Force itself.
LS: Isn’t there something that I can do?
Y: Sure there is. Remember the Force whenever you can. See the Force in all of creation. Surrender to the Force. Ponder what this Force is. Then wait patiently for the Force to act.

LS: Master Yoda, I have spoken to many Jedi’s and they each say that their method is the only way that will directly lead to the Force. The Force is very strong in these Jedi’s, so they must all be telling the truth. Which one of it is the ultimate truth?
Y: Luke, the Force itself, out of its grace, has revealed multiple methods to different Jedi’s and since each Jedi used that method to merge with the Force, it is natural that they will say their method is the only way. But if you understand that the Force is behind all of it, you will know that all those methods do lead you to the Force.

LS: I don’t understand.
Y: Let’s say you want to run and need a running shoe. The shoe manufacturers specialize in different shoe sizes and each one will advertise that their shoe size is the only way you can reach to the destination. That is the only shoe they produced, so there is nothing wrong in their proclamation. They are simply trying to sell what they got. But you as the shoe buyer need to try various shoe sizes and then pick the shoe that matches your feet. Once you picked the shoe, start running. That is the key.
LS: But if I pick a wrong shoe size, can I reach the Force/destination.
Y: Shoe size has nothing to do with the destination. Running is the key. Moreover you can only pick a shoe size that matches your feet. There is nothing you can do about it. Your foot is all you got in this life to run.

LS: Anything else master Yoda?
Y: Yoda Pattinathar summed it well when he said, “Lead your life that the Force is there and that it is ONE”.

Papahari said...

Michael,
may I describe my view with the example of a typical night in Tiruvannamalai in February /March 2016:
19:30 supper in Sri Ramanasramam
19:45 meditation in the Old Hall
21:00 after prostrating before the Mahalingam
I leave the ashram ground, cross the Chengam road and reach the provided room at Morvi Ground guesthouse
21:05 after studying some Ramana books I feel tired
22:00 I fall asleep - in deep sleep
23:30 a dream experience begins
24:00 I fall again in deep sleep
00:30 again I experience a dream by my ego - awareness
01:00 again I fall in deep sleep
02:30 I awake from deep sleep and I am aware of the near physical presence of the rock hill Arunachala
02:45 again I fall in deep sleep or experience an other dream
04:00 I awake from sleep or dream
I remember now that I fell asleep last night at 22:00
I remember now that I experienced some dreams last night (dream-body, dream-senses and dream-world).
I remember now that I once last night at 02:30 was in a state of wakefulness (ego-awareness of a waking body, waking senses and waking world) and sometimes in dream state (ego - awareness of a dream-body, dream-senses and dream-world).
However, I cannot remember now that then I was not aware of anything in deep sleep - between waking and dreaming. Of course only now after awakening I am sure that I did not cease to exist between yesterday 22:00 and today morning 04:00. I cannot maintain that I was not aware of anything other than myself. Therefore it is only a point in the favour that I was always aware last night either with ego-awareness in waking and dreaming or without it in that gaps between that states.
Nevertheless, consequently in my view I cannot say with complete certainty or absolute conviction that I then was being aware of the absence of any phenomena in deep sleep. Without any memory of that state during sleep at most or at best I can conclude it.

Trisulapuram said...

I have to apologize to all for that:
My comment does not refer to the above article.

Last Maha Sivaratri (7 th March 2016) I visited a bookshop opposite Sri Ramanasramam.
I wanted to find some reference to the true nature of Siva and Arunachala.
I leafed through three books about Siva. It was a disappointment to me that in all the three books (edited around 2005-2013) the terms Arunachala or Annamalai or Sri Ramana Maharshi were not at all even found. Does somebody know why ? Have you any statement/explanation to make ? How can anybody write a book about Siva and thereby not mention Arunachala ? – Is it not said that Arunachala is (the embodiment of) Siva himself ?

Sivanarul said...

Trisulapuram,

You are right that Arunachala is the embodiment of Siva himself. Arunachala is highly revered by all four Saiva Gurumars and Arunachala’s glory is sung widely in Thirumurai songs. Having said that, Siva’s temples and worship also includes many powerful thalas like Mount Kailash, Chidambaram, Rameshwaram and other Jyothirlingas. So it is very possible that those books referred to these other thalas.

“I wanted to find some reference to the true nature of Siva and Arunachala.”

If you subscribe to the Saivaite tradition, the true nature of Siva is well pointed to / described in Thirumurai’s, Thiruppuggazh, SivaJnanaBotham etc. Thirumanthiram is especially a gem.

Michael James said...

Sandhya, I read your comment in my email notifications, but when I came here to answer it I saw that you have deleted it. However, since the issues you asked about in it are very crucial, I will reply to them anyway.

I assume that what you mean by “the feeling of ‘I’” or “the ‘I’ feeling” is just self-awareness (the awareness ‘I am’), in which case it is not an object that you can lose, because it is what you actually are. That is, when you say “I seemed to lose the ‘I’ feeling”, the ‘I’ (namely yourself) who thinks “I have lost the ‘I’ feeling” is itself the ‘I’ feeling that it thinks it has lost.

In order to be aware of anything, we must be aware of ourself, because we are the ‘I’ who is aware that ‘I am aware’. Therefore we can never lose the awareness ‘I’, because it is ourself.

When we experience this awareness ‘I’ mixed with adjuncts such as the body and mind that comprise the person called ‘Sandhya’, that mixed self-awareness is what is called ego or ‘I’-thought, but when we experience this same awareness ‘I’ without being mixed with any adjuncts (as we experience it whenever we are asleep), that pure self-awareness is what we actually are.

All thoughts or awareness of things other than ourself arise only when we experience ourself mixed with adjuncts, so Bhagavan has advised us that we should try to attend to ourself alone in order to experience ourself in complete isolation from all adjuncts. This is all we are trying to do when we practise ātma-vicāra. We are not trying to know any ‘I’ that we do not know already, but are just trying to know the same ‘I’ that we know now but without any adjuncts.

The fear you experience is just one of the many thoughts that arise when you experience yourself mixed with adjuncts, so the only way to overcome this fear is to try to attend only to yourself, the ‘I’ who seems to be afraid, because if you manage to attend to yourself alone, your fear will vanish along with all the other adjuncts with which it appeared.

Regarding your question about where thoughts arise, from where else could they arise other than yourself? You yourself are the source of all your thoughts, because you alone always exist whether thoughts appear or not.

The first thought that arises from you is the thought called ‘I’, which is your ego, the temporary adjunct-mixed form of your essential and permanent self-awareness, because it is only as this ego that you experience the appearance and disappearance of other thoughts. When you do not rise as this ego, as in sleep, you are aware of no other thoughts, but as soon as you arise as this ego in waking or dream you become aware of other thoughts. Therefore you as this ego are the root of all other thoughts, and you as you actually are are the original source of all thoughts, including this ego, the primal thought called ‘I’.

Therefore since you are the source of all thoughts — the place from which they all arise — attending only to yourself is attending to the source of all thoughts. Therefore whether Bhagavan says that we should attend to ourself, to our self-awareness, to our awareness called ‘I’ (or ‘I’ feeling, as you call it) or to the source of all our thoughts, he is not referring to various different practices but to one and the same practice, namely the simple practice of being self-attentive.

venkat said...

Michael,

You make a good, logical point about the Nisargadatta quote.

That actually prompted the following question, which is a variation to Mouna's question that you responded to in the article:

When you write about the "unassociated and hence unalloyed self-awareness that we experienced in sleep", and that we need to have "sufficient subtlety, acuity and clarity of perception to recognise that we were aware of ourself while asleep", that begs the question who is it that has this perception or that remembers this experience? If in sleep, we are just this pure self-awareness, that is not aware of any other thing, and the 'I' is absent, then how can it possible for 'I' to perceive this self-awareness, or to remember the experience when awake? Doesn't this imply some minimal 'I' still being present in deep sleep, to be aware of awareness without objects, and to then carry that as a memory into the waking state?

If the pure self-awareness never knows any other thing, then can an illusion (the illusory 'I') ever know the real? Surely all it can know is that its implicit belief in separation - its identification with a particular body/mind - is illusory. And I understand Bhagavan to be saying that by being constantly attentive to this I-thought, it will disappear, leaving only the self-awareness that we are. Hence one cannot say "extinction of our ego can be accomplished only by clarity of what we are", because surely that is putting the cart before the horse. The ego must go, and then the clarity of self-awareness shines.

Therefore, returning to the theme of the article, is it more accurate to say that deep sleep analysis is a pointer to the fact that we are just sat-chit without adjuncts, and so we should try to discriminate this in the waking/dream states, negating the adjuncts that have appeared.

Michael James said...

Papahari, when you write in your comment ‘I fall asleep’ and ‘I awake’, you are saying that you (the ‘I’ who fell asleep and subsequently awoke) entered a state called sleep and came out of it again, which clearly implies that you existed while asleep. Consider this very carefully, how do you know that you existed in that gap between falling asleep and waking up? If you were not aware of yourself while asleep, how could you be aware of the existence of that gap, which you seem to have fallen into and come out of?

If you were not aware of yourself existing in that gap, you would not be aware of any gap at all, and hence you would not be aware either of falling into it or coming out of it. In your awareness there would be no gap at all between consecutive states of waking or dream, and all you would be aware of would be a seemingly uninterrupted sequence of alternating states of waking and dream. However, you are aware of having existed not only in these two states but also in a third one, called sleep, in which you were not aware of anything else, so in order to be aware that you existed in such a state you must have been aware of your existence in it.

Considering this carefully and self-attentively helps us to be more clearly aware of ourself now as something other than the body-mixed self-awareness that we call our ego or mind and that we now mistake to be ourself, so it is a very valuable aid to us in our effort to penetrate deep into the fundamental self-awareness that we actually are. The deeper and clearer our self-attentiveness becomes, the more clearly we will be able to recognise that we were aware of ourself while asleep, even though we were not aware of anything else, and the more clearly we are able to recognise this, the deeper and clearer our self-attentiveness will become.

Michael James said...

Venkat, regarding your latest comment, the perfectly clear shining of our pure self-awareness and the departure of our ego are one and the same thing, just as the shining of light and the departure of darkness are one and the same thing. However, just as what causes the departure of darkness is only the shining of light, what causes the departure of our ego is only the perfectly clear shining of our pure self-awareness, so it is correct to say that ‘extinction of our ego can be accomplished only by clarity of what we are’.

However, this analogy of light and darkness is applicable only in certain respects and not in others, because whereas darkness is a complete absence of light, our ego is not a complete absence of ourself (our pure self-awareness) but a mixture of ourself and adjuncts, so though our ego as such (that is, as the adjunct-mixed self-awareness that it now seems to be) is absent in sleep, its essence, which is pure self-awareness, is present in sleep. This is how we are now able to remember ‘I was asleep’.

The ‘I’ in this statement was not our ego, which did not exist then, but only our pure self-awareness. However, since this pure self-awareness exists even now as the essence of our ego, our ego now claims ‘I was asleep’. Therefore the explanation for how we (as this ego or mind) can now remember that we were asleep is not that a minimal ego existed in sleep but only that the real essence of our ego (namely our pure self-awareness) existed then.

Regarding your question how the illusory ‘I’ (our ego) can ever know what is real (our actual self), the answer is that it cannot know it as it is, but it can try to do so, and in trying to do so it will dissolve and merge in what is real, because it was never actually anything other than that, even though it seemed to be something else.

Regarding your final suggestion that it is ‘more accurate to say that deep sleep analysis is a pointer to the fact that we are just sat-chit without adjuncts, and so we should try to discriminate this in the waking/dream states, negating the adjuncts that have appeared’, deep and careful analysis of what we experience in sleep does enable us to understand that we cannot be any of the temporary adjuncts that seem to be ourself in waking or dream, because we experience ourself without them in sleep, but this is not the only benefit that we can derive from this analysis, because recognising clearly that we are aware of ourself even when we are not aware of anything else, as in sleep, enables us to go deeper in our practice of ātma-vicāra by focusing more precisely on our pure self-awareness, which always shines distinct from and independent of any of the transient adjuncts with which it sometimes seems to be mixed (but only in the deluded view of ourself as this adjunct-mixed self-awareness called ‘ego’ or ‘mind’).

Bob - P said...


Michael said :

{If you were not aware of yourself while asleep, how could you be aware of the existence of that gap, which you seem to have fallen into and come out of?

If you were not aware of yourself existing in that gap, you would not be aware of any gap at all, and hence you would not be aware either of falling into it or coming out of it. In your awareness there would be no gap at all between consecutive states of waking or dream, and all you would be aware of would be a seemingly uninterrupted sequence of alternating states of waking and dream}

This makes so much sense to me, so powerful.

Thank you for your latest 3 comments Michael and everyone else who has commented too .. so helpful.
In appreciation.
Bob

Papahari said...

Bob-P,
you are right : Michael leads us to the point where we recognise what is necessary for us to consider carefully. He helps us to be more clearly aware of ourself.

Sandhya said...

Thanks Michael. I deleted it because I felt my question dont belong in a public post. I thought of emailing you my question again . Thanks for your reply . Will read it again. Seems to me that self enquiry itself starts with an imaginative practice , like i am watching i. So the mistake would be , me thinking that there are two components of I. When i try to be 'i' , the i that i am trying to be is 'i am body' feeling. So then the path seems to end there. What is the next step? Just be with the feeling of 'i am body' ? One thing i have observed in past few years is, whenever a negative emotion arises, when i take effort to be with this 'i' feeling, the emotion vanishes. I found this trick, when i was reading 'talks with Ramana Maharshi' book, where he said 'don't forget the seer' . For me seer meant 'i' feeling that i currently have. He might have meant real 'I' . So whenever we get engrossed with outward objects, we get entangled in pain and pleasure, but when we remember the seer, things settle down. Hope i am thinking in right direction.

Sivanarul said...

Sandhya,

If you are using self-enquiry to deal with negative emotions, I highly recommend listening to talks by Swami Sarvapriyananda of the Ramakrishna order regarding a text named Drg Drsya Viveka. I have provided the links below. Swami S is a delightful speaker who imparts wisdom of ancient texts in a very clear and easy format. The text of Drg Drsya Viveka may be highly relevant to you.

So far it is 5 parts with more to come.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4gqTD_EPQY

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6kALQlK6-Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxvc4eL3tag

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ASH1rD2jOXk

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AiDa_7Blimg

Sandhya said...

Thanks Sivanarul. I dont know if my primary aim of doing self enquiry is to just deal with negative emotions. I have lots of interest in knowing things beyond me. And only person I could never doubt is Ramana Maharshi. Hence I am trying out practices suggested by him. I like Michaels posts, since all his writings challenges even the basic intuitions one can have. I have in my life experiences learnt that i should not trust some of my own intuitions.

Sivanarul said...

Sandhya,

“I should not trust some of my own intuitions”

Your own intuitions come from Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi that resides in you as the ever shining Paramatman. That intuition in most cases will be the best for you, than what in written in any text (even that written by Bhagavan). So don’t underestimate the power of your own intuition.
Drg Drsya Viveka will still be very applicable (even if it is not just to deal with negative emotions). If you get time, try to listen to at least to a sample of Swami S talks. I am confident you will find it very useful.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji, vannakkam

"Your own intuitions come from Bhagavan Ramana Maharishi that resides in you as the ever shining Paramatman"

Nothing "comes" from Paramatman. Rope doesn't create snake.

Intuitions, as every phenomena experienced or seen (drsya) by a seer (drg) is only ego, meaning what seems to exist but does not (what we eventually will come to realize if we properly investigate into it, according to Bhagavan). The only intuition worth pursuing is this very same investigation (viveka) about the apparent reality of ego..

m

Sandhya said...

Thanks Mouna. Michael, in deep sleep, i agree that i am not aware of body. But does that mean that vasanas doesnt exist in latent form? I think it still exists . If it exists , where is it stored? And doesnt existence of vasanas prevent the pure self from shining during deep sleep as in the case of Jnanis ? May be i am aware of the real self but I am not aware of vasanas during deep sleep, but existence of vasanas definitely can differentiate between the state Jnani is in and the state one is in during deep sleep. So the state of deep sleep might not be exactly same as Jnanis state, because former state has vasanas stored in it. It could be like, a difference between real gold and a metal coated with gold. Both looks same, but artificial gold has impurities stored in it.

venkat said...

Michael,

"Therefore the explanation for how we (as this ego or mind) can now remember that we were asleep is not that a minimal ego existed in sleep but only that the real essence of our ego (namely our pure self-awareness) existed then."

We have said that pure self-awareness is not conscious of any other thing apart from itself. You also said in your response to me that the ego can never know the real (though in trying to do so it will dissolve). Therefore how can the ego remember that "its real essence" existed during deep sleep, since there is no 'knowing' in either direction between pure self-awareness and the ego. I don't think the logic follows?

In the "Paramount Importance of Self-Attention" you wrote: "you are that which knows the mind". Just to clarify, this is a preliminary step, in that the 'you' that is being referred to is the I-thought, and not the pure self-awareness which we are, that is not aware of a second?

Thank you in advance Michael.

venkat

Sivananrul said...

Mounaji, Vannakkam.

‘Nothing "comes" from Paramatman. Rope doesn't create snake.”

To the devotee, everything absolutely comes from Paramatman. There is Bhagavan the advaiti and there is Bhagavan the devotee of all devotees. You follow Bhagavan, the advaiti. I follow Bhagavan, the devotee. Let’s just say our paths are different and we will meet (metaphorically) in the Self/Siva.

You take the world as a dream. I take the world as real and as manifestation of the grace of the Lord. Ishvara merges in I (for you). I merge in Ishvara, (for me).
Rope doesn’t create a snake (for you). I currently being a snake, is real for me and I look forward to merging of the snake back in the rope. After merging, as Ishvara, will come to know whether the snake was ever really projected or not.

“The only intuition worth pursuing is this very same investigation (viveka) about the apparent reality of ego..”

Knowing you for a while, my friend, I know that you wrote this in a benign manner. But whenever I read the word “only”, I smile :-) The play of Maya is indeed mysterious. As samaric egos, it plays with “My country/race/religion/profession etc etc is the only way”. As spiritual egos, it plays with “My path is the only way”. Not much difference. It has substituted one with the other.

Continued in next post….

Sivanarul said...

The intuition of Bhakthi is very well worth pursuing and it comes directly from Ishvara as is said in Thiruvasagam, Sivapuranam:

“இமைப்பொழுதும் என் நெஞ்சில் நீங்காதான் தாள் வாழ்க” (He does not leave me from my heart even for the time it takes for the eyelids to refresh)

“சிவன் அவன் என்சிந்தையுள் நின்ற அதனால் அவன் அருளாலே அவன் தாள் வணங்கிச்” (Because Siva resides in my intellect, through his grace, I began his worship)

கறந்த பால் கன்னலொடு நெய்கலந்தாற் போலச் சிறந்தடியார் சிந்தனையுள் தேன்ஊறி (Just like ghee is ever present in milk, Siva resides in the Intellect of his devotees)

ஏகன் அநேகன் இறைவன் அடிவாழ்க (He is one and also many)

As is said in Sivapuram, the desire to start worshiping the Lord (or any other sadhana for that matter) comes through his grace via intuition.

Let’s just say my friend; we are spiritual brothers (vedanta and siddhanta) who share the same goal. Our similarities (genetic code) are vastly more than our differences (personalities/sadhana).

Just as an FYI, advaita is used both in vedanta and siddhanta. In siddhantha, advaita means there is only one Paramatman and not two. The mukthi in Siddhanta is also called advaitic mukthi which is defined as merger as salt in water (Meykandar path) and Camphor in Fire (Thirumoolar, Thayumanavar path). Both vedanta and siddhantha derive from the Vedas and Upanishads, but they interpret the Mahavakyas (great sayings like Tat Tvam Asi) differently. Both systems were lead and propagated by spiritual giants.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji, friend and brother in the quest.

First, let me rewrite what I wrote, since you are right about the "only"
"The best intuition worth pursuing when trying to realize ouris this very same investigation (viveka) about the apparent reality of ego..”

Another difference we have in relation to semantics.
Parabraman and Braman are basically the same, but it is not the same as Ishwara.
Ishwara is Braman with atributes (atributes mean maya)

Both Ishwara and Braman are concepts of the ego, ways of interpreting and naming what can't be named or understood (because we are it). When we go to sleep, or in technical terms, when the ego subsides or disappears (deep sleep, anesthesia, etc..) where is the question of an Absolute or a God?

Bring the feeling or how you felt (metaphorically speaking) during deep sleep and you might understand where I am coming from.

I also realize that "Bhagavan is in me" or "I am in Bhagavan" is also a false strategy of the ego (although I always used it as a respectful way of acknowledging my gratitude to my Teacher) that's why that also felt away and I don't use it anymore.

Last but not least, ego is not bad or good, as the mirage of water in the sand is not in itself good or bad, but it is very unpractical if we are thirsty.

m

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

“Another difference we have in relation to semantics. Parabraman and Braman are basically the same, but it is not the same as Ishwara. Ishwara is Braman with atributes (atributes mean maya)”

Yes there is a difference. When I use Ishvara, I do not distinguish between Brahman with attributes and without attributes. I use it as a synonym for the underlying reality that the Saivite tradition refers to as ParaSiva.

“Both Ishwara and Braman are concepts of the ego, ways of interpreting and naming what can't be named or understood (because we are it).”

So says the ego. The Lord's name is not different from the Lord/reality. The Vedas and OM are considered revealed truths. Anyway, the truth will be known when reality is realized.

“When we go to sleep, or in technical terms, when the ego subsides or disappears (deep sleep, anesthesia, etc..) where is the question of an Absolute or a God?”

Just because a question is not asked, it does not mean the non-existence of absolute or God. Correlation does not imply Causation.

“Bring the feeling or how you felt (metaphorically speaking) during deep sleep and you might understand where I am coming from.”

I fully understand where you are coming from and agree that from the advaitic tradition standpoint, what you say is in accordance to it. From the siddhantha tradition however, deep sleep is a time of rest in which the Jiva rests from Maya, but still is within the bounds of Anava (primal ignorance). In siddhanta, Maya and the senses are considered good, in that they help us do sadhana to get out of the bounds of Anava (which is considered the primal bondage). So deep sleep has no special significance (other than rest, that entails sadhana, in waking, afresh). The primal anava state is similar to deep sleep where the Jiva was in deep slumber (ignorant, but not realizing he is ignorant). When Maya starts to operate he is still ignorant, but now aware that he is ignorant. Again this is Siddantha view and let us not please get into a discussion of whether it is true or not :-)

Maya is considered Siva Shakthi and helpful grace that through successive births and experiences makes the Jiva realize that samsara is not going to cut it and to escape Samsara the primal chain of Anava needs to be broken. Hence the waking state, is considered the most important, as it is where the Intellect and the senses are active, that can be used, slowly but steadily, to make dents in Anava.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Robert Butler in Ozhivil odukkam has explained intuition from a siddhantha perspective, much better than I can ever dream of explaining. Here it is:

“From the point of view of the jiva, we may call this intuition. Intuition is the act of looking with one’s being rather than one’s mental faculties. In fact intuition is the way that information not directly accessible to the mind comes to us, usually unconsciously, through the higher faculties of mind and consciousness.

In the early stages the mature jiva will ‘feel’,’intuit’ that there is a higher power which rules its existence, and seek assistance in finding it through books, religious practices, seeking a guru, and so on. In this process the jiva is beginning to seek a means of aligning itself with the Self, of seeing with the eye of the Self. The world becomes less and less a playground for the mind and senses, and more and more a place of learning, in which it is taught that identification with its experiences in the world is the driver of the mechanism whereby it becomes trapped in a never ending cycle of alternating pain and pleasure. This process of placing one’s trust in an intuited Reality, existing beyond the reach of the mind and senses, would seem to be the equivalent of the disciple’s becoming receptive to arul (grace) in Siddhanta terms.

Regarding anavam (primal ignorance):

The tendency of the mind is to believe that it has the power to analyse with the senses and intellect the world in which it finds itself and determine the truth about it. From the point of view of the jiva, this tendency may perhaps be thought to equate to the most fundamental of the three malams, anavam, and from the point of view of the Absolute, to tirotam – Lord Siva’s power of veiling. Grace begins its work when the jiva, after repeated attempts, begins to realize that its efforts are futile.

Regarding deep sleep (Page 328):

In this verse it is stated that the mere ending of cakalam – the waking state, in which the jiva's immersed in maya – the world appearance, will not result in liberation. It will only be replaced by the state of total forgetfulness, kevalam, as in deep sleep, here equated with anavam, the impurity which obscured the jiva. It is further stated that only the intervention of diving grace can bring about the ending of these alternating states.

Trisulapuram said...

Sivanarul,
thanks for your reply and given advises to some texts of Arunachala's glory and 'powerful thalas'.
But just on that Maha Sivaratri-day I wanted nothing but to get experience/knowledge why or how The Holy Hill Annamalai just in the town of Tiruvannamalai is considered to be Siva himself. I was completely perplexed, puzzled and distraught as not even the word/term Arunachala or Annamalai or any other name(Arunai,Arunagiri,Arunadri,Sonadri or Sonagiri...)let alone Bhagavan Sri Ramana could be found written in any of these three extensive Siva-books. I felt myself being caught/captured in a bad dream or the "wrong film". I concede I was a bit furious with the book authors. For me it was like coming the first time to Varanasi and hearing there for instance in a bookshop near the ghats that the river Ganga is nothing of any importance and significance.

Sivanarul said...

Trisulapuram,
I agree that it is very odd that you did not find anything written about Arunai in Arunachala bookstore, in any of those three extensive Siva-books. Rest assured that it is an anomaly. Arunachala is written about extensively in Saivite scriptures.

There is a very nice article about the power of Arunachala written by Michael (Nice to read some devotional articles from Michaelji, even if it was from 1982 :-) May be in the future Michaelji will let his devotional side write more articles similar to the one linked below. One can always hope :-)

http://davidgodman.org/asaints/powerofa1.shtml

Portions of that article:

The Thought of Arunachala
By seeing Chidambaram, by being born, in Tiruvarur, by dying in Kasi, or by merely thinking of Arunachala, one will surely attain Liberation.
The supreme knowledge (Self-knowledge), the import of Vedanta, which cannot be attained without great difficulty, can easily be attained by anyone who sees the form of this hill from wherever it is visible or who even thinks of it by mind from afar.

Such is the assurance given by Lord Siva in the Arunachala Mahatmyam about the power of the mere thought of Arunachala, and this assurance has received striking confirmation from the life and teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

Indeed, Sri Bhagavan used to say that because we identify the body as 'I', Lord Siva, the Supreme Reality, out of his immense compassion for us, identifies this hill as 'I', so that we may see him, think of him and thereby receive his grace and guidance.
Being the perfect spiritual Master that he was, Sri Bhagavan knew well how important and necessary is the form of God for the human mind, which is ever attached to forms. And from his own personal experience he knew the unique power of the form of Arunachala, a power that cannot be found in such abundance in any other form of God, namely the power to turn the mind towards Self and thereby to root out the ego.

Sivanarul said...

Though Arunachala appears outwardly as a hill of mere insentient rock, the true devotee understands it to be the all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful Supreme Lord, who is guiding him both from within and without at every step and turn of life, leading him steadily and surely towards the goal of egolessness. 'What a wonder! It stands as if an insentient hill [yet] its action is mysterious - impossible for anyone to understand,' sings Sri Bhagavan in the first line of Sri Arunachala Ashtakam.

Of all the names of God, the name dearest to the heart of Sri Bhagavan was Arunachala. Every one of the 108 verses of Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai ends with the name Arunachala, and the refrain is 'Arunachala Siva, Arunachala Siva, Arunachala Siva, Arunachala!' From the great love that Sri Bhagavan had for this name, it is clear that he regarded it as being no less powerful than the form of Arunachala. This fact is confirmed in verse seventy of Aksharamanamalai in which Sri Bhagavan sings, 'O Arunachala, the very moment I thought of your name, you caught me and drew me to yourself. Who can understand your greatness?'

From this incident we can understand how unhesitatingly Sri Bhagavan encouraged devotees to have absolute faith in Arunachala. If devotees of a sceptical frame of mind came to him and asked him how mere thought of Arunachala could bestow liberation, he used to explain the allegorical significance of this saying, since that alone would satisfy their mind.(4) But if devotees came to him with simple, child-like faith, he would strengthen their faith and confirm the literal meaning of this saying, since he knew from personal experience the great power of the name and form of Arunachala.

Yet there is a verse in the Arunachala Mahatmyam, which has been selected and translated into Tamil by Sri Bhagavan, that says:
Arunachala is truly the holy place. Of all holy places it is the most sacred! Know that it is the heart of the world. It is truly Siva himself! It is his heart-abode, a secret kshetra. In that place the Lord ever abides the hill of light named Arunachala.

All the four great Saiva sages of Tamil Nadu, Manikkavachagar, Sundaramurti, Appar and Jnanasambandhar, have sung in praise of Arunachala. In one verse often pointed out by Sri Bhagavan, Jnanasambandhar described this hill as being jnana-tiral, a dense mass of jnana. And Sundaramurti, singing in Tiruvanaikka, remembers Arunachala and sings, 'O Annamalai, you can be known only to those who give up the attachment to the body'.

The power of the satsang of Arunachala was often confirmed by Sri Bhagavan. Dr. T. N. Krishnaswamy records in the Ramana Pictorial Souvenir, p. 7 that Sri Bhagavan once said to him:
The whole hill is sacred. It is Siva himself. Just as we identify ourselves with a body, so Siva has chosen to identify himself with his hill. Arunachala is pure wisdom (jnana) in the form of a hill. It is out of compassion to those who seek him that he has chosen to reveal himself in the form of a hill visible to the eye. The seeker will obtain guidance and solace by staying near this hill.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji,

Thank you for taking the time to make me understand your point of view in relation to the topics we were discussing.

M

Seeker said...

Michael: You mention in passing the need to practice atma vichara in the dream state. I know also that Bhagavan refers to this occasionally in his dialogues. Does he, however, address the subject at length - and indeed have you treated it at length?. Seemingly it involves what is otherwise called a form of 'lucid dreaming.' Personally I have found this hard to practice, and tend to view with suspicion those who claim to have easily mastered it. Nevertheless it must surely have some importance as we spend a third part of our lives (in varying lengths) in this state

jacques franck said...

Michael,

In the paragraph 4 : Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham verse 31: the ātma-jñāni is aware of no difference between waking, dream and sleep
You said

An ātma-jñāni is one who has merged and dissolved completely in the pure self-awareness that we always actually are, so in the clear view of an ātma-jñāni nothing other than pure self-awareness actually exists or even seems to exist, and hence there are not three states but only one. Though in the self-ignorant view of the ego an ātma-jñāni may seem to be a person who experiences waking, dream and sleep just like any other person, what the ātma-jñāni actually experiences is only pure self-awareness, devoid of even the slightest awareness of anything else, so the ātma-jñāni is always in the state that we call ‘sleep’ but that is actually the only real state.

and

That is, just as the various states of a cart are not experienced by a person who is sleeping in it, the various states of body and mind are not experienced by the jñāni, who is sleeping eternally in the infinite and indivisible state of pure self-awareness. Though in the self-ignorant view of an ajñāni the jñāni seems to be a person occupying a body and engaging in alternating periods of activity and inactivity, much like any other person, the jñāni is actually nothing other than our own real self (ātma-svarūpa), in whose the clear view what actually exists is only itself, so the jñāni can never be aware of even slightest difference between waking, dream and sleep. For the jñāni there is only one state, namely the infinite, eternal, immutable and indivisible state of pure self-awareness, which is what we (from the ignorant perspective of our ego in waking and dream) mistake to be sleep.

After that Viveka Vairagya posted:
Questioner: Do you have thoughts?
Bhagavan Ramana: I usually have no thoughts.
Questioner: And when someone asks you a question?
Bhagavan Ramana: Then, too, I have thoughts when replying, not otherwise.

I can understand the point of view that if someone experience completely the pure state from that point of view there no one, no thought…, but from the view of the ajnani he sees someone.
When Ramana reached this state he became completely Conscious. But a body continued to live and in the view of the ajnani he saw a being who continued to live in all his activities.

So if there is no thoughts how to explain the writings of Ramana? Because if there is no thoughts how to write it?

If the writings are seen from the point of view of the ajnani and since the point of view of the ajnani is false we can considered that the writing also are false….

I really don't know if it is clear…

Thanks again
jf.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Jacques, I share some of my reflections on your above comment. These may be off the mark, therefore please do not take this to be the final truth. You quote Bhagavan:

Questioner: And when someone asks you a question?
Bhagavan Ramana: Then, too, I have thoughts when replying, not otherwise.

Of course this is difficult for us to understand, especially when we have also been taught that the jnani knows only himself, and therefore in his clear view he can think no thoughts. The jnani's ego has been annihilated, therefore if has thoughts who thinks these thoughts? Our pure self, which is pure consciousness, can have no thoughts, and since there is no ego in the jnani there is no possibility of any thoughts for the jnani. But why did Bhagavan say: I have thoughts when replying, not otherwise. It is difficult to answer this question. May be grace, which is none other than Bhagavan, acted or replied in such a way without actually acting or replying, because this was the most suitable answer considering the maturity of the questioner. To put this in other words, the mere presence of Bhagavan, who is none other than the pure awareness produced this answer by the power of his presence, without thinking in any way.

You write, 'When Ramana reached this state he became completely Conscious'. This is an inaccurate statement. We are all completely consciousness always. We can only say that when the Venkataram experienced himself as he really was (at the time of his famous 'death experience'), his ego died forever, thus his seeming adjunct-bound, limited consciousness disappeared forever and instead he experienced only his pure, unlimited consciousness.

You also write, '[...] since the point of view of the ajnani is false we can considered that the writing also are false…'. Until we experience ourself as this ego, this person called 'Jacques' or 'Sanjay' and so on, the writings of the jnani cannot be really considered as false. In fact these writings are like a lion which appears in the dream of an elephant. The shock and fright of this dream lion will make the elephant wake up. Likewise our Sadguru and his teachings will eventually wake us up in to the state of atma-jnana, and this awakening is real. Of course ultimately we will find that the sadguru and his teachings were only our imagination, a part of our dream. Regards.





jacques franck said...

Thank you Sanjay

Yes when I write 'When Ramana reached this state he became completely Conscious' my english is a little difficult you are put the right words about this phrase.

I understand what you said... but until we have this state (state that we have always) it would be some difficult to understand it completely.

Thanks again

jf.

Michael James said...

Sandhya, regarding the first comment you wrote in reply to my earlier reply to you, self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is not ‘an imaginative practice’ and does not entail any use of our imagination, because we are investigating the only thing that actually exists, namely ourself. Since we are one, it is also not a practice of one ‘I’ watching another ‘I’ but only the one ‘I’ watching itself (that is, ourself watching ourself).

At present we experience ourself mixed with adjuncts, so we are aware of ourself (the only ‘I’) as ‘I am this body’, and this adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’ is what is called ego. However, this ego is an illusory apparition — a ‘formless phantom’, as Bhagavan calls it in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu — so it seems to exist only so long as we do not look at it carefully. That is, as Bhagavan explains in verse 25, it rises, endures and flourishes only by ‘grasping form’, which means attending to anything other than itself, so if it tries to grasp or attend only to itself, it ‘takes flight’, which means that it subsides and disappears, because it does not really exist at all.

What is real in this ego (the adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’) is only ‘I’, which is our actual self (ātma-svarūpa), so if we look carefully at this ego what we will see is only ourself, who alone are real. That is, just as if we look carefully at an illusory snake we will see that it is not actually a snake but only a rope, if we look carefully at our illusory ego we will see that it is not actually what it seems to be but only our actual self.

Therefore you need not think that since this ego now seems to be the illusory self-awareness ‘I am this body’ it is wrong to attend to it, because if you look very carefully at its essential element ‘I’ (yourself), the body and other adjuncts that are now mixed with it will recede into the background of your awareness, and eventually all that will remain is yourself, the pure self-awareness ‘I am’, devoid of any adjuncts.

Regarding Bhagavan’s advice to see (or not forget) the seer, the seer in this context is our ego, which alone is aware of other things, so ‘see the seer’ or ‘remember the seer’ means attend to the ego. However, as I explained above, if we attend to our ego its adjuncts will disappear and what will then remain is only its real essence, which is our actual self, and which is never aware of anything other than itself, because it alone actually exists.

As you say, ‘whenever we get engrossed with outward objects, we get entangled in pain and pleasure, but when we remember the seer, things settle down’, because when we attend to anything other than ourself, we are thereby feeding and nourishing the illusion that we are this ego, which is the root of pain, pleasure and all other problems, whereas when we attend only to ourself (or at least to our ego, which now seems to be ourself), we are depriving our ego of the food that it depends on to survive, so it begins to subside, and along with it everything else also subsides, and peace (which is our real nature) alone remains.

Therefore if you attentively remember yourself, who now seem to be the seer, you are certainly proceeding in the right direction. As Bhagavan said in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘ஒருவன் தான் சொரூபத்தை யடையும் வரையில் நிரந்தர சொரூப ஸ்மரணையைக் கைப்பற்றுவானாயின் அதுவொன்றே போதும்’ (oruvaṉ tāṉ sorūpattai y-aḍaiyum varaiyil nirantara sorūpa-smaraṇaiyai-k kai-p-paṯṟuvāṉ-āyiṉ adu-v-oṉḏṟē pōdum), which means ‘If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own actual self], that alone will be sufficient’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Jacques, we cannot understand our natural state of pure self-awareness which we will experience after the annihilation of our ego, as we are operating with the ego and mind in our waking and dream states, and since there is no mind present in our natural state of pure self-awareness, how can our mind understand the state which is beyond our mind?

As Michael has written in this article, we experience our intransitive awareness in our sleep everyday, but once we come out of our sleep we may try to analyse our experience of sleep by our mind, therefore we mostly think sleep is a dull state or a state in which we are not conscious. In fact according to Bhagavan sleep is the state of pure self-awareness, as our ego and all its by-products are not present in sleep.

We should aim to make this sleep our permanent state by vigilantly investing ourself in our waking and dream states. Regards.

Michael James said...

Sandhya, regarding your latest comment, it is generally said in advaita texts that in sleep the ego exists in seed-form composed of darkness formed by its vāsanās, because this is the simplest way to explain how it rises from sleep in waking or dream, but this is true only from the perspective of our ego in waking and dream, because in sleep nothing other than ourself (our pure self-awareness) actually exists.

According to Bhagavan our ego does not exist at all in sleep. In fact it does not actually exist even in waking or dream, even though it seems to exist in these two states. In sleep, however, it does not even seem to exist, so since it does not actually exist or even seem to exist, it does not exist at all then.

In waking and dream we are aware of things other than ourself, so we seem to be this finite ego, whereas in sleep we are not aware of anything other than ourself, so we do not seem to be this ego. Since this ego does not actually exist even when it seems to exist, why should we imagine that it exists in seed-form in sleep, during which it does not seem to exist at all? By doing so we are attributing more reality to it than is due.

The seed-form in which the ego is said to exist in sleep is called the kāraṇa śarīra or ‘causal body’ because it is believed to be the cause of the rising of our ego in waking or dream. However, cause and effect seem to exist only when we experience ourself as this ego. In sleep no cause or effect seems to exist because we are aware of nothing other than ourself. Therefore like everything else cause and effect arise only when our ego arises, as Bhagavan implies when he says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), which means ‘If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything’. Therefore, since our ego is the root and origin of both cause and effect, it has no cause other than itself, so if we believe in the existence of a ‘causal body’ or any vāsanās in sleep, we would be overlooking one of the most fundamental principles taught by Bhagavan, namely the principle that our ego alone is the cause of the seeming existence of everything other than ourself.

Our ego would need a cause only if it actually existed, so since it does not actually exist it does not require any cause. Therefore rather than postulating the existence of a ‘causal body’ in sleep, we should investigate this ego to see whether it actually exists even now. According to Bhagavan if we investigate it sufficiently keenly and attentively, we will find that it does not exist at all, so it has never risen from sleep and therefore does not require the existence of a ‘causal body’ to explain how it arose from sleep.

What actually exists is only ourself (our pure self-awareness, ‘I am’), and in sleep nothing other than ourself seems to exist, so according to Bhagavan there is absolutely no difference between sleep and the state of ātma-jñāna. Differences between these two states (such as the difference that sleep is temporary whereas ātma-jñāna is eternal) seem to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego in waking or dream, but if we investigate this ego we will find that it does not exist, and hence none of the differences that seem to exist only in its view are real.

Bob - P said...

[Our ego would need a cause only if it actually existed, so since it does not actually exist it does not require any cause. Therefore rather than postulating the existence of a ‘causal body’ in sleep, we should investigate this ego to see whether it actually exists even now]

[What actually exists is only ourself (our pure self-awareness, ‘I am’), and in sleep nothing other than ourself seems to exist, so according to Bhagavan there is absolutely no difference between sleep and the state of ātma-jñāna]

Thank you Michael so helpful.
In appreciation.
Bob

Mouna said...

This last comment of Michael (on the relationship between ego and deep sleep) is one of the most powerful comments I ever came across in his writings.
To my understanding, it holds the key to unlock everything else, specially the very heart of atma-vichara and Bhagavan's teachings.
Thank you.

Mouna said...

Addendum
Relationship that apparently seems to exist but it doesn't...

barn owl said...

Sanjay Lohia, Jacques Franck and Trisulapuram,
is it not completely absurd and extremely mad that we as the ego - mind make vain efforts to understand our natural thoughtfree state with the tool of our mind ?
If it is true that we are always in our natural state why should we make efforts to reach this state that we are already ? It is most unlogical.
Rather we should remove the veil of self-forgetfulness through atma-vicara (watching ourself by ourself).
Not knowing ourself as we really are is equally absurd like the above described incredible experience of Trisulapuram - just on the day of Maha Sivaratri - who could obviously not find any explanation of Siva's identification with the just there in Tiruvannamalai present Arunachala Hill in the bookshop of Tiruvannamalai. I can well understand your terrible disappointment and also your feeling of anger. I empathize with you because actually you wanted to be aware of your own self(Siva-Arunachala). But instead of seeking yourself outside in the bookshop you failed to attend carefully only to yourself.
Nevertheless the subscribers of Shiva/Shaivism seem not to agree that the legendary appearance of the limitless pillar of fire between the quarrelling Gods Brahma(swan) and Vishnu(boar) happended in Tiruvannamalai/Arunachala. Many different schools of Shaivism convey not a precise picture of the nature of Shiva. I hope that we can have confidence in the version imparted by Bhagavan : Siva-Arunachala (lingothbava).

Sivanarul said...

Barn owl,

“Many different schools of Shaivism convey not a precise picture of the nature of Shiva.”

The nature of Siva is well conveyed in all of the Saivite cannon of scriptures that include the Siva Agamas, 12 Thirumurai’s, 14 Meykanda sastras, especially in SivaJnanaBotham, Arunagirinathar’s Kandar Anubthi, Kandar Alangaram, Thirupuggazh, Thirumanthiram, Siva Bhoga Saram etc.

In fact, Saiva Siddhanta details the 36 tattvas in such excruciating detail. It is one thing to say that one does not agree with those. That is fine. But it is entirely different to say that schools of Saivism do not convey a picture of the nature of Siva. I highly recommend the above sastras and Siva Agamas for information on the nature of Siva.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding what you wrote in reply to Sandhya’s remark ‘I should not trust some of my own intuitions’, to assume that all one’s own intuitions come from Bhagavan or paramātman seems to be extremely naive and even dangerous, because people have all sorts of intuitions and most of them are incorrect.

Intuitions come from Bhagavan or paramātman (which is our own actual self) only in the same sense that everything (including all good and bad, knowledge and ignorance, pleasure and pain and so on) ultimately comes only from that, but as Bhagavan explained, our own actual self is not the immediate source of anything other than our ego, because the immediate source of everything else is only this ego. Therefore intuitions and all other phenomena do not come from our actual self or paramātman directly but only indirectly, because they come directly from our ego, which in turn comes directly from our actual self.

Intuitions are beliefs or hunches that are not adequately justified either by evidence or by reason, so they are generally not a reliable source of knowledge. Sometimes they may be correct, but in most cases they are incorrect, so Sandhya is being wise when she says ‘I should not trust some of my own intuitions’. Generally intuitions are to be treated with suspicion, and we should always look for evidence or other strong reasons to believe them before placing all our trust in them.

So long as our mind is still filled with impurities in the form of viṣaya-vāsanās (inclinations or desires to experience anything other than ourself) and karma-vāsanās (inclinations to do actions rather than just to be), our intuitions will be coloured by such impurities and are therefore liable to mislead us. Therefore, since none of us yet have perfectly pure minds, we should place our trust primarily in actual evidence and our powers of reasoning — particularly as guided by the clear and logical teachings of Bhagavan — rather than in any intuitions that we may have.

To the extent that our mind is purified by persistent practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) or any other appropriate means (sādhana), our intuitions will be coloured less by our vāsanās and hence will be illumined more clearly by the light of pure self-awareness that is always shining within us, so the intuitions of a purer mind are generally more reliable that those of a less pure mind. However, if we believe that our intuitions must be correct because our mind is pure, we would be deceiving ourself, because what believes ‘I have a pure mind’ would be our ego, the very nature of which is to deceive us.

In a later comment you wrote ‘Robert Butler in Ozhivil odukkam has explained intuition from a siddhantha perspective’, which prompted me to wonder what Tamil term may be used in śaiva-siddhānta to mean intuition, and if such a term exists whether it is actually used in the same sense as the English term ‘intuition’. I could not think of any Tamil term that I would translate as ‘intuition’, so I searched an online copy of the Tamil Lexicon and found only one term that it translates as ‘intuition’, namely இயற்கையறிவு (iyaṟkai-y-aṟivu), which literally means ‘natural knowledge’ and which the Lexicon defines as ‘Instinct, intuition; சுபாவஞானம் [svabhāva-jñāna]’. I do not know in what context this term is used, but if it means ‘instinct’ it is more likely to be used in the context of science or social science than spiritual philosophy. Therefore I doubt whether śaiva-siddhānta actually uses any term that corresponds exactly to the meaning of ‘intuition’ in English, and if so in what sense it uses such a term.

Sivanarul said...

Michael,

“to assume that all one’s own intuitions come from Bhagavan or paramātman seems to be extremely naive and even dangerous, because people have all sorts of intuitions and most of them are incorrect.”

Since the discussion is taking place in a spiritual context, the intuition I was referring to only points to those related to spirituality (path to take, sadhana etc). It did not apply to instances where someone has an intuition to harm people. That obviously is both naïve and dangerous. I assume people posting on this forum have understood the basics of ahimsa and are trying their level best to stick with Sattva.

I would rather rely, on my own intuitions (spiritual ones), rather than rely on anything found in a text. The text is outside of me. My own intuition is within me, whether that is indirect or direct. I consider that intuition to be direct from Lord Siva, but let’s go with the notion that it is indirect.

I also could not think of any Tamil term that I would translate as ‘intuition’ exactly to. But the way I use it derives from the Saivaite scriptures which say that once the Jiva is ready, Lord Siva will instruct from within (Ul Irundu Unarthuhal).

The ways of the Lord are mysterious indeed. Following your own writings on Vichara have deeply strengthened my devotion to the Lord, even though the way you convey it, is not the way I see it. The reason is, your writings repeatedly remind people that the world is unreal/illusory. I mentally translate that to ephemeral. For the one who practices Vichara, that will lead one to cling to ‘I’. For those on the devotional track, it makes one cling more strongly to Ishvara.

As I wrote to Mounaji, our paths are a bit different. You follow Vedanta. I follow Siddhanta. We certainly are spiritual brothers, since Vedanta and Siddhanta have much more in common than differences. The reason I follow your blog (even though, paths are a bit different) is that it is a very hard these days to find such a Sadhaka as yourself who had the courage to start walking the path at such a young age and who answers people’s questions so freely.

Your surrender to Bhagavan is a source of deep Inspiration for me. Thank you very much for what you do.

Sivanarul said...

Michael,

“we should place our trust primarily in actual evidence and our powers of reasoning”

The powers of reasoning are a good one to trust when the path is of the Intellect. But when the path is of the heart (devotional track), the powers of reasoning end very soon and are of not much value. The devotee does not need to know the reason and an answer for everything that happens. As Siva Yogaswami said, the devotee is perfectly contended with “I don’ know” (Yaam Ariyom) and that it is all Siva’s will.

The trust and surrender to Lord Siva does not need any actual evidence. It simply arises and deepens when the disciple is sufficiently mature and ready, by the grace of the Lord. I don’t know how much you have read about the 63 Nayanmars. If one reads Periya puranam, one will find many of the actions of the Nayanmars were neither based on actual evidence nor on powers of reasoning. It was based on one thing and one thing only, love for Lord Siva. In fact many of their actions were contrary to powers of reasoning. Reasoning is an obstacle that needs to be overcome by the devotee by the grace of the Lord.

Again this is a different path and tradition. In Saiva Siddhantha, Bhakthi is involved in all 4 stages, Chariyai, Kiriyai, Yogam and Jnanam. Jnanam in Siddhantha is explained well in the 8’th sutra of Siva Jnana Botham wherein the Jiva realizes that the hunters who brought him up (5 senses) are not his family. Rather he is the son of the King (Lord Siva). The path of Jnana involves walking away from the 5 senses and reaching the holy feet of Lord Siva. Bhakthi is involved from the beginning to the end and is not quite the same as defined in Vedanta (close enough, though)

Trisulapuram said...

Sivanarul,
many thanks for your comments of 20 March 2016 at 23:58 and 21 March 2016 at 00:00 and for giving the link to Michael's article about the power of Arunachala. Although I knew that article since many years I missed to remember/be aware of its encouraging content.
I should be ashamed of myself of having got influenced/affected/detracted by the writing of any ignorant book author and inadequate offer of any bookshop.

Trisulapuram said...

Sivanarul,
in your comment to "barn owl" you are mentioning a lot of scriptures and sastras about the nature of Shiva.
Because I am not born in a Hindu country I cannot read the entire canon of all the books.
But it is now clear to me that I have to seek and find the light of pure self-awareness within me. Then the true starting point and connection of all the deities and religious ideas and imaginations of people about God might be self-evident.

Sivanarul said...

Trisulapuram,

“But it is now clear to me that I have to seek and find the light of pure self-awareness within me”

Yes, that is quite right since whichever path one follows (‘I’ or God), both need to be found inside (irrespective of whether one finds it outside). As Appar swamigal says : “The Lord that cannot be found by Brahma and Vishnu, I found by searching within”. The difference in the paths, is that in ‘I’, the search is only internal. In God, the search is both internal and external, as God is both internal and external.

“Then the true starting point and connection of all the deities and religious ideas and imaginations of people about God might be self-evident.”

I wouldn’t call it imaginations about God. Vedas and Siva Agamas are revealed scriptures and not imaginations. If Vichara is your cup of tea that is great, since that is one of Bhagavan’s recommended sadhana, but I wouldn’t use the word imagination and God together. Again this is very hard to explain and understand without a Bhakthi background and a reading of Bhakthi literature like Periya Puranam.

Papahari said...

Michael,
thank you for your response and your detailed explanation.
Having existed also in deep sleep even without having any awareness of anything else is my daily experience.
Further I do understand that I must have been aware of my existence during deep sleep because otherwise I would/could not be aware of that fact.
But at present I do not understand that the then existing thought-free 'tabula rasa' -awareness should be my real nature. Maybe it takes more time to understand that idea though I might comprehend it now theoretically as I now grasp intuitively that I am something other than the body-mind-mixed self-awareness – namely a more clear and pure self-awareness.

Trisulapuram said...

Sivanarul,
only due the limitations of language I used the word 'imagination'.
I did not intend transporting any disparagement.
I think I do well understand the pure devotion and humility of the sixty-three Saivite Saints(Naayanaars).
"May the glory of the Lord's devotees endure ever for the true delight of mortals".
"Thus ends 'Periapuranam'- the other name of which is 'Thiruthondarpuranam'."

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding your first reply to my previous comment, when I wrote ‘to assume that all one’s own intuitions come from Bhagavan or paramātman seems to be extremely naive and even dangerous’ I was referring to intuitions not only about worldly matters but also about spiritual matters, because intuitions come from (or at least through) our mind, and the nature of our mind is to delude us, particularly with regard to spiritual matters, because whether we call it ātma-vicāra or self-surrender, the real spiritual path leads to the destruction of our mind, so our mind will constantly try to divert us away from it. This is why the need for cultivating and using vivēka (keen and discerning judgement or discrimination) is emphasised so strongly.

When you say that you would rather rely on your own spiritual intuitions than on anything found in a text, do you mean to say that you consider your own intuitions to be a more reliable guide than the teachings of Bhagavan or any other ātma-jñāni? Of course we have to use vivēka to decide which texts we should rely upon and to understand what those texts mean and imply, but I think we should certainly place more trust in what Bhagavan has written in texts such as Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār than in the intuitions of our self-ignorant mind.

You argue that texts are outside of us whereas intuition is within us, but according to Bhagavan everything other than ourself (including our intuitions and all the other thoughts that constitute our mind) is outside of us, because the only thing that is actually inside of us is our own actual self. Moreover, though texts written by Bhagavan appear outside us, they originate from the clarity of pure self-awareness that is always shining within us as our own actual self, which is what you refer to as ‘Lord Siva’, so such texts come from Lord Siva more directly than our own mind-mediated intuitions.

When I wrote in my previous comment that ‘we should place our trust primarily in actual evidence and our powers of reasoning — particularly as guided by the clear and logical teachings of Bhagavan — rather than in any intuitions that we may have’, what I meant by our powers of reasoning is vivēka, which we can cultivate, refine and sharpen by persistent practice of ātma-vicāra (or to a lesser extent by whatever other devotional practices may appeal to us) aided by careful and deep reflection (manana) on Bhagavan’s teachings. Though you imply in your second reply that such powers of reasoning are useful only in the path of ātma-vicāra (the path of jñāna, which I assume is what you meant by the path ‘of the Intellect’) but not in the path of devotion, these are not actually two separate paths, and even if we consider them to be separate, in both of them vivēka is needed, because without keen vivēka we would never be willing to surrender ourself entirely. Even to begin loving God requires vivēka, because if we lack vivēka we will naturally love only the objects of this world.

You cite Yogaswami’s oft repeated saying ‘யாம் அறியோம்’ (yām aṟiyōm), ‘We do not know’, which implies that we should recognise our ignorance, but such recognition is the fruit of vivēka. Whereas intuition tells us that we know this or that, the clarity of pure vivēka (which shines within us to the extent that our mind is purified) tells us that we know nothing other than ‘I am’, our simple self-awareness, which is what is called Lord Siva.

venkat said...

Sivanarul

The commonality between Jnana and Bhakti yoga is that both aim at effacing the ego. The former through the rational investigation of the 'I', the latter through surrender ('thy will not mine'). It is easy to see why they are complementary. But it seems to me that while jnana yoga can be discussed conceptually, bhakti yoga cannot: it is entirely personal.

Sivanarul said...

Michael,

I did not say viveka is not necessary. I was only responding to powers of reasoning, which I interpret as logical reasoning and was saying my own intuition is a better voice than logical reasoning in the devotional track. Let me give you an example.

For anyone who is following your blog, the conclusion one would come to, would be that Vichara is the only practice that will end ignorance (seeming or real) in the “fastest” time. You have been blessed with extraordinarily clear and lucid mind and make really compelling arguments. I have not seen anyone, so far, who can counter your arguments. So If I listen to logical reasoning, I would have to take up Vichara as the “only” sadhana. But in spite of following your blog for 5+ years, my intuition keeps telling me the best sadhana’s for me are prayer, prathayara, meditation, thirmurai recital and sporadic Vichara. That's what I follow and do. This intuition you say is from the mind. I say this intuition is from a higher power. Logical reasoning you say is better, but I say that intuition is coming from a level that is far deeper than where logical reasoning comes from. Let's agree to disagree.

“When you say that you would rather rely on your own spiritual intuitions than on anything found in a text, do you mean to say that you consider your own intuitions to be a more reliable guide than the teachings of Bhagavan or any other ātma-jñāni?”

Yes, when the teachings contradict my intuition (example: I reject Karma theory on the basis that it is a violation of ahimsa and self-compassion). The teachings of Bhagavan are like WebMD. They are fairly accurate in aggregate but may or may not be right for the individual. Bhagavan’s teachings that come via intuition, is what is right for that particular person. I have had my Doctor prescribe the exact opposite of what was written in WebMD several times. WebMD is a very useful tool that gives one, good information as to when to see a Doctor. Similarly Bhagavan’s written teachings and your blog have provided me with great information to see the Doctor (Bhagavan within).

For many readers of your blog (including yourself probably), Bhagavan is just a lion in your elephant’s dream. You only consider his written text as valid. Any of his actions are dismissed as something he didn’t do, but some power did it. For me, Bhagavan is real and his actions are his teachings (his compassion, his prayer to Arunachala to cure his mother’s typhoid, his foresight in setting up ashram will etc etc). Bhagavan’s teachings (by action) is finely tuned and appropriate to that devotee. Much has already been written in comments about how he first made Annamalai swami work like a dog for 10 years, then Annamalai swami did formal meditation for several years before he even attempted Vichara. I consider the intuitions that I have now is what Bhagavan has decided that is appropriate for me. He certainly might change that in the future, when he decides that something else is better for me, just like he kept changing things on Annamalai Swami.

Sandhya said...

Thanks Michael. I remember reading about causal body in another post. When I read that post i did not understand anything . Now i get it. I dont think i have any other question.

Sivanarul said...

Venkat,

“The commonality between Jnana and Bhakti yoga is that both aim at effacing the ego.”

Bug Amen to that.

“The former through the rational investigation of the 'I', the latter through surrender ('thy will not mine'). It is easy to see why they are complementary. But it seems to me that while jnana yoga can be discussed conceptually, bhakti yoga cannot: it is entirely personal.”

Very well said and I fully agree.

Sivanarul said...

"Bug Amen to that."

Meant to write, "Big Amen to that".

Sivanarul said...

Trisulapuram,

“I did not intend transporting any disparagement.”

Thanks for the clarification and I am sorry that I misunderstood you,

“I think I do well understand the pure devotion and humility of the sixty-three Saivite Saints(Naayanaars).”
“I think I do well understand the pure devotion and humility of the sixty-three Saivite Saints(Naayanaars).“Thus ends 'Periapuranam'- the other name of which is 'Thiruthondarpuranam'."

If you know the other name as Thiruthondarpuranam, you certainly understand the pure devotion of Nayanmars. I apologize for my assumption that you did not. I am very glad to hear from a fellow devotee in this blog who is aware of Thiruthondarpuranam.

Nama Sivaya Vazhga, Nathan Thal Vazhga.

maya said...

Michael writes "we should place our trust primarily in actual evidence and our powers of reasoning — particularly as guided by the clear and logical teachings of Bhagavan — rather than in any intuitions that we may have’, what I meant by our powers of reasoning is vivēka, which we can cultivate, refine and sharpen by persistent practice of ātma-vicāra (or to a lesser extent by whatever other devotional practices may appeal to us) aided by careful and deep reflection (manana) on Bhagavan’s teachings."

What is the so called "evidence" that proves that Bhagavan was a Jnani? It is only your intuition and a belief based on what one has understood about his teachings and what one has heard from people who saw him. Even if one fortifies it with tons of statements, it is still a belief until you have had the experience. Now if one says that he knows for sure that Bhagavan was a Jnani, then he must be a Jnani too but then again for a Jnani everyone is a Jnani, so how can you prove by reason and evidence, something thats beyond the intellect?

Except for a few westerners that came to Bhagavan after doing a lot of research, most of the Indians were led to him by mostly just the word of mouth or just based on their intuition. They did not sit and analyze and draw equations which proved that Bhagavan was worth pursuing nor did they sit and analyze to death the 3 states and other Vedanta theories. Something just led them and that is what Sivanarul probably means when he talks about (He can correct me if i'm wrong). So were they all wrong to follow that something (call it intuition or whatever, thats just semantics)?

What made Bhagavan do atma vichara in a few minutes during his death experience? Did he read a bunch of books, analyze and then pursue it? It was just sheer intuition. Many births of having reasoned can result in one second of intuition? How do we know thats not the case? It is as stupid to dismiss it as it is stupid to accept anything. The fact is no one knows and infact if you read stories of Jnanis who were led to their masters, it was either just a coincidence and split second decision made on intuition like a person who out of the blue, alights at Tiruvannamalai and visits Bhagavan.

While its true that intuition can lead one to do bad acts there are many acts done by individuals as well as nations which are justified by their so called "Reason-ing" like killing a few for the benefit of many etc etc and are being rationalized and so any one can provide any reason to justify something based on one's own intellectual limit.

Even to understand a method or a teaching like self inquiry, it is only intuition that makes us do it. A lot of people read about self inquiry(true for other methods as well) for years. They have understood everything that is to be understood by reason but why don't they still get it. Then all of a sudden they see someting, hear something and they just get it. Now if one says that "Oh, but thats a result of their reasoning for so long", how can you explain someone who has never read anything about it but understands it immediately and i'm not talking about realization, only an understanding. Its intuition. Something tells you thats it.

will continue...

maya said...

continued...

When you have an ego and if your goal is honourable like realizing the self, there is nothing wrong in following one's intuition. Infact as long as we have an ego, there is no other way. I can read something and even understand it for years but what makes me get the gist is an intuitive feeling that this is it. Even if you've got something wrong, the self or god or whatever one calls it will correct it. As Ramakrishna said, "If you want to travel east and start out wrongly towards the west something will correct your course" If someone says thats wasting time instead of inquiring where east is (which is just a simplistic e.g.) how do we know that trying to undersatnd it to the limits of our reason is also not a waste of time or takes any less time. I'm sure people following many methods can justify their own practices by loads of reason.

All of these are just opinions.
Here is an excerpt from the book, "Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenence"
--
Einstein had said:
Man tries to make for himself in the fashion that suits him best a simplified and intelligible picture of the world. He then tries to some extent to substitute this cosmos of his for the world of experience, and thus to overcome it -- .He makes this cosmos and its construction the pivot of his emotional life in order to find in this way the peace and serenity which he cannot find in the narrow whirlpool of personal experience -- .The supreme task -- is to arrive at those universal elementary laws from which the cosmos can be built up by pure deduction. There is no logical path to these laws; only intuition, resting on sympathetic understanding of experience, can reach them -- .
Intuition? Sympathy? Strange words for the origin of scientific knowledge.
---
If this true for even scientific research, it applies even more to spirituality.

maya said...

What made Paul Brunton visit Bhagavan after listening to the Kanchi Sankaracharya and what made him trust the Sankaracharya's words, when he had almost made up his mind to return back home after his first visit to Bhagavan. Nothing but intuition.

From "A Search in Secret India"

--
Yet I realize now that he has passed through my life like a
star, which moves across the dark void with its lonely light and
then is gone. And I have to admit, in answer to my inner
questioner, that he is the one man who has impressed me more
than any other person I have ever met, whether in the East or
West. But he had seemed so aloof, so remote from a European
mentality, and so indifferent whether I became his pupil or not.
The silent voice now grips me with its intensity.
"How can you be sure that he was indifferent? You did not
stay long, but hurried away."
"Yes," I confess, feebly. "I had to carry out my selfimposed
programme. What else could I d o ?"
"There is one thing you can do now. Go back to him."
"How can I force myself upon him?"
"Your personal feelings are of less importance than success
in this search. Go back to the Maharishee."
"He is at the other end of India and I am too ill to start my
wanderings again."
"What does that matter? If you want a Master you must
pay the price."
"I doubt whether I want one now, for I feel too tired to
want anything. Anyway, I have booked a steamer berth and
must sail in three days; it is too late to alter things."
The voice almost sneers at me.
"Too late, eh? What has happened to your sense of values?
You admit that the Maharishee is the most wonderful man
you ever met, but you are quite willing to run away from him
before you have hardly tried to know him. Return to him."
I remain sullen and obstinate. The brain answers " Yes,"
but the blood says " No ! "
Once more the voice urges me:
"Change your plans again. You must go back to the
Maharishee."
Thereupon something surges up from the inner depths of my
being and demands immediate assent to the command of that
inexplicable voice. It overwhelms me and so forcibly does it
master my reason-born objections and the protests of my
enfeebled body that I become as a babe in its hands. Through
all this sudden overpowering urgency which asks my instant
return to the Maharishee, I see his summoning irresistible
eyes in a most vivid manner.
I cease all further argument with the inner voice, because I
know that I am now helpless in its hands. I shall travel at once
to the Maharishee and, if he accepts me, entrust myself to his
tutelage. I shall hitch my wagon to his shining star. The die
is cast. Something has conquered me, though I do not
understand what it is.
--

If trusting intuition can lead one astray so can reason because every one is driven by his own reason based on his own vasanas. If laws of reason were uniform across everyone minds, there would be no problems at all. All would be on the same page regarding everything.

will continue...

maya said...

continued...
Here is Paul Brunton again from "A Search in Secret India"

---
"Pursue the enquiry 'Who am I ? ' relentlessly. Analyse
your entire personality. Try to find out where the I-thought
begins. Go on with your meditations. Keep turning your
attention within. One day the wheel of thought will slow down
and an intuition will mysteriously arise. Follow that intuition,
let your thinking stop, and it will eventually lead you to the
goal."

The divine nature reveals itself anew in every human life, but if
a man walk indifferently by, then the revelation is as seed on stony
ground. No one is excluded from this divine consciousness; it is
man who excludes himself. Men make formal and pretentious
enquiry into the mystery and meaning of life, when all the while
each bird perched upon a green bough, each child holding its fond
mother's hand, has solved the riddle and carries the answer in its
face. That Life which brought you to birth, O Man! is nobler and
greater than your farthest thought; believe in its beneficent intention
towards you and obey its subtle injunctions whispered to your
heart in half-felt intuitions.
--

Infact what makes one even pursue a teaching or a path be it self inquiry or whatever, its just an intuition. Only after you start pursuing, you understand the path not before. All you have before is an inner feeling.

venkat said...

Maya

I think the point is to use your own reasoning to back up your intuition. For whatever reason, people may have been led to Bhagavan, but thereafter he provides a path which is logically sound.

How do you know what Bhagavan teaches is right? His main point is that the ego, the I-thought is illusory, and the cause of unhappiness. Logical reasoning can get you here as well. Then he says atma vichara is the direct path to eradicating this ego; again seems logical: scrutinising the reality of an implicit assumption of 'I' through which we see the world. As you say, you don't know whether this will lead to the death of the ego until it happens, but there are sound and logical reasons for believing it. Everything else that Bhagavan talks about is just an elaboration of this.

Bhagavan's death experience is instructive. As you say he hadn't read any books - so it was not based on any pre-conceptions or beliefs. He had the (intuitive, if you like) intense fear of death, and rather than avoiding it, he decided to focus his attention on it, and to investigate for himself the validity of the fear - and to find out what is it that dies. So following the intuition, he pursued for himself a deeply analytical path to find out the truth of what he was, without beliefs or preconceptions.

Michael James said...

Venkat, in your reply to one of my earlier comments you question the logic of my statement ‘Therefore the explanation for how we (as this ego or mind) can now remember that we were asleep is not that a minimal ego existed in sleep but only that the real essence of our ego (namely our pure self-awareness) existed then’, asking ‘how can the ego remember that “its real essence” existed during deep sleep, since there is no ‘knowing’ in either direction between pure self-awareness and the ego?’ Both this question and the difficulty you have in understanding the logic in what I wrote seem to be due to your thinking in dualistic terms about our ego and our pure self-awareness.

As I explained, pure self-awareness is the essence of our ego — what this ego essentially is — so even as this ego we are always experiencing our essential self-awareness, but we are experiencing it mixed with whatever adjuncts we currently mistake to be ourself. Therefore, since we ourself are the essential self-awareness that we now experience mixed with adjuncts, and since we continue to shine as this same essential self-awareness but without any adjuncts in sleep, we as this ego can now remember ‘I was asleep’. The ‘I’ in this memory is our essential self-awareness, which we now experience mixed with adjuncts but which we then experienced without any adjuncts. Therefore the difference lies only in the temporary presence or absence of adjuncts, and not in the permanent and essential self-awareness that we actually are.

You claim that I said that ‘the ego can never know the real (though in trying to do so it will dissolve)’, but this is not exactly what I wrote, which was: ‘Regarding your question how the illusory ‘I’ (our ego) can ever know what is real (our actual self), the answer is that it cannot know it as it is, but it can try to do so, and in trying to do so it will dissolve and merge in what is real, because it was never actually anything other than that, even though it seemed to be something else’. The important words here that you seem to have overlooked are ‘as it is’. That is, what is real is only our essential self-awareness, which we always experience, because it is our actual self, but though we always know it we cannot know it as it is so long as we know it (ourself) as this ego.

This is why Bhagavan frequently pointed out that ātma-jñāna is always attained and therefore not something that we need to attain in future. All we need to do is to experience it alone by focussing our entire attention on it (our essential self-awareness), thereby leaving aside all the adjuncts that now seem to obscure (but never entirely conceal) it.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Venkat:

Regarding your question about the sentence in ‘The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention’ (10th January 1978) in which I recorded that Sadhu Om said ‘You are that which knows the mind’, the context in which he said this was in answer to someone who had asked how to stop their mind wandering, to which he replied: ‘It is the nature of the mind to wander and know many things, but why does that worry you? Because you identify this mind as ‘I’, you feel your attention is wandering. But are you this mind? You are that which knows the mind’.

Yes, as you say, the ‘you’ who knows the mind is our ego or thought called ‘I’, so the aim of Sadhu Om in this reply was to turn the attention of the questioner away from all the wandering thoughts, which constitute the objective part of the mind, back towards the ego, which is the subject, the experiencer, who is aware of both itself and all other thoughts. So long as we allow our attention to dwell on any thoughts other than this ego, our mind will wander and expand, but if we turn our attention back to ourself, the ego, who is the one who knows the mind, it will contract, subside and disappear along with all its thoughts.

However, though the ‘you’ who knows the mind is only our ego, the essence of this ego is our pure self-awareness, as we will discover if we manage to focus our entire attention on the essential self-awareness element of our ego. This self-awareness seems to be mixed with adjuncts as this ego only when we are aware of anything else, but if we manage to be aware of ourself alone, we will find that nothing other than pure self-awareness actually exist.

This pure self-awareness, which alone is real, is the essence of our ego, which is the essence of our mind, which is what has seemingly expanded as this vast universe, so our aim is only to be aware of ourself, who are the sole substance or reality of everything else.

maya said...

Venkat

You write "So following the intuition, he pursued for himself a deeply analytical path to find out the truth of what he was, without beliefs or preconceptions. "

He did not pursue any deeply analytical path. He followed his intuition and his ego dissolved instantaneously, since we have the concept of time and space. that was it. What he explained later was expanding his own instantaneous experience based on his intuition providing reason, so others could understand. Its not like he had an intuition and then started a long analysis for hours, days etc. All that was after he had realized his self and thats exactly my point. Many of these intuitive things are instantaneous and cannot just be dismissed.


You say, "but there are sound and logical reasons for believing it"

Again my point. its still a belief for one who hasn't realized. I can actually give you an example of how anybody can give a reason that this atma vichara won't work. Unfortunately only people who know Tamil will understand it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEK66a6Erzs

The above video is a Bhagavad Gita discourse by Swami Omkarananda a disciple of Swami Dayananda lineage who puts down the efficacy of Atma Vichara and also "seemingly" gives "logic and reason" as to why it won't work.

Listen from the 1 hr 5th min mark for about 15 minutes.

Here are my own views
a) He emphasizes clearly that different people need different kinds of Sadhana which I agree with and which is what i have always argued here that all methods are equally effective even if all end in self inquiry.

But it is very clear from his description of "Atma vichara" that he hasn't understood it.

So this is the point i'm trying to make. Here is a person who is well versed in Vedanta in the Advaita tradition and inspite of all his knowledge, he still provides reason why Atma Vichara won't work and if one listens to the video for 15 minutes he explains other methods and comes to the same point that Bhagavan emphasizes that separating the "unarvu" is the crucial thing.

And that is my point. Everyone can come up with his/her own logic for everything and just because one point of view seems logical to me doesn't mean it does to everyone.

I attended this discourse yesterday in person but just as I don't like anyone putting down other methods in favour of atma vichara, nor did I like him putting down atma vichara.

maya said...

Venkat

Also, you say "How do you know what Bhagavan teaches is right?"

I don't and thats precisely what i've been trying to say. You only know something if and when you realize the self, so one cannot put down one method over the other unless he has realized his self following the specific method and even then its not possible simply because people are different in their ripeness, vasanas etc etc.

Again it is only my intuitive feeling based on Bhagavan's teaching that makes me follow self inquiry. When it comes to individual sadhana, anyone can follow any path but when you comment on other's understanding be it Nisargdatta, papaji, david godman, david frawley etc you better have the credibility and the only credibility in spirituality is self realization. Otherwise all you've propounded is another theory.

And the irony is that one who has realized his self has nothing or no one to criticize

maya said...

For some reason this was posted earlier than my last post and got deleted

Venkat

You write "So following the intuition, he pursued for himself a deeply analytical path to find out the truth of what he was, without beliefs or preconceptions. "

He did not pursue any deeply analytical path. He followed his intuition and his ego dissolved instantaneously, since we have the concept of time and space. that was it. What he explained later was expanding his own instantaneous experience based on his intuition providing reason, so others could understand. Its not like he had an intuition and then started a long analysis for hours, days etc. All that was after he had realized his self and thats exactly my point. Many of these intuitive things are instantaneous and cannot just be dismissed.


You say, "but there are sound and logical reasons for believing it"

Again my point. its still a belief for one who hasn't realized. I can actually give you an example of how anybody can give a reason that this atma vichara won't work. Unfortunately only people who know Tamil will understand it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEK66a6Erzs

The above video is a Bhagavad Gita discourse by Swami Omkarananda a disciple of Swami Dayananda lineage who puts down the efficacy of Atma Vichara and also "seemingly" gives "logic and reason" as to why it won't work.

Listen from the 1 hr 5th min mark for about 15 minutes.

Here are my own views
a) He emphasizes clearly that different people need different kinds of Sadhana which I agree with and which is what i have always argued here that all methods are equally effective even if all end in self inquiry.

But it is very clear from his description of "Atma vichara" that he hasn't understood it.

So this is the point i'm trying to make. Here is a person who is well versed in Vedanta in the Advaita tradition and inspite of all his knowledge, he still provides reason why Atma Vichara won't work and if one listens to the video for 15 minutes he explains other methods and comes to the same point that Bhagavan emphasizes that separating the "unarvu" is the crucial thing.

And that is my point. Everyone can come up with his/her own logic for everything and just because one point of view seems logical to me doesn't mean it does to everyone.

I attended this discourse yesterday in person but just as I don't like anyone putting down other methods in favour of atma vichara, nor did I like him putting down atma vichara.

Sivanarul said...

Maya’s comment:

“When it comes to individual sadhana, anyone can follow any path but when you comment on other's understanding be it Nisargdatta, papaji, david godman, david frawley etc you better have the credibility and the only credibility in spirituality is self realization. Otherwise all you've propounded is another theory. And the irony is that one who has realized his self has nothing or no one to criticize.”

Very well said. In fact the key difference between materialistic path and spiritual path, at least to me, is the recognition that something higher than human intellect is in play and this “force” guides each one of us in a manner that is best suited for us. So I am always amused when people, who say they are walking the spiritual path, prescribe that a particular way is the best for everyone. If one takes such a position, they really are playing the role of Ishvara.

If you say, you are just saying what Bhagavan had said, note that Bhagavan wrote in text, as a general doctrine. But he tailored it to each devotee to such an extent that many times he violated his written text. In fact, his own actions, many times violated his own statements (What will not happen will not happen.. But he prays to Arunachala to cure his mother’s typhoid. He has written that if you have fully surrendered, then why you should ask Ishvara for anything? Yet he chooses to ignore his writing).

The point is, Bhagavan cannot be equated to few of his texts alone and declare that anything else he did, he really didn’t do. Also one cannot define Bhagavan to be only such and such. If one takes Bhagavan’s entire life into account (text, actions, interactions etc), one can easily find that Bhagavan’s teachings are multiple in nature and they apply to all kinds of Sadhakas at all different levels.

We are all spiritual brothers who share the same goal of merging in absolute reality but who take different routes to get there.

maya said...

Also, regarding intuition, here is an interesting thing about the Gita. There are 700 verses in the Gita in the Mahabharata. I have heard a commentator say that according to Sankara, in his commentary of Gita, those 700 verses of conversation between Krishna and Arjuna were coded by Vyasa and not actually spoken by them in the battlefield because the battle had technically started with both armies blowing their conch shells, so it would be unrealistic to expect the enemies (the kauravas) to wait for Krishna to clarify all his doubts in 700 verses and then attack the pandavas. So, Sankara says that this knowledge was intuitively transferred from Krishna to Arjuna and Vyasa later coded it. Again Sankara said that Gita is the summary of all vedanta and classified it in the Prashthana Trayam along with upanishads and brahma sutra, so he does not doubt the veracity that it was indeed Krishna's words.

This is not too far fetched because there is an anecdote with Bhagavan where a person from Kashmir stood before Bhagavan and had many questions and all his questions were supposedly answered by Bhagavan within that Kashmir person's mind in his native language which Bhagavan never spoke.

It is also said that the 18 chapters into which the Gita was divided, like karma, bhakthi, jnana etc was much later and not by Vysasa. Vyasa only wrote the 700 verses as a straight conversation.

It may sound to our limited logical mind but not to infinite intelligence, to that anything is possible.


Again, we cannot dismiss everything as false that we receive from within. For people who are reason oriented, they will follow reason but many have that implicit faith where they don't need all this hair splitting. To each his own way and in the absence of a Master all we can depend on is what our intellect or intuition tells us as the case may be.

It is the usual human habit to put down a method thats contrary to their own and show only the negative. So for a reason oriented person, he will come up with a zillion e.g. where an intuition led someone the wrong way forgetting how many others benefited by following their intuition.

Michael James said...

Seeker, the phenomenon called ‘lucid dreaming’, which you refer to in your comment, has no particular relevance to Bhagavan’s teachings, because according to him this state that we now mistake to be waking is actually just another dream. Generally in any dream we dream that we are awake, so it is only when we leave one dream and enter another dream that we are able to recognise that the previous dream was not waking but only a dream.

A so-called ‘lucid dream’ is said to be a dream in which one recognises that one is dreaming, but this recognition is just the replacement of the thought ‘I am awake’ with the thought ‘I am dreaming’, and people who claim to have had such a dream generally do so in a state that they mistake to be waking, so their ‘lucid dream’ has not enabled them to recognise that even this state in which we are now seemingly awake is actually just another dream.

Since every state that we mistake to be waking is actually just a dream, if we can practise ātma-vicāra now, there is no reason why we should not be able to practise it in any other dream. Therefore Bhagavan does not give any instructions about practising it specifically in dream, because whatever he taught us about this practice applies to any state in which we are aware of phenomena.

The only real state is that in which we are aware of nothing other than ourself, so in any state in which we are aware of anything else we should try to investigate ourself, the one who is aware of those other things, in order to find out what we actually are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael wrote in a comment addressed to Sandhya on 22 March 2016 at 12:55 that:

According to Bhagavan our ego does not exist at all in sleep. In fact it does not actually exist even in waking or dream, even though it seems to exist in these two states. In sleep, however, it does not even seem to exist, so since it does not actually exist or even seem to exist, it does not exist at all then.

It may be difficult for many us to reconcile to what Michael writes here, that is, our ego does not exist or even seem to exist in sleep. Many of us believe, and this believe is supported by many of our spiritual texts, that our ego exists in sleep in a seed form and this is called our 'causal body' or karana sarira. I was reflecting on these two possibilities - that is, is it true that our ego really exists in a seed form in our sleep, or is it true that it does exist or even seem to exist in sleep? I share my reflections on this here.

Let us assume for an argument sake that there was a particular time when our ego seemingly came into existence for the first time, sometime in the past. It obviously originated from ourself, from pure-awareness. If this is a premise which seems logically true, whether it is true or false can be considered later, we have to analyse how this seeming ego came into existence for the very first time.

Obviously there was no seed form of our ego in pure-awareness when it first came into seeming existence. This proves that our ego does not require a seed form to come out of pure-awareness. Therefore it is likely that this ego comes out of our sleep without it being existing in any seed form even in sleep. Therefore, it is highly likely and possible that our ego does not exist in any form in sleep. Therefore we should have no problem in believing that our ego does not exist or even seem to exist in our sleep, therefore we remain as pure self-awareness in our sleep.

I would like Michael and others to comment on my above reflection, and to correct or expand on my reflection. Regards.

Michael James said...

Jacques, regarding your question ‘So if there is no thoughts how to explain the writings of Ramana? Because if there is no thoughts how to write it?’, from our self-ignorant perspective Bhagavan seems to have been a person who answered questions and wrote several texts, so we assume that in order to do so he must have had thoughts. However if we study what he wrote and replied to questions we find that he taught us that whatever we experience other than ourself is just part of a dream projected by our own mind and experienced only by our ego, and that if we investigate ourself we will find that we alone actually exist, so we have never risen as this ego or been aware of anything other than ourself.

Though Bhagavan appeared in this dream of ours as if he were a person with body and mind, what he actually is is only our own real self, which is the ultimate source of everything else, so his teachings come to us direct from this source, which is the light of self-awareness by which our mind is illumined. Therefore though his teachings in words are unreal like our ego and everything else in this dream, they have the power to awaken us by motivating us to turn our mind inwards to investigate ourself and thereby merge in the source from which we have risen.

To illustrate this, Bhagavan used to say that the guru and his teachings are like a lion that appears in an elephant’s dream, referring to the belief that elephants are so afraid of lions that if a lion appears in their dream the shock of seeing it will immediately awaken them. Though the lion seen in a dream is unreal, the awakening that results from its appearance is real. Likewise, though the human form of Bhagavan and his teachings are unreal, their appearance in our dream turns our minds inwards and thereby make us experience our actual self, which alone is real.

Regarding thoughts, once when Bhagavan was asked how he can answer questions if he has no mind, he pointed to a radio and said that his body is just like that radio, because though we hear people speaking in the radio, if we open it we will find no one inside, because the voices we hear in it originate from elsewhere. Likewise there is no mind in his body, because the teachings that come out of that body originate from elsewhere, namely from our own actual self.

As you say in your latest comment, ‘until we have this state (state that we have always) it would be some difficult to understand it completely’, because our finite mind can never understand the infinite source from which it appeared. This was also implied by Bhagavan in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which he said regarding the state of an ātma-jñāni, ‘தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?’ (taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?), which means ‘They do not know [or experience] anything else except themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘it is such’?’ The only way in which we can actually comprehend that otherless state of pure intransitive awareness is to turn within and merge in it.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, one of the perennial problems of philosophy is whether there is a first cause or an infinite chain of causes and effects with no beginning. An infinite chain is inconceivable, because every cause and every effect is finite, as is every other phenomenon, and the sum of all finite parts must also be finite. It is therefore easier for us to conceive a first cause from which every chain of causes and effects originated, but the two questions that then arise are what is this first cause and how did it come into being, since it has no cause?

Bhagavan’s answer to the first of these questions is that our ego is the first cause, because nothing else seems to exist unless this ego seems to exist, and his answer to the second question is that we should investigate this ego to see whether it actually exists, because if we do so we will find that it does not actually exist and therefore never actually came into being.

As you imply, if we consider it necessary to postulate the existence of a cause (the kāraṇa śarīra or ‘causal body’) in sleep to explain how the ego rises from sleep, we would also need to postulate a cause that existed prior to our ego to explain how it first came into existence. In either case, the existence of a cause of this ego would contradict the principle taught by Bhagavan in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and elsewhere: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), ‘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’.

The only thing that exists independent of our ego is our own actual self (ātma-svarūpa), but that cannot be the cause of our ego, because it alone actually exists, and also because its nature is just to be and not to do or cause anything. Therefore the appearance of our ego is uncaused and inexplicable, and it does not need to be caused or explained, because it does not actually exist. All that we need to do, therefore, is to investigate it to see whether it actually exists, and if not, what the real thing is that seems to be this ego.

venkat said...

Thanks Michael.

maya said...



http://cincinnatitemple.com/articles/Awakening-of-Supreme-Conscious-Swami-LakshmanKamal.pdf

Bio and teachings of Lakshman Joo, a jnani from the Kashmir Saivite tradition who had also met Bhagavan Ramana for 2 weeks. There is a brief bio and an account of his meeting Bhagavan. There are also a few lectures by him based on Yoga and Saivite tradition. Another person who had a great deal of respect for Bhagavan but did not follow self inquiry but a traditional integral approach and realized the self.

The book has almost a 1 para summary fo every chapter of the Gita and is probably one of the best 1 para summary

venkat said...

Sivanarul, Maya

When you say "the only credibility is self-realisation", actually you can never know what someone else's experience is or whether they are "realised or not". Therefore all you can do is to try to understand what they are saying, and then see if it stands up to reason.

Your response to that is that different people can come to very different opinions based on logic and reason. True enough.

Which is why one has to figure out for oneself what is true and false, and then put it into practice; don't worry about whether other people have come to the same conclusion or not - one can only strive to understand this for oneself as deeply and clearly as possible. Hence why I think these discussions are so helpful - it enables us to test and refine our understanding.

In Talk 596:
D: The fact is that God guides us. Then what is the use of these instructions to people?
M: They are for those who seek instructions. If you are firm in your belief in the guidance of God, stick to it, and do not concern yourself with what happens around you. Furthermore, there may be happiness or misery. Be equally indifferent to both and abide in the faith of God. That will be so only when one's faith is strong that God looks after all of us.
...
M: But there are others who are not so easily convinced of the truth of the bare statement. They ask "who is God? what is his nature? Where is he? How can He be realised? and so on. In order to satisfy them intellectual discussion is found necessary. Statements are made, their pros and cons argued, and the truth is thus made clear to the intellect.
When the matter is understood intellectually, the earnest seeker begins to apply it practically. He argues at every moment "For whom are these thoughts?" "Who am I?" and so forth, until he is well-established in the firm conviction that a Higher Power guides us. That is firmness of faith. Then all his doubts are cleared and he needs no further instructions.
...
D: Is an intellectual understanding of the Truth necessary?
M: Yes. Otherwise why does not the person realise God is all or the Self is all? That shows some wavering on his part. He must argue with himself and gradually convince himself of the Truth before his faith becomes firm.


Interesting that the questioner started asking about whether faith in "God guiding us" was sufficient, and Bhagavan says yes if it is strong, and in that event you will have surrendered and be indifferent to happiness or misery. But if that strength of faith is not there, then it must be made firm by intellectual conviction.

Seeker said...

It seems to me that if you apply advaita to its logical conclusion, then there is nothing. No Bhagavan, no I, no you, no mind, no ego, no intellect, no intuition - nothing. There is, as Bhagavan puts it, only silence. But once we allow Anything we must allow Everything. There are only two possible choices; there is not a halfway point between truth and illusion. There is no semi-illusion. It either is or it isn't. Thus intellectual understanding and intuition are ontologically the same. It doesn't matter that Bhagavan has thoughts and uses words, or that Jesus does, for that matter. Everything is equally unreal and also equally real(and equally ALLOWED). We can only feel wonder that Bhagavan possessed a remarkable capacity for reason - far beyond what could be imagined from his formal 'education' - with which he is able to communicate his message to us in the form of ideas, in addition to his presence or darshan which was only available to those fortunate enough to be there at the time.

Papahari said...

Michael,
section 7.
Some doubts arise:

..."This is a fallacious assumption, because the brain is a phenomenon known only by our mind"...

a) How can the mind experience anything/any phenomena without the functions of any brain(of the waking body or dream body) ?
b) Does not the mind and the brain work/function only mutually in interdependence ?

"Since in our experience any body and brain can seem to exist only when our mind seems to exist, and since our mind does not seem to exist at all when we are in sleep, coma or general anaesthesia, we have no adequate reason to believe that any body or brain exists at all in these states."

"However, since body and brain are both phenomena experienced by our mind, we have no adequate reason to assume that they exist independent of our mind, so the fact that mental activity seems to occur in them is probably just an illusion..."

c) In the case we have to undergo an surgical operation of the brain of this gross body why should we assume that our brain does not merely shut down but cease to exist at all in these state ?

Sivanarul said...

Venkat,

“Interesting that the questioner started asking about whether faith in "God guiding us" was sufficient, and Bhagavan says yes if it is strong, and in that event you will have surrendered and be indifferent to happiness or misery. But if that strength of faith is not there, then it must be made firm by intellectual conviction.”

As has been discussed many times, Bhagavan approved of all paths that lead one to truth. While in written text, he has indicated in some places, that all other practices lead to Vichara and that Vichara leads to mukthi, he did not say that everyone must practice Vichara all the time (because it is supposedly the “fastest” approach). Annamalai swami is the case in point. Bhagavan made him do Karma Yoga for 10 years (building projects). Then Annamalai swami went away and did Raja Yoga (formal meditation) for several years. Then finally he did Vichara.

The path of truth is not an exact science where there is an exact sequence of steps that one can follow from 1 to 10 and when one reaches 10, viola, we arrived. As Maya has written before, if that is the case we should be able to pick a willing and earnest sadhaka, make him go through a 10 year Vichara practice and at the end of 10 years, he is done.

The two great advaitins I know (Sri Shankara and Bhagavan), did not in their actions consider the world as unreal and did not teach just one way. So this talk of Bhagavan being a lion in an elephant’s dream is premature and putting the cart before the horse. Advaita towards one’s guru is expressly prohibited in advaitic teachings itself.

Durgai Amman said...

Michael,
section 6.

"...and when we are aware of ourself as this mind we are not aware of ourself as we actually are."

Why should our fundamental pure self-awareness which is eternal, permanent and immutable not be accessible for our awareness ?
How can the mind at all prevent the permanent accessibility of our pure self-awareness ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Thank you sir. What you say explains Bhagavan's teachings in clear terms. You write:

...the appearance of our ego is uncaused and inexplicable, and it does not need to be caused or explained, because it does not actually exist. All that we need to do, therefore, is to investigate it to see whether it actually exists, and if not, what the real thing is that seems to be this ego.

Bhagavan's teachings are so simple - that is, if we investigate our ego for a prolonged period of time it will eventually be destroyed, and along with its destruction everything else will also be destroyed. We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices. To me it is very simple - sadhana means the practice of self-investigation. Every other form of sadhana can merely be a preparation to arrive at this direct path of self-investigation. Therefore why not stick to this practice from the vey beginning?

Thanking you and pranams.

jacques franck said...

Thank you Michael, so well said.... :)

Bob - P said...

[Bhagavan's teachings are so simple - that is, if we investigate our ego for a prolonged period of time it will eventually be destroyed, and along with its destruction everything else will also be destroyed. We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices.]

I agree whole heartedly Sanjay.
Truly blessed ... Plus we have Michael to keep reminding us with his wonderful blog and articles.
In appreciation.
Bob

sooner or later said...

Sanjay Lohia,
Bhagavan's teachings are well 'so simply'.
But for the major part of us fellow sufferers to be successful in practising self-investigation is a tough nut to crack. The vast cloud of dense vasanas makes persistent self-investigation and managing to be aware of ourself alone difficult for us.
May Arunachala guide us through our hard times of seeming lack of success.
Oh Arunachala, please help us to focus our entire attention on the essential self-awareness of our ego.
Oh Annamalai, let us reach our aim to be aware of ourself, who are the sole substance of everything else.

Mouna said...

Sanjay, pranams

We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices.

Although what you write may "sound" true, this phrase hides an attitude of proselytism.
Self-investigation needs no flag to be carried through the battlefield of different spiritual and religious practices. But we need our ego to be a little thinner in order to understand that.

M

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Bob-P, we are very fortunate that Michael is our guide, otherwise it would have been difficult to understand Bhagavan's path with clarity and depth. Sometimes the very simplicity of Bhagavan's teachings makes it difficult for us to understand him, therefore we require the likes of Sadhu Om, Muruganar and our present guide Michael to decipher and explain his teachings to us. Yes, we indeed are blessed, and we understand this blessing more and more as we go on practising self-attentiveness to the best of our ability. Regards.

Sivanarul said...

“We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices”

Of course!

Mother Teresa’s Karma Yoga on the streets of Calcutta should have been such a complex maze of long drawn-out religious practice. If only she had known Vichara, she could have saved herself from all the trouble.

Oh the poor devotee, who has simple faith in the Lord. What a complex maze of nightmare for him. Why can’t he break his head with the simple intellectual gymnastics of trying to get to a nuanced answer whether ego is the first cause or was uncaused! Instead of doing that, why is he going through the complex maze of faith and surrender to the Lord?

Oh the Raja Yogi, who serenely sits and focuses on his breath or a mantra. What a complex maze that this. How long and drawn out is that going to be. Poor soul! I feel sorry for him.

Now folks, here is the scientific solution. Practice Vichara and you are guaranteed to be saved in the shortest time. Don’t ask me what time frame does shortest and long-drawn mean. Shortest can be 1000 lifetimes, Long-drawn can mean 5 mins. It could also mean the other way. Who knows?

And by the way, when it is convenient for us, we will treat Bhagavan as real and thank him for saving us and not treat him as a lion in our dream.

I apologize and truly sorry for the sarcasm in this post. It is not the way of a spiritual aspirant. However, it was impossible to ignore. Rest assured, the sarcasm is not intended for Vichari’s who understand that if such spiritual bigotism arises in them, they will do Vichara on who is it that has that bigotism. Now it is time for me to do Vichara on who is it that found it impossible to ignore that comment?

No wonder we are all trapped in ego :=)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, 'sooner or later', this path of self-investigation is tough for most of us, and as you rightly point out this is tough because of our endless visaya vasanas. Yes, we should pray to Arunachala and/or Bhagavan to guide us in our practice, but his ever present guidance will be recognised or revealed as we persevere in our practice of self-remembrance or atma-chintana. Regards.

venkat said...

Sivanarul

I wouldn't take it so seriously what anyone else says - easy to say I know. Find your own truth and go with it. If others have something useful to say, fine then listen; if not, just ignore it. This really isn't a race to get 'there' in the quickest possible time; comparison and measurement is totally irrelevant in this field.

Best wishes,
venkat

Sivanarul said...

Venkat,

Thanks for the advice. Very well said. I have certainly gotten lot better in ignoring unhelpful stuff. But this bait was too much to pass and I took it. :-) Mounaji also responded (much elegantly than I did). So I am not the only one who felt the need to respond. Anyway all is good. Isn’t it the same Lord that shines in unhelpful comments and helpful comments alike?

Michael James said...

Yesterday Sanjay wrote a comment in which he said ‘Bhagavan’s teachings are so simple — that is, if we investigate our ego for a prolonged period of time it will eventually be destroyed, and along with its destruction everything else will also be destroyed. We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices’, and Bob replied saying that he wholeheartedly agrees, as do I, but then other friends wrote comments criticising what Sanjay had written.

To my surprise, Mouna interpreted Sanjay’s remark ‘We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices’ as hiding ‘an attitude of proselytism’, which seems to me to be unjustified, because he were merely expressing what any of us would feel when we understand the unique simplicity, efficacy and directness of this path of ātma-vicāra that Bhagavan has taught us, and he was expressing it among fellow devotees in an appropriate setting, because this blog is intended to be a forum in which we can all reflect upon and freely discuss Bhagavan’s teachings. If Sanjay had said this to others who do not aspire to follow Bhagavan’s path of ātma-vicāra, that would perhaps be due to a wish to proselytise, which would obviously not be appropriate, but he was not saying it to others but only to fellow devotees who aspire like him to follow what Bhagavan has taught us.

In his writings and replies to questions Bhagavan frequently explained that ātma-vicāra is the only direct means to annihilate our ego and the most effective means to purify our mind and thereby make it willing to submit to its own annihilation, and he also explained very clearly why this is so. As he taught us in verses 3 to 8 of Upadēśa Undiyār, other practices can purify our mind to a certain extent and thereby show us the way to liberation if they are done with genuine love and without desire for any personal gain, but ātma-vicāra, which alone is ananya-bhāva (meditation on what is not other than ourself), is ‘அனைத்தினும் உத்தமம்’ (aṉaittiṉum uttamam), ‘the best of all’ or ‘the best among all’, thereby implying that it is not only the path to liberation that he referred to in verse 3, but also the most effective means to purify our mind. Therefore if we have understood the reasons why he extolled ātma-vicāra in such a way and if we have thereby been firmly convinced by his teachings, we will naturally feel as Sanjay does that we are fortunate that he has saved us from having to find our way in the complex maze of other practices, most of which do not even aim to annihilate our ego or acknowledge that our ego is the sole root and cause for the illusory appearance of everything else.

When Bhagavan said that ātma-vicāra is ‘the best of all’, he was not proselytising but was merely pointing out what we will understand to be necessarily true if we have clearly understood the basic premises and simple logic of his teachings. In comparison to ātma-vicāra, other practices are at best only circuitous and less effective means to purify our mind and thereby to enable us to understand that ātma-vicāra alone is the direct path to liberation.

(I will continue to discuss this subject in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment regarding what Sanjay wrote about how fortunate we are ‘that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices’:

In another comment Sivanarul implied that Sanjay was displaying ‘spiritual bigotism’, which again seems to be an unfair interpretation of what he wrote, because bigotry means intolerance of anyone whose opinions differ from one’s own, and there was no sign of such intolerance in what Sanjay wrote. If he is a bigot simply because he expressed what he believes and feels, then anyone who expresses any opinion is a bigot, which is obviously not the case, because we can tolerate others opinions and yet still express our own. Therefore if there is any bigotry involved here, it is only on the part of those who are not able to tolerate Sanjay’s honest expression of his simple faith in and love for what Bhagavan has taught us.

Sivanarul ridicules the phrase ‘complex maze of various long drawn-out spiritual and religious practices’ used by Sanjay and interprets it as a criticism of simple faith and devotion or other practices such as karma yōga or rāja yōga, but Sanjay did not actually imply that each of the various long drawn-out spiritual or religious practices is individually a complex maze but only that collectively they form a complex maze, which is true, because most spiritual and religious practices do not have annihilation of the ego as their clearly defined aim, and even when those who advocate such practices acknowledge that this is their ultimate aim, how any of those practices lead this goal is neither as clear nor as direct as how ātma-vicāra leads to it. Since annihilation of the ego is not the sole aim or even the principle aim of most other spiritual and religious practices, and since none of them lead to it directly, if we do not know what our aim should be or how best we can achieve it, all those various other spiritual and religious practices will collectively appear like a complex maze.

Therefore by clearly showing us that annihilation of our ego should be our sole aim and that ātma-vicāra is the simplest and only direct means to achieve it, Bhagavan has certainly saved us from this complex maze of other spiritual and religious practices. However, we will be able to appreciate this only if we have clearly understood the fundamental premises and simple logic of his teachings, in which case we will understand that we need not proselytise his teachings and should not be intolerant of others who have not yet been given to understand their unique value.

Sivanarul said...

It is indeed very sad that Michael choose to defend Sanjay’s comment. He says:

“bigotry means intolerance of anyone whose opinions differ from one’s own”

That is a very convenient definition. Here is a typical example:

If a religious/country/society group begins saying that it has been saved from all other complex maze of religions/countries/societies, most people will start smelling some level bigotism there. It is one thing to say, I love my religion/country and I am proud to be affiliated with it. It is totally different thing to say “Thank God, I have been saved from these complex maze of other religions that are drawn out”. I am really surprised and disappointed that Michael is not able to appreciate this difference. As Mounaji said, appreciating Vichara does not need to happen in a battlefield where Vichara take’s on all other practices and needs to be declared a victor.

“Sanjay did not actually imply that each of the various long drawn-out spiritual or religious practices is individually a complex maze but only that collectively they form a complex maze”

Again a very convenient definition! What you are saying is that each individual country/religion is not a complex maze, but all countries/religions when looked at together is a complex maze (except my country/religion). So people living in individual countries are fine, but collectively that are not fine (they are too complex).

“but he was not saying it to others but only to fellow devotees who aspire like him to follow what Bhagavan has taught us.”

Bhagavan taught many things. To constantly keep writing (check comments in the last year) that everything else he taught (except Vichara) is a long drawn and complex maze is not what fellow devotees aspire to. Most devotees would not want to live near a neighbor, who constantly says that except his son, all neighbor’s sons are going to be going through a complex and long-drawn learning in their lives.

I am truly sorry Michael cannot appreciate the difference between just praising one’s own children versus praising one’s own children along with condemning all others. If other followers of this blog can appreciate the difference, please comment and voice your opinion.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

I think it is not that big a deal as you are making it out to be. How does it matter if someone's opinion is that Vichara is the only best and direct and shortest route to self-realization, then let them hold on to it. Why should that bother you if you hold a different opinion. Let each one have he right to his own opinion because after all no one is forcing their opinion on others, only stating their opinions backed by reasons that their intellect can best see.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

“I think it is not that big a deal as you are making it out to be.”

What am I making it out to be? All I was saying is that religious harmony is a good thing. Does speaking for religious harmony equate to making it a big deal? Have we really become that much in tolerant?

“Let each one have the right to his own opinion”

Of course! I never said to anyone that you do not have the right to your opinion. What else are all comments except opinions? I was only reacting to one opinion of religious intolerance with my opinion of religious harmony.

“only stating their opinions backed by reasons that their intellect can best see”

All people who promote intolerance do so backed by reasons that their intellect can best see.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

OK as you say. But the attempt should ever be to convince ourselves and not be bothered so much about convincing others. If one is convinced intellectually about one's understanding then that suffices, and convincing others is only a secondary and extraneous issue. I meant to say that we should not be bothered so much if others are not convinced of our truths; it suffices if we are convinced and are sticking to the path.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

I agree with your latest comments, but I am not bothered to the extent you think I am.

I am just trying to say via my comment, that this blog and comments on this blog will be much better, if it promoted religious harmony rather than intolerance. I am well aware that I cannot change anyone’s opinion or behavior.

This is a spiritual blog. The goal of spirituality is to promote oneness and harmony. Don’t you think it is ironic that I have to respond so many times on behalf of the very goal of spirituality?

Anyway, I am going to be ending my comment on this topic with this. Thanks for your very reasonable comment.

Mouna said...

Dear All involved in a recent discussion,

I see two people talking and one says to the other: "You are fat”.
There can be two attitudes behind, on one hand we have a friend trying to make understand his other friend that he should take care of his health. On the other hand we have a bully trying to undermine the other's self esteem. Regardless of these two different attitudes, the "You are fat" statement is a fact, the other guy is obese, no question about it. We know it and we do not need to be reminded what the doctors say about fat people, or the definition of obesity to see that the other person is fat.

A scalpel is a tool, a scalpel punts and cuts, fact. It can be used to operate and eradicate a tumor or to give a fatal blow to an defenseless victim.
The scalpel itself doesn’t carry any “attitude” behind, but it is the attitude that defines the act of using the scalpel.

Words are like scalpels. A true statement (You are fat) can be used as tool to promote healing or a tool to undermine it.

The words: “We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices” may or may not be a fact, depending of the level of understanding, but they are just words. (And believe it or not, I for one, agree with that statement.)

But there is something in the tone… there is something behind the mere pronunciation or reading of those specific words that made me uncomfortable. Especially with all the past discussions about the seeming difference between bhakti and jnana. And especially the wording “long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices” (to whom spiritual practices are drawn-out?) Actually Michael took the time and effort to prove in his last article that from a point of view, atma-vichara can be a long spiritual practice also. For some, even atma-vichara is long-drawn-out practice! (Of course, because they don’t understand it.)

The same is happening with statements made by Mr Poonjaji/Papaji. It’s all very well (and very useful to avoid misunderstandings) to demonstrate how some of the statements don’t go side by side with Bhagavan’s teachings (by the way, even some of Bhagavan’s statements don’t fit side by side with Bhagavan’s own teachings) but we cannot know if Mr Poonjaji was speaking to a specific individual at this questioner’s own level (like Bhagavan used to do) or he was laying down his most essential teaching. I for one wouldn’t dare to comment unless I’ve read all of Mr Poonjaji’s teachings and understood his teaching as a whole (especially the essential points). Something I’ll never do because my guru is Bhagavan.

All this verbiage to say that is not only what we say that is transmitted but also how we say it. (and as I always say, it would be a completely different experience if we were sitting around a coffee table discussing these matters)

But, rest assured, I might be completely wrong in part or with everything I said, I might have read an intention where there was none (on that, only the bearer of the statement can know), and in that case, I sincerely apologize for any confusion and misinterpretation I could have caused. I mean this. Especially to Mr. Sanjay.

If we are part of this list (and continue to be part of it regardless our difference of opinions) is because we recognize ourselves as brothers and beggars under Bhagavan’s wise and compassionate tent, we are all trying to do our manana and nididhyasana to the best of our abilities amidst the incongruent and fictitious trappings of ego. Rough spots are unavoidable.

And, as the diction goes: “In the end, everything will be all right, and if it’s not all right, it’s not yet the end…”

M

Sanjay Lohia said...

I thank Michael for his two comments in response to my comment in which I had written:

Bhagavan’s teachings are so simple — that is, if we investigate our ego for a prolonged period of time it will eventually be destroyed, and along with its destruction everything else will also be destroyed. We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices.

When I wrote this I was just stating my innermost feeling and conviction, and this was not intended to criticise anybody, or any particular spiritual or religious practice. I was just stating the uniqueness of the practice of atma-vichara, and when we state the uniqueness of a practice, we have to also point our how other practices (as a whole) are not as direct, or as simple, or as efficacious as this practice of self-investigation.

Was I proselytising the practice of atma-vicharathrough my comment under discussion? Am I so important and influential that I can convert others to my faith and conviction? I do not think so. Moreover if I was trying to proselytise the practice of self-investigation, then Bhagavan Ramana, Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om, Michael and many other known and unknown devotees should also be blamed for proselytising.

Moreover if somebody is trying to convert others to his or her faith or inclination, he or she is not actually practising self-investigation. Therefore ideally trying to 'convert' others should be the last thing on our mind.
Our attention should be on ourself as much as possible, and not on others whom we want to influence one way or another.

But since manana fuels our practice of self-attentiveness, I do treat my writings as mainly reminders to myself. Therefore when I write about the uniqueness of Bhagavan's path and extol it, I am reminding myself about it unique efficacy, more than anybody else. Michael has also repeatedly stated that his writings and other related works like his videos and so on are basically reminders to him, that he should be practising self-investigation more than doing anything else. Regards.

Sivanarul said...

I just have to comment one last time on this topic, since I am deeply moved by Mounaji’s comment.

What wisdom, level headedness and compassion in that comment. How well said! This is what Spirituality is all about. The recognition that we are Spiritual brothers with different practices and attitudes but helping each other in Satsang in a manner that promotes harmony.

I am very thankful to Mounaji, Maya, Wittgenstein and many others who promote harmony and spiritual brotherhood.

Amen from one brother to another!

Bob - P said...

I said I whole heartedly agree with what Sanjay wrote a few days back and I still do.

I don't think he was try to impose his view on others or try to convert anyone to also believe that atma vichara is the only way to experience ourself as we really are.

He was just expressing his deep gratitude that Bhagavan has come into his life and helped him by providing him with a simple and easy to understand plan to help him experience himself as he really is .

I am also grateful like Sanjay.

Plus Michael's blog has come into my life to help me yet again by helping me understand the simple plan !! (I must be a desperate case !!)

At the end of the day we are all headed towards the same destination and even though I am doing my best to follow the path Bhagavan has laid in front of me I fully appreciate it may take a long time to finally dissolve into myself once and for all.

So even though according to Bhagavan and Michael I am travelling along a very efficient and direct path someone else following a different path a so called indirect path may dissolve much quicker due to being more mature and ripe for it. They may just practise vichara for a month, a week or even a split second and experience themselves as they really are.

It's all good.
We must just keep persevering regardless.

So thank you Bhagavan, thank you Michael and thank you everyone.

In appreciation
Bob





mahishasura said...

With the help of that weird exchange of words we get vividly shown how religious wars can originate.

Mouna said...

mahishasura,

Your comment is a little stretch of the imagination.
Exchange of words will rarely cause wars (religious or otherwise), intention behind them does.
Intentions, good or bad, are other names for ego.

I am curious why you choose such a name for your posting...

Viveka Vairagya said...

As I see it, there seem to be two distinct camps on this blog - one casting their lot with enquiry and the other with devotion or Bhakti. But, both camps need to come to a harmonious agreement and end their differences because Bhagavan says, "Jnana Marga and Bhakti Marga (prapatti) are one and the same. Self-surrender leads to realisation just as enquiry does. Complete self-surrender means that you have no further thought of ‘I’. Then all your predispositions (samskaras) are washed off and you are free. You should not continue as a separate entity at the end of either course." (Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, Talk 31).

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya,

There is only one illusory camp here, our ego.
Acknowledging its seeming existence creates the two camps you are referring to.
The only harmonious agreement we can attain will be the product of vichara and surrender, or viceversa.

M

Mahishasura Mardini said...

Mouna,
of course, my name is better chosen as Mahishasura Mardini. I am the fierce form of Goddess Durga. As the daughter of Arunachala I am riding on a powerful lion. With my weapons I slay all the demons and manifestations of egotistic ignorance. Chrrr...
So all autors/writers of heedless and worthless waffle be wary of my frightful fighting power. Chchchrrr...

venkat said...

Pranams Mouna, wise comments indeed.

I also took issue with the comments on Poonjaji, and was wondering how best to respond.

Michael / Sanjay, I appreciate that you view Bhagavan's teachings as the ultimate, the Occam's Razor, and I agree with you. But Sanjay the disparaging tone in which you address Poonjaji's teaching is discordant. He was, or seemed to be, devoted to Bhagavan. So Michael/ Sanjay, one can regard him: (1) as a fraud, (2) that he was misguided and foolish, or (3) that he was trying his best to convey with limited words the direction that we should be looking. If you really believe that he was a fraud then there is little further to say.

The teachings of all of these people - whether it be Poonjaji, J Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta, Zen, etc - is simple: all exclaim that the illusion of the ego is the cause of all our suffering, and that we need to eliminate this ego if we are to find that which we truly are. They then all point to awareness as a means of learning/understanding who it is that you really are. There is something one can learn from each of them - indeed, until you investigate their 'methods' how do you KNOW that one is better than another. One can find logical discrepancies in the words as they have been recorded, but reading between the lines, the direction of travel is the same.

Bhagavan might have been more accurate and precise in his antidote, but as we have all noted, many times his own talks contradict themselves, because of the needs of the person to whom he is speaking. Whilst it is undoubtedly instructive to discuss the points of difference, because it sharpens our own viveka and understanding of the most appropriate practice, perhaps we should not forget the points of commonality - unless you really believe that they were all frauds.

I suspect Bhagavan would have had little time for judgementalism.

Mouna said...

AAAhhhh, then that explains all!
I thought you were ONLY Mahishasura. Adding Mardini changes everything!
I'm already feeling the fear of my dirty mouth!

Mahishasura Mardini said...

Heroes of dense ignorance,
that is the last warning I shall give you !
Chrrrr

Sandhya said...

Venkat,

This is how I view Michael's writings. Just like how Ramana Maharshi's talks were spinning around only one thing 'self-investigation' or 'being' and how through his talks and teachings, he kept insisting all of us to turn inwards and thereby dismissing everything else other than 'i' or 'I', Michael , as a true follower of Bhagwan is focussing only on self investigation, and in this process he is dismissing everything else. When we start diverting our attention to other's teachings, we are indeed losing our focus on what we are supposed to be doing and it is only going to delay our progress. May be Papaji and others are enlightened. So they are either reiterating what bhagvan has been teaching, or they are teaching a new method. In the former case , since we are already on the same path thru this blog, there is no need for us to listen to papaji. The very fact that we even tried other teachings convey to us that we are not ready to try out bhagvan's teachings fully which implies we will not try other's teachings also completely . Because the problem lies in us where we are not patient enough to follow one method. In the latter case, where there is a new method being preached, again one can either follow the other new path or stay on this path thru this blog. Someone interested in other paths whole heartedly or partially cannot come to this blog and pass comments about others. i also feel Michael is being stubborn sometimes when he dismisses others. I feel it just shows his love for bhagwan's teachings or the depth in which he has understood his teachings.

Wittgenstein said...

If we say Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices, then it should be fine. It should be fine because the grace of Bhagavan being unbound and timeless is there even for those (in our view) are still caught in complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices and more particularly because we too are not saved completely and so everyone is on equal footing here. Further, if Bhagavan’s grace is unbound and timeless and guiding everyone, where is the question of converting someone? I doubt if there can be any conversion without cooperation. Even Bhagavan cannot convert us without our cooperation.

If Poonja says no effort is necessary for atma vichara, then irrespective of who he told and his/her spiritual level, it has to be taken with a pinch of salt. I am not sure if one needs to study Poonja’s complete set of teachings to doubt this particular statement, because Bhagavan never said atma vichara requires effort to someone and does not require effort to someone else and we do not justify that (assumed) contradiction based on the level of the questioner. On the contrary, a person on the verge of coming to the end of this investigation (like the 16 year old schoolboy named Venkataraman) is highly unlikely to go to someone to ask if he needs to exert some effort. Still this schoolboy needed to put in some efforts!

venkat said...

Sandhya - "Someone interested in other paths whole heartedly or partially cannot come to this blog and pass comments about others" - really?? I didn't realise this was a members only club. I am only interested in finding truth - and I will examine wherever it comes from - do you really believe Bhagavan is the sole chosen conveyer of truth?? I wonder if Bhagavan insisted that everyone who visited him was an Advaitin, or a signed up member of the Maharshi fan club.

Wittgenstein, perhaps what Poonja meant was that if you focus your vichara wholeheartedly and sincerely, then doing it once will be enough - as it was with Venkataraman. Anyhow I'm not trying to advocate Poonja's teaching.

My perspective on this is simple. I alone can find truth - no one else can do it for me; and I cannot just trust my opinions or rely on faith in others, because opinions/faith are also part of the conditioning, the maya. At an intellectual level, I know that the separate ego is illusory - whether that be a result of the conditioning of genetics and environment, or whether it is a result of maya. Poonja, Nisargadatta, JK, Vedanta and others have all pointed this out, all in their very different ways. This intellectual understanding of the illusoriness of the ego is a huge step, compared to the way most people live. Therefore they have served a critical role. If we can just live, as best as we can, this intellectual understanding what a huge boon to yourself and the world at large.

Bhagavan's self-enquiry is a logical route to reinforcing and realising this intellectual understanding. Perhaps it is the best route - I clearly think so since I follow it. But writing that Poonja "twisted or misrepresented Bhagavan's teaching, though claiming to be his devotee" is just silly. As far as I can see Poonja was sincere in his devotion to Bhagavan - David Godman clearly thinks so. So let's dispassionately dissect his words to see where they accord and don't accord, rather than ad hominem attacks on others.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding your reply to my previous set of comments, when we talk about the complex maze of different paths, we are not expressing intolerance of other’s beliefs, aspirations or inclinations, nor are we seeking to create disharmony. Quite the contrary, because Bhagavan has taught us that like everything else this complex maze does not exist anywhere outside of us but is only within us, so it is an issue only for each one of us and not for anyone else.

That is, the complex maze in which we each seem to be trapped is our own mind. Within this maze there are numerous routes or paths that we can choose to follow, most of which (the worldly ones and pseudo-spiritual ones) will lead us deeper into the maze, but a few of which (the genuine spiritual ones) may lead us in a circuitous way closer to the one and only exit. However, there is only one path that leads straight to that exit, and that path is available to us at all times no matter where in this maze we happen to be or how deep we are immersed in it, but mysteriously this path seems to be hidden from our view until it is pointed out to us.

Bhagavan has now shown us this straight path by which we can go direct to the exit, so though we have not yet reached the exit, we are convinced by the clarity and simplicity of his teachings that we can reach it directly only by persistently following this straight path to its destination. Therefore we naturally feel that by showing us this direct path of ātma-vicāra he has saved us from all the other paths that we would otherwise be following, including both the worldly ones and the less direct spiritual ones.

Of course our salvation is not yet complete, because it will be complete only when we have followed this path to the exit and thereby completely come out of the maze of our own mind, but even while we are still in this maze, if we cling firmly to the direct path that he has shown us we have thereby been saved from following any of the other paths, which are going either in the wrong direction (that is, deeper back into this maze) or in more or less the correct direction but in a more circuitous way.

This may not be how it appears to others who have not been firmly convinced by Bhagavan’s teachings and have therefore not yet recognised that ātma-vicāra is the only direct path to liberation and therefore அனைத்தினும் உத்தமம் (aṉaittiṉum uttamam), the best of all paths, but since we are trying to understand what Bhagavan has taught us in order to walk unfailingly along the path that he has shown us (as he said we must do in the final sentence of the twelfth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?: ‘குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்’ (guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum), ‘it is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown’), we need not be concerned about the views of others, because just as he has shown this direct path to us, he knows when and how to show it to others.

Sandhya said...

Venkat
Just to be clear , i was not pointing finger at you when i stated the following.
'Someone interested in other paths whole heartedly or partially cannot come to this blog and pass comments about others'.

Yuvaraj said...

Intuition Vs Reason reminded me of my own struggles. The idea of Swabhava, Swadharma and Swakarma from Gita did help somewhat. But not until reading this essay from Krishnamurti did I develop my own conviction. Thought some might find it useful.

Incidentally, this is one of his early talks. His early talks (given in 20s and 30s) have a very different quality to his later talks.

http://www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en/1926-the-kingdom-of-happiness/jiddu-krishnamurti-the-kingdom-of-happiness-01

In case early talks may interest you then please check the link below.

http://www.jiddu-krishnamurti.net/en - scroll down to see the links to his early talks.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in his recent comment addressed to Sivanarul:

...the complex maze in which we each seem to be trapped is our own mind. Within this maze there are numerous routes or paths that we can choose to follow, most of which (the worldly ones and pseudo-spiritual ones) will lead us deeper into the maze, but a few of which (the genuine spiritual ones) may lead us in a circuitous way closer to the one and only exit. However, there is only one path that leads straight to that exit, and that path is available to us at all times no matter where in this maze we happen to be or how deep we are immersed in it, but mysteriously this path seems to be hidden from our view until it is pointed out to us.

Yes, the practice of atma-vichra may be the most simple, most direct and most purifying path amongst all paths, but in this path also our battle with our mind, which is the real complex maze as pointed to us by Michael, is not less. In fact each of our outward directed (worldly or pseudo-spiritual) thoughts pushes us deep into this complex maze of our mind. Thoughts strengthens or adds to our visaya-vasanas, which in turn produces more thoughts, and this cycle perpetuates almost endlessly, perpetuating our bondage or samsara.

What is the way out of this complex maze of our mind? According to Bhagavan the exit from this maze is only possible by annihilating our ego, and our ego can be annihilated only by the practice of atma-vichara. Once our ego is destroyed, this complex maze of our mind will also be destroyed simultaneously.

If one is fully convinced of this exit point from this complex maze, will he or she ever be attracted to another path? It is highly unlikely. This is not to deny the need for guru-bkakti, but real guru-bhakti can only be following the path which our guru has shown us. As Michael quotes Bhagavan in his last comment:

It is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown.

Regards.

Bob - P said...

Thank you for your feedback Wittgenstein on Sanjay's recent commment.

** [Bhagavan’s teachings are so simple — that is, if we investigate our ego for a prolonged period of time it will eventually be destroyed, and along with its destruction everything else will also be destroyed. We are fortunate that Bhagavan has saved us from complex maze of various long-drawn-out spiritual and religious practices] **

Hope your project is going well.
In appereciation.
Bob

venkat said...

From a David Godman interview with Poonjaji:

"This man [Bhagavan] was quietness itself, an incarnation of silence . . . Most of the time he said in Tamil "Summa iru", which means "keep quiet". Most people did not understand the true meaning of this . . .Nowadays I use that phrase a lot, because I agree with my Master that the best teaching is "keep quiet".
......

DG: You frequently tell people Papaji to ask themselves "who am I?" Why does this work when every other method fails?

P: Because this is not a method. Other methods are just clipping the branches, but enquiry strikes at the root . . . When you inquire "who am I" you strike at the root of the mind and destroy it permanently. In fact it would be more accurate to say that through enquiry you discover that there is no mind at all . . . When you question yourself like this for the first time, you are not merely striking at the root of the mind, you are striking at the root of all creation, because the 'I'. the mind, is the source of all creation. When you make the enquiry, it is not just the 'I' that disappears, creation itself also vanishes.

DG: Many people have asked themselves 'who am I' without getting the right answer. Mind still remained. Should they keep on asking until they get the right answer?

P: No, only once. If you do it properly, you only need to ask once. When you ask 'who am I', don't expect any answer. You must not do the enquiry with the intention of getting somewhere. Rather it is to merge, in the same way that a river merges into the ocean.
......

P: Practice is needed when you have some destination, something to attain. Abandon this concept of gaining something at a later date. What is eternal is here and now. If you find freedom after 30 years of practice, it will still be only here and now . . . Find out 'who am I'. You don't have to move anywhere because it is here and now. It has always been here and now. You are already here and you are already free.
.....


Wittgenstein, it is clear that what Poonjaji's intent is to warn against the mind believing it has to pursue a long arduous process of sadhana, to purify itself, before it can attain freedom. Because sadhana is in time and is goal-oriented and therefore ego-centric. So it seems to me, that he is saying dive in right now with earnest intensity, don't let the mind postpone with some belief that you are not ready yet, and that you have to go through a long period of practice and rebirths before you get there; because that belief, that concept itself is the problem.

In any event it is hard to substantiate the statement that 'he twisted and misinterpreted' Bhagavan's teaching.

Wittgenstein said...

Venkat,

I did not make the statement Papaji twisted and misinterpreted. You may re-check it in my comments.

Leaving Papaji alone, you are right that in atma vichara since the existence of the mind itself is investigated, we cannot take it to be a real entity. Further, since time itself is a creation of ego, we cannot bring in elements of time here. If we have sufficient motivation, we can finish the investigation in one attempt. However, we investigate and find ego is not destroyed at once. We complain we are under the sway of thoughts and the illusion continues. Sri Ramana is extremely sympathetic and says in Upadesa Manjari:

எங்கெங்கே ஏதேது தோன்றினாலும் அங்கங்கும் ‘இவற்றைக் காண்பவன் யார்’ என்று விசாரித்தால், அவை யங்கங்கே நாசமுறும்.
[Whenever and] wherever whatever appears, [then and] there if we investigate ‘Who is the one seeing them?’, they will perish [then and] there itself.

He says in Vichara Sangraham, Chapter 8:

[…] நினைவுகள் வாசனையால் வந்தாலும், மனதை நினைவின்வழி விடாமல், தன்னிலையில் இருத்த முயல்வதோடு, வியவகாரத்தில் உதாஸீன பாவத்தோடு இருக்க வேண்டும்.
[…] even if thoughts rise due to vasanas, we should try to fix attention on ourself without going by the way of thoughts and be indifferent to phenomena.

எவ்விதத்தாலும் மெல்ல மெல்லத் தன்னை (கடவுளை) மறவாதிருக்க முயற்சிக்க வேண்டும்.
By all possible means we should gradually try not to forget ourself [our actual self] (God).

However, all these do not mean we take ego or its creation, time, to be real. That is why we keep investigating. To put it succinctly: we investigate till the illusion of time lasts, which is said by Bhagavan in Naan Yaar? in a different way:

மனத்தின்கண் எதுவரையில் விஷயவாசனைகளிருக்கின்றனவோ, அதுவரையில் நானாரென்னும் விசாரணையும் வேண்டும்.
The investigation ‘Who am I?’ is needed till vasanas last.

Wittgenstein said...

Thanks Bob. With job and family, translation goes slow. I finished the introductory chapter. I will be finishing the first chapter tomorrow. Normally I don't get enough time during the week. Translation is done during weekends.

Bob - P said...

Wittgenstein thats great news to hear.
I appreciate you are doing it part time when you can.
Regardless of how long it takes I am sure it will go very well indeed.
In appreciation.
Bob

venkat said...

Wittgenstein,
In my attempt not to personalise my comment, it came across as if I thought you had made the comment I was reacting to. Apologies - I am fully aware that you did not make the comment.

If I may, you and Michael have an excellent facility at incisive logical analyses of words. I appreciate that, but there are times when one needs to read between the lines, because not everyone has the same laser-sharp precision in their articulation. It is the difference between geometric patterns and impressionist art.

I also think that many of us (me included) hide behind a process of self-enquiry and the belief that we are not yet ready / purified, because we lack the courage / conviction in the fact that the ego is illusory. So rather living this conviction, we instead hang on to a belief that through sadhana some event will happen at which point the shutters will roll open and liberation will suddenly happen. I suspect if we had real conviction in the illusoriness of the ego, surrender would be inevitable and immediate, and no effort would be required. Blaming it on vasanas is just a culturally-imbibed and convenient way of the mind trying to defer its assassination.

Wittgenstein said...

Venkat,

I think a conviction or courage is another thought which would make the ego fatter and living with such conviction would be to live with a fatter ego. Expectation of some event is another ego activity. Therefore, both are not useful if we want to get rid of the ego. Still, conviction about the illusory nature of ego is needed to motivate us to do atma vichara, but just a conviction is of no use.

You have a made a very pertinent point and I totally agree with it: “Blaming it on vasanas is just a culturally-imbibed and convenient way of the mind trying to defer its assassination.”

Sri Ramana says precisely this. The vasanas have to be tackled and unless they are tackled, the assassination of the mind will be deferred. The way to do it is prescribed by him as follows (I have used Michael’s translation of Naan Yaar?).

As and when thoughts arise, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or vigilant self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise.

Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘Is it possible to dissolve so many vāsanās and be [or remain] only as svarūpa [my own actual self]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness.

If we want have to proceed without blaming it on vasanas, there are two essential qualifications (which are in fact one) required of us.

Being without attending to [anything] other [than oneself] is vairagya [dispassion] or nirāśā [desirelessness]; being without leaving [separating from or letting go of] self is jñāna [true knowledge]. In truth [these] two [desirelessness and true knowledge] are only one.

To sum it up, I would say, more than any conviction about ego, we lack vairagya or nirāśā and hide behind activities other than atma vichara (which is really not an activity).

venkat said...

Just reading Talk 263:

D: Are all in liberation?
M: Where is all? There is no liberation either. It could be only if there was bondage. There was really no bondage, and so, it follows, there is no liberation.
D: But to evolve through births, there must be practice, years of abhyasa.
M: Abhyasa is only to prevent any disturbance to the inherent peace. There is no question of years. Prevent this thought at this moment. You are only in your natural state whether you make abhyasa or not.
D2: Why do not all realise the Self in that case?
M: It is the same question in another guise. Why do you raise this question? Inasmuch as you raise this question of abhyasa it shows you require abhyasa. Make it. But to remain without questions or doubts is the natural state.

picture of misery said...

Although I have immediately to admit that my comment does not help further anyway, sometimes I cannot restrain a sarcastic tongue:

So you disciples,
do not disturb your inherent peace. No bondage at all-of course no liberation !
It is very easy to remain without doubts and questions, very easy...

Oh Bhagavan Ramana,
why do you always see over our complete inability to follow your serene state ?

Anonymous said...

This article does not stand up to known facts, reasoning or scripture.

It is a known medical fact that if the brain gets damaged, memory gets affected. If you have been with someone who unfortunately has had brain damage, then you know this.

If you remember that you enjoyed in the sleep, then it means the brain (and hence the body) was present and functioning properly during sleep and after waking up. Otherwise you won't remember it.

Sri Ramana was smart enough to know that at least the mind has to be existing for memory to work. He told a story about a yogi who went into Samadhi while thirsty only to come out of the samadhi later to ask for water. Sri Ramana said this happens because mano-nasa (destruction of mind) hasn't happened. So if you go to sleep and get up the next morning and start where you left off, then your brain and mind did exist before, during and after sleep. Otherwise you will not remember what happened during sleep. Much worse, if you lost your brain while sleeping and woke up with new brain....then you will go to sleep as Michael and get up as anonymous... So rest assured, your mind does disappear during sleep.

The argument that you are in the same state as a jnani during sleep contradicts scripture. Bhagavad gita Ch2, verse 69 clearly says that night of ordinary people is different from that of the jnani. That alone is enough to dismiss arguments in the article.

If we are indeed in a liberated state during sleep, then we are going in and out of baddha and mukta states. This is against all scriptural passages. Once you are in liberated state, you never fall back regardless of how you got there. na sah punaravartate is Brahma Sutra. yad gatwa na nivartante is Bhagavad Gita.

Also, scriptures spend considerable effort trying to explain what liberated state feels like; If what this article says is true, they could have simply said it is the same feeling as in sleep. But they don't because it simply isn't. Bhagavad gita ch 18, verse 39 says happiness arising out of sleep is an example of tamas (nescience) (ouch). Scriptures say the happiness of gods in heaven is like the bubbles in the ocean whereas the happiness of the jnani is like the ocean. I simply cannot make this statement about the happiness I feel in my sleep.

I already wrote way more than I planned to.

Regards

venkat said...

Anonymous

Shankara in his commentary to BG 2.69 makes it clear that 'night' is meant metaphorically:
"The supreme Truth, the sphere of the sage of stable wisdom is night for the rest of the world. At night things cannot be distinguished because of darkness. Just as what it day to nocturnal creatures is night for others. so the supreme Truth is, as it were, 'night' for all ignorant beings who correspond to these nocturnal creatures . . . Sunk in the sleep of nescience, marked by the plurality of subjects and objects, the rest of the world is said to be awake like dreamers in their sleep. But this is night for the sage who has grasped the ultimate Truth."

There has been an ongoing debate in advaitic circles around whether deep sleep corresponds to the turiya state. There are many upanishadic passages that deep sleep is Brahman itself:

Chandogya Up 6.8.1: "Uddalaka said to his son Svetaketu: Learn from me, my dear, the true nature of sleep. When a person has entered into deep sleep as it is called, then my dear, he becomes united with Pure Being (Sat), he has gone to his own Self.

Shankara's bhasya to Chandogya Up. 8.3.2: "Everyone ignorant or illumined enters into Brahman during deep sleep. Yet there is a difference. The knower of Brahman becomes aware in deep sleep of the fact that he is Brahman, and experiences exceeding bliss having rid himself of pain and misery caused by the contact of the senses with their objects during the states of waking and dreaming. But the ignorant are not aware of their being united with Brahman in deep sleep"

Brhaadaranyaka Up 4.3.31 & 32:
"When there is something else as it were, then one can see something, one can smell something, one can taste something, one can speak something, one can hear something, one can think something, one can touch something, one can know something.
"It becomes (transparent) like water, one the witness and without a second. This is the sphere (state) of Brhaman, O Emperor. Thus did Yajnavalkya instruct Janaka. This is its supreme attainment, this is its supreme glory, this is its highest world, this is its supreme bliss. On a particle of this very bliss other beings live.

From Sankara's bhasya to these verses:
"When however that ignorance which presents things other than the self is at rest, in that state of deep sleep, there being nothing separated from the self by ignorance, what should one see, smell or know and through what? Therefore bing fully embraced by his own self-luminous Supreme Selg, the diva becomes infinite, perfectly serene, with all his desires attained, and the Self, the only object of his desire, transparent like water, one, because there is no second . . . In profound sleep, the self bereft of its limiting adjuncts, the body and organs, remains in its own supreme light of the Atman, free from all relations.

Anonymous said...

Venkat,

Thanks for the reply. The main point is "yet there is a difference" as you quote. Jnani is aware of his state, and baddha is not. Hence the scriptures say sleep is from tamas (nescience). In tamas, your mind is still existing.

Regards

Anonymous said...

Venkat,
I forgot to add, none of your quotes answer the statements I made about memory.
Regards

venkat said...

Anonymous,
I'd agree with you that the logic for remembering in the waking state, our self-awareness in the deep sleep state is not compelling, if we say that the ego/mind is totally absent in deep sleep.

The quotes I put forward are just to address your comment that there is no scriptural support for deep sleep being akin to Pure Being = Brahman = jnani state. V.S.Iyer, who was an advaitic philosopher and who studied under one of the Sankaracharyas of Sringeri wrote:

"In sleep there is no positive misery or pleasure, but only absence of misery and pleasure, ie absence of duality. But a jnani must have the knowledge of the absence of duality even in the waking state. Then only there is realisation. We must distinguish between absence of duality and the knowledge of the absence of duality."

Seeker said...

Michael: Continuing from my previous question to you, I am finding that the most important time for me to practice atma vichara (if there is a most important time) is just before going to sleep, trying to make the effort right up to the point of 'losing consciousness.' In that way it does tend to persist into the dream state, which usually occurs after a period of deep sleep, though it seems the older you get the harder the three states are to distinguish from each other.

Yuvaraj said...

Wittgenstein, you said...

"I think a conviction or courage is another thought which would make the ego fatter and living with such conviction would be to live with a fatter ego...conviction about the illusory nature of ego is needed to motivate us to do atma vichara, but just a conviction is of no use."

"more than any conviction about ego, we lack vairagya or nirāśā and hide behind activities other than atma vichara (which is really not an activity)."

Important warnings these!

Michael James said...

Venkat, regarding your latest comment, in which you say ‘the logic for remembering in the waking state, our self-awareness in the deep sleep state is not compelling, if we say that the ego/mind is totally absent in deep sleep’, I tried to explain this logic to you in one of my previous comments, but you still seem to be overlooking its fundamental premise, which is the key to understanding it, namely that though our ego as ego is totally absent in deep sleep, it is nevertheless still present there as pure self-awareness, which is what it essentially is. Or to say this in a more direct manner, though we as this ego are totally absent in deep sleep, we are nevertheless still present there as pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are.

Memory of anything other than ourself (our pure self-awareness) is a function of our ego or mind, because what is aware of other things is only this ego, so without this ego we would not be able to remember anything other than ourself. However, because pure self-awareness is our actual self, it is our constant and eternally present experience (even though we now experience it as if it were mixed up and confused with adjuncts such as this body), so we are able to remember experiencing it even in sleep, when our ego as such was absent.

Because pure self-awareness is an essentially timeless and hence eternal experience, it in effect ‘remembers’ itself simply by being itself (which is an indirect way of saying that we ‘remember’ ourself simply by being ourself). However, its ‘memory’ of itself is quite unlike our memory of anything else, because our memory of anything else relates to what we experienced in the past, whereas our ‘memory’ of ourself is our timeless and hence ever-present self-awareness.

This eternal self-awareness is what we actually are, so it is the essence of our ego or mind. Therefore, since we were aware of ourself during sleep, we as this ego are now able to ‘remember’ our existence and awareness during sleep even though we did not then seem to be this ego.

If you can conceptually grasp the simple fact that this ego is non-existent as anything other than pure self-awareness (just as an illusory snake is non-existent as anything other than a rope), and that our seeming existence as this ego is therefore just a distorted (adjunct-mixed) experience of our pure and ever-present self-awareness, you will recognise how compelling the simple and clear logic of Bhagavan’s teaching that we now remember being aware of ourself during sleep actually is.

In one of my earlier articles, Our memory of ‘I’ in sleep, I discussed this subject of our memory of our existence and awareness during sleep in more detail, so some of my reflections in that article may help you to understand this subtle but extremely important subject more clearly.

venkat said...

Michael,

My sincere thanks for trying to address my uncertainty on this - and apologies if I am a bit slow - or appear to be disrespectful, this is furthest from my mind.

The reason I don't think the logic works is that pure self-awareness is not aware of anything (including the ego, or time). It just is. Given there can be no sense of time, pure self awareness cannot have a 'memory'. If we say that the waking state ego is entirely non-existent in sleep, and that it cannot 'touch' pure self awareness, then there can be no way it can 'know' or have a memory of the fact that pure self-awareness was present during the deep sleep state; it can at best intuit it from the fact that existence was present before and after sleep, and therefore it must have existed during sleep.

Bhagavan seems to have addressed this point in Talk 314. In this talk Bhagavan speaks of holding onto the transitional 'I' between sleep and waking. Anyway the relevant extract for this discussion:

"The pure Self has been described in Vivekachudamni to be beyond sat, i.e. different from sat. Here asat is the contaminated waking 'I' . . .
If pure, how is He to be experienced by means of the impure 'I'? A man says 'I slept happily'. Happiness was his experience. How did he experience happiness if the Self was pure? Who is it that speaks of that experience now? The speaker is the vjinanatma (ignorant self) and he speaks of prajnanatma (pure self). How can that hold? Was this vinanatma present in sleep? His present statement of the experience of happiness in sleep makes one infer his existence in sleep. How then did he remain? Surely not as in the waking state. He was there very subtle. Exceedingly subtle vijnanatma experiences the happy prajnanatma by means of maya mode.
The subtle vijnanatma seems apparently a stranger to the obvious vijnanatma of the present moment. Why should we infer his existence in sleep? Should we not deny the experience of happiness and be done with the inference? No. The fact of the experience of happiness cannot be denied, for everyone courts sleep and prepares a nice bed for the enjoyment of sound sleep.
This brings us to the conclusion that the cognised, cognition and the cognised are present in all three states, though there are differences in their subtleties."

Best wishes,
venkat

Anonymous said...

Michael,
Your previous comment is very interesting. Appreciate the response.

However, there are still at least two things that are proposed, that I don't think can be supported

1. Memory is in the mind. This cannot be true based on my experience with people who happen to have brain damage. If memory is in the mind, then alzheimer patients will still be able to remember things (they have minds). So unless there is compelling evidence otherwise (someone with good memory but no brain), one has to accept that memory is due to brain, not mind.

2. Brain is a creation of mind. This also cannot be true, because medicines that affect brain can be used to remove mind (anesthesia for example). If mind is the source of brain, then affecting the brain cannot do anything to the source (mind). This example establishes mind as a product of brain. Again, if we have an counter example, we cannot really accept that brain is the creation of mind

Would like to know your thoughts. Thanks & Regards

Anonymous said...

Mistake in my previous post: Last sentence should read" Again, if we don't have a counter example, we cannot really accept that brain is the creation of mind"

Michael James said...

Venkat, in your reply to my previous reply your first objection to the logic of Bhagavan’s teaching that we now remember being aware of ourself during sleep is that “pure self-awareness is not aware of anything (including the ego, or time). It just is. Given there can be no sense of time, pure self awareness cannot have a ‘memory’”, but I had already answered this point in the third paragraph of my reply, namely:

“Because pure self-awareness is an essentially timeless and hence eternal experience, it in effect ‘remembers’ itself simply by being itself (which is an indirect way of saying that we ‘remember’ ourself simply by being ourself). However, its ‘memory’ of itself is quite unlike our memory of anything else, because our memory of anything else relates to what we experienced in the past, whereas our ‘memory’ of ourself is our timeless and hence ever-present self-awareness.”

That is, since time is an illusion that seems to exist only in the view of our ego, we exist independent of time, so we exist both outside time and in every moment of time. Therefore, since we are pure (intransitive) awareness, just by being ourself we are always awareness of ourself, and since our awareness of ourself at this moment is essentially the same as our awareness of ourself at every other moment and also beyond time, we clearly ‘remember’ our existence and awareness in the past and confidently ‘anticipate’ our continued existence and awareness in future simply by being aware of ourself now.

In the view of our ego sleep is a state that occurred in the past, but in the clear view of the pure awareness that we actually are sleep did not occur in the past but is ever present, so our pure and eternal self-awareness is experienced by our ego not only as ‘I am now’ but also as the memory ‘I was then asleep’. What we remember about our experience in sleep is only our ever-present pure self-awareness, because while asleep we were not aware of anything else, and we are able to ‘remember’ this self-awareness now because it is the essence of what we experience as ‘I’ at this and every other moment.

Though all the inessential elements of our ego (namely its extraneous adjuncts) were completely absent from our awareness in sleep, its one and only essential element (namely our pure self-awareness) was present then exactly as it is present now. Our ego is called cit-jaḍa-granthi because it is like a knot formed by seemingly binding cit (our pure self-awareness) and jaḍa (a non-conscious body) together as if they were one, and hence we experience it as ‘I am this body’. In this adjunct-mixed self-awareness, the only real and permanent element is ‘I’ (or ‘I am’), which is its cit portion, and this alone is what endures in sleep, as we clearly know from our own experience, since we are now aware ‘I was asleep’.

The ‘I’ that we are aware of now is the same ‘I’ that we were aware of both while dreaming and while asleep, and this constant ‘I’ is brahman, whose nature is prajñāna (pure awareness). The only difference between our awareness of this ‘I’ now or in dream and our awareness of it during sleep is that in waking and dream it is mixed and confused with adjuncts, whereas in sleep it shines without any adjuncts in its pure and natural condition.

This ‘I’ (our fundamental self-awareness, which is absolutely intransitive) is therefore the bridge that links the temporal to the eternal, the unreal to the real, so it is the portal by which we seem to shift between the illusory transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) of waking and dream (the root of which is our ego) and the pure intransitive awareness of sleep. Since it is the only thing that exists and shines in all these three states, it alone is real, and hence it is what we actually are.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Venkat:

Regarding the second objection you raise in your latest reply, namely “If we say that the waking state ego is entirely non-existent in sleep, and that it cannot ‘touch’ pure self awareness, then there can be no way it can ‘know’ or have a memory of the fact that pure self-awareness was present during the deep sleep state”, I had already answered this point in the first sentence of my previous reply, in which I explained that ‘though our ego as ego is totally absent in deep sleep, it is nevertheless still present there as pure self-awareness, which is what it essentially is’. That is, the portion of this ego that is entirely non-existent in sleep is all its adjuncts, whereas the portion of it that remains in sleep is our pure self-awareness, ‘I am’, because this is the eternal reality and hence it can never cease to exist.

You say that the ego cannot ‘touch’ pure self-awareness, but this is true only in one sense and not in another. That is, this ego cannot experience pure self-awareness as such, because it always experiences it mixed with adjuncts, but it could not seem to exist without experiencing pure self-awareness, albeit mixed with adjuncts, because pure self-awareness is what it essentially is. If this ego tries to experience pure self-awareness as such by trying to be attentively aware of itself alone, its adjuncts and everything else will recede into the background of its awareness and will eventually be dissolved entirely in the clear light of absolutely pure self-awareness, but what then experiences that pure self-awareness is not this ego as ego but only this pure self-awareness itself.

Regarding the rather garbled passage you quote from section 314 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, pages 287-8), I believe most of this section of Talks is not an accurate recording of whatever Bhagavan said, because he always spoke in a perfectly clear and coherent manner, even when talking in the technical terms of whichever texts he happened to be discussing, whereas most of what is recorded in this section is neither clear nor coherent, so it is really not of much use to us.

Amrita said...

Michael,
thank you for giving clear explanation about constant and essential awareness in the three states.
Hazy ideas often shroud our understanding in dull fog.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael has written about five to six comments addressed to Venkat on the topic of sleep, memory and so on, since it is a topic which needs deep reflection, I will try and reflect on this subject below. Michael writes in one of his comments:

Because pure self-awareness is an essentially timeless and hence eternal experience, it in effect ‘remembers’ itself simply by being itself (which is an indirect way of saying that we ‘remember’ ourself simply by being ourself). However, its ‘memory’ of itself is quite unlike our memory of anything else, because our memory of anything else relates to what we experienced in the past, whereas our ‘memory’ of ourself is our timeless and hence ever-present self-awareness.

What Michael writes here it is clear, but still I will try to reflect on this subject to understand it in greater depth.

Michael explains verse 12 of Upadesa Undiyar in the book Upadesa Saram The Complete Version in Four Languages..., by writing: Our mind is a jnana-sakti, a power of knowing, that is, a power of knowing otherness, which we call 'thinking'[...]

Our mind is a jnana-sakti and this mind (or ego)is chit-jada-granthi, that is, a adjunct mixed self-awareness. But what is the element in this ego which knows otherness? It is the awareness portion of this ego, because its adjuncts (the jada elements) cannot experience anything. But why does the awareness portion of our ego experience otherness, when all otherness is illusory? It is because the adjuncts with which this awareness is mixed distorts its vision, and creates this dream of otherness. When this ego experience otherness, it also experience the memory of the past (because time arises with our mind, and memory is part of our mind). Therefore this memory is also part of our jnana-sakti.

What I am trying to reflect here is that our ego's perception of otherness and its memory is the function of the awareness portion of ego, therefore when we experience ourself as pure self-awareness which we do in our deep sleep, the power of 'perception' (used in the sense of self-awareness) and 'memory' are not destroyed. Since we know that our pure self-awareness is an eternal state, and if we are eternally self-aware, our 'memory' of our self-awareness should also be eternal. It is only that this self-awareness is obscured by otherness in our waking and dream states, whereas it is pure in our state of sleep and atma-jnana.

In other words our ego is a jnana-sakti, and the real element of this ego, our pure self-awareness is jnana itself. The jnana-sakti has memory of otherness, the same 'memory' is not destroyed in jnana. In fact our 'memory' of ourself as 'I am I' is clear and unbroken in jnana and sleep, without any distortion in the form of otherness.

I request Michael to correct my reflections. Regards.

Viveka Vairagya said...

With regard to Venkat, Michael and Sanjay's comments regarding memory and sleep, it is worth remembering that Bhagavan was a jnani in whom manonasa had occurred, that is, the body of Bhagavan was functioning without a mind after his self-realization. Yet Bhagavan (or Bhagavan's body, if you will) did remember incidents from his childhood as narrated by him on several occasions, so the question arises, where did this memory reside if Bhagavan's body was functioning without a mind?

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, Bhagavan is the infinite space of pure self-awareness, so as such he is neither a body nor a mind, nor did he have any body or mind. However, because we experience ourself as if we were a body and mind, in our distorted view he seemed to be a body and mind, or at least to have a body and mind. Since a body cannot function without a mind, the seeming existence of his mind was as real as the seeming existence of his body, but both seemed to exist only in our view and not in his.

venkat said...

Michael,
Thank you for taking the time to reiterate your response to me. I get it now. I hadn't thought through before the fact that there is no time in pure Self-awareness - its being-knowing is always present. Sorry for being slow!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya, Yes, Bhagavan was functioning without a mind after his self-realisation. But it would be more correct to say that Bhagavan just existed as pure self-awareness after he experienced as he was.

Therefore for Bhagavan there was really no remembrance of his childhood, no memory of his past and so on. If at all he had a memory of anything or remembrance of anything, it was only of pure self-awareness.

Even Bhagavan's body and mind existed only in the views of the onlookers, therefore his remembrance of his childhood experiences, his memory of his past and so on were definitely only in our view. Let us read the verse 31 of Ulladu Narpadu here:

When it (the Reality) surges forth and appears (as 'I-I') for Him (the Jnani) who enjoys the bliss of Self, which has (thus) risen by destroying the (individual) self (the ego,), what single thing exists to do? He does not know anything other that Self (which shines as the one reality); (therefore) how to (or who can) conceive what His state is?

Bhagavan clearly says in this verse, 'He [the jnani] does not know anything other that Self (which shines as the one reality); (therefore) how to (or who can) conceive what His state is? Therefore to understand the real Bhagavan we have to merge in Bhagavan.

Moreover Bhagavan's very important teaching is, if the ego arises everything arises, if the ego is destroyed by self-investigation everything is destroyed. (read v. 26 of Ulladu Narpadu). Since you admit in your comment that Bhagavan was functioning without a mind [or ego], how can anything else remain for him? Therefore he experienced only himself, and he did not even see us as different from himself, and since he surely loved himself he loved all of us as himself. It is because of this that his love is infinite and unbound. Regards.



Michael James said...

Sanjay, regarding the comment in which you ask me to correct your reflections, I cannot do so because it is not entirely clearly what you are trying to say (which is not surprising, since you are trying to express ideas about that which is beyond the scope of all ideas), but I think what you are trying to say is correct.

The crucial point that we need to understand is that pure self-awareness is aware of nothing but itself, so it has no memory in the conventional sense, but since it is eternally and timelessly aware of itself, it in effect ‘remembers’ itself in every moment of time. However it does so only in the view of our mind, which is a distorted form of it, because in its own view there is no time.

Pure self-awareness is the eternal base or foundation from which the mind and everything else appear and into which they disappear, as described by Bhagavan in the second sentence of verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் பூன்றம் ஆம் அஃதே பொருள்’ (ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum pūṉḏṟam ām aḵdē poruḷ), which means ‘Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the base for the appearing and disappearing of the world and mind is poruḷ [the real substance], which is pūṉḏṟam [the infinite whole or pūrṇa]’.

As the base from which the mind appears and into which it disappears, pure self-awareness is its source, and as பூன்றம் ஆம் பொருள் (pūṉḏṟam ām poruḷ), the substance that is the infinite whole or entirety, it is its essential substance, so what this mind essentially is is only pure self-awareness. However, because it is aware of other things and therefore seems to be finite, this mind seems to be more than just pure self-awareness, so as such it is a mixture of what is real (namely pure self-awareness) and what is unreal (all the adjuncts that it mistakes to be itself). Therefore it seems to possess some of the qualities of pure self-awareness and some of the qualities of its adjuncts.

As a form of self-awareness, the mind is able to remember being aware of itself in sleep, even though it did not then seem to be this mind, because it was not mixed with adjuncts and hence it was not aware of anything else. Its memory of sleep is therefore confused. Because of the continuity of the fundamental self-awareness that it actually is, it is able to remember ‘I was asleep’, but because it was not aware of anything else, it thinks ‘I was not aware of anything at all’.

The only way in which we as this mind can clarify our confused memory of sleep is by persistently trying to be self-attentive while awake or dreaming. The more we manage to be self-attentive, the more familiar we will become with being aware of ourself in relative isolation from awareness of anything else, and thereby we will be able to recognise more clearly that we were aware of ourself while asleep even though we were aware of absolutely nothing else at all.

seppadu seppi said...

Michael,
you say "..., so what this mind essentially is is only pure self-awareness.
However, because it is aware of other things and therefore seems to be finite, this mind seems to be more than just pure self-awareness, so as such it is a mixture of what is real(namely pure self-awareness) and what is unreal(all the adjuncts that it mistakes to be itself). Therefore it seems to possess some of the qualities of pure self-awareness and some of the qualities of its adjuncts."

In the case of Adolf Hitler and some other Nazi outstanding figures we have classical examples of such a mixture. Some 'qualities of their adjuncts' seem to have been just very active, lively and vividly in comparison with the qualities of the portion of pure self-awareness. So in this light I see that figures as a special kind of "form of pure self-awareness". Therefore we can go home with our mind set at ease - we need only consider that pure self-awareness was the eternal base from which their minds appeared and disappeared.

Mouna said...

As long as we will continue experiencing ourselves and the world as subject (us) within an object (world) and subject within a body (srishti-drishti), then we will continue thinking that our mind is a function of our brain (addressing Anonymous recent question), we will continue feeling that Bhagavan was out there having memories of childhood like we feel we have memories of "our childhood," and so the merry-go-round will continue turning on and on.

When (with proper investigation and discrimination) the wind starts turning 180 degrees and we start considering the option that the object out there could be a function of the subject (in here) or drishti-srishti, a new set of understandings appear. The three states waking, dreaming, sleep) then become a seeming manifestation of the only state. The world is not as solid as we used to think, even quantum theory seems to help us with that.

At that point we might be ready to start considering the non-created nature (ajata) of all. Our sails are up and the winds of grace blowing... And we surrender to those winds, not knowing where will they take us.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, thank you very much for your above comment. Yes, as I was doing manana on this topic for almost the first time, my ideas in my last comment were not very clear and relevant to the topic and I unnecessarily complicated it.

As you often say, we know that I am, but we do not know what I am. So can we say that our 'memory' of ourself (in the sense of self-awareness, 'I am') is always there, because this is the 'memory' of porul [the real substance], which is pundram [the infinite whole or purna] and this 'I am' cannot be ever forgotten? It is only that this 'memory' of our actual self in contaminated by our second and third person attention in states of waking and dream, whereas this 'memory' of ourself as eternal, timeless pure self-awareness is crystal clear in our sleep (as we experience it in sleep) and atma-jnana.

As this ego do not exist in sleep, therefore we have wrong ideas about our state of sleep when we try to learn about it after we wake up. Either we feel that in was a 'state in which we were not aware of ourself', or we may feel that 'we were not aware of anything then', thereby indirectly confirming that we were self-aware in our sleep. After we wake up, if we carefully examine our sleep we will recognise that we definitely existed in sleep because we admit 'I was asleep'. How can we know this and have memory of this state, if we did not exist then?

As you say, if we go on practising self-attentiveness we will be able to experientially recognise more and more clearly that we were fully aware of ourself in sleep, and this direct recognition will help our practice of self-investigation. Thank you once again. Regards.

Michael James said...

Seppadu Seppi, when you refer to Hitler in your comment you are missing the point of the subject we are discussing, because when I wrote in my previous comment, ‘what this mind essentially is is only pure self-awareness’, what I meant by ‘this mind’ is only our own mind — which is the only mind that we actually experience — and not any mind that we imagine exists in any other person. In a dream we see many people, and they each seem to have a mind, but when we wake up, we realise that those people and their minds were just creations or projections of our own mind, and that our own mind was in fact the only mind that was aware of that dream.

Bhagavan’s entire teachings are concerned with investigating only ourself and our own mind, because all other things and all other minds seem to exist only in our own view, like everything that seems to exist in a dream. Even if we suppose that other things exist independent of our mind, which perceives them, we cannot verify whether or not this supposition is true unless we first investigate and discover whether or not our own mind is real.

Therefore until we investigate the fundamental self-awareness that is the basis and essence of our own mind and thereby experience it as it actually is, we cannot know whether Hitler, his cronies and their evil deeds are real or just phenomena appearing in one of our dreams. Therefore let us not get distracted thinking about them, but instead investigate our own self-awareness in order to discover what we ourself actually are.

What I write here also applies to the question about Hitler and his accomplices that Negev asked yesterday in a comment on my latest article. If we are to have a useful discussion about Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation, we should stick to the subject that we are discussing and avoid raising irrelevant issues.

seppadu seppi said...

Michael,
thank you for your shaking up reply.
The victims of Hitler and Co. anyway do not need our judgement if their experiences were real or just phenomena appearing in one of their dreams. They have found out for certain.
However, as you write we should not get distracted thinking about them, but instead we have first to investigate our own fundamental self-awareness in order to discover what we ourself actually are.
Your clarifying reply is also fitting properly to some of the latest comments(Negev...) on your recent article of 24 March 2016.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, I assume you are the same person who wrote all the five anonymous comments above, but since in the fourth one you repeat some of the objections you raised in the first one, I will reply to both of them together.

In your first comment you claim, ‘It is a known medical fact that if the brain gets damaged, memory gets affected’, but this ‘fact’ could be true or relevant to this discussion only if our present state were not a dream, and we do not have adequate evidence or reason to suppose that it is not a dream. Now we seem to be awake, so we assume that we are not dreaming, but even when we are dreaming we seem to be awake and therefore assume that we are not dreaming, so appearances can be deceptive, particularly with regard to the question of whether or not we are now dreaming. Therefore Bhagavan advises us not to assume that our present state is not a dream, and he teaches us that there is actually no substantive difference between what we take to be waking (which is what we usually take our current state to be) and what we take to be dream (which is what we usually take any other state in which we experience phenomena to be).

Presumably you would agree that whatever body we experience as ourself in a dream is only a creation of our own mind, as is everything else that we experience then, so if our present state is just a dream, this body and its brain are likewise just creations of our mind. If the brain in this body seemed to damaged and our memory seemed to be affected thereby, that brain damage and loss of memory would both be phenomena created by our mind, so from this perspective it would be meaningless to say that one caused the other, since they are both illusory appearances caused by the activity of our own mind.

You also claim, ‘If you remember that you enjoyed in the sleep, then it means the brain (and hence the body) was present and functioning properly during sleep and after waking up. Otherwise you won’t remember it’, but this again is based on your unjustified assumption that this present state is not a dream and your consequent assumption that our current body and brain exist independent of our mind, which alone is what is aware of their seeming existence. Our memory of having been asleep entails nothing more than our being constantly aware of ourself in all states, and it does not depend our brain or even upon our mind, because in sleep our self-awareness shines devoid of all such things (as I explained in more detail in two of my recent replies to Venkat, namely this one and this one).

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Anonymous:

Regarding your idea that what I wrote in this article contradicts scriptures, scriptures contract themselves and each other in so many ways, because they were written to cater for the needs of people at many different levels of spiritual development, so though what I wrote may seem to contradict some scriptural statements, it is supported by others. Moreover, there are no scriptures that are more reliable than the words of a sadguru such as Bhagavan, so having taken refuge in him and his teachings, we should try to understand why he taught us certain core principles (such as that sleep is our pure state, because in it we are perfectly aware of ourself and of nothing else, as he says, for example, in the passage from Maharshi’s Gospel that I cited in section 14 of this article), even when such principles seem to contradict some of the ideas expressed in other scriptures.

You object, ‘This article does not stand up to known facts, reasoning or scripture’, but though you tried to explain why you think it does not stand up to ‘known facts’ or to scripture, you did not explain why you think it does not stand up to reasoning. There are two ways in which reasoning can be incorrect: either because it is based on premises that are not true, or because its logic is faulty. If you do not agree with the premises of Bhagavan’s teachings, that is presumably because you have not yet considered them carefully enough or with an unbiased mind, and if you disagree with his logic, you should explain to us how it is faulty, because unless you do so I cannot answer your objection that what he taught us about sleep does not stand up to reasoning.

ebb and flow said...

Sir Michael James, Chomo Lönzo, Negev and seppadu seppi,
(could it be that)... in a dream our mind sees itself to have decision-making powers about the question what is an irrelevant issue to the subject of self-awareness ?

Sandhya said...

Michael,

I have hard time accepting this :

this body and its brain are likewise just creations of our mind. If the brain in this body seemed to damaged and our memory seemed to be affected thereby, that brain damage and loss of memory would both be phenomena created by our mind, so from this perspective it would be meaningless to say that one caused the other, since they are both illusory appearances caused by the activity of our own mind.

Say brain gets damaged due to an accident. Is the event of accident also projection of mind? How can mind project a random occurrence?

Sandhya said...

The way i understand projection is, tendencies manifest into characters, events, environment that we actually think as separate entities, but in reality , we have attracted these based on our choices which is a resultant of our tendencies. So , eg , if i come across a evil person, somewhere deep in me, i have the evilness, that enables me to recognize the evilness in others and thereby concluding that the person is evil. Is this percepion right? In that case, is it right to say that a tendency of mine manifested into a random event to trigger the brain damage?

ebb and flow said...

Sandhya,
to see the world as phenomena only created by our mind is the experience and privilege of jnanis.
Ajnanis like we do not have any benefit to declare in daily life the manifested world as illusion.
Therefore the idea to grasp all the mind perceptions as illusory is itself only a deceitful way of thinking. Do not deceive yourself and let you become bewildered by the experience of a jnani before your ego itself occurs to be dissolved in the ocean of jnana.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sandhya, you write (quoting what Michael had written):

I have hard time accepting this :
this body and its brain are likewise just creations of our mind. If the brain in this body seemed to damaged and our memory seemed to be affected thereby, that brain damage and loss of memory would both be phenomena created by our mind, so from this perspective it would be meaningless to say that one caused the other, since they are both illusory appearances caused by the activity of our own mind.

Say brain gets damaged due to an accident. Is the event of accident also projection of mind? How can mind project a random occurrence?

Michael writes in his comment addressed to Anonymous: Bhagavan advises us not to assume that our present state is not a dream, and he teaches us that there is actually no substantive difference between what we take to be waking (which is what we usually take our current state to be) and what we take to be dream (which is what we usually take any other state in which we experience phenomena to be).

Are you in agreement with this assumption that this present state could be a dream? Because if you are not, no arguments can convince you which we may give to answer your doubts. Therefore we take it that you are tentatively convinced that this present waking state is akin to our dream state.

Suppose if have a dream in which I see my young 15 year old neighbour, his father and his grandfather. When I wake up from my dream can I say that this young 15 year neighbour was born to his father, and his father was in turn born to his grandfather? Obviously not, because I will know that the young boy, his father and his grandfather were all creations of my mind. All these three persons were created simultaneously in my dream, and they ceased to exist when my dream ended.

The specific answer to your question is, yes, the accident was also projection of the mind, as was the brain damage and memory loss. Like the previous example I gave of a young boy, his father and his grandfather, in this case also the accident, brain damage and memory loss were simultaneously projected by our dreaming mind (and our mind is always dreaming), and three ceased to exist when we, the dreamer woke up.

Yes, our tendencies manifests into our seen or experienced world, but these tendencies are embedded in our ego, therefore it will be more correct to say that our ego projects our world. As this world and all our transitive experiences are part of our dream, likewise these tendencies itself are part of our dream. In fact this ego or mind which projects this dream is itself a dream entity or a 'ghost entity', because it does not really exist, it just has a seeming reality till it lasts.

Therefore how can an illusory entity like our ego create or experience anything which is real, therefore all our experiences - whether they happen in dream or waking - are nothing but a dream. I am sure Michael will clarify this topic in a much more convincing manner. Regards.


Michael James said...

Sandhya, regarding the doubts you express in your latest two comments, according to Bhagavan our present state and any other state in which we experience phenomena (that is, anything other than our pure and permanent self-awareness) is just a dream, so there is absolutely no substantive difference between this state that we now take to be waking and any other dream.

In a dream all the phenomena that we experience (including whatever body then seems to be ourself, the entire world we are then aware of, and all the objects, people, events and conditions that we then perceive) are just creations or projections of our dreaming mind. Therefore, because this or any other state that we take to be waking is just a dream, in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? Bhagavan says:

[...] நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது. [...]

[...] niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagam-um illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagam-um uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉṉiḍamirundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉam-um taṉṉiḍattilirundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu. [...]

[...] Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as ‘world’. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] does not appear [as it really is]; when svarūpa appears (shines) [as it really is], the world does not appear. [...]

Therefore the answer to your question ‘Say brain gets damaged due to an accident. Is the event of accident also projection of mind?’ is yes, both the accident and the brain damage that seems to result from it are a projection of your mind, as is every other phenomenon that you could ever experience, including the evil person in the scenario that you consider in the second of these two comments. It is all just a dream, so absolutely everything is a mental projection. It really is this simple.

Regarding your question ‘How can mind project a random occurrence?’, the simple answer is that it does so in the same way that it projects any other dream or dream event. However, a more useful answer would be that we should first investigate this mind to see whether or not it actually exists, because if it does not really exist, everything that it projects and its act of projecting them would likewise not really exist.

All these things seem to exist only so long as we seem to be this mind, but are we really this mind? According to Bhagavan if we investigate ourself sufficiently keenly, we will find that we are nothing but pure self-awareness, which alone actually exists, so this mind does not really exist, and hence nothing else really exists.

Michael James said...

Ebb and Flow, regarding your latest comment, the ātma-jñāni is not dreaming and never does dream, because he or she (or rather it) is nothing but our actual self, which is pure self-awareness, so in its view there is absolutely no world at all, as indicated by Bhagavan in the final two sentences of the portion of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? that I cited in my recent reply to Sandhya: ‘ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது’ (āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu), which means ‘Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [our actual self] does not appear [as it really is]; when svarūpa appears (shines) [as it really is], the world does not appear’. Therefore, contrary to what you say, the experience of the jñāni is not ‘to see the world as phenomena only created by our mind’ but only to see that what exists is not any mind, world or phenomena but only itself, the one infinite space of pure self-awareness.

In this respect the jñāni is like someone who clearly recognises that what is lying on the ground is only a rope. Such a person does not see any snake at all, but if someone else sees the same rope and mistakes it to be a snake, they will then have to tell that person that the snake is their own mental fabrication, because what they see as a snake is not a snake but only a rope. Likewise, the jñāni does not see this world at all, but when we see it, he has to tell us that it is our own mental fabrication, because what we see as this world is not what it seems to be but only ourself.

You say that ‘to grasp all the mind perceptions as illusory is itself only a deceitful way of thinking’, but Bhagavan has advised us that we should consider everything perceived by our mind to be an illusory appearance, like a dream, because unless we do so we will continue to be deceived by its seeming reality and hence we will not be able to turn our mind within to experience ourself alone.

Of course, when we are interacting with this world, we should do so as if we considered it to be real, because our outward actions and behaviour are all just part of this illusory world, but inwardly we should consider it to be as unreal as a dream, and should therefore attend to it as little as possible by trying persistently to turn our attention back towards ourself, the one who seems to perceive it.

ebb and flow said...

Michael,
until we have not seen from own experience clearly that
1.) the projecting mind does not really exist at all and
2.) we are not really this mind and
until we have not found that
3.) we are nothing but pure self-awareness, which alone actually exists and
4.) hence nothing else really exists
Bhagavan's words about his experience are at most such of encouragement to follow his teachings.
Most of us cannot make a standing jump out of the power of this mind and maya.

ebb and flow said...

Michael,
thank you for your just given reply.
Particularly what you write in the last paragraph about interacting with this world lets me look contented.
Many thanks.

Michael James said...

Ebb and Flow, no, as you say, most of us cannot make a standing jump out of this mind, but we can reflect carefully, deeply and repeatedly on all that Bhagavan taught us, particularly in the three key texts in which he expressed the fundamental principles of his teachings in a systematic manner, namely Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, and we can apply those principles to our practice of self-investigation in order to extricate ourself from this mind as quickly as possible.

Bob - P said...

[It is all just a dream, so absolutely everything is a mental projection. It really is this simple]

Thank you Michael.


[In this respect the jñāni is like someone who clearly recognises that what is lying on the ground is only a rope. Such a person does not see any snake at all, but if someone else sees the same rope and mistakes it to be a snake, they will then have to tell that person that the snake is their own mental fabrication, because what they see as a snake is not a snake but only a rope. Likewise, the jñāni does not see this world at all, but when we see it, he has to tell us that it is our own mental fabrication, because what we see as this world is not what it seems to be but only ourself.]

Very helpful ... Yes the jnani does not experiencne multiplicity or lots of different things as itself the Jnani just experiences itself. It is just self-Aware happiness.

In appreciation.
Bob

Sandhya said...

Thanks Michael.

ebb and flow said...

Michael,
you recommend us to reflect carefully, deeply and repeated
on all that Bhagavan taught us particularly the fundamental principles of his teachings and apply those principles to our practice of self-investigation in order to extricate ourself from this mind.
However, understanding Bhagavan’s teaching in depth has some prerequisites:
We cannot benefit fully from his teachings if we do not keep pace with the wealth and profundity of his experience or if the level of our experience is not at the same height. From that we are faced with the problem of misunderstanding and demanding too much of us intellectually.
For instance his propositions
1.) that we are nothing but pure self-awareness, which alone exists
2.) that all is just a dream, so absolutely everything is a mental projection
3.) the experience of the jnani is to see that what exists is not any mind, world or phenomena but only itself, the one infinite space of pure self-awareness
are striking, staggering, dramatic, impressive, remarkable or exceptional because they do not agree with/ are going beyond our day-to-day experience.
Although I try to comprehend his teaching fully from that imbalance and from the view of my limited mind therefore sometimes Sri Ramana’s teachings meet unbelieving astonishment or indeed my indignant disapproval.

Anonymous said...

Michael, Thanks for the comments.

When one realizes the self, will a world be seen at all? Or is it like experience in sleep when nothing else even seems to exist?
Regards

Bob - P said...

Dear Anonymous
I appreciate your question is addressed to Michael and of course wait for Michael's reply as will I . But my own understanding is when we experience ourself as we actually are which is the non dual eternal undivisible self aware being we will only experience ourself so no world or any other dualisticphenomena will be experienced, as it doesn't really exist.

I think of it Like going to sleep forever in eternal bliss and happiness ... in absolute terms.
Warmest regards.
Bob

Michael James said...

Ebb and Flow, Bhagavan’s teachings will become progressively easier to understand, accept and imbibe to the extent that our mind is progressively purified and clarified by persistent practice of self-attentiveness.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, as Bhagavan says in the first verse of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam, knowing oneself and thereby being oneself is like waking up from a dream, so just as we cease perceiving a dream world when we wake up, we will cease perceiving any world when we experience ourself as we actually are.

However, waking up from self-ignorance (ajñāna) is different from waking up from a dream in two important respects. Firstly, when we wake up from a dream, we actually shift from one dream to another, which we then mistake to be waking, whereas when we wake up from ajñāna we do not awaken into another dream but into the absolute clarity of eternal sleep, which is our natural state of blissfully pure self-awareness. Secondly, when we wake up from a dream, we usually remember that we were dreaming (whether or not we remember what we were dreaming), whereas when we wake up from ajñāna we will clearly know that we have always been aware of nothing other than ourself, and that we have therefore never dreamt anything.

Therefore this experience of pure self-awareness is called ajāta, which means non-born, non-engendered, non-originated, non-arisen or non-happened, because it is the clear knowledge that there has never been any ego, ajñāna, dream or world, because what exists is only our own immutable self.

Anonymous said...

Michael, the last sentence is hard to follow. In the case of mistaking a rope to a snake, there is the thought of snake, even though faulty. So the mistaken thought of world is there since the experience is there. So how do we say that even the experience (dream) was not existing?

ebb and flow said...

Michael,
that is what I hope. But where/how can I get the needed persistance in my practice ?
All what the ego/mind wants is just not to constantly work for its own annihilation.
Sri Ramana and his teaching is rather the deadly enemy of this mind. The mind says more or less: Do not occupy too much with the "unworldly and surely unrealistical ideas" of Bhagavan. His teaching is egoistic and really dangerous for the continued existence of the western social system. Let other people/egos there in South India commit suicide.

Amalaki said...

Michael,
therefore it is already sufficient to hear or know intellectually that what we have always been aware of nothing other than our own immutable self. Or is this conclusion an erroneus assumption ? If so why ?

Michael James said...

Amalaki, no, it is certainly not sufficient to know anything intellectually, because what knows intellectually is only our ego, and this ego is an illusory adjunct-mixed form of the pure self-awareness that we actually are, so we cannot experience ourself as we actually are so long as we experience ourself as this ego.

In order to experience ourself as the pure and immutable self-awareness that we actually are we need to destroy the illusion that we are this ego, which we can do only by turning our attention within to be aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from all the extraneous adjuncts that we now mistake to be ourself. A clear intellectual understanding of the basic principles of Bhagavan’s teachings can motivate and guide us on this path of self-investigation, but it can never be an adequate substitute for it (just as a map or travel guide can never be adequate substitute for an actual journey).

Amalaki said...

Michael,
thanks for your explanation.
But why should the intellectual knowledge of our ego not be enough since it is often emphasized that the ego is essentially nothing except our pure fundamental self-awareness ?
MIchael, would you please call all the persons who met you in your life - apart from Sri Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om - who were able to turn their attention within and manage thereby to be attentively aware of theirself alone, in complete isolation from even the slightest awareness of anything else, and clearly experienced theirself as they actually are and thereby annihilated their ego entirely and forever.

Amalaki said...

Anonymous,
I think in the mentioned point we have to distinguish between seeming experience/existence and real experience/existence.

Michael James said...

Amalaki, yes, the real essence of our ego is our pure self-awareness, but as the pure self-awareness that we actually are we are not this ego, because this ego is a seeming mixture of pure self-awareness (which alone is real) and various adjuncts such as this body (which are all unreal). Pure self-awareness is what alone actually exists, so it is aware of nothing other than itself, and hence it has no intellect, which is the power by which we distinguish one thing from another and judge what is true and what is false.

Intellect is a function of our ego, which is what obscures our pure self-awareness, making it seem to be something other than what it is. We can use our intellect to analyse our experience of ourself as this ego in waking and dream and as no ego in sleep, as Bhagavan has taught us to do, but what we gain from such intellectual analysis is just an understanding that this ego cannot be what we actually are, so we need to investigate ourself in order to experience what we actually are. Since intellectual analysis is done by ourself as this ego, it cannot enable us to experience ourself as we actually are, but can only show us that in order to experience ourself as we actually are we must try to be attentively aware of ourself alone, because what is aware of anything else is only our ego.

Regarding your other question about all the people I have met who were able to be attentively aware of themself alone and thereby to annihilate their ego entirely and forever, we cannot know about the inner state or experience of any other person, so it is useless speculating about such matters. As Sadhu Om used to say, let anyone else a jñāni or an ajñāni, what is that to us? When we do not know what we ourself are, how can we know what anyone else is, and what would be the use of knowing that even if we could.

Speculating or enquiring about the state of any other person is anātma-vicāra, which is useless, as Bhagavan often used to remind people, because we can experience what we ourself are only by ātma-vicāra, which entails turning our entire attention back towards ourself alone. Just as it would be meaningless in a dream to speculate which of the other people we see there have woken up from that dream, it is meaningless to speculate in this dream which the dream characters we see here have woken from this dream.

When anyone asked Bhagavan whether or not a certain person was a jñāni, he would sometimes reply, ‘There is only one jñāni, and that is you (tat tvam asi)’, because all the other people we see in this dream are just our own mental projection. So long as we perceive this dream, we are mistaking ourself to be an ajñāni, but if we investigate ourself sufficiently keenly we will discover that we are jñāna itself, and that nothing other than jñāna (pure self-awareness) actually exists.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, regarding your remark that the last sentence of my previous reply to you (namely ‘Therefore this experience of pure self-awareness is called ajāta, which means non-born, non-engendered, non-originated, non-arisen or non-happened, because it is the clear knowledge that there has never been any ego, ajñāna, dream or world, because what exists is only our own immutable self’) is hard to follow, as I explained in one of my earlier articles, We can believe vivarta vāda directly but not ajāta vāda, it is impossible for our mind to adequately comprehend ajāta, because ajāta is what can be experienced only when our mind does not seem to exist at all. This is why Bhagavan did not actually teach ajāta, even though he said it was his own experience, but instead taught vivarta vāda (the contention that our ego and whatever it experiences is just vivarta, an illusory appearance).

That is, though the ultimate truth is that this ego and world do not exist at all, in the view of ourself as this ego they seem to exist, so Bhagavan conceded their seeming existence, but taught us that if we investigate this ego we will find that it does not actually exist, and that since everything else seems to exist only when we seem to be this ego, when we experience ourself as we actually are and thereby discover that this ego has never actually existed, we will also discover that none of the phenomena that seem to exist only in the view of this ego have ever actually existed. Therefore so long as we seem to be this ego, vivarta vāda is the most practical and useful teaching that can be given to us.

However, though we cannot adequately comprehend ajāta so long as we seem to be this ego, Bhagavan did intimate that it is what we will eventually experience, because if it were not the ultimate truth, we could argue that since this ego somehow seems to exist now, some other ego could somehow seem to exist in future after this one has been destroyed. Therefore to free us from such doubts, Bhagavan assured us that the ultimate truth that we will experience if we keenly investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as we actually are is only ajāta — the truth that nothing other than our infinite, indivisible and immutable self-awareness has ever existed or even seemed to exist.

Michael James said...

Ebb and Flow, regarding your question ‘But where/how can I get the needed persistence in my practice?’, we can cultivate the required persistence only by persistently trying. There is no other way, and there are no shortcuts. We just have to keep on doggedly trying to be self-attentive as much as we can, and gradually our determination to succeed at all costs will increase, until eventually we will be ready to pay the ultimate price: our own ego. Then the story will be over, and we will literally live happily ever after.

Amalaki said...

Michael,
thanks again for your reply which upon I reflect :
The (real) essence of our ego is our pure self-awareness.
Intellect is a function of our ego - whose essence is pure awareness.
Intellectual analysis is done by ourself as this ego - whose essence is pure awareness.
Since intellectual analysis cannot enable us to experience ourself as we actually are the portion of the ego which functions as intellect must consist obviously much more of the adjuncts (awareness of anything else) than of pure self - awareness.
Please excuse my excursion into anatma-vicara. This ego could not refrain from putting that jaunty speculative question. If you had answered saying Sri A or B or Sir C or D I would probably not get over it and say: Oho, look at him how incredibly, excellently and fantastically he is conducting/celebrating his lifestyle. Enviously I would bemoan my fate: What a shame that I am not like they.
Bhagavan‘s answer to such questions brings it home to us that instead of mistaking ourself to be an ajnani we have to investigate ourself sufficiently keenly and to discover that nothing other than jnana (pure self-awareness) actually exists. I have to say to me: Get that into your thick skull: (As you write to Anonymous in the following comment): the ultimate truth that we will experience is only ajata – the truth that nothing other than our infinite, indivisible and immutable self-awareness has ever existed or even seemed to exist.
So let us keenly investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as we actually are.

ebb and flow said...

Michael,
thank you for your answer.
Yet alone hearing the thought of paying the ultimate price ( our own ego) my howling ego already gives a groaning roar. When hearing that apart from atma-svarupa there is not in the slightest any place/chance of surviving frightened of that hopelessness my ego's knees are shaking and tremling. My ego now tries to escape with no more than a scare - pale with terror.

Michael James said...

Ebb and Flow, when we eventually pay the ultimate price we will find that it is actually a very small price to pay for what we receive in return. Bhagavan used to say that being reluctant or afraid to pay this price is like being unwilling to part with a small copper coin in exchange for all the wealth in the universe.

ebb and flow said...

Michael,
what you say sounds really plausibly.
I ask myself: What else has got to happen before I understand Bhagavan's saying ?

Anonymous said...

Michael, I follow your explanation, and that was my understanding as well. The world etc. only seems to exist, but actually does not. Just like the snake-rope analogy. The snake seems to exist, but actually it does not. Once one comes to that understanding, then one realizes that the snake never existed.

inconspicious illiterate said...

Anonymous,
we should be aware of our infinite, indivisible and immutable self-awareness while/although we seem to live in the middle of a 'snake - world'.

Bob - P said...

[when we eventually pay the ultimate price we will find that it is actually a very small price to pay for what we receive in return. Bhagavan used to say that being reluctant or afraid to pay this price is like being unwilling to part with a small copper coin in exchange for all the wealth in the universe.]

Thank you Michael.
What you say motivates me (and I am sure others) to keep practising earnestly. But I appreciate that the one who is motivated and the one who practises has to be sacrificed in the end and will never know the limitless wealth.
Only ourself as we really / always have been will remain as non dual self aware happiness.
In appreciation.
Bob

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bob-P, you write in your above comment, '[...] the one who is motivated and the one who practises has to be sacrificed in the end and will never know the limitless wealth'.

Yes, it is correct to say that the one who is motivated and the one who practises has to be sacrificed in the end, but it may not be quite accurate to say that in the end we will never know the limitless wealth. Yes, after the annihilation of our ego, only ourself as we really are or have been will remain as non dual self-awareness, but this non-dual self-awareness itself is the 'limitless wealth'. If we have not attained it we will not be aware of it, but if we have attained it we will be definitely aware of it. Therefore we will know and experience this 'limitless wealth' when we attain it.

Of course we will not be aware of all the worthless garbage which we will discard once we experience ourself as we really are - and this worthless garbage is nothing but our ego. It is only our ego which is the root of everything else which is worthless. Regards.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sorry, Bob-P, I did not read your comment properly. You were correct when you wrote, 'But I appreciate that the one who is motivated and the one who practises has to be sacrificed in the end and will never know the limitless wealth'. Yes, the one who practises self-investigation will eventually be destroyed and can never experience the limitless wealth. I thought that we as our actual self will never experience this limitless wealth, which obviously was not what you meant. I regret my previous comment. Regards.

Bob - P said...

No problem at all Sanjay.
All the best to you.
Bob.

Michael James said...

Amalaki, regarding your remark ‘Since intellectual analysis cannot enable us to experience ourself as we actually are the portion of the ego which functions as intellect must consist obviously much more of the adjuncts (awareness of anything else) than of pure self-awareness’, when I said that intellect is a function of our ego, I did not mean that it is a portion of our ego or that only a portion of our ego functions as it. If we describe the various functions of a person, saying that he is a son, brother, husband, father, teacher, mathematician and footballer, we do not mean that each of these functions is performed by a separate portion of him, but that the whole person functions in each of these roles. Our ego and its intellect are not two separate entities, nor is one a part of the other, because ‘ego’ (ahaṁkāra), ‘intellect’ (buddhi), ‘will’ (citta) and ‘mind’ (manas) are various names given to the same entity to describe its different functions. Therefore our mind, intellect and will are each essentially just our ego.

Moreover, it is not quite correct to say that our ego or any of its functions consists more of adjuncts than of pure self-awareness, because these two basic elements of our ego are not things that we can quantify or compare in this way, since pure self-awareness alone is real, and whatever adjuncts we currently experience as if they were ourself are just illusory fabrications that are seemingly superimposed on it. Pure self-awareness is infinite and indivisible, so what seems to be this ego is not just a part of it but the whole of it.

However, what we can quantify and compare (not in precise terms but in relative terms) is the amount of impurity in our mind. When our desires, attachments and consequent bad qualities (such as tendencies to be greedy, selfish, angry, envious, unkind, uncaring or cruel) are relatively strong, our mind is impure, and as these become weaker it becomes correspondingly purer.

Though we are always self-aware, the clarity with which we are able to distinguish our essential self-awareness from all the adjuncts with which it seems to be mixed and confused depends upon the purity of our mind. The same clarity is also what enables us to understand Bhagavan’s teachings and motivates us to practise them by persistently trying to turn our attention back towards ourself and to cling firmly to self-attentiveness.

Trying to distinguish and attend only to our essential self-awareness is the best use we can make of our intellect, but generally we use it for other more mundane purposes in our day-to-day life. However, whether we use it to turn within to try to distinguish what we ourself actually are or to turn outwards to know other things, the light that illumines and gives clarity to our intellect is only our fundamental self-awareness.

Though in our experience of ourself as this ego our fundamental self-awareness seems to be mixed and confused with adjuncts, it is nevertheless the source of the light by which we are aware both of ourself and of other things. Therefore rather than allowing our intellect to take interest in knowing anything else, we should train it to take interest primarily in knowing the fundamental light of self-awareness that illumines it.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Amalaki:

An intellect that is clouded by impurities will have difficulty understanding the basic premises of Bhagavan’s teachings (such as that we are always aware of ourself, even when we are aware of nothing else, as in sleep) and will therefore not be attracted to the path of self-investigation and self-surrender. Such an intellect may seem to be very clear and bright when it is applied to worldly matters such as science, mathematics or cruder forms of philosophy, but it would nevertheless lack the clarity, subtlety and acuity required to understand the subtle principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, to recognise and be firmly convinced that they are true, and to apply them by keenly distinguishing and attending only to its own essential self-awareness.

Intellectual analysis of our experience of ourself in each of our three alternating states, waking, dream and sleep, provides a solid foundation for our practice of self-investigation, because it not only motivates us to investigate what we actually are but also enables us to understand more clearly what exactly we should try to discern. As such it is the doorway to self-investigation, but it is not self-investigation itself, because it entails thinking not only about our fundamental self-awareness but also about the various adjuncts from which we need to distinguish it, whereas self-investigation entails attending to ourself alone.

This is why intellectual self-analysis cannot by itself enable us to experience ourself as we actually are, but it can lead to us being keenly self-attentive, which is the only means by which we can experience ourself as we actually are. Moreover, the inner clarity with which we analyse ourself is the same clarity that we require in order to succeed in being aware of ourself as we actually are, and it is what Bhagavan described as ‘நுண் மதி’ (nuṇ mati: a subtle, refined, sharp, acute, precise and discriminating intellect) in verse 23 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and as ‘கூர்ந்த மதி’ (kūrnda mati: a sharp, keen, acute and penetrating intellect) in verse 28, so we should use this clarity not only to analyse our experience of ourself but also to investigate what we actually are by turning our entire attention inwards to be aware only of ourself, who are the self-luminous clarity by which both ourself and everything else is known.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, you have written in a recent comment addressed to Amalakai, '‘ego’ (ahaṁkāra), ‘intellect’ (buddhi), ‘will’ (citta) and ‘mind’ (manas) are various names given to the same entity to describe its different functions. Therefore our mind, intellect and will are each essentially just our ego'.

As per my previous understanding, 'intellect' (buddhi), 'will' (citta) and 'mind' (manas - in the sense of thoughts) were various functions of our 'ego' (ahankara). As per my previous understanding, when we say 'intellect' or 'will' or 'thoughts', the question arises, 'whose intellect' or 'whose will' or 'whose thoughts', and I thought that the answer to these questions were 'ego's intellect', 'ego's will', 'ego's thoughts' and so on.

But now I have to fully understand, internalise and absorb this idea that ego = intellect = will = mind. Are all these four terms synonymous in all contexts or there are different shades of meanings to these terms in different contexts, and hence we cannot change one word with another?

Thanking you and pranams.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, no, though ‘mind’ (manas), ‘intellect’ (buddhi), ‘will’ (cittam) and ‘ego’ (ahaṁkāram) are all terms referring to the same entity, they are not synonymous (just as son, brother, husband, father, teacher, mathematician and footballer are not synonymous even though they may all refer to the same person), because each term refers to a different function or aspect of that entity.

Though they are usually listed in the order manas, buddhi, cittam and ahaṁkāram, this order is going from the grosser to the more subtle aspects, so the ego is the most fundamental of them, and hence you are correct in saying that the answer to the questions ‘whose mind or thoughts?’, ‘whose intellect?’ or ‘whose will?’ is ‘the ego’s’, but it is equally true to say that it is only the ego that functions as the mind, as the intellect and as the will.

Michael James said...

Amalaki, in the last two comments that I wrote in reply to you, I said that we are the fundamental self-awareness that is the self-luminous light or clarity by which both ourself and everything else is known, and that this clarity is the light that illumines our intellect, enabling us to use it for whatever purpose we choose to use it. I also implied that in its refined or purified condition this clarity is what enables us to investigate and discern what we actually are. In connection with this, it is useful to consider what Bhagavan wrote in verse 22 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

மதிக்கொளி தந்தம் மதிக்கு ளொளிரு
மதியினை யுள்ளே மடக்கிப் — பதியிற்
பதித்திடுத லன்றிப் பதியை மதியான்
மதித்திடுக லெங்ஙன் மதி.

matikkoḷi tandam matikku ḷoḷiru
matiyiṉai yuḷḷē maḍakkip — patiyiṯ
padittiḍuda laṉḏṟip patiyai matiyāṉ
matittiḍuda leṅṅaṉ mati
.

பதச்சேதம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதியில் பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): matikku oḷi tandu, am-matikkuḷ oḷirum matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki patiyil padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl matittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? mati.

அன்வயம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் பதியில் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): matikku oḷi tandu, am-matikkuḷ oḷirum patiyil matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl matittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? mati.

English translation: Consider, except by turning the mind back within [and thereby] completely immersing it in God, who shines within that mind giving light to the mind, how to know God by the mind?

The word that I have translated here as ‘mind’ is ‘மதி’ (mati), which means mind particularly in the sense of the intellect or power of understanding, judgement, discrimination and discernment, and which is the same word that he used along with the adjectives நுண் (nuṇ: subtle, refined, sharp, acute, precise or discriminating) and கூர்ந்த (kūrnda: sharp, keen, acute and penetrating) in verses 23 and 28 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu to describe the instrument that we require to investigate and discern what we actually are.

The light that shines within and illumines our mind or intellect is the light of awareness, the source and fundamental form of which is the pure self-awareness that we actually are, which is what Bhagavan describes here as ‘பதி’ (pati), which means ‘Lord’ or ‘God’. Therefore what he implies in this verse is that our mind or intellect can enable us to know what we actually are only if we turn it back within and thereby completely immerse and dissolve it in the clear light of pure self-awareness that is always shining within it and illuminating it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, thank you for your comment and clarification on the terms manas, buddhi, cittam and ahamkaram. As you say all these refer to the same entity.

Can we say from another perspective that our manas, buddhi and cittam are mere modifications of our ahamkaram?

Thanking you and pranams.

Amalaki said...

Michael,
many thanks for your three detailed yesterday replies
and thereby clarifying the terms 'ego'(ahamkara) and its functions 'intellect'(buddhi), 'will'(citta) and 'mind' (manas) particularly the function 'intellect' and intellectual analysis of our experience of ourself.
I think my wrong view about portions of our ego was based on and derived from the often read statement :
'This ego is a seeming mixture of pure self-awareness (which alone is real) and various adjuncts such as this body (which are all unreal)'.
As you say we should train our intellect to take interest primarily in knowing the fundamental light of self-awareness that illumines it. I hope that my clouded intellect will soon move out of the way of the required inner self-luminous clarity by which both ourself and everything else is known. So let us turn back our intellect back within and thereby completely immerse and dissolve it in the clear light of our pure fundamental self-awareness that is always shining within it and illuminating it.
Romba nanri.

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