Friday, 8 April 2016

Self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) entails nothing more than just being persistently and tenaciously self-attentive

In a comment on my previous article, Why is it necessary to make effort to practise self-investigation (ātma-vicāra)?, a friend called Pachaiamman referred to the first section of it, We must practise ātma-vicāra for as long as it takes to destroy all our viṣaya-vāsanās (in which I had cited extracts from the sixth, tenth and eleventh paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?), and asked:
May I give a short description what happens in my poor experience of practising self-investigation in the following passage: The attentiveness with which one investigates what one is has to be accomplished by the ego. The ego is a bundle of thoughts. So attentiveness is also a thought. The attentive thought ‘who am I’ is entrusted to try to extinguish/erase other rising thoughts and simultaneously or after that to investigate to whom they have occurred. It is clear that it is to me. By further investigation ‘who am I’, I do not clearly recognize if the mind subsided or returned to its birthplace, that is myself. Because the same (my) attentiveness has to manage to refuse the spreading/developing of other thoughts (without giving room [place/field] to other thoughts) and rather eliminate them, other thoughts are on my mind well waiting for refusal of their completion. Thus I am far away from grabbing the opportunity that the thought ‘who am I’ itself is destroyed in the end (like the fire-stir-stick). What is wrong in my strategy or where I am on the wrong track?
The following is my reply to this:
  1. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: the ego is our first thought, the root of our mind
  2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: the ego seems to exist only by attending to other things
  3. Self-attentiveness is a thought only in a metaphorical sense
  4. Self-attentiveness is the only effective means to be free from thoughts
  5. If we cling firmly to self-attentiveness, no thoughts can rise, so there will then be no need to investigate to whom they appear
  6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraphs 10 and 11: all we need do is to try to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness
  7. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 16: ātma-vicāra is just keeping our attention on ourself
  8. Bhagavad Gītā Sāram verse 27: fixing our attention on ourself, we should not think of anything else whatsoever
1. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: the ego is our first thought, the root of our mind

Pachaiamman, you say ‘The ego is a bundle of thoughts’, but that is not actually correct, because our ego is just a single thought, our primal thought called ‘I’. The bundle or totality of all thoughts is what is called ‘mind’, and of all these thoughts the root is only our ego, this thought called ‘I’, so what our mind essentially is is only this ego, as Bhagavan explains in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
எண்ணங்க ளேமனம் யாவினு நானெனு
மெண்ணமே மூலமா முந்தீபற
      யானா மனமென லுந்தீபற.

eṇṇaṅga ḷēmaṉam yāviṉu nāṉeṉu
meṇṇamē mūlamā mundīpaṟa
      yāṉā maṉameṉa lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். யான் ஆம் மனம் எனல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. yāṉ ām maṉam eṉal.

அன்வயம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். மனம் எனல் யான் ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. maṉam eṉal yāṉ ām.

English translation: Thoughts alone are mind. Of all, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the root. What is called mind is ‘I’.

Elaborated translation: Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [the ego or root-thought called ‘I’].
In this context it is important to understand that what Bhagavan means by ‘எண்ணம்’ (eṇṇam), ‘thought’ or ‘idea’, is any kind of mental phenomena, and since all sensory perceptions (sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations) are mental phenomena, all things that seem to us to be physical phenomena (whether in waking or in dream) are actually just mental phenomena, so according to him all phenomena (that is, everything that we experience other than our own actual self, which is just pure self-awareness) is a thought or idea. Therefore what he implies in this verse is that everything is our mind, and the root of it all is only our ego, this primal thought called ‘I’.

Since attention or attentiveness is a function of our ego, it is in a certain sense a thought, as you say, but it is quite unlike all other thoughts, because it is a fundamental and essential feature of our ego, and because no other thought would be possible unless we (this ego) attended to it at least partially. In fact other thoughts are formed only by the attention that we pay to anything other than ourself, and all those other things are themselves just thoughts, so they are formed and come into existence only as a result of the attention we give to the idea of them. Therefore attention is both the source and the substance of everything other than our own actual self (ātma-svarūpa).

2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: the ego seems to exist only by attending to other things

Our self-negligence (pramāda), which is our failure to be exclusively self-attentive, is what gives rise to our ego, so being self-attentive is the only effective way to make this ego subside. Since it could not rise, stand or nourish itself without attending to things other than itself, the very nature of our ego is to attend to other things, as Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows [spreads, expands, increases, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight. Investigate [or know thus].
Since our ego is essentially formless, ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi) or ‘grasping form’ means grasping anything other than itself, and since as a formless entity this ego is something that is just aware, it can grasp other things only by attending to them, so in this context பற்றி (paṯṟi), which means grasping, holding, clinging to, adhering to or attaching oneself to, implies attending to or being aware of, and hence ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi) implies attending to anything other than ourself. Therefore in this verse Bhagavan clearly implies that by attending to any thought (that is, to anything other than ourself), we are not only giving rise to and sustaining that thought, but are also thereby nourishing and sustaining our ego.

Since our ego is nourished and sustained by attending to anything other than itself, and since it cannot stand by itself without attending to other things, it will subside and be destroyed only by attending to itself, as Bhagavan implies by saying ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’.

3. Self-attentiveness is a thought only in a metaphorical sense

Therefore though Bhagavan sometimes describes self-attentiveness metaphorically as ‘ஆன்மசிந்தனை’ (āṉma-cintaṉai), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit term आत्मचिन्तन (ātma-cintana) and which therefore means ‘self-thought’ or ‘thought of oneself’, or as ‘நானார் என்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-ār eṉṉum niṉaivu), which means ‘the thought who am I’, it is fundamentally unlike all other thoughts, because whereas all other thoughts nourish and sustain our ego, this one ‘thought’ alone will destroy it (as I explained in more detail in an earlier article, Thought of oneself will destroy all other thoughts, particularly in the third and fourth sections of it).

All other thoughts are directed or ‘pointing’ towards something other than ourself, so each of them is a form of what Bhagavan called சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), which literally means ‘pointing awareness’ and which implies transitive (or object-knowing) awareness. Self-attentiveness, on the other hand, is not directed towards anything other than ourself, and since we are not an object but only the awareness by which both subject and object are known, self-attentiveness is not transitive awareness but only intransitive awareness.

That is, though due to the limitations of thought and language we have to conceive and say that self-attentiveness is awareness directed towards ourself, it is not directed in the same way that thoughts are directed towards other things, because in self-attentiveness what is being attended to is only ourself, who are what is attending, so there is absolutely no distinction or distance between what is attending and what is being attended to. Therefore self-attentiveness is not actually attention being directed at ourself but only attention being retained in ourself, as ourself.

Since any other thought is directed or pointed at something other than ourself, it sends our attention away from ourself and thereby nourishes and sustains the rising and seeming existence of ourself as this ego, so we cannot subside back into our actual self, the source from which we have risen as this ego, so long as we are thinking of or attending to anything other than ourself. Therefore in order to subside back into ourself, we must think of or attend to ourself alone. Thus thinking of anything else gives rise to and sustains the illusion that we are this finite ego, whereas attending only to ourself causes this illusory ego to subside and dissolve back into ourself.

Therefore, though self-attentiveness can be described metaphorically as ‘thinking of oneself’, it is not a mental activity but the suspension or dissolution of all mental activity, so it is not a thought or thinking in the usual sense of these words. Since it entails no movement of our attention away from ourself, it is not an action (karma) or activity (vṛtti) but simply a state of just being (summā iruppadu).

4. Self-attentiveness is the only effective means to be free from thoughts

You say that ‘the attentive thought ‘who am I’ is entrusted to try to extinguish/erase other rising thoughts and simultaneously or after that to investigate to whom they have occurred’, but this is a confused and inaccurate way of describing the simple practice and aim of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra). The ‘thought who am I’ means only self-attentiveness, and when practising self-investigation we should not try to do anything other than just being self-attentive, because that alone will destroy our ego together with all its thoughts.

Self-attentiveness is the only effective means by which we can free ourself completely and forever from all thoughts, because if we try to extinguish or erase other thoughts deliberately, we will be attending to them and thereby sustaining them, and if we try to extinguish or erase them by any other means such as prāṇāyāma or any other yōgic practice, we will at best only be able to achieve manōlaya, a state like sleep in which all thoughts including the ego have temporarily subsided, but from which they will sooner or later return unscathed. In order to achieve manōnāśa, which is complete annihilation of our entire mind (the totality of all our thoughts), we need to eradicate its root, which is our ego, and since our ego is a wrong knowledge of ourself (an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are), we can destroy it only by being aware of ourself as we actually are. Therefore, since we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself (because what is aware of anything else is only our ego and not our actual self), we can eradicate our ego and all its thoughts only by being attentively aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from the illusory appearance of anything else.

Since all practices other than self-attentiveness entail attending to something other than ourself, they cannot enable us to achieve manōnāśa, so ātma-vicāra, which is the simple practice of being attentively aware of ourself alone, is the only means by which we can permanently extinguish or erase all thoughts. Therefore when practising ātma-vicāra we should not try to do anything other than just clinging vigilantly and tenaciously to being self-attentive, because if we attend to or think of anything else at all, we will thereby be feeding our ego and making it rise again, whereas if we remain keenly self-attentive it will subside naturally and peacefully back into ourself, the source from which it arose.

5. If we cling firmly to self-attentiveness, no thoughts can rise, so there will then be no need to investigate to whom they appear

If we cling firmly to being self-attentive, there will be no need for us to investigate to whom other thoughts have occurred, because other thoughts can occur only when we allow our attention to slip away from ourself towards anything else. If we do allow our attention to slip away at all, other thoughts will immediately arise, so we should then try to turn our attention back to ourself, who are the one to whom they occur.

Therefore when Bhagavan said in sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘பிற வெண்ணங்க ளெழுந்தா லவற்றைப் பூர்த்தி பண்ணுவதற்கு எத்தனியாமல் அவை யாருக் குண்டாயின என்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டும்’ (piṟa v-eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙundāl avaṯṟai-p pūrtti paṇṇuvadaṟku ettaṉiyāmal avai yārukku uṇḍāyiṉa eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum), which means ‘If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate to whom they have occurred’, he was just giving us a simple clue how we can immediately turn our attention away from any thought back towards ourself. Whatever thought may arise, it rises only because we are aware of it, so it should remind of ourself, to whom it has occurred. Therefore investigating to whom any thought has occurred is a simple means to turn our attention back to ourself whenever it is distracted by anything else, so it is necessary and helpful only when we are distracted and not when we are already clinging firmly to being self-attentive.

From what you write, particularly in the sentence that ends ‘other thoughts are on my mind well [or perhaps you meant while] waiting for refusal of their completion’, it seems as if you are waiting for thoughts so that you can investigate to whom they occur or refuse to complete them, but if this is what you are doing, you are thereby thinking about thoughts instead of attending only to yourself. Thinking about thoughts or anticipating their appearance would defeat the very purpose of what you should be doing, which is only attending to yourself alone.

6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraphs 10 and 11: all we need do is to try to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness

Our sole aim while practising ātma-vicāra should be to cling firmly and unswervingly to self-attentiveness and thereby to avoid being distracted by any other thoughts. Therefore we should not concern ourself with any thoughts such as whether or not our mind has subsided or returned to its birthplace. The more keenly and vigilantly we manage to be self-attentive, the more our mind will automatically subside back into ourself, who are the source or birthplace from which it arose, so if you want to remain on the right track, all you need do is to try to cling persistently to being self-attentive, as advised by Bhagavan in the following two sentences of the tenth and eleventh paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?:
அத்தனை வாசனைகளு மொடுங்கி, சொரூபமாத்திரமா யிருக்க முடியுமா வென்னும் சந்தேக நினைவுக்கு மிடங்கொடாமல், சொரூபத்யானத்தை விடாப்பிடியாய்ப் பிடிக்க வேண்டும்.

attaṉai vāsaṉaigaḷum oḍuṅgi, sorūpa-māttiram-āy irukka muḍiyumā v-eṉṉum sandēha niṉaivukkum iḍam koḍāmal, sorūpa-dhyāṉattai viḍā-p-piḍiyāy-p piḍikka vēṇḍum.

Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘Is it possible to dissolve so many vāsanās [propensities or inclinations to think about things other than oneself] and remain only as svarūpa [my own actual self]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness].

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

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

If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own actual self], that alone will be sufficient.
7. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 16: ātma-vicāra is just keeping our attention on ourself

Persistently holding fast to self-attentiveness is the beginning, end and entire process of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), as is clearly indicated by Bhagavan in the following sentence of the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்.

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

The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to keeping the mind always in [or on] ātmā [oneself].
‘சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பது’ (sadākālamum maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadu) means ‘keeping the mind always in [or on] oneself’, which implies keeping one’s attention fixed firmly on oneself without allowing it to move away towards anything else, so in this sentence Bhagavan assures us that this is all that ātma-vicāra entails. Therefore there is nothing else we need do.

8. Bhagavad Gītā Sāram verse 27: fixing our attention on ourself, we should not think of anything else whatsoever

All we need do, therefore, is just to patiently persevere in clinging tenaciously to self-attentiveness (svarūpa-dhyāna or svarūpa-smaraṇa) without thinking of or being concerned about anything else whatsoever, as Bhagavan emphatically says in the last two lines of verse 27 of Bhagavad Gītā Sāram (which is a translation of Bhagavad Gītā 6.25):
சித்தத்தை யான்மாவிற் சேர்த்திடுக மற்றெதுவு
மித்தனையு மெண்ணிடா தே.

cittattai yāṉmāviṟ cērttiḍuka maṯṟeduvu
mittaṉaiyu meṇṇiḍā dē
.

பதச்சேதம்: சித்தத்தை ஆன்மாவில் சேர்த்திடுக; மற்று எதுவும் இத்தனையும் எண்ணிடாதே.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): cittattai āṉmāvil sērttiḍuka; maṯṟu eduvum ittaṉaiyum eṇṇiḍādē.

English translation: Fix the mind [your attention] in [or on] ātman [yourself]; do not think even the slightest of anything else at all.

306 comments:

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Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, what you have written in the second section of this article is relevant to my discussion with 'who?', on the topic of the reason which gives writes to our ego. You write here:

Our self-negligence (pramāda), which is our failure to be exclusively self-attentive, is what gives rise to our ego, so being self-attentive is the only effective way to make this ego subside. Since it could not rise, stand or nourish itself without attending to things other than itself, the very nature of our ego is to attend to other things, as Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

Since our ego is nourished and sustained by attending to anything other than itself, and since it cannot stand by itself without attending to other things, it will subside and be destroyed only by attending to itself, as Bhagavan implies by saying ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’.

I agree, in the context of Bhagavan's teachings this self-negligence (pramada) has to be taken as the reason for the rise of our ego, because then only his teaching of sada-apramada or uninterrupted self-attentiveness makes sense.

But is pramada sufficient or clear reason to account for the rising of our sleep we exist only as pure self-awareness, with no trace of our ego and its attendants in any form, then how or why does this pramada take place? Our ego from sleep? I do not think so. Please correct me because I may be wrong. Our pure self-awareness cannot have pramada since it alone exists, and since there is no trace of our ego in our self-awareness in sleep, our ego cannot rise from sleep because of pramada. If there is no person existing in a room, how can he come out of this room? Similarly if there is no ego existing within us in sleep, how can it come out due to pramada?

Therefore as I was discussing with 'who?', the best reason we can give for our ego's rising from sleep could be that it comes into seeming existence due to an uncaused and inexplicable reason. Once it rises it simultaneously comes under the grip of pramada by grasping forms. Is it correct to say this, if not, where is the error?

You also write in the same second section of this article, 'Since our ego is essentially formless, ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi) or ‘grasping form’ means grasping anything other than itself, and since as a formless entity this ego is something that is just aware, it can grasp other things only by attending to them,[...]'. What do you mean when you write, 'as a formless entity this ego is something that is just aware,..'? If this ego as a formless entity is something that is just aware, what the difference between this ego as a formless entity that is just aware and our pure self-awareness? If there is no difference between these two, why describe them differently - that is, as a formless ego that is just aware and as pure self-awareness?

Please do not feel that I am looking forward to an immediate reply, therefore reply at your convenience after you PC problem and other important pending works are finished, because our questions are unending. Thanking you and pranams.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, there are many errors in the fifth paragraph of my comment above. Please read paragraph as:

But is pramada sufficient or clear reason to account for the rising of our ego from sleep? In sleep we exist only as pure self-awareness, with no trace of the ego and its attendants in any form, then how or why does this pramada take place? Our pure self-awareness cannot have pramada since it alone exists, and since there is no trace of our ego in our pure self-awareness in sleep, our ego cannot rise from sleep because of pramada. If there is no person existing in a room, how can he come out of this room? Similarly if there is no ego existing within us in sleep, how can it come out due to pramada? Please correct me.

Regards.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, the very existence of the ego (and consequently of all its progeny, this seemingly vast universe) is a paradox, because it defies all logic. It does not actually exist but only seems to exist, yet it does not seem to exist in the view of what actually exists but only in its own view. It seems to come into existence only by ‘grasping form’, which means due to pramāda (self-negligence or failure to attend to itself alone), yet how could it grasp any form or be self-negligent unless it already existed?

These paradoxes are logically unsolvable, because both cause and effect and logic come into existence only when this ego arises, so its origination and cessation are the very borders beyond which no logic or ideas about cause and effect can apply. However, the reason why Bhagavan teaches us that it comes into existence by ‘grasping form’ or by being self-negligent is not to give us paradoxes to puzzle about, but is simply to show us that the only means by which we can dissolve the illusion of our seeming existence as this ego is perpetual self-attentiveness or sadā apramāda (eternal non-negligence) — that is, grasping ourself alone instead of any other thing.

What perpetual self-attentiveness will reveal to us is that we alone exist, and that consequently this ego and everything else has never existed or even seemed to exist, so it is the only logical solution to all the paradoxes that surround the very existence of this ego. That is, these paradoxes cannot be solved in any way other than by realising there are actually no paradoxes because there is no ego at all, and the only way to realise this is to investigate this ego to see whether it is actually what it seems to be. When we do so, we will discover that we who now seem to be this ego are actually just the one infinite, eternal and immutable self-awareness, other than which nothing exists.

Regarding your remark that ‘the best reason we can give for our ego’s rising from sleep could be that it comes into seeming existence due to an uncaused and inexplicable reason’, only if we concede that the ego exists does any need arise to explain how it came into existence. If it actually came into existence, it must have had a cause, because nothing can happen without cause. Conceding that it exists but saying that it is uncaused is a logical contradiction, so as long as we are compelled to concede that it seems to exist, we are also logically compelled to concede that its seeming existence must have a seeming cause. Therefore, to help us get out of this logical and existential mess in which we now find ourself, Bhagavan conceded that the cause for the seeming existence of ourself as this ego is our ‘grasping form’ — that is, our attending to anything other than ourself, which entails our being self-negligent.

Since this is the cause of our illusion that we are this ego (and hence of all the consequent paradoxes), the solution to it can only be for us to be perpetually self-attentive. The only way to kill this extremely venomous yet illusory snake, our ego, is to look at it very carefully and thereby to see that it has never actually existed.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, thank you very much for your two recent comments addressed to me.

As you write, 'These paradoxes are logically unsolvable, because both cause and effect and logic come into existence only when this ego arises, so its origination and cessation are the very borders beyond which no logic or ideas about cause and effect can apply'. What you write is very true, because if we try solving these puzzles or paradoxes surrounding our ego's origination and cessation, this will unnecessarily waste our time and energy and still we will not be able to arrive at any definite conclusion.

As you write, 'Conceding that it [ego] exists but saying that it is uncaused is a logical contradiction, so as long as we are compelled to concede that it seems to exist, we are also logically compelled to concede that its seeming existence must have a seeming cause. Therefore, to help us get out of this logical and existential mess in which we now find ourself, Bhagavan conceded that the cause for the seeming existence of ourself as this ego is our ‘grasping form’ — that is, our attending to anything other than ourself, which entails our being self-negligent'.

I had come to the conclusion - and which 'who?' had agreed - that it is best to say that our ego rises or comes into seeming existence because of an uncaused and inexplicable reason, but you have corrected our understanding. As you say, 'so as long as we are compelled to concede that it seems to exist, we are also logically compelled to concede that its seeming existence must have a seeming cause'. I fully agree. Therefore we have to admit that the cause of the seeming existence of ourself as this ego is by our 'grasping form', or pramada (self-negligence).

I think you have overlooked my following query in my above comment:

You also write in the same second section of this article, 'Since our ego is essentially formless, ‘உரு பற்றி’ (uru paṯṟi) or ‘grasping form’ means grasping anything other than itself, and since as a formless entity this ego is something that is just aware, it can grasp other things only by attending to them,[...]'. What do you mean when you write, 'as a formless entity this ego is something that is just aware,..'? If this ego as a formless entity is something that is just aware, what the difference between this ego as a formless entity that is just aware and our pure self-awareness? If there is no difference between these two, why describe them differently - that is, as a formless ego that is just aware and as pure self-awareness?

Thanking you and pranams.

form grasper said...

Michael,
it is sobering and brings us down to earth with a bang. That we cannot explain convincingly our re-emergence from sleep shows our dense ignorance. Obviously out of this dilemma the term „seed form“ or karana sarira or causal body was invented. How could it happen to us that we got into a hell of a mess ? Is it not humiliating and shamefully that we always must declare that our actual self is just pure self-awareness while we are controlled, drived to our despair and whiped by the storm of our vasanas and our own mental fabrications ? Most regrettably I am not an exception. Sometimes I manage to rise up against that tyranny of the ego. But most of the year I am easy prey of that 'extremely venomous but illusory snake', my ego.
Arunachala, do you not have mercy upon us ? Would you not show us how we can perpetually look at the ego carefully although we wriggle permanently in the stranglehold of our fateful 'grasping form' ?

Michael James said...

Sanjay, I am sorry that in my earlier reply I forgot to answer your question: ‘If this ego as a formless entity is something that is just aware, what the difference between this ego as a formless entity that is just aware and our pure self-awareness?’

The most appropriate and useful answer to this question would be: investigate yourself to see whether any difference exists. If we do so sufficiently keenly, we will find that there is no difference, because what actually exists is only ourself, who are pure self-awareness, so there is absolutely no ego at all in any form whatsoever.

However, if you want a conceptual answer, it would be both yes and no. It is ‘yes’ in the sense that what distinguishes one thing from another is only their respective forms (each of which is a set of features), so in our original state of formlessness there can be absolutely no distinction or differences at all. However it is ‘no’ in the sense that our formless ego comes into existence only by grasping form, so since pure self-awareness never grasps anything, our ego is distinct from it.

As a formless phantom, this ego began its spurious life as the pure self-awareness that we actually are, but immediately it became something else, because it came into existence only by grasping the form of a body as itself. Though it is essentially just pure and hence formless self-awareness, our ego seems to exist as a separate entity only by experiencing itself as a form.

So is this ego formless or is it a form? The answer is both. It is essentially formless, and as such it is just pure self-awareness, but it cannot come into existence or endure without grasping a form as itself, so whenever it seems to exist it seems to be a form.

This is why it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, a knot (granthi) that is formed by the seeming intertwining and entanglement of pure self-awareness (which is cit) with a body and other adjuncts (all of which are jaḍa). It is both cit and jaḍa, yet it is not either cit or jaḍa alone, because it seems to exist only when it seems to be both combined as one. As cit it is formless, whereas as jaḍa it is a form.

Therefore it is an enigma, being neither this nor that, yet seeming to be a paradoxical and impossible combination of two complete and wholly incompatible opposites. Therefore no concept or words can adequately capture what it is, so rather than breaking our heads by trying to understand conceptually whether it is this or that, we should just investigate it by setting aside all thoughts and words and simply being keenly self-attentive. When we do so sufficiently keenly, we will find that it does not exist at all, and that what seemed to be it was only pure, formless and immutable self-awareness, which always experiences nothing other than itself.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Nisargadatta Maharaj's Approach to Self-Enquiry
(from http://anthonyduartmaclean.blogspot.in/2011/03/self-enquiry-who-am-i.html)

There are a couple of ways of practising the Self-enquiry. One way is to dwell on the sense of ‘I am’ constantly. Nisargadatta Maharaj, a younger contemporary of Ramana Maharshi, taught this method. Aham-bhava is the Sanskrit term for the sense or feeling of ‘I am’. This feeling of ‘I am’ is subtler than thoughts, emotions or body awareness. Aham-bhava is subtle like space and with practice the conscious mind can become aware of it. The feeling of aham-bhava is always there, but because the mind is habitually focussed on external sensations, objects and mental projections, such as thoughts, memories and desires, we are unaware of it. By turning the attention inward – away from sense objects, desires, emotions and even thoughts – we become aware of this subtle feeling of our own existence, the ‘I am’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, thank you for your clarification on my question, 'what the difference between this ego as a formless entity that is just aware and our pure self-awareness?’ I am satisfied with your answers and explanation.

You write, 'However it is ‘no’ [that is, this ego as a formless entity that is just aware is different and our pure consciousness] in the sense that our formless ego comes into existence only by grasping form, so since pure self-awareness never grasps anything, our ego is distinct from it'. I think when I wrote in my earlier comments that 'the best reason we can give for our ego’s rising from sleep could be that it comes into seeming existence due to an uncaused and inexplicable reason’, I was hinting that this act of our pure consciousness seemingly rising to 'grasp form' is by an uncaused and an inexplicable reason.

Of course as you say, the seeming effect, which is our ego coming into existence should have a seeming cause and which is that it comes into existence by 'grasping form'. But as imply, why does this formless ego rise is beyond our human understanding. A Bhagavan said about Arunachala that its workings are mysterious and beyond human understanding. Same can be said about our ego, its mysteries and paradoxes are, as you say, 'logically unsolvable'.

Thanking you and pranams,

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, sorry I could not formulate and convey my ideas properly in my last comment.

What I meant was that we know 'how' are rise from ourself, and this is by 'grasping form' or attending to anything other than ourself, but we do not know 'why' we rise from ourself to 'grasp form'. Suppose if I travel to Mumbai by train, I know 'how' I am traveling to Mumbai, but I should also know 'why' I am travelling to Mumbai. I was hinting that in regards to the rising of our ego this 'why' is inexplicable.

However I agree with you that we should not break our heads by trying to conceptually understand these things, after all our ego or mind is just maya, and maya does not exist, so how can any logic or reason be applicable to the workings of this non existent entity? Therefore the only thing we should be interested in should be to try and destroy our ego by persistent and vigilant self-investigation. Thanking you and pranams.

virtuos enterprise said...

Sanjay Lohia,
what can be more absurd, strange and unnatural than the seeming fact that we are pulled the wool over our eyes by a non-existent entity ?
Therefore I do no longer believe anything what is explained to us.
The only thing on what we (seemingly !) can sure of is our own conscious self-awareness, although even that perception/assumption can be only a bizarre empty groundless unwarranted dream. Therefore if we would not make it to train vigilant self-investigation our life will be wasted effort. Compared with us even a worm or ant or mosquito will then be a spiritual giant.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I wrote in a recent comment addressed to Michael:

What I meant was that we know 'how' are [it should have been 'we'] rise from ourself, and this is by 'grasping form' or attending to anything other than ourself, but we do not know 'why' we rise from ourself to 'grasp form'. Suppose if I travel to Mumbai by train, I know 'how' I am traveling to Mumbai, but I should also know 'why' I am travelling to Mumbai. I was hinting that in regards to the rising of our ego this 'why' is inexplicable.

I think I was not accurate or correct when I wrote, '[...] we do not know 'why' we rise from ourself to 'grasp form'. [...] I was hinting that in regards to the rising of our ego this 'why' is inexplicable'. Michael had explained me that a seeming effect must have a seeming cause. The cause of our ego's arising from ourself has to be again pramada (self-negligence), or our visahya-vasanas and karma-vasanas. Therefore, the answers to the 'how' and 'why' are same, as far as the reason for arising of our ego is concerned.

When or how did this pramada or vasanas originate for the first time? Answer to this question is same as the question, 'when did this ego originate for the first time?' As Michael wrote in a recent comment addressed to me, '[...] both cause and effect and logic come into existence only when this ego arises, so its origination and cessation are the borders beyond which no logic or ideas about cause and effect can apply'.

Therefore we can only comment on our present situation. Now we experience ourself as this ego (Sanjay), and this ego has almost endless desires or vasanas, and it is these vasanas, together with our agamya-karmas (actions done by our free-will) which push our attention to things other than ourself, and these actions strengthen our vasanas and also reinforce and fatten our ego. I hope I am correct this time.

'virtuos enterprise' writes in his comment typed above, 'The only thing on what we (seemingly !) can sure of is our own conscious self-awareness, although even that perception/assumption can be only a bizarre empty groundless unwarranted dream'.

I think he is correct when he writes, 'The only thing on what we (seemingly !) can sure of is our own conscious self-awareness', though the word 'seemingly' is not correct here but I think he is wrong when he writes, 'although even that perception/assumption can be only a bizarre empty groundless unwarranted dream'. Michael has explained this to us at many places that we can doubt anything and everything that we experience as things other than ourself and these could be an illusory dream but we cannot doubt our existence or self-awareness. How can any experience exist without a conscious experiencer, and the essence of this conscious experiencer is what we really are - the infinite reality, therefore we cannot dismiss our self-experience or our first person experience as a 'bizarre empty groundless unwarranted dream'. The real 'we' cannot be a dream by any stretch of imagination. Regards.


virtuos enterprise said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you are right. When writing that outcry I was not aware that I was caught in the wheel of unprofitable and unrewarding thoughts. It is much better to try to find out where the 'I'-thought begins than grumbling and moaning about one's (my) inability to pursue the enquiry 'Who am I ?' relentlessly.

tropical morning mist said...

Sanjay Lohia,
no, 'virtuos enterprise' is right.
In theory everything and every idea can be an illusory dream. So also the idea of an conscious experiencer, self-awareness and the 'real we'. Even the appearance of giants like Buddha, Jesus and Sri Ramana together with his teachings, Arunachala, Siva and all the Upanishads may be only a dream.
But what would be the gain of that kind of thinking and doubting all ? Mass hysteria and mass suicide.

Sanjay Lohia said...

'tropical morning mist', let us again carefully read paragraph seven of Nan Yar?:

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

Bhagavan clearly says here that what exists is only atma-svarupa, whereas the world, soul (ego) and God (a God separate from us) are mere imaginations or illusory superimpositions on ourself. He has given us several logical reasons to believe this. For example we exist while we are asleep, but this world, ego and God disappear at that time. These three again arise when we wake up from sleep, therefore these have to be just our mental creations, whereas we have to be the reality which always exists and never undergoes any appearance or disappearance.

You say 'Even the appearance of giants like Buddha, Jesus and Sri Ramana together with his teachings, Arunachala, Siva and all the Upanishads may be only a dream'. Yes, the name and form of any sadguru, like Bhagavan Ramana is part of our dream, but the sadguru is like a lion seen in our dream. The fright of seeing this lion will wake us up, and this waking that this dream lion (our sadguru) brings about is real.

The words of Bhagavan Ramana, Adi Shankara and many others, along with the writings in Upanishads which reiterate again and again that only our pure self-consciousness is real, and that everything else is just an illusory superimposition on our atma-svarupa. Therefore it is upto us to believe whether or not our atma-svarupa is the only existing reality, and that, therefore, it is not part of our dream. Regards.

tropical morning mist said...

Sanjay Lohia,
Upon closer consideration/eximination of the universal human helplessness and impotence only one suspicion suggests itself:
We have to assume that all is a dream, even the fright of seeing a dream-lion, our waking beginning with writing our comments on a blog-article. The idea of the existence of atma-svarupa are all imaginations, mental fabrications or creations and superimpositions. All that is like the seeming silver of the shell of mother-of-pearl. Not only name and form of any sadgurus are part of our dream but also all our experiences. The idea of Gods, religions and sadgurus are born out of our wishful dreams and are working only as a sedative pill. All our beliefs inclusive my just very pessemistic view/comment is only a dream.
Therfore we can only pin our hopes for our own eternal consciousness on and put our faith in our direct and immediate self-awareness.

divine beggar said...

Hey tropical morning mist,
what you have discovered - "upon closer consideration" - take it easy.
You and your pessemistic thoughts do not at all exist in the view of the alone existing screen of consciousness.
You as the ego are just a thought.
Instead of thinking and directing your attention towards gloominess you should deprive your ego of its nourishment.
Be brave and courageous : give up your treacherous ego, the primal thought called 'I' and let it be burnt in the intense fire of pure self-awareness !

Pachaiamman said...

Michael,
many thanks for your detailed response.
Thereby you reveal my wrong way of tackling the task and expose a lot of my misapprehensions, fallacies, flaws, failures and my clumsiness and lack of vigilance.
Section 1. the ego is our first thought, the root of our mind
As a beginner in trying to be self-attentive I particularly thank you for the elaborated translation of verse 18 of Upadesa Undiyar.
Section 2. the ego seems to exist only by attending to other things
…Bhagavan clearly implies that by attending to any thought(…) we are not only giving rise to and sustaining that thought, but are also thereby nourishing and sustaining our ego.
Herewith Bhagavan warns us against attending to any thought.
In my experience it is not clear to me/I cannot imagine how I can seek [examine or investigate] the ego without attending to it ?
Section 3. Self-attentiveness is a thought only in a metaphorical sense
Thanks for giving the link to your article of 10 December 2015 Thought of oneself will destroy all other thoughts.
Here you make us realize the fundamental difference between transitive or object-knowing awareness and intransitive Self-awareness. Further you describe/explain self-attentiveness as attention only being retained in ourself.
You also make clear that we cannot subside back into our self so long as we are thinking of or attending to anything other than ourself : "Therefore in order to subside back into ourself, we must think of or attend to ourself alone. Thus thinking of anything else gives rise to and sustains the illusion that we are this finite ego, whereas attending only to ourself causes this illusory ego to subside and dissolve back into ourself."
In order to keep the field (consciousness)free of arising invading insistent thoughts the detection/perception of them seems to be necessary. Detection of them without looking carefully is not afforded. Therefore attention to them is obviously unavoidable/inevitable. Otherwise I would not even notice them. How else should dogged persistent and resistant troublemakers be treated ?

Pachaiamman said...

Michael,
Section 4. Self-attentiveness is the only effective means to be free from thoughts
You observe that when practising self-investigation we should not try to do anything other than just being self-attentive, because that alone will destroy our ego together with all its thoughts. You forewarn us of trying to extinguish or erase other thoughts deliberately because we will then be attending to them and thereby sustaining them.
I might point out that I am not satisfied to achieve only manolaya.
In order to achieve manonasa, which is complete annihilation of our entire mind (the totality of all our thoughts) we need to eradicate its root, which is our ego. Since our ego is a wrong knowledge of ourself we can destroy our ego only by being aware of ourself as we actually are. We can eradicate our ego and all its thoughts only by being attentively aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from the illusory appearance of anything else. Atma-vicara is the only means by which we can permanently extinguish or erase all thoughts. Therefore we should not try to do anything other than just clinging vigilantly and tenaciously to being self-attentive. You caution us again not to attend to or think of anything else at all, because we will thereby be feeding our ego and making it rise again. You call upon us to remain keenly self-attentive for the purpose of natural and peaceful subsidence of the ego back into ourself, the source from which it arose.
Yes, Michael, the subtle mind should not be allowed to get externalized through the activity of the intellect and the sense-organs. But my starting point cannot be equated with that of Dakshinamurti or Dattatreya. Please let us stick to the facts and problems with which most of us or at least I have to grapple when we try to be keenly self-attentive: Countless vishaya-vasanas come in quick succession like the waves of the ocean and agitate the mind. Your advice when practising atma-vicara we should not try to do anything other than just clinging vigilantly and tenaciously to be self-attentive maybe abstractly or conceptually seen the best behaviour. To exaggerate, one might say that your recommandation sounds like telling a swimmer in a shoal of hungry and aggressive sharks only to be vigilantly aware of the correctness of his breath or his hairstyle. How can I just be keenly self-attentive under such circumstances ?
(to be continued)

Pachaiamman said...

(in continuation)
Section 5. If we cling firmly to self-attentiveness, no thoughts can rise, so there will then be no need to investigate to whom they appear
As a beginner I may assume it is known that as my starting position I am usually and regularly faced or confronted with my attention being distracted by any thoughts. 'Already clinging firmly to being self-attentive' is a state which happens/descends rather seldom or by chance.
It is often said in Ramana books that when extraneous thoughts sprout up during enquiry, we should not seek to complete the rising thoughts but instead deeply enquire within: To whom has this thought occured ? .
In this section you give a more down-to-earth and practical advice : if our attention slipped away and other thoughts have arisen, we should then try to turn our attention back to ourself, who are the one to whom they occur.
‚If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate to whom they have occured‘. Here we got the clue how we can immediately turn our attention away from any thought back towards ourself.
As you write: „Whatever thought may arise, it rises only because we are aware of it, so it should remind of ourself, to whom it has occured“.
No, Michael, I am not thinking about thoughts or waiting for thoughts in the sense of an invitation to them to come into my mind. I only wanted to express that in the moment when I am becoming aware of a rising thought my self-attentiveness/attention only to myself is defeated because I feel obliged to say
goodby to that troublemaker.
As you say the very purpose of what I should do is only attending to myself alone. So if I understand you correctly I should not do any treatment to arising thoughts as you write in the next section.
Section 6. All we need do is to try to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness
Avoiding being distracted by any other thoughts seems to me in my present state to be still a great feat/achievement.
As you write :'the more keenly and vigilantly we manage to be self-attentive, the more our mind will automatically subside back into ourself. Therefore we need not concern ourself with any thoughts such as whether or not our mind has subsided or returned to its birthplace'.
So I have to give my attention only to cling fast to uninterrupted svarupa-smarana[self-rememberance].
Section 7. Atma-vicara is just keeping our attention on ourself
Persistently holding fast to self-attentiveness and keeping the mind always in or on atma[ourself] is the task which is to undertake by us.
Without allowing the mind to move away towards anything is the methodic way. In the present moment I have not the faintest idea if and how I can afford it.
Section 8. Fixing our attention on ourself, we should not think of anything else whatsoever
Fix the mind in atman and do not think even the slightest of anything else at all ! Just patiently persever in clinging tenaciously to svarupa-dhyana-without thinking of or being concerned about anything else whatsoever seems to be even for Hercules a huge assignment/exercise. But as it is sufficiently revealed to us : we have no alternative.

Bob - P said...

{In this context it is important to understand that what Bhagavan means by ‘எண்ணம்’ (eṇṇam), ‘thought’ or ‘idea’, is any kind of mental phenomena, and since all sensory perceptions (sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations) are mental phenomena, all things that seem to us to be physical phenomena (whether in waking or in dream) are actually just mental phenomena, so according to him all phenomena (that is, everything that we experience other than our own actual self, which is just pure self-awareness) is a thought or idea. Therefore what he implies in this verse is that everything is our mind, and the root of it all is only our ego, this primal thought called ‘I’.}

Thank you Michael for writing this article.
I found the above helped reinforce my understanding that thoughts are not just mental chatter / internal voice but the whole world and in essense everything I experience during wakng and dream .

confused said...

Dear Michael,

Sometimes I get a feeling that continuously being self-attentive is making me insensitive towards other's feeling e.g. my daughter, wife and family (Obviously I am having this question since I have not realized the unity of all). But I am worried if by being self-attentive and by negating the natural thoughts, I am missing out on establishing deeper relationship with my family members.

Has Bhagavan Ramana touched upon this aspect anywhere in his writing ?

With Regards.
A confused mind

happy medium said...

confused mind,
your family members are as you essentially only the alone existing consciousness - now experienced in embodiment of their limited egos. You are actually not divided from them. Do not be dazzled by the viewpoint of your ego. Rather in daily life you may find a way to communicate with them respectfully in closeness and with deepest sympathy. Trying to be self-attentive should not be mistaken for egotism. Practising self-investigation is in no way an obstacle to associate in appreciation and with loving care with your family. Therefore take your time to devote yourself deeply to inside and there will be also enough time to turn to your family. The more you improve the quality/intensity of your self-attention the sooner you will find the correct way to meet your family commitments.
As the father of two I can tell you: To be a good husband and father is by no means not alwaqys easy but certainly quite compatible with self-investigation.
Chin up !

Sivanarul said...

Kandar Anuboothi of Saint Arunagirinathar of Arunachala:

http://www.davidgodman.org/asaints/kanubhuti.shtml

2 O Lord, God of the deva realm! Are you not joyous, carefree, unsorrowing, the great yogi, the one who desires the good of all beings, the one who is possessed of kind speech, and the one who performs divine dramas? O Murugan! I beg you, please enlighten me about the experience of liberation in which everything ceases to exist, that good state in which the sense of 'mine' is lost.

13 Neither with form nor without it; neither existence nor non-existence; neither darkness nor light; that Absolute Reality is Murugan, our Guru, he who wields the incomparable vel.(5) Is there any possibility of knowing him except through his grace?

14 O Mind! Abandon, abandon the desires that venture out through the five gates of the body, the mouth, the eyes, the nostrils and the ears. Surrendering at the feet of Lord Murugan, who wields the vel in his hands, take the path to salvation.

28 Untainted divine nectar! King with the piercing vel! Embodiment of jnana! What else can I say? The Transcendental Reality swallowed the 'me', the individual self, leaving That alone which is mere existence.

31 You decreed that I should fall into the mire of maya and lead a useless life in this way. Have I, in my previous life, done anything despicable to deserve this? O peacock-mounted God, may you prosper ever after!

42 In a state of thinking without thinking, the incomparable vel bestowed on me knowledge of the Ultimate. As soon as it was granted to me, my relationship with the world was severed; speech and mind ceased, along with ignorance and knowledge.

48 O Lord, do you not inseparably stand in the intellect of those in whom every kind of knowledge has ceased? Their relationships have come to nothing, their darkness has been destroyed. Lord of the vel! You abide forever in those who have conquered delusion.

49 That which alone is, is to be realised by oneself. How can this be described to anyone else? Lord of manifold forms who wields the sparkling light of the vel! Divine resplendence enveloped in grace! You remove the misery of those who think of you.

Sanjay Lohia said...

'confused', you ask 'Sometimes I get a feeling that continuously being self-attentive is making me insensitive towards other's feeling e.g. my daughter, wife and family.[...] But I am worried if by being self-attentive and by negating the natural thoughts, I am missing out on establishing deeper relationship with my family members'.

I share my reflection on this question. Michael writes in section 10c of his article: Why should we believe what Bhagavan has taught us?:

To the extent that we have genuine bhakti, to that extent we will also have genuine vairāgya, and vice versa, because bhakti is the power of love that draws our attention back towards ourself, whereas vairāgya is freedom from desires that draw our attention away from ourself towards anything else.

Therefore if you are continuously practising self-attentiveness, as you claim, you should be generally growing in love towards one and all, including our animal friends, and not becoming insensitive towards them. As Michael writes, it is the power of love that repeatedly draws our attention back towards ourself, therefore as our ego starts increasingly tasting this pure and boundless love (which is what we really are) by practising persistent self-attentiveness, we should in all probability grow in love towards all and not become insensitive towards others' feelings.

However, at times as we practise self-investigation our most horrible or undesirable vishaya vasanas may rise to the surface, because the fire of self-attentiveness may make these vasanas want to escape from their hiding place deep inside us. Thus there could be phases when we experience greater insensitivity, or other negative or undesirable vasanas manifesting in us in greater force.

But I think if we are sincerely and persistently practising self-attentiveness, we should in all probability be growing in love and sensitivity towards others, including our family, at least in the long run. I am sure Michael will answer your question in greater depth, accuracy and clarity. Regards.

Sanjay Lohia said...

'confused', I have just now located a detailed comment by Michael on the topic of our discussion (please see my previous comment to understand the context). I think what Michael says here beautifully answers your question on 'love and insensitivity' towards others by the practitioners of atma-vichara. Michael spoke at a meeting of RMF, London on 11th April 2015 (please see the video after 45 minutes).

Somebody asked Michael a question on love - that is, will one become more loving and caring as one goes on practising self-investigation? What Michael replied is quite contrary to what I was trying to convey to you in my last comment, therefore this is as much a clarification to me as it may be to anyone else. He replied to the effect:

The more we progress on this path [of self-investigation] the more we will be aware of our own shortcomings and defects, so it may appear to others that we are different or it may appear to others that we are no different. It is a nice idea to think that as we progress on this path we will become more loving, more caring and everything, and will be radiating love but in practice so long as the ego - which is the root of all defects - is there, other defects will be there. None of us are perfect so long as we experience ourself as this ego. What we really are is perfect, but we have to experience what we really are in order to experience perfection. So we should not be seeking any manifestation of love or anything, but we have to experience it [absolute love] within ourself and then let everything else take care of itself.

I do not think any one will dispute the fact that Bhagavan was radiating love, compassion, kindness and everything. Why are so many people attracted to him? Most of the people are attracted to him are least interested in his teachings. They do not want to hear about his teachings but they love Bhagavan. Why? Because he experienced himself as he really is, and he experienced and loved all of us as himself.

So may be once our ego is destroyed we will radiate love, but then according to Bhagavan once the ego is destroyed there is nothing else remaining. So we should not be seeking to radiate love, we should be seeking to find out what we really are and then let love radiate afterwards if such is the circumstances. We should just remember that so long as we experience ourself as this ego we are defective. Regards.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Continuing my discussion with 'confused' on the topic of practising self-investigation and how it effects the quality of our love towards our family, I share some more reflections.

I fully agree with Michael when he says that so long as we experience ourself as this ego we are defective. Whether or not we are practising self-investigation, we as this ego are always attached to or love ourself, our near and dear ones, our business, our bank balance, our pets, our social status and so on, much more than the rest of the things which we consider as 'others'. Therefore in real terms there is no real difference between a sadhaka practising self-investigation and others, because in greater or lesser quantity we all love and are attached more to ourself (our ego), our family and our possessions, and we either ignore or hate others.

However there could be a qualitative difference between the attachment of a genuine sadhaka towards himself, his near and dear ones, his possessions and so on. Like in my case I find that currently my attachment towards my business is relatively less than it used to be earlier. As our attachments towards ourself (our real self) starts growing, our attachments towards ourself as this person, towards our family and our possessions may become relatively become less.

As Michael says 'The more we progress on this path [of self-investigation] the more we will be aware of our own shortcomings and defects, [...]'. Therefore in most case the more we will progress on this path of self-investigation, our attachments to 'me' and 'mine' will start reducing, however we will be more painfully aware of our remaining shortcomings, defects and attachments. Since our minds will become progressively purer and purer, we will notice our attachments and defects more and more than we would have noticed in a relatively impure mind. For example on a white colour shirt, black colour marks can be more prominently noticed than we would have noticed it say on a dark blue colour shirt. White shirt in this case in our purer mind, and black colour marks are our attachments and defects. Regards.

Viveka Vairagya said...

The Witness

There is a lovely story about a monk who came to his master and asked ‘who am I?’ The master gazed intently into the young monk’s eyes and said ‘go outside, look into the well and you will see who you are’. So the monk went outside, looked into the well, and saw his reflection staring back at him. ‘Oh’ he said. ‘That is who I am’.


For the next ten years the monk went about his business, though continued to feel a sense of uncertainty about who he was. Surely he was more than the physical body. So he took himself back outside to the well and looked into it. He saw, that over the past ten years, his reflection had changed. If his reflection kept changing, this could not really be who he was. He looked completely different as a baby and knew that he would look utterly different as an old man. No. There had to be something more than this.


‘Ah!’ he said to himself. ‘It is my thoughts that are telling me I am not my reflection in the well. My thoughts are very wise. Perhaps, then, I am my thoughts!’


So, for the next ten years, the monk went about his business, trying to convince himself that he was his thoughts. But he began to notice something. He noticed that his thoughts changed. He noticed that what he believed to be true in his mind one day was replaced by a new thought, a new truth, the next.
‘If my mind keeps changing as my body does,’ the monk thought to himself, ‘then I cannot be my thoughts. Who, then, am I?’


Try as he may, the monk could think of no other explanation as to who he was. After a few more years of deliberation, the monk packed his bags and took himself off in search of his old master.


When he came to the monastery in which his old master now resided, he approached the elderly guru hoping for the answer he had so long been searching for.
‘Please master’ the monk said, ‘many years ago I asked you who I was and you told me to look into the well. I saw myself there but have since come to understand that I am not my body. I then wondered if I am my thoughts, but now I understand that I am not my thoughts. Who then, dear master, am I?’


The master once again looked patiently into his student’s eyes.


‘When you looked into the well, my child, who was it that saw you’?
‘I did’
‘And when you think your thoughts, who is it that listens to you?’
‘I do’
‘Who, then, is this I?’
The monk thought for many minutes but could not answer. Then the elderly master held up his finger and whispered, ‘The witness. Something witnesses your reflection. Something witnesses your thoughts. This witness is who you are’.

Bob - P said...

Very helpful thank you Viveka Vairagya, I reqlly enjoyed reading this and had never heard of it before.

It makes me think when looking down the well or into mirror the face over there will constanly change and is at the mercy of time. I should look 180 degress back and investigate on who does this face appear along with all other phenomena. My face is always out there somewhere never here where I am at zero distance that is the screen, unchanging, shapeless, colourless, no boundary and just space or capacity for everthing that appears and disappears on it.
We must stay there and investigate to see what it is.

In appreciation
Bob

vritti-jnana said...

Viveka Vairagya,
this story shows to me only that I should never believe to an 'elderly master' at least without further clarification of the used terms.
Telling me and 'knowing' then that I am the 'witness' of my reflections and thoughts does not satisfy me at all because the 'witness' could be only an other name for the deceitful and treacherous ego. In my experience there is no need to hide the ultimate truth behind new words for our real nature. Please tell me : Who exactly is the 'witness' - the real self or the ego in its function of the witnessing mind ?

Viveka Vairagya said...

Vritti-Jnana,

Clearly, the witness being implied here is the real self because it witnessses all thoughts, including the I-thought or the ego.

Michael James said...

Vritti-Jnana, you are correct in saying that the ‘witness’ (the one who is aware of everything) is only our ego, but if we turn our attention back to face this witness, it will dissolve, because it seems to exist only when it is aware of things other than itself (which is what Bhagavan calls ‘உருப்பற்றி’ (uru-p-paṯṟi) or ‘grasping form’ in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) and hence it ceases to exist when it tries to be aware of (to witness or observe) itself alone (as he indicates in the same verse by saying ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought, it will take flight’), and what will then remain is only ourself as we really are, which never witnesses or is aware of anything other than ourself.

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, it is not correct to say that our real self ‘witnesses all thoughts, including the I-thought or the ego’, though this sometimes seems to be implied in some older advaitic texts, because Bhagavan has clarified that as we really are we are not aware of anything other than ourself, so it is only when we rise as this ego that we seem to become aware of other things (all of which are just thoughts or mental phenomena). This is what he implied in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.

In the clear view of our actual self, what exists is only ourself, who are pure self-awareness, so as such we are not aware of anything else. Therefore this ego and everything else seem to exist only in the deluded view of this ego, which is consequently the sole ‘witness’ or observer of everything.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya wrote on the topic of 'The Witness'. In this comment he shared a story about a monk who came to his master and asked 'who am I?' Eventually the elderly master explained to the monk that he was the witness, the witness that witnesses even thoughts.

In this regards it will be useful if we read Michael's article, 'What is meant by the term saksi or witness?' I quote from this article.

The term sākṣi is unfortunately the cause of much confusion, because it is not very clear what it means, and hence it is liable to be misinterpreted. It seems to imply something that is aware of things other than itself, but if that were what it is intended to mean, then it would only be the ego, because according to Bhagavan it is only the ego that knows anything other than itself.

Some people suggest that it means something (or some state) between ego and ourself, but that suggestion unnecessarily multiplies the number of entities we should be concerned with. Can there be anything between our ego and ourself? No, because we either experience ourself as we really are or as something else, and when we experience ourself as anything else, that is what is called ego.

This is why Bhagavan generally did not use the term sākṣi of his own accord, because it unnecessarily complicates and confuses matters rather than simplifying and clarifying them.

Viveka Vairagya writes to Vritti-Jnana, 'Clearly, the witness being implied here is the real self because it witnessses all thoughts, including the I-thought or the ego'. As Michael implies in his comment addressed to Vritti-Jnana, this is not true. Our real self does not witness all thoughts, including our thought called 'I' or ego. If at all our real self witnesses anything it is only itself, that is why Bhagavan has repeatedly emphasised that our existence and awareness are one and the same. We are aware only of ourself in our true state, devoid of our ego and thoughts.

Therefore the witness is only our ego, and witnessed is only our thoughts and it is these thoughts which give rise to this seen world. Beyond or underlying this witness and witnessed is ourself, the absolute reality, and it is this absolute reality which gives light to this witness (our ego), thus making the witnessing possible. Regards.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

Bhagavan says clearly that the Self is the witness in these passages from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi:

here: "The Self is ever there, there is nothing without it. Be the Self and the desires and doubts will disappear. Such Self is the witness in sleep, dream and waking states of existence. These states belong to the ego. The Self transcends even the ego. (Talk 13)

here: "For a realised being the Self alone is the Reality, and actions are only phenomenal, not affecting the Self. Even when he acts he has no sense of being an agent. His actions are only involuntary and he remains a witness to them without any attachment." (Talk 17)

here: "The Self is ever the witness, whether so imagined or not." (Talk 137)

here: "You are the witness of jagrat (waking), svapna (dream) and sushupti (sleep) - rather, they pass before you." (Talk 297)

here: "Again the pure Self has been described in Viveka Chudamani to be beyond asat, i.e., different from asat. Here asat is the contaminated waking ‘I’. Asadvilakshana means sat, i.e., the Self of sleep. He is also described as different from sat and asat. Both mean the same. He is also asesha sakshi (all-seeing witness)." (Talk 314)

here: "Now, what is this ‘I-thought’ (the ego)? Is it the subject or the object,
in the scheme of things? Inasmuch as it witnesses all other objects in the waking and dream states, or at any rate we think that it does so, it must be considered
to be the subject. On realising the Pure Self, however, it will be an object only." (Talk 323)

here: "See how the sun is necessary for daily activities. He does not however form part of the world actions; yet they cannot take place without the sun. He is the witness of the activities. So it is with the Self." (Talk 466)

here: "Waking, dream and sleep are mere phases of the mind. They are not of the Self. You are the witness of these states." (Talk 495)

here: "Our very experience of the jagrat and the swapna states proves that the Consciousness as the Self underlies all the five states, remains perfect all along and witnesses all of them." (Talk 617)

and here: "The Self is the basis of all the experiences. It remains as the witness and the support of them all." (Talk 617)

I hope you agree. I know you have doubts about whether Talks was accurately recorded, but it cannot be wrong in so many places.

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, in the case of many passages in Talks we cannot be sure how accurately whatever Bhagavan said was recorded, but there are certainly many inaccuracies in what is recorded there, and there is also a serious lack of clarity in many cases. Bhagavan generally spoke in a very simple yet often quite nuanced manner, and the nuances in what he said are frequently not adequately conveyed in Talks and other such books. Therefore we need to be cautious when reading such books, and we should try to judge and understand what is recorded in them in the light of the clear and simple principles that he taught us in his own original writings, particularly in Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, which are the three texts in which he expressed the fundamental principles of his teachings in a systematic manner.

One of those fundamental principles is that other things seem to exist only in the view of our ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are, because what we actually are is only pure self-awareness, which is aware of absolutely nothing other than itself. This is why he said in verse 98 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai: ‘ஆன்மாதான் ஏன்ற கரி என்றல் இழுக்கு’ (āṉmā-tāṉ ēṉḏṟa kari eṉḏṟal iṙukku), which means ‘it is incorrect to say that ātman itself is the actual witness’.

There are numerous passages in both Nāṉ Yār? and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu from which we can infer this fundamental principle that what is aware of anything other than ourself is only our ego. One such passage in verse 26 Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, which I cited in my previous reply to you, and other passages include the following portions of the third, fourth and fifth paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?:

சர்வ அறிவிற்கும் சர்வ தொழிற்குங் காரண மாகிய மன மடங்கினால் ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கும். கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது.

sarva aṟiviṟkum sarva toṙiṟkum kāraṇam-āhiya maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgum. kaṯpita sarppa-jñāṉam pōṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa rajju-jñāṉam uṇḍāhādadu pōla, kaṯpitamāṉa jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgiṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa sorūpa darśaṉam uṇḍāhādu.

If the mind, which is the cause of all knowledge [other than our fundamental knowledge ‘I am’] and of all activity, subsides, jagad-dṛṣṭi [perception of the world] will cease. Just as unless knowledge of the imaginary snake ceases, knowledge of the rope, which is the adhiṣṭhāna [the base that underlies and supports the illusory appearance of the snake], will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is a kalpita [a fabrication, mental creation or figment of our imagination], ceases, svarūpa-darśana [experience of our own actual self], which is the adhiṣṭhāna [the base or foundation that underlies and supports the imaginary appearance of this world], will not arise.

(I will continue this reply in my next two comments.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Viveka Vairagya:

[...] நினைவுகளை யெல்லாம் நீக்கிப் பார்க்கின்றபோது, தனியாய் மனமென்றோர் பொருளில்லை; ஆகையால் நினைவே மனதின் சொரூபம். 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 y-ellām nīkki-p pārkkiṉḏṟa-pōdu, taṉiyāy maṉam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ illai; āhaiyāl niṉaivē maṉadiṉ sorūpam. 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. [...]

[...] When one sets aside all thoughts and sees, solitarily there is no such thing as ‘mind’; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or fundamental nature] of the mind. 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. [...]

[...] மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா.

[...] maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa. taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā.

[...] Of all the thoughts that appear in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first [primal, basic, original or causal] thought. Only after this rises do other thoughts rise. Only after the first person [the ego] appears do the second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person the second and third persons do not exist.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Viveka Vairagya:

Bhagavan did sometimes use terms that mean ‘witness’, but since ‘witness’ is a term that can be interpreted and understood in various different senses, whenever he used such terms he did so in a carefully nuanced manner and made it clear in what sense he was using them. Therefore he may well have used such terms when giving some or all of the answers that are recorded in the passages that you cite from Talks, but he would have used them in such a way that an attentive listener would have clearly understood the sense in which he was using them, and he would not have implied that our actual self is aware of anything other than itself.

Because this is an extremely subtle subject, no words can adequately convey it, so it was necessary for Bhagavan to express it in a suitably nuanced manner, and hence in order to understand it correctly we need clarity, subtlety and acuity of mind. Therefore it is inevitable that people who lack the required clarity, subtlety and acuity of mind will misunderstand it, or at least will not understand it sufficiently clearly, so it is not surprising that what is recorded in many books such as Talks often fails to convey sufficiently accurately or in an adequately nuanced manner what he actually said.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya continues to feel that ourself as we really are is the witness of our ego and all its other progenies, and in support of this stand he has quoted extensively from Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi where the word 'witness' is supposedly used as refer to our real self.

I had referred to the article by Michael titled, 'What is meant by the term saksi or witness?' In this article he quotes the following verse 98 of GVK:

Since [any] other thing that is moving or unmoving does not appear unless one lives as ‘body alone is I’, [and] because of the non-existence [in the clear view of ātman, our real self] of [any] other thing that seems to be para-apara [superior or inferior, far or near, earlier or later, cause or effect], it is incorrect to say that ātman itself is the actual witness.

If what Viveka Viragya quotes from Talks indicates that our real self is the witness of things other that itself, then Bhagavan is clearly contradicting himself in this verse of GVK. Which of the interpretation should we believe? To me it is obvious, it has to be the GVK version. GVK was a joint work of Bhagavan and Muruganar, hence its value is immensely more than Talks.

Let us now read Sri Sadhu Om's explanation of verse 674 of GVK. Michael mentions its corrected version as the first comment on his article: 'What is meant by the term saksi or witness?':

Therefore, when Sri Bhagavan says in this verse that we should simply be a witness to all things, he does not mean that we should attend to them. He simply means that we should remain like the sun, unattached to and unconcerned with whatever happens or does not happen in our presence.

Again Sri Sadhu Om implies that the word 'witness' should only be taken in the sense of 'presence'.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

(In continuation of my previous comment)

Viveka Vairagya quotes from Talks: See how the sun is necessary for daily activities. He does not however form part of the world actions; yet they cannot take place without the sun. He is the witness of the activities. So it is with the Self. (Talk 466)

Is sun a mere presence in whose presence all the worldly activities take place, or is it the witness of the worldly activities? It is obvious that it a mere presence, though metaphorically it could be called a witness. Therefore, 'He is the witness of the activities. So it is with the Self', could be a mistranslation of Bhagavan's words or perhaps Bhagavan's intended meaning here was 'He is the presence of the activities', but he might have used some word which can also be taken to mean 'witness' in some context, thus was wrongly understood here.

Let us read verse 28 of Upadesa Undiyar:

If [we] ourself know [ourself by scrutinising] thus 'what is the [real] nature of myself?' then [we will discover ourself to be] beginningless, endless [and] unbroken sat-cit-ananda [being-consciousness-bliss].

These are Bhagavan's direct written words. Therefore if once we discover ourself as beginningless, endless and unbroken being-consciousness-bliss, who will witness, what and how? What will remain will be one undivided and absolute reality other than which nothing will exist or even seem to exist. In such a state there will remain nothing outside of us to witness, nor any entity in us that can witness anything. Regards.

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, one point I forgot to mention in my earlier replies to you is that Bhagavan often used to explain that when it is said in certain texts that ātman (used in the sense of our actual self) is sākṣi, this term ‘sākṣi’ (which literally means ‘witness’) is used only in the sense of saṃnidhi (which means ‘nearness’ or ‘presence’), as is illustrated by the fact that the analogy that is used most frequently to illustrate the sense in which ātman is said to be sākṣi is the sun, which is said to be the sākṣi of everything that happens on earth. As he explained, just as the sun is not aware of anything that happens on earth, ātman is not aware of anything other than itself, but just as everything on earth happens in the presence of the sun, everything that seems to exist does so only in the presence of ātman.

When asked to explain why ‘sākṣi’ is used in this special sense of saṃnidhi or presence, Bhagavan said that when a legal document is attested by a witness (sākṣi), it is customary for the witness to sign their name below the statement ‘Signed in the presence of’, and that a person is qualified to be a legal witness only if they are or were present when the concerned event took place, so ‘sākṣi’ is used as a metaphor for presence. He also explained that in the same sense we can metaphorically say that the screen on which pictures are projected is the sākṣi or ‘witness’ of those pictures, because even though it is not aware of any pictures being projected upon it, they could not be seen by others if it were not present. Likewise, though ātman is not aware of any pictures that seem to be projected upon it, the ego is able to see this world-picture only because of the presence of ātman.

Since I remembered that somewhere in Talks it is recorded that Bhagavan explained that in this context ‘sākṣi’ means only presence, I have just searched for it and found it in one of the passages from which you quoted an extract, namely section 466 (2006 edition, page 456), but you seem to have overlooked the importance of this explanation, because you did not include it in the extract you cited. The following is the question and all of the answer given by Bhagavan as recorded in this section:

D.: Is not the Self the witness only (sakshimatra)?

M.: ‘Witness’ is applicable when there is an object to be seen. Then it is duality. The Truth lies beyond both. In the mantra, sakshi cheta kevalo nirgunascha, the word sakshi must be understood as sannidhi (presence), without which there could be nothing. See how the sun is necessary for daily activities. He does not however form part of the world actions; yet they cannot take place without the sun. He is the witness of the activities. So it is with the Self.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

The Talk 466 that you quote does make it clear that the term 'Witness' is inapplicable when it comes to the Self - "‘Witness’ is applicable when there is an object to be seen. Then it is duality. The Truth lies beyond both."

vrtti-jnana said...

Michael,
thank you for clarifying the term 'witness'.
What we really are is pure self-awareness and as such is aware of nothing other but itself.
Sometimes in Ramana books terms are used which obviously can interpreted and understood in various different senses - and then make us (me) bewildered.
I do dislike greatly such confusion. Bewilderment is needed not at all.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Recently we have been discussing extensively about the concept of sakshi or 'witness', and whether our real, ego-free self can witness things other than itself? It is important to understand that our true self is just an presence, and that all witnessing is done only by our ego.

Our real self does not witness anything, and this conceptual clarity is very important for our sadhana, especially for our practice of self-investigation. Why? If we wrongly understand that our true self witnesses things other than itself, then we can never be sure whether or not we have annihilated our ego and thereby are experiencing ourself as we really are. Even when we witness things other than ourself, we can wrongly imagine that it is our real self that is witnessing these things and that therefore our ego has been annihilated, and our sadhana is complete. We are liable to have this delusion at any stage of our sadhana.

When we clearly understand that it is only ego which can or does experience things other than itself, then so long as we experience things other than ourself we will understand that our ego is still alive and kicking, therefore our sadhana has to continue in all seriousness to destroy our ego by experiencing ourself as we really are. Only when we reach our goal of atma-jnana will there be no objective witnessing, and this signpost is important for us in order that we are not confused in any way. Regards.

Bob - P said...

I agree Sanjay, The non dual can only be aware of itself, if it is a witness to anything other than itself no matter how heaven like it may seem it is still duality, the observer, observed and the process of observation is sill happening.

When we turn 180 degrees and experience ourself alone in a flash duality is gone and never to return all that will remain is the non dual slef aware happy being.

Thank you Michael and everyone else for all the comments above, priceless reminders.
In appreciation.
Bob

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, yes, I was hoping that you would notice that those first three sentences of Bhagavan’s reply as recorded in section 466 of Talks, namely “‘Witness’ is applicable when there is an object to be seen. Then it is duality. The Truth lies beyond both”, clearly imply that our real self is not a witness in the literal sense of this term.

After I wrote my previous reply to you late last night, it struck me that I could have expressed one point more clearly. That is, though Bhagavan often said succinctly that sākṣi (witness) means only saṃnidhi (presence), when I wrote about what he said when asked to explain why ‘sākṣi’ is used in this sense, it would perhaps have been more clear and precise if instead of writing ‘so ‘sākṣi’ is used as a metaphor for presence’ I had written that it is used as a metaphor for one in whose presence an event occurs. Therefore, since everything seems to exist and to happen only in the presence of ātman (our actual self), ātman is metaphorically said to be sarva-sākṣi, the ‘witness of all’, even though it is not actually aware of anything other than itself.

vrtti-jnana said...

Without a subtle or sharp mind/intellect or power of discernment we hardly at all
can recognize in which way a term is used, metaphorically or in the literal sense.
As you say clarity, subtlety and acuity of mind is an indispensable requirement for the correct understanding of Bhagavan's teaching particularly when we read books such as 'Talks'. For many years I refused to study that book more carefully because after reading some numerous doubtful formulations (as my first approach to Sri Ramana) I did not know what is what.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Drik-Drsya Viveka by Papaji
(from www.satsangbhavan.net/main.htm)

Ask yourself the question: "Who is the seer?" Find out what is seen. That which is seen is the object and the seer is the subject. The seer - subject - must be separate from the object, different from the object. It is that which is seeing the object. The object is that which is seen. The seer is looking at the object - you are not the object. You may see anything: a horse, a cow, a car, a building, or anything. You are not that. You are the seer.

When you experience your own body you may think that you are the body, but you are not the body. You experience, "I see the body." so you are the seer of the body. It is here that you make the mistake: You become the body and you forget that you are the seer. You have become an object when you say, "I am doing. I am seeing. I am tasting. I am touching. I am smelling. I am hearing." You have lost your bearings and become the body - the seer is no longer separated from the body. Whatever is seen is an object, so when the body is objectified who is the seer? When you see the body it becomes an object. Whatever you see is an object. If you see your eyes they are objects; if you see your hands they are objects.

What about the mind? You know very well that if your mind is suffering it is not at peace. You know the activities of the mind also. You know, "Now my mind is thinking or not thinking." This means that you are also aware of the activities of the mind. You are something other than the mind. You are not the mind. You are neither the mind nor the body.

The same is true of the working of the senses. When you are working, walking, or talking, you know very well, "I am at work, my hands are working." You know very well that you are not the hand; something else is commanding the hands to work. You are something other than the movement of physical activities. You are not even that.

Now consider the intellect. You decide, "I have to do this. I have to go to Lucknow." You decided and you are here. You guided the intellect to make the decision, "Let's go to Lucknow." then you followed the intellect. So you are guiding even the intellect and you know very well that the intellect is something other than you.

Find out who you are - here and now. You are not the mind. You are not even the prana - the breathing. You know very well that breathing is in and out, inhaling and exhaling. You can feel, "I am inhaling, I am exhaling." You know this activity also. Who is watching the inhaling and exhaling? This is all that the body is.

So who are you? You are not all these functions. You will have to ask the question, "Who am I?"

AC said...

Hi. Self-inquiry is rather effective in taking us to the non personal seer-seen stage... but that is still very dual. What next to get to the final on dual "seer is the seen"?

waving cornfield said...

Viveka Vairagya,
what I read in your above comment does not provide much information about the urgent subject when one seeks to know 'Who am I'? Strictly speaking the comment is lacking in relevant content.
But the good one is that we get spured on to deepen and intensify our enquiry with more vigour/ardour/fervour.

Vincent said...

Dear Michael,
Thank you for all your work. I have a question on the understanding of some of Ramana Maharshi’s teachings.
Some teachers in line with Ramana Maharshi (as Francis Lucille, student of Jean Klein) explain that the investigation should be to see if I have any proof that awareness (defined as that which is hearing these words right now) is limited and personal. To investigate this at the level of the mind and of the body and realise that I have no proof that awareness is limited and personal. This brings us to be open to the possibility that awareness is in fact unlimited and universal. The ultimate proof of this is to live our life from the point of view of not knowing and to be open to the possibility that awareness is unlimited and universal and to realise experiments. To live life as if awareness was unlimited and universal and to see how life responds to this. Increased serendipity and happiness in all areas of life are to be the “proof in the pudding” which confirms that everything is consciousness.
This teaching seems to differ from some conclusions in your blog based on Ramana Maharshi’s teachings. Ultimately, one is to be self attentive to the exclusion of anything else. If one manages this just one instant, this will lead to Manonasa and permanent experience of Self as in deep sleep. Once this happens, the world and the body do not rise anymore, only the Self is experienced. The body may still appear to be doing things but this appears so due to the wrong outlook of those looking at the Jnani.
My experience: I had an awakening experience some years ago. Now, I try just to be. I have the impression that things are made of the same “stuff” that one may call awareness. It is unclear if the ordinary awareness looking through my eyes is the same awareness with which this computer is made. I have the impression that this awareness is unlimited, I am open to the possibility that all bodies may share the same awareness. When I try to be aware of being I try to just be. My eyes don’t focus on anything special, they just gaze at air. The more I just rest in being the more things become subtle. My focus of attention is often distracted towards other things, so I just bring back my attention to being. I do not see how I could do this during work even though I have read that it is possible to do this during moments where I have nothing to do. I don’t see how it is possible to be attentive to awareness to the exclusion of anything else as eyes will always try to rest on something be it air. It is also unclear how everything is thoughts: the world, this computer etc… My theoretical understanding is that they are mentations made up of mind which is made up of awareness. It seems that my only hope is to try to be self attentive to the maximum and hope that one day everything will disappear and only the formless, featureless Self (which is said to be already present) will remain. Meanwhile, pain and pleasure alternate in the world. The other day, I had a strange experience, I was everything and everything was me, it didn’t last. As Ramana says, anything impermanent is not worth striving for.
All in all, there is just being as the background of experience, one can calm the mind to experience this peace, this is common to most teachings. It is the part about manonasa which is hard for me to integrate in my life. Are there any living beings in this world who have experienced manonasa? What about Muruganar and Sri Sadhu Om? I’m not quite convinced about the fact that multiple lives may be necessary for this to happen. All I know is that I am and I know this absolutely, all else is open to doubt.
I have been reading your blog for a while now, I haven’t read all articles but I’ve read quite a few such as the one on manonasa. Thank you for this blog

Viveka Vairagya said...

Avasthatraya Prakriya by Ananda Wood
(from www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/downloads/Atmananda.pdf)

"Examination of the three states proves that I am a changeless Principle (Existence)." [First of eleven Points for Sadhana, handed out at a series of "regular talks" by Shri Atmananda, in 1958.]

Here, [the three states of] waking, dream and sleep [avasthatraya] are examined, as everyday experiences that show a self from which they are known. In the waking state, the self is identified with a body in an outside world, where the body's senses are assumed to know outside objects.

But in the dream state, all bodies and all objects seen are imagined in the mind. Dreamt objects are experienced by a dream self – which is not an outside body, but has been imagined in the mind. This shows that the self which knows experience cannot be an outside body, as it is assumed to be in the waking world.

Considering the dream state more carefully, it too depends upon assumed belief. In the experience of a dream, self is identified with a conceiving mind, where thoughts and feelings are assumed to know the dreamt-up things that they conceive.

But, in the state of deep sleep, we have an experience where no thoughts and feelings are conceived and nothing that's perceived appears. In the experience of deep sleep, there is no name or quality or form – neither conceived by mind, nor perceived by any sense.

At first, from this lack of appearances, it seems that deep sleep is a state of blank emptiness, where there is nothing to know anything. No mind or body there appears; and yet it is a state that we somehow enter and experience every day, when waking body falls asleep and dreaming mind has come to rest. If this state of rest is taken seriously, as an experience in itself, it raises a profound question. How is it experienced, when all activities of body and of mind have disappeared?

The question points to a self which experiences deep sleep, a self that somehow goes on knowing when all changing actions of perception, thought and feeling have disappeared. That self is utterly distinct from mind and body, for it stays knowing when they disappear. Its knowing is no changing act of either mind or body; for it remains when all changing acts have come to rest, in an experience where they are utterly dissolved. So it is changeless in itself – found shining by itself, in depth of sleep.

Since change and time do not apply to it, that self is a changeless and a timeless principle of all experience. In the waking state, it illuminates perceptions and interpretations of an outside world. In dreams, it illuminates the inwardly conceived imaginations of a dreaming mind. In deep sleep, it shines alone, quite unconfused with body or with mind. In all these states, it remains the same. It is always utterly unchanged in its own existence, which illuminates itself.

Through this prakriya, Shri Atmananda initiated an enquiry from everyday experience that is commonly accessible to everyone. Accordingly, he treated everyday deep sleep as a 'key to the ultimate'. He said that if a sadhaka is ready to consider deep sleep seriously, then this alone is enough, without the need for a yogic cultivation of nirvikalpa samadhi.

Sivanarul said...

http://davidgodman.org/rteach/Thayumanavar.pdf

Though Bhagavan and Thayumanavar both pointed out the limitations of yogic practices, and though both were sharply critical of people who attempted to attain siddhis, they had a generally tolerant attitude to different religions and their various practices. They knew that they all ultimately resolved themselves into the state of mauna in which all such distinctions and differences were rendered invalid. The next quotation on this subject is from Bhagavan, and it is followed by a very similar statement from Thayumanavar.

The doctrines of all religions contradict each other. They wage war, collide with each other, and finally die.
On this battlefield all the religions retreat defeated when they stand before mauna, which abides beneficently, sustaining them all.
The rare and wonderful power of mauna is that it remains without enmity towards any of the religions.
The many different religions are appropriate to the maturity of each individual, and all of them are acceptable to reality.
Abandoning vain disputation, which only deludes and torments the mind, accept the doctrine of the mauna religion, which always remains undisturbed.44

Shining Supreme!
If we scrutinise all the religions
that look so different,
we find no contradiction in their purpose.
They are all your sport.
Just as all rivers discharge into the sea,
they all end in the ocean of mauna.45

44 Padamalai, ‘Religions and Religious Knowledge’ chapter, verses 1-5.

45 ‘Kallalin’, verse 25. The verse appears in full in Day by Day with Bhagavan, 21st November, 1945, and was briefly mentioned in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi, talk no. 547.

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment:

The two major competing systems of religious and philosophical thought in South India have, for several centuries, been Vedanta and Saiva Siddhanta. The proponents of each school have been criticising the other in their writings for much of the last thousand years. Bhagavan tended to use the language and philosophical structures of Vedanta when he answered visitors’ questions whereas Thayumanavar, in his poems, showed a strong Saiva Siddhanta influence. However, neither was dogmatic about his system since they both knew, from direct experience, that in the experience of the Self all philosophical divisions and distinctions are dissolved. As Thayumanavar wrote:

Since my own actions are forever your own actions,
and since the ‘I’-nature does not exist apart from you,
I am not different from you.
This is the state in which Vedanta and Siddhanta
are harmonised.46

Bhagavan’s own synthesis of the two apparently contradictory philosophies can be found in the following two replies:

Question: What is the end of devotion [bhakti] and the path of Siddhanta [i.e., Saiva Siddhanta]?
Bhagavan: It is to learn the truth that all one’s actions performed with unselfish devotion, with the aid of the three purified instruments [body, speech and mind], in the capacity of the servant of the Lord, become the Lord’s actions, and to stand forth free from the sense of ‘I’ and ‘mine’. This is also the truth of what the Saiva Siddhantins call para-bhakti [supreme devotion] or living in the service of God [irai pani nittral].

Question: What is the end of the path of knowledge [jnana] or Vedanta?
Bhagavan: It is to know the truth that the ‘I’ does not exist separately from the Lord [Iswara] and to be free from the feeling of being the doer [kartrtva, ahamkara].47

46 ‘Paripurananandam’, verse 5. Day by Day with Bhagavan, 17th June, 1946.

47 Spiritual Instruction, part one, questions nine and ten.


from nowhere said...

Michael,
could you please place the collection of articles again on the left margin under the main "Articles"-section- like the "List of articles".

from nowhere said...

Michael,
regarding this blog:
at present the "Article archive" is found only on the "Site Map".

Sivanarul said...

Saint Arunagirinathar’s crown jewel work is named Kandhar Anubuthi (Direct Spiritual Realization of Lord Skanda (Self)). Saint Thayumanavar was deeply inspired by Kandhar Anubhuthi and adored it very much as he says:

Kandar Anubhuti Petru Kandar Anubhuti Sonna
Enthai Arul Naadi Irukkum Naal Ennaalo?

"When shall be that blessed day, when I shall get the grace of my (spiritual) father (Saint Arunagiri) who, after Experiencing Anubhuti or Direct Spiritual Realisation of Lord Skanda, has sung (or given) (the work) Kandar Anubhuti?"

The below treatise is an excellent commentary by Swami Karthikeyan of Sivananda Ashram. The value of this treatise is that every verse is explained from the perspective of a spiritual aspirant. I have included the link for people who want to read the full treatise (it is available as a pdf in the link below). Below is the sample that includes commentary on Verse 43.

May Lord Skanda who destroys Ignorance through his Vel (Jnana) bless every spiritual aspirant to attain the state of Saint Arunagirinathar and Bhagavan.

http://www.kaumaram.com/articles/esoteric_anubhuti/index.html

The Esoteric KANDAR ANUBHUTI
by N.V. Karthikeyan
(Sivananda Ashram, Rishikesh, INDIA)

(Verse-43) (தூசாமணியும் துகிலும்) : "O Lord Muruga, the Beloved of her (Valli) who wears clean (garlands or ornaments made of) gems and clothes! By Thine Love-Grace, the desire-chain was shattered to dust (i.e., destroyed) and then Speechless-Experience (i.e., Direct Experience or Saakshaatkara) was born."

Samadhi or actual Realisation of God has been attained in the previous verse. What he experienced while he was immersed in that state of Samadhi is recounted in this verse, naturally as a later recollection because it was a 'speechless' condition; and so the experience is given in the past tense.

The Lord is said to be the beloved of Valli who wears clean gems and clothes, though normally hunter-women's dresses are not so clean. This is to show that the Jiva which was full of impurities (Rajas and Tamas) in the beginning of Sadhana, after long years of Sadhana and initiation into Sannyasa has become so Sattwa-predominated as to draw or reflect the grace of the Lord in a full measure. That condition is described as 'anbarul' (Anbu + Arul) which is a curious word coined by Arunagiri. 'Anbu' is love or devotion to God, which includes and/or expressed as prayer, aspiration, effort and surrender. (i.e. the Jiva's effort or aspiration to attain God, by prayer and surrender).

Sivanarul said...

'Arul' is grace which the Lord showers upon the Jiva in response to its Anbu. Sadhana or spiritual practice is a continuous struggle and we have seen that from the very beginning obstacles present themselves again and again in increasing intensity, to overcome which the seeker had to intensify his prayer and surrender more and more, which draws the grace of the Lord in a greater and greater measure. As he thus advances, this 'divine circle' of problems/obstacles - love/prayer/surrender - grace/blessings goes on. This is the mysterious divine play of Anbu-Arul interacting with and intensifying each other. And when the climax is reached, when the love/surrender is total and the grace flows in torrents, the two fuze together and there is Illumination or Realisation, (just as when the positive and the negative come together, there is light), which destroys the darkness of Ignorance (Avidya or Ariyaamai) and its retinue, i.e., the 'vicious chain of desires' (Avidya - Kaama - Karma).This fuzing of the two is indicated by 'Anbarul', by which the vicious chain of Avidya-Kama-Karma is destroyed (Aasaa Nigalam Thugalaayina), resulting in 'Pesaa Anubhuti' which is establishment in Nirvikalpa Samadhi or Supreme Silence.

Also, this Anbarul has another significance. This Anbu or individual effort itself is a manifestation of grace only working through the Jiva or individual ego (Avan Arulaal Avan Thaal Vanangi). But in the initial stages when the Jiva is not pure enough, it is unable to feel this and thinks it is putting forth effort by itself. As it advances in Sadhana and the ego gets more and more thin or purified, it starts realising that its effort is due to the Lord's grace. And when it is totally purified of Rajas and Tamas, it feels that it is grace alone that has been working all the time and that it's so-called self-effort was nothing but the grace manifesting through the ego. Finally, when both Anbu and Arul, or self-effort and Lord' grace fuse together, there is Illumination or the birth of 'Pesaa Anubhuti'. Thus the whole of spiritual life is nothing but the play of God's Grace only; both Anbu and Arul are God's. Hence Arunagiri says 'Ninathu Anbarulaal', by Your Love-Grace. Not only Arul is His, but Anbu too is His only. If we carefully go through the whole work, we find that from the very beginning, even from the Kaappu and first verse, the word 'Arul' occurs, i.e., the work starts with prayers for grace - spiritual practice starts with grace of God. And the word 'Arul' keeps occurring now and then throughout the work and finally ends with 'Arul' in the last verse, to show that Anubhuti or God-Realisation is a progressive unfoldment of Arul or Grace right from the beginning to the end. So we can say: அவன் அருளால் அவன் தாள் வணங்கி, அவன் அருளால் அவனை அடைந்தேன். - By His Grace we start worshipping His Feet and By His Grace we Attain Him. Perhaps we can say, 'Kandar Anubhuti' is 'Arul Anubhuti'.

Sivanarul said...

By this Anbu-arul, the chain of desire has been shattered to dust. Avidya - Kaama - Karma (Ignorance–desire–action) are the links of this chain. They are called the knots of the heart (Hridaya Granthis). Ignorance (or the absence of the Knowledge) of the Self/God, as also of the deceptive nature of objects, causes desires for objects. These desires impel a person to put forth efforts (Karmas) to possess and enjoy them. These desire-prompted actions produce their reactions, results or fruits, which are called Karma-phala, which thicken Ignorance. Thus is the endless chain of Ignorance-desire-action which is destroyed by the Light of Jnana or Wisdom produced by Anbu-arul.

When thus the chain of desires is destroyed by Anbu-arul, the Jiva gets melted into the Absolute, and 'Peesaa Anubhuti' is born, Supreme Silence Supervenes. Man merges into God and emerges as a God-man, the Jiva becomes a Jivanmukta Purusha, which exalted condition is described graphically in the following verse. Verses-42 to 44 are thrilling and stimulating, as the climax of the treatise is reached here.

divine beggar said...

Sivanarul,
I am happy to hear nice stories about destroying the endless chain of ignorance-desire-action by the light of Jnana.
But when is destroyed the chain of my desires ?
Wouldn't it be nice when I get melted into the Absolute ?

Hill of my refuge said...

Arunachala,
why do you delay in dispelling my ignorance ? Do you consider my request unworthy of your attention ? Are you fond of leaving me to stew in my own juice of desires ?

Viveka Vairagya said...

An Anecdote

Once, in August 1950, when Shri Atmananda stayed in Bombay for a couple of days on his way back from Europe, he gave audience to a good number of spiritual enthusiasts who flocked for short interviews with him. Among them was an educated young Parsi gentleman who was a lunatic for the past twenty years. But he had occasional sober moments, for an hour or two every day. Fortunately, it was during one of those sober moments that he came for the interview. As soon as he was led in and seated,
Shri Atmananda asked him: ‘Well, what is it that you want?’
Visitor: Well, Sir, I am not come for any spiritual instruction. They say I am a lunatic, and I too believe it, more or less.
Shri Atmananda: Sorry, I am not a doctor myself. You must go to some doctor and take advice.
Visitor: No Sir, I have tried all that in vain. I heard that you are a great divine, and I am sure you can help me out of this malady.
Shri A: No, you are mistaken. I am not a saint and I have no powers to help you in this. Please go and seek remedy elsewhere.
Visitor: No Sir, I am desperate. I shall not return without getting something from you.
Shri Atmananda was in a fix. The gentleman’s face did not show any signs of disorder and he felt compassion for the man. So Shri Atmananda asked him, rather abruptly: ‘Well! What is your ailment?’
Visitor: They say I am a lunatic.
Shri A: Is it true?
Visitor: Yes, it is true, more or less.
Shri A: How can you say so?
Visitor: Because I know it. I cannot think about anything consistently for some time.
Shri A: How do you know that?
Visitor: Well, I know that. I can see my mind running from object to object, in quick succession.
Shri A: But are you that changing mind, or are you that knowing principle which never changes?
Visitor: Of course, I am that knowing principle.
Shri Atmananda retorted with some force: ‘Be that knowing principle always, and don’t worry about your mind.’
The gentleman opened his mouth wide and sat aghast for a minute, and said with luminous satisfaction: ‘Yes! Yes! I have got it. I want nothing more from you now. Allow me, Sir, to go, and I shall write to you from home.’
Shri Atmananda: ‘Yes. You may go and be at peace.’
He went home straight and wrote to Shri Atmananda regularly, after three days, one month, three months, six months, one year, and three years (the last being in August 1953) – all equally assuring that he was leading a steady, happy, contented and prosperous domestic life with his dear wife and children, of course with hearty endorsements from each of them regarding his normality.
This was indeed a miracle of the ultimate witness. Shri Atmananda had only just helped him to direct his own attention to that talisman in himself and he was saved.

sigh of relief said...

Viveka Vairagya,
never forgetting the 'talisman' of inherent happiness of infinite self-awareness is indeed great luck.

Sivanarul said...

divine beggar,

“But when is destroyed the chain of my desires ?”

Whenever grace orders so. Until then we can beg for it to do so. The ego itself is not capable of destroying the chain of desires.

The following Thayumanavar’s song is a good one to do manana on:

ஆசைக்கொரளவில்லை யகிலமெல்லாங்கட்டி
யாளினுங்கடன்மீதிலே
யாணைசெலவேநினைவ ரளகேசனிகராக
வம்பொன்மிகவைத்தபேரு
நேசித்துரசவாத வித்தைக்கலைந்திடுவர்
நெடுநாளிருந்தபேரு
நிலையாக்வேயினுங் காயகற்பந்தேடி
நெஞ்சுபுண்ணாவரெல்லாம்
யோசிக்கும்வேளையிற் பசிதீரவுண்பது
முறங்குவதுமாகமுடியு
முன்னதேபோதுநா னானெனக்குளறியே
யொன்றைவிட்டொன்றுபற்றிப்
பாசக்கடற்குளே வீழாமன்மனதற்ற
பரிசுத்தநிலையையருள்வாய்
பார்க்குமிடமெங்குமொரு நீக்கமறநிறைகின்ற
பரிபூரணானந்தமே (10)

There is no end for desires. Even if one rules the entire world (land), he then would desire to rule the sea. Even if one possess gold equivalent to Kubera (Lord of Wealth), he then desires to learn the secret of turning mercury into gold (so that he can possess more). Even those who have lived a long life, search for Kayakalpa so that they can live even more. If you think about it, a lifetime just boils down to eating to satisfy hunger and sleeping well.

Save me from this Pasa (Desire) that constantly attaches from one object to the next. Grant me the Suddha (pure) state where the mind does not exist, oh Lord. You exist everywhere I look.

Sivanarul said...

Thayumanavar song:

My guru instructed me to look at everything through the eyes of grace. Ignoring his instruction, fool that I am, I looked at everything through my Intellect. When I did so, all I found was darkness. The wonder is that (when I looked via Intellect), I could not even see myself who was finding the darkness.

Sivanarul said...

Thayumanavar song:

Bliss That Is Perfect Full (1/10)

Except by way of words and rituals
I had not practiced even casually
Anything to contain mind and breath.

As though I was longing for renunciation
I hold serious discussions.
And when I forget all thoughts of it,
I go to sleep.

When I think, I will have to shuffle this body
I swoon in fear, my heart trembling.

Long, long indeed is the distance between
The blissful state of Transcendent Silentness
And this ignorant one.

Knowing the devilish ways of this lowly cur,
Grant Thou a way to contemplation of supreme bliss.

Oh! Thou, the heavenly wishing tree *[1]
That grants all ripe rich boons
To those who enter not the forest of pasas *[2]

Oh! Thou who filleth all visible space
In unbroken continuity!
Thou, the Bliss that is Perfect Full

FootNotes:
[1] A miracle-tree in the world of Indra, the king of celestials, yielding whatever
desired.
[2] Pasas: Primal impurities of the soul, three in number:
1) egoity (anava),
2) karma (chain of action and reaction through births) and
3) maya (illusory knowledge)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yesterday, I had attended the regular Sunday satsang at our local Ramana Shrine. As part of this satsang, a senior devotee gave us a talk. She talked about the practice of self-enquiry, explained the meaning and interpretations, of a few verses from Sri Arunachala Aksaramanamalai. She also said, in the course of her talk, that we should worship all forms of the universe as nothing but various forms of God. She further added that this is what Bhagavan expects from us, and referred to the verse five of Upadesa Undiyar in support of her earlier statements. I have been reflecting on this, and I share it here.

Does Bhagavan expect us to worship all forms of this universe as various forms of God: Its answer could be both, yes or no, depending upon how we look at it. Bhagavan does not expect us, from the perspective of his core or central teachings, to worship all forms of the universe because he expects us to ignore all forms, and to experience ourself as we really are by investigating ourself alone.

Yet, from another perspective can we say that he expects us to worship all forms as God: Yes, we cannot deny this, he does expect us to worship all forms as forms of one God as long as we experience ourself as this ego or person. How exactly can we worship all forms as forms of God: We can worship these forms in various ways. One way is, we can worship these forms by ritually offering puja to them, but this was not Bhagavan's intended meaning of the term 'worship'. As Michael has been explaining us, we can worship other forms more appropriately by compassionately responding to their sufferings as and when we see or experience these, and by offering whatever help we can offer. However, it is only by our attitude of complete ahimsa towards all that we can really revere others, and this, according to Bhagavan, is the best way of worshipping all forms.

Bhagavan did not expect that we deliberately look for situations to help or worship others. Thus he did not encourage any organised philanthropic activities, any organised social service, etc. Bhagavan has said at one place that our mental silence is the best possible help that we can render to others.

Can we reconcile these two positions - that is, should we ignore the world or should we worship all forms of this world as God: Yes, we can reconcile these two positions, but, according to Bhagavan's teachings, we should lean heavily towards the first position - that is, we should ignore the world. Regards.

nan nan said...

Sanjay Lohia,
so long as we experience us as the ego we cannot at all ignore the world.
Therefore you first try to fiend out where the 'I'-thought begins.
Keep turning your attention within.

Sanjay Lohia said...

nan nan, thank you for your advice. Yes, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we must try and attend to ourself alone. Whenever we are not able to continuously attend to ourself alone, we should try and do sravana and manana of Bhagavan's teachings. Our deep and sincere sravana and our deep and sincere manana will compel us to do, at least, to some extent nidhidhyasana; therefore, we should not underestimate the value of manana (or reflection on Bhagavan's teachings). Regards.

nan nan said...

Sivanarul and Sanjay Lohia,
oh yes, yes, let us refrain from entering the forest of pasas(amongst other primal impurities illusory knowledge).

Sanjay Lohia said...

nan nan, I am not sure what you were trying to convey through you last comment, but, anyway, I would like to share with you that I like your pseudonym, 'nan nan', which means 'I am I' and nothing but 'I'. If ever I assume a pseudonym it may be something similar to yours. I may assume the name - 'Nan Yar?' (Who am I?), but this is just a thought, and I am not seriously thinking about it. Regards.

nan nan said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you may kindly go to the footnotes of Sivanarul's comment of yesterday at 15:51.
There you find under nr.[2] Pasas:Primal impurities of the soul...
Regards

Sanjay Lohia said...

nan nan, according to Bhagavan there are no 'primal impurities of the soul', but there is only one primal impurity in us and that is our ego. All other impurities are just an projection of this primal impurity, our ego. Other impurities are nothing but our outward directed thoughts or actions. Regards.

nan nan said...

Sanjay Lohia,
regarding the given verse of Thayumanavar's song :
Here the poet gave us a beautifully expressed hint how we could live a happy life.
It is obviously not to be understood as a strict teaching in the close sense. Therefore we should not react a like school teacher when a poet uses his poetic license to express his love for the truth and formulates the ego embellishing as three different impurities. We all know that the primal 'I'-thought is called our ego.
So let us by virtue of being free of ignorance stand in the blissful state of transcendent silentness.
Kind Regards

Sivanarul said...

Regarding the three impurities and them not being in accordance with Bhagavan’s teaching:

The three impurities are according to the Saiva Siddhantha tradition which Thayumanavar’s upbringing was in. Those three malas (impurities) are bedrock principles of Saiva Siddhantha. From David Godman’s article that I posted earlier (http://davidgodman.org/rteach/Thayumanavar.pdf):

“The two major competing systems of religious and philosophical thought in South India have, for several centuries, been Vedanta and Saiva Siddhanta. The proponents of each school have been criticising the other in their writings for much of the last thousand years. Bhagavan tended to use the language and philosophical structures of Vedanta when he answered visitors’ questions whereas Thayumanavar, in his poems, showed a strong Saiva Siddhanta influence. However, neither was dogmatic about his system since they both knew, from direct experience, that in the experience of the Self all philosophical divisions and distinctions are dissolved.”

Bhagavan was very fond of Thayumanavar and quoted his poems often in conversation. As David writes, Bhagavan knew that his direct experience of the Self was the same that Thayumanavar had experienced and that they were revealing that truth in the language of slightly different traditions. As nan nan writes, if we focus on highlighting those differences, we will miss the beauty and intent of that poem which talks directly to the Sadhaka. While I consider myself a student of the Saiva Siddhantha tradition, I am also very fond and familiar with the teachings of Bhagavan, Buddha and Christ.

Continued in next comment…

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment….

I see Spiritual traditions as 4 layers.

They are perfectly aligned and same in the first layer. In this first layer, the focus is Ahimsa, Sattva, ethics and basic practices of turning the mind away from the world and towards God/Reality. By following this common first layer, the sadhaka matures and becomes capable of beginning serious practice which leads him into the second layer.

In this second layer there are certainly differences amidst traditions and the sadhaka is free to follow whatever tradition that suits his heart. By following the second layer, the sadhaka matures further and becomes capable of very advanced Sadhana which leads him into the third layer.

This third layer is where he begins the practice of “சும்மா இரு” (Mauna, Be Still). Again all traditions are perfectly aligned in this third layer. When Lord Muruga appeared before Arunagirinathar, the instruction he gave was சும்மா இரு. The instruction that Thayumanavar’s guru gave to Thayumanavar was சும்மா இரு. The highest instruction Bhagavan gave to his disciples was சும்மா இரு. The practice of third layer leads to the experience of சும்மா இரு and liberation.

The fourth layer is the plane occupied by JivanMuktha’s such as Bhagavan, Thayumanavar, Nayanmars, Alvars, Buddha, Christ and thousands of known and unkown saints. In this layer, there are no Spiritual traditions per se, since in this plane they have all been transcended. There is no Vedanta or Siddhantha.

Thus as you see, the differences exists only in the second layer (with first, third and fourth being in perfect alignment or transcendence). So when we discuss differences, remembering this, keeps the differences in proper perspective.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Eka-jiva vada / Non-existence of world in sleep

Michael (and anyone else inclined to answer),

I have a couple of doubts on the subject(s) stated above in the heading.

First, I know you are a subscriber to the eka-jiva vada. I have a few doubts regarding it. But let us say you are able to convince me of eka-jiva vada through your argumentation and I start to believe in eka-jiva vada. But wouldn't that be anomalous because then there will be two of us believing in eka-jiva vada, and there is supposedly only one jiva, so the question arises , which one's jiva is the actual one, the one I believe in or my jiva, or the one you believe in or your jiva? And why would you even bother to convince me about eka-jiva vada because as far as your are concerned your jiva is the only one and I am merely a dream creature of yours? To say that we both are correct from our individual standpoints is in my opinion a cop-out as an argument.

Second doubt is related to the first one. If eka-jiva vada is true it would seem that whenever I go to sleep, the world ceases to exist, the world being my dream creation. But there is one possibility that can upset this scenario, namely, that of death occurring in sleep, either due to natural causes or due to being murdered in sleep. If the world does not exist in sleep, death cannot happen in sleep either due to natural ore unnatural causes. But we do know that death can occur in sleep. And death (of say, X) in sleep affects the ability of mind to create the dream creature called X again. I hope my doubt is clear.

nan nan said...

Sivanarul,
thanks for quoting Thayumanavar's lovely, attractive, pictorial,sublime, illustrated, animate, elevating, uplifting and delightful poetry. Surely it is a godsend.

unknown territory said...

Viveka Vairagya,
the claim of the non-existence of the world in sleep can seriously be understood only in relation to the sleeper. At least from the viewpoint of any waking person using sense impressions that assertion contradicts the daily experience of life and does not make any sense.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya, you have asked a few questions on the subject of eka-jiva vada and non-existence of world in sleep. I will try and reflect on your questions, and share it here.

As you say, if someone convinces you about the truth of eka-jiva-vada, 'there will be two of us believing in eka-jiva vada, and there is supposedly only one jiva, so the question arises, which one's jiva is the actual one, the one I believe in or my jiva, or the one you believe in or your jiva?'

Suppose if we were dreaming, and in our dream we meet our dear friend. Suppose if we try to convince our dream friend that there is only one jiva, and he becomes convinced. So in such a case, will we not supposedly be experiencing two jivas who are convinced that there is only one jiva? Were there two jivas in dream: No, we know now that there was only one jiva, and the other jiva was only this one jiva's imagination. It is exactly the same in our waking state. There is only one jiva, and other people whom this one jiva sees or experiences are merely his imaginations or creations; therefore, trying to convince others about the concept of eka-jiva-vada or about anything else is just the part of this one jiva's dream.

Intellectually I can understand that from my perspective this one jiva can be only me, and if you become convinced of this eka-jiva-vada, you will understand that this one jiva to be only you. I will try and continue my reflections on this topic in my next comment, which will be sometimes later. Regards.



Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,
Regarding Eka Jiva vada, there was dicussions on it during Aug/Sep 2015 timeframe in comments. Michael’s answer in his article “Why are compassion and ahimsa necessary in a dream” provides some insight also. The key passage in that article is:

“Trying to act in this world as if it were unreal is futile and meaningless, because our actions and the person who feels ‘I am doing these actions’ are all part of this world. As this person, we and our actions are as real or as unreal as this world of which we now seem to be a part, so this person should outwardly act in this world as if it is as real as himself or herself (which it is), but should inwardly doubt the reality of all these things and should therefore try to investigate the ‘I’ who seems to experience them.”

The gist of the above message is that: “Practice Eka Jiva inwardly, but outwardly behave as if it is Nana Jiva”.

I am not a subscriber to Eka Jiva or that the world is an illusion. Some of my reservations on it, that I put forward in the July/Aug 2015 discussion is as follows:

Eka Jiva Vada says that the jiva is a reflected consciousness of Brahman and all other jiva’s are reflections of this single reflection. That is certainly one possibility. But why should there be only one reflection of Brahman? Why can’t there be many reflections? Bernardo Kastrup uses the whirlpool metaphor where he uses a Stream of water to represent Consciousness (Brahman) and Whirlpools appearing in the water to be individual consciousness (jiva’s). The whirlpool is nothing but water (“Verily all is Brahman”), yet it maintains a boundary and delineation at the same time (Jiva). There is no reason why the Stream should contain only one whirlpool (jiva) and not many whirlpools (jiva’s) (as it typically does in nature).

Many Jiva Vada has the following advantages:
1. It explains Bhagavan going out of his way to prepare his Mom for liberation (treating her harshly to weaken her ego), praying to Arunachala to cure her typhoid fever and finally waiting on her for 10+ hours to ensure her ego sinks in the heart. Even after he heard that peculiar sound of the ego sinking in the heart, he kept his hand for several minutes more, to make sure the ego does not escape away like it did earlier for another devotee (Bhagavan has said in another context, that devotee was also liberated).
2. It explains Bhagavan taking extraordinary interest in building projects (to provide a vehicle to disseminate his teachings so that many jiva’s will get liberated just like him).
3. It explains Sri Shankara building 4 mutts to propagate his teachings.
4. It explains why ancient rishis wrote scripture after scripture (various Upanishads)
5. It is the most parsimonious explanation and fits Occam’s razor.
6. I like to believe that Wittgenstein, Michael, Carlos, Shiba, Viswanathan are all Jiva’s like me and I am communicating with live Jiva’s. If you are all my dream characters and I am communicating with you, then my interaction is a hallucination. I like not to hallucinate, if possible.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

Regarding Eka Jiva vada, there was dicussions on it during Aug/Sep 2015 timeframe in comments. Michael’s answer in his article “Why are compassion and ahimsa necessary in a dream” provides some insight also. The key passage in that article is:

“Trying to act in this world as if it were unreal is futile and meaningless, because our actions and the person who feels ‘I am doing these actions’ are all part of this world. As this person, we and our actions are as real or as unreal as this world of which we now seem to be a part, so this person should outwardly act in this world as if it is as real as himself or herself (which it is), but should inwardly doubt the reality of all these things and should therefore try to investigate the ‘I’ who seems to experience them.”

The gist of the above message is that: “Practice Eka Jiva inwardly, but outwardly behave as if it is Nana Jiva”.

Continued in next comment:

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment:

I am not a subscriber to Eka Jiva or that the world is an illusion. Some of my reservations on it, that I put forward in the July/Aug 2015 discussion is as follows:

Eka Jiva Vada says that the jiva is a reflected consciousness of Brahman and all other jiva’s are reflections of this single reflection. That is certainly one possibility. But why should there be only one reflection of Brahman? Why can’t there be many reflections? Bernardo Kastrup uses the whirlpool metaphor where he uses a Stream of water to represent Consciousness (Brahman) and Whirlpools appearing in the water to be individual consciousness (jiva’s). The whirlpool is nothing but water (“Verily all is Brahman”), yet it maintains a boundary and delineation at the same time (Jiva). There is no reason why the Stream should contain only one whirlpool (jiva) and not many whirlpools (jiva’s) (as it typically does in nature).

Many Jiva Vada has the following advantages:

1. It explains Bhagavan going out of his way to prepare his Mom for liberation (treating her harshly to weaken her ego), praying to Arunachala to cure her typhoid fever and finally waiting on her for 10+ hours to ensure her ego sinks in the heart. Even after he heard that peculiar sound of the ego sinking in the heart, he kept his hand for several minutes more, to make sure the ego does not escape away like it did earlier for another devotee (Bhagavan has said in another context, that devotee was also liberated).
2. It explains Bhagavan taking extraordinary interest in building projects (to provide a vehicle to disseminate his teachings so that many jiva’s will get liberated just like him).
3. It explains Sri Shankara building 4 mutts to propagate his teachings.
4. It explains why ancient rishis wrote scripture after scripture (various Upanishads)
5. It is the most parsimonious explanation and fits Occam’s razor.
6. I like to believe that Wittgenstein, Michael, Carlos, Shiba, Viswanathan are all Jiva’s like me and I am communicating with live Jiva’s. If you are all my dream characters and I am communicating with you, then my interaction is a hallucination. I like not to hallucinate, if possible.

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment:

I am not a subscriber to Eka Jiva or that the world is an illusion. Some of my reservations on it, that I put forward in the July/Aug 2015 discussion is as follows:

Eka Jiva Vada says that the jiva is a reflected consciousness of Brahman and all other jiva’s are reflections of this single reflection. That is certainly one possibility. But why should there be only one reflection of Brahman? Why can’t there be many reflections? Bernardo Kastrup uses the whirlpool metaphor where he uses a Stream of water to represent Consciousness (Brahman) and Whirlpools appearing in the water to be individual consciousness (jiva’s). The whirlpool is nothing but water (“Verily all is Brahman”), yet it maintains a boundary and delineation at the same time (Jiva). There is no reason why the Stream should contain only one whirlpool (jiva) and not many whirlpools (jiva’s) (as it typically does in nature).

Continued in next comment:

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment:

Many Jiva Vada has the following advantages:

1. It explains Bhagavan going out of his way to prepare his Mom for liberation (treating her harshly to weaken her ego), praying to Arunachala to cure her typhoid fever and finally waiting on her for 10+ hours to ensure her ego sinks in the heart. Even after he heard that peculiar sound of the ego sinking in the heart, he kept his hand for several minutes more, to make sure the ego does not escape away like it did earlier for another devotee (Bhagavan has said in another context, that devotee was also liberated).
2. It explains Bhagavan taking extraordinary interest in building projects (to provide a vehicle to disseminate his teachings so that many jiva’s will get liberated just like him).
3. It explains Sri Shankara building 4 mutts to propagate his teachings.
4. It explains why ancient rishis wrote scripture after scripture (various Upanishads)
5. It is the most parsimonious explanation and fits Occam’s razor.
6. I like to believe that Wittgenstein, Michael, Carlos, Shiba, Viswanathan are all Jiva’s like me and I am communicating with live Jiva’s. If you are all my dream characters and I am communicating with you, then my interaction is a hallucination. I like not to hallucinate, if possible.

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya, greetings my friend

My two cents since you allowed responses other than Michael's.

I try to keep things pragmatically simple.

First then, about the one jiva thing, let me ask you:
How many experiences of the experience of your life there is for you?
How many consciousnesses? Can you experience existence through another?
If you pose for a few seconds and feel the answers, there you have it, eka jiva vada. Is that simple.

I don't have to make you believe anything and you don't have to believe anything, just refer to your own experienceof being existent and conscious, is that a unified field or admits another consciousness and "existences"?...

One of the problem of this vada (and consequently the idea that the world is not real and is as real as our dreams are) is that destabilizes the ego, we start feeling uncomfortable, claustrophobic, selfish and specially "lonely"... alone in a meaningless and illusory universe, and what kind of ego wants that?... Without realizing that it is this very dreamlike "existence" the origin of all miseries (the I am the body idea existing in a real world)

As for the second doubt, I wouldn't care much about the problem of dying in deep sleep because you won't notice it.
As we don't notice entering deep sleep. We only notice reincarnations, not desincarnations!!
All the problems about these mental elucubrations arise in our sacrosanct waking state, and sometimes in dreams.

Knowing that life is a dream makes us more real, not the contrary. And how do we know that? Well... the answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind...

Be well. m

Viveka Vairagya said...

Thanks Sanjay, Sivanarul and Mouna for chiming in.

Sanjay Lohia said...

(in continuation of my recent comment addressed to Viveka Vairagya)

This is continuation of my reflections on the topic of eka-jiva-vada. Yes, when we go to sleep the world literally ceases to exist. If this world is a dream projected or created by eka-jiva, which according to Bhagavan is the case, then no dream-world can exist or even seemingly exist when this eka-jiva does not experience it. Therefore, there is no one else expiring this dream world when we are not experiencing it. We surely dream in our sleep and wake up sooner or later. Can we say that the dream (which we were experiencing) is now being experienced by others, even though we do not experience it anymore? It will be absurd to think so.

You ask, 'If the world does not exist in sleep, death cannot happen in sleep either due to natural ore unnatural causes. But we do know that death can occur in sleep. And death (of say, X) in sleep affects the ability of mind to create the dream creature called X again.' Yes, our body's physical death can happen in sleep, but will this be the death of our ego? Certainly not! Until and unless our ego is destroyed by our earnest practice of atma-vichara, our body's death cannot be considered our real 'death' according to Bhagavan's core teachings.

We are as good as dead in our deep sleep, so how can a dead person die again (I mean physical death here)? Bhavagan has said at many places that our sleep and our death are almost identical as both are states of manolaya, from which our ego will sooner or later rise again. The only difference here is that our ego experiences the same body once it wakes up from sleep (say 'X' remains 'X'), whereas after our physical death our ego will grasp a new imaginary form and give it some other name (say 'X' will may become 'Y'). Regards.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sanjay,

You say the world ceases to exist when we go to sleep. However, consider this. Before going to sleep, I set the alarm clock, for say, 5 am. Come 5 am the next day, sure enough the alarm clock goes off and I wake up. Now, if the world did not exist when I was sleeping, even the alarm clock could not exist, but then how did the alarm go off at precisely 5 am to wake me up from sleep if it did not existence, as you say, when I was sleeping.

Regarding eka-jiva vada, just as I am a dream creature as far as you are concerned, and by analogous reasoning, you are my dream creature as far as I am concerned. Similar argument would apply to everyone else. How can that be when you are saying you believe in eka-jiva vada and everyone else in this world is your dream creature. Giving the analogy of a dream does noit answer the question but ends up assuming what it seeks to prove.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya, please read the last three paragraphs of Michael's article - Everything is just an expansion of our own mind or ego, in which he writes:

'In the second half of verse 23 of Ulladu Narpadu Sri Ramana points out the obvious truth that everything — that is, all duality or otherness — rises only after our mind or individual sense of 'I' has risen, and he advises us that we should therefore scrutinise with a 'subtle intellect' the source from which this 'I' arises. The inference that we should understand from his statement, "After an 'I' has risen, everything rises", and from his subsequent advice, "By a subtle intellect scrutinise where this 'I' rises", is stated by him clearly in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu:

'If [our] ego comes into existence [as in the waking and dream states], everything comes into existence. If [our] ego does not exist [as in sleep], everything does not exist. [Hence our] ego indeed is everything [this entire appearance of duality or relativity]. Therefore, know that examining 'what is this [ego]?' indeed is relinquishing everything.

'Except our essential self-consciousness 'I am', everything that we know or experience is just a thought or image that we have formed in our mind by our power of imagination. Therefore everything is just an expansion of our own mind, our ego or root thought 'I'. This is why Sri Ramana states emphatically that our "ego indeed is everything".'

In paragraph 14 (almost its last few lines) of Nan Yar?, Bhagavan writes:

What is called the world is only thought [because like the ‘world’ that we experience in a dream, all that we experience as the ‘world’ in this waking state is nothing but a series of mental images, ideas or thoughts that we have formed in our mind by our power of imagination].

Again in paragraph of Nan Yar? Bhagavan writes:

Except that waking is dīrgha [long lasting] and dream is kṣaṇika [momentary or lasting for only a short while], there is no other difference [between these two mind-created states]. To the extent to which all the vyavahāras [doings, activities, affairs or occurrences] that happen in waking seem [at this present moment] to be real, to that [same] extent even the vyavahāras that happen in dream seem at that time to be real. In dream the mind takes another body [to be itself]. In both waking and dream thoughts and names-and-forms [the objects of the seemingly external world] occur in one time [that is, simultaneously].

What do you infer from the above?

(to be continued in my next comment)

cross-check said...

Sivanarul,
your commentof 27 April 2016 at 23:36 seems to be divided up into the four following comments from 27 April 2016 at 23:40, :41, :44, :45 as it were repetitions. Michael should delete the following comments if you agree.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sanjay,

I know what Bhagavan has said. I have done enough Sravana as doubtless you have. I am trying to do manana, which is why the doubt about the alarm clock arose, which I posted in my previous comment. You have not addressed my counter-example to Bhagavan's assertion that the world ceases to exist when we go to sleep. Look at it from another viewpoint. Everytime someone goes to sleep we should be afraid that the world, and hence we, would come to a temporary end. But that is not what happens. I happen to see people going to sleep all the time but my world continues as before. It is of course, a different matter when I go to sleep. So, in the light of the above, what Bhagavan is implying is that when the ego goes (as in sleep), everything cease "for you". That is, the world continues to exist in your sleep but does not exist for you. For instance, if a person is deaf sound does not exist for him, but it exists for others of normal hearing. Similarly, because the instrument with which we access the world, namely, the mind, does not exist in sleep, the world does not exist for us, but it continues to exist for others.

Sanjay Lohia said...

(continuation of my previous comment)

What I have quoted above (from Bhagavan and Michael) should be enough to convince us that this world could be a dream, but we will only know this, whether or not this seen world is a dream, when we experience ourself as we really are. If this world remains or exists even after we experience ourself as really are, then this world cannot be a dream, but if it vanishes after we experience ourself as we really are then this world is surely a dream. Moreover, if we read Bhagavan's core teachings, we will be left with no option but to believe, at least tentatively, that this world is a dream.

In our dream, we may set our alarm clock for next day at 5 am, and experience this alarm clock ringing at exactly 5 am the next day. In our dream, we do not doubt that the day and night we are experiencing then is not real, nor do we doubt that our alarm clock is not real, nor do we doubt that the world we experience then is unreal, or just a figment of our imagination. Then how can we be sure that we are not dreaming now? We do not doubt the reality of this world while we experience it and consider it to be real, but we also do not doubt the reality of our dream world while we experience it.

When you write, 'Giving the analogy of a dream does noit answer the question but ends up assuming what it seeks to prove.' It is not very clear what you wanted to say here. Perhaps what you are indicating here is that I am assuming beforehand that this world is a dream, and then I am trying to proof my wrong assumption about the world by arguing in favour of my wrong ideas. I can give the same argument. It could be that you are assuming beforehand that this world is not a dream but exists independently, wether or not we experience it, and that you are trying to proof your premise based on this assumption. Regards.

unknown territory said...

Viveka Vairagya,
the picture made by our sense impressions/perceptions is reliable only for carrying our life within waking and dreaming. More subtle spheres of our experience are not orientated towards that conception of the world-picture. Therefore we generally should not be very attached to that mind-created world-view.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya, Bhagavan has very clearly given us the yardstick for measuring what is absolutely real. It will be useful to read and reflect on a few paragraphs from Michael's article: We must experience what is, not what seems to be real. We should specially reflect on the standard of reality, given to us Bhagavan, which is quoted in this extract:

'The definition of reality that Sri Ramana gave us is that only what is eternal, unchanging and self-shining is real. For example, in Chapter 3 of Book 2 of Maharshi’s Gospel (2002 edition, page 67) it is recorded that he once said:

What is the standard of Reality? That alone is Real which exists by itself, which reveals itself by itself and which is eternal and unchanging.

'Most things that we take to be real are at best only conditionally or relatively real, but not absolutely real, whereas Sri Ramana asks us to accept as real only what is absolutely real. Anything that does not exist eternally is not absolutely real, because its seeming existence is confined within the limits of a certain period of time, so though it may seem to be real during that period, its seeming reality is only conditional: before that period it did not exist, and after it it will not exist, so even when it seems to exist, its existence is not absolutely real.

'Likewise, if something changes or is liable to change, it is one thing at one time but another thing at another time. That is, whenever it changes in any way, it become something that is not identical to what it was previously, so what it was previously has ceased to exist as such, and what it has now become is something that did not previously exist. Therefore like anything that is not eternal, anything that changes is constrained by the condition of time, and is therefore not absolutely real even when it is seemingly real.

'However, the most important requirement in Sri Ramana’s definition of reality is that what is real must be ‘self-shining’ or ‘self-luminous’ (svayamprakāśa), by which he means that it must shine or make itself known to itself by itself. In other words, it must be self-aware.'

Bhagavan says, ' That alone is Real which exists by itself, which reveals itself by itself and which is eternal and unchanging.' By this standard, can we consider this world to be real? I do not think so. The world is certainly not unchanging, therefore, it cannot be real. But can we may stay it is eternal: We may say so that it exists eternally in one form or other; however, this is denied by sages and also by our own experience in sleep, therefore again indicating that this world is not real. More importantly, this world is definitely not 'self-shining' or 'self-luminous', because it needs a conscious entity (us) to make it known. Therefore by Bhagavan's definition of reality this world cannot be real, and if it not real then it is an illusory dream. Regards.

cross-check said...

Sivanarul,
sorry your comments are dated not 27 April but 26 April 2016.

babble of voices said...

Viveka Vairagya,
if one wakes up in the night let us say ten times,
does the world really lose its existence ten times ?
Who is to say ?

Sivanarul said...

cross-check,

Sorry for the duplicate comment. The earlier one was a long one that kept getting deleted after I posted, so I posted it in 3 or 4 chunks. But today, the longer post reappeared.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Vanakkam. Hope you are nibbling away the ego well :-)

“How many experiences of the experience of your life there is for you?
How many consciousnesses? Can you experience existence through another?
If you pose for a few seconds and feel the answers, there you have it, eka jiva vada. Is that simple.”

It is not that simple, my friend. I, having a single consciousness and unable to experience another person’s consciousness, does not in way indicate eka jiva vada. All it indicates is that I have a single consciousness and the way I interact with any other consciousness is through my own consciousness. That has no correlation for or against eka jiva vada.

I know you are a subscriber to eka jiva. Let’s say you have a living will or you will be having one sometime in the future. In that will, you probably will mention that after your lifetime, your belongings will go to your family, friends or some charity. Now, as a subscriber to eka jiva, when your ego discards this body and projects another one, it is also going to project another family, friends and charitable organizations, which may or may be not what you currently have. So the question is, if you truly believe in eka jiva, why bother writing a living will? At death, all current projections end. Why write a living will for your current projections that will be ending with you? Is it not because that you believe, that they will continue to exist after you pass away?

Let us come to Bhagavan now. With all due respect, love and affection to Bhagavan, if he truly wanted his disciples to follow eka jiva, why did he not demonstrate it by example? Why did he create an ashram will that declares that the ashram needs to be managed by the first born, generation after generation in his brother’s family? Since his is the only jiva and other jiva’s are his reflection, upon his withdrawal, doesn’t his entire family, devotees all get withdrawn too?

Continued in next comment....

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment....

One final point. One of the most important possession/identity a person has is his sentience/consciousness. When compared to his sentience, everything else like family, wealth etc. pale in comparison. When you look at another sentient being and consider him as your dream character (even in just thought), isn’t that a form of subtle violence (since you are denying or taking away his most precious possession, his sentience)? Isn’t that a violation of ahimsa? Let us leave Bhagavan and his teachings out of this. Just think about it as a sentient being. Isn’t denying sentience to your fellow human beings an act of subtle violence? Please read this in an objective and impersonal manner. The last thing I want to do, is offend a mystic such as yourself :-) In all seriousness, I would like to hear from experts why I should not consider a belief in eka jiva as an act of subtle violence?

In all fairness, I violate ahimsa everyday by being only a vegetarian and not a vegan. So anyone who is a subscriber to eka jiva, please do not get offended and please take it in the right perspective. Please search within and reply whether you truly feel ok to deny sentience (in thought) to your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji, என் சகோதரன்! Vanakkam

I missed our intellectual battlefield exchanges! Thank you for giving me the possibility to take the rusty synapses back in shape again.
Ok, that being said, let’s get serious.

Let’s go in particular to some of the phrases you wrote and what is my view:

“...All it indicates is that I have a single consciousness and the way I interact with any other consciousness is through my own consciousness…”
To my understating “consciousness" cannot have parts, what you are assuming is that “over there” there is somebody with encapsulated consciousness. You can’t and will never be able to prove that. Agreed I can’t and will never be able to prove the contrary either.
But actually what we can prove is that YOUR experience demonstrates that there is only one field of consciousness, although you assume that there are many.
This is a major philosophical connundrum that even science and philosophy couldn’t (so far) find their way around. Not only if there is a world “out there” but also supposing there is, do other people have minds or are conscious?… What we can verify is that there is an undeniable unified field of consciousness/existence. Peroid. If that field is ours or yours or without a person is something else to discuss. The verifiable fact is that there is awareness of existence and that is borderless, timeless and self-evident (anybody that is not mentally sick or incapacitated can verify this).

“..So the question is, if you truly believe in eka jiva, why bother writing a living will? At death, all current projections end.…”
This is a tough one to express correctly but I’l try. I think you are mixing levels of reality. What happens in the transactional plane (vyavaharika stay has no connection with the transcendental one (paramarthika). What happens in the ego-projected so-called-reality has it own laws, prarabdha, cause and effect, free-will/determination, etc… and it happens by itself according to karma. In that happening-story Mouna loves his children (three of them), and thinks from time to time what will happen, when Mouna dies, with their lives, how will they navigate their own lives, etc… And in the meanwhile Mouna takes care of the smallest since the other two are taking care of themselves cause older ones and Mouna will do everything to support them and help them.
That is all prarabdha, Mouna’s story, or better yet, Mouna’s script in the movie being projected.
I agree with you, sounds horrific even to start thinking that MY CHILDREN or LOVED ONES are just one-dimensional puppets in a meaningless dream that has no dreamer. What ego can stand that?...

“..Bhagavan, if he truly wanted his disciples to follow eka jiva, why did he not demonstrate it by example?.…”
What I said previously also stands for Bhagavan. Bhagavan is one more character wth a specific script in the movie called ______ fill in the blanks with a name, maybe in this case yours.
To the flat screen of awareness/consciousness/oneself, Bhagavan is a story, like “you" and “me.”
The highest understanding of Bhagavan is considering him that unified field of consciousness/awareness/fulfilled peace that we all are.
The whole problem starts with the adjuncts we seemingly impose ourselves, starting with “I am this body” and you are that body over there.

(continues in the next posting)

Mouna said...

(Continuation from the previous posting to Sivanarulji)

“..One of the most important possession/identity a person has is his sentience/consciousness.…”
I would say consciousness is the only thing there is, not what a “person" has. I would go a little further, sentience is a dimension of consciousness, but not the other way around.

“..When you look at another sentient being and consider him as your dream character (even in just thought), isn’t that a form of subtle violence.…”
Not if I also take the character Mouna as a dream character, and the prarabdha as a play (theater play) where each character plays her/his part.

“..Please search within and reply whether you truly feel ok to deny sentience (in thought) to your spouse, children, grandchildren and friends..…”
It feels that way, yes! but to whom my dear friend, to whom?…
You see, everything gets upside down and thwarted from the moment we acknowledge the existence of the ego as a real entity, when we impose limitations and vasanas and sentience and thoughts and etc.. etc… upon us and others. But of course, the next big question is the question of responsibility and morality (dharma) IN the dream. Again, I believe that is a question answered by the karmic laws embedded within the dream play, and everything will unwind according to them, as long as ego keeps popping up.

That’s all I can say according to my limited understanding and experience.

Your turn, if you find it worthy of continuation.
Be well, M

PS: "Hope you are nibbling away the ego well”… what ego? :-)

Mouna said...

One last thing Svanarulji brother,

I don’t really know what the eka-jiva-vada is or what Bhagavan meant, but the way I expressed it is the most practical tool for my sadhana, even if I'm wrong philosophically speaking in all counts.

Blessings, M

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sanjay,

I do not dispute the fact that the world is unreal as per the criteria of reality laid down by Bhagavan. What I am disputing is the non-existence of the world when I go to sleep, as per the alarm clock argument I gave above. I repeat the argument here for your convenience. You say the world ceases to exist when we go to sleep. However, consider this. Before going to sleep, I set the alarm clock, for say, 5 am. Come 5 am the next day, sure enough the alarm clock goes off and I wake up. Now, if the world did not exist when I was sleeping, even the alarm clock could not exist, but then how did the alarm go off at precisely 5 am to wake me up from sleep if it did not exist, as you say, when I was sleeping.

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya,

If Sanjay allows me to intercede briefly in your exchange, I would like just to point out a different approach.
It may sound a little strange but bear with me if you are interested.

You said: "Now, if the world did not exist when I was sleeping, even the alarm clock could not exist, but then how did the alarm go off at precisely 5 am to wake me up from sleep if it did not exist”

We normally assume that the waking state is the ground state that transforms itself into dreams, then into deep sleep and then go back to waking.
Deep sleep being interpreted as only a charging-batteries state of the brain and functions.
Believe it or not science even states that deep sleep is when the brain is at the utmost activity with all processes that go on during that time.
In this scenario, the clock I set up to alarm me at 5 am continues ticking all night and buzzes exactly at 5, “waking me up” from the seeming brain dormant function into the waking function.
Nothing wrong with this scenario, except that it is built upon the assumption that we are a body born out of certain biological processes that traces us back to the Big Bang.
This is the common sense view. The srishti-drishti vada.

The different approach I’ll suggest is that we consider deep sleep as the ground state.
If we do so, and nothing except our logical resistance prevents to do so, we will notice that at a certain moment mind, in the form of sensations, thoughts, feelings and perceptions, appear.
And with it the notion of time and space (that weren't present in deep sleep).
At that moment all the laws of karma and cause and effect begin playing. It is structured this way, and although even the seeming reality is seamless and timeless, to put it in other words a whole block, we decompose it in past present and future. That’s why from that unified block we eradicate the linear succession “I set up the alarm yesterday to go off at 5 and it just went off at 5, so it woke me up”.
I once had a dream that was quite revelatory in this sense. In that dream I met a very good friend of mine but the story with her, going back twenty+ years or so, was completely different as the story I had with her in the waking state. I was surprised when I woke up because in that dream, that alternate story was the real one and I was behaving with her in relation to that dream story! That proved to me that the dream story was an alternative virtual reality with its own laws of cause and effect.

And this is what appeared from deep sleep, that is still the ground, but to which was superimposed a mirage, a form of non-personal hallucination that has, within its structure, its own laws (we set up an alarm clock and it will buzz 12 hours later) of cause and effect. In other words, Maya.

All the best, M

Viveka Vairagya said...

Mouna,

That does not answer my doubt as to how can a non-existent alarm clock buzz at 5 am if we accept the fact that the world does not exist when we sleep. Also, on a different note, since there is no reason to suppose that I, Viveka Vairagya, am different ontologically from Mouna, then when Mouna sleeps I, along with the world, must vanish into non-existence, as I would expect happens when I go into sleep, but that is not what happens.

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya,

That clock buzzes in your waking state. You infer it started in your deep sleep, and that is a thought in the waking state.

Mouna doesn’t go to sleep, neither Viveka Vairagya, “ego” dissappears when its waking or dream state, not yours (Viveka Vairagya) nor mine (Mouna), gets “absorbed” in oneself (or dissolves or dissappears).

If you start your sentence by saying Viveka Vairagya or Mouna, it’s flawed from the beginning. There is only mind or ego, not “your” mind or “my” ego. When ego appears, the clock appears, as the rest of the world, including Viveka Vairagya and Mouna, with the structure of karmic cause and effect, building block of maya.
That’s why you connect the clock to yesterday’s set-up. Everything is instantaneous but since one of the adjuncts, illusions or limitations created by ego is time, we tend to perceive events sequentially, binded by cause effect.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Mouna,

I am beginning to get persuaded by your arguments, but a doubt remains. You say, "That clock buzzes in your waking state." How can that be? I wake up only after the clock buzzes, isn't it? Please explain. If it buzzes in my waking state, then I should have woken up from sleep before the clock began to buzz, which is a bit odd if you think about it.

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya,

Just refer to your experience. Not to thought.

You “appear” from sleep and with that appearance comes the thought that, one, you were asleep before, and two, that you woke up because of the clock ringing while you were asleep, correct?

Those thoughts in sequence make Viveka Vairagya believe that there was a world before waking up where Viveka Vairagya was asleep. But in fact what happened is that they are only thoughts that by the power of maya, construct a whole world, and a past and a future, where Viveka Vairagya plays the main role.

I know, this thread of thinking is bizarre and goes counter current with the common view of being born from this world into this world.
But if we remember that mind or ego is just the present thought (a seed of the whole universe around us), and the next one, and the next one and we try to investigate where the current thought (thought as sensation, feeling, perception and thinking thought) emanates from we will discover (hopefully) that “appeared” from the same place as deep sleep.

That’s why it doesn’t hurt to experiment with the idea that deep sleep is the continuum and the dream and waking states are the superimpositions on it, instead of the reverse that is the "common sense” view of existence.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Mouna,

For the moment I am willing to accept your arguments albeit with a pinch of salt.

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya,

On this side of the planet is night, so I'll go to sleep and shall set up my clock to 6:30! :-)
Be well, M

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya, you write, 'I do not dispute the fact that the world is unreal as per the criteria of reality laid down by Bhagavan. What I am disputing is the non-existence of the world when I go to sleep, as per the alarm clock argument I gave above.' In the often used rope and snake analogy, the rope in the only reality even when the snake seems to exist (superimposed on the rope). In fact, the snake never existed, but until it seemed to exist it frightened us. Likewise, the world does not exist, but until we experience it, it will seem to be real to us and will give us one trouble after another.

Just like in the rope and snake analogy, this world (snake) does not exist, but it just seems to exist in our deluded view; however, it does not even seem to exist when we are asleep or experience ourself as we really are. If the world is unreal, as you agree in your comment that it is, it has to be unreal in all our three states - that it, it has to unreal while we are awake, dreaming or asleep. In other words, this world comprising of various names and forms and all its mind-boggling happenings just does not exist, at any time or in any form, but it just seems to exist whenever we experience it.

In whose view does this world seems to exist: It exists only in the view of our ego. Our ego projects this unreal world merely by its outward attention, and if the ego subsides this world also ceases to exist. If everything we experience in our waking and dream is merely a figment of our ego's (eka-jiva) imagination, how can this world exist in our sleep, when the entity who had imagined this world has ceased existing due to our sleep?

Therefore, everything you describe in your various comments is your dream: Your setting the alarm clock for 5 am the next day, going off of the alarm clock at 5am, your waking up due to this alarm and so on, are just a part of your dream. Regards.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Mouna and Sanjay,

Thanks for taking the time and trouble to address my doubts.

Mouna, what you wrote about considering deep sleep as the ground state from which waking and dreaming spring up is very useful in setting at rest most of my doubts.

Sanjay, I agree with what you wrote in your latest comment and it clarifies a lot of issues surrounding my doubt(s).

There is much wisdom in what you guys, Mouna and Sanjay, wrote and I thank you again from giving me new perspectives from which to look at things. I need to do some more manana on what you have written, but things already seem much more clearer than before.

paramarthika satya said...

Viveka Vairagya,
Quote of Sri Ramanasramam:
"It is only when the subtle mind is externalized through the activity of the intellect and the sense organs that gross name and form constituting the world appear. When, on the other hand, the mind stays firmly in the Heart, they recede and disappear."
If you would consider carefully the above remark and could understand its meaningful significance fully you would not have anymore the need to put your "alarm - clock - question". As you say you have to do some more cautious and meticulous manana.
Take care of yourself !

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

I can see a long thread going on this. Being stuck in vyavaharika :-), I have some work deadlines that I need to focus on today and tomorrow. I will respond on Saturday. Get ready, my friend :-)

Viveka Vairagya,

“The different approach I’ll suggest is that we consider deep sleep as the ground state.”

The above point written by Mounaji, is amplified very nicely by Rupert Spira. It is a short 10 min video. I have included the link, if you are interested. You can start watching at the 9:00 min mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzuLa6CcBp4

Sivanarul said...

Sorry if this duplicate. Previous post did not seem to go through, in this seemingly existence :-)
Mounaji,

I can see a long thread going on this. Being stuck in vyavaharika :-), I have some work deadlines that I need to focus on today and tomorrow. I will respond on Saturday. Get ready, my friend :-)

Viveka Vairagya,

“The different approach I’ll suggest is that we consider deep sleep as the ground state.”

The above point written by Mounaji, is amplified very nicely by Rupert Spira. It is a short 10 min video. I have included the link, if you are interested. You can start watching at the 9:00 min mark.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzuLa6CcBp4

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji,
"I will respond on Saturday. Get ready, my friend"
As they say here in America: "I'm ready. Shoot!" :-)

smoke signal said...

Sanjay Lohia,
I had a dream that I was flying on the back of Garuda straight upwards from Arunachala's bottom to its summit. But it was only a dream dreamt by the dreaming dreamer.
We are really poor dogs as long as our mind runs after pleasure through the five senses, while squashing our Lord in the heart. Until we have not experienced the perfect silence of pure self-knowledge we seem to be satisfied to eat every fruit up of the tree of maya(defective and petty knowledges).
Too long we have identified ourself with the body and the brain, so we do not understand our true nature.
Therefore let us pray to Arunachala, the blazing fire of Jnana, for chasing away all false appearances and help us practising sincere devotion to Him, the Most Auspicious.

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya,
One last thought about our thoughts exchange. My whole point of view/thinking was nothing more than a practical (for me) and subjective (from me) interpretation of verse 26 of Bhagavan's Ulladu Narpadu.

"When this thing known as I is risen, then rises all this world; when the I is not, neither does the world exist; therefore this I is itself all the world: therefore (extinction of the I) by the Quest 'Who is this I' or 'Whence is he' is to get rid of the whole (world). (Translation Lakshmana Sharma)

"If the ego, which is the embryo comes into existence, everything (the world, God, bondage and liberation, knowledge and ignorance, and so on) will come into existence. If the ego does not exist, everything will not exist. (Hence) the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that scrutinizing ‘What is this (ego)?' is alone giving up (or renouncing) everything!
(Translation Sadhu Om and Michael James)

Viveka Vairagya said...

Mouna,

Yes, Verse 26 is quite explicit on the point we were discussing. Nevertheless, drishti-shrishti vada and its corollary eka-jiva vada are quite mind-bending. But as someone said, all doubts about eka-jiva vada should be washed away with the dream analogy. The truth of drishti-shrishti vada and eka-jiva is indeed stranger than fiction.

I believe drishti-shrishti vada was first put forward by Prakasananda (who lived in latter half of sixteenth century) in his book Vedanta-Siddhanta-Muktavali or Siddhanta-Muktavali
(see www.kamakoti.org/kamakoti/articles/Preceptors%20of%20Advaita%20-%2035.html)

mind-polisher said...

Mouna,
who at all is willing to give up the (false) ego ? True renunciation is intensely painful for the ego. We must be aware that the dying ego will writhe in pain or agony.

Mouna said...

Viveka Vairagya,

Couldn't agree more on the "mind-bending" nature of Bhagavan's direct teachings on drishti-shristi and eka-jiva.
I see it as an asset of his teachings (the mind-bending).

And we didn't even touch the surface of "ajata-vada"!!

(I am not well versed in the text you pointed out, I'll look into it though, thx)

Mouna said...

mind-polisher,

Agree. But what is there to loose?...

mind-polisher said...

Mouna,
is it not a gigantic paradox ?
Losing the tyranny of/by the its own deluded ego-mind seems to be very painful for the ego-mind itself. Is that not delusion squared or to the power of a trillion ?

Mouna said...

mind-polisher,

I agree about the paradox.

Nothing squared or to the power of a trillion is still nothing!

mind-polisher said...

Mouna,
you are good at mathematics. But why do you speak about "nothing" ?

Mouna said...

Mind-polisher,
Nothing, no-thing, illusion... all the same.

mind-polisher said...

Mouna,
yes, we have not it easy, what ?
Nothing is easy.
Nothing - not anything ? All or nothing.
Alas, between nothingness and eternity is all but the absence of existence.
Good night to California.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Let’s get the ball rolling, my friend.

“..So the question is, if you truly believe in eka jiva, why bother writing a living will? At death, all current projections end.…”
“This is a tough one to express correctly but I’l try. I think you are mixing levels of reality. What happens in the transactional plane (vyavaharika stay has no connection with the transcendental one (paramarthika).”

How can I mix levels of reality? All discussions take place in vyavaharika. Isn’t paramarthika a thought in vyavaharika?

“What happens in the ego-projected so-called-reality has it own laws, prarabdha, cause and effect, free-will/determination, etc… and it happens by itself according to karma. In that happening-story Mouna loves his children (three of them),…..agree with you, sounds horrific even to start thinking that MY CHILDREN or LOVED ONES are just one-dimensional puppets in a meaningless dream that has no dreamer. What ego can stand that?...”

You now seem to be writing this from the point of the Self (since you are calling ego and Mouna in second person terms). Let’s first settle on, who is participating in this discussion and who has children? I suppose you would agree that it is the ego named Mouna that is participating and it is that ego that has children. So this ego named Mouna has projected dream characters called his children. At the end of this ego’s projection, he will withdraw his children with him. If you truly believed that, what is the purpose of the living will? Writing the will and leaving your assets to your children is a clear indication that you do not believe that your children will be withdrawn with you. In other words, they are not your projection, but are separate ego’s that are independent of your ego’s projections.

Will continue….

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous post…

Before we go further, when you reply, please tell who is participating in this discussion. If your answer is, it is the ego with a name tag of Mouna, then please tell who is projecting Mouna’s children? Is that ego with Mouna nametag or is both Mouna and his children being projected by something else? If it is something else, what is it? Is it a universal ego?

“The whole problem starts with the adjuncts we seemingly impose ourselves, starting with “I am this body” and you are that body over there.”

My friend, we are not talking about bodies over here and there. We are taking about sentience over here and there.

““..One of the most important possession/identity a person has is his sentience/consciousness.…”
I would say consciousness is the only thing there is, not what a “person" has. I would go a little further, sentience is a dimension of consciousness, but not the other way around.”

What is the person if not consciousness? (it is a dead body, otherwise). The question is, via eka jiva, you are claiming your consciousness is all there is and your children’s consciousness is a dream that is happening within your consciousness. In other words you are relegating them to sim city characters in your consciousness, which is fine, if you did not write a living will for them. Which is it? Are they conscious being, just like yourself (and you are all under the unified field of consciousness or God) or are they reflection of your consciousness which is a reflection from the unified field?

The bottom line is, please provide a practical scenario where you apply eka jiva to (again please remember that we are all in vyavaharika, for this discussion). If eka jiva is only to help in Sadhana, then Buddha’s dukka and anicca (impermanence) can provide the same catalyst for Sadhana without having to resort to thinking one thing and doing something else. Of course, if one is ok to have this dichotomy, then eka jiva works. But I don’t see that being any different that someone saying, I am going to think I am Napolean, since that helps my Sadhana. Ok, fine. If that helps you, who am I to judge, Mr.Naploean Bonaparte :-)

Please don’t read the Naploean example as condescending, my friend. I seriously don’t see the difference between someone claiming that they are eka jiva and someone who says he is Napolean Bonaparte, and I am seriously ok with someone claiming they are Napolean, if it helps their sadhana.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Continuing the discussion:

“..When you look at another sentient being and consider him as your dream character (even in just thought), isn’t that a form of subtle violence.…”
Not if I also take the character Mouna as a dream character, and the prarabdha as a play (theater play) where each character plays her/his part.”

In whose dream is Mouna then? Who is dreaming you and your children? Doesn’t eka jiva go something like: Brahman -> Eka Jiva (reflection) -> All other Jiva’s (reflection of the Eka Jiva).

Isn’t that Eka Jiva, Mouna? There is only Brahman before you and if Brahman is projecting you and your children, then it is not eka jiva but nana jiva.

If you mean that you are taking Mouna as a dream character (as Brahman), is that your experiential reality? If it is, why do you really care of leaving a living will to your children? You are one, without a second.

Now if we are back to agreeing that you are a jiva who is projecting your children, isn’t treating them as your dream characters a form subtle violence against them? (you are treating them as a sim city character)

Sivanarul said...

Continuing....

“..Bhagavan, if he truly wanted his disciples to follow eka jiva, why did he not demonstrate it by example?.…”
What I said previously also stands for Bhagavan. Bhagavan is one more character wth a specific script in the movie called ______ fill in the blanks with a name, maybe in this case yours.
To the flat screen of awareness/consciousness/oneself, Bhagavan is a story, like “you" and “me.”

That is not answering the question, my friend. You are now reverting Bhagavan to a lion in your dream. I was asking a response from you as a disciple of Bhagavan.

Bhagavan demonstrated by example that he is not the body, by being totally
indifferent to cancer pain and one or two surgeries. So similarly, why did he also not demonstrate by example, the teaching of eka jiva. Why did he seriously go through so much trouble to make sure his mother attained liberation? (thus promoting nana jiva) The usual answer given that Bhagavan’s presence (sannidhi) did it, is not really an answer. Whether it was the Sun that did it or Sun’s presence makes it happen, the fact remains that one of them thought (Bhagavan or Bhagavan’s presence) that Bhagavan’s mother was a separate jiva that needed liberation. If not, how to explain?

Viveka Vairagya said...

An Article Worth Reading

Check out www.nevernotpresent.com/satsangs/the-existence-of-the-world-depends-on-awareness/

Mouna said...

Dear Sivanarulji,

I want to be completely honest with you.
You make very good points that definitely need reflection, but I feel that we might be headed to an endless argument-counter-argument/argument-etc. and so on..
I also believe that we take different points of departure and we base our whole conception on different grounds (which I even lost interest in defining them)

I really apologize for not continuing the conversation.
If you consider that it is a cop out on my side, I wouldn’t blame you.
I am sure it would be a completely different thing if we were discussing this after a good meal or in front of a cup of chai, but I already had the experience in previous blogs of endless discussions that actually drain energy instead of inspiring our manana (or my manana in any case).

I consider you a friend in the quest and hope this retreat doesn’t corrupt our companionship.
And who knows, one day I’ll shall revisit these postings and write you back with more substantial ideas.

Thank you, be well,
M

Viveka Vairagya said...

On Drishti-Srishti Vada / Eka-Jiva Vada

Dear Sivanarul and Mouna,

Regarding your recent exchanges on the subject of eka-jiva vada, I thought you would be interested to know what Swami Sarvapriyananda (of Ramakrishna Order) had to say when I corresponded with him on email about Drishti-Srishti Vada and Eka-Jiva Vada. Swamiji wrote to me,
"The approaches of sristi-dristi vada, dristi-sristi vada (and ekajiva vada) are procedural - they are meant to take us to the highest truth, the Nondual Brahman. None of them are ultimately true in themselves. Thus,sristi-dristi and aneka jiva can certainly be adopted, there is no need to accept dristi-sristi and ekajiva if one feels uncomfortable with it. Both take us to the same Nondual reality.

"Further, note that Sankara's commentaries on the Upanishads, Gita and Brahma Sutras are all written from the point of view of sristi dristi and aneka jiva. That is acceptable to the largest number of spiritual aspirants."

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, there seems to be a fundamental confusion or misunderstanding in all the arguments you give against ēka-jīva-vāda (the contention that there is only one jīva), because you seem to equate it with the contention that there is only one person, which is obviously not the case. In a dream we see many people, but there is only one dreamer (one experiencer of the dream), and that dreamer is our ego, which is the one jīva referred to in ēka-jīva-vāda.

What is a person? It is a set of phenomena centred around a particular body, and it has both physical and mental features. Though its physical and mental features change over time, however extreme those changes may be we identify it as the same person because it is the same body that displays those changing features. It starts its life as a baby, and it may end it as an old man or woman, but throughout its life and in spite of all its changes it is the same person. As we all know, there seem to be many people in this world, and each of them seem to be sentient, but what makes them seem to be so?

All the people we see in a dream seem to be sentient, and we seem to be one among them, but after we leave that dream and enter this state (which seems to us to be our waking state, but which Bhagavan teaches us is just another dream) we recognise that we are not the person we seemed to be in that dream, nor are any of the other people we saw there sentient. Does this mean, then, that we were the only sentient person in our dream? No, obviously not, because we are not the person we seemed to be then. That person who then seemed to be ourself was as insentient as all the other people we saw there. Therefore who are we, the one who saw all those people and experienced one of them as ourself? As the experiencer of that dream, this dream or any other dream we are the ego or jīva.

However, this ego seems to exist only when it experiences itself as a person, so it is natural for us to confuse our ego with whatever person this ego currently seems to be. If we think carefully about the matter, however, it is clear that there is a distinction between this ego and whatever person it currently experiences as itself, because whatever person it experiences as itself in this or any other dream exists only in that respective dream, whereas this ego exists (or seems to exist) in each and every dream. Therefore this ego or jīva is not the person it seems to be.

In this context, please refer to the reply I wrote to Mouna in another thread last week, in which I discussed this crucial distinction between the ego and whatever person it currently experiences as itself and agreed with him that ēka-jīva-vāda is intelligible only if we understand the ‘one jīva’ to be our own ego and not if we understand it to mean just one person.

Now you experience yourself as a person called ‘Sivanarul’, so because you are sentient Sivanarul seems to be sentient, and because this one person seems to be sentient all the other people you see also seem to be sentient. If Sivanarul is sentient, it would be reasonable to assume that every other person is sentient, but the question is: is Sivanarul actually sentient?

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Sivanarul:

You seem to believe that ēka-jīva-vāda contends that Sivanarul alone is sentient and that all other people are insentient, and therefore you argue that it is a subtle form of violence and a violation of ahiṁsā, because it entails ‘denying sentience to your fellow human beings’ and sentience is a person’s ‘most important possession/identity’. However ēka-jīva-vāda denies any sentience not only to other people but also to the person we currently seem to be.

A person is a form composed of five sheaths or coverings (pañca-kōśa), and as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār all these five sheaths (including our mind and intellect) are jaḍa (insentient or non-conscious) and asat (non-existent), so they are not ‘I’. Why they seem to be sentient and existent is only because this ego has attached itself to them, experiencing them as itself. But is the ego actually any of these insentient coverings? It seems to be a mixture of awareness (cit) and these insentient (jaḍa) adjuncts, but it is not actually either. It is just cit-jaḍa-granthi, a knot that seems to exist only when cit and jaḍa are seemingly entangled.

What is a knot? When two pieces of string are tied together they form a knot, but when they are untied it ceases to exist, because it has no independent existence of its own. It is not either one string or the other, but is a combination of both. Likewise, this ego is neither cit nor jaḍa but seems to be a combination of both.

What is truly sentient is only cit, which is pure awareness uncontaminated by any jaḍa adjunct, but this ego seems to be sentient because it rises as a confused mixture of cit and jaḍa. And because this ego rises by grasping the jaḍa form of a person as itself, that person seems to be sentient, and hence all the other people seen by this ego also seem to be sentient.

Therefore the seeming sentience of other people is as real as the seeming sentience of whatever person this ego currently experiences as itself. Neither this person not any other person is actually sentient, but so long as this person seems to be sentient it cannot deny the sentience of all the other people it sees. Therefore so long as we interact with this dream world, we must interact with it as if all the other people in it were sentient, but at the same time we should try to investigate ourself to see what this ego (the one who sees all these people as sentient) actually is.

The reason why Bhagavan taught us ēka-jīva-vāda is not to change the way in which we interact with other people, but is only to prompt us to investigate ourself, the one ego or jīva in whose view all people (including whatever person it currently experiences as itself) seem to exist. In the outward-turned view of the ego many people seem to exist, and each of them seem to be sentient and real and should therefore be treated as such, but in its inward-turned view the only sentient entity is itself. So let us look within and try to see who is this one sentient entity who sees so many people whenever it looks outwards.

Sandhya said...

Thank you Michael. Excellent explanation. I always wondered why Ramana Maharishi never talked about death in detail. I watched few videos of people experiencing pure awareness when they almost die , but they then choose to come back live. So when they lose body consciousness at the time of dying as in the case of near death experience, do they experience pure self? Or are the experiences/beingness still imaginary?

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

A doubt arises with regard to your two replies to Sivanarul above. If the ego attaches itself to me, Viveka Vairagya, and hence Viveka Vairagya is sentient, how come the other people in Viveka Vairagya's dream are sentient because the ego is not attaching itself to others but only to me, Viveka Vairagya?

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

Continuing my doubt from my last comment, if you say that other persons have their own chit-jada granthis, then that would be aneka-jiva vada. If not, how can the their insentient body-mind complex seem sentient in the absence of ego being attached to their body-mind complex.

Bob - P said...

{It seems to be a mixture of awareness (cit) and these insentient (jaḍa) adjuncts, but it is not actually either. It is just cit-jaḍa-granthi, a knot that seems to exist only when cit and jaḍa are seemingly entangled.

What is a knot? When two pieces of string are tied together they form a knot, but when they are untied it ceases to exist, because it has no independent existence of its own. It is not either one string or the other, but is a combination of both. Likewise, this ego is neither cit nor jaḍa but seems to be a combination of both.}

Thank you Michael I found the above analogy of two pieces of string and the knot very helpful in reinforcing my understanding.

What you say makes perfect sense.
In appreciation Bob

Michael James said...

Sandhya, in pure awareness there is no body and hence no death. Body, death and all other phenomena seem to exist only in the view of the ego, and hence what chooses to come back is only this ego. Since the ego is imaginary, all that it experiences is imaginary, and hence the experiences you describe in your comment are all imaginary.

This ego is an impure form of awareness (self-awareness mixed and confused with adjuncts, beginning with a body), so we cannot experience pure awareness so long as we experience ourself as this ego. Therefore until this ego is annihilated by turning its attention inwards to be attentively aware of itself alone, we experience pure awareness only in sleep or in any other state of manōlaya, because they are temporary states in which the ego does not exist. Because it does not exist in such states, it cannot be destroyed in them, so we can destroy our ego forever only by trying to be attentively self-aware in waking or dream.

Sandhya said...

Then deep sleep state is also imaginary right?

Sandhya said...

Just to be clear, how can we say deep sleep state is real when everthing from ego is imaginary?

Anonymous said...

"The world does not exist apart from the body; the body does not exist apart from the mind; the mind does not exist apart from consciousness, and consciousness does not exist apart from Self, which is existence." - Guru Vachaka Kovai, verse 99

There is no separation between 'world' at one end and 'Self' at the other. 'Body' and 'world' are reflections seen through the prism of the 'mind', which is itself a reflection.

Right now, we are our-one-Self, as it is, and it is always right now.

"'I am that I am' sums up the whole truth. The method is summed up in the words 'Be still'."

deep sleeper said...

Sandhya,
in deep sleep there is no ego. Only the ego uses imagination. How then should be this state of deep sleep 'also imaginary (right)' ?

deep sleeper said...

Anonymous,
well done. May I congratulate you.
Yours faithfully
deep sleeper

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in one of his recent comments: 'What is a person? It is a set of phenomena centred around a particular body, and it has both physical and mental features. Though its physical and mental features change over time, however extreme those changes may be we identify it as the same person because it is the same body that displays those changing features. It starts its life as a baby, and it may end it as an old man or woman, but throughout its life and in spite of all its changes it is the same person.'

Recently we have had a lot of discussion on this blog on the terms 'ego' and person', and why we confuse between these two terms. As Michael has been trying to clarify, these two terms are quite different from each other. He has given us some more clarity on this topic through his above comment. I would like to reflect on the topic a bit more.

What is an ego? It is a seeming mixture of our pure-consciousness and any body. A formless ghost seemingly rises from our pure-consciousness and catches hold of a body, and this seeming intermingling of our pure-consciousness with a body is the ego. It can give up its hold on any number of bodies, and catch hold of any number of bodies to survive and flourish, until it is destroyed by our vigilant self-attentiveness.

Our ego is the subjective feeling of our existence. When we say, 'I am fat'; 'I am hungry'; 'I am sad'; 'Don't visit me'; 'It is my pen'; 'Do not annoy me'; and so on, the 'I', 'me', 'my' and so on refers to our ego. It is a our subjective experience which only we can experience. As you can see, we sometimes refer to our body, when we say, 'I am fat'; 'I am hungry' and so on, and we sometimes refer to our mind (consciousness) when we say, 'I am sad'; 'Do not annoy me' and so on. Therefore this ego is a confused mixture of chit and jada.

As Michael writes, 'What is a person? It is a set of phenomena centred around a particular body, and it has both physical and mental features.' Where does the 'body' belong? Is it a part of our ego or does it belongs to the person we take to be ourself? Since our ego cannot exist without catching hold of a body, this body (or any body) is required for our ego to exist.

Therefore can we say that this body is part of our ego? No, we cannot say so, because it essentially belongs to the person which we take to be ourself. The body and all is features, including our mind and all its features are part of the person we take to be ourself. Of course our body is the common link between our ego and all the features of our body and mind, but our physical body and mind and all its ever changing features are all part of the person we take to ourself. This person keeps changing, but our ego remains the same until it is annihilated.

I request Michael to correct to correct my errors. Regards.

Sandhya said...

Deep sleeper,

I say deep sleep state is imaginary because it is the ego that says deep sleep state exists. But thinking about all Michael's articles on deep sleep state, the only difference between near death experience and deep sleep experience is, former state contains phenomena and person remembers the experiences, but in latter state , there is no memory of that experience, which proves that ego did not experience that state.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

I see that you are in the mystic mood now and of course it is very easy to retreat, when you are the only Jiva :-) (Just Kidding!).

I don’t blame you for the retreat, my friend. Isn’t that the final stage on the path? At some point, all conversation must end. The benefit of conversation is only to keep reminding us to move forward on the path. At this point, it is fair to say that we have understood all that needs to be understood to commence intense sadhana.

Just like we did in Dec last year, let’s plan a retreat in June for 2 weeks. In those 2 weeks, let’s try to follow the excellent advice of Saint Badragiriyar:

ஊன் நிறைந்த காயம் உயிர் இழந்து போகுமுன்னம்
நான் இறந்து போக இனி நாள் வருவது எக்காலம்?
Before this body falls, when will the day come when ‘I’ (ego) dies?

பிறப்பும் இறப்பும்அற்றுப் பேச்சும்அற்று மூச்சும்அற்று
மறப்பும் நினைப்பும்அற்று மாண்டிருப்பது எக்காலம்?
Without birth and death, without speech and breath, without thought and forgetfulness, when will the day come when I (as reality) remain as such?

Rest well in silence, my friend.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

Thanks for the posting of Swami Sarvapriyananda’s reply. A big amen to what the swami said. I agree 100%.

In the book A-U-M: Awakening to Reality, Dennis waite (of the advaita uk site) says:

“One notable aspect of theory (of eka jiva) is that it obviates the need for Ishvara as creator of the universe; so it might appeal particularly to those who find the notion of a god difficult to accept”

As Dennis writes, eka jiva can have a strong appeal to folks who do not believe or want to do anything with God/Ishvara. For these folks, Bhagavan might have promulgated eka jiva.

In the alternate path, of Surrender to Ishvara, that Bhagavan devised for people with a strong faith in God, eka jiva does not apply (since in eka Jiva, Ishvara is a creation of that Jiva and not the other way around).

Anyways, as Swami Sarvapriyananda said, whatever path we choose, the end will be the same.

Sivanarul said...

Michael,

Thank you for your much nuanced response. We are using very different terminology and what I have read of eka jiva contradicts with what you wrote. You seem to differentiate between ego and person and assign ego as the seeming entity that projects all persons.

http://www.advaita-vision.org/eka-jiva-vada-i-am-alone/

“Anand Hudli explains eka jIva vAda very clearly: “Some say that the lone jIva is HiraNyagarbha, some say it is the inquirer who is this jIva. For example, if I am the inquirer, I am this jIva. If you are the inquirer, you indeed are this jIva. What this amounts to is that for me, you are not an independent jIva but part of my dream, where I have created this universe, and Ishvara Himself. (Note that in this eka-jIva vAda, it is the jIva that creates the world and Ishvara as part of his dream.) And you can say the same about me. But then the question arises: who is correct? This is an irrelevant question because the ekajIvavAda holds for the person who is the inquirer and does not admit more than one inquirer. I can hold that you are part of my dream and you can hold that I am only a part of your dream. For me, even when you say to me, “You are part of my dream, not a real jIva.”, I can dismiss it as being part of *my* dream. It so happens that a so-called jIva who is no different from a dream object is making a statement in my dream that I belong to his dream! And it does not matter even if the rest of 7 billion people in the world tell me that I am part of each person’s dream. I can dismiss all these statements as coming from people in *my* own dream. They are not different from any other dream object. All this seems to border on absurdity, but as the siddhAnta-lesha saMgraha says about the eka-jIva vAda:”

In the above explanation, my understanding of eka jiva was that of it being the inquirer. You seem to indicate, it is Hiranyagarbha. I have not read or understood much of eka jiva as Hiranyagarbha. It looks like there is not much agreement on what eka jiva is, within the different sub schools of advaita.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Ramana Maharshi on Creation

While we are busy discussing srishti-drishti vada and drishti-srishti vada/eka-jiva vada, here is what Bhagavan says on the creation theories:

(from Day by Day with Bhagavan, 17-2-46 Afternoon):
A visitor asked Bhagavan, “How has srishti (creation)come about? Some say it is due to karma. Others say it is the Lord’s lila or sport. What is the truth?”
Bhagavan: Various accounts are given in books. But is there creation? Only if there is creation, we have to explain how it came about. All that, we may not know. But that we exist now is certain. Why not know the ‘I’ and the present and then see if there is a creation?

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, when you write in one of your comments, ‘the ego attaches itself to me, Viveka Vairagya’, you imply that you (the one you refer to as ‘me’) are Viveka Vairagya, and that the ego is something else that attaches itself to you. This is a very confused idea. You are not Viveka Vairagya, nor are you even the ego, but when you attach yourself to Viveka Vairagya you seem to be the ego, and as this ego you mistake Viveka Vairagya to be yourself. That is, the ego is neither you (who are just pure awareness or cit) nor the person called ‘Viveka Vairagya’ (which is an insentient or jaḍa phenomena), but is just a confused mixture or ‘knot’ that seems to exist only when you seem to be entangled with any such jaḍa phenomena.

You also say, ‘the ego attaches itself to me, Viveka Vairagya, and hence Viveka Vairagya is sentient’, which is not correct, because ‘Viveka Vairagya’ is the name of a person, who is insentient (jaḍa). Since the essence and only real aspect of the ego is just pure awareness (cit), which is what we actually are, it is sentient, and since it is aware of itself as if it were a person called ‘Viveka Vairagya’, this person seems to be sentient, even though it is actually insentient, being just a bundle of adjuncts experienced by the ego.

Because the ego currently experiences itself as this person called ‘Viveka Vairagya’, Viveka Vairagya seems to be sentient, and since all the other people seen by the ego are as real as Viveka Vairagya, they too seem to be sentient. In a dream we experience ourself as one of the many people in that dream, so that person seems to be sentient (because it seems to be ourself, who are sentient), and hence all the other people in that dream also seem to be sentient. However, when we wake up from the dream we no longer seem to be that dream person, so that dream person is then recognised to be just our own mental projection, and hence it no longer seems to be sentient, and accordingly all the other people we saw then no longer seem to be sentient.

That is, since one person seems to be ourself, it seems to be sentient, and hence every other person seems to be sentient. In fact, however, no person (neither the one who seems to be ourself nor any of the other ones) is sentient, because what is aware of this person and all other things is only our ego. Whatever person this ego currently seems to be is just one among the many phenomena experienced by it, and none of these phenomena are aware. That is, the ego alone is the sentient subject, and all phenomena (including this person we mistake ourself to be) are just insentient objects experienced by it.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Viveka Vairagya:

In the second of that pair of comments you write, ‘if you say that other persons have their own chit-jada granthis, then that would be aneka-jiva vada’, but the cit-jaḍa-granthi is not a possession of any person, because it is the ego, and whatever person this ego currently experiences as itself is just its jaḍa portion. Therefore rather than saying that a person possesses an ego or cit-jaḍa-granthi, it would be more accurate to say the ego possesses a person (both in the sense that it owns the person that it seems to be, and in the sense that it is a phantom that has taken possession of this person, like a ghost possessing a corpse).

Finally you ask, ‘how can their insentient body-mind complex seem sentient in the absence of ego being attached to their body-mind complex’. What you call the ‘insentient body-mind complex’ is the person, so by saying this you are in effect acknowledging that any person is insentient. However, to answer your question, in whose view does any person or body-mind complex seem sentient? Only in the view of our ego. Because this ego always experiences itself as a person (not always as the same person, but always as some person or other), the person it experiences as itself seems to be sentient, and since each other person that it sees seems to behave just as that person does — responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on — in the view of the one ego each other person seems to be driven by a sentient ego. However, the egos and the sentience of all other people seem to exist only in the view of our own ego, and hence according to ēka-jīva-vāda as taught by Bhagavan we are the only ego, of which all other ‘egos’ are just illusory reflections.

In a dream we see many people, and each of them seem to us at that time to be driven by a sentient ego, but after we wake up we recognise that they were all just our own mental projections and therefore seemed to exist only in the view of our own ego, so in order to explain their seeming egos and sentience we do not now need to postulate that those egos and their sentience were real. Likewise, though all the other people we see in our current state each seem to driven by a sentient ego, in order to explain their seeming egos and sentience we do not now need to postulate that those egos and their sentience are anything other than our own mental projection.

According to Bhagavan even the person we seem to be, whether in this state or any other one, is just our own mental projection — something that seems to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego — so if this is the case what else can every other person be but our own mental projection, just like every person we see in a dream. Therefore what we need to investigate is who are we, this ego who rises and simultaneously projects and experiences all these dreams and all the multifarious phenomena (including all the people) that appear in them.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

I almost get what you are saying except for a tiny doubt. When you write "responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on", isn't that what sentience all about, to be able to do all that. You seem to be implying that we only draw an inference about sentience based on such evidence. How can one be "responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on" if one is not sentient. I hope my doubt is clear.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

In continuation of my doubt, how can the jada body-mind complex be "responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on"" if chit or consciousness is not associated with it (and hence there being chit-jada granthi in all such cases). Surely, without consciousness (chit) body and mind cannot function and would be dead, isn't it?

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

I wonder if you are implying that it is like the problem in Western philosophy of "the problem of other minds", in this case, it being "the problem of other egos". In any case, hopefully your reply to my doubt(s) in previous two comments will doubtless clear the matter up, and who knows, once that happens, I might join your bandwagon of eka-jiva vada adherents.

birthless and deathless said...

Michael,
why should it be at all necessary to distinguish between ego and person ?
To me that discussion seems like get worked up or excited about nothing.

deep sleeper said...

Sandhya,
it is quite naturally that the ego makes the statement of the existence of deep sleep
because it is the only one who experiences the regularity of changes of states.
On the other hand: How could the ego have any memory of an experience which it did not really have had because of its non-existence then in deep sleep ? The ego is therefore only aware of the gaps between the states of mixed ego-awareness (waking and dream) and pure awareness (deep sleep).
How can you ever have any proof of the non-existence of any experience ?
At best you can prove an actually made experience.

Michael James said...

Birthless and Deathless, self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) entails dṛg-dṛśya-vivēka, which is distinguishing the experiencing subject (dṛś, the ‘eye’ that sees) from all experienced objects (dṛśya, the phenomena that are seen by it), so since the subject is only our ego and since whatever person this ego currently seems to be is just one among the many objects or phenomena experienced by it, distinguishing the ego from the person is essential.

A person is a visible object, a body with objectively perceivable physical and mental features or characteristics, so if this person were our ego, we could practise self-investigation simply by looking in a mirror, which is obviously not the case. Moreover, within a relatively short time this person will die, so if our ego were just this person it would die along with it and thus all our problems would be solved, which again is obviously not the case.

Michael James said...

Sandhya, regarding your question, ‘Then deep sleep state is also imaginary right?’, from the perspective of ourself as this ego sleep seems to be one among three states, because it is often interrupted by periods of waking or dream, so as such it seems to be unreal, being just one among the numerous phenomena experienced by this ego, all of which are imaginary and hence illusory. However, from the perspective of ourself as we really are sleep is the only existing state, and it is never interrupted by the rising of any ego or the appearance of any other state, so as such it is real, being eternal and indivisible, and being nothing other than ourself.

In your next question, ‘how can we say deep sleep state is real when everything from ego is imaginary?’, you seem to assume that sleep is something that comes from our ego, whereas in fact our ego is something that appears out of sleep and disappears back into it. Sleep is the fundamental state from which our ego and everything else appear and into which they disappear.

Sadhu Om used to explain this using an analogy. If two walls were erected in a vast open space, that space would thereby be divided into three separate spaces, the extent of each of which would be limited. Our real state is like that vast open space, and the two walls erected in it are a waking body (or person) and a dream body (or person). Due to the appearance of these two bodies that we mistake to be ourself, our one infinite state of pure self-awareness seems to be divided into three separate states, waking, dream and sleep.

Waking is the state in which we seem to be a waking body, dream is the state in which we seem to be a dream body, and sleep is the state in which we do not seem to be any body at all. Since either of these two bodies appears only with our ego, which does not appear in sleep, sleep is actually our original and infinite state of pure self-awareness, in which no wall is erected. However, so long as we seem to be either a waking body or a dream body, sleep seems to be just one among our three states.

In sleep we are not aware of the seeming existence of any other state, so from the perspective of the pure self-awareness that we experience as ourself in sleep it is the only state that exists. However, from the perspective of the ego that we experience as ourself in waking and dream sleep seems to be just one among three alternating states. Therefore whether sleep is real (the one and only eternal state) or unreal (just one among three transient states) depends upon our perspective, so to recognise sleep as the one real, eternal, infinite and indivisible state that it actually is we need to experience ourself as we actually are. Until then it will seem to us as this ego to be just a finite state of limited duration that is frequently interrupted by the rising of our ego in waking or dream.

birthless and deathless said...

Michael,
thank you for your explanation.
From my view it was enough to consider the person with its known features as the gross form of the ego.

Michael James said...

Birthless and Deathless, yes, this person is a gross form of our ego (one of the many gross forms that it has assumed), but in a sense everything is a gross form of our ego, because as soon as our ego rises it expands as a person and through the senses of that person it further expands as this seemingly vast universe. As Bhagavan 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’.

However, though this person is a gross form of our ego, ātma-vicāra is journey from the gross to the subtle — an attempt to move away from awareness of gross appearances towards the subtle reality that underlies them — so it entails distinguishing the subtle from the gross in order to focus our entire attention on our subtle self. Because the root of all phenomena is only our ego, which is the first and subtlest of all the things that appear from ourself, this journey back to ourself entails piercing through this subtle illusion called ‘ego’ in order to find what it is that appears as this ego.

When we turn our entire attention away from all phenomena, which are relatively gross, back towards our ego, which is relatively subtle, this ego will subside and sink back into its source, which is our actual self, so distinguishing this ego from everything else is essential if we want to discover what we actually are.

deep sleeper said...

Michael,
regarding what you wrote in reply to Sandhya:
many thanks for your clear description of the three alternating states.
Experiencing ourself as we really are is quite a dictate of the present moment.

birthless and deathless said...

Michael,
thanks again for your further observation of the essential importance of differentiation between the ego and everything else.
How could I have been attached more to other things than whole-heartedly trying to discover what I actually am ?

Sandhya said...

Michael

Thank you very much for the excellent clarification.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, you write in your comment dated 29 April 2016 at 9:31:

What is a person? It is a set of phenomena centred around a particular body, and it has both physical and mental features. Though its physical and mental features change over time, however extreme those changes may be we identify it as the same person because it is the same body that displays those changing features.

Since our body is insentient jada, it is an object and we (our ego) are the subject who experience this and other objects. However we do not treat our body as an object, but treat it as our subject. For example, when we say, 'I am going to my friend's house', we do not say 'I am carrying my body to my friends house', whereas this should will be a more correct statement to make.

Therefore until we experience ourself as this ego, we will always treat this object (our body) as our subject. Of course we not only wrongly treat our body as our subject, but also treat our mind as our subject. Therefore, what ego is, is just the confused mixture of chit and jada. It appears to be both, but it is neither of these.

If you have anything to correct here, please do the same.

Thanking you and pranams.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, we treat this body or person as ‘I’, so since ‘I’ is the subject and this body or person is an object, we are confusing an object with the subject. However, it is not quite correct (or it is at least rather confusing) to say that we treat this body as the subject, because in this context the term ‘subject’ refers specifically to ‘I’ as the experiencer, perceiver or knower — the one who is aware of all objects — whereas this body or person is not aware of anything and is therefore not an actual experiencer or perceiver.

That is, in this context the terms ‘subject’ and ‘object’ are used for analytical purposes in much the same way as the corresponding terms ‘dṛś’ (which means the ‘eye’ in the sense what sees or perceives) and ‘dṛśya’ (which means what is seen or perceived) in order to clearly distinguish what is aware from whatever it is aware of, so if we say as you did that we treat the body as the subject, we are confusing the sense in which this analytical term is intended to be used.

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, regarding your first reply, in which you ask whether sentience is not all about ‘responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on’, the answer is no. When we see other people responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on, these are all phenomena that appear in our awareness, and from them we merely infer the existence of sentience in the people we see. However, when we are dreaming, we likewise see other people responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on, so at that time we infer the existence of a sentient ego in each of those people, but as soon as we wake up we recognise that all those people and their seeming sentience were just our own mental projections and existed only in the view of our dreaming ego.

You also ask, ‘How can one be “responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on” if one is not sentient’, but should you not consider in whose view other people seem to be responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on? In order to be aware of them behaving in such ways, we must be sentient, but this sentient ‘we’ (or ‘I’) are not a person but only an ego who now temporarily experiences itself as this person and who in each other state experiences itself as some other person.

The questions you ask in your second reply are basically just a rewording of the questions you asked in your first one, so the answer to them is the same: in whose view do other people (and also this person we refer to as ‘I’) seem to be responding to sensory stimuli, expressing ideas and emotions through words and actions, communicating and interacting with other people and so on, and who is it who therefore infers that they must therefore be conscious? Considering all such questions brings us back to our own ego, the subject who is aware of all these phenomena, but then another more important question arises: who or what actually is this ego? Now it seems to be a person, like all the other people it sees, but it does not always seem to be the same person, so what exactly is it? We can find the answer to this question only by turning our attention away from all phenomena back towards ourself, this ego, in order to carefully observe what we are.

This is why Bhagavan taught us ēka-jīva-vāda (the contention that there is only one ego or jīva). That is, his sole aim in teaching this was to induce us to turn our attention back towards ourself in order to investigate who am I, this one ego who is aware of all these phenomena (each of which seems to be either cētana (sentient) or acētana (insentient)).

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Viveka Vairagya:

Regarding your third reply, yes, all the objections that you have been raising to ēka-jīva-vāda are related to what in western philosophy is called ‘the problem of other minds’: though other people seem to us to be sentient, we cannot actually experience their sentience as we experience our own, so we can never be sure that they are sentient (that is, that they have an ego or conscious mind) but can only infer this based on our observation of their outward behaviour. However, what Bhagavan teaches us goes far beyond this scepticism about the existence other minds, because he teaches us that not only are all other people just our own mental projections or ideas, but even the person we now seem to be is just our own mental projection, exactly as is any person we seem to be in a dream.

What is actually sentient is only ourself, the ego in whose view alone this person and every other person seem to exist, but even this ego is just a transitory appearance and hence unreal, because it seems to exist and to be ourself only in waking and dream, so we should investigate it in order to find out what we actually are. This is the sole aim and purpose of all that Bhagavan taught us.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I thank you for your clarification.

The meaning of the terms 'subject' and 'object' is more clear now. Subject (drs) is the 'eye' which sees, experiences or knows, whereas object (drsya) is the phenomena seen or perceived by this subject. Therefore, as you imply, for analytical purposes only our ego can be called the subject, and the set of phenomena centred around our body, and all the other mental and physical phenomena experienced by this ego are its objects.

It is because of the above understanding that we don't try to investigate our body (object) but only try to investigate our ego (subject), to experience ourself as we really are. Thanking you and pranams.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael,

Thank you very much. Now, all issues surrounding eka-jiva vada are crystal clear. I feel eka-jiva vada is a useful hypothesis to take on board because that makes us treat waking world also as a dream and hence not of any appeal or interest, and as Bhagavan says (I think in Nan-Yar) unless we take the world to be unreal like a dream our minds will always run after it.

I must say you have a great deal of clarity on almost all aspects of spiritual philosophy. Your manana seems to have reached a climax and only Nidhidhyasana is left for you. I also like express my appreciation for the tremendous help you are to all of us in clearing our doubts, and your work in this regard is truly Nishkamya-karma in addition to it being a form of manana for you.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

“I feel eka-jiva vada is a useful hypothesis to take on board because that makes us treat waking world also as a dream and hence not of any appeal or interest, and as Bhagavan says (I think in Nan-Yar) unless we take the world to be unreal like a dream our minds will always run after it.”

If I may ask, what are you planning to do, to treat the waking world as a dream while you are in the waking state? Is it an inner attitude change? Will there be any external changes (renouncing t.v. favorite food etc.)? If it is only an inner attitude change and let’s say you are working, do you go to your job and frequently remind yourself, while working, that it is a dream job in a dream world? If you have children, do you constantly remind yourself that they are appearing on a dream? Since Michael has explained that the person is also in the dream, do you also will be reminding yourself that you itself are in the dream along with your children?

Please note that I am asking this in a serious manner, since I keep reading and hearing about treating the waking world as a dream from many people, but when I ask them, how they will follow that in their life, I do not get any answers.
One does not need eka jiva or taking working world as a dream, to stop running after the world. That comes to anyone who realizes that this life is transient and the worldly pleasures are finite and do not provide everlasting happiness. As I wrote earlier,a firm understanding of dukkha and annica along with life lessons are enough to set one on the path.

Below is a general observation (not specific to you):

I also keep reading repeatedly that Bhagavan taught this and it is a key part of his teachings. But in the past discussions I had (even in the recent one with Mounaji), when I discuss Bhagavan’s actions (working hard for his mom’s liberation), suddenly Bhagavan becomes a lion in an elephant dream. I am really confused. Are his actions alone a lion and not his eka jiva teachings? If we agree all teachings are a lion in our dream, why do we keep focusing so much Bhagavan taught this and that? Why can’t we say, my dream teachings are this and that? Again, please please, this is not written in a sarcastic tone. I genuinely don’t understand the rationale we use.

Sivanarul said...

Any Sadhaka who has been convinced of the teaching that the world is a dream, please reply.

If you can, it would be very helpful if you can tell whether you are able to follow that in any real sense. Other than basic needs, your livelihood and your family & friends, are you truly able to behave that the world is a dream?

Let me give two examples. We can all agree that movies and television is unreal (whether we take the world as real or not). So have you stopped watching all entertainment? (since there is no doubt about it’s unreality).

Second do you exercise good control while you eat? Let’s say you are eating a good meal. Your stomach signals you are full. Do you go on and overeat, because the food is tasty? (in spite of your position that the world is a dream and you yourself are in a dream).

Please note that the above two are not necessary for survival (entertainment and overeating). That being the case and you having taken the world as a dream, were you able to renounce it based on the teaching?

The reason I am asking is to find out how this teaching is helping you propel forward on the path.

Sandhya said...

Sivanarul

I believe world is a dream just not because of Ramanamaharshi's teachings, but based on some of my own past experiences. I am not sure if it is my own imagination, but there are times i can completely feel that other person is not a seperate entity , but myself. I feel that Once we identify others as ourselves, there will be nothing to renounce except our own. That is the scariest part. The more we are with ourselves , i think we will start understanding how our own false notions give rise to anger, worries, fear, sadness etc. this realisation will again give rise to some more lightness within us. But i still go through lots of confusion. If Michael can give some inputs on what really happens to oneself when he begins to turn attention inwards it will be nice.

Sivanarul said...

Sandhya,

The feeling of oneness with other beings does not imply that the world is dream. Sadhakas who are religious, have a firm understanding that God resides in each and every soul, as their inner reality. So while we are separated by outward form, we are united by that single inner reality. For example, devotees of Lord Siva, feel that Siva resides in the inner cave of every being. So the feeling of oneness with all beings reveals spiritual maturity on your part. It does not in any way mean that the world is a dream.

“The more we are with ourselves , i think we will start understanding how our own false notions give rise to anger, worries, fear, sadness etc”

While being with oneself can reveal all of the above, they can also be revealed by clearly seeing that our insistence of seeking things from the world that the world cannot give. Those things can also be brought under control by acceptance and surrender to the reality that shines within as God.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

Eka-jiva vada stems more from an epistemological uncertainty about the existence of other egos rather than from an ontological certainty about the non-existence of other egos, and when we join the epistemological uncertainty to the dream analogy we get the eka-jiva vada. Hence its plausibility cannot be denied and ultimately it boils down to one's belief. Of course, since it is difficult to disbelieve that others do not have egos one is sort of caught in a bind and veers in your direction.

Regarding what are the practical implications of considering the waking world also as a dream, one definitely starts to take less seriously the world when one realizes that it could be a dream, but since one has not woken up fully, one continues to treat at some level that the world is real after all. However, consider the state of a jnani, who has woken up to a higher reality than the waking world, to him the waking world is merely his own imagination and hence he realizes it was a dream. After realizing that the snake (world and the people in it including one's own body-mind) is after all a rope (Brahman), the earlier imagination of the snake is seen as a dream-like imagination.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

There is typo in my previous comment. "Of course, since it is difficult to disbelieve that others do not have egos one is sort of caught in a bind and veers in your direction." should read "Of course, since it is difficult to believe that others do not have egos one is sort of caught in a bind and veers in your direction."

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

To be fair to your viewpoint, there is also the reverse viewpoint to eka-jiva vada. I read somewhere some time back that even dreams are not the product of our own minds but are God's creation to let us exhaust our vasanas. So, aneka-jiva vada applies even to dreams.

That said, I think your dilemmas are arising because you are looking at it from the standpoint of your body-mind identity. Look at it from the viewpoint of yourself as the Self, then things will become clear.

Wittgenstein said...

Sivanarul,

In your comment on eka jiva vada you tend to think anyone convinced of it would behave that the world is a dream. In order to be clear about it, would it not be better to consider how we behave in a dream so that we can mimic it in waking state? In a dream, is it not that we always behave that we are awake, as we are now behaving? Therefore, to behave that the world is a dream in the waking state is to behave that we are awake, which we are doing anyway. This eliminates any necessity for mimicking dream behaviour in waking state.

As far reminders during the day, what purpose do they serve? Leaving alone the reminders during waking hours, if we consider the reminders a lucid dreamer uses in a dream (‘I am dreaming’, as an eka jiva vadi is mistakenly understood to be reminding himself during the day), is it not clear that the purpose of such reminders is to stay in the dream? Does that not indicate the lucid dreamer’s love for the dream? Any reminder, in general, about the dream (or world) would help us stay in the dream (or world). The question is: do we really want to stay in the dream?

On the other hand, someone anxious to get out of the dream would be interested in the source of the dream, which is the dreamer himself. So his interest will keep him there, which would help him exit the dream.

We can pull any teaching out of the context in which it was intended to be understood. For example, considering the teaching that the world is suffering, if we use several reminders in a day that the world is suffering, it would, like the lucid dreamer’s reminders, reveal the hidden desire for suffering. With this hindsight, can we ask the person who is convinced that world is suffering if his plans are to be a masochist? If a sincere aspirant, bent upon ending suffering, talks about this teaching, we should understand he is interested in ending the suffering. Bhagavan has taught us that to end suffering, just like in the case of someone interested in ending the dream, we should turn to the source or cause of suffering, namely ourself [currently experienced as ego]. In doing so, he says, the ego will shrink and disappear for good.

Sanjay Lohia said...

There has been an extensive discussion on Bhagavan's teaching of eka-jiva-vada, and how does believing in this concept help us? Bhagavan has given us many theories or concepts: like eka-jiva-vada; this world is an unreal dream and is actually non-existent; only one ego projects and experiences this world; our final experience will be ajata and so on.

Should we (or why should we) believe these theories? If Bhagavan is our sadguru, and if has told us that these are true, it should be enough for us to believe in these ideas. Moreover, he has logically explained to us why these ideas are true or at least believable.

Bhagavan says that there is only one ego, and we are that one ego. It is obviously difficult for us to believe this, then Bhagavan points towards our dream experience, and explains that when we wake up from our dream, we find that we were the only one dreaming this dream. Likewise, Bhagavan says that that our worldly life in just another dream, and that this dream is imagined or projected only by ourself (one ego).

Bhagavan says that reality should meet three yardsticks: it should be eternal, permanent and self-shining. Our world is none of these three; therefore, this world is not real. If this world is not real, then it can only be our dream. Who has created this world? According to Bhagavan, it is only our ego who has created it by its imagination. If we investigate our ego hard and with enough perseverance, it will just take flight, and what will remain is just our experience of ajata.

Therefore, all of Bhagavan's theories or teachings are closely interlinked. If we try to understand one of them, we will sooner or later understand all of them. Why should we believe these teachings? It is because if this world is a dream, and if this world is totally unreal and unsubstantial, why should we be so attached to it? Should we not try to find out what is real and permanent? Thus these theories will lead us, sooner or later, to investigate ourself alone, because we alone are real and permeant. Regards.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I have been watching Michael's recent three videos in his YouTube page. In the first of these videos he is asked a question about the relationship between Bhagavan and Arunachala, that is, why did he worship the hill as his guru and so on.

Michael gave a very interesting answer to the effect: Who worshipped Arunachala, it was the form of Bhagavan, so it was just one form worshipping another form. Ultimately Bhagavan, Arunachala and ourself as we really are, are one and the same.

I have been intrigued about Bhagavan's relationship with Aruchala: How can an advaitin worship something other than itself, when nothing other than itself exists in its clear, non-dual view? Michael's above reply clarifies the matter. The form of Bhagavan's worshipped Arunachala's name and form, and our various forms worship Bhagavan's name and form, but it is all in the realm of maya; therefore, we should give up all our outward worshipping and worship only ourself by practising one pointed self-attentiveness. Regards.

Bob - P said...

-[Ultimately Bhagavan, Arunachala and ourself as we really are, are one and the same]-

Yes this is also my understanding.

If you believe the projected person and the projected world including other persons are a dream it doesn't mean you become cold or show no compassion or love towards them and other sentient beings, I find it to be quite the opposite.

Thank you for your recent 3 videos Michael I am looking forward to watching them.
In appreciation
Bob

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Bob-P, you have written in your last comment: If you believe the projected person and the projected world including other persons are a dream it doesn't mean you become cold or show no compassion or love towards them and other sentient beings, I find it to be quite the opposite.


In one of his recent videos, Michael has also spoken on these lines. It is just that you missed out adding: only if we practice whole heart self-attentiveness or any other bhakti sadhana with niskamya bhava that our love and compassion towards other sentient beings will increase. Michael has explained that as we practise more and more, our minds become more and more pure, and because of this reason the separating line between ourself and others starts to dissolve. Thus we naturally begin to have more compassion, love and respect for other beings, both humans and animals. Regards.

smrti said...

Sanjay Lohia,
practising one-pointed self-attentiveness does not exclude in advance worshipping Arunachala's name and form. For instance when walking on Arunachala my worship also of its form as a thorny hill of rocks is ardent and intense. Nevertheless at the same time I am making a great effort to be one-pointedly self-attentive.
Please Sanjay, do avoid the next time treating the name "ARUNACHALA" carelessly writing Aruchala.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Smriti, as you write, practising one-pointed self-attentiveness does not exclude worshipping Arunachala's name and form. They can be complementary, and they are complementary, in many devotees' life. Bhagavan is very dear to us, and Arunachala was very dear to Bhagavan; therefore, Arunachala has a special place in our hearts.

Of course, the main purpose of Arunachala is to turn our gaze towards ourself alone; therefore, in that aspect, the role of Arunachala and role of our practice of self-attentiveness is the same, namely, to enable us to experience ourself alone.

Yes, as you write, I should have been more careful with the spelling of 'Arunachala'. I will try to be more careful in future. Regards.

Bob - P said...

Thank you Sanjay I am looking forward to watching Michael's new videos to help with my understanding.
In appreciation
Bob

Sandhya said...

Sivanarul

I think concept of oneness and idea of world is a dream are connected. My 'I' thought and all derivatives of I thought is exactly same as your 'I' thought and your derivatives of your I thought. Do you agree with that? Knowingly or unknowingly, the world operates on this foundation. So is in the case of a dream too. All characters and events operate with the same 'I' thought as the foundation. The more we lean towards the foundation, the more the derivatives cease to exist. Just like the characters in the dream cease to exist when we wake up by leaning towards the dreamer and stop attending to the events and characters. I personally think 'world is a dream' idea is not a belief but rather a logical conclusion.

sphinx said...

Michael,
as you write in the continued comment of 30 April 2016 at 16:41 in reply to Viveka Vairagya:
"However, what Bhagavan teaches us goes far beyond this scepticism about the existence (of) other minds, because he teaches us that not only are all other people just our own mental projections or ideas, but even the person we now seem to be is just our own mental projection, exactly as is any person we seem to be in a dream."
To me that statement is beyond my powers of imagination. That mighty and powerful kind of constructive projection is inconceivable and unimaginable. May I ask if it is possible to make that creative power more clear, vivid/graphic by illustrating it or making the subject come alive ?
I assume that the mentioned creation-power of the ego to that projection can be derived only directly and immediately from real self itself.

Anonymous said...

be knowing / know being

unswerving seeker said...

Anonymous,
that commanding or inviting sentence sounds well. It is all very well for you to talk.
But I cannot act or be under your order.
Therefore please could you kindly tell me how to be knowing. Then I (will manage to) know being.

Ann Onymous said...

unswerving seeker -

Simply, stop wondering 'how?'.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

“Eka-jiva vada stems more from an epistemological uncertainty about the existence of other egos rather than from an ontological certainty about the non-existence of other egos, and when we join the epistemological uncertainty to the dream analogy we get the eka-jiva vada. Hence its plausibility cannot be denied and ultimately it boils down to one's belief”

A father can never be 100% certain that his child is really his child. In 99.99% of cases, he trusts his wife being faithful to him and hence is fully convinced that his child is really his child. In .01% of cases, a DNA test is done to confirm paternity. But even in this case, all the father gets is a piece of paper that says he indeed is the father. Again he trusts the science and the person who wrote the results. The point is we can always be uncertain about everything in life if we want to.

The duck test is: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck. If other egos look like you (as human), behave like you (desire, fear etc), talk like you (communicate), then they probably do exist.

Yes, ultimately it boils down to one’s belief. The father cannot deny the plausibility that his child may not be his and certainly has to resort to his belief on his wife or the DNA test. The point is we can go insane doubting everything. Most fathers do not do that.

“but since one has not woken up fully, one continues to treat at some level that the world is real after all”

Exactly my point! In the waking state, we can look back at the dream and clearly see that it is a dream. Without waking up in Turiya, we cannot look at the waking state from the waking state itself and say meaningfully that it is a dream.

“state of a jnani, who has woken up to a higher reality than the waking world, to him the waking world is merely his own imagination”

May be or he could also see it as God’a lila. Either way the discussion is only happening at the sadhaka level and a sadhaka cannot exsperience whatever the jnani experiences, for the simple reason that the sadhaka is not in Turiya.

“Of course, since it is difficult to believe that others do not have egos one is sort of caught in a bind and veers in your direction."

Yes. That is why very few people adopt eka jiva or the world is a dream.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

“To be fair to your viewpoint, there is also the reverse viewpoint to eka-jiva vada. I read somewhere some time back that even dreams are not the product of our own minds but are God's creation to let us exhaust our vasanas. So, aneka-jiva vada applies even to dreams.”

Yes. From a devotee’s perspective: The ego’s intellect is chittarivu (tiny intelligence). God’s intelligence is Perarivu (infinite intelligence). To think that the tiny intelligence can fully understand the purpose, meaning of everything is foolhardy. Hence the devotee tries his best to follow Christ’s teaching “Not my will, but they will be done”. The devotee tries his best to give the power of attorney to god. By the way, this is the second parallel method advocated by Bhagavan for people who are religious and have unshakable faith in God.

“That said, I think your dilemmas are arising because you are looking at it from the standpoint of your body-mind identity. Look at it from the viewpoint of yourself as the Self, then things will become clear.”

For a sadhaka, is there any other way to look at things other than a body-mind identity? How can one look at things from the point of Self? All discussions take place in vyavaharika. Isn’t paramarthika a thought in vyavaharika? The clarity of eka jiva that you think you have is another belief, just like the clarity of aneka jiva that I think that I have, is another belief. From the point of view of the Self/God, one does now know what the truth is unless one wakes up in Turiya or merges in God.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

I agree that eka-jiva vada is very difficult to accept 100% because of the unshakable belief one has that other people seem to be very much like oneself. But adopting eka-jiva vada does have its merits for sadhana, which I am unable to express in words right now - perhaps someone else on this blog, say Michael, can. Closest I can come to it is by stating that, from one's reading, one is intellectually convinced, though not experientially realized, that Self is the ultimate reality, and hence even the waking world also has to be dream-like. So, one follows the instructions of a Guru to try and wake up. One of the teachings of such a Guru, in this case, Bhagavan, is that even the waking world is also like a dream, which fact one can settle upon for some of the afore-mentioned reasons.

That said, I am quite content to see you adopt the aneka-jiva attitude for your sadhana because as Swami Sarvapriyananda said, both sristi-dristi and dristi-sristi are procedural and ultimately not real because the ultimate Truth is that there is no creation and so all theories about it are invalid. It is kind of like trying to come up with creation theories about the snake in the rope - the snake never actually existed except in your imagination.

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

“But adopting eka-jiva vada does have its merits for sadhana, which I am unable to express in words right now”

Thank you for trying to explain to the best you can.

“Closest I can come to it is by stating that, from one's reading, one is intellectually convinced, though not experientially realized, that Self is the ultimate reality, and hence even the waking world also has to be dream-like. So, one follows the instructions of a Guru to try and wake up. One of the teachings of such a Guru, in this case, Bhagavan, is that even the waking world is also like a dream, which fact one can settle upon for some of the afore-mentioned reasons.”

I don’t see anything special in the above that an aneka jiva vadi and devotee of god does not do. The aneka jiva vadi/devotee is also intellectually convinced that God is the ultimate reality. He also sees the waking world as a wonder play of the Lord. So he also follows the instructions of the same Guru (Bhagavan’s parallel path of Surrender to Ishvara) and tries to merge with Ishvara. So bottom line, I don’t see anything special that eka jiva buys a sadhaka. As I said before, eka Jiva works great for people who do want to have Ishvara or Bhakthi (as defined in Bhakthi literature) in their journey.

I will end the discussion on this with you. I am a firm believer that all rivers end in the same ocean. I am happy that you got convinced on eka-jiva and you feel that it will help you. We all have to follow what we think is best for us. All the best in your sadhana.

Sivanarul said...

Wittgenstein,
“Therefore, to behave that the world is a dream in the waking state is to behave that we are awake, which we are doing anyway”

So basically you are saying a believer in eka jiva behaves the same way as a believer of aneka jiva. Both act awake in the waking state. So in this there is not any difference.

“On the other hand, someone anxious to get out of the dream would be interested in the source of the dream, which is the dreamer himself. So his interest will keep him there, which would help him exit the dream.”

Again I don’t see any difference between eka jiva vadi and and aneka jiva vadi here. The aneka jiva vadi also is very anxious to know why his here, and what is the source and meaning of life. His interest in ending of samsara helps him in reaching that source (whether one calls it Self or God).

So if I understand correctly, your comment tells that eka jiva vada does not do anything more than what an eneka jiva vada can do for a sadhaka. Also it tells that eka jiva vadi lives his life the same way as an aneka jiva vadi (both act awake in the waking state and both attend to practical matters the same way and both do intense sadhana).

“We can pull any teaching out of the context in which it was intended to be understood. For example, considering the teaching that the world is suffering, if we use several reminders in a day that the world is suffering, it would, like the lucid dreamer’s reminders, reveal the hidden desire for suffering. With this hindsight, can we ask the person who is convinced that world is suffering if his plans are to be a masochist?”

It looks like we are now comparing apples and oranges. The teaching that Dukkha (suffering being a poor translation) permeates both pain and pleasure can be experienced in the here and now. That we experience dukkha in pain is obvious. That we experience dukkha in pleasure will become obvious with a little insight. When I eat tasty food, somewhere during that eating while experiencing the pleasure of the food, I also experience dukkka as the realization arises that my stomach will become full very soon and the this pleasure has to end. So the teaching of dukkha accords directly to one’s experience.

Like I said to Viveka Vairagya, following the duck test, the world being real is the natural experience. If someone claims otherwise, I was trying to find out what do they do to remind themselves that it is not so, since the reality of the world is at their face every second. The follower of the teaching of Dukkha does not have to do anything. His own experience matches with the teaching. But the followers of “everything is in my dream” are continuously reminded by hunger, thirst, sensuality, love, anger etc etc that seems ultra real.

So I was asking, what do they do then? Do they remind themselves, it is all their own dream? When their first child utters its first word, do they feel they have to look at the source of where the first word comes from? If they have a stroke and are utterly helpless, do they still have the courage to say “everything is in my dream”?

Sivanarul said...

Sandhya,

“My 'I' thought and all derivatives of I thought is exactly same as your 'I' thought and your derivatives of your I thought. Do you agree with that?”

I agree that the underlying reality of the ‘I’ thought (God/Self) is exactly the same. But how can our ‘I’ thoughts and their derivatives be the same?

“I personally think 'world is a dream' idea is not a belief but rather a logical conclusion.”

The derivative of your ‘I’ thought has decided, that world is a dream, is a logical conclusion. The derivative of my ‘I’ thought has decided that it is not so. If the derivatives were all the same, how can we come to opposite conclusions?

“The more we lean towards the foundation, the more the derivatives cease to exist.”

Yes, the more we lean towards the foundation (God), we lose interest in the world. That does not imply that the world is a dream or that it ceases to exist. Correlation does not imply Causation.

Sandhya said...

Sivanarul

when i say My I thought is same as yours I meant the substance your thought and my thought is made of is same. Isn't the feeling of your I thought same as mine? If not, we would never be able to communicate.

Sivanarul said...

“Michael gave a very interesting answer to the effect: Who worshipped Arunachala, it was the form of Bhagavan, so it was just one form worshipping another form”

Isn’t form Jada (insentient).? The form’s intelligence is limited to preservation of the form (breathing, heartbeat, digestion etc). How can a form worship anything?

Hasn’t Bhagavan said Arunachala is the Self (Siva) itself? How come it became a form?

Bhagavan did not himself have any problems with the dualistic attitude he took to Arunachala. Not sure why Bhagavan’s devotees have an issue with that.

By the way folks, duality is not a dirty word. Duality requires, ultimately giving up everything other than God and ‘I’. Once we get to that stage, whether God and I are two or one will be revealed.

“but it is all in the realm of maya; therefore, we should give up all our outward worshipping and worship only ourself”

Well then Sri Shankara did not understand his own advaitic teaching and outwardly worshipped Ishvara in Kasi and rendered soul stirring songs on him. Also instead of composing the song on himself he composed the song on Lord Siva who is both within and without. One song from his Shivananda Lahari is as follows:

(4) Bhakti is a matter only for experience and not for words:
How can Logic or other polemics be of real use? Can the ghatapatas (favourite examples of the logicians, meaning the pot and the cloth) save you in a crisis? Why then waste yourself thinking of them and on discussion? Stop exercising the vocal organs and giving them pain. Think of the Feet of the Lord and drink the nectar! (Verse 6)

ghaöo vä måtpiëòo’pyaëurapi ca dhümo’gniracalaù
paöo vä tanturvä pariharati kià ghoraçamanam |
våthä kaëöhakñobhaà vahasi tarasä tarkavacasä
padämbhojaà çambhorbhaja paramasaukhyaà vraja sudhéù || 6||

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