Tuesday, 17 May 2016

We can separate ourself permanently from whatever is not ourself only by attending to ourself alone

In a recent comment on one of my old articles, Ātma-vicāra and the ‘practice’ of nēti nēti, a friend called Roger tried to explain why he considers that ātma-vicāra (self-investigation) and nēti nēti (which literally means ‘not thus, not thus’, ‘not so, not so’ or ‘not like this, not like this’, and which is generally considered to be the practice of meditating on the idea that the body, mind and other adjuncts that we mistake to be ourself are not ourself) are both ‘entirely valid and have the same potential’, and that nēti nēti is ‘one method of keeping attention fixed on “I”’, one among ‘multiple other such methods’, so this article is my reply to him.
  1. The only means to see what we actually are is to attend to ourself
  2. What we actually are is just pure intransitive awareness
  3. We are transitively aware because we allow our attention to be diverted away from ourself
  4. Having understood what we are not, we should attend only to what we actually are
  5. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: we must attend only to ourself and thereby leave aside all phenomena
  6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 8: we cannot annihilate our ego by any means other than ātma-vicāra
  7. We can ignore all thoughts only by attending to ourself alone
  8. What Bhagavan meant by the term ‘thought’ is mental phenomena of any kind
  9. We cannot terminate thought or the thinking process by attending to it, but only by attending to ourself
  10. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: this ego will cease to exist only if we attend to it alone
  11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 36: thinking ‘I am not this body but only brahman’ is just a preliminary aid
  12. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 29: thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is an aid but not vicāra
  13. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 32: clinging to such aids is due to ‘deficiency of strength’
  14. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 2: the awareness that stands isolated from everything else alone is ‘I’
1. The only means to see what we actually are is to attend to ourself

Roger, as you imply, we should be trying to keep our attention fixed on ‘I’, but you seem to believe that ātma-vicāra and nēti nēti are both ‘methods’ to do so, which raises the question whether we need any ‘method’ to look at, observe or attend to ourself, or what the term ‘method’ would mean in this context. If we want to see the sun directly, we just have to turn and look at it, but we would not normally describe turning to look at something as the ‘method’ to see it, because the term ‘method’ usually implies something more complex than simply turning to look at something.

Since ‘keeping attention fixed on “I”’ means simply looking at, observing or attending to ourself steadily, and since we can attend to ourself only directly and not indirectly, there cannot be more than one means or ‘method’ to attend to ourself or to keep our attention fixed on ourself. Just as the only means to see the sun directly is to look at it, the only means to see what we actually are is to attend to ourself.

There are many clues that have been given to us by Bhagavan and in some older texts to help us turn our attention inwards to fix it on ourself alone, and understanding that we are not the body, mind or any other phenomenon that we now seem to be is also a necessary preliminary aid to help us fix our attention on nothing other than what we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness, but all such clues and the means to gain a clear and firm intellectual conviction that we are not anything other than pure self-awareness are just aids and not the actual self-investigation or self-attentiveness by which alone we can experience ourself as we actually are.

What you describe as multiple ‘methods’ to keep our attention fixed on ‘I’ are perhaps just the various explanations and clues that we have been given to help us fix our attention on ourself alone, but these explanations and clues are just aids, and as I will explain in more detail later in this article (particularly in sections eleven, twelve and thirteen) no aid can be the actual practice of self-attentiveness or self-investigation, which is the only means by which we can separate ourself entirely from everything that we now seem to be but that is not what we actually are.

2. What we actually are is just pure intransitive awareness

Though you seem to take ātma-vicāra and nēti nēti to be two different methods to keep our attention fixed on ourself, from what you write it is not entirely clear what exactly you consider either of these ‘methods’ to be, or in what way you consider them to be different (particularly if you believe, as you seem to imply, that they both entail just keeping our attention fixed on ourself), so I think the most useful way for me to begin answering your comment may be to take a step back from these terms and consider what we are trying to achieve and how we can achieve it.

Now we experience ourself as a person consisting of a body and mind, which are finite and transitory phenomena that appear in waking or dream and disappear in sleep, but we are aware of ourself in all of these three states, so we cannot be these or any other phenomena, because all phenomena seem to exist only in waking and dream and do not exist in sleep. We are therefore just the fundamental awareness that remains whether any phenomena appear or not.

However, whenever phenomena appear, we experience them as objects and ourself as the subject, and as such we seem to be limited. The subject who is aware of any objects (that is, any anything other than itself) is our ego, which appears along with phenomena in waking and dream and disappears with them in sleep, so this ego (the transitive or object-knowing awareness) is not what we actually are. The awareness that we actually are is just pure intransitive awareness — that is, awareness that is just aware and not aware of any object or phenomenon (anything other than itself) — which is the awareness that we experience in the absence of our ego in sleep.

3. We are transitively aware because we allow our attention to be diverted away from ourself

Therefore to know ourself as we actually are, we need to be just intransitively aware — that is, aware of ourself without being aware of any phenomena. However, we are just intransitively aware whenever we are asleep, but being asleep does not annihilate our ego, as we know from the fact that this ego rises again from sleep in either waking or dream. The reason why our ego is not annihilated in sleep is that in sleep we remain just intransitively aware as a result of the complete subsidence of this ego, and it subsided then only due to tiredness, whereas for it to be annihilated it must subside as a result of our being just intransitively aware. In other words, being just intransitively aware will annihilate our ego only if it is what actually causes its subsidence, and not if it is merely what results from its subsidence, as it is in sleep. Therefore to annihilate our ego and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are, we need to be just intransitively aware in waking or dream, as we were in sleep.

The reason why we are not just intransitively aware now is that we have chosen and constantly continue to choose to attend to and thereby be aware of phenomena, so in order to be just intransitively aware in waking or dream, as we are in sleep, we need to try to attend only to ourself. In other words, we need to try to be attentively self-aware. We are always self-aware, but in waking and dream we are negligently self-aware, because we choose to attend to other things instead of to ourself alone, so in order to be aware of ourself alone we need to direct our entire attention back towards ourself.

Being self-aware does not entail being transitively aware, because we ourself are not an object, and because being aware entails being self-aware, since we could not be aware without being aware that we are aware, and being aware that we are aware entails being aware of ourself, the one who is aware. Therefore being self-aware is the very nature of being aware, so even when we are just intransitively aware — that is, aware without being aware of any phenomena — we are self-aware.

To be aware of anything other than ourself we need to attend to it at least partially (that is, even if it is not the central focus of our attention, at least a part of our attention must be directed towards it), but to be aware of ourself we do not need to attend to ourself, because we are always aware of ourself whether we attend to ourself or not. In waking and dream we generally attend only to things other than ourself, but however much our attention is directed towards other things, we always remain self-aware, so self-awareness is the screen or background on which awareness of other things appear and disappear.

Though we do not attend to and are therefore not aware of anything other than ourself in sleep, we do not attend even to ourself then, yet we remains self-aware. The reason why we do not attend even to ourself in sleep is that attention is a function of our ego, and our ego does not exist then.

Attention is a focusing of our awareness on something, and it can also be described as a directing of our awareness towards something, or as bringing something within the sphere of our awareness, so it is a selective use of our awareness. Therefore, since what is aware of many things and can therefore select to be more aware of some things than of other things is only our ego, and since our actual self, which is just pure intransitive awareness, is not aware of anything other than itself, attention is a function only of our ego and not of our actual self. In sleep our ego does not exist and therefore we are not aware of anything other than ourself, so we do not attend to ourself in sleep because we cannot do so and do not need to do so, since there is then nothing else that we could select to be aware of.

In waking and dream we are transitively aware — that is, aware of thing other than ourself — because we choose to allow our attention to be diverted away from ourself towards other things. However, even when we are transitively aware, we are still intransitively aware, because we could not be aware of anything if we were not aware. Intransitive awareness is therefore the permanent ground or foundation on which transitive awareness appears and disappears. In order to be just intransitively aware, therefore, we simply need to cease being transitively aware, and the only way to avoid being transitively aware in waking or dream is to attend to ourself alone.

4. Having understood what we are not, we should attend only to what we actually are

The aim of nēti nēti is to reject, eliminate or set aside everything that is not ourself, but we can achieve this only by clinging fast to ourself alone — that is, by trying to be attentively aware of ourself alone, which is the correct practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra). If we direct our entire attention back towards ourself (that is, if we focus our awareness solely on ourself, the one who is aware), our attention will thereby automatically be withdrawn from everything else.

However, because nēti nēti literally means ‘not thus, not thus’ and implies ‘I am not this phenomenon, nor that one’, it entails thinking about whatever we are not rather than about what we actually are. Therefore it is not intended to be a spiritual practice or a direct means to know what we actually are, but is simply an intellectual analysis that is intended to clear the ground, so to speak, for the practice of self-investigation. That is, in order to focus our entire attention on ourself alone, we first need to clearly understand that though we now seem to be phenomena such as this body and mind, no phenomenon can be what we actually are, so we can investigate ourself only by attending to ourself (our fundamental self-awareness) and not to phenomena of any kind whatsoever. Having clearly understood this, therefore, we should try to attend only to ourself and thereby ignore or avoid attending to any phenomena, including whatever body, mind and other extraneous adjuncts now seem to be ourself.

5. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: we must attend only to ourself and thereby leave aside all phenomena

The fact that in order to know what we actually are we need to attend only to ourself and thereby cease attending to any phenomena is clearly indicated by Bhagavan in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

அன்வயம்: மனம் வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṉam veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

English translation: Leaving aside external phenomena, the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real knowledge [or knowledge of reality].
In this context the term ‘ஒளியுரு’ (oḷi-y-uru) or ‘form of light’ refers to pure intransitive awareness, which is our own ‘form’ or real nature, so ‘மனம் தன் ஒளியுரு ஓர்தலே’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-y-uru ōrdalē), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light’, implies turning our attention inwards to be aware only of the pure awareness that we actually are. When we turn our attention back within to be aware of ourself alone we automatically withdraw it from all external phenomena (viṣayas), so ஓர்தலே (ōrdalē), which is a verbal noun that means ‘knowing’ or ‘being aware of’, is the subject of this sentence, whereas விட்டு (viṭṭu), which means ‘leaving’ or ‘leaving aside’, is a verbal participle, and hence ‘மனம் தன் ஒளியுரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-y-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real knowledge’, is the main clause of this sentence, whereas ‘வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu), ‘leaving aside external phenomena’, is just an adverbial clause, indicating that it is just a side-effect or by-product of focusing our entire attention on ourself alone.

‘Leaving aside external phenomena’ means ceasing to attend to them, but though we cease attending to them whenever we fall asleep we do not thereby destroy our ego, so merely ‘leaving aside external phenomena’ is not sufficient. In order to annihilate our ego, the ‘I’ that rises to attach itself to external phenomena, we must not only cease attending to external phenomena but must also attend keenly to ourself.

By attending only to ourself, we automatically cease attending to anything else, but by ceasing to attend to anything else, we do not automatically attend to ourself, because we cease attending to anything else when we fall asleep, but we do not thereby attend to ourself. Therefore since we can destroy our ego only being attentively aware of ourself alone, we should not try merely to cease attending to anything else but should try only to attend to ourself.

If we were to try just to leave aside external phenomena without trying to attend keenly to ourself, we would be setting ourself an impossible task, because by trying not to attend to phenomena we would be attending to them and thereby defeating what we are try to achieve. However, it is not necessary for us to make any such futile effort, because if we simply try to attend to ourself alone, we will thereby automatically leave aside external phenomena to the extent that we manage to focus our entire attention on ourself alone.

Since all the adjuncts that seem to be ourself, such as this body and mind, are just external phenomena, we cannot effectively separate ourself from them merely by thinking that they are not ‘I’, but only by attending keenly to ourself alone. Trying to separate ourself from them merely by thinking that they are not ‘I’ is as futile as trying to do so by deliberately not thinking of them, because in either case we would be thinking of them and thereby perpetuating our hold on them. Therefore to save us from such futile efforts, Bhagavan taught us that all we need do is just try to attend to ourself alone.

6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 8: we cannot annihilate our ego by any means other than ātma-vicāra

Though there are certain yōgic techniques such as prāṇāyāma (breath-restraint) that can serve as indirect means for one to withdraw one’s attention from all external phenomena, if we manage to leave aside all external phenomena by such means, the result would be that our mind would subside in manōlaya, which is just a temporary state of abeyance of mind, like sleep. This is why Bhagavan says in the eighth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
மனம் அடங்குவதற்கு விசாரணையைத் தவிர வேறு தகுந்த உபாயங்களில்லை. மற்ற உபாயங்களினால் அடக்கினால் மனம் அடங்கினாற்போ லிருந்து, மறுபடியும் கிளம்பிவிடும். பிராணாயாமத்தாலும் மன மடங்கும்; ஆனால் பிராண னடங்கியிருக்கும் வரையில் மனமு மடங்கியிருந்து, பிராணன் வெளிப்படும்போது தானும் வெளிப்பட்டு வாசனை வயத்தா யலையும். [...] ஆகையால் பிராணாயாமம் மனத்தை யடக்க சகாயமாகுமே யன்றி மனோநாசஞ் செய்யாது.

maṉam aḍaṅguvadaṟku vicāraṇaiyai-t tavira vēṟu tahunda upāyaṅgaḷ-illai. maṯṟa upāyaṅgaḷiṉāl aḍakkiṉāl maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl-pōl irundu, maṟupaḍiyum kiḷambi-viḍum. pirāṇāyāmattāl-um maṉam aḍaṅgum; āṉāl pirāṇaṉ aḍaṅgi-y-irukkum varaiyil maṉam-um aḍaṅgi-y-irundu, pirāṇaṉ veḷi-p-paḍum-bōdu tāṉum veḷi-p-paṭṭu vāsaṉai vayattāy alaiyum. […] āhaiyāl pirāṇāyāmam maṉattai y-aḍakka sahāyam-āhum-ē y-aṉḏṟi maṉōnāśam seyyādu.

For the mind to subside [in the sense of ceasing to exist], except vicāraṇā [self-investigation] there are no other adequate means. If made to subside by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, [but] will emerge again. Even by prāṇāyāma the mind will subside; however, [though] the mind remains subsided so long as the breath remains subsided, when the breath emerges [or becomes manifest] it will also emerge and wander under the sway of [its] vāsanās [propensities, inclinations, impulses or desires]. […] Therefore prāṇāyāma is just an aid to restrain the mind [or to make it subside temporarily], but will not bring about manōnāśa [annihilation of the mind].
The body, mind and other adjuncts that we now experience as if they were ourself are all external phenomena, so we separate ourself from them entirely whenever we fall asleep or subside in any other such state of manōlaya, but as soon as our ego rises again in either waking or dream it projects such adjuncts and grasps them as itself. Therefore in order to separate ourself permanently from all such adjuncts we must annihilate this ego, which we can do only by turning our entire attention back within and thereby being aware of ourself alone.

Our ego is what is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of ourself, who are awareness (cit), with adjuncts such as this physical body, which are insentient (jaḍa), so as long as this ego survives it will bind us to whatever adjuncts seem to be ourself, even though they are not ourself. Therefore we cannot unfasten or detach ourself from these adjuncts merely by thinking that they are not ‘I’, because what thinks they are not ‘I’ is our ego, and this ego is what binds us to them. In order to untie this knot that binds us to adjuncts (namely our ego) we need to separate our awareness entirely from all phenomena, which are jaḍa, and the only way to separate it is to attend only to ourself and not to anything else whatsoever.

If instead of trying to attend to ourself alone we just meditate on the idea that the body, mind and other adjuncts that seem to be ourself are not ‘I’, we will thereby be thinking of the very things from which we should be separating ourself, and thus we will be nourishing and sustaining our ego and its attachment to these adjuncts. Therefore though we can understand by means of the conceptual analysis called nēti nēti that we cannot be any of the phenomena that we seem to be, such as this body or outward-turned mind, in order to experience ourself as we actually are and thereby free ourself from the deep-rooted illusion that we are such phenomena we must turn our mind or attention inwards and thereby be aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from all adjuncts and other phenomena.

7. We can ignore all thoughts only by attending to ourself alone

Regarding your remark, ‘you used the words “simply ignore thinking” and “exclude all thoughts” and “overlook thoughts” which might imply force’, being attentively aware of ourself alone and thereby not being aware of anything else is an extremely subtle and abstract state, so no words can adequately describe it, and whatever words may be used to describe it are liable to be misinterpreted, but if you had carefully read what I had written in that article you should have understood that I did not mean that we should forcibly try to ignore or exclude all thoughts. If we deliberately or directly try to ignore something or to exclude it from our attention, that would obviously be a futile effort, because trying directly to ignore anything would entail thinking about it, which would defeat our very purpose. For example, if we directly try to ignore any thought of a monkey, every time we try to ignore that thought we will thereby be thinking about it, so the only way to ignore it would be to think of something else instead and thereby forget that we even want to ignore any such thought.

The context in which I wrote ‘simply ignore’ in that article was when explaining why we cannot separate ourself from our body, mind and other adjuncts by thinking that they are not ‘I’, because by thinking about them we would be sustaining our ego and its attachment to them, so I wrote: ‘In order to separate ourself from them, we must simply ignore them, which we can effectively do only by attending exclusively to that which is really ‘I’, namely our own self-conscious being’. Likewise what I wrote about excluding all thoughts was: ‘We can exclude all thoughts only by attending to nothing other than our own essential being, which is the source from which they all rise and in which they must all subside. Since thoughts can rise only when we attend to them, they will all subside naturally when we keep our attention fixed exclusively in our own essential self-conscious being, ‘I am’’.

Therefore what I was advocating was not that we should make any effort directly to ignore or exclude all thoughts but only that we should try to attend to ourself alone, because when we succeed in attending only to ourself we will thereby automatically have ceased attending to anything else. Therefore in order to ignore thinking we do not need to use any force but just need to have deep and wholehearted love to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

8. What Bhagavan meant by the term ‘thought’ is mental phenomena of any kind

From what you write about thought, such as when you refer to it as ‘the whining child mind’, you seem to take the term ‘thought’ to mean just the idle mental chatter that is usually going in our mind whenever we are not engaged in attending to anything else, but when Bhagavan used any terms in Tamil that mean ‘thought’ or ‘idea’, what he meant by such terms is mental phenomena of any kind whatsoever, and since according to him all phenomena that seem to be physical are actually only mental, just like all the seemingly physical phenomena that we see in a dream, all phenomena are just thoughts. This is why he said in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai), which means ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as the world’, and in the fourteenth paragraph, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), which means ‘What is called the world is only thought’.

It is important for us to understand this, because many people believe that if they can stop all mental chatter when meditating they are thereby stopping all thoughts, which is not the case, because whatever phenomena we may be aware of are just thoughts, and even our ego, which is what is aware of them, is also a thought — our primal thought called ‘I’, which is the root and foundation of all other thoughts. Therefore if we try to stop all thoughts, that would be a case of one thought (this ego) trying to stop other thoughts, and even its desire and effort to stop other thoughts would themselves be thoughts, so we cannot actually stop all thoughts unless we avoid rising as this ego, the one who want to stop them.

So long as we seem to be this ego, we will be aware of thoughts of one kind or another, because this ego seems to exist only when is it aware of things other than itself, and everything other than itself is just a thought. Therefore all thoughts can cease only when this ego ceases to exist, as it does temporarily in sleep or in any other state of manōlaya, and as it will do permanently only in the state of manōnāśa (annihilation of the mind along with its root, this ego).

Therefore the only effective way to free ourself permanently from all thoughts is to annihilate our ego, which we can do only by being attentively aware of ourself alone and thereby experiencing ourself as we actually are. If we manage to free ourself from thoughts by any other means, what will result will only be a temporary state of manōlaya, from which our ego and its thoughts will sooner or later rise again.

9. We cannot terminate thought or the thinking process by attending to it, but only by attending to ourself

You suggest that in order to understand how we can be free from thoughts we should pay heed to J Krishnamurti, whom you imply taught that ‘if force is used to terminate thought, then freedom remains elusive’, and you add, ‘It seems that until the thinking process is truly listened to, truly understood, then thinking persists. […] It seems that while we listen attentively to whatever may arise, eventually arising ceases’.

Before considering these claims, it is worth pointing out that we have good reasons to be very sceptical about whatever Krishnamurti may have said about thoughts or the thinking process, because some of his claims about them are patently absurd and do not stand up to critical scrutiny. For example, in Commentaries on Living, Series 3, chapter 12, ‘There Is No Thinker, Only Conditioned Thinking’, he wrote: ‘Thought creates the thinker; it is the thinking process that brings the thinker into being. Thought comes first, and later the thinker; it is not the other way round’.

How can this be correct? Any thought is a product of thinking, and thinking could not happen if there were no one who is thinking. Thinking is an action, and no action can occur unless there is something doing it, so the result of an action (namely thought in this case) cannot possibly exist before whatever did that action (namely the thinker whose thinking produced that thought), and hence thought cannot be what creates the thinker.

Not only can Krishnamurti’s claim that ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker’ be proved false by simple logic, but it is also quite contrary to what Bhagavan taught us about thoughts, such as what he said in the final sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
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 thought. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person appears do the second and third persons appear; without the first person the second and third persons do not exist.
What Bhagavan describes here as ‘நானென்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivu), which literally means ‘the thought called I’, is our ego, which is the thinker of all other thoughts, and what alone is aware of their seeming existence. Since other thoughts seem to exist only in the view of this ego, none of them could exist independent of it, so it is logically the first thought and the root and foundation of every other thought. Therefore Bhagavan says it is ‘முதல் நினைவு’ (mudal niṉaivu), which means the first, primal, original, basic or causal thought.

Since this ego or first thought called ‘I’ is what is aware of both itself and all its other thoughts, it is the subject or first person, whereas all other thoughts are objects known by it, so they are second and third persons. Therefore in the final two sentences of this paragraph Bhagavan says: ‘Only after the first person [the ego] appears do the second and third persons [all other thoughts] appear; without the first person the second and third persons do not exist’.

He also implies this in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), which means ‘If the thought called ‘I’ does not exist, even one other will not exist’. ‘பிற ஒன்றும்’ (piṟa oṉḏṟum) means ‘even one other’, and in this context it can imply either ‘even one other thing’ or ‘even one other thought’, but both these implied meanings amount to the same, because everything other than ourself is just a thought.

What Bhagavan says in this sentence and in the above passage of Nāṉ Yār? is in accordance with our own experience and is consistent with logic, because whenever we rise as this first thought called ‘I’ or ‘ego’, as in waking and in dream, other things (thoughts or phenomena) seem to exist, and whenever we do not rise as this ‘I’, as in sleep, nothing else seems to exist. Therefore we do not have any adequate grounds for believing that any thought or other thing exists when we do not rise as this ego, which alone is what is aware of all such things.

When Krishnamurti says, ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker; it is not the other way round’, this is neither in accordance with our own experience nor is it consistent with logic, so why should we believe him? If we believe him in spite of the complete lack of any supporting evidence from our own experience and in spite of the fact that his claim is contrary to all logic, such belief would be an extreme case of blind faith, so since Krishnamurti himself was a staunch critic of blind faith, according to his own teachings we should not believe him in these circumstances.

Later on in the same passage Krishnamurti wrote: ‘Perceiving itself to be impermanent, insecure, and desiring permanency, security, thought brings into being the thinker’. This implies that thought is sentient, because if it were not it could not perceive or desire anything, but is any thought actually sentient? The only sentient thought is our ego, because it alone is what is aware of both itself and all other thoughts. No other thought is sentient, because no other thought is aware either of itself or of anything else, so it cannot perceive itself to be impermanent or insecure, nor can it desire permanency or security.

What perceives and desires anything is only our ego, and since it is what projects and is aware of all other thoughts, it alone is the thinker. Therefore other thoughts cannot exist independent of this ego, nor can they come into existence before it. This is why Bhagavan repeatedly pointed out that this ego is the first thought and the root and foundation of every other thought.

In this same passage Krishnamurti repeatedly equates the ‘thinker’ with the ‘watcher’ and ‘his thought’ with ‘the watched’, which implies (quite correctly) that the thinker is what is aware of thoughts, but since this is the case, how can he justify his claim that ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker; it is not the other way round’? How can any thought arise before there is anyone aware of it? Does any thought exist independent of our awareness of it? Claiming that any thought existed before the ego, the ‘I’ who is now aware of it, is like claiming that the world we saw in a dream existed before we started dreaming it. How could we know that anything existed prior to our awareness of it? Thoughts exist only because we think them, and thinking them entails both forming them in our mind and simultaneously being aware of them, because we could not form any thought without being aware of it. How therefore could any thought have existed prior to ourself, the ‘I’ who thinks and is aware of it?

Just as he claimed that ‘Thought creates the thinker’, he also claimed that ‘the watcher is still the product of thought’, which implies that the watcher is the product of what it watches or is aware of, or in other words that the subject is the product of the object. It is true that the watcher is a watcher only in relation to whatever it is watching, so if nothing were watched there would be no watcher as such, but this does not justify his claim that ‘Thought comes first, and later the thinker’, because a thought is a thought only because it is thought and watched by the thinker, the one who is thinking and watching it.

Paradoxically Krishnamurti used to criticise blind belief and say that we should not blindly believe whatever we may be told by any religion, guru or other supposed authority, yet everyone who believes him to be an authority does so blindly, because if they thought critically and independently for themselves, they would be able to see through the numerous logical absurdities and contradictions in what he wrote and said. Therefore if we wish to follow his advice not to blindly believe whatever we are told by any putative ‘authority’, we should critically consider whatever he claimed and judge for ourself whether or not it could be true.

What you wrote about the lesson we should learn from Krishnamurti seems to imply that he said something to the effect that ‘if force is used to terminate thought, then freedom remains elusive’, that ‘until the thinking process is truly listened to, truly understood, then thinking persists’ and that ‘while we listen attentively to whatever may arise, eventually arising ceases’, so let us consider these claims. It is true that we cannot free ourself from thoughts by forcibly trying to terminate them, because our effort to terminate them would be just another thought, and even the ‘I’ who makes such an effort is also a thought. But can we free ourself from thinking merely by truly listening to the thinking process?

It is not clear in this context what exactly ‘truly listening to’ means, but it must entail attending to the thinking process, which is what we are doing whenever we are thinking. So long as we are attending in any way to our thinking or our thoughts, they will not cease, because as we all know from our own experience they are sustained by our attending to them. Suppose, for example, that we think of an apple: so long as we continue attending to that thought it will persist, and it will cease only when our attention is diverted to something else or when we fall asleep. Therefore attending to thought or to the thinking process cannot be a means to terminate it.

Regarding the claim that ‘while we listen attentively to whatever may arise, eventually arising ceases’, this cannot be true for the same reason. Whatever may arise is a thought, and thoughts arise and are sustained only by our attention, so as long as we attend to anything that arises its arising will not cease.

How then can we terminate all thoughts? Obviously the only way is to cease attending to them, as we do every day when we fall asleep. However, though in sleep we remain without any thoughts for a while, we sooner or later rise again as this ego, and as soon as we do so we project and become aware of other thoughts, so merely ceasing to attend to thoughts is not a permanent solution.

Therefore is there any way in which we can permanently terminate all thought? According to Bhagavan the only way is not merely to cease attending to them, but is to attend only to ourself, this ego, which is what is aware of them all. Though this ego is itself just a thought, it is quite unlike all other thoughts, because it is the subject and they are its objects, so whereas all other thoughts are just insentient phenomena, this ego is the sentient experiencer of all phenomena. Moreover, though other thoughts arise and are sustained only because this ego attends to them, this ego does not arise and is not sustained by attending to itself but only by attending to other thoughts.

In fact this ego seems to exist only so long as it attends to and is therefore aware of other thoughts, so as soon as it stops attending to other thoughts it falls asleep. Generally during waking and dream this ego attends only to other thoughts, and because it takes its own existence for granted, it does not usually attempt to attend to itself. Even when it falls asleep it does so without attending to itself, and this is why it is not thereby annihilated.

Since it seems to exist only so long as it attends to things other than itself, if it tries to attend to itself it will begin to subside, and when it eventually manages to attend to itself alone, it will dissolve and disappear forever, because it does not really exist but merely seems to exist, and it seems to exist only because it attends to things other than itself. Therefore the only means by which we can annihilate this ego and thereby terminate all thought forever is by trying to attend only to ourself, who now seem to be this ego.

10. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: this ego will cease to exist only if we attend to it alone

This is the great secret revealed to us by Bhagavan, because it is the essential key to freeing ourself from the tyranny of this ego and all its thoughts: This ego seems to exist whenever it attends to anything other than itself, but it will cease to exist if it attends only to itself. This secret is expressed by him succinctly 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 this ego is a formless phantom, whatever forms it grasps are things other than itself, and the only means by which it can grasp such things is by attending to them and thereby being aware of them. Therefore the phrase ‘உருப்பற்றி’ (uru-p-paṯṟi), which literally means ‘grasping form’, implies attending to anything other than itself, so what Bhagavan explains in the first three sentences of this verse is that this ego comes into existence, endures, and is nourished and flourishes by attending to things other than itself.

Since this ego is just a formless phantom, it seems to be a person (a form consisting of a living body and a thinking mind) only by grasping the form of that person as itself. That is, since it is formless, it does not actually exist as a separate entity, but it seems to do so by grasping the form of a person as if that person were itself. Therefore if it ceases grasping one person as ‘I’, it will then grasp another person as ‘I’, as Bhagavan implies by saying, ‘உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்’ (uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum), which means ‘leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form’.

Since it does not actually exist but only seems to exist, and since it seems to exist only so long as it is grasping things other than itself, if it tries to grasp only itself it will lose its hold on other things and will therefore begin to subside and disappear. This is what Bhagavan implies when he says, ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’.

Since all thoughts are forms — things other than ourself — so long as we attend to them or grasp them in our awareness, we are thereby nourishing and sustaining our ego, and this ego is in turn nourishing and sustaining its thoughts and its tendency to continue thinking. Therefore contrary to what J Krishnamurti and some others claim, we can never free ourself from thoughts by watching, observing, witnessing or attending to them. The only way to free ourself from all thoughts, including their root, this ego, is to try to watch, observe, witness or attend only to ourself, who are what now seems to be this ego.

Since everything that is not ‘I’, including all the adjuncts such as the body and mind that constitute whatever person we now seem to be, is just a thought, meditating or thinking that such things are not ‘I’ cannot be a means to separate ourself from them, because what thinks this is only our ego, and by thinking anything it is nourishing and sustaining itself. That is, since this ego seems to exist only by grasping the form of a person as itself, and since it nourishes and sustains itself by thinking or grasping other thoughts, if it thinks ‘I am not this person or any of the constituents of this person’ it will thereby simply be sustaining itself and its attachment to this person, so it can never thereby separate itself from all these things that are not ‘I’.

What has attached itself to these adjuncts is our ego, and if it lets go of one set of adjuncts it will grasp another one, so the only way to separate ourself permanently from all adjuncts is to destroy this ego, which we can do only by trying to attend to ourself alone.

11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 36: thinking ‘I am not this body but only brahman’ is just a preliminary aid

We are aware of ourself now as if we were this physical body and other associated adjuncts, and whenever we rise as this ego we are aware of ourself as a similar set of adjuncts, as we are, for example, whenever we dream, and as we would have been before we became aware of ourself as this particular body. Therefore the very nature of ourself as this ego is to be aware of ourself as if we were a set of adjuncts consisting of a body and whatever other adjuncts constitute the person associated with it.

However, we seem to be a person only in waking and dream, but in each of these states we are aware of ourself as a different body, and in sleep we are aware of ourself without being aware of ourself as a body or person, and consequently without being aware of anything else at all. Therefore, since we are always aware of ourself whether or not we are aware of ourself as a body or person, we cannot be any of the adjuncts that we seem to be in waking or dream but do not seem to be in sleep, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to separate ourself from all adjuncts by trying to be aware of ourself alone.

In order for us to understand this and therefore try to attend to ourself alone, it is necessary for us to be firmly convinced that we cannot be any of the adjuncts that we seem to be, so reflecting over these matters in order to establish and strengthen our conviction that we are not whatever we seem to be in waking or dream is a requisite aid to start us on the path of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra). However, thinking that we are just pure self-awareness and not this body or any other transitory adjunct that we may seem to be cannot by itself enable us to experience what we actually are, because so long as we think anything, we are thereby nourishing and sustaining our ego and hence preventing ourself being aware of ourself as we actually are. Therefore in verse 36 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says that though thinking that we are not this body but only that pure self-awareness is an aid, we should not continue thinking this always:
நாமுடலென் றெண்ணினல நாமதுவென் றெண்ணுமது
நாமதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நற்றுணையே — யாமென்று
நாமதுவென் றெண்ணுவதே னான்மனித னென்றெணுமோ
நாமதுவா நிற்குமத னால்.

nāmuḍaleṉ ḏṟeṇṇiṉala nāmaduveṉ ḏṟeṇṇumadu
nāmaduvā niṟpadaṟku naṯṟuṇaiyē — yāmeṉḏṟu
nāmaduveṉ ḏṟeṇṇuvadē ṉāṉmaṉida ṉeṉḏṟeṇumō
nāmaduvā niṟkumada ṉāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: நாம் உடல் என்று எண்ணின், ‘அலம், நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணும் அது நாம் அதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நல் துணையே ஆம். என்றும் ‘நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணுவது ஏன்? ‘நான் மனிதன்’ என்று எணுமோ? நாம் அதுவா நிற்கும் அதனால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nām uḍal eṉḏṟu eṇṇiṉ, ‘alam, nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇum adu nām adu-v-ā niṟpadaṟku nal tuṇai-y-ē ām. eṉḏṟum ‘nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇuvadu ēṉ? ‘nāṉ maṉidaṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṇumō? nām adu-v-ā niṟkum adaṉāl.

அன்வயம்: நாம் உடல் என்று எண்ணின், ‘அலம், நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணும் அது நாம் அதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நல் துணையே ஆம். நாம் அதுவா நிற்கும் அதனால், என்றும் ‘நாம் அது’ என்று எண்ணுவது ஏன்? ‘நான் மனிதன்’ என்று எணுமோ?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): nām uḍal eṉḏṟu eṇṇiṉ, ‘alam, nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇum adu nām adu-v-ā niṟpadaṟku nal tuṇai-y-ē ām. nām adu-v-ā niṟkum adaṉāl, eṉḏṟum ‘nām adu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇuvadu ēṉ? ‘nāṉ maṉidaṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṇumō?

English translation: If we think that we are a body, thinking ‘No, we are that’, will be just a good aid for us to abide as that. [However] since we abide [or constantly exist] as that, why [should we be] always thinking ‘we are that’? Does one think ‘I am a man’ [that is, does one need to always think ‘I am a man’ in order to experience oneself as a man]?
In this verse அலம் (alam), which means ‘no’, implies ‘no, we are not this body’, and அது (adu), which means ‘that’, refers to brahman, the fundamental reality or what actually is, which is our own real self, whose nature is just prajñāna or pure self-awareness. ‘நாம் அதுவா நிற்பதற்கு நல் துணையே’ (nām aduvā niṟpadaṟku nal tuṇaiyē) means ‘just a good aid for us to abide as that’ and implies ‘just a good aid for reminding and encouraging us to abide as that’.

However meditating ‘No, I am not this body, I am brahman’ is only a preliminary aid and should not be continued forever, because once we are firmly convinced that we are not this body but only pure self-awareness, we should just try to remain steadily as we are without rising to think or meditate anything. Since what we actually are is just pure self-awareness — that is, intransitive awareness, awareness that is not aware of anything other than itself — we can abide or remain as we actually are only by attending to ourself and nothing else whatsoever.

12. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 29: thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is an aid but not vicāra

As Bhagavan explains in verse 29 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, the path of jñāna (the means to experience ātma-jñāna or true self-knowledge) is only ātma-vicāra, which entails investigating oneself, the source from which this ego rises as ‘I’:
நானென்று வாயா னவிலாதுள் ளாழ்மனத்தா
னானென்றெங் குந்துமென நாடுதலே — ஞானநெறி
யாமன்றி யன்றிதுநா னாமதுவென் றுன்னறுணை
யாமதுவி சாரமா மா.

nāṉeṉḏṟu vāyā ṉavilāduḷ ḷāṙmaṉattā
ṉāṉeṉḏṟeṅ gundumeṉa nāḍudalē — ñāṉaneṟi
yāmaṉḏṟi yaṉḏṟidunā ṉāmaduveṉ ḏṟuṉṉaṟuṇai
yāmaduvi cāramā mā
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘நான்’ என்று வாயால் நவிலாது, உள் ஆழ் மனத்தால் ‘நான்’ என்று எங்கு உந்தும் என நாடுதலே ஞான நெறி ஆம். அன்றி, ‘அன்று இது, நான் ஆம் அது’ என்று உன்னல் துணை ஆம்; அது விசாரம் ஆமா?

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu vāyāl navilādu, uḷ āṙ maṉattāl ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṅgu undum eṉa nāḍudal-ē ñāṉa-neṟi ām. aṉḏṟi, ‘aṉḏṟu idu, nāṉ ām adu’ eṉḏṟu uṉṉal tuṇai ām; adu vicāram āmā?

அன்வயம்: .‘நான்’ என்று வாயால் நவிலாது, உள் ஆழ் மனத்தால் ‘நான்’ என்று எங்கு உந்தும் என நாடுதலே ஞான நெறி ஆம்; அன்றி, ‘நான் இது அன்று, [நான்] அது ஆம்’ என்று உன்னல் துணை ஆம்; அது விசாரம் ஆமா?

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu vāyāl navilādu, uḷ āṙ maṉattāl ‘nāṉ’ eṉḏṟu eṅgu undum eṉa nāḍudal-ē ñāṉa neṟi ām; aṉḏṟi, ‘nāṉ idu aṉḏṟu, [nāṉ] adu ām’ eṉḏṟu uṉṉal tuṇai ām; adu vicāram āmā?

English translation: Without saying ‘I’ by mouth, investigating by an inward sinking mind where one rises as ‘I’ alone is the path of jñāna. Instead, thinking ‘[I am] not this, I am that’ is an aid, [but] is it vicāra [self-investigation]?
The phrase ‘நான் என்று எங்கு உந்தும்’ (nāṉ eṉḏṟu eṅgu undum) means ‘where one rises as I’ or ‘where it [this ego] rises as I’ and therefore refers to our actual self, which is the source from which we rose as this ego. மனத்தால் (maṉattāl) is an instrumental case form of மனம் (maṉam), which means ‘mind’, so ‘உள் ஆழ் மனத்தால்’ (uḷ āṙ maṉattāl) means ‘by an inward sinking [plunging, diving or piercing] mind’ and describes the instrument by which we must investigate ourself. That is, in order to investigate what we actually are our mind or attention must pierce and sink deep within ourself. So long as we allow it to go out even to the slightest extent towards anything other than ourself we cannot experience what we actually are, so to investigate and thereby experience ourself as we actually are we must turn our entire mind back within to penetrate deep into ourself. Investigating ourself thus, says Bhagavan, is alone ‘ஞான நெறி’ (ñāṉa neṟi), the ‘path of jñāna’ or means by which we can experience ātma-jñāna (clear knowledge or awareness of ourself as we actually are).

Instead investigating ourself thus with our entire mind or attention focused solely on ourself, if we just float on the surface thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’, that would not be self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), but would just be a preliminary aid to such investigation. In the double clause ‘அன்று இது, நான் ஆம் அது’ (aṉḏṟu idu, nāṉ ām adu), which literally means ‘not this, I am that’ and which therefore implies ‘I am not this, I am that’, இது (idu) or ‘this’ refers to this person consisting of a body and mind that we now seem to be, whereas அது (adu) or ‘that’ refers to what we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness, which is what is called brahman, that which alone is real.

The final sentence of this verse, ‘அது விசாரம் ஆமா?’ (adu vicāram āmā?), is a rhetorical question that means ‘is it vicāra?’, which implies that thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is not ātma-vicāra or self-investigation and is therefore not ஞான நெறி (ñāṉa neṟi), the path of jñāna or means by which we can experience clear awareness of ourself as we actually are.

13. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 32: clinging to such aids is due to ‘deficiency of strength’

Though thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’ is an aid, if we continue thinking thus repeatedly even after understanding why we cannot be anything other than pure self-awareness, that would be due to insufficient strength of clear conviction that we are just that and not these adjuncts, and consequent lack of sufficient strength of love and determination to investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as we actually are, as Bhagavan explains in verse 32 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அதுநீயென் றம்மறைக ளார்த்திடவுந் தன்னை
யெதுவென்று தான்றேர்ந் திராஅ — ததுநா
னிதுவன்றென் றெண்ணலுர னின்மையினா லென்று
மதுவேதா னாயமர்வ தால்.

adunīyeṉ ḏṟammaṟaiga ḷārttiḍavun taṉṉai
yeduveṉḏṟu tāṉḏṟērn dirāa — dadunā
ṉiduvaṉḏṟeṉ ḏṟeṇṇalura ṉiṉmaiyiṉā leṉḏṟu
maduvētā ṉāyamarva dāl
.

பதச்சேதம்: ‘அது நீ’ என்று அம் மறைகள் ஆர்த்திடவும், தன்னை எது என்று தான் தேர்ந்து இராது, ‘அது நான், இது அன்று’ என்று எண்ணல் உரன் இன்மையினால், என்றும் அதுவே தான் ஆய் அமர்வதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘adu nī’ eṉḏṟu a-m-maṟaigaḷ ārttiḍavum, taṉṉai edu eṉḏṟu tāṉ tērndu irādu, ‘adu nāṉ, idu aṉḏṟu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇal uraṉ iṉmaiyiṉāl, eṉḏṟum aduvē tāṉ-āy amarvadāl.

அன்வயம்: ‘அது நீ’ என்று அம் மறைகள் ஆர்த்திடவும், அதுவே தான் ஆய் என்றும் அமர்வதால், தன்னை எது என்று தான் தேர்ந்து இராது, ‘அது நான், இது அன்று’ என்று எண்ணல் உரன் இன்மையினால்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ‘adu nī’ eṉḏṟu a-m-maṟaigaḷ ārttiḍavum, adu-v-ē tāṉ-āy eṉḏṟum amarvadāl, taṉṉai edu eṉḏṟu tāṉ tērndu irādu, ‘adu nāṉ, idu aṉḏṟu’ eṉḏṟu eṇṇal uraṉ iṉmaiyiṉāl.

English translation: When the Vēdas declare ‘that is you’, instead of oneself knowing and being oneself [by investigating] what [am I], thinking ‘I am that, not this’ is due to deficiency of strength, because that itself always exists as oneself.
As in the previous two verses that we considered, in this verse அது (adu) or ‘that’ refers to brahman, the one fundamental reality, which is just pure self-awareness and which is what we actually are, whereas இது (idu) or ‘this’ refers to whatever body, mind and other associated adjuncts we now seem to be. When the Vēdas tell us ‘tat tvam asi’, which means ‘that is you’ and which implies that we are brahman, our immediate reaction should be to investigate ‘what am I?’

That is, when we first hear about God or brahman, we naturally assume that these terms refer to something other than ourself, so if we want to know more about whatever thing they refer to, we seek knowledge about it outside ourself. However what these terms actually refer to is only ourself as we really are, so we cannot find that outside ourself but only by investigating ourself alone in order to be aware of ourself as we really are. Therefore the reason why the Vēdas tell us ‘that is you’ is in order to turn our attention back towards ourself, away from all other things, so when we hear that we ourself are that, we should reflect within ourself: ‘If I am that, then I can know what that actually is only by investigating what I myself actually am’. In other words, we should understand that we can know that only by investigating ourself and thereby being aware of ourself as we actually are.

Since we are that, why do we seem to be not aware ourself as that? Now we seem to be this person consisting of a body and mind, so how did this false awareness of ourself arise? In sleep we were not aware of ourself as a body or mind, but in waking and dream we are aware of ourself as such. One of the fundamental differences between waking and dream on one hand and sleep on the other is that in waking and dream we are aware of things other than ourself, whereas in sleep we are aware of nothing other than ourself, so we are aware of ourself as a body and mind whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself. Therefore we can infer that so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we must try to attend only to ourself and thereby cease being aware of anything else.

If we discriminate thus, we will be able to understand that though it is necessary for us to be firmly convinced that we are only pure self-awareness and not any phenomena (because all phenomena, including whatever body and mind we may temporarily seem to be, are just transitory appearances, whereas we endure whether they appear or not), we cannot experience ourself as we actually are so long as we continue thinking ‘I am not this, I am that’, because by thinking about what we are not, or even by thinking ideas about what we are, we are allowing our attention to move away from ourself towards something else. That is, any thought or idea is just another transitory appearance, so thinking anything at all is diverting our attention away from ourself, and so long as our attention is diverted even to the slightest extent away from ourself we cannot experience ourself as the pure self-awareness that we actually are.

When the Vēdas tell us ‘that is you’, their aim is not to encourage us to think about ‘that’ but is only to turn our attention back towards ourself alone. That is, any thought or idea about ‘that’ or brahman is not what we actually are, because thoughts appear and disappear, whereas we are the fundamental and ever-enduring self-awareness from which they appear and into which they disappear. Therefore thinking any thought whatsoever, even a thought about God or brahman or what we actually are, cannot be a means by which we can be aware of ourself as we actually are.

Therefore in this verse Bhagavan says that since that (brahman or God) always exists as oneself, instead of investigating what am I and thereby knowing and being what one actually is, thinking ‘I am that, not this’ is due to ‘உரன் இன்மை’ (uraṉ iṉmai), which means ‘non-existence of strength’ or ‘deficiency of strength’. The strength he refers to here is the strength of clear understanding and firm conviction that we are that and not this, and the consequent strength of determination and love to try to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

As I mentioned in the first section of this article, Bhagavan and certain older texts have given various explanations and clues to help us turn our attention inwards to fix it on ourself alone, but we should understand that all such explanations and clues are intended only to be aids, and no aid can be the actual practice of self-investigation. Therefore we should use these aids wisely to help us in our persistent effort to be steadily self-attentive, but since any aid is something other than ourself, we should understand that these aids can lead us only up to the door of our heart, so to speak, and cannot accompany us any further, so in order to be actually self-attentive we must leave all aids behind at the door. Instead of doing so, if we cling to the aids we will never be able to proceed beyond the door, so Bhagavan says that clinging to any such aid is due to ‘deficiency of strength’ or lack of real love to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

14. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 2: the awareness that stands isolated from everything else alone is ‘I’

Regarding your second comment, in which you ask about the portion of Nāṉ Yār? (Who am I?) in which various adjuncts are listed and declared to be ‘not I’, please read my introduction to this text, in which I explain how this portion came to be included in it. As I explain there, this portion was not actually what Bhagavan said, but was added by Sivaprakasam Pillai, because it was what he had learnt when studying philosophy, and it helped him to understand the very succinct answer that Bhagavan gave to his first question, ‘Who am I?’.

The text you refer to is an English translation of the version containing twenty-eight questions and answers, which is a later adaptation of one of the earlier versions, which contained thirty questions and answers and eleven miscellaneous paragraphs, and which Bhagavan had rewritten as an essay consisting of twenty paragraphs. Because he had made significant changes and improvements to the earlier text when he rewrote it, and because some devotees believed that a question-and-answer version would nevertheless be more popular than the essay written by him, they decided to edit the earlier question-and-answer version and incorporate in it many of the changes made by him, and thus they formed the version containing twenty-eight questions and answers, which was first published in 1932, about five years after Bhagavan had written the essay.

In 1922 or 23, when he was first shown the draft of a compilation of some the questions and answers that Sivaprakasam Pillai had recorded in 1901 or soon after, which he was planning to include as an appendix to a biographical poem he had written about him, Bhagavan pointed out that the portion you refer to was not what he had said but was added by Sivaprakasam Pillai for his own clarification, but later when he wrote the essay version he decided to retain this portion in the second paragraph, and he highlighted in bold the answers that he had actually given to the first two questions asked by Sivaprakasam Pillai. The first question that he asked was ‘நானார்?’ (nāṉ-ār?), which means ‘I am who?’ or ‘Who am I?’, to which Bhagavan replied ‘அறிவே நான்’ (aṟivē nāṉ), which means ‘Awareness alone is I’, and his second question was ‘அறிவின் சொரூப மென்ன?’ (aṟiviṉ sorūpam eṉṉa?), which means ‘What is the nature of awareness?’, to which Bhagavan replied ‘சச்சிதானந்தம்’ (saccidāṉandam), which means ‘being-consciousness-happiness’ (sat-cit-ānanda).

From the portion that Sivaprakasam Pillai added, namely the series of statements to the effect that the physical body, the five sense organs, the five organs of action, the five ‘winds’ or vital energies, the mind and the ‘ignorance’ or absence of phenomena and actions that is experienced in sleep are each not ‘I’, and the relative clause that he adjoined to the word அறிவே (aṟivē) or ‘awareness’ in Bhagavan’s first answer, namely ‘மேற்சொல்லிய யாவும் நானல்ல, நானல்ல வென்று நேதிசெய்து தனித்து நிற்கும்’ (mēṟ-colliya yāvum nāṉ-alla, nāṉ-alla v-eṉḏṟu nēti-seydu taṉittu niṟkum), which means ‘which stands isolated [after] eliminating everything mentioned above as not I, not I’, you infer that ‘the document praises “neti-neti”’, which you say ‘presents an apparent contradiction’, because later in the first sentence of his answer to question 12, which is the eighth paragraph in his essay (part of which I cited above in section 6), he says that there is no adequate means other than vicāra.

There is actually no contradiction here, because contrary to what you seem to have inferred, in the second paragraph the portion added by Sivaprakasam Pillai and retained by Bhagavan does not actually say that ‘nēti nēti’ or thinking that this body and other associated adjuncts are not I is an adequate means to eliminate them or separate ourself from them. All that is said in the penultimate sentence of that paragraph is ‘மேற்சொல்லிய யாவும் நானல்ல, நானல்ல வென்று நேதிசெய்து தனித்து நிற்கும் அறிவே நான்’ (mēṟ-colliya yāvum nāṉ-alla, nāṉ-alla v-eṉḏṟu nēti-seydu taṉittu niṟkum aṟivē nāṉ), which means ‘Eliminating everything mentioned above as not I, not I, the awareness that stands isolated alone is I’. The means by which we can isolate ourself from all the adjuncts mentioned in the previous sentences of that paragraph and thereby eliminate them as not ‘I’ is not specified here, but elsewhere in this text (such as in the first sentence of the eighth paragraph, which you refer to) he repeatedly explains that the only adequate means to separate ourself from everything else and thereby experience ourself as we actually are is by investigating ourself alone.

What we actually are is only pure awareness, as he says here, and we can experience this awareness as it actually only when it stands isolated from everything else, so since we cannot isolate our awareness from all the adjuncts that seem to be ourself so long as we are thinking about them, thinking that they are not ‘I’ is not the means to eliminate them as not ‘I’. To eliminate them as not ‘I’ we need to isolate ourself completely from them, and to isolate ourself we need to attend to ourself alone.

Therefore what Bhagavan teaches us in Nāṉ Yār? and other texts in which he expresses the basic principles of his teachings in a systematic manner, such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, is not at all inconsistent and does not contain any contradictions, because if we understand these texts correctly we will recognise that the principles he teaches in them together form a single and logically coherent whole. One of the most fundamental and crucial principles that he teaches us in these texts and elsewhere is that we seem to be this ego or mind only when we attend to anything other than ourself, and that attending to other things therefore nourishes and sustains this ego, so we can eliminate it and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are only by being attentively aware of ourself alone.

Since the nature of this ego is to project and experience itself as a body and mind, we cannot eliminate such adjuncts permanently from our awareness without eliminating this ego, and since this ego is just a false awareness of ourself, the only way to eliminate it is to be aware of ourself as we actually are, which we can be only when we are aware of ourself alone, in complete isolation from everything else. Therefore, since self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) entails just being attentively aware of ourself alone, thereby refraining from attending to anything else whatsoever, it is the only means by which we can isolate ourself completely, eliminating or excluding everything else from our awareness, and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are.

295 comments:

1 – 200 of 295   Newer›   Newest»
Pachaiamman said...

Michael,
skimming through the headings of the 14 sections of the above article
we may have again to study thoroughly a fundamental chapter of essential knowledge about ourself. Thanks in advance.

Bob - P said...

Thank you Michael for writing your recent article above.

I found it all helpful as usual especially the below:

{In waking and dream we generally attend only to things other than ourself, but however much our attention is directed towards other things, we always remain self-aware, so self-awareness is the screen or background on which awareness of other things appear and disappear.}

In appreciation.
Bob

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
I am leaving this conversation. The reason is that there is no actual communication happening.

In response to a critical post on the "neti-neti" Jnana Yoga style you made years ago, I sent you a message saying that your view of Jnana Yoga, my style, my path, has some misunderstandings and I tried to clear it up from my experience.

In reply to my 500 words you responded with 11,300 words (20 times the size of my original message!!!), but no where did you express that you understood or even read my few sentences that might actually address the misunderstanding. Furthermore, in the few places that you did quote my message your strategy was to show how your position is superior, not to open to mutual understanding.

I wrote you to tell you of my spiritual path, and you wrote back ignoring my statements and you actually had the audacity to lecture me about my own path, tell me the limitations of my path, tell me the insufficiencies of my own path, even though you don't understand it!

I posted one sentence on Krishnamurti. In response to my one sentence you wrote 3 pages digressing into far unrelated issues. It seems the nature of the interaction here is to grow and spread out and become more and more diffuse (each email 20 times larger than the last!). With this going on, there is no way to actually focus on issues successfully. I'm interested in real communication and understanding, not throwing manifestos at each other.

Sri Ramana's work is brilliant like the sun. It is a distraction and disrespectful to all parties to explain the work by comparing it with other styles negatively.

A quote from the Sūtrakrtānga, the second oldest canon of Jainism states "Those who praise their own doctrines and ideology and disparage the doctrine of others distort the truth and will be confined to the cycle of birth and death."

I try very hard to avoid this sin. It is especially terrifying, the cycles of birth and death are not so bad, but imagining endless cycles of U.S. election politics is truly horrifying.

Roger

Garbha Griha said...

Michael,
when speaking about the rising and subsiding (of the) ego in waking/dreaming on the one hand and on the other hand at falling asleep, sometimes I have the idea that actually not the ego arises and subsides than rather the ego is covered and unveiled by (the wall of) sleep itself.
That process would therefore be similar to the appearance of the seeming sunrise and sunset.
Could this idea have any relevance ?

Michael James said...

Garbha Griha, according to Bhagavan, though this ego seems to exist in waking and dream, it does not actually exist at all, so if we investigate it to see what it actually is, we will see that there is no such thing, because what we now mistake to be this ego is only ourself, whose real nature is just pure self-awareness. From this we can infer that since no ego seems to exist in sleep, and since it does not actually exist even when it seems to exist (as in waking and dream), in sleep it does not exist at all. Therefore it would be not be correct to say, as you suggest, that in sleep it is covered or veiled by sleep. Something that does not exist or even seem to exist cannot be covered by or veiled anything.

What is this ego? As Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, it is a formless phantom that seemingly comes existence, endures and flourishes by ‘grasping form’, which means by grasping or being aware of anything other than itself. It seems to exist only because we seem to be this form-grasping phantom, and we seem to be this only so long as we are grasping or attending to anything other than ourself. In sleep we do not grasp anything, so we do not then seem to be this ego, and hence there is no ego at all then.

In the rope-snake analogy, the snake seems to exist only because we do not look at it carefully, so if we look at it carefully enough we will see that what seemed to be a snake is actually only a rope. Likewise, this ego now seems to exist only because we do not look at it carefully, so if we look at it carefully enough we will see that what seemed to be this ego (and what alone actually exists) is only pure self-awareness, which is what we really are.

Therefore rather than assuming that this ego exists but is covered or veiled in sleep, let us investigate it now to see whether it actually exists even when it seems to exist.

Garbha Griha said...

Michael,
thank you for clearing my doubt. While writing my previous comment my thoughts went in the same direction as you now portray the real facts/conditions. But nevertheless the mind wanted to put the question.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

... I was thinking that it involves a lot of grace to be able to understand the teaching correctly...That the only thing we have to do is to look at ourselves...

Basically the verses 23 and 25 is all we really need, plus the metaphysical teaching that our seemingly reality is projected by the ego/I like in a dream...


Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu


verse 23

...After an 'I' has risen, everything rises. ...



verse 25
Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands [or endures]; grasping and feeding on form it grows [or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it takes flight. Know [thus].

It all has perfect logic. And we don't really need any "teacher" or other sources if we reflect on this... Our ego/I rises in the morning like in a dream and projects our current waking state. At night it subsides into its source in sleep and then projects another dream with another body in the dream state... then it goes back to to source in dreamless sleep and projects this world ... and so on .. and so on.. So, judging by this, we can clearly and logically deduce that:

1. Sleep is our natural state when we experience our true nature.
2. We rise from sleep (our source, our true nature) and rise as an ego/I which expands and produces our waking state and dreams (our waking state being just another dream)
3. The only way to destroy this cycle is to destroy what causes it, namely the rising of the ego/I
4. To do that we have to turn our attention upon it, this ego/I, ourselves.

What can be a more beautiful, logical, fully coherent, impossible to disprove, peace giving practical philosophy?!

Once we understand these simple facts and logical arguments, our mind will naturally not want to dwell on other teachers and books...

I hope this helps...

Garbha Griha said...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu,
as you say to understand Sri Ramana's teaching fully is grace.
Therefore indeed we are in good hands. Now it is up to us to put/translate that ideas into action/effect/practice.
When you write ..."At night ift subsides into its source in sleep ...than it goes back to (the) source in dreamless sleep and projects this world...".
In my opinion the ego cannot (seemingly) project this world in sleep because it is then not even seeming existent. Therefore its projecting activity can take place only in waking and dreaming.

Bob - P said...

Thank you Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu,

I agree and I feel so blessed Bhagavan has come into my dream along with Michael James and his blog. Bhagavans teaching in essence is so simple and the two versus you quote are so powerful.

If we can bring our experience of sleep into either dream or waking we will experience ourself as we really are the non dual self aware happy being.

In appreciation.
Bob

Noob said...

A question to Michael:
Doesn't the ego and phenomena that the ego sees consist of nothing but our own self-consciousness? Similar to the frost patterns that may look like a form but consist of nothing but water? Like a form seen in a golden statuette is nothing but gold. Like in our dreams we are forming many shapes/forms/actions/interactions but is there anyone in our dreams but ourselves alone? Whatever building we may see in our dream, the stone from which that building is built is nothing but our own awareness/consciousness. Consequently, whatever we are trying to see with a focused attention is nothing but ourselves. That is why most of the spiritual practices instruct to treat even any enemy the same way as we would like to treat ourselves, just because the enemy there in my dream is nothing but my own consciousness, and is inseparable from me. Is it possible to separate a form from a golden statuette from the gold itself? Is it possible to separate our dreams from us?

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


Garbha Griha you are right.. I just forgot to add "after that" so...

"then it goes back to to source in dreamless sleep and after that projects this world.. "

I was describing the ego rising from sleep and projecting both our waking state and dreams... In sleep (when we experience ourselves as we really are), there is of course no world, time, space. So we are trying to get to that sleep state while awake.

Bhagavan also gave a graphical description of this:

"
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.
"

Once we understand the theoretical part, the practice itself is of course essential...

form grasper said...

Bob-P,
to 'bring' (transport) our experience of sleep into waking or dream means only to prevent the mind to grasping form and hereby to attend to anything other than ourself. As Michael replied to Garbha Griha we should stop us not to look carefully enough at the ego. Then we will see what that seeming ego actually is.
That is at least the teaching.

Anonymous said...

Dragos,

What you call as verse 23 in your comment is actually verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu. Also, it is not 'an I'. It is 'the I'. There is only one 'I'.

Sandhya said...

Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands [or endures]; grasping and feeding on form it grows [or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it takes flight. Know [thus].

I have a basic question now after reading Noobs comment. What is form? From above verse seems like , form existed apart from Self and Self grasped form to become Ego. Or is it that , 'i' thought from Self projected forms, and so did forms come into existence as a result of 'i' thought? If that is the case , forms are just manifestation of 'i' thought and does not belong to 'Self'. So when we attend to 'i', and find that 'i' can never be found, does forms dissolve in the process, leaving real Self? Or is it like, 'forms' exist independent of Self and when we untie the knot between 'Self' and 'forms' we stop seeing forms and we really don't know if forms really existed and disappeared or if forms never existed. So in summary, when Self is realized, does Self stop seeing forms (forms might still be existing in reality) or does he realize that forms were just imaginary phenomena?

Michael James said...

Anonymous, Dragos was correct when he referred to verse 23 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, because the idea expressed by Bhagavan in the first sentence of verse 26 was also expressed by him in the third sentence of verse 23: ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), which means ‘After one I rises, all rises’.

ஒன்று (oṉḏṟu) means ‘one’, so it is not incorrect to translate ‘நான் ஒன்று’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu) as ‘an I’, but it would be better to translate it as ‘one I’ or ‘the one I’, because as you say there is only one ‘I’.

Sivanarul said...

In regards to Dragos’s excellent summary of Bhagavan’s teachings, a couple of points:

“Basically the verses 23 and 25 is all we really need, plus the metaphysical teaching that our seemingly reality is projected by the ego/I like in a dream”

For some aspirants, yes. For some, even that may be noise. They may require just the instruction, Summa Iru (Be Still). Even that is considered noise by some, who really need just the chin mudra. On the other hand, some require an extensive study of puranas, japa, meditation and the whole gamut of both study and practices. The bottom line is, there is nothing that will work for everyone.

“It all has perfect logic. And we don't really need any "teacher" or other sources if we reflect on this. Once we understand these simple facts and logical arguments, our mind will naturally not want to dwell on other teachers and books...”

Again, for some aspirants yes. For others, even if they have understood these teachings well, grace decides that they need other teachers or sources. Case in point is 2 people within Bhagavan’s close circle itself, Sri David Godman and Sri V. Ganesan (Bhagavan’s grand nephew).

Both David and Ganesan are widely regarded as experts in both understanding and disseminating Bhagavan’s teachings, especially Ulladu Narpdu. It is well known that David is also involved with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj and Sri Poonja. Sri Ganesan, in spite of having Bhagavan and his teachings in his own backyard (since he is the grand nephew), has visited and learned from many sages.

http://www.aham.com/usa/sharing/v_ganesan.html

His close contacts with sages and saints, including Swami Ramdas, Mother Krishnabai, J. Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Yogi Ramsuratkumar, he says, have deepened and widened his understanding of the ‘Direct Teaching’ of the Maharshi. However, he feels himself to be an insignificant ‘dust’ at the Holy Feet of Bhagavan Ramana.”

So understanding these simple facts will not make all minds not wanting to dwell on other teachers or source. All that could be said is, each aspirant walks the path as he/she fits, aided by grace. Alternatively once can say, grace makes each aspirant walk the path as it sees fit.

Sandhya said...

Reading all the comments i found answer to my question.

Anonymous said...

Dragos & Michael, you are right about verse 23. Sorry.

Michael James said...

Noob, regarding your question, ‘Is it possible to separate our dreams from us?’, no, obviously our dreams cannot exist separate from ourself, because we are the one who is dreaming, and there could not be any dream without a dreamer. However, though our dreams cannot exist separate from ourself, we can exist separate from them, as we are while asleep.

All the phenomena we see in a dream are projected by our ego, and the source from which our ego and all its progeny arise and into which they intermittently subside is only ourself, who are just pure self-awareness. Therefore we are the fundamental reality, and the sole substance of both this ego and all phenomena, as you imply.

However, so long as we are aware of any phenomena, we experience ourself as the subject (the ego) and the phenomena as objects, so we thus create a seeming division in our indivisible self, and hence we seem to be just a limited part of a greater whole. Therefore so long as we are aware of any phenomena, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are.

The substance of an illusory snake is just a rope, so when we see the snake what we are actually seeing is only a rope. However, so long as we see it as a snake, we are not seeing it as the rope that it actually is, so we suffer in fear, thinking it may harm us. Therefore in order to free ourself from that fear and suffering we need to see the rope as it actually is.

You argue that since the ultimate substance of everything is only our own self-awareness, ‘whatever we are trying to see with a focused attention is nothing but ourselves’, but does this idea solve our problems? If we were perfectly content with whatever phenomena we may experience, including fear, suffering, pain and mental anguish, we would have no problems to solve, but so long as we have any likes and dislikes, desires and aversions, or hopes and fears, we cannot be content, and we cannot be free of all such thing so long as we experience ourself as this finite ego.

The root of all our problems is this ego, and we cannot free ourself from it merely by thinking that everything is ourself. Since this ego is a false awareness of ourself, the only way in which we can free ourself from it is by being aware of ourself as we actually are, and to be aware of ourself thus we must cease seeing or attending to any phenomena.

All phenomena are just thoughts formed by this ego, which is the primal thought and the root of all other thoughts. Therefore since this ego rises, endures and flourishes only by projecting and grasping other thoughts (as Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), it will not subside so long as it continues being aware of any other thoughts or phenomena. However, whereas attending to other thoughts or phenomena feeds and nourishes this ego, attending to itself alone will destroy it, because it does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, so when we look at it closely it will disappear.

As I explained in section 10 of this article, this is the great secret revealed to us by Bhagavan. So long as we attend to any thought or phenomenon, we are thereby sustaining the illusion that we are this ego, but if we try to attend to this ego alone, we will thereby dissolve and eradicate this illusion forever.

As Dragos wrote in his first comment, the logic of this teaching of Bhagavan is perfect. It is so simple, clear and coherent, yet it goes to the very root of all problems, and thereby provides us with the direct means to eradicate this root and the vast sprawling plant that has sprouted from it.

Anonymous said...

Nowhere is it recorded that Bhagavan considered some people as his close circle. Neither does Sri David Godman/Sri V. Ganesan say they belong to such a close circle. Being somehow related physically to Bhagavan (grand nephew etc.) does not guarantee that his teachings are available to one in his own backyard.

Michael James said...

Sandhya, though you say in your second comment that you have found the answer to the question you asked in your first one, it may still be helpful if I answer the latter, because there are several points of confusion in it that need to be cleared up, in case any of them are still lingering in your mind.

Firstly, what you call ‘Self’ is ourself as we actually are, and as we actually are we are just pure self-awareness, which does not ever grasp anything, because its nature is not to do anything but just to be. That is, as we actually are we alone exist, so we are infinite, eternal, immutable and indivisible, and as such there is nothing other than ourself that we could ever grasp.

Secondly, we have not become this ego, and we could never become anything, because we are immutable. We do not become the ego, but just seem to be it, and we do not even seem to be it in the view of ourself as we actually are, but only in the view of ourself as this seeming ego. Therefore in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says that this form-grasping ego is just a formless phantom, which implies that it does not actually exist at all.

If we were walking alone at night in a dark forest, we may imagine that we see phantoms in the shadows around us, but if we were to look carefully at any of the shadows, we would see that there is actually no phantom there at all. Likewise, this formless phantom-ego seems to exist only when we are looking elsewhere, but if we turn back within to look at it carefully, we will see that there is actually no such thing at all.

That is, we seem to be this ego only when we are attending to anything other than ourself (which is what Bhagavan means by the term ‘உருப்பற்றி’ (uru-p-paṯṟi), ‘grasping form’), so when we turn back within to attend only to ourself, who now seem to be this ego, we will see that we are just pure self-awareness and have therefore never been this ego at all.

So to answer your first question, ‘What is form?’, what Bhagavan means by ‘form’ in this context is any phenomenon — that is, anything other than ourself, this formless ego. Whereas this ego is the perceiving subject, forms or phenomena are objects perceived by it.

Since this ego is formless, it has no hands, arms or other limbs by which it could grasp anything, so what Bhagavan means by ‘grasping’ is attending to or being aware of. Therefore so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself, we are grasping form, and thereby we are sustaining the illusion that we are this ego.

The forms we grasp do not exist independent of our ego, just as whatever we see in a dream does not exist independent of ourself, the dreamer, so ‘grasping’ entails projecting and simultaneously being aware of forms. In dream we project and are simultaneously aware of phenomena, and according to Bhagavan any state in which we experience phenomena, including our present one, is just a dream.

Therefore you are correct in saying that forms come into existence as a result of our rising as this ego, the root thought called ‘I’ (which is precisely what Bhagavan teaches us in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu). Since no forms exist independent of our ego, they are never seen by ourself as we actually are (in whose clear view even this ego does not exist at all), so when our ego is dissolved in the absolutely clear light of pure self-awareness, no forms will remain to be seen.

control tower said...

Anonymous,
before reflecting upon teachings of other people you may consider first that nobody has something in his own backyard. I am I is only being. There is no centre, no periphery, no circle, neither inside nor outside, no top and no bottom.

Anonymous said...

control tower, I didn't say someone has something in his backyard. Please read the thread of comments carefully.

control tower said...

Anonymous,
please do forgive my inadequate meticulousness. I only wanted to direct your attention to our main task of being self-attentive.
We should avoid to give our attention to discuss what someone has said some time.

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,

I did not say Bhagavan considered some people as his close circle. Please reread my comment. All I said was, they are in the close circle in the eyes of many devotees (due to their lifelong involvement with Bhagavan’s teachings, just as Michael has been). I also did not say David or Ganesan said so. Again, please reread my comment.

There is no guarantee for anything in life. You drive your car with no guarantee of not getting into an accident. But you assume that, since you drive carefully, chances are you will not get into one. Sri Ganesan, when he was a child, was under Bhagavan’s direct physical presence. It is very safe to say that Bhagavan himself directly imparted some teachings to him, not to withstand that his family would have continued to do so also.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Attentive Self-Awareness

Michael,

Here are some observations and doubts on my practice of being attentively self-aware, to which I request you to respond as you see fit:

1. Being attentively self-aware seems to be akin to being still because one is away from the movement of thought and is centred on one's own being, thereby fulfilling Bhagavan's imperative "Summa Iru"
2. Is being attentively self-aware same as paying attention to I-feeling?
3. Is being attentively self-aware same as paying attention to the thought-feeling "I am" that Nisargadatta Maharaj advocates?
4. Are there any signs by which we can know that we are making progress in trying to be attentively self-aware, and indeed, are there any signs/symptoms by which we can know that we are indeed practicing attentive self-awareness correctly in the first place (though I am pretty sure I am when it comes to my practice of it)?
5. Can we be attentively self-aware during activities other than sitting self-enquiry? If so, how?

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,

FYI see below – It is close enough of a guarantee that Bhagavan’s teachings were available to Sri V. Ganesan.

http://www.aham.com/usa/sharing/v_ganesan.html

Born in 1936, up to the age of 14 years old, Ganesan grew up in the presence and proximity of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. His sacred memory of the Great Master is rich in its content; and, even at that tender age he could see Sri Ramana as the greatest compassionate human being.

On April 14, 1950 – the day the Great Master chose to leave the body – the adolescent Ganesan stood near the entrance to the room where Sri Ramana was lying and was fortunate to witness the brilliant flash of Light that later moved towards the top of the Holy Hill – Arunachala.

Gargoyle said...

Regarding signs of progress see the following article from Nov. 2014:

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2014/11/other-than-ourself-there-are-no-signs.html

Viveka Vairagya said...

Thanks Gargoyle. I will look it up and save Michael the bother of replying to that doubt of mine.

Michael James said...

Sivanarul, regarding the views you express in your first comment, what Bhagavan teaches us in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, particularly in verse 25, is simply the elucidation that most of us require in order for us to be able to understand and thereby implement the teaching ‘summā iru’ (just be). That is, in order to just be, we must refrain from rising as this ego, so we need to understand how we rise as such and consequently how we can avoid rising, which is precisely what Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25.

Those who can understand and implement the teaching ‘summā iru’ without such elucidation are very rare indeed, and they would have already done whatever śravaṇa, manana and nididhyāsana (hearing, reflection and self-contemplation) was necessary to prepare them to just be, so they would not consider Bhagavan’s simple teachings to be unnecessary noise, but would instead consider them to be a finger silently pointing the way back to silence.

You claim that the bottom line is that there is nothing that will work for everyone, but what Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 is a universal truth, so there is no one to whom it does not apply. That is, we rise, stand and flourish as this ego only by ‘grasping form’ (that is, by attending to anything other than ourself), so we can annihilate this ego only by trying to ‘grasp’ or attend to ourself alone. This is the fundamental truth revealed by him, and there can be no exception to it, so it will certainly work for everyone.

Of course not everyone wants to surrender their ego, so other spiritual practices are taught, but the ultimate aim of all such practices is only to make us willing to surrender ourself entirely by ‘giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than thought of oneself’ (as Bhagavan describes complete self-surrender in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), or in other words, by not grasping any form but only being self-attentive.

You cite the example of certain devotees who for some reason or other feel the need for other teachings or teachers, but whom should we follow: Bhagavan or those who choose to follow others? If other teachers teach what Bhagavan has taught us, then we have no need of them, and if they teach anything different, then they would be directing us to attend to something other than ourself, which would nourish and sustain our ego. Therefore if we have understood what Bhagavan has taught us in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, we will have understood that no other teachings or teachers are necessary, because we should not attend to anything other than ourself.

Whatever spiritual path we may choose to follow, we will make progress in it only to the extent that we follow it one-pointedly. This is why the need for one-pointedness (ēkāgratā) is emphasised in every form of yōga, particularly in the paths of bhakti and jñāna. Therefore if we choose to follow more than one teacher or more than one teaching, we will be unnecessarily dissipating our interest, devotion and attention, and thus we will be impeding the speed at which we can progress towards our ultimate goal of complete self-surrender or annihilation of our ego.

Anonymous said...

control tower, why then are you discussing what I said? Go be self-attentive. Bye.

Anonymous said...

Got it, Sivanarul. Close circle is in the eyes of others. Physical proximity to Bhagavan has spiritual advantage, according to you.

Anonymous said...

Bhagavan has provided us a king size meal. Why go begging to other places?

control tower said...

Anonymous,
yes you are quite. Regrettably I did not particularly feel like being self-attentive.
On no account I did not want restrict your perfect peace. Take care of yourself !

control tower said...

Sivanarul,
due to my limited understanding of English could you please paraphrase or go into detail regarding the clause ..., not to withstand that his family would have continued to do so also.

Michael James said...

Viveka Vairagya, regarding the five questions you ask in your comment about being attentively self-aware:

1. As I explained in my reply to Sivanarul, summā iruppadu (just being or being still) entails not rising as this ego, so since we rise as such only by grasping things other than ourself, we can subside and be still only by being self-attentive. That is, attending to anything other than ourself is a mental activity, because it entails a movement of our mind or attention away from ourself towards that other thing, whereas being self-attentive is not a mental activity but a state of just being, because it entails no movement of our mind away from ourself. In other words, being attentively self-aware is just allowing our attention to rest in its source, ourself, so it is just being as we actually are.

2. What you call ‘I-feeling’ is just self-awareness, so being attentively self-aware can also be described as ‘paying attention to I-feeling’. However describing it thus is less clear than simply describing it as being self-attentive or being attentively self-aware, because ‘paying attention to’ tends to suggest the idea of paying attention to an object, whereas we can never be an object, because we are just the awareness in which all objects appear and disappear. As Sadhu Om used to say, self-attentiveness is not a matter of ‘paying attention’ but of ‘being attention’.

3. Like the term ‘I-feeling’, the term ‘the thought-feeling “I am”’ can only refer to our own self-awareness, so being attentively self-aware can also be described as ‘paying attention to the thought-feeling “I am”’. However, when our self-awareness is referred to as a thought, it is not our pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are, but is only our ego, which is an adjunct-mixed form of our fundamental self-awareness. Nevertheless, since this ego is just an illusory appearance (like a snake that a rope is mistaken to be), if we were to attend carefully enough to ourself, whom we now mistake to be this ego, it would disappear, because we would see that what seemed to be this ego is actually just our pure self-awareness (just as if we were to look carefully at the snake it would disappear, because we would see that what seemed to be a snake is actually just a rope).

4. As Gargoyle pointed out in his reply to you, your question about whether there are ‘any signs by which we can know that we are making progress’ has already been answered in one of my earlier articles: Other than ourself, there are no signs or milestones on the path of self-discovery.

5. Whatever activities we may be doing, we are always aware of ourself, so we can be attentively self-aware at least to a certain extent whenever we are not engaged in any activity that requires our entire attention. Most of our activities require only a certain portion of our attention, so while doing such activities our mind is usually thinking other thoughts that are not immediately necessary, so at such times instead of thinking any unnecessary thoughts we could be devoting at least a part of our attention to our fundamental self-awareness.

The practice of ātma-vicāra (self-investigation or self-enquiry) entails just being attentively aware of ourself, so it has got nothing to do with sitting or any other physical posture, and hence we can practise it at any time and in any place that we happen to have even a few moments in which our entire attention is not needed for any other purpose. In this connection please read this comment that I wrote in reply to a similar question last month.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Thanks, Michael, for your clarificatory reply.

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,

“Got it, Sivanarul. Close circle is in the eyes of others. Physical proximity to Bhagavan has spiritual advantage, according to you.”

Not just according to me, but according to Sanatana Dharma and many other spiritual or religious traditions. The immense power of physical proximity to a Jnani, is well documented both in generic spiritual literature and also in Bhagavan related literature such as, with the devotees who worked in the Ashrama kitchen, alongside with Bhagavan.

Sivanarul said...

Control tower,

“could you please paraphrase or go into detail regarding the clause ..., not to withstand that his family would have continued to do so also.”

What I meant was, to be born in the family of a Jnani, one has to have earned a lot of spiritual merit. Also if born in that family, for those members, Bhagavan would have been their guide, guru and they would have been talking about Bhagavan frequently. So his family would have been incorporating Bhagavan’s teachings on a frequent basis to all members. That is what I meant with “..., not to withstand that his family would have continued to do so also”

peace-loving peanut-breeder said...

Michael,
a few possibly silly questions arise:
1.) (Why) has "speed" on our spiritual path any importance ?
2.) How to manage to deny/refuse the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than thought of oneself if one's ability to develop the needed ekagrata(one-pointedness)is still poor ?
3.) What should one do whose power to progress towards our ultimate goal of complete self-surrender or annihilation of the ego is only on a low flame ?
4.) How can one fortify his willingness to surrender ourself ?
5.) How to refrain from rising as this ego in order to prepare one to just be ('summa iru') ?

control tower said...

Sivanarul,
thanks for your response.
I did not know that Sri Ganesan has a family. I remember that I have seen him in Sri Ramanasramam sitting nearby the cow Lakshmi's samadhi with a pensive or introverted expression last February/March. A few days later we passes another on the small path between the southern wall of Sri Bhagavan's Samadhi-Hall and Pali Tirtham without meeting our eyes because he seemed to be again very focussed on inner awareness.

Ann Onymous said...

"...the ultimate aim...is only to make us willing to surrender ourself entirely by ‘giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than thought of oneself’ (as Bhagavan describes complete self-surrender in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), or in other words, by not grasping any form but only being self-attentive."

I have to assume that 'giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought...' would include 'the very thinking that there is, or even seems to be an ego'. After all,

"...we rise, stand and flourish as this ego only by ‘grasping form’..."

snake-rope-seer said...

Ann Onymous,
therefore stop grasping form (anything other than yourself) and try to grasp yourself alone.

Noob said...

To Michael:

Quote: "You argue that since the ultimate substance of everything is only our own self-awareness, ‘whatever we are trying to see with a focused attention is nothing but ourselves’, but does this idea solve our problems? If we were perfectly content with whatever phenomena we may experience, including fear, suffering, pain and mental anguish, we would have no problems to solve, but so long as we have any likes and dislikes, desires and aversions, or hopes and fears, we cannot be content, and we cannot be free of all such thing so long as we experience ourself as this finite ego."

Not to argue or anything, but isn't accepting whatever comes our way the same as surrendering our "I-thought" or ego? I would like to make a reference to part 2 of Bhagaved Gita.

sentient experiencer said...

Michael,
section 9. We cannot terminate thought or the thinking process by attending to it, but only by attending to ourself

"Whatever may arise is a thought, and thoughts arise and are sustained only by our attention…"

Unlike sustaining of thoughts in my experience it is not evident that already the abstract rising (process) of thoughts is caused (only) by the help or the strength of our attention. To a large extent they seem to live their own life or past life.
On the other hand, which advantage would we derive from avoiding to recognize or ignoring a rising thought or an already thought arisen ? Is it not rather necessary to be aware of all what happens in our field of view or range of vision ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sentient experiencer,
I agree with what you are saying in some ways "necessary to be aware of all what happens".
One teacher taught me: in order to make spiritual progress, that is: to still the mind, it is also necessary to get your external life in order, in harmony as much as possible. In other words: personal problems, relationship problems, problems at work etc... all of these things can be so strong that the mind will have no hope of being still. So... it seems we have to be aware of what is troubling the mind/emotions in order to know what action to take to remedy the outer situation, then stilling the mind can be more successful. Maybe there is a health problem needing attention. I am absolutely sure Michael will challenge this, but we've all known people who's lives were troubled by various difficulties (abusive relationship, substance abuse, difficult work environment, money problems, poor health habits etc...). Until these issues are resolved, there is less hope of being still. Unless we listen to the mind/emotions intelligently to hear what is causing troubling.... how can we take actions to take improve? Of course, if you don't live in the world, then this might not be as much of an issue.
Furthermore, in addition to troubling current circumstances in the world, past troubles are embedded in the emotions. Seems to me that just clearly observing such past emotions and thoughts as they arise tends to result in clearing. It is by dispassionately observing such things that they are dissolved. All this in addition to a focused strong meditative practice.

Sivanarul said...

Michael,

In regards to your reply to my comment, that some would consider even verses of Ulladu Narpadu as noise: That was only written in the context that whether a teaching is signal or noise is subject to the maturity of the aspirant itself and not on the teaching per se. I also wrote that “On the other hand, some require an extensive study of puranas, japa, meditation and the whole gamut of both study and practices.” For such people, Ulladu Narpadu will obviously not be noise, but will be a very loud signal that they cannot bear.

“Those who can understand and implement the teaching ‘summā iru’ without such elucidation are very rare indeed, and they would have already done whatever śravaṇa, manana and nididhyāsana (hearing, reflection and self-contemplation) was necessary to prepare them to just be, so they would not consider Bhagavan’s simple teachings to be unnecessary noise, but would instead consider them to be a finger silently pointing the way back to silence.”

Absolutely agree. Similarly, certain aspirants will NOT consider study of puranas, parayana, japa and meditation as noise, but would instead consider them as steps they need to take to get them back to silence. That was my point.

“You claim that the bottom line is that there is nothing that will work for everyone. This is the fundamental truth revealed by him, and there can be no exception to it, so it will certainly work for everyone.”

When one looks around, one sees diversity of all sorts. In fact, diversity is woven into the fabric of creation. If one goes to a shoe store, it contains all shoe sizes and not just size 8. Just like there is diversity in matter, there is certainly diversity in spiritual paths. The Vedas and Upanishads recognized it and that is why promoted a wide variety of practices. Different Saints also recognized this and hence wrote different interpretations of the same Vedas. So to say that something will work for everyone does not reconcile with what is seen. If eating pizza does not work for someone, it does not mean a judgement is being passed on pizza. It simply means, the person does not want to eat pizza. So if one says that a teaching does not work for them, it is not a reflection on the teaching. It simply means it does not work for them. Nothing more, nothing less!

“You cite the example of certain devotees who for some reason or other feel the need for other teachings or teachers, but whom should we follow: Bhagavan or those who choose to follow others?”

I never suggested that if someone wants to follow certain teachings of Bhagavan alone, to the exclusion of everything else, that they should not do so. All I said was, even well recognized devotees of Bhagavan feel the need, prompted by grace within them, to seek other sources.

Continued on next comment…

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment….

“Therefore if we have understood what Bhagavan has taught us in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, we will have understood that no other teachings or teachers are necessary, because we should not attend to anything other than ourself.”

The 2 persons I cited, certainly well understood verse 25 of Ulladu Narpadu and yet did decide that other teachings are necessary for their progress. This is not a judgement against Ulladu Narpadu or Bhagavan.

We can be rest assured that Sri V. Ganesan, Bhagavan’s grand nephew, who grew until 14 years under the watchful eyes of Bhagavan, was not passing any judgement against his Guru (Bhagavan), when he was seeking other sources. It simply means that grace promoted him and Sri David Godman to do that seeking to help them propel. That same grace prompted you not to seek any other source, other than Bhagavan. The working of grace is not subject to logic or intellect or reasoning.

“Therefore if we choose to follow more than one teacher or more than one teaching, we will be unnecessarily dissipating our interest, devotion and attention, and thus we will be impeding the speed at which we can progress towards our ultimate goal of complete self-surrender or annihilation of our ego.”

We have had many discussions around this. This is where we fundamentally disagree and we would just have to agree to disagree. My belief is that there is only one teacher and one teaching. This teacher and teaching is reality itself. This teacher takes the form of Bhagavan, 63 Nayanmars, Sri Patanjali, Jesus Christ, Buddha and so on and so forth. There will be no dissipating of interest, devotion and attention. Many aspirants are literally in the trenches when it comes to spiritual progress, and reality knowing this well, guides them via grace, as it sees fit.

You look at Bhagavan to be the beginning and end of Spirituality. I look at reality itself to be the beginning and end of Spirituality, of which Bhagavan is one manifestation that shines as a crown jewel. I call that reality as Lord Siva, but reality is a nice secular way of saying the same thing. All teachings from valid paths flow directly from that reality. If one believes this deeply, one will not feel that there is dissipation of interest, devotion and attention. The true dissipation happens when one engages with the materialistic world, more than what is necessary. It does NOT happen by doing multiple spiritual practices, which all turn the mind away from materialistic world.

Sanjay Lohia said...

This is in response to the comment by Roger Isaacs dated 18 May 2016, at 03:32. This is not specifically addressed to Roger, but is just my reflection on the few points raised by him. He starts his comment by writing 'Hi Michael, I am leaving this conversation. The reason is that there is no actual communication happening'. He further writes, ' . . . In reply to my 500 words you responded with 11,300 words (20 times the size of my original message!!!, . . . I posted one sentence on Krishnamurti. In response to my one sentence you wrote 3 pages digressing into far unrelated issues. It seems the nature of the interaction here is to grow and spread out and become more and more diffuse (each email 20 times larger than the last!'

Does Michael write extraordinary long articles and e-mails? Does he digress from the topic under discussion into unrelated issues? Do his long articles diffuse the prime focus of his articles? Let us consider these questions is detail:

Does Michael writes extraordinary long articles and e-mails? Yes, this is sometimes true, but this is his style and personal preference; however, in these long articles or e-mails he sticks to Bhagavan's core teachings. He freely quotes form Bhagavan's teachings, especially from his works like Nan Yar, Upadesa Undiyar and Ulladu Narpadu; thus, he reinforces the essentials of his teachings with clarity. Therefore, I welcome his articles and e-mails, and it does concern me whether they are short or long!

Does he digress from the topic under discussion into unrelated issues, and do his long articles diffuse its prime focus? Even if he sometimes seems to 'digress' from the topic under discussion, he ultimately connects these 'digressions' to the main topic. Again, it is his personal liking to explain things in detail, but his 'digressions' (if it is viewed this way) do not dilute the topic.

I consider his words to be grace, and the main job of grace is to turn our attention towards our real self or God, as a result how can grace be short or long? Grace is grace!


Michael James said...

Peace-loving Peanut-breeder, in answer to the questions you ask in your comment:

1. If our love to merge back into our source is strong, we will naturally not want our return to be delayed any more than necessary, so we will be drawn to whatever means will dissolve our ego most quickly and effectively. Therefore Bhagavan taught us that the direct (and hence the quickest) means to dissolve our ego back into the pure self-awareness from which it originated is this simple practice of ātma-vicāra, which entails just being attentively aware of ourself alone.

2. However weak or strong our love to be attentively aware of ourself alone may be, the only way to strengthen it and thereby avoid giving room to the rising of other thoughts is to persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as we can. One-pointed love for self-attentiveness was never developed by anyone without persistent practice.

3. The answer to this is the same: to feed whatever small flame of love we now have to surrender our ego, the only means is to persevere as much as possible in trying to be self-attentive and thereby giving no room to the rising of other thoughts.

4. The answer to this is again the same: being willing to surrender ourself entails being willing to let go of everything else, and since we can let go of all other things only by clinging firmly to self-attentiveness, we can fortify our willingness to surrender ourself only by persistently trying to be self-attentive.

5. As Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, we rise as this ego by ‘grasping form’ (that is, by attending to things other than ourself), so we can avoid rising as this ego only by attending to ourself alone. Being self-attentive and thereby refraining from rising as this ego is not merely a preparation for just being (summā iruppadu) but is itself just being. Attending to anything else is an activity or rising, whereas attending to oneself alone is the state of non-rising or just being.

Michael James said...

Ann, yes, what you assume is correct. So long as we are aware of anything other than ourself (all of which are just thoughts projected by this ego), we seem to be this ego, so every thought entails the seeming existence of our ego, who is the one who is aware of it. Therefore the only way to free ourself from the illusion that we are this ego is to attend to ourself alone and thereby give not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought, including this ego, which is our primal thought and the root of all our other thoughts.

Being self-attentive is what Bhagavan describes as ‘ஆன்மசிந்தனை’ (āṉma-cintaṉai) or ‘thought of oneself’ in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, and by clinging firmly to self-attentiveness we will be giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any other thought, including our primal thought, this ego. This is why he says in that sentence that only being steadily fixed in self-attentiveness is ‘தன்னை ஈசனுக்கு அளிப்பது’ (taṉṉai īśaṉukku aḷippadu), which means ‘giving oneself [one’s ego] to God’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

This in in continuation of my last comment: Does Michael writes extraordinarily or unnecessarily long articles? I found the following, which may be relevant to subject, in the website of The Gerson Institute of Ayurvedic Medicine:

The Vedic Technique of Eliminating Negative Thoughts, the Practice of Pratipaksha Bhavana

'A healthy state of mind implies keeping one’s mind free from sadness, dejection, worry, and tension and negative sentiments such as anger, hate, greed, and pride. It also implies eliminating these negative impulses and replacing them with constructive ones.

'In Ayurveda, there is a useful method for promoting healthy thinking known as Pratipaksha Bhavana. The literal meaning of this term is “moving to the other side of the mansion” and it points to the mind’s ability to completely transfer its awareness from a negative object to another more positive one (prati-other, opposing; paksha-wing, half; bhavana-dwelling, home, mansion, being).

'It has 3 stages: dilution—you dilute the power of the negative thought back by denying it your attention; substitution—while holding back attention from negative thoughts, start asserting that which is positive; and sublimation—as you continue doing this, you will find that the negative becomes sublimated (i.e. vaporized) and fades away. To your great amazement, you realize that what seemed impossible to overcome has been overcome'.

In a way, Michael's articles serve the purpose of pratipaksha bhavana, as almost all the other writings we read take our attention towards things other than ourself, whereas Michael's words invariably motivate us to turn our attention towards ourself by being attentively self-aware. We can, therefore, safely say that his words take us in the opposite direction of almost all the other words we read, or for that matter, think and say.

So the more words he writes, the more we understand that our prime and the only worthwhile task is to turn our attention towards ourself alone; hence, how can his articles be unnecessarily long? In fact, such long articles or long reminders may be required to counter the millions of unnecessary thoughts we think each day. We should, therefore, be feasting on his words, instead of complaining that he writes unnecessarily long articles.

Michael James said...

Noob, regarding your question, ‘but isn't accepting whatever comes our way the same as surrendering our “I-thought” or ego?’, who is it that can accept whatever comes our way? Only so long as we seem to be this ego are we aware of anything other than ourself, so the one who is aware of whatever comes its way and who can therefore accept it or feel either desire or aversion for it is only this ego.

Therefore accepting whatever comes our way is not the same as surrendering our ego, our primal thought called ‘I’, but is just surrendering this ego’s likes and dislikes. Surrendering our likes and dislikes is of course necessary, because until we are willing to surrender them, we will not even begin to be willing to surrender their root and possessor, our ego.

Surrendering our likes and dislikes is surrendering our own individual will, which is what is sometimes described as partial surrender, but for our surrender to become complete, we must surrender ourself, this ego, whose nature is to have likes and dislikes — a will of its own. Though we can surrender our likes and dislikes to a certain extent while still retaining their root, we cannot surrender them entirely so long as this root survives, so complete surrender of our own will to the will of God is possible only when we surrender ourself entirely.

We can surrender our likes and dislikes to some extent even while we are still aware of whatever comes our way, but we cannot surrender our ego so long as we continue to be aware of anything other than ourself, because what is aware of anything other than ourself is only ourself as this ego. Therefore to surrender our ego we must focus our entire attention on ourself alone and thereby cease being aware of anything else. This is why Bhagavan taught us in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:

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

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

English translation: Being one who is steadily fixed in oneself (ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ), giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought (cintana) other than thought of oneself (ātma-cintana), alone is giving oneself to God.

Gargoyle said...

Sanjay Lohia

In your response to Roger does this sentence you wrote need correction?

Therefore, I welcome his articles and e-mails, and it does concern me whether they are short or long!

best regards

Sivanarul said...

Below are the writings of Jacopone da Todi (13’th century Christian mystic). It is remarkable how these writings closely correspond to the Saivite Nayanmar writings (and some of Bhagavan’s writings) and how as when one progresses on the path, all superficial identification (Saivite, Christian, nationality, Jnana, Bhakthi etc) starts fading away and only God (Reality) is seen as the singular truth. One gets filled with so much joy to read this.

You know that you can only possess to the extent that he will give;
What he withholds you cannot acquire, nor can you hold onto what you have unless he grants you that grace.
Your path from beginning to end lies beyond your power; the choice is not yours but the Lords
Hence, if you have found him know in truth that it was through no power of yours.
The good that is given you comes out of charity; it is a gift, not the fruits of your own efforts.
Let all your desire, then, be directed toward him, the infinite one, and giver of all good.

Be pleased to remain where it pleases him to place you. Straining to find him is of no avail;
Be at peace with yourself. If he embraces you, return his embrace, but do not feel wronged when he absents himself.
Give no thought to yourself
If you love as you should, you will be filled with joy,
Because that love in itself glows with a light that does not fail.

Once united with God it knows that what you think is day is night,
What you think is light is darkness.
Until you reach this point, and the self is annihilated, everything you think is true is really false.

If he should call you, let yourself be drawn to him.
He may lead you to a great truth.
Do not dwell on yourself, nor should you – a creature subject to multiplicity and change – seek him;
Rest in tranquility, loftier than action or feeling and you will find that as you lose yourself, he will give you strength.

In God the spiritual faculties come to their desired end, lose all sense of self and self-consciousness, and are swept into infinity.
The soul, made new again, marveling to find itself in that immensity, drowns.
How this comes about it does not know

Neither iron nor fire can pry us part; The soul now dwells in a sphere beyond the reach of death and suffering.
It looks down on all creation and basks in its peace. My soul, how did you come to possess this good? It was Christ’s dear embrace that gave it to you.

In losing all, the soul has risen to the pinnacle of the measureless, because it has renounced all that is not divine.
It now holds in its grasp the unimaginable good in all its abundance, a loss and gain impossible to describe.

Noob said...

Thank you Michael.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay and all,
The circumstances of my encounter with Michael are perhaps unfortunate. I am an outsider, I am from a different school. I am from a Jnana Yoga school and the main technique is "neti-neti", "not this, not this" as well as "who am I?"

I have just discovered Michael, I find Michael's discourse to be interesting in a number of ways. I found an old article where Michael discussed "neti-net" in a critical way and I tried to explain that his perspective had some misunderstandings.

The fascinating thing is: my teacher recommended both "neti-neti" AND "who am I?" to me. And I certainly learn from "who am I?" and I learn from study of Sri Ramana.

So, regarding this forum: It is rather strange, I have one foot in the door: I study Ramana and find "who am I?" to be profoundly useful and Michael to be interesting... and have one foot out the door: my "neti-neti" style is considered inferior. And on top of my technique being labeled inferior, there is really no possibility of us reaching out to each other and bridging the gap between us because "neti-neti" is not in your doctrine, it is not open for discussion.

Consider how you might feel if someone quite passionately told you that your "who am I?" is really inferior to something else and they would not consider discussion, despite the fact that you had similarities.

I can celebrate with you the greatness of Sri Ramana and his work, there is none greater, although I would allow that others might also rise to this level of greatness (consider the long list of great masters).

I apologize: it was my mistake in thinking that there could be some sort of dialogue between us that might lead to greater understanding between our different and yet similar schools.
I apologize: now I see that this forum is not a place for dialogue outside the narrow pattern of Michael writing long blogs followed with questions within the school.

If you put yourself in my position, that is: having just have been told that your perspective (inquiry / "who am I?" ) was inferior, you can see how there is a subtle himsa or violence in this approach. I am elaborating on the Jain perspective that believes that no single approach can encompass all knowledge.

So... although I truly celebrate and applaud your great focus, passion and commitment towards Sri Ramana, I am disappointed to find that my perspective is excluded, and perhaps there will be a time in the future where we can consider our different perspectives more openly.

Although I am not a Jain, I am fascinated by their doctrine, one of the points is that: since reality is extremely complex and diverse, they feel deeply compelled to study and understand all other different schools, because those different perspectives might provide some insight back into their own, and they believe that excluding other views has the danger of them committing what they consider to be the sin of dogmatism. For example, there is a deep divide between Buddhism and Hindu Advaita Vedanta, but the Jains are able to stand in the middle and appreciate both perspectives, even claiming that they are both right and both essential.

I do feel some sadness about this situation: I feel that I have walked into a room filled with potential friends with much to discuss, share and I feel the open hearts here... and yet... do to subtle differences in doctrine... It is clear that I am excluded.

with an open but slightly bruised heart,
Roger

Michael James said...

Sentient Experiencer, in answer to your comment, thoughts seem to exist only in our mind, because our mind is the awareness in which they appear and disappear, so they seem to exist only because we are aware of them, and we are aware of them only because we attend to them. If we did not attend to them, we would not be aware of them, so they would not seem to exist. Therefore our attention is what creates and sustains them.

The only thing we are aware of whether we attend to it or not is ourself, because self-awareness is our very nature, and hence we are never unaware of ourself. Whether we are aware of anything else, as in waking and dream, or not aware of anything else, as in sleep, we are always aware of ourself.

We are aware of anything else only when we attend to it. Our attention is somewhat like our field of vision. When we look at something directly, it is in the centre of our field of vision, so we see it more clearly than other things, whereas whatever is in its proximity is more or less off-centre, so we see such things less clearly than whatever we are actually looking at. If we concentrate on looking at one particular thing, we hardly notice anything that is close to it, whereas if our look is not so concentrated, we tend to notice other things more.

Likewise, our attention tends to be focused on one thing at a time, so we are more clearly aware of that thing than we are of other things. The more keenly our attention is focused on one thing, the less we will be aware of anything else, but often our attention is not so keenly focused, so we are then more aware of other things. But in order to be aware of anything other than ourself, at least a part of our attention must be directed towards it, or in other words, it must at least be within the field of our attention, even if only on the periphery of it.

If something is outside our field of vision, we will not see it all, and likewise, if something other than ourself is entirely outside the field of our attention, we will not be aware of it at all (and according to Bhagavan it will not exist at all, because anything other than ourself seems to exist only when we are aware of it, and according to him nothing other than ourself actually exists even when it seems to exist, so nothing can exist or even seem to exist independent of our awareness of it).

You say that thoughts ‘seem to live their own life or past life’, by which I assume you mean that they seem to exist independent of our awareness of them, but to whom to they seem to exist? They seem to exist only in our view, so they do not exist independent of our awareness of them, and even the idea that they ‘seem to live their own life or past life’ is just another thought that seems to exist only because we are aware of it.

How could anything seem to exist or live if it did not seem to exist or live in our awareness (that is, in the field of our attention), because to whom else could it seem to exist if not to ourself? Even if we think that things seem to others to exist even when they do not seem to us to exist, that thought and the others we are thinking about are just ideas that seem to exist only in our own mind or current field of attention.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Sentient Experiencer:

Regarding your final two questions, ‘which advantage would we derive from avoiding to recognize or ignoring a rising thought or an already thought arisen?’ and ‘Is it not rather necessary to be aware of all what happens in our field of view or range of vision?’, we are always aware of whatever seems to be happening in the field of our attention, but by being aware of such things we are sustaining the illusion that we are this ego, the one who is aware of them.

Whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself, we are aware of such things as objects and of ourself as the subject, so by being aware of anything other than ourself we are creating a division between subject and object (that is, between the one who is aware and whatever it is aware of), and thus we are limiting ourself as a finite subject, which is what is called ‘ego’. Therefore if we wish to free ourself from the illusion that we are this finite ego, we must avoid being aware of anything other than ourself, and we can avoid being aware of anything else only by focusing our entire attention on ourself alone.

In his reply to you Roger seems to suggest that being aware of whatever is happening in our mind can have some sort of therapeutic effect, but even if this is the case, it is not tackling the root of all our problems, which is only this ego, because as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, we rise, stand and flourish as this ego only by ‘grasping form’, which means attending to and thereby being aware of things other than ourself. Since attending to anything other than ourself nourishes and sustains our ego, we can eradicate it only by focussing our entire attention on ourself alone.

Therefore the choice is up to us: either we can continue preoccupying ourself with problems experienced by our ego, which are all just thoughts projected by it, like everything that we experience in a dream, or we can turn our attention back towards ourself to see whether we are actually this ego, as we seem to be so long as we are aware of anything else. If we choose the former, we will thereby be nourishing and sustaining our ego, whereas if we choose the latter, we will thereby become aware of ourself as we actually are and thus we will dissolve forever the illusion that we are this ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Gargoyle, my sentence (as quoted by you) had a mistake; therefore, I would like to reword it as follows:

Therefore, I welcome his articles, e-mails and comments, and it does not concern me whether they are short or long!

Bhagavan's words are an expression of his love towards all of us; Michael's words are an expression of his love towards Bhagavan and his teachings. When so much of love is floating around us, should we not partake of this love to our heart's content? Its answer is obvious, we should!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you write in a comment addressed to me and others as follows: The fascinating thing is: my teacher recommended both "neti-neti" AND "who am I?" to me. And I certainly learn from "who am I?" and I learn from study of Sri Ramana.

However, our teacher and sadguru, Sri Ramana has clearly stated (at many places) that the path of neti-neti is not as efficacious as the practice of atma-vichara. The path of neti-neti can at best be an preparation to atma-vichara. How can you expect us to concede that both these paths are on equal footing, when we are fully convinced about the uniqueness of atma-vichara?

Do we want you to change your stand on this issue, and agree that the practice of atma-vichara is a more direct path than the practice of neti-neti? No, obviously not! Until and unless you are convinced otherwise, you are most welcome to stay with your current understanding.

You also write as follows: Consider how you might feel if someone quite passionately told you that your "who am I?" is really inferior to something else and they would not consider discussion, despite the fact that you had similarities.

To be absolutely frank with you, I will not feel disturbed if someone were to tell me that this practice of 'who am I' is inferior to some other practice. Many of us are so thoroughly and firmly convinced that this is the most purifying, the most direct and the most simple path - and the only path which can destroy our ego - that we will just continue with our practice instead of feeling bad about others' views.

You end your comment by writing as follows: with an open but slightly bruised heart,
Roger

This Roger has a slightly bruised heart, but who is Roger? If you investigate this ego which has taken Roger to be itself, you will eventually find that this ego does not actually exist, though it seemed to exist. Once this ego is found to be non-existent, this Roger will also disappear like a non-existent ghost, and without Roger how can there be any bruised heart or who will have a bruised heart? This is Bhagavan's path as he has clearly explained to us.

Sivanarul said...

Roger,
If it might help, let me share my perspective, from one outsider to another. I am an outsider, because my primary identification is with the Saivite tradition and my spiritual practice includes mantra japa, recital of Thirumurai (saivite slokas), pratyahara, meditation and a little sprinkle of Vichara. While the Saivite tradition is 100% compatibile with Bhagavan’s parallel path of surrender and his actions, it is not compatible with the “Vichara all the way from beginning to end, and all other practices are merely aids and are slower” approach promoted in certain writings and some (very few, not all) commentators in this blog. If you read through the comments, you will see many heated discussions.

I considering myself as an outsider in this blog, is in a way strange, because Bhagavan was born in a Saivite family. Bhagavan was deeply influenced by the 63 Saivaite Nayanmars and by Periya Puranam, one of the most important saivite scriptures. He is considered an avatar of Lord Muruga (Muruga Sarupam) by many of his religious devotees. Arunachala, Bhagavan’s guru, which is considered Self as a secular term, is Lord Siva with a Physical form. As a Saivite, it does not get any more insider than that. The main Ramanashram site, never makes one feel like an outsider. It is certainly a weird peculiarity of this blog to make one feel like an outsider of those who do not subscribe to one particular teaching of Bhagavan.

I have considered many times leaving the forum, but I think Bhagavan has prevented me every time from doing so. The reason I think is that, Bhagavan knows that it is very difficult for me to find a Spiritual Satsang group that is as serious as this, in walking the path and that is not about making money and/or selling books etc. Also it is a great Spiritual sadhana to have your practices to be crushed as unnecessary and slower. It forces you to reexamine your path more closely. As long as your path is a valid one (as in, withstood time as a genuine path), such reexamination will strengthen your chosen path tremendously. It might also make you incorporate certain elements discussed here, in a modified form, as part of your practice.

I can honestly tell you my bhakthi towards Lord Siva has grown by leaps and bounds, partly due to participation in this satsang blog. That is, in spite of frequently reading that Lord Siva is an illusion that arises and sets with ‘I’. Go figure :-). The reason is, this blog frequently reminds you of the illusory nature of the world (I translate that to anicca, impermanence). The mind begins the slow process of withdrawal from the world (pratyahara). When such withdrawal happens, the ego needs something else to cling to. For a Saivite, what can be a natural clinging, than that of the holy feet of Lord Siva?

Continued in next comment…

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment….

A few words on Sri Michael. I have had many disagreements and sometimes heated exchanges with him. I don’t see that changing anytime soon, although it has quietened a lot since I understand where he comes from and he understands where I come from. Michael is a very sincere, very advanced aspirant and devotee of Bhagavan , who has dedicated his entire lifetime to the realization of truth. He is very compassionate in helping seekers (even if it is only in his prescribed path, with no deviation). He has given all his writings for free for everyone to partake. It will be very hard indeed to find an aspirant such as Michael. It is probably going to take me a million more births, to get Michael’s commitment of walking single mindedly on the path.

Another note on Michael, is that he does not censure any writings on spirituality. You will be very welcomed to voice your disagreements. We have had some really critical comments on Michael, that he has not censured.

A comment on your path of neti-neti. It is a very valid path that is time tested. As one progresses in it, it will eventually merge with Vichara (as recommended by Bhagavan) and Bhakthi. If one says that neti-neti cannot lead to liberation, and only Bhagavan’s recommended approach will lead to it, then it means that none of those who practiced neti-neti for the past 5000 years (before Bhagavan’s advent) have been liberated at all. As I have said before, the beginning of spirituality is reality itself and not a manifestation of that reality in time and space (as in Bhagavan) however of a crown jewel that manifestation is.

I hope the above helps you to decide whether you want to continue your participation. It will certainly be nice to have another outsider to participate :-) If you decide to continue, I will welcome you to write more about the neti-neti approach.

Finally I fully agree with your quote below. It is one thing for a manifestation of reality to downcast on other doctrines and totally a different thing for an aspirant, who is knee deep in samsara, to downcast on other doctrines.

“A quote from the Sūtrakrtānga, the second oldest canon of Jainism states "Those who praise their own doctrines and ideology and disparage the doctrine of others distort the truth and will be confined to the cycle of birth and death."”

Sivanarul said...

Looks like the first portion of this posting did no go through. Reposting the first part. Apologize if it becomes a duplicate.

Roger,
If it might help, let me share my perspective, from one outsider to another. I am an outsider, because my primary identification is with the Saivite tradition and my spiritual practice includes mantra japa, recital of Thirumurai (saivite slokas), pratyahara, meditation and a little sprinkle of Vichara. While the Saivite tradition is 100% compatibile with Bhagavan’s parallel path of surrender and his actions, it is not compatible with the “Vichara all the way from beginning to end, and all other practices are merely aids and are slower” approach promoted in certain writings and some (very few, not all) commentators in this blog. If you read through the comments, you will see many heated discussions.

I considering myself as an outsider in this blog, is in a way strange, because Bhagavan was born in a Saivite family. Bhagavan was deeply influenced by the 63 Saivaite Nayanmars and by Periya Puranam, one of the most important saivite scriptures. He is considered an avatar of Lord Muruga (Muruga Sarupam) by many of his religious devotees. Arunachala, Bhagavan’s guru, which is considered Self as a secular term, is Lord Siva with a Physical form. As a Saivite, it does not get any more insider than that. The main Ramanashram site, never makes one feel like an outsider. It is certainly a weird peculiarity of this blog to make one feel like an outsider of those who do not subscribe to one particular teaching of Bhagavan.

I have considered many times leaving the forum, but I think Bhagavan has prevented me every time from doing so. The reason I think is that, Bhagavan knows that it is very difficult for me to find a Spiritual Satsang group that is as serious as this, in walking the path and that is not about making money and/or selling books etc. Also it is a great Spiritual sadhana to have your practices to be crushed as unnecessary and slower. It forces you to reexamine your path more closely. As long as your path is a valid one (as in, withstood time as a genuine path), such reexamination will strengthen your chosen path tremendously. It might also make you incorporate certain elements discussed here, in a modified form, as part of your practice.

I can honestly tell you my bhakthi towards Lord Siva has grown by leaps and bounds, partly due to participation in this satsang blog. That is, in spite of frequently reading that Lord Siva is an illusion that arises and sets with ‘I’. Go figure :-). The reason is, this blog frequently reminds you of the illusory nature of the world (I translate that to anicca, impermanence). The mind begins the slow process of withdrawal from the world (pratyahara). When such withdrawal happens, the ego needs something else to cling to. For a Saivite, what can be a natural clinging, than that of the holy feet of Lord Siva?
Continued in next comment…

Sivanarul said...

Roger,
Looks like my first portion of the posting again got deleted. Not sure why. Will wait till tomorrow to see whether it shows up again before reposting, so as to not create many duplicates.

Sandhya said...

Thank you Michael for your response. You seem to understand my confusion clearly.

Michael James said...

Roger, who is it who practises nēti nēti? It is a person called Roger, but are you that person? The practice of nēti nēti entails considering whatever person we may seem to be as ‘not I’, so if your practice entails considering Roger to be ‘not I’, why should you be concerned about whether Roger’s practice is superior or inferior? Only if you were clinging to Roger as ‘I’ would you need to be concerned about whether or not other people consider his practice to be inferior.

Nēti nēti is our starting point, because unless we understand clearly that whatever phenomena we may seem to be are ‘not I’, we would have no reason to try to see what we actually are, so it is absolutely necessary, and hence not in any way inferior, but it is not sufficient by itself. As Bhagavan clearly implies in verse 29 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, it is an aid to ātma-vicāra, which is the path of jñāna (the actual means by which we can experience what we really are), but it is not the path of jñāna itself.

Therefore it is like the rung of a ladder. We need it to climb higher, but in order to climb higher we also need to leave it behind. This is not to say that it is inferior, because it is an essential doorway through which we must pass in order to embark on the path of jñāna, but having passed through it (that is, having clearly understood that we are not any phenomena that we might temporarily seem to be) we must proceed along the path of investigating what we actually are.

In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, the pure self-awareness that is actually ourself must stand isolated from everything that is not ourself, including the thought that they are not ourself. We cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as we continue clinging to any thought or to anything other than ourself, so sooner or later we have to leave all our practices behind and just be aware of ourself alone.

What Bhagavan advises us in verses 29, 32 and 36 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is simply to leave all our preliminary aids behind in order to sink deep within ourself, beyond the reach of all thoughts and all practices other than just being as we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness, devoid of any thought or otherness. He is not criticising nēti nēti or saying that it is inferior, but is simply pointing out what its real purpose is, namely to convince us that phenomena are not ‘I’, even though some of them seem to be ‘I’, so we should isolate ourself from them entirely in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are.

Obviously we cannot isolate ourself from them entirely so long as we are thinking about them, even if only to think that they are not ‘I’, so we have to leave everything other than ourself aside in order to discover what we actually are. Understanding this is the very aim and purpose of nēti nēti.

In Matthew 5.17 it is recorded that Christ said about the old religious and spiritual texts of his time, ‘I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil’. Likewise Bhagavan did not come to destroy nēti nēti but to fulfil it by teaching us that ātma-vicāra is the correct way to apply it in practice.

Sivanarul said...

Reposting the first portion as 1A and 1B to see whether it goes through, so that it does not out of sync with the second posting. Michael, if duplicates show up, please delete them.

1A:

Roger,

If it might help, let me share my perspective, from one outsider to another. I am an outsider, because my primary identification is with the Saivite tradition and my spiritual practice includes mantra japa, recital of Thirumurai (saivite slokas), pratyahara, meditation and a little sprinkle of Vichara. While the Saivite tradition is 100% compatibile with Bhagavan’s parallel path of surrender and his actions, it is not compatible with the “Vichara all the way from beginning to end, and all other practices are merely aids and are slower” approach promoted in certain writings and some (very few, not all) commentators in this blog. If you read through the comments, you will see many heated discussions.

I considering myself as an outsider in this blog, is in a way strange, because Bhagavan was born in a Saivite family. Bhagavan was deeply influenced by the 63 Saivaite Nayanmars and by Periya Puranam, one of the most important saivite scriptures. He is considered an avatar of Lord Muruga (Muruga Sarupam) by many of his religious devotees. Arunachala, Bhagavan’s guru, which is considered Self as a secular term, is Lord Siva with a Physical form. As a Saivite, it does not get any more insider than that. The main Ramanashram site, never makes one feel like an outsider. It is certainly a weird peculiarity of this blog to make one feel like an outsider of those who do not subscribe to one particular teaching of Bhagavan.

Sivanarul said...

1B: (of reply to roger)

I have considered many times leaving the forum, but I think Bhagavan has prevented me every time from doing so. The reason I think is that, Bhagavan knows that it is very difficult for me to find a Spiritual Satsang group that is as serious as this, in walking the path and that is not about making money and/or selling books etc. Also it is a great Spiritual sadhana to have your practices to be crushed as unnecessary and slower. It forces you to reexamine your path more closely. As long as your path is a valid one (as in, withstood time as a genuine path), such reexamination will strengthen your chosen path tremendously. It might also make you incorporate certain elements discussed here, in a modified form, as part of your practice.

I can honestly tell you my bhakthi towards Lord Siva has grown by leaps and bounds, partly due to participation in this satsang blog. That is, in spite of frequently reading that Lord Siva is an illusion that arises and sets with ‘I’. Go figure :-). The reason is, this blog frequently reminds you of the illusory nature of the world (I translate that to anicca, impermanence). The mind begins the slow process of withdrawal from the world (pratyahara). When such withdrawal happens, the ego needs something else to cling to. For a Saivite, what can be a natural clinging, than that of the holy feet of Lord Siva?

Roger Isaacs said...

Dear Michael,
You say "we must avoid being aware of anything other than ourself..." apparently arguing for ignoring all thoughts and emotions and diving straight in.

Not thus! Not so! Actually, more precisely: yes, no or maybe.

[Wo]men are of three types: having a natural skill and affinity for kevala nirvikalpa samadhi, or savikalpa samadhi or mixed.

An aside: IMO the definition of savikalpa samadhi is slightly off in "be as you are": it says "Savikalpa... maintained by constant effort". This can't be exactly correct because "samadhi" is absorption without effort, Savikalpa IMO means "with changes" where as "nirvikalpa" is "without changes". In both cases effort maybe needed to reach the state, but when the state is reached, it is effortless.

In "Be as you are" Godman page 157 Sri Ramana says:
Q: Is nirvikalpa samadhi absolutely necessary before the attainment of sahaja?
RM: Abiding permanently in ANY of these samadhis, either savikalpa or nirvikalpa, is sahaja [the natural state].

Therefore, RM is stating that meditative practice while still being aware of, for example, subtle thought activity (changes), can end in sahaja.

IMO Michael, arguing that Nirvikalpa is the only way alienates 1/3 of the people who take a different approach. And it doesn't even do justice to RM who says that savikalpa is sufficient.

Certainly an argument can be made for the strong exposition of your approach, and IMO you are doing very well. Although, perhaps your discourse could be more inclusive.

Gargoyle said...

Roger
I'm pretty dense, stupid and ignorant many times over....what does IMO mean?
My apologies for having to ask.....

Regards

Sivanarul said...

Reposting the first portion as 1A and 1B to see whether it goes through, so that it does not out of sync with the second posting. Michael, duplicates show up, please delete them.

1A:

Roger,

If it might help, let me share my perspective, from one outsider to another. I am an outsider, because my primary identification is with the Saivite tradition and my spiritual practice includes mantra japa, recital of Thirumurai (saivite slokas), pratyahara, meditation and a little sprinkle of Vichara. While the Saivite tradition is 100% compatibile with Bhagavan’s parallel path of surrender and his actions, it is not compatible with the “Vichara all the way from beginning to end, and all other practices are merely aids and are slower” approach promoted in certain writings and some (very few, not all) commentators in this blog. If you read through the comments, you will see many heated discussions.

I considering myself as an outsider in this blog, is in a way strange, because Bhagavan was born in a Saivite family. Bhagavan was deeply influenced by the 63 Saivaite Nayanmars and by Periya Puranam, one of the most important saivite scriptures. He is considered an avatar of Lord Muruga (Muruga Sarupam) by many of his religious devotees. Arunachala, Bhagavan’s guru, which is considered Self as a secular term, is Lord Siva with a Physical form. As a Saivite, it does not get any more insider than that. The main Ramanashram site, never makes one feel like an outsider. It is certainly a weird peculiarity of this blog to make one feel like an outsider of those who do not subscribe to one particular teaching of Bhagavan.

Sundar said...

Michael,

"so we have to leave everything other than ourself aside in order to discover what we actually are...."

How? We do not have a switch, which we can simply use for this purpose.

I feel all the discussion should be on this.

Sundar

Roger Isaacs said...

>>Gargoyle said...
>> I'm pretty dense, stupid and ignorant many times over....what does IMO mean?

Hi Garhoyle, I don't think you have any deficiencies, except for possibly being self critical. (Ha)
IMO is short for In My Opinion.
Or I should probably say IMHO: In My Humble Opinion.
Or what I mean is: this is just the perspective of one human mind and certainly therefore only a very partial perspective at the very best.

You can put: "it would appear" or "perhaps from some perspective" or "in a way" in front of every sentence I might ever speak. It is rather cumbersome to do so literally.

Gargoyle said...

Roger

Much thanks. Hope you hang around this blog.

Sundar said...

Michael,
Another thing I am curious about, though it can wait till I get there, is what it is like to be in that state where 'you are aware of nothing other than ourself'.

I know it is a no mind state, otherwise mind will find it boring and quickly think of something to think about. Only talking in worldly sense, I tend to say that it would be like coma or Alzheimer state.

Also, I wonder how this state can prevail while the body is still attending to worldly matters.

I know Ramana and few others have gone through this and to outsiders they never looked like coma or AZ patients. They did worldly activities with more perfection than ordinary mortals.

I guess, I was trying to understand what is meant by 'not being aware of anything other than our self.

sundar

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,

I do not expect you to concede your position. I do not expect you to adopt my position either, regarding neti-neti.

I wonder if Ramana's perspective on neti-neti is that it is corrupt and not useful. This would make sense. In the 1200 years since Adi Shankara it's gotten muddy.

I certainly do not think that neti-neti is appropriate for everyone. My teacher taught that all the yoga styles we see in India: hatha, raja, karma, jnana, kundalini, bhakti, integral, tantra... that all of these styles are viable, but the missing link is an insightful teacher and being able to match the style to the student.

The argument that I feel passionately about:
This difference of opinion between us (neti-neti or Who Am I?) is of the same character as the religious strife of millennia which has claimed, who knows, maybe 100 million lives. Nearly constant warfare for thousands of years. And... now with weapons of mass destruction and terrorists... the potential for future catastrophe is unbearable.

Is my argument only for the outward world? No! Because at the smaller level of community and family, the same issues exist. And at the inner level, countless people are invested with the emotional passion of taking sides on such issues: this prevents inner development.

So the main thing I want to do is to point out this issue. If we see the problem, then solutions become more likely. We are all treating each other with some respect here (so far, ha!)... but the seed of subtle violence is already there in "my way is superior". Can we start here with the solutions? What is your solution?

I can make some suggestions:
An example: I enjoy Harsha on https://luthar.com/ because he speaks very passionately about Sri Ramana, but he does so somehow without ever treading on any other schools. (wink wink to Michael)

He says: "Why such an emphasis on Ahimsa by the sages? It is because the perfect and calm state of relaxed awareness is only possible in a mind that is free of all violence."

I am not a Jain and I am just learning about the philosophy of anekantavada which means "Not One!" Reality is very complex and there is "Not One" religion, teacher, school, nation, person etc... which could ever contain the whole truth. Jains suggest studying fully all competing theories, and they consider that their theory is not complete either. So this approach suggests that we cultivate deep humility, respect, yes: take great strength in those ideas that resonate with us, but also become familiar with opposing doctrines, they may have pearls for us. The Jain attitude has allowed their small culture to survive despite repeated invasions for thousands of years. They studied very seriously the doctrines of the invaders and this endeared them even to their enemies.

I know that Sri Ramana had given a thumbs down to neti-neti. And because of this I didn't study him. But... in the short time that I have studied, I have learned a lot about my own style even though it is different!

>> This Roger has a slightly bruised heart, but who is Roger?

I have made an argument from the emotional perspective "bruised heart", I am sincere, that is what I feel. This is useful to make an appeal from both the intellectual as well as the feeling perspectives?

But, Sanjay, I HAVE made the inquiry "who is Roger". And you know.. I can't find a damned thing!! Ha!

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sivanarul,
Thanks I really appreciate your comments. My teacher studied the saivite tradition, but I am not as diligent philosophically.
Your statement of finding compassion and wisdom during outward difficulty is deeply moving. My teacher mentioned that keeping the heart open during outward challenge is a very powerful practice for a bhakti.

It is not my style to suffer silently. I must use language to test and provoke my development, although, surely there are others that would prefer that I remain quiet, starting with my parents and siblings, work mates, for example.

>> I can honestly tell you my bhakthi towards Lord Siva has grown by leaps and bounds, partly due to participation in this satsang blog. That is, in spite of frequently reading that Lord Siva is an illusion.

Love your comment: Lord Siva is an illusion! Ha! When people say such things... they forget that they too are illusions.

And I like your support for Michael, I enjoy Michael as well. Although, it remains to be seen if we will remain at odds or perhaps learn from each other. I enjoy the statement "to grow with mutual help". Although, maybe we can hope that this process is without too much trial.

My perspective may change, but Michael certainly appears to have warrior attributes. His passion and commitment are inspiring. One challenge for the spiritual warrior is to always act in a way which supports life. Warriors yield considerable power, and to use it in a way which always upholds the highest is a challenge.

Yes, if one says "neti-neti" does not lead to enlightenment... then what about Adi Shankara! I see vichara in all spiritual practice. As practices become more powerful they get subtler. Perhaps "who am I?" as a powerful innate curiosity is common in advanced practices.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
>> Only if you were clinging to Roger as ‘I’ would you need to be concerned about whether or not other people consider his practice to be inferior.

Do you honestly think that you are in a position to determine what my thoughts and actions should be under any circumstances ever? This is arrogant telling me how I should think.

I don't see any actual communication happening between us. You make statements about my style:
>> The practice of nēti nēti entails...
>> Understanding this is the very aim and purpose of nēti nēti...

So you have predetermined conclusions about my style. There might be a possibility of increased understanding between us IF instead of telling me about my path, you asked questions and listened.
But... since you tell me about my path without ever asking, and you tell me what I should be thinking.. you are not open at all to my perspectives. You are only repeating mindlessly (that is without taking new input).

There is no purpose in my speaking when you are not listening.

For you to tell me about the characteristics of my path (and this has happened multiple times now) without ever even asking me my perspective... this is arrogant. Well, actually it is damned arrogant.

sincerely,
Roger

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you write in your comment addressed to me as follows: But, Sanjay, I HAVE made the inquiry "who is Roger". And you know.. I can't find a damned thing!! Ha!

This reminds me of a quote by a famous Scottish philosopher, David Hume (David Hume, A Treatise of Human Nature):

For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception…. . . . I am certain there is no such principle in me.

In one of his recent videos, Michael had quoted the gist of this quotation by David Hume, and had commented that what David says here is absurd. Though in this quote David uses the pronouns 'I', 'myself' and 'me'; but still he says, 'I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception…', and 'I am certain there is no such principle in me'.

How can David use the words 'I', 'me' and 'myself' and still claim that 'I never catch myself'; or 'I am certain there is no such principle [his real self] in me'. Without this real 'principle' or his real self how could he say, 'I'; 'me' and 'myself'. This 'I' is his very self which he was looking for, and he says he cannot find it. If he did not exist, how could he experience perceptions and so on?

When you write, 'But, Sanjay, I HAVE made the inquiry "who is Roger". And you know.. I can't find a damned thing!! Ha'; it is somewhat similar to what David had said. When you say, 'I can't find a damned thing'; this 'I' in 'I can't' is the very thing you should be looking at, and this 'I' is 'you'. To be more accurate, you should investigate 'what am I' or 'who am I' and not 'who is Roger'. 'Roger' is a person, but you should be investigating the entity which takes 'Roger' to be itself, and this entity is the ego, your false 'I'

Our ego is the 'I am the body' idea. You should be investigating the 'I am' portion in this 'I am the body' idea, and once you experience 'I am' with absolute clarity, that will be the end of the story for 'Roger'.

Incidentally, I had practised this neti-neti meditation about 25/30 years back. I was taught to repeat somewhat as follows: 'I am not this body, breath, mind, intellect or darkness (?); I am pure-consciousness which is poorna', but I soon gave it up in favour of Bhagavan's path of self-investigation. Obviously I found the practice of being attentively self-aware more appealing than my earlier practice.

Noob said...

There is a difference in simply declaring and attentively investigating. In my case, sooner or later any japa becomes automatic (that is, it just flows on by itself in my mind in the same way as any other thought process), be it mental or outspoken, and attention starts wandering off even though I kept repeating those sacred words in my mind. That's the difference, self investigation needs no words. We have to learn to focus our attention on "I" and keep it there. In this sense pranajama is a far greater aid in my view just because it does not require any words/thoughts, and it reduces the thought process greatly.

Michael James said...

Sundar, in answer to your first comment, we do have a switch, and it is called attention. In order to ‘leave everything other than ourself aside’ and thereby to ‘discover what we actually are’ we simply have to switch our attention away from all other things back towards ourself alone. At present we may not be very skilful at using this switch in this way, because due to age-old habit we have trained ourself to use it only to attend to things other than ourself, but by persistent practice of trying to be self-attentive we can cultivate the requisite skill (and love) to do so.

Regarding your second comment, Bhagavan has answered this in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which he says about the state of those whose ego has been destroyed: ‘தன்னை அலாது அன்னியம் ஒன்றும் அறியார்; அவர் நிலைமை இன்னது என்று உன்னல் எவன்?’ (taṉṉai alādu aṉṉiyam oṉḏṟum aṟiyār; avar nilaimai iṉṉadu eṉḏṟu uṉṉal evaṉ?), which means ‘They do not know [or are not aware of] anything other than themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘it is such’?’

Bhagavan sometimes described our ego or mind as சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), which literally means ‘pointing awareness’ or ‘showing awareness’, and which implies transitive or object-knowing awareness (that is, awareness that points out, shows, aims at or knows things other than itself), because the nature of our ego is to be aware of things other than itself (which is what he implies by the term ‘உருப்பற்றி’ (uru-p-paṯṟi) or ‘grasping form’ when he says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu that this ego comes into existence, stands and flourishes by grasping form). Therefore the state of pure intransitive awareness (that is, awareness that is just aware without being aware of anything other than itself) cannot be grasped by our ego.

This is why our memory of what we experienced in sleep is unclear. What we experienced then is only pure intransitive awareness, which is what we actually are, but because of the complete absence of any transitive awareness (awareness of anything other than ourself) then, in the outward-looking view of our ego in waking or dream sleep seems to be just a blank. That is, so long as we experience ourself as this ego, whose very nature is to be aware of things other than itself, we cannot grasp or adequately conceive the nature of any state in which this ego does not exist and in which there is consequently no awareness at all of anything other than ourself alone.

However, all we need do in order to experience that state even now in this waking state is simply to turn our attention back within to be aware of ourself alone. Though Bhagavan taught us that this is not only very simple but also extremely easy to do, it seems to us to be difficult because we still have strong desires to be aware of things other than ourself, and hence we are not willing to let go of our ego, which is the small price we have to pay for the infinite treasure of pure intransitive awareness, whose nature is anādi ananta akhaṇḍa sat-cit-ānanda — beginningless, endless (or infinite) and undivided existence-awareness-happiness (as Bhagavan says in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār).

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in his comment dated 21 May 2016 at 21:40 addressed to Roger:

In Matthew 5.17 it is recorded that Christ said about the old religious and spiritual texts of his time, ‘I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil’. Likewise Bhagavan did not come to destroy nēti nēti but to fulfil it by teaching us that ātma-vicāra is the correct way to apply it in practice.

Michael also writes in this article: 'Therefore it [neti-neti] is like the rung of a ladder. We need it to climb higher, but in order to climb higher we also need to leave it behind. . . . it is an essential doorway through which we must pass in order to embark on the path of jñāna'.

If this practice is like the rung of a ladder, what about other practices like dualistic bhakti, pranayama, karma-marga and so on? Are they also rung of a ladder and 'an essential doorway through which we must pass in order to embark on the path of jñāna?'

Practices like dualistic bhakti, pranaymaya, karma-marga and so on can be rungs of a ladder, and can take us to the essential doorway on the path of jnana, but these practices are not indispensable and we can bypass them on the path of jnana. However, we cannot really bypass this neti-neti (or at least the understanding of 'neti-neti', even if we bypass its actual practice), because without understanding that all phenomena, including the phenomena we take to be ourself, are 'not-I', how can we effectively try and attend only to ourself, bereft of all phenomena?

Therefore, on the path of atma-vichara, this understanding of 'neti-neti' is an essential aid, whereas other practices can at best be optional aids. At least this is how I understand it; however, any corrections or additions to whatever I have written is welcome.

Michael James said...

Noob, regarding what you write in your latest comment, according to Bhagavan everything other than ourself (including our body and this entire world) is just a series of thoughts, so when we practise prāṇāyāma the breath or prāṇa that we are attending to is just another thought.

The root of the entire thought process is only our ego, which is our primal thought, so the most effective means to reduce and eventually destroy the thought process is to cut this root. Since it rises, stands and flourishes only by grasping other thoughts, so long as we are attending to any other thought we are nourishing and sustaining this root, so the only way to eradicate it is to attend to it alone, as Bhagavan clearly indicates in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

Attending to this ego alone is what you refer to as ‘attentively investigating’ ourself, which we cannot do mechanically in that same way that we can mechanically do japa, as you say tends to happen.

Sivanarul said...

Regarding the suggestion given to Roger when he wrote “with an open but slightly bruised heart”:

The suggestion that has been given to Roger is asking him to investigate the ego behind the person Roger who feels slightly bruised heart. This suggestion is highly premature, impractical and goes against not applying advaita in vyAvahArika. We do not go to a funeral and console the grieving family with advaitic talk (even if the family is advaitic practioners). We do not go to the young widow who has a young child, who is in deep grief on how she is going to survive in this world and tell her the following:

“World is mitya. Investigate the ego of the person who thinks she had a husband and has a child. If you continue the investigation thus, the ego will collapse and you will not have any grief anymore”

Rather you share the grief with the widow. Help whatever you can in the healing process. Then with the passage of time, gently remind her of the teaching she is already familiar with and ask her to practice it to move forward.

Talking is cheap. Walking the talk is very hard. If you are going to suggest advaita to someone who says he is bruised, I suggest you first try it on yourself. Here are a few ways you can try it. Ask your close friend to repeatedly and deeply disrespect your family, work, culture, country, language etc. on a daily basis. As the feeling of hurt arises in your heart, turn the attention to the ego of the person who feels hurt. Then there is the slap test. Ask your friend to repeatedly slap you hard on your face. As the shearing pain seeps through, turn your attention to the ego of the person whose body is sending the signal of pain. Now as an advanced practioner, you may very well pass these tests, but hopefully you will understand that most of the aspirants will not pass these tests and your suggestion is not appropriate.

Regarding Sanjay’s net-neti and Jnana comment, the principle of neti-neti cannot be bypassed in any yoga whether that it Bhakthi, Raja, Karma or Jnana. (He seems to suggest it cannot be bypassed only in Jnana).The bhaktha has to transcend the 36 tattvas (gross, subtle and pure phenomenon) and stand with Ishvara as just Ishvara and I alone before liberation can occur. The Raja Yogi has to discard all phenomenon as useless for his path and focus his entire attention in deep meditation in raising the Kundalini from Muladhara to Sahashara. The Karma yogis (like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Therasa) has to discard all phenomenon as useless and focus on their singular aim of helping sentient beings.

Bob - P said...

From Michael's reply to Sundar.

{This is why our memory of what we experienced in sleep is unclear. What we experienced then is only pure intransitive awareness, which is what we actually are, but because of the complete absence of any transitive awareness (awareness of anything other than ourself) then, in the outward-looking view of our ego in waking or dream sleep seems to be just a blank. That is, so long as we experience ourself as this ego, whose very nature is to be aware of things other than itself, we cannot grasp or adequately conceive the nature of any state in which this ego does not exist and in which there is consequently no awareness at all of anything other than ourself alone.}

Thank you Michael the above was an extremely helpful reminder about the nature of waking, dream and sleep.
In appreciation
Bob

P.s - Dear Roger I hope you don't leave, not everyone has the exact same views on the forum which is of course fine. I hope your practise is going very well and all the very best to you.

Sanjay Lohia said...

This is in response to Sivanarul's comment dated 22 May 2016 at 14:34:

I wrote in one of my recent comments addressed to Roger:

You [Roger] end your comment by writing as follows: with an open but slightly bruised heart, Roger. This Roger has a slightly bruised heart, but who is Roger? If you investigate this ego which has taken Roger to be itself, you will eventually find that this ego does not actually exist, though it seemed to exist. Once this ego is found to be non-existent, this Roger will also disappear like a non-existent ghost, and without Roger how can there be any bruised heart or who will have a bruised heart?

Sivanarul feels that this advice is inappropriate in this situation, and writes 'This suggestion is highly premature, impractical and goes against not applying advaita in vyAvahArika'. First of all, what was 'premature' about it? Roger wrote that he had a 'bruised heart', and I was just suggesting a remedy to his 'bruised heart'. Again what was 'impractical' about my suggestion? In fact, when any body came to Bhagavan with any problem (and 'bruised heart' is a problem), this was the remedy most often suggested by him. He used to say, 'who has this problem, investigate' or 'was this problem there in your sleep' and so on. Therefore, Bhagavan did suggest 'advaitic' solutions, if I can borrow Sivanarul's term.

However, I agree with Sivanarul that at every place or in every situation we cannot or should not offer such solutions, and at vyavaharika level we have to empathise and sympathise with hurt or aggrieved beings, but this does not mean that in such situations speaking about higher truths is inappropriate. Such truths can be one way to relieve the suffering of others.

Let us take the battlefield of kurukshetra. Arjuna was distressed and disturbed seeing his guru, elders and cousins in his opposing army. In despair, he said to Sri Krishna that he does not want to fight the war and kill his loved ones. What did Sri Krishna advise Arjuna? He did not give Arjuna a consoling talk, but instead talked about jnana or higher truths. He advised Arjuna to fight the battle and kill his opponents, as anyway they were to be killed in the divine scheme of things. He advised Arjuna that he will be made to fight (in spite of his resistance) because it was written in his destiny; therefore, he should fight willingly and so on. If Sri Krishna can talk about higher truths even in a battle field, we can at least talk about jnana in relatively normal conditions.


(I will continue this in my next comment)

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay, PART 1
I am not sure about the Hume example. Language and thought is so tricky.

>> Our ego is the 'I am the body' idea...

People have been discussing "I am not the body" for eons but not getting the perceptual reality.
I can tell you one way to actually discover the perceptual reality of subtler states behind the body:
It is Barry Long's sensation meditation: http://www.barrylong.org/statements/meditation.shtml
Read his work if it sounds interesting, but briefly:
For a significant period of time, put your attention on or into your body, say your hands, what is the sensation there? It takes diligent practice. Then...you will notice a subtle sensation, gentle tingling in the hands.
Over time you can locate this sensation throughout the entire body.
Now... as the experience deepens, you will notice that you are this vital or energy body, and although you have a physical body, it has become secondary to the energy body, the energy body has become primary.
All this has happened simply by putting your attention on the body: no thought at all, no speculation.
Now, as you are anchored in the energy body... it too may gradually wink out: wow, I knew my arm (etc) as energy... but it is gone and the physical level is gone too. But I am still aware.
What is left after the physical and energy bodies drop away?
Can we call it "Being" ?
While your attention is on the energy body, the mind can easily be held without thinking.
The attention can be on the subtler bodies throughout the day during activity.
Thus, although "who am I?" as a mantra is not being used, the investigation is most certainly "who am I?"

I hope it is obvious that this is from my actual experience. Although Barry Longs guidance is far superior to anything I could say.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj also discusses this vital body in "The Ultimate Medicine" with great reverence. But he doesn't tell you how to enter it as Barry Long does. He leaves entering it as an exercise.
PART 2 to follow.

Roger Isaacs said...

PART 2 to Sanjay:
>> Incidentally, I had practised this neti-neti meditation about 25/30 years back. I was taught to repeat somewhat as follows: 'I am not this body, breath, mind, intellect or darkness (?);

This "repeat mentally: I am not..." is not at all neti-neti. It's just totally off base. If Sri Ramana saw this, no wonder he didn't like it.
There are different aspects to the human. There are emotions, thoughts, the will etc. "Not this - not this" uses the discrimination. It is not for all people. Actually I believe that there are 8 styles (the various yogas and tantra) and a person will resonate with one of those. There is no one way for all.

So, the initial education may state philosophy about what we are not. We are not the body, we are not the emotions etc... But this is just background info like hearing the directions to how to exit the airplane in an emergency, it is not actually flying.

The practice of neti-neti is first and foremost a state of vigilant attention, the silent watching the mind and emotions to see what if anything is arising.
When you are meditating, probably there are times or were times when you get lost in thought?
Discrimination is the instant when you realize that you were lost in thought, this realization breaks you out of identification with thinking and emotion. Everyone has experienced this?
So you see: there is no thinking at all in neti-neti.
It's like using a broom to sweep the mind clean, but if you are still, there is nothing to sweep.
When the mind and emotions are still... higher reality dawns in this stillness.
It is not "who am I?" directly, but of course "who am I?" is the whole & direct intent of the process.

Note: when I discuss the sensation meditation and "neti-neti": I am NOT imposing them on anyone. I'm just sharing. These practices are natural for me, but they very well may not be natural for you. I support and encourage your inner guide, your inner intuition is your best guide. Furthermore, although these practices are much different than "Who am I?", in a very real sense, they are not different because the whole intent is really "who am I?" but just from a different angle.

Who is Roger?
"Can't find a damn thing" points to the fact that when inquiring "who am I?".... no aspect of personality / mind / body that can be discussed is real.
Whatever I am is far beyond any description. So there is nothing "not a damned thing to find" that is Roger in any typical sense.
Furthermore, states may be experienced where there is is nothing, no-thing, but perhaps with intelligence in it. Another aspect of "not a damned thing".

Also, your suggestion that I take up "who am I?" is interesting, but from some perspective, you are imposing your system on me. So my reply is a bit flippant.
There is a lot of this here: people imposing their views without really asking or listening about the other person. Which is fine, it's a stage.
And you did the "advaita shuffle": that is: in a conversation about some topic, "who am I?" is used the stop the conversation and to impose attention on the speakers spiritual qualifications. It ends the conversation and in a subtle way puts the challenger in a superior position to the original speaker.

Roger Isaacs said...

In a spiritual practice, imposing one's beliefs and perspectives on others is wrong use of the will. It's an outward movement.
Right use of the will is using it inwardly to keep the mind still (in some way).

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in response to Sivanarul's comment dated 22 May 2016 at 14:34:

As Sivaranul implies, in all the spiritual paths we have to discard the inessentials and focus on our chosen path or goal, whether the path is bhakti, karma, yoga or jnana. However, in Bhagavan's path of atma-vichara we aim to discard even our ego, whereas other paths such as bhakti, karma or yoga are practised while retaining our ego. In these paths we may discard many things from our view of attention, but still the ego remains intact.

Suppose a devotee is meditating on the form of his chosen deity; consequently, he may be able to wipe out everything else from the field of his attention because his love and attention may be totally focussed on his deity. Even though he may have removed everything else, he still remains apart from his deity to experience it; therefore, he is not able to discard his ego by such a dualistic devotion.

Likewise if we are practising pranayama, we may be able to discard everything else from our field of attention and even subside in manolaya, but thereby will not be able to destroy our ego. Bhagavan has explained this at many places.

Similarly if we are engaged in disinterested service to others, our ego will still remain to serve others. It may get attenuated to a smaller or greater extent, but our ego cannot be annihilated by the mere practice of disinterested karma. Bhagavan has emphatically stated that karma cannot give liberation, and will push us into more and more action. In fact, it is only the opposite of karma - our practice of just-being - that can destroy our ego and merge us in anādi ananta akhaṇḍa sat-cit-ānanda — beginningless, endless (or infinite) and undivided existence-awareness-happiness.

Therefore, it is only our practice of being attentively self-aware that can eliminate all the phenomena we experience as neti-neti, whereas other paths do attempt to discard all phenomena as inessential, but are not able to discard the discarder (our ego).

Noob said...

Engaging senses to find the truth is like hiring a thief to lead a police department.

Sivanarul said...

Sanjay writes and asks:

“First of all, what was 'premature' about it? Roger wrote that he had a 'bruised heart', and I was just suggesting a remedy to his 'bruised heart'. Again what was 'impractical' about my suggestion?”

So the bruised heart that Roger wrote about, was caused by the writing that his path of neti-neti will not cut it and only “Who am I” will do. Then as a solution to the bruise, again “Who am I” is suggested. A surgeon injures a patient gravely in a surgery. When the patient says he is hurt, the same surgeon is brought before him and he is told that it is only this surgeon, in the whole wide world, that can fix the problem. That is what was impractical of the suggestion. The surgeon may very well be the world’s best surgeon, but you do not shove that surgeon (who caused the injury) before the patient right after the injury. Hope the analogy is clear.

Bhagavan only suggested advaitic solutions to the very advanced devotees. It is well known that Bhagavan suggested practical solutions for most of his devotees and was very involved in practical matters of life such as my son does not have a child, my daughter is not married, I am unable to support my family etc. For these, he did not say, investigate who has these problems. Instead, he provided or arranged practical solutions.

It is very interesting that Sanjay brings up kurukshetra war, Krishna and Arjuna and writes “If Sri Krishna can talk about higher truths even in a battle field, we can at least talk about jnana in relatively normal conditions.”.

I don’t even know where to start :-) Sri Krishna is Ishvara and Lord of Maya. Sri Krishna is an eternal Brahmachari but also a lover of innumerable gopis. There were so many atrocities committed in Mahabharata, yet Sri Krishna never violated Dharma (because he is the one who defines it). Are we Jiva’s, who are seemingly under the influence of Maya going to compare ourselves with Sri Krishna and justify our actions based on his? Are we in need of an ego tune-up here?

“Therefore, it is only our practice of being attentively self-aware that can eliminate all the phenomena we experience as neti-neti, whereas other paths do attempt to discard all phenomena as inessential, but are not able to discard the discarder (our ego).”

That’s wonderful to know that Bhakthi cannot discard the discarder, in spite of Bhagavan’s parallel path and instruction of “Surrender to have the go struck down by Ishvara”. To be honest, I hope Sanjay is right and Bhagavan and Sage Narada (of Bhakthi Sutras) are wrong. The ego, when turned towards the world is the problem. I don’t mind at all the ego staying put with Ishvara after transcending the 36 tattvas (gross, subtle and pure phenomenon).

More importantly, I am a B+ kid. Getting an A is too much work and responsibility. You cool, attentively self-aware kids can keep the A. I am very happy to get a B+ for eternity :-)

Sivanarul said...

Noob,

“Engaging senses to find the truth is like hiring a thief to lead a police department.”

Once the senses have been turned into pure Sattva and stand as in “Irai Panni Nitral” (Service to God), they become the best former thieves to lead a police department. As a former thief, they know the tricks of the trade and will be excellent leaders of police dept. helping catch many thieves.

Sage Valmiki was literally a highway robber named Ratnakara, who used to rob people after killing them. After he was turned into pure sattva by Sage Narada, he become the best leader of the police dept and wrote the epic Ramayana, which is one of the most revered scriptures of Sanatana Dharma.

Angulimala was another robber and murderer who was turned pure Sattva by Buddha and he became an excellent policeman leading a large sangha.

Roger Isaacs said...


Hi Sivanarul,
for you:
The Gospel of Thomas:
69. Jesus said, "Congratulations to those who have been persecuted in their hearts: they are the ones who have truly come to know the Father.

Noob said...

Senses will always keep mind focused on something else but the "I" as they belong to the mind and operate as soon as the attention is diverted to the phenomena, such as "tingling sensations".

Noob said...

It is necessary to withdraw the mind from the senses and turn it within thus achieving "pratyahara".

Sivanarul said...

Roger,

Amen to your quote from the Gospel of Thomas.

Noob,

The senses are not the problem, once the mind is tamed. The mind is the driver of the senses. When the mind is turned sattvic, both the mind and the senses turn into service of the lord (of course, if the mind ever loses sattva, the senses go wild).

Bhagavad Gita Chapter 2 Verse 61

http://srimadbhagavadgita.net/bhagavad-gita-chapter-2-verse-61

tåni sarvå√i saµyamya yukta åsîta mat-para˙
vaçe hi yasyendriyå√i tasya prajñå prati߆hitå

Translation:
Restraining all the senses, a self-controlled person should fix his mind upon Me. Thus he becomes firmly situated in divine knowledge.

Commentary:
As previously stated, there are numerous yoga systems. Shri Krishna states unequivocally that by the system of withdrawing one’s senses from the objects of the senses, namely sound, touch, taste, smell and sight for sense satisfaction and concentrating the mind on Him, one becomes firmly situated in divine knowledge and samadhi.

Sivanarul said...

Noob,

"It is necessary to withdraw the mind from the senses and turn it within thus achieving "pratyahara"."

Absolutely! Pratyahara is one of my most favored Sadhana :-)

Noob said...

Operation of the senses depends on the focus of our attention, if we allow attention to be diverted by the mind to any phenomena then the senses become engaged creating lots of noise. But what can we "sense" when our attention is firmly focused on "I"?

Noob said...

So to speak, senses may be the tools with which our mind "grasps" the form.

tricky fellow said...

Sivanarul,
what do you make when '(the system of) withdrawing one's senses from the objects of the senses, namely sound, touch, taste, smell and sight for satisfaction and concentrating the mind on Him' is blown and brushed forcibly away out of your control for example by strong sexual desires ? Your effort will encounter bitter resistance. In such a difficult situation it's easier for a camel to go through an eye of a needle than to get the mind be turned within.

Roger Isaacs said...

>> Senses will always keep mind focused on something else but the "I" as they belong to the mind and operate as soon as the attention is diverted to the phenomena, such as "tingling sensations".

Guys, it is not at all necessary for anyone to express interest in my comments, such as my earlier Barry Long "sensation meditation".
But there was speculation and opinion about it expressed. It would be impressive if speculation were replaced with investigation and experience. If you said "I tried your sensation meditation suggestion... and it does not work at all... this happened". That would be really impressive. Or even "it doesn't fit with the suggestions of my school, I'm not entertaining it" sounds entirely reasonable.

My impression of this group is that mostly what goes on is speculation, rehashing opinion and mental masturbation. Read this great quote from Lahiri Mahasaya:

"Exchange unprofitable speculation for actual God-communion. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life. Though man's ingenuity for getting himself into trouble appears to be endless, the Infinite Succor is no less resourceful." Lahiri Mahasaya

>> camel to go through an eye of a needle than to get the mind be turned within.

In the original Aramaic language of Jesus he did not say "camel", he said "rope" which makes much more sense. "camel" is a translation error that got propagated. I mean, has anyone ever thought of putting a camel through the eye of a needle? it doesn't make sense. So... two thousand years ago, some scribe got a character wrong, "rope" got changed to "camel"... and we (the christian english speaking world) quote it every since. Makes you wonder what other errors might exist. I'm just suggesting to look beyond scripture (even recent scripture!!!!!) to some higher truth, perhaps the "active inner guidance". What a great phrase "Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris..."

R Viswanathan said...

I trust that the following passage from an interview of Sri David Godman (http://davidgodman.org/rteach/jd4.shtml) might be relevant and useful to the discussion that is going on:

jd: Are you saying that self-enquiry is not a practice, that it is not something that we should do laboriously, hour after hour, day after day?

DG: It is a practice for the vast majority of people, and Bhagavan did encourage people to do it as often as they could. He said that the practice should be persisted with, right up to the moment of realization.
It wasn't his only teaching, and he didn't tell everyone who came to him to do it. Generally, when people approached him and asked for spiritual advice, he would ask them what practice they were doing. They would tell him, and his usual response would be, 'Very good, carry on with that'.
He didn't have a strong missionary zeal for self-enquiry, but he did say that sooner or later everyone has to come to self-enquiry because this is the only effective way of eliminating the individual 'I'. He knew that most people who approached him preferred to repeat the name of God or worship a particular form of him. So, he let them carry on with whatever practice they felt an affinity with.
However, if you came to him and asked, 'I'm not doing any practice at the moment, but I want to get enlightened. What is the quickest and most direct way to accomplish this?' he would almost invariably reply, 'Do self-enquiry'.

jd: Is he on the record as saying that it is the quickest and most direct way?

DG: Yes. He mentioned this on many occasions, but it was not his style to force it on people. He wanted devotees to come to it when they were ready for it.

jd: So even though he accepted whatever practices people were involved in, he was quite clear the quickest and most direct tool would be self-enquiry?

DG: Yes, and he also said that you had to stick with it right up to the moment of realization.
For Bhagavan, it wasn't a technique that you practiced for an hour a day, sitting cross-legged on the floor. It is something you should do every waking moment, in combination with whatever actions the body is doing.
He said that beginners could start by doing it sitting, with closed eyes, but for everyone else, he expected it to be done during ordinary daily activities.

R Viswanathan said...

I trust that the following passage extracted from the same interview of Sri David Godman also is relevant and useful for the discussion that is going on:

This is a key part of Bhagavan's teachings: the Self can only destroy the mind when the mind no longer has any tendency to move outwards. While those outward-moving tendencies are still present, even in a latent form, the mind will always be too strong for the Self to dissolve it completely.
This is why Bhagavan's way works and the forcible-restraint way doesn't. You can keep the mind restrained for decades, but such a mind will never be consumed by the Self because the desires, the tendencies, the vasanas, are still there. They may not be manifesting, but they are still there.
Ultimately, it is the grace or power of the Self that eliminates the final vestiges of the desire-free mind. The mind cannot eliminate itself, but it can offer itself up as a sacrifice to the Self. Through effort, through enquiry, one can take the mind back to the Self and keep it there in a desire-free state. However, mind can't do anything more than that. In that final moment it is the power of the Self within that pulls the last remains of the mind back into itself and eliminates it completely.

Sivanarul said...

I have to thank my friend Sanjay immensely for helping me get a flash of satori (a very brief one, but nevertheless an important one).

“Therefore, it is only our practice of being attentively self-aware that can eliminate all the phenomena we experience as neti-neti, whereas other paths do attempt to discard all phenomena as inessential, but are not able to discard the discarder (our ego).”

To the above, I replied:
“More importantly, I am a B+ kid. Getting an A is too much work and responsibility. You cool, attentively self-aware kids can keep the A. I am very happy to get a B+ for eternity :-)”

After I wrote that, a little later, a flash of Satori happened. I realized all the back and forth with him and Michael over the last year has been because I wanted to join the A kids. After all, I have been with Bhagavan for 10+ years. Why should I not join the A club? Then it flashed, that in my entire lifetime, I have always been a B or B+ student. I am not a Harvard grad, not a Kobe Bryant in Basketball or Roger Federer in tennis. But what I have always been is a very happy B/B+ student, although wishing that I could have made it to Harvard, if only I had studied harder. At some point in my career it flashed on me that I would have never made it to Harvard, even if I have studied 24/7. I was simply not Harvard material.

I had tried to do to the same thing in Spirituality. I was trying to be a Harvard Spiritual and was trying to convince myself that the path I am following will grant me admission, and whenever it was knocked down, based on writings of Bhagavan itself, I felt Harvard slipping away, and I was trying to hold on to it.

The Satori is the revelation that I am a B/B+ student in spirituality also. I am not a “discard the discarder” material. Wow, that realization set the mind so free and peaceful.

I am simply an ashrama kitchen worker. I try to cook some simple food for Bhagavan. I get really confused when I go and sit in his hall where deep philosophies of eka jiva and world and Ishvara are illusion are being discussed. Even in cooking food, in this lifetime, I will never have the love and affection that Mudaliar patti had for him. But here I go again. She was another A kid. Satori effect disappeared already!

Now of course with the new freedom, another burden has come into play. Since I am a lifelong B student, I have a deep attachment to at least get a B and not fail the course. Hopefully Bhagavan will send another Sanjay to help me have another satori that will free me from the compulsive attachment of passing the course :-) Thank you again Sanjay.

Roger Isaacs said...

Sanjay Lohia says:
>> our ego cannot be annihilated by the mere practice of disinterested karma [yoga].
>> Bhagavan has emphatically stated that karma [yoga] cannot give liberation, and will push us into more and more action.

Adi Da, one of the great realized masters of the 20th century was a Karma Yogin. This is so extremely ironic that Adi Da gave his highest most profound thanks to Sri Ramana when Adi Da discovered Ramana's quote which confirmed Adi Da's experience of Amrita Nadi. And now... it is stated that Karma Yoga is ineffective by Sanjay! Adi Da: http://www.adidam.org/teaching/gnosticon/full-realization-amrita-nadi (partial quote below)

So Sanjay, if you say karma yoga is not for you, that seems entirely reasonable, I support your conclusion, I support your inner guide.

But you cross a line when you proclaim that Karma Yoga cannot give liberation for anyone. Do you see that you are imposing your opinion on others?

Please accept that although a doctrine / dogma might be perfect for you, but that others think differently and will be offended when you impose your doctrine on them.

Please accept that although Sri Ramana's words may have been perfect at the time he spoke and for that audience, and for you now. But... although a master will be perfect within, he can only express his teachings using an imperfect mind/body using language which has severe limits.

Therefore, it is our personal responsibility to act in a fashion which does not cause himsa (violence) to the environment by proclaiming that our way is the only way.

Sūtrakrtānga, "Those who praise their own doctrines and ideology and disparage the doctrine of others distort the truth and will be confined to the cycle of birth and death." (I know that this is a repost but it wasn't heard)

A quote from Adi Da, a karma yogin:
I am not merely on one "tribal" side or another.
I Transcend all — and I Include all.

Adi Da a Karma Yogin gives thanks to Sri Ramana:
The Heart Itself had been my only teacher, and It continually broke through in various revelations — until, at last, I returned to It, became It, and, finally, re-Emerged As the "Bright".
Thus, I came to this Realization of Reality directly, without the "knowledge" of a single human Source that would confirm it or even parallel it.
But, as I came to this clear and crucial Self-Recognition of my own Divine Truth, I began to recollect (and to further examine and appreciate) a human Source that agreed (by word and by likeness) with something of the substance (and even many of the details) of my own "experience" and Realization.That individual was known as Ramana Maharshi, the spontaneously Awakened Jnani who discarded the body at Tiruvannamalai, South India, in 1950.

Roger Isaacs said...

Michael James says:
>> In Matthew 5.17 it is recorded that Christ said about the old religious and spiritual texts of his time, ‘I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil’. Likewise Bhagavan did not come to destroy nēti nēti but to fulfil it by teaching us that ātma-vicāra is the correct way to apply it in practice.

This is an offensive post twisting wise teachings of Jesus to support a narrow minded egotistical view that pits one school "atma-vicara" in warfare against Jnana Yoga.

If we don't fix this now, when we reincarnate in 2000 years we will find the universe at war with "atma-vicara" against Jnana Yoga. Phaser weapons, photon torpedoes and anti-matter devices will have destroyed half the galaxy... all due to earlier egotism.

You laugh?

I am totally serious: instead of looking forward in time, we can look from now backwards: we are now threatened with nuclear mass annihilation due to to egotism 2000 years ago between schools: Muslim, Hindu and Christian.

Can't we get it right this time?

There should be a law which prevents religious teachers from teaching unless their dogma passes an ahimsa test, that is: "my way is the only way" would be an immediate disqualification.

And for clarification:
I am not attacking Sri Ramana, it is entirely possible to spread his wonderful most high teaching without going to war with different schools. So far, in the last few days, we've heard karma yoga, jnana yoga, raja yoga (and others?) denounced. Atma-vicara (as taught here) had better watch it because it is offending multiple schools: Jnana, Raja, Karma... We will band together and form an alliance!

"God has no religion" Gandhi

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

Anyone humble enough to admit to himself and others that he is a "B/B+ student in spirituality" is, in my opinion, already a "A/A+ student in spirituality" on the sheer strength of his humility. So, take heart my friend, you may be far more advanced in spirituality than you suspect.

Sanjay Lohia said...

'Hopefully Bhagavan will send another Sanjay to help me have another satori that will free me from the compulsive attachment of passing the course', writes Sivanarul. In my humble opinion, no 'Sanjay' or even 'Michael' is needed to help anyone experience satori or atma-jnana. What is needed is our overwhelming love to surrender ourself into the very core of our being.

Sivanarul claims that he is a B/B+ student in spirituality. In fact, until and unless we experience ourself as we really are we are more like unskilled apprentices trying to understand and practice Bhagavan's path of self-investigation, and we will pass our exam only when we permanently merge in him.

I also thank Sivanarul for actively participating on this blog. Sometimes our opinions may differ; our paths may differ; however, our goal cannot differ - I am absolutely sure about this. It really does not matter what name we give to our goal or final destination.

control tower said...

Hey you chicks, wake up
and stop become childish.

snake-rope-seer said...

Roger Isaacs,
do not try to give the impression that you have the good overall view.
Rather you would make yourself more useful to investigate to whom all your long-winded and superficial thoughts arise.
Kind regards

peace-loving peanut-breeder said...

Michael,
many thanks for your reply which spares no pains going even into my needless questions.

sentient experiencer said...

Michael,
I am very grateful for your full and competent explanation.
Becoming aware of ourself as we really are is the required unavoidable and inescapable remedy for all our ego-projected problems.

thought thinker said...

Michael,
section 10. Ulladu Narpadu verse 25 : this ego will cease to exist only if we attend to it alone

could it not be the case that just by the process of attending to the ego alone the ego would feel itself highly honoured and welcomed with open arms to stay for ever and ever ?

Michael James said...

Thought Thinker, feeling oneself to be ‘highly honoured and welcomed with open arms to stay for ever and ever’ is a thought (a mental phenomenon), so as long as the ego is feeling thus it is not attending to itself but to something other than itself. If it attends to itself alone, it will thereby give no room to the rising of any such feeling.

Moreover, this ego does not actually exist, but merely seems to exist, like an illusory snake. Therefore attending keenly to this ego is like looking carefully at the snake. If we look at the snake carefully enough, it will disappear, because we will see that what seemed to be a snake is actually only a rope. Likewise, if we attend to our ego keenly enough, it will disappear, because we will see that what seemed to be an ego is actually only pure and infinite self-awareness, in whose clear view no ego or any phenomena have ever existed or even seemed to exist.

This is why Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), which means ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it [this ego] will take flight’.

Therefore the last thing the ego wants is to attend to itself. It feels secure and welcomed so long as it attends to anything else, but it begins to dissolve as soon as it tries to look back at itself.

thought thinker said...

Thank you, Michael, for pointing out the real meaning of self-attention - trying to attend only to ourself.
Somewhat it is paradoxical/strange that the ego likes or is well-disposed towards the appreciation as nourishing attention by other egos but not at all the attention to and by itself. As you write in section 9." Generally during waking and dream this ego attends only to other thoughts, and because it takes its own existence for granted, it does not usually attempt to attend to itself."
Therefore we have to force ourself to do what is good for us. We seem not to know what's in store for us yet. But obviously you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it (him) drink.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



... we are aware of thoughts, mental images, chatter, sensations,

heat, cold, etc... all the time... TO WHOM do they occur??? There MUST

BE a subtle "something" who perceives/knows/sees all this. Who is he?!

Who is this "I", this subject TO WHOM all other things occur? This is

what Bhagavan asked us to investigate!!!

This he called I, I-thought, core of being, I am, awareness, source of

thoughts, Self, our true nature, mind, ego, root of thoughts, the

source from were the mind rises, ourself, we, oneself etc..

This I is present in dreams, in waking and in sleep. We must keep hold

of it, investigate it, try to attend to it, try to grasp it, see what

it is, ... this subject we cannot really grasp...

And HERE is the true golden key given by Bhagavan! All the other

things, ALL OF THEM!!!, no matter of what nature, how subtle or gross,

are objects, but we are trying to see/attend/investigate the SUBJECT!

And because we cannot really grasp this "I" when we try to do so we

are subsiding in to our source and the other thoughts will die down.

THIS IS THE WHOLE SECRET! IF WE DON'T UNDESTAND THIS (AND WE CAN ONLY

UNDERSTAND BY PRACTICE!!) WE WILL NEVER UNDESTAND THE METAPHISICAL

PART!

Because the metaphisical part is that once this "I", this subject has

risen everything else rises with it and "gets projected" so to speak,

like in a dreams. So the metaphisical part is that what we call waking

is just another dream, no different than our night dreams. We are

constantly moving from a longer dream to smaller dreams and we can

break the cycle only by removing what causes it, the rising of this

ego, of this "I", by investigating it, by gently turning to it as

often as we can.

This metaphisical part is given for us as a help, because is not quite

the truth, or at least cannot be proven 100%. The truth is that

NOTHING REALLY EXISTS EVEN NOW, but Pure Being, or Conscioussness,

that's why the whole teaching is called NONDUALITY but these are only

terms and this actual truth is not very helpful for us now, that's why

we have to make use of the dream philosophy.

If we had really tried to see what this "I" is, we would have seen for

ourselves the truth in what we are thought by Bhagavan and we would

stop expanding or mental ideas so much. Instead we would ask questions

to solve some doubts or clarify some issues our mind struggles with.

How can we ever have a logical, clear, coherent attitude if we don't

even undestand (or at least try) EXACTLY what we are taught by

Bhagavan.

And if Michael has a style who may be seen in a certain way, this is

because we have not really tried on our own to do the practice keenly

and then see for ourselves the truth in what Bhagavan teaches.

Everyone will express the teaching using his own mind's way of

expressing ideas, but once we undestand the basis of this philosophy

and the correcteness of it once we REALLY PRACTICE we will not be

anymore sidetracked by anyone, be it Michael, Nisargadatta, Adi Dam,

Krisnamurti, Osho, Eckhart Tolle and so on...

It's ironic, and that's why this teaching has such a perfect logic,

but once you undestand the practice correctly, it does not really

matter who will tell you otherwise. You understand the correctness of

it and wish to follow it to the end...

Try to practice, you can even skip all the theory and start directly

if you want... thoughts are rising.... let them be... to whom do they

occur??? Gently turn you attention towards that...

This is ALL we are required to do. After we get aquainted with the

process we will directly attend/turn to that...

Peace,
Dragos



(note: Bhagavan used the word thoughts to denote EVERYTHING other than

"I", so for example, fear is a thought, a tree is a thought etc... but

I used our common usage of the term in the first paragraph.)

problem solver said...

Thought thinker,
that is the big question wheither and how we can actually turn our attention back towards our ourself.
Nevertheless we have to try it even though against the ego's resistance movement, because there is not really an other reasonable choice. Therefore we have to teach the ego to commit suicide or at least to attempt it.

problem solver said...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu,
you give the impression of being experienced in the "truth of Pure Being" and knowing what you are talking about.
Your recommendation "Gently turn you(r) attention towards that..." sounds inviting and seems to be a very easy way. Did you (n)ever get taken by surprise by overpowering desires ?

problem solver said...

Michael,
how can the ego as a formless phantom attend only to itself - as a formless phantom ?
Does not this ego run the risk of getting lost or losing its way in the jungle of formless phantoms before grabing the opportunity of attending only to itself (self-attention) ? How does the ego know that it is up against or dealing with itself ?

venkat said...

A few of points of clarification.

1. Atma vichara is not different from jnana yoga. They are one and the same. Hence why Bhagavan is referred to as a jnani, and why he quoted extensively from advaita and Shankara.

2. Neti neti is wholly complementary to atma vichara. It may arise at any earlier stage, but is part of the understanding and conviction process. Bhagavan said somewhere that first understand intellectually, convince yourself of it truth and then put the understanding into practice.

3. As to the point about not being 'distracted' by other teachers like Nisargadatta and Krishnamurti, suggests a lack of intellectual curiosity and real enquiry into what is true or not. It also is mistakenly focusing on the finger that is pointing rather than the direction in which it is pointing.

4. "The truth is that NOTHING REALLY EXISTS EVEN NOW, but Pure Being, or Conscioussness, that's why the whole teaching is called NONDUALITY but these are only terms and this actual truth is not very helpful for us now"

Pray tell, how do YOU know that nothing really exists is true?? You might believe it with high conviction, but I suggest you probably don't know it. If you know it with evidence, please expand.

5.Bhagavan never pursued evangelism. The tone of these conversations seems to be trending towards fanaticism rather than enquiry . . . which is a sure sign of insecurity.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

problem solver,

you are making a basic confusion. The ego is the subject to whom all other thoughts arise, or who sees other thoughts, the jungle of formless phantoms to use your words.

The ego, atma, I, I-tought, source of thoughts, mind, primal thought I, source of mind, ALL refer to the same thing.

There are objects (thoughts) and the subject (I, ego).

When you turn towards the I, the seer, the subject, you cannot be overpowered by desired, because that's the point, they start to subside, and you begin to return to your source.

You can certainly experience this I by degrees if you keenly turn to its direction. Why you can't experience the destruction of ego with all its sprouting creations if you do that? Because you don't really want. That's why we keep feeding them. You have to really try it to see that this is the truth, not just accept it.

It goes without saying that you cannot expect to find something objective in the jungle of formless phantoms, because as said before, that's the whole point, to ignore ANY kind of formless phantoms and turn towards what sees those formless phantoms, the ego, or the I or ...etc...

In fact, I truly believe (an this is my personal, let's say criticism with this blog), that undestanding this simple principle (subject-object -> attending/turning to the subject) has been confused through so many words and angles from which to explain it.

It's not to blame anyway, this confusion has always been, it doesn't seem easy to explain although it is easy [here are thoughts(all kind of phenomena) are there is something which perceives them. Keenly turn towards that (the subject) and the very act will make thoughts subside )

The type of quarelling there is in the posts above was also present in Bhagavan's hall if we read the stories...

And we are all experienced in the "truth of Pure Being" because we experience it all the time but we fail to turn towards it, that to whom all other things appear...

If the impression is given that I'm an expert, I am not. In fact I am an expert at the "truth of Pure Being" but only at night in dreamless sleep ;)

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



Personally I am not bothered by the tone in these discussions. It's only natural that everyone should have an opinion, and we are all here to clarify certain points regarding the practice. If someone gets criticizes and gets offended, that's not the best attitude to take...

By reading the comments, you may get different impression about people that write, but personally I'm trying to clarify certain things for my practice and I welcome all criticism...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

(Note: I have posted this post once and now it dissapeared. I am posting it again)

problem solver,

you are making a basic confusion. The ego is the subject to whom all other thoughts arise, or who sees other thoughts, the jungle of formless phantoms to use your words.

The ego, atma, I, I-tought, source of thoughts, mind, primal thought I, source of mind, ALL refer to the same thing.

There are objects (thoughts) and the subject (I, ego).

When you turn towards the I, the seer, the subject, you cannot be overpowered by desired, because that's the point, they start to subside, and you begin to return to your source.

You can certainly experience this I by degrees if you keenly turn to its direction. Why you can't experience the destruction of ego if you do that? Because you don't really want. That's why we keep feeding them. You have to really try it to see that this is the truth, not just accept it.

It goes without saying that you cannot expect to find something objective in the jungle of formless phantoms, because as said before, that's the whole point, to ignore ANY kind of formless phantoms and turn towards what sees those formless phantoms, the ego, or the I or ...etc...

In fact, I truly believe (an this is my personal, let's say criticism with this blog), that undestanding this simple principle (subject-object -> attending/turning to the subject) has been confused through so many words and angles from which to explain it.

It's not to blame anyway, this confusion has always been, it doesn't seem easy to explain although it is easy [here are thoughts(all kind of phenomena) are there is something which perceives them. Keenly turn towards that (the subject) and the very act will make thoughts subside )

The type of quarelling there is in the posts above was also present in Bhagavan's hall if we read the stories...

(PS: I posted others things a few days ago an have not appeared. I don't know why..)

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

venkat,

if we keenly try to attend to the I, the subject, to a certain degree we will see for ourselves the truth in the statement that all this does not exist even now...

PS: By my writing style or the caps I don't intend to give the impression that I am trying to be pose as an expert, it's the way I generally express myself...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



problem solver,

according to Bhagavan the ego, or the I, or the I-tought, is the subject to whom all other things arise (the formless phantoms). We should ignore all other things and turn towards that... (it is not something objective)..

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


... 'a lack of intellectual curiosity' is exactly what we should cultivate on this path...

Roger Isaacs said...

venkat says:
>>As to the point about not being 'distracted' by other teachers like Nisargadatta and Krishnamurti, [this] suggests a lack of intellectual curiosity and real inquiry into what is true or not.

Dragos says:
>> 'a lack of intellectual curiosity' is exactly what we should cultivate on this path.

There is a beautiful opportunity to step into wisdom and love here. Can we do it please? Both of you are correct!

From the perspective of Jnana Yoga, the path of the intellect: intellectual curiosity is absolutely essential and emotional feeling is a distraction.

From the perspective of Bhakti Yoga which is a positive movement of feeling, intellectual curiosity (which is negative: not this, not this) is indeed a distraction.

(this could be argued from other perspectives too, I'm not sure that I am doing justice to Dragos or inquiry, but I am trying to be concise and clear)

And although we may use different spiritual styles inwardly, all of us grow outwardly in both the feeling of love and dry wisdom! Therefore, we deeply need each perspective, each other in order to be whole!

Sri Ramana's style in the literature is competitive, he repeatedly says "inquiry is the only way..." etc.

As time goes on, it seems that this competition between schools is getting worse, a lot of energy is spent on it which then obscures genuine spiritual growth.

Clearly, it is a challenge to step back from Sri Ramana's style, to see the great wisdom in his teaching, and to change the expression so that competitiveness is replaced by appreciation for diversity.

Can we do it please?

With deep feeling and dry wisdom,
Roger

Michael James said...

Venkat, Dragos and Roger, regarding the question of whether or not we should have intellectual curiosity, according to Bhagavan what we should be curious to know is only ourself, because everything other than ourself is just a series of phenomena projected by our ego, like all the phenomena that we project and experience in a dream, and so long as we take interest in any phenomena, we are thereby nourishing and sustaining our ego.

Michael James said...

Problem Solver, regarding the comment in which you refer to ‘the jungle of formless phantoms’, there is only one formless phantom, namely ourself, this ego, the subject who knows all objects. Everything other than this ego is a form, a phenomenon with certain features that distinguish it from each other form, and these forms are what our ego grasps and clings to in order to give itself a seeming existence as something separate from the infinite whole, which it what we actually are.

Every phenomenon of any kind whatsoever is a form, and as this ego we are the one who is aware of them. Therefore any phenomenon that we may be aware of is not ourself, but so long as we are aware of it, it is one of the numerous forms that we cling to for nourishing and sustaining the illusion that we are this ego.

As a formless phantom we are nothing but awareness, but not pure awareness, because we are aware of phenomena. Pure awareness is intransitive, because it is aware of nothing other than itself, whereas this ego is transitive awareness, because its nature is to be always aware of things other than itself. Therefore to be aware of ourself as the pure intransitive awareness that we actually are, we must try to attend to ourself alone by investigating who am I, the one who now seems to be aware of other things.

Regarding your first question, ‘how can the ego as a formless phantom attend only to itself — as a formless phantom?’, the ego is what we seem to be whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself, but whether we are aware of other things or not, we are always aware of ourself. Therefore since we are self-aware, it is possible for us to attend to ourself, this self-awareness, rather than attending to anything else.

Because we are attached to our awareness of other things, we are reluctant to give up our hold on them, so when we try to attend to ourself alone we simultaneously resist our own effort to do so. Therefore in order to develop the love to attend to ourself alone we must persevere in trying to do so as much as possible, because by persistent practice we will gradually weaken our attachment to being aware of other things.

Regarding your second question, ‘Does not this ego run the risk of getting lost or losing its way in the jungle of formless phantoms?’, the jungle you refer to is a jungle of forms, not of formless phantoms, and the ego is already lost in this jungle, and has been since the beginning of time. In order to get out of this jungle called ‘mind’, we must try to attend only to ourself and thereby give up our hold on the forms that constitute this jungle.

Regarding your third question, ‘How does the ego know that it is up against or dealing with itself ?’, in order to attend to ourself alone we need to distinguish ourself from all the forms that currently seem to be ourself, but we can distinguish ourself from them only by trying to attend to ourself alone. That is, by trying to attend only to our fundamental self-awareness, which is what we really are, we will gradually gain the ability to distinguish ourself clearly from all other things, and the more clearly we can thus distinguish ourself the more keenly we will be able to focus our entire attention on ourself alone.

In other words, just as the only way to learn how to ride a bicycle is to persistently try to do so, the only way to learn how to investigate ourself is to persistently try to do so.

problem solver said...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu,
thanks for your reply.
You say "when you turn towards the I, the seer, the subject, you cannot be overpowered by desires, because...".
The problem is in such moments of being attacked by overpowering desires I cannot at all get round to turn towards the 'I'. Because I then in such great distress am not firmly convinced that I am not this body but only pure self-awareness, I have to wait till the next day to try again to attend to/be aware of myself alone. Therefore sometimes desires cause me dire straits.
Asked by the way : According to your Romanian name do you possibly live in Bucharest ?

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

(PS: My posts don't appear when I post them, some appear after some don't. This is posted a second time. I kindly ask Michael to delete the same ones..)

Hi Roger,

To me it all boils down to what you really want. What I really want is what Bhagavan has experienced. He had a certain experience and based on that experience he told us that we can have it too if we follow his instruction.

He told us that in our current situation we experience a body and all kind of thoughts (phenomena) but we are not that. He also said that our attention is constantly preocupied with them. He pointed to us a fundamental fact: the fact that we are observing something, means that there is an observer, an "I". The fact that if there are objects, there must be a subject to whom they occur. He told us that if we can concentrate on/try to see it/turn out attention to/keenly observe this "I"/grasp it, this subject to whom all else occurs, all other thoughts will die down and we will merge forever in our source. This can be called Self Realization or Enlightenment (just a term).

Now, I am in a position where I want to experience this. But if I really want to experience this, inevitably I have to extract certain logical compatibilites with this, so-to-speak.

So based on the practice He has given us it is obvious to me that:

1. We should never try to watch thoughts as practice, hoping to get the same result. Because that's what we're actually doing all the time, we are watching this "I"'s creations.

2. I should restrict my reading to very little. If possible completely avoid it.

3. I should not study other teachers, because either they teach only this, in such case why read, or o mixture or something else, in case I avoid.

So it all comes to WHAT WE REALLY WANT TO ACHIEVE!

If we speak of other types of "realizations", experiences, practices, inner bodies... it's ok... I doubt anyone came to Bhagavan knowing fully knowing the implication of Vichara.. he never obliged anyone to a certain practice.

...will continue -->

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

<--- ...continued

Noboy says that devotion is not good. In fact we all start like this. We try this, we try that, we get some peace, some experiences... If this "I" can project our waking state (which is a dream according to Bhagavan) then by using this "I" in our waking state with certain practices it will no doubt produce some type of experience...

... of course we can watch our thoughts if we want, that may bring peace to a certain degree (but I don't think this is a certain result), try visualizations, mantras, inner bodies, energies, Buddhist meditations... if we do it keenly we will get some result or another... It's not uncommon for people to experience out of the ordinary states, blisses, kundalinis, visions, beings etc..

But Bhagavan says that these are only creations of the mind. And what is called mind is this primal thought "I". So, according to Bhagavan anything that occurs TO this "I" is a distraction to the path He showed us, by which we can gain His experience.

We have a choice. We either try to attend to/keenly observe/see "I" and leave the rest, or choose something else.
I want Bhagavan's experience, so I'm trying my best to go this path.

If this "I" can project entire illusory worlds, like ours, or like in a dream, it follows logically that it can also project, say, a heaven, or any other realm we read about in Vedic Scriptures. There are many particulars on what to do to obtain those regions. Bhagavan Himself when asked about these said they are real as this world (or as unreal according to His teaching).

So it boils down to what we really want. I don't want any other experience than His. I don't want a heaven, a region, blisses,risings of Kundalinis, kevala nivikalpa samadhi, yogic experiences of any kind, experiences of different Nadis, mystical states, a better after death state... etc. Bhagavan said we can merge with directly with the Source of all these things if we turn to what sees them / the seer/ I/ego.

I comment here and I keep repeating certain things because I want to clarify certain things for myself and I welcome all feedback..

I view these discussions as helpful (now matter in what sense) not a waste of time...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


problem solver,

in a sense you are right because for most of us when turbulent emotions are triggered or any kind of mental turmoil occurs it seems next to impossible to turn to what observes them, the "I", the ego. It SEEMS because now matter what turbulence we experience we can always turn to the seer of them, the subject, the "I" and end this dream instantly. We usually wait for the mind to calm, or we read, take a walk etc... In practice it is enormously rewarding to try to see who sees the mental anquish when we experience. It's very certain we will "fall into it" so-to-speak, but now matter the anquish, the "I" is still there as ourself.

Bhagavan didn't encorage us to try to solve our psychological problems, fears , anxieties the traditional way say, going to shrik for example (of course we are free to go :) ) but to keenly see to whom they occur that very instant. He enquivocally stated that by dodgedly trying these ALL these problems will be erased and we will wake up from this dream...

...Yes, I live in Bucharest...

Sivanarul said...

Roger,

“Sri Ramana's style in the literature is competitive, he repeatedly says "inquiry is the only way..." etc.
As time goes on, it seems that this competition between schools is getting worse, a lot of energy is spent on it which then obscures genuine spiritual growth.”

Technically, Bhagavan’s literature says “inquiry is the only FINAL way”. There is huge difference between only way and the only FINAL way. The “only way” means, it has to be the way from beginning to end. “FINAL way” means you travel via various paths, but the final step you take has to be inquiry. If expressed in time, it can be just 1 minute of Vichara, as it was for Bhagavan. In the previous lives/dreams, no one knows what kind and how long of sadhana Bhagavan did.

The quote from David Godman that R Viswanathan wrote is very accurate.

“He didn't have a strong missionary zeal for self-enquiry, but he did say that sooner or later everyone has to come to self-enquiry because this is the only effective way of eliminating the individual 'I'. He knew that most people who approached him preferred to repeat the name of God or worship a particular form of him. So, he let them carry on with whatever practice they felt an affinity with.”

So he did NOT encourage competition at all among schools. Writings in this blog and comments by some over enthusiastic devotees have what created the feeling of competition. You are quite right. A lot of energy is spent on it which then obscures genuine spiritual growth.

I have read Bhagavan’s literature from various sources for at least 5 years before reading this blog. I have never felt the sense of any competition in any of those. It is indeed sad, that this is the only place that seems to promote competition.

The reality that manifested as Bhagavan (if we take it as such) also manifested as Swami Vivekananda and here is what he has to say:

http://www.vivekananda.net/BooksBySwami/BhaktiYoga/1Definition.html

“There is not really so much difference between knowledge (Jnana) and love (Bhakti) as people sometimes imagine. We shall see, as we go on, that in the end they converge and meet at the same point. So also is it with Râja-Yoga, which when pursued as a means to attain liberation, and not (as unfortunately it frequently becomes in the hands of charlatans and mystery-mongers) as an instrument to hoodwink the unwary, leads us also to the same goal.”

By the way, your comments have been spot on. I plan to look at the Barry long sensation link you sent within a week. I occasionally do body scan meditation that has been very relaxing. It seems to be related to that.

Roger Isaacs said...

Dear Dragos,
I find your passion about this quest to be inspiring and it resonates with me.

I have heard it said that on the spiritual quest that an increasing knowledge of inner stillness is a good sign. Do you experience this in some way?

You say:
>> We have a choice. We either try to attend to/keenly observe/see "I" and leave the rest, or choose something else.

There is something that I have been intently focused on.
This is described by Krishnamurti, Osho and Gurdjieff at least and probably more in many different ways.
Let's call it "double arrowed awareness".
Normally, we have one arrow of attention directed outward to the world.
What we going to do is to also have attention inwardly (in some way) at the same time: now there is one arrow going outward and another arrow going inwards.
With great focus and settled awareness.. the inward arrow of attention reveals "I" or "I AM" or "Being"? If we can find this, then we repeatedly return to it.
Note that this inward arrow of attention when strong stops the mind, or leaves it secondary.

So the "choice" that you mentions is: staying with the usual single arrow of attention outwardly. OR also being aware of "I" inwardly at the same time.

Since I practice Barry Long's "inner sensation of the body" meditation (probably not for everyone), it is very clear: I just remain with some attention on the inner sensation of the body while at the same being in the world. Can I feel this even during strong physical activity? Can I stay with it all the time? From last consciousness before sleeping, and starting first thing on waking.... AND perhaps while sleeping too.

Gee, that would be great if there is some precedent in your school for this. Michael, can we find some common ground? Hurry: I am holding my breath.

Roger Isaacs said...

Dear Sivanarul,
You say:
>> Technically, Bhagavan’s literature says “inquiry is the only FINAL way”. There is huge difference between only way and the only FINAL way.

I have a passionate innate inward curiosity. (for those who say I talk too much I will try to keep the passion inward. Ha!)
Now... for me this appears to qualify as "Who am I?" or at least I can imagine that we are very close to describing the same thing.

But... I have never read Bhagavan. And I have never uttered inwardly "who am I?" I have never even considered it.
And... since this seems to be INNATE inward curiosity as part of different spiritual practices... it can not be trademarked by any single school. Certainly it makes no sense to put it on a sign and then beat someone over the head with it.

Furthermore, I can imagine that some practice of "who am I?" is an extremely subtle activity: perhaps just a process of silent looking. That is how we answer questions such as "who" or "what": we look silently very intently to see what is there?

I can see the "competition" in Bhagavan's teaching in a form of astrology invented by my teacher: Sri Ramana's career is such that he is very strong and he wins the competition with other schools, but... this does not have the best effect since the other schools are defeated and students might concentrate on the outward competition instead of inward development. Maybe this wasn't a problem when Sri Ramana was there and his radiance blessed all. But... over time... it can seep in. I'm actually really passionate about this because I want to investigate Sri Ramana's teaching, I want to get to the core.... and I don't want to be distracted by competition!

Sivanarul says quoting Vivekananda:

>> “There is not really so much difference between knowledge (Jnana) and love (Bhakti) as people sometimes imagine.

I like the analogy of a wagon wheel with several spokes going from the center to the hub. The spokes come from opposites sides and they are far apart at first. But.. when close to the hub, the center, they are all closing in on the same destination and there is little difference. The spokes are different schools (Jnana, Bhakti, Karma...) and if the various spokes go to war and break each other the wheel is not moving.

My teacher (Edward Tarabilda) described the different paths of Yoga as the legs on a table: you pull the table using the strongest leg (which is different for different people) , but... the other legs come along too! So if you are a Bhakti... yes you use the heart, but the wisdom of the intellect is coming too. If you use the intellect of Jnana yoga, the heart is behind a bit, but it is coming too.

Roger Isaacs said...

Oh, this is great, I can respond to my own posts and talk to myself!
>> Furthermore, I can imagine that some practice of "who am I?" is an extremely subtle activity: perhaps just a process of silent looking. That is how we answer questions such as "who" or "what": we look silently very intently to see what is there?

one more thought: If "who am I?" can be an extremely subtle activity, a silent process of looking very intently to see what is there... how can any school trademark the process of "looking" ?

venkat said...

Roger, just to correct something, Sri Ramana never competed with or diminished other schools. Indeed he encouraged people to stay in their own religion, whether that be Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. He pointed out the truth in each. For example, he was fond of quoting the Bible's "I am That I am" as the highest truth.

He did not say that he invented who am I - he just put more of a focus on it. Atma vichara,(self-enquiry) has always been a key part of advaita vedanta - it is mentioned in various ways in Yoga Vasishtha, Bhagavad Gita, Vivekachudamani and others.

Finally, being aware of body sensations is not a teaching of jnana yoga and advaita; it may be in mindfulness practices of Buddhism and perhaps in hatha yoga (I don't know); but that has nothing to do with jnana. It may be helpful as a tool to make the mind realise that just like external objects, internal feelings / thoughts have the same quality as external objects; and all of this arises and sets in awareness. And therefore they are not 'you' - net neti. But in jnana, that is not the final step.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



... we can view it from another angle...

Let's use the term Pure Awareness or Awareness for what we usually call Self.
If we imagine Awareness (what we really are, our true nature) as something all-pervading then it follows that this Awareness is pervading the body also. So we should look within ourself to isolate it to abide in it/be in it. So we should ignore the body, thoughts, the world and simply try to ABIDE IN AWARENESS. It is the same pratice view from another angle.
That "part" in the body that is part of the all-pervasive awareness is the "I" or "I-thought" Bhagavan talks about. Or the "I am", for that matter.

The same teaching viewed (conceptualized!) from another angle. So we come to the same conclusion. It's THE PRACTICE that make the difference. Using the terms above, to igonore the body, thought, world and abide in that "part" of Awareness that pervades the body (if I may use this description).

So if we really "abide in Awareness" we would not be aware of our body, other bodies, any kind of phenomena, just as Bhagavan taught us.

So we can work with this conceptual frame also...


Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



In Garland of Guru's Sayings by Sri Muruganar we read:

#432
"
Is it not because you are yourself Awareness, that you now perceive This universe?
If you observe awareness steadily, this awareness itself as Guru will reveal the Truth.
"

So, when he says "if you observe awareness steadily" to use the conceptualization form the previous comment, would mean to try to abide in that "part" of awarness that permeates the body and is "part" of the all pervasive Awareness actually. (being the same of course)

We can conceptualize it from so many angles, and since we have different mentalities each description works best for certain minds.

...well... sometimes so many words do more harm then good...I was very confused by Bhagavan's terms and I don't claim I understand everything correctly, but one thing I understood without any doubt: we should never imagine we can get the result we are seeking by clinging to something / being aware of something (like in the practice of watching thoughts). We are that to whom all other things occur or in which other things occur... If we abide in it we would not observe anything external, no body, world, phenomena of any kind.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

roger,

regarding the "increasing knowledge of inner stillness is a good sign" Bhagavan said we will experience inner stillness when we abide in Awareness (to continue with the above terminology). In Bhagavan's terminology, the term "thought" denotes anything other than Awareness, so a tree is a thought, anger is a thought etc... So, when thoughts are stilled we are experiencing our true nature, and we can still our thoughts only when we attend to that to which they occur, the "I" or "I-thought" as He called it. Or (to continue with the previous conceptualization) when we abide in that "part" of Awareness...

Michael James said...

Roger, contrary to what you repeatedly claim (such as in this comment and this one), Bhagavan was not at all competitive, because in his view what actually exists and what we actually are is only pure awareness, and in the view of pure awareness nothing else exists or even seems to exist, so there are other things or people with whom he could have competed.

However, because in our self-ignorant view multiplicity and diversity seem to exist, for our sake he taught us that the only means by which we can be aware of ourself as we actually are is to investigate ourself by focusing our entire attention on ourself alone, but he explained in clear and logical terms for what this is the only means and why it is the only means for it. He did not try to compel anyone to accept this teaching of his, but offered it only to those who asked appropriate questions or came to him seeking the means to free themself from the bondage called ego.

There are many different goals that people seek, so there are many different paths that they each follow in order to attain their respective goals, and hence when Bhagavan taught us that self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) is the only means by which we can surrender our ego entirely and thereby experience ourself as we actually are, he did not imply that other paths are not suitable means to achieve other goals. When people had other goals, he did not interfere but let them each follow their chosen paths to their chosen goals.

As Dragos wrote, it all depends on what we want. If we want to experience anything other than ourself, there are numerous means to do so, but if we want to experience ourself alone, turning our mind back within to attend to attend to ourself alone is the only direct means.

However, if we want to experience anything other than ourself, the price we must pay is the retention of our ego, because what experiences other things is only ourself as this ego, so without it we could not experience anything else (as we know from our own experience in sleep). On the other hand, if we want to experience ourself as we actually are, the price we must pay is the complete eradication of our ego, because we obviously cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as we are aware of ourself as this ego, and when our ego is eradicated there will be no one left to experience anything other than ourself alone, because ourself minus ego is just pure intransitive self-awareness, which is never aware of anything but ourself.

Therefore in order to decide what spiritual path is suitable for us to follow, we must first decide what we want to achieve. If we want to experience anything other than pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna), we must choose whatever means will enable us to achieve it, whereas if we want to experience pure self-awareness, we must choose to try to attend to ourself alone, because so long as we attend to anything other than ourself we cannot experience pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are.

If we choose to follow this path of self-investigation, which entails only being keenly self-attentive, we are not competing with anyone or waging any religious war, but are just trying to dissolve our illusory awareness of ourself as this ego, in whose view alone anything other ourself seems to exist.

However, because most of us do not yet have sufficient love to devote all our attention to ourself alone, we rise as this ego and consequently experience all this multiplicity, so in order to encourage ourself to persevere in trying to be self-attentive we discuss Bhagavan’s teachings with a few like-minded friends, as we are doing on this blog. Therefore whatever is written here is not intended to offend anyone or to discourage anyone who has chosen to follow any other path, but is only intended to keep our own mind focused on trying to follow the simple path that he has taught us.

problem solver said...

Michael,
many thanks for your illuminating response.
Obviously I am slow on the uptake because I did still not comprehend the concept of only one (formless) ego but many forms/ phenomena/persons.
Yes there is the good message: "…we are always aware of ourself. Therefore since we are self-aware, it is possible for us to attend to ourself, this self-awareness,…". You are pointing hereby to the PURE awareness not to the usual self-awareness (of other things).
Unfortunately my attachment to being aware of other things is still living/lively.
I hope to slide in one go in attending only to myself (our fundamental self-awareness) and thereby give up my hold on the forms that constitute this jungle of forms called 'mind' . When you say that the only way to learn how to investigate ourself is to persistently try to do so, I have first yet to discover how to focus my entire attention on myself/ourself alone. This will go only gradually.
But I remember I rode the bike/bicycle of an adult not until four or five years of age while I saw my grandnephew ride the bike already with three years of age(however, his father as a good mountain-biker helped him daily to learn ride his special child’s bicycle).
I remember too having read the word of Bhagavan: „Yes, there is hope !“

Noob said...

Great summing up, Michael.

control tower said...

Michael,
I think in the first paragraph of your recent reply to Roger obviously you wanted to write "...
seems to exist, so there are no other things or people..." instead of "...so there are other things or people...".

Anonymous said...

Dragos sounds somewhat similar to Michael Langford.

sentient experiencer said...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu,
what you write in the last paragraph of your today comment at 10:41 "...but one thing I underrstood without any doubt: we should never imagine we can get the result we are seeking by clinging to something...We are that to whom all other things occur ...If we abide in it we would not observe anything external...", you seem to confuse the ego with pure awareness.

Michael James said...

Yes, Control Tower, in the first paragraph of my previous comment what I meant to write was ‘[...] because in his view what actually exists and what we actually are is only pure awareness, and in the view of pure awareness nothing else exists or even seems to exist, so there are no other things or people with whom he could have competed’, but inadvertently I omitted ‘no’ from the final clause.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


Great conclusion Michael! :)

The ego, the subject IS pure awareness when we investigate it keenly. The confusion arises because when we hear the word "ego" for the fist time we cannot but imagine it as an object inside us to whom all other things occur and we shall find it (as an object) and keep hold of it and other thoughts will die down.

The ego is the subject, so it can never be grasped. If we try to grasp (turn form every thought towards it) we will see it is pure awareness and other thoughts will subiside and we will experience our true nature. That is the direct path and the key to it all.

All can be clear only with perseverent practice. Words can cause a lot of confusion...

Once again, great conclusion Michael and I expect all kinds of feedback to further clarify the understanding :)

Thank you,
Dragos

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Reading so much and writing so much about it can certainly prove a hindrance if we don't practice, but if we do practice, we can use all this theorizing to our advantage to keep the mind on the subject and to further clarify the practice and all its implications.

So, to be honest, judging by this which just came to mind, my criticism of use of so many words in this blog is now well founded. It is useful to write and discuss if it helps to clarify.

Michael James said...

Dragos, our ego is actually just pure awareness in the same sense that the snake is actually just a rope, but so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself we (this pure awareness) seem to be this ego, which is a form-grabbing awareness and hence impure, just as the rope seems to be a snake when we do not look at it carefully enough.

Therefore to see that this ego is just pure awareness we must look at it extremely keenly, as you imply when you say ‘The ego, the subject IS pure awareness when we investigate it keenly’. That is, though we who now seem to be this ego are always nothing but pure awareness, we can experience ourself as such only when we keenly investigate ourself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Was Bhagavan competitive? Are we completive on this blog and try to promote only the practice of atma-vichara by running down other practices? I will share my reflections on these questions:

Michael writes in his recent comment 'He [Bhagavan] did not try to compel anyone to accept this teaching of his, but offered it only to those who asked appropriate questions or came to him seeking the means to free themself from the bondage called ego. . . . When people had other goals, he did not interfere but let them each follow their chosen paths to their chosen goals. . . . If we choose to follow this path of self-investigation, which entails only being keenly self-attentive, we are not competing with anyone or waging any religious war, but are just trying to dissolve our illusory awareness of ourself as this ego . . . in order to encourage ourself to persevere in trying to be self-attentive we discuss Bhagavan’s teachings with a few like-minded friends.

R Viswanathan quoted David Godman in one his comments, in which David is supposed to have said, 'He [Bhagavan] didn't have a strong missionary zeal for self-enquiry, but he did say that sooner or later everyone has to come to self-enquiry because this is the only effective way of eliminating the individual 'I''. Neither Bhagavan had a missionary zeal, nor do most of the participants on this blog have it. As Michael says, 'we discuss Bhagavan’s teachings with a few like-minded friends'.

David says, 'he [Bhagavan] did say that sooner or later everyone has to come to self-enquiry because this is the only effective way of eliminating the individual 'I''. By Bhagavan's grace, if some of us are drawn to this path of atma-vichara and have understood its unique efficacy, and are trying to practise it to the best of our ability; should we go back to other paths or recommend those other paths just to avoid 'the feeling of competition'? That will not be true to our inner conviction.

Currently, for some of us this atma-vichara could be the only way, and also the final way to annihilate our ego. When we state this we are not sowing the seeds of competition among various other paths, nor are we saying that everyone else reading this blog have to accept this position of ours. Everyone is free to follow their chosen path or paths.

Bhagavan had said, 'One must go by one path'. We have chosen our this one path to be atma-vichara, others are also free to choose this path or choose any of the others paths.

R Viswanathan said...

I learn that the ego is also often referred to as false 'I' or individual 'I' where as real self is referred to as real 'I' or Atma. I guess that such terminologies are used for an easier understanding, although after a lot of reading, it becomes clear that there are no two 'I' s and that there is only self. The ego or false 'I' does not have existence of its own and is considered as an illusory knot of Chit and Jada (ChitJada Granthi). If attention is moved away from external objects totally to the one which sees these, that is the ego (until realization it is the ego which sees external objects), the jada aspect of the ego will be gone and the illusory knot untied leading to pure Chit which is Atma or real 'I'.

This is my conceptual understanding in brief, and I pray that this conviction gets strengthened to give me experiential understanding by persistent practice of shifting the attention to self every time when I become aware that my attention is diverted away from the self.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Hi Sanjay Lohia,


According to Bhagavan atma-vichara IS the only but only for a certain purpose. If we want to have this experience of what we actually are, which is eternal and will free us forever from unhappiness and fear, time, space and all other dualities, this IS the only way! because the cause of unhappiness is the rising as this ego with its creations (the body and the world) so we can acomplish its extinction by turning from every other thougth towards it, keenly investigating it.

There is really no room for debate here, because it stands to simple logic.

If, on the other hand, we have other goals let's say (just for the sake of argument) to be with Siva in his abode, this would imply just another glorified "I" wich we hope to achieve sooner or later by doing certain practices, pujas, meditations, prayer, way of life. So in this case we don't want to surrender the ego, we just want to dream better according to Bhagavan. But this or similar ones is as justified goal as any other! but for atma vichara the logic is impeccable and no argument can be offered against it. You simply cannot challenge it! If we practice we will see the truth of it..

Yours in Bhagavan,
Dragos

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

The question may arise... "Ok, it is clear that the ego must go, but why can't we make it dissapear by say, a special matra or some other type of "technique"?! ". The reason is that the ego does not really exist, so there is no other way than to see that it really does not exist by turning from every other thought towards it/ keenly investigate it in such way to see for ourself this truth...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

..."so there is no other way to see that it really does not exist than to turn"... sorry English is not my first language and I have this tendency not to check grammar...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

...we cannot kill an imaginary snake in a rope by any kind of method... we just have to look carefully at the rope to see that the snake doesn't really exist or never really existed in the first place, that's why atma-vichara (investigating/looking keenly at this "I" or "ego" to whom all other things occur) is the only way...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

That's why it is said that it does not take time. Just one careful look and it's all gone, the ego will dissapear, it never really existed in the first place and we will experience ourselves as pure endless awareness with no adjuncts (objects). So I would say the intensity or keeness of looking towards the "I" to whom all other thoughts occur is far more important then just a luke warm 50%, 60% intensity of "looking"...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...



... until we are able to do that we will always turn to the "I" or ego (the subject to whom all else occurs) only partially, so we will always feel that we are overpowerd by desires and its so hard... when in fact it is easy and it does not take time at all...

... so we come to the love we need to be able to experience what we really are. We need to cultivate this love (bhakti) but we can only develop it if we keep the practice...

... you are invited to comment...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Thank you Michael for the extra clarification ...

Bob - P said...

Dragos I think you do a very good job writing about all this especially as you say English is not your 1st language.

I agree with what you say. Bhagavan's teaching does make perfect sense to me.

Bhagavan is my guru I have no others and I practise self investigation to the best of my ability by itself with no other forms of practise. I do this because if I asked Bhagavan what he would recommend to me if I wanted to experience myself as I really am he would recommend self investigation. This is my understanding of course.

I have no interest reading anymore books now like in the past. Michaels blog is all I need.

But even though I am practising what Bhagavan recommends and do it with no other forms of practise it may take me time or many rebirths to succeed in experiencing myself alone. I may be and probably have an unripe or immature mind.
Kind of like a kid trying to fly a plane.
But I have decided to try and fly the plane by practising how to fly it. Others may prefer to try a hang glider first and progress to a microlight and build up to plane in time.

In comparison someone who doesn't practice self investigation but instead practises various other forms of practise may turn to vichara and experience themselves as they really are in seconds, days, week or months. Unlike me.

I fully appreciate it is not a race.

So who am I to judge anyone else's practise or beliefs, I am not saying you were by the way.

This is just my own thoughts on the matter.
I think what practise you are meant to do is predestined.
If you a not meant to practise vichara it won't come into your life.

I am just grateful Bhagavan has come into my life along with the practise of self investigation.

In appreciation
Bob

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Dragos, I agree with the contents of your recent comment addressed to me. What you have written, in a nutshell, is as follows: Once we destroy our seeming ego and consequently also wipe out the seeming existence of the world, we will be free of all our bodily and mental troubles and experience only unalloyed bliss; therefore, as Bhagavan had said 'Effort is necessary up to the state of Realisation'.

What sort of effort he was indicating when he said this: obviously it is the effort of persistent self-attentiveness.

Chinmay Shah said...

Hi Michael,

I have been reading your posts here & the books which you have written & translated for a few years now.

I just wanted to know some practical methods/techniques by which one can attend to the self. I have read the 7th & 8th chapter of Path of Ramana - part 1, & understood that self attention is indeed the only way towards being SELF. But it would be really helpful, if some simple practical methods/techniques are given wherein any one who reads all this can really pay attention to the SELF practically.

Nisargadatta Maharaj also said to catch the "I AM" feeling...how does one do it practically??...

Please reply..
Thx.

nourish and flourish said...

Michael,
section 11 penultimate sentence:
"However meditating 'No, I am not this body, I am brahman' is only a preliminary aid and should not be continued forever, because once we are firmely convinced that we are not this body but only pure self-awareness, we should just try to remain steadily as we are without rising to think or meditate anything."
Above statement implies that the mentioned meditation would provide the firm conviction referred to if continued for some time.
I have my doubts about that. I do not think that such a meditation can impart the quoted conviction at all let alone a firm one.
Can we come at all to that firm conviction about the claimed essential nature before we have been aware of it consciously just by own experience?
Our experience of pure awareness in deep sleep will not be sufficient to conceive the required conviction in waking.

chinna Vyasa said...

Sir Michael James,

I am a new reader and have just discovered your blog.
For example section 12. Ulladu Narpadu verse 29: thinking 'I am not this, I am that ' is an aid but not vicara

The phrase ‘நான் என்று எங்கு உந்தும்’ (nāṉ eṉḏṟu eṅgu undum) means ‘where one rises as I’ or ‘where it [this ego] rises as I’ and therefore refers to our actual self, which is the source from which we rose as this ego. மனத்தால் (maṉattāl) is an instrumental case form of மனம் (maṉam), which means ‘mind’, so ‘உள் ஆழ் மனத்தால்’ (uḷ āṙ maṉattāl) means ‘by an inward sinking [plunging, diving or piercing] mind’ and describes the instrument by which we must investigate ourself. That is, in order to investigate what we actually are our mind or attention must pierce and sink deep within ourself. So long as we allow it to go out even to the slightest extent towards anything other than ourself we cannot experience what we actually are, so to investigate and thereby experience ourself as we actually are we must turn our entire mind back within to penetrate deep into ourself. Investigating ourself thus, says Bhagavan, is alone ‘ஞான நெறி’ (ñāṉa neṟi), the ‘path of jñāna’ or means by which we can experience ātma-jñāna (clear knowledge or awareness of ourself as we actually are).

Please excuse my direct and only question:
Did you experience the mentioned clear knowledge or awareness of ourself as we actually are or do you merely write about the subject as an interested aspirant ?

Gargoyle said...

chinna Vyasa

You may want to read this article from Jan. 2016 as I believe it will answer all your questions and probably questions that don't come to mind.

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2016/01/why-do-i-believe-that-atma-vicara-is.html#convinced

I don't know how to make a hyperlink so copy and paste.

It's a long article with much to digest but I think you will find it very worth while reading.

best regards

Sivanarul said...

Dragos,

Excellent writing and summary of the Vichara practice. Very well done!

“The question may arise... "Ok, it is clear that the ego must go, but why can't we make it dissapear by say, a special matra or some other type of "technique"?! ". The reason is that the ego does not really exist, so there is no other way than to see that it really does not exist by turning from every other thought towards it/ keenly investigate it in such way to see for ourself this truth...”

This is not directly attributed to you, just using your writing as an example (there are plenty of such examples from Michael and a few frequent commenters).

If one reads through Dragos’s excellent summary and analysis of Vichara, there are at least a few places where the emphasis is repeatedly made “no other way”. How does one really know a special mantra will not do it? Has anyone really tried Nama Japa a trillion times? Through simple intellectual analysis and logic, can one really conclude that there is no other way? This is the competition that Roger has been writing about.

This is the tone that repeatedly comes through many of Michael’s writings. Instead of just evangelizing Vichara, the tone is to evangelize Vichara with an emphasis that nothing else will cut it through the use of Bhagavan’s writings, reasoning and logic. If we are going to use Bhagavan for this, let us first become Bhagavan and then use it.

I do not know much about the Jain tradition that Roger has wrote a few times about. Can I really say based on the Saivite tradition that I am familiar with and through logic and reasoning, that the Jain tradition will not result in complete annihilation of the ego? If I did that, how do I know? All I can say is that I believe that the Saivite tradition will result in Siva Sayuja Nilai (annihiliation of the ego).

Bob P said it best: “So who am I to judge anyone else's practice or beliefs”. The pope recently said in a different context, “Who am I to judge”?

Let us not forget that the reality that manifested as Sri Ramakrishna, actually practiced several traditions according to those traditions and has said unequivocally that it all took him to the same ending.

Again Dragos, excellent summary and nicely written.

chinna Vyasa said...

Gargoyle,
thank you for giving the link to the informative chapter 11. How I became convinced about the imperative need for atma-vicara (article of Wednesday, 6 January 2016 of Michael James).
Still more I would appreciate his own reply.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi R Viswanathan, Venkat, Michael, Sanjay Lohia
regarding competition: (I'm trying html tags, I hope it works)

First, R Viswanathan, that was a great quote you posted! Thanks! And I will use some other parts of it below:
R Viswanathan quotes Sri Ramana: "the Self can only destroy the mind when the mind no longer has any tendency to move outwards. While those outward-moving tendencies are still present, even in a latent form, the mind will always be too strong for the Self to dissolve it completely."

It was not my intention to label Sri Ramana as "competitive". There could be absolutely no inner competitive qualities in him at all. What I am trying to point out is that, although realized Master's are "one with the father" and therefore entirely stainless in their consciousness, their presence in the word is through a material body/mind which can never be entirely perfect and that language itself fails to convey essence (can you use language to convey the taste of a strawberry?) and masters have at there disposal only _concepts_ with which to draw a picture of the absolute... and concepts only point, furthermore, reality is so complex and there are so many different perspectives, no single being, even enlightened, could ever express a perfect teaching. If any master could be entirely perfect outwardly... we would only need one of them for all of history!

So I don't say that Sri Ramana was competitive, but it seems that the way he expressed himself left this possible mis-interpretation. And, I am saying that we should vigilently guard against being competetive ourselves because this is an outward movement of ego instead of an inward spiritual movement. And... spiritual competition can create violence or subtle hurt at least.

I appreciate your recent comments which seem to soften the attitude, but, only recently, Atma Vichara has been claimed to be the "only final way" and that all of these and others are subordinate: Jnana Yoga, Raja Yoga (the senses), Karma Yoga (action), probably Hatha Yoga too etc...

It is not logical to deny the claim of "competitive" while other schools are labelled subordinate!!! :-)

Examining R Viswanathan's earlier quote from Godman. The following sections indicate "competitiveness" and comparison with other schools:
"everyone has to come to self-enquiry because this is the only effective way of eliminating the individual 'I'..."
"What is the quickest and most direct way to accomplish this?' he would almost invariably reply, 'Do self-enquiry'."
"This is why Bhagavan's way works and the forcible-restraint way doesn't. "

The manner of speaking above tends to compare self-enquiry with other methods.

I suggest that there are other effective schools, and even if one firmly believes that "my way" is the best for everyone, this should not be expressed publicly or at all because it imposes on others!
"quickest and most direct" is an interesting approach... but in my opinion, this varies by individual, again, we should not impose.

Sri Ramana's teaching is so brilliant. Comparison with other schools is not required to demonstrate it and this style detracts from the message.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Venkat,
Venkat says Finally, being aware of body sensations is not a teaching of jnana yoga and advaita; it may be in mindfulness practices of Buddhism and perhaps in hatha yoga (I don't know); but that has nothing to do with jnana. It may be helpful as a tool to make the mind realise that just like external objects, internal feelings / thoughts have the same quality as external objects; and all of this arises and sets in awareness. And therefore they are not 'you' - net neti. But in jnana, that is not the final step.
I generally agree with your comments.
I was doing "show and tell" on Barry Long's sensation meditation because I use it. When I speak, I want to do so from my direct experience not speculation. And I use it in conjunction with Jnana.
Clarifications:
The sensation meditation http://www.barrylong.org/statements/meditation.shtml
is not at all about typical body sensations, it takes you into the vital energy body. I have never heard reference to this method anywhere else. It is not a "body scan".
True, it is not in the Jnana school. However, Jnana is all about finding subtler layers of reality by negating the grosser layers. In this way, the sensation meditation is interesting because:
you put your attention on the gross body and it gradually dissolves revealing the subtler vital energy body.
you put your attention on the vital energy body and it gradually dissolves reveals the subtler causal body (no-thing but with attention).

So although not in the Jnana tradition, and not in the advaita tradition, it deals with similar issues. BL says something like:
I put my attention into the body and then all thinking stopped. (this is readily apparently, if you can get the vital energy body in your awareness then thinking dramatically slows or stops)
After all thinking profoundly stopped, then Self Realization occurred. ( I believe he calls it "immortality").

Also, I like describing this because it seems to me that there might be a lot of talk here which is just thinking & speculating without experience. So I shared this because it involves no thinking at all and it is from my experience (still waiting on immortality).
"Who am I?" advocates will say that it is not sufficient. However, in my opinion it imminently qualifies: I have mistakenly identified myself with the physical body and it's mechanisms. But by discovering that I am not the body... I have discovered profoundly a lot about what I am not (not the physical, not the vital, not even the causal), then IMO there is a ripeness for what is beyond. Seems to me that identification with thought and emotion is generally the problem to address, since this meditation results in breaking that identification... what is there to complain about?
You say But in jnana, that is not the final step
So what is the final step in jnana?

Roger Isaacs said...

Dragos says:
regarding the "increasing knowledge of inner stillness is a good sign" Bhagavan said we will experience inner stillness...

But Dear Dragos, you are avoiding my question, I am asking if you experience an increase in inner stillness. Of course the question need not be answered publicly, but it seems like a very important sign post on the way.

Roger Isaacs said...

That Pesky Ego PART 1

There is a lot of talk here about the ego. And there is talk about destroying the ego.

I want to share my perspective from my Jnana tradition. This of course may be different from your tradition. But... I am very concerned that the descriptions and the prescriptions here do not seem to be precise enough to have the desired effect.

proposal: you cannot destroy the ego (and remain alive in a body that is not in a mental hospital) in fact this is not even desirable. The "ego" is a part, a component of humans just like the mind, emotions, body. The ego serves to protect the body.

The problem you are trying to solve is to dissolve the identification and attachment to all of these components: ego, mind, body, emotions. If you want to destroy them... suicide will accomplish that, but then your opportunity for realization will have to wait.

I would really like to hear from you all:
What is the ego in concrete concise clear terms?
How are you going to destroy it in clear concise terms?
What are you personally doing? Theory and quotes of Sri Ramana are cheap, what are you doing?
I have not heard it yet. AND, please do it in your own language without quoting Ramana! If you can do this ONLY by quoting Ramana... then you do not really understand it!!! If you can not use your own language then it is not yet in your experience.

I will tell you something about this from my experience as an example:

The "ego" could be defined as that which seeks pleasure and seeks avoidance of pain. And the problem is identification and attachment with this center, not the center itself.

Examples
Since I am from the Jnana tradition I have to explain a little bit of Jnana... but you can ignore that. :-)
And I believe Jnana Yoga is only for a small percentage of people, so in no way am I trying to impose on you, just explain. I hope that I am able to do this effectively, otherwise Venkat who may be a Jnana Yogi will pounce on me like a tiger. Ha!

Roger Isaacs said...

Pesky Ego PART 2
Jnana Yoga uses discrimination. Discrimination is that thing in us which makes a distinction between two items. And in the case of spiritual practice, it is making a distinction between an illusion aka attachment... and reality or what is true. In this case, we do not need to know what is true, only what is false: "not this [enter attachment here]".
The other key aspect of Jnana is a very vigilant watching of the mind & emotions.

So.. unlike ALL the talk I've heard here which is theoretical, I'm going to give you a clear practical example of the ego and what I do with it in my tradition.
Example:
I am watching & aware of my mind and emotions... and there is an emotion which arises that places me in opposition to my loved one. For example she asks me to take out the trash again and I'm instantly irritated about it. Damn it, I took out the god damned trash last month!!! The irritation, the anger is identification with the ego! And in Jnana Yoga, just clearly seeing this attachment (not this!) will break the attachment gradually if not immediately. We may have to do this thousands of times... but the effect is increased awareness and stillness for those who have a skill at it.

Another example:
I'm driving to an important appointment... and there is a big traffic jam. I have been inwardly inattentive and I get carried away with serious irritation. I am about to open the windows and scream. In this case, in a very real sense, I have BECOME the anger, I am identified with it totally, the anger is actually possessing me, and in a very real sense I am actually unconscious. But, discrimination to the rescue (of both me and others!) because in an instant, discrimination arises seeing that I have been unconscious. And that effortless seeing leaves me free. Next traffic jam, I may catch it sooner... next traffic jam, the attachment may have been overcome and I am calm.

So, sorry guys, I am not convinced yet that what I hear here is practical and useful. Rather than quote Sri Ramana, tell us from your own experience how it works for you. Seems to me all this talk is theory, if you've done it and it works, you'll be able to give practical examples.

Chinmay Shah said...

Hi Roger Issacs,

I too asked the same question of how to do all this practically in this blog but there was no answer...

I was taught the thumb meditation by some self-realised people whom I know.
You look at the thumb, but just look at it for 12 seconds, not thinking about it, not chanting any mantra, just looking, being aware, without any particular focus...

Awareness is all inclusive so one needs to include everything which comes in the purview of the eye (atleast). Its like if you are in a room & when you just look from the place where you are sitting...you see everything & if one doesnt focus on any object in the room then there will not be any thinking, just awareness..This exercise if done for 12 seconds regularly gives an intense focus within a short period of time...

About destruction of ego...I dont know how one can destroy it...but I was taught to disidentify with it...how to do that??...Just like your traffic jam example..if you are stuck in the traffic jam...you are frustrated...but if you are flying in an aeroplane & looking at the traffic jam from above...then it will just be a witnessing act & no frustration...

So when mind gets frustrated...you disdentify with it..you dont believe it to be YOU..just fall back to the knowingness of the thoughts..it is just the thoughts & the desire which are creating frustration...the best solution for this is to LET IT BE...

When I too face problems & frustrations, sometimes one needs to just let them be..Suppose I have a pain in the body...I dont resist it...dont brood over it...just let it be !!! & then try for a solution...sometimes the solution may NOT be there..then also we can stop resisting the fact that the things are as they are in the moment & as EVERYTHING changes...this too changes after some time..

I have done the above in times of sickness & pain..& it gives immense peace..

As mentioned by you there are other ways to BE the SELF...One guy in Laos long back did some bodily exercises & got self -realised...he has written a small booklet on how to do them....his name is Teean Jittasubho...a buddhist..

I was also taught to do the following exercise: Awareness being all inclusive, all loving (pure awareness does not discard its own contents) & all powerful (because of which all is known)...if we are that...then we should think it feel it & live it every moment of our lives...

Whatever you touch...send an affirmation of love & light to the object..
Whatever you see..send an affirmation of love & light to the object..
Whatever you think of...send an affirmation of love & light to the object..
With whomsoever you interact....send an affirmation of love & light to the person..
In whatever situation one is...send an affirmation of love & light to the situation..

I have been doing this since last two years & I have seen that it has worked wonders..it is kind of similar to metta meditation...but it is kind of constant activity...

Hope you find something useful here !!

venkat said...

"Your experience is just theoretical . . . my experience is practical . . my tradition of jnana yoga against your atma vichara".

Roger, you may well be on the path to enlightenment, but your words suggest that you have been given a label of jnana yoga for your mindfulness practice, but you have not been taught jnana yoga in the sense in which it is used in Shankara's advaita. Note: that is not to say you are not following an appropriate path - I can't comment on that.

There is a teaching tradition in advaita Vedanta which involves taking a seeker carefully through its main tenets using the Upanishads, bhagavad gita and brahma sutras. This may be theoretical to you, but in jnana yoga its is a key part of sravana (listening to the teachings of scriptures), manana (reflecting on and rationalisation of these teachings, this for me is the viveka, neti neti stage) and nididhyasana (profound and repeated contemplation on the essence of these teachings, which for me is where atma vichara fits in). And before a seeker can embark on this path, he needs to have pre-qualified himself with a certain level of detachment, desirelessness, calmness of mind

venkat said...

PS. Bhagavan would say that once you understand the pointer, then you can go directly to atma vichara, without studying all the scriptures. This is the main point of contention with some modern 'traditional' Vedanta teachers.

R Viswanathan said...

"R Viswanathan quotes Sri Ramana: "the Self can only destroy the mind when the mind no longer has any tendency to move outwards. While those outward-moving tendencies are still present, even in a latent form, the mind will always be too strong for the Self to dissolve it completely."

I am sorry if I have given the impression that I was quoting Sri Ramana. The statements are those of Sri David Godman, who is well respected among Bhagavan devotees just as Sri Michael James is.

Anonymous said...

"While those outward-moving tendencies are still present, even in a latent form, the mind will always be too strong for the Self to dissolve it completely."

David Godman, did you say 'mind stronger than the Self'? I can't get this. Is 'the Self' (our essential self) waiting for the mind to grow weaker so that it can dissolve it completely? How then was the partial dissolution taking place till then? Further, why did not the mind, while strong, dissolve 'the Self', if it all boils down to strong dissolving weak?

ready to sail said...

Venkat,
that is the point: understanding but in the correct way.
Nowadays nearly everybody even the greatest fool feels himself as the correct understander of all subjects/themes/topics. Therefore all the "magnificent" teachers
can easily appear and pretend them to be the messias longed for for a long time.
Only time will tell who proves to be a true guide/authentic master or a swindler/cheat/fraud/rogue/charlatan.
So we should not postpone to strive for clear understanding of true teachings.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


(Note: i use caps to express an idea more firmly, that's the way I generally express myself in writing, don't take it as shouting :) )

~"Rather than quote Sri Ramana, tell us from your own experience how it works for you"

Whenever I have time or I remember I try to gently BUT AS KEENLY/ AS ATTENTIVELY AS I POSSIBLY CAN to turn my attention away from any kind of objects [ thoughts(in our usual sense of the word), sensations, bodily sensations, mental images, etc to what perceives them, the "I". |

That's all! When I say "that's all" it does not meant it is easy as pie...
YOU DO NOT EXPECT TO FIND SOMETHING OBJECTIVE! because that's the point, when you see/are aware of something you go back to the subject, the "I", to whom it arises, AS GENTLY AND AS KEENLY AS YOU CAN. If two important words can be stressed they would be GENTLY and KEENLY!!!

~"I too asked the same question of how to do all this practically in this blog but there was no answer..."

... so this is how you do it...

Now, I found that if you do it VERY VERY VERY VERY KEENLY with a GENTLE attitude, the outer world starts to fade and look somehow like a dream (including your body) and you feel the emmanations from the Self, you start to subside in your source... It all becomes hollow and more "ethereal" and you see for yourself the truth in that this world is nothing but a dream and does not really exist.

Now, to be really really honest, I would have preffered not to give this description... because it can create certain imaginations in each one's mind and accusatory remarks may follow, but if you do it VERY VERY KEENLY with a GENTLE attitude, the truth that this world is like a dream and does not really exist will become evident plus the entire teaching will become more clear.

---> to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

<-- continued
The fact that I say "the outer world starts to fade and look somehow like a dream" shows that my attention is still holding on to the mind's creations to a certain degree and here is the limbo, the situation I find myself in and probably more others. I don't really want to go "all the way" so to speak. My love to give up this dream and the ego who creates it and subside in the source is not strong enough...

It is not a question of "being advanced" because the only real advancement would be to end this dream by the method showed by Bhagavan and explained as above.

These things SHOULD BE DISCOVERED BY ONESELF, and I don't think Bhagavan agreed for people to express what they experience because he stressed that each of us should have his own experience of the truth He teaches and there is no need for anyone to show "the way in each one's house" (I think he used this expression somewhere)

When you give descriptions such as these, many people in general try to bellite you like "yeah.. here's another who claims enlightement and so on..."

First of all I do not claim anything, and this experiece which everyone can have to a certain degree and which will prove beyond doubt that this world is nothing but a dream and does not really exist IS NOT what goes by the term "Enlightenement" or what Bhagavan refers to as Self Awareness. It's just an experience in which you hold on to reality to a certain degree. But you have to do it 100% not just in "degrees" so to speak..

The ONLY reason I explained this is because I saw that after so many words and articles there is still a lot of argument about many basic priciples which be really trusted but by practicing the way Bhagavan showed us. I explained the way I personally practice...

I expect now a lot of criticism and accusatory remarks, but I don't claim anything as I said before. It literally means nothing if we don't complete the job so-to-speak.

So this is NOT SELF-REALIZATION :), I repeat, I would have really prefered not to share this...

---> to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


--> continued

If we try what Bhagavan shows us, we will not believe that "watching thoughts with detachment" or reaching a state in which "there are thoughts, but I am apart from them and they do not trouble me anymore" is what the goal should be. Even if you have a very quiet mind (in our usual sense of the word), there is still something, an "I", to whom the quietness or peace arise/occur.

Bhagavan used the term "thought" to denote everything else than our true nature. So a cat or dog is a thought, just like a cat or dog is thought in dream created by the mind...

In our general accepted sense, we use the word mind to mean the brain or brain activity and thought to denote mental activity (in the brain), but these terms are not used by Bhagvan with the same meaning. We have these terms with these meanings "imbedded" in us so-to-speak so we have to study the whole teaching with its respective terms to get a clearer picture (I do not claim I have it!)

So there is a lot of confusion, because when we hear about "inner stillness" or "being still" we take it to mean being mentally still, or having a mind with no mental activity in our general accepted use of the words.

Everything is a thought in Bhagavan's terminology, so "be still" means nothing less than being in that state where there no thoughs, so since everything is a thought, "being still" means achieving no more no less than what we call "Self-Realization".

If we reach that state we will never once again experience this body, this world and all the other people and events. We now don't experience anything or anyone from our last dream...

...well... I feel pretty incomfortable for sharing this... :)

............

~ "How does one really know a special mantra will not do it?"

Besides understanding this in a logical manner, the whole maya (in our waking state, dreams or any other possible state like after death of the body) works by laws, and such a law was discovered by Bhagavan and given to us to achive what He has achieved.

If the law of gravity can be simply described as "if something is dropped it falls" we can describe what Bhagavan taught us as "when something tries to grasp itself it dissapears". This is a law of nature (there is an article here about specifically about his, althought this point is stressed all the time because its the most important)

Of course, we can always come with arguments so, as final word, I truly believe that only PUTTING INTO PRACTICE what Bhagavan taught us can show us the truth of it. If only we knew what we want, we could even skip the all theoretical part and just dogedly try to put in practice the simple (but apparently difficult) way showed by Bhagavan.

Enisten came with some equations and scientists built atomic power plants and bombs (unfortunately) they did not endlessly quarreled with him of why they worked. Some did, some undestood them as laws and applied them.

Bhagavan gaves us such law, he showed us the method from so many angles, it's up to us to do it. We are not compelled by anyone, we can choose whatever path we want...

Thank you,
Dragos

Sivanarul said...

Dragos,

To your reply regarding:

~ "How does one really know a special mantra will not do it?"

You are again using reasoning and some example of some laws to conclude thst a special mantra will not do it. The question was, have you tried to do nama japa a trillion times and have then concluded by such sadhana that a special mantra will not do it? If that is not the case, then you simply do not know by “experience” that it will not do it. Instead of saying “Vichara does it for me” why do you find the need to say “Vichara does it for me and special mantra will not do it”? In practical terms, instead of saying the medical profession provides the job satisfication that I seek, why do you have to say that engineering will not provide the same when you are not an engineer?

With respect to the law of gravity and Einstein, it is not a good analogy. To begin there is only one law of gravity. So there is nothing for scientists to disagree on. In spirituality, as I have said multiple times, one manifestation of reality (Bhagavan) has said some things which have been countered by other manifestations of reality (Sri Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda etc). So there is no single law.

As you say, since you want to experience the path of Bhagavan, you are certainly right to follow exclusively what he taught. But when you are doing that, there is no reason to make public statements that a special mantra will not do. If it helps you with your practice, it makes sense to tell it privately to yourself.

Anonymous said...

Dragos,

About the law of Bhagavan you write: "when something tries to grasp itself it dissapears". It would probably be better if we replace 'something' by 'the one ego' (there is only one ego).

One more thing: I liked the latest 3 comments of yours.

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul,

Like law of gravitation, there are laws of thermodynamics. There are many laws in Physics. All laws can be tested. They were hypotheses to begin with and by repeated checks, they were always found to be true (inductively) and elevated to the level of a 'law'.

If ego observes itself, it fades and eventually disappears. This can be tested by anyone. Of course this is the hypothesis Sri Ramana leaves with us in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu to check. Unlike other hypotheses (which may go true or false), he tells, it (the existence of ego) would go false eventually. It is up to us to test this, like how we might test any hypothesis.

Michael James said...

Chinmay, regarding your comment requesting ‘some practical methods/techniques by which one can attend to the self’, I have replied to this in a separate article: How to attend to ourself?.

Sivanarul said...

Here is an example where a special mantra did do it:

The other great sage of Arunachala, Saint Arunagirinathar, due to rajasic and tamasic activities decided to commit suicide by falling from one of the gopurams of Arunachala temple. When did so, Lord Murugan appeared in a human form and held him as he fell and saved his life. In addition to saying “Summa Iru” he also instructed a special mantra to the sage. The saint then focused on that mantra and went into Samadhi for 12 years. In this Kandar Anubuthi he unequivocally writes that his realization was advaitic (The ‘I-I’ swallowed ‘I’ and remained as ‘I-I’). Even today, if one visits the temple, one can see the gopuram he fell from.

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,

You are again using laws in the context that does not apply to the conversation. Law of thermodynamics is a different law from gravity.

I did not say Bhagavan’s hypothesis cannot be verified. Please read what I wrote. The gist of my question is this:

If you are going to say a method does not work to the whole world, have you really tried that method for a reasonable time before saying that? That is very different than saying a method works for me. There is a no question on that. You obviously have tried it and it works for you and that is great! This is not about whether Bhagavan’s hypothesis works. I take it on faith that it will work.

So if you have not tried nama japa a trillion times, how do you know it will not cut it? That is all the question is. What pleasure do you again by saying it will not work to the whole world?

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul, I said that because you said there is no single law in spirituality.

Yes, there is no guarantee that the ego will disappear eventually, just like there is no guarantee the next time you test a law of Physics, it would turn out to be true. There is an increased confidence after each test. That's why Bhagavan says we should not yield to doubts if all vasanas will eventually be uprooted. Yes, trust and faith are necessary ingredients in all sincere endeavors in life.

Something 'working' or not depends on what we agree by 'working'. By 'working' if it is meant that we aim to experience ourself as we are (without any adjuncts), then a mantra is not right for it.

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul, why would anyone do a nama japa trillion times? I mean, what is the aim here? Or the motivation to do it?

Sivanarul said...

Anonymous,
“By 'working' if it is meant that we aim to experience ourself as we are (without any adjuncts), then a mantra is not right for it.”
So if you have not tried nama japa a trillion times, how do you know it is not right for it?
Please don’t use Bhagavan or logic or reasoning. The question is, without actually trying nama japa for a trillion times hot can you be the judge, jury and executioner and pass a summary judegment that it is not right for it. If you say, it is not right for you, that it is perfectly fine. But the conclusions typically made here is a judgment against the special mantra itself.

The one who follows mantra japa as a path to realization would do nama Japa a trillion times, just like Sri Hanuman did. Sri Sharada devi, the holy mother of Ramakrishna order was a big proponent of nama japa.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


~"The problem you are trying to solve is to dissolve the identification and attachment to all of these components: ego, mind, body, emotions. If you want to destroy them... suicide will accomplish that, but then your opportunity for realization will have to wait."

You cannot reach a state in wich it appears you have no attachment to body, mind, emotions , be able to function the way we do (as a body, apparently in a real world, with events and interactions) and call it Self Awareness in the sense Bhagavan used it.

The fact that some people report that they have reached a state in which "thouhgts rise but they not trouble you anymore etc..." means nothing less that they are the same like us, but only they seem not to be troubled by the rising thoughts. If they still experience themselves with a body, existing with time and space,other people, interactions etc .. this is not the standard of Self Awareness according to Bhagavan.

Even in dreams we experience ourselves as having a body, dealing with other people, having memories, friends, anxieties, guilty feelings etc.. etc. But when we wake up in the morning all this is gone... you now experience other body, other world, other events... another dream according to Bhagavan.

If someone claims Enlightenment (to use this term) but they say that there is still a body they use, or other people, or interactions, or that they see all this but they "see it as one" and all such things, these people delude themselves. Just as now we don't experience the time, space, people, happenings from last night dream, on waking up from this dream we will not experience this body, other people, happenings, time, space. We will not "see them as one" or experience some "all pervading Consciousness" or we "will feel love towards all" while still seeing them (to use some expression from current teachers).

YOU CAN PROVE THIS TO YOURSELF ONLY BY PRACTICE! There is no other way!

--> to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


<-- continued

To use Hindu terminology, Yogis for example use pranayama or other numerous methods (like in Raja Yoga and other forms of Yoga) to subside the thoughts (I use here the word in Bhagavan's sense!) and achieve a state that is not permanent called Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi but Bhagavan said we should go straight to Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi (Kevala=temporary, Sahaja = permanent)

We can achieve Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi, or Self Realization, or Self Awareness whatever we want to call it by the way He showed us, because it is a law according to Him and you will prove it to youself if you REALLY JUST TRY YOUR BEST PRACTICE!

According to Bhagavan the temporary form will not destroy our inclinations (vasana) that feed the ego, but only if we KEENLY turn our attention to the root of them, our ego, our "I" the subject.

So instead of being confused, reading so much, trying so many other practices, Bhagavan gaves us this way, by which we can go after the highest gain. He also gave us many logical reasons to believe the adjacent other things he taught us (like the our current state is just another dream) but we can verify the truth in this ONLY BY ACTUAL PRACTICE! If we don't want Bhagava's experience we can go after any experience we want..

~ "have you tried to do nama japa a trillion times and have then concluded by such sadhana that a special mantra will not do it?"

... I think many people here had at a time or another some type of experience, so I may share some things ... I hope not to be seen as trying to pose as an "expert" or something...

I have tried numerous other methods in the past. I did do japa a lot (it quitened the mind in my case to some degree but there was never a feeling of subisidence or beginning of subisidence in the source), and also did what goes by the name Pranava Yoga when you repeat the sacred syllable Om (this is not just a mechanical japa). I experienced certain states (let's say blissful) which are not worth describing because I cannot really describe them.

---> to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


<--- continued
Because I did many other practices (like praying and imagining Siva) for example I had, let's say, a "presence" of Siva which was quite blissfull to say the least... But this is only mental activity! (in Bhagavan's terminology)

I also tried "focusing on the inner body", and yes it stops thought (mental activity in our sense of the word!) and you feel something pleasant, or you "feel that you dissapear in your Being" because you put the attention on the body and its not all concentrated on the brain.... etc etc...

I also tried esotericim and hermetism some time ago, and yes, by using certain symbols, prayers, invocations, you may get certain changes in your body and some mastery over different "inner bodys" and so on and so forth.

I tried Buddhist meditations, watching thoughts, vipassana to get insight in certain patterns of existence etc etc...

I tried Christian Mysticism, I used the "Prayer of the Heart" taught by the Orthodox Church Faters etc... You do get some result if you try anything!

When I say I tried these things don't imagine I am somehow an expert or anything, because they can be tried by anyone for some time and you can get results if you put your energy into it... There is plenty of literature and real experts who went these paths all the way, I am in no way in a position to give particulars.

There is no doubt that someone expert in these kind of things can "initiate" you in them, "transmit" something and you can go a certain path... There are many people who go to what they call gurus, and they feel "shaktis" or have "kindalinis" and many other experiences. But according to Bhagavan this is just like a man in a dream appearing and "initiating" you into some dream stuff... (I mean no disrespect when I express myself like this!, these are legitimate paths!)

You can try all sorts of things, you can "feel peace" or "the Presence of God" or any other type of description you find with many teachers... WE ARE FREE TO GO THESE PATHS AND GET THEIR PROMISED RESULTS!!! I am no "master" in any other path, or try to look like one, I just "tasted them" because I knew no better at that time...
---> to continue

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

<-- continued

According to Bhagavan, and you can prove it to yourself if you do the what He has taught us, ALL type of experience, no matter how bizzare, or how blissful, or how transcendental is an experience which comes from a Source (can it be otherwise?!) and if we want to end all possible such experience and live forever happy, without a body (of any kind! gross or subtle or "yogic" or "energetic" or "transcendental") witouth space, witouth time, withouht any kind of "movement", because according to Him we are not these things, they all occur to/happen to an "I" that NEVER suffers change no matter what other type of experience happens, we have to turn towards that "I" that is the root and cause of all the other things I described previously. This "I" is present in any kind of possible state in which there is some type of body and world appearing, be it gross or subtle, and this is the only clue to find what we really are. If we go after it so-to-speak, if we turn to it as often as we can (I explained as I personally do it) we will SEE FOR OURSELVES the truth that we start to subiside into our source. So (excuse the repeatedly annyoing caps) THE ONLY WAY TO DEFINIELY CONVINCE OURSELVES IS TO PRACTICE WHAT HE TAUGHT US! We will need no further proof!
We will see for ourselves that all these things (now matter how uplifing, blissful, transcendetal, scarry or bizzare) an any other possible things are not real in the sense Bhagavan defines real and there is always that that never changes now matter what you experience, an "I" to whom they occur.

These discussions can go on forever, and perhaps I have an annoying tone with all these caps, please excuse this and any kind of other possible impression my writing can give...

Perhaps I lack to clear coherence that Michael uses in this blog, but I belive that understanding (for yourself) what Bhagavan taught us is not a "method" in the sense we use to describe all other possible practices is important, and you yourself can become definitely convinced by this only if you put into practice the clue He has given us....

As for me, I believe I personally reached the end of what I had to say on this blog, I hope to fisnish with so much writing and just focus more keenly and gently on to whom all these toughts I put into words occur :) ... although I told myself so many times "ok, this is the last post, the last post..." ... I hope... he he :)

I love this place, by the way :)

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


... well... so much so with the "last post"...

~"If you want to destroy them... suicide will accomplish that"

This is exactly what we are doing on this path :) Ego-cide. Because if you keenly hold on 100% to that "I", the subject, you will actually die. Like when you die in a dream.. Your body will undergo a death experience...

We may say that after that, the body we now seem to be will still be seen by others while you will be one with the Absolute (to use this term), but this was just a concession given by Bhagavan to us. He was always asked how can he be aware of anything by himself (as Pure Awareness-just another term) and yet see this world and have a body and interact in it and he always retored by saying that only you (the questioner) sees this. He is not aware of anything, he does not see the world.

So yes, if we do it successfully we will actually die... the body will die...

This is briefly described in Maha Yoga by Lakshmana Sarma, and will become intuitive once you really start to practice...

"
..... if the resolve be keen and persistent;
for then the breath would automatically be suspended, and
the energies hitherto operating the body indrawn and reunited
to the mind, thus enabling it to dive into the Heart. This
ingathering of the vital energies is essential; for so long as
these energies are united to the body, the mind cannot turn
away from the body and the world and dive into the Heart;
when the breathing ceases by the force of the resolve, the
mind is no longer aware of the body or the world; the body
then becomes almost a corpse.......
"

Anonymous said...

Sivanarul,

It has become nowadays fashionable to say, "Without using Bhagavan's words or logic, answer it". If Bhagavan's logic is of no use, why should he give something which is useless? We use Newton's laws because they are useful under certain circumstances (low speeds, large mass). Why would Newton give us the 'laws' if they cannot be applied under certain circumstances? For large speeds we go to Einstein. For the very small we go to Schroedinger (or Dirac or Feynman). The circumstances we are now talking are where our aim/goal is to experience ourself as we are and we go to atma vichara, which is the practice of remaining as we are, which is not different from its goal. To remain as we are, we practice remaining as we are. To remain as we are, we don't chant. If we do, we don't want to remain as we are. Suppose we remained as we are at the end of chanting, even then it would not mean our initial aim was to remain as we are. Probably at the trillionth time it occurred to us that we should change our aim and we started remaining as we are.

Why would Sri Hanuman or Mother Sharada Devi propose nama japa? We should find that in their teachings. Why would you do nama japa? I have said why I do atma vichara and I am asking why you do nama japa? I am not judging you. I am asking you, my dear friend.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

... but we are told there is nothing to be scared anyway... we "die" every night when go to sleep... we court this death every evening... so this will be a conscious death.. That's why Bhagavan said something to the effect, that when the mind is polished by self attention to a significant degree some force comes and holds it and sucks it into the Self (this is just a word description of course.) So it is a death, the body will undergo a death experience...

... if there is feedback I welcomly expect it...

Thank you,
Dragos

... my "last post" it seems will have to wait.. :)

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