Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Asparśa yōga is the practice of not ‘touching’ or attending to anything other than oneself

In a comment on my previous article, Names and forms are all just thoughts, so we can free ourself from them only by investigating their root, our ego, a friend called Roger cited extracts from two verses of Māṇḍūkya Kārikā, namely 3.44 and 3.46, saying that the practice Gaudapada describes in them is similar to what he is practising, and after writing some reflections on this practice he invited me or anyone else to comment on what he had written, so this article is my response to his invitation and is therefore addressed to him.
  1. Attending only to oneself and thereby isolating oneself from everything else is what Gaudapada calls asparśa yōga
  2. Asparśa yōga entails not touching either thoughts or manōlaya
  3. We should try to be self-attentive whether our eyes are open or closed
  4. All worlds cease to appear only when our ego subsides completely
  5. Everything that arises or appears in our awareness is a projection of our ego, which is the first to rise
  6. Our aim is not to experience stillness but only to be attentively aware of ourself alone
  7. Intense curiosity to be aware of ourself as we actually are will focus our attention on ourself, thereby restraining it from touching anything else
  8. Ātma-vicāra is not asking any question or thinking any thought but only keeping one’s mind fixed firmly on oneself
  9. Ātma-jñāna is the only real state and is immutable and indivisible, so there are no stages of it or states other than it
  10. We are already real, so there is no need for us to ‘realise’ ourself
  11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 40: liberation is destruction of our ego, the sole cause of all differences
1. Attending only to oneself and thereby isolating oneself from everything else is what Gaudapada calls asparśa yōga

Māṇḍūkya Kārikā 3.44 and 46 are part of a series of verses in which Gaudapada explains what he calls asparśa yōga in 3.39 (which is a term that he repeats in 4.2, in his commentary on which Sankara says the it is the yōga taught by advaita philosophy and that it is of the same nature as brahman). The term asparśa yōga literally means ‘non-touching union’ or ‘contactless joining’, so it is a subtle critique of the term yōga, because yōga means uniting or union, which is the joining of two or more things and therefore entails contact between them, whereas asparśa means non-touching or non-contact and therefore excludes the possibility of any union in a literal sense.

Spiritual practice is often referred to as ‘yōga’ because the aim of any spiritual practice is generally considered to be union with God or with whatever is ultimately real, but according to advaita philosophy we are already that, so there is no need for us to unite with it. However, since in the time of Gaudapada ‘yōga’ was a popular term used to refer to any kind of spiritual practice, he conformed to the then current convention by describing the spiritual practice of advaita as a yōga, but he distinguished it from all other kinds of yōga by calling it asparśa yōga, the yōga of not touching or contacting anything. Though sparśa literally means touch or contact, and hence asparśa means not touching or contacting, in this context asparśa does not mean merely not touching or contacting anything physically, but not touching or contacting anything mentally. In other words asparśa yōga is the spiritual practice of withdrawing our mind or attention from contact with anything other than ourself.

Why is it necessary for us to avoid touching anything with our mind? By attending to anything other than ourself we are in a subtle way attaching ourself to it, so to destroy all attachment to anything other than ourself we must refrain from even the slightest mental contact with anything at all. Everything other than ourself is an illusory appearance and hence unreal, so by attending to such things we are attaching ourself to what is unreal. Since what is real is only ourself, if we avoid mentally touching and thereby attaching ourself to the unreal appearance of anything else, we will thereby rest in what is real, because we are always that and can therefore never be separate from it.

Remaining as we really are by not mentally touching or attending to anything other than ourself is metaphorically ‘uniting’ with what we always actually are, so in a metaphorical sense this spiritual practice of advaita is yōga, but since it is a ‘yōga’ that does not entail actually uniting with or even touching anything other than ourself, Gaudapada calls it the yōga of non-touching (asparśa). Since there is only one thing that actually exists, namely ourself (ātman or brahman), there is nothing other than ourself from which we could be separate or with which we must unite, so in order to abide as brahman, which is what we always actually are, there is no need for us to touch or contact anything other than ourself.

However, though nothing other than ourself actually exists, by rising as this ego we have projected the appearance of other things and have thereby united ourself with them, so what we now need to do is not to unite with anything but to separate ourself from everything, including the ego that we now seem to be. This separation or isolation (kaivalya) of ourself from everything else is what Gaudapada calls asparśa yōga, so this term is an alternative way of describing what Bhagavan calls ātma-vicāra, namely the practice of attending to ourself alone, thereby excluding everything else from our awareness.

2. Asparśa yōga entails not touching either thoughts or manōlaya

However, though we need to separate ourself from everything else in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, merely separating ourself from everything else is not sufficient by itself, because we do so whenever we fall asleep, but our ego is not thereby destroyed. This is why in this series of verses Gaudapada repeatedly emphasises that when practising asparśa yōga we should avoid laya, which is any temporary state in which the mind has subsided completely but without being keenly self-attentive, and which therefore includes not only sleep but also any kind of nirvikalpa samādhi other than sahaja samādhi, which is the eternal state of ātma-jñāna (pure self-awareness) and which is revealed as the sole reality by manōnāśa (annihilation of mind). In order to achieve manōnāśa our mind should not only subside completely but should do so self-attentively — that is, with its entire attention focused keenly on itself alone.

In the translation of 3.44 and 3.46 that you cited (which seems to be from The Māndūkyopanishad with Gauḍapāda’s Kārikā and Śankara's Commentary translated by Swami Nikhilananda, who also wrote another translation, Mandukya Upanishad with Gaudapada’s Karika) laya is translated as ‘oblivion’, so what Gaudapada teaches us in these two verses is that we should remain calmly balanced in a state of perfect equipoise between thinking and laya, both of which result from pramāda (self-negligence or inattentiveness). Thinking entails attending to things other than ourself, and laya is a state in which we attend to nothing because the attending ego has subsided completely, so in order to avoid both thinking and laya we must avoid not only attending to other things but also attending to nothing, which means that we must try to attend vigilantly to ourself alone.

3. We should try to be self-attentive whether our eyes are open or closed

Regarding what you write about meditation with eyes open or closed, if our entire attention is fixed keenly and steadily on ourself, we will not even notice whether our eyes are open or closed, so the opening or closing of them will make no difference to us, whereas if we do not attend to ourself sufficiently keenly we are liable to be distracted by thoughts whether our eyes are open or closed. Perhaps keeping our eyes open may reduce the likelihood of our falling asleep, but it can do so only if we notice whatever appears before our eyes, in which case our attention would have been distracted away from ourself. However the real issue is not either thoughts or sleep but only pramāda, which is what enables thoughts to rise or sleep to overcome us, and the only antidote for pramāda is its opposite, namely self-attentiveness.

Since we are always self-aware whether our eyes are opened or closed, we can try to be attentively self-aware at any time and in any circumstances, so the opening or closing of our eyes should make no difference to our ability to be self-attentive. It is all just a matter of attention. If our attention is firmly fixed on ourself, we will not be distracted by other things, nor will we fall asleep or subside into any other state of laya, so the only thing we need be concerned about is trying to be self-attentive as much as possible at all times and under all circumstances.

Trying to be self-attentive is a practice that we should do not only when sitting for meditation but throughout the day, even in the midst of other activities. We can focus on being self-attentive more keenly and steadily when we are not engaged in any other activity, but our effort to be self-attentive should not stop just because our body or mind is engaged in activity, because as soon as we stop trying to be attentively self-aware pramāda takes hold of us, which is what we need to avoid as much as possible.

4. All worlds cease to appear only when our ego subsides completely

Regarding what you write about seeing the world, when we rise as an ego we do so by projecting phenomena, and the most basic phenomenon we project is whatever body we currently experience as ourself, but we do not project any such body in isolation but as part of a world, so a world will always seem to exist so long as we seem to be an ego, who is the subject who is aware of it. Only when our ego subsides completely (either in manōlaya or manōnāśa) do all worlds disappear. Therefore we should not concern ourself with the appearance of any world (whether in our current state or in any other dream) but should focus all our concern and attention only on investigating our ego, which is the root of the illusory appearance of any phenomena.

However, though the world will not disappear entirely until our ego subsides completely, to the extent that we manage to attend only to ourself the world will recede into the background of our awareness, so to speak. Therefore whether this or any other world appears or disappears, our sole concern should be to attend only to ourself and thereby to abide in a state of perfect stillness or equipoise between being distracted by the appearance of any thoughts or phenomena and being overpowered by sleep or any other state of laya.

5. Everything that arises or appears in our awareness is a projection of our ego, which is the first to rise

Regarding what you write about ‘being in inner stillness with little or nothing arising’ and about being inwardly still or actionless even though a world is projected, the appearance of the world in our awareness is an arising, and like any other arising it is a projection of our ego, which is the first arising and the root of all other arisings. Moreover projecting any world is a mental activity, so as long as we are aware of any world or any other phenomena, no matter how subtle they may be, we are not completely actionless.

The root of the appearance, arising or projection of anything is our ego, in whose view alone all other things appear, so in order to terminate all arising and activity we need to terminate the rising of ourself as this ego. Since this ego arises and stands only by projecting and thereby being aware of phenomena (things other than itself), it will subside forever and merge back into its source only by attending to itself alone, thereby refraining from projecting the appearance of any other thing.

6. Our aim is not to experience stillness but only to be attentively aware of ourself alone

Regarding what you write about inner stillness being yet another projection of the ego, everything experienced by this ego except its own fundamental self-awareness is a thought that it has projected, so any stillness experienced by it is one of its thoughts, albeit an extremely subtle one. The only stillness that is not a thought or projection of the ego is the absolute stillness of manōlaya or manōnāśa, because in such states there is no ego to project or experience anything.

Our mind is active to the extent that we attend to anything other than ourself, so to the extent that we manage to be attentively aware of ourself alone our mind will subside and be still. However until our mind subsides completely whatever stillness we experience is not the absolute stillness of manōlaya or manōnāśa but is only a relative stillness, which is experienced only by us as this ego or mind. Only when we manage to be attend to ourself so keenly that everything else is completely excluded from our awareness will our ego finally subside completely in manōnāśa, and then it will no longer exist to experience the absolute stillness that alone will remain. Since that absolute stillness is our actual self (ātma-svarūpa), what experiences it is only our actual self and not anything else.

Since any stillness experienced by us as this ego is something other than ourself, we should not take experiencing stillness to be our aim. What we should aim for is only to be attentively aware of ourself alone. Being attentively self-aware is a state of stillness, but such stillness is only a by-product of our self-attentiveness until our self-attentiveness becomes so keen and steady that it excludes everything else (including any relative stillness) from our awareness, thereby causing us to subside in the absolute stillness of manōnāśa.

If we make experiencing stillness our aim, by trying to experience stillness we are liable to subside in manōlaya, which is what Gaudapada and Bhagavan say we should avoid. The only way to avoid either subsiding in laya or being distracted by thoughts is to try to focus our attention on ourself so keenly and vigilantly that everything else is excluded from our awareness.

7. Intense curiosity to be aware of ourself as we actually are will focus our attention on ourself, thereby restraining it from touching anything else

Regarding what you write about ‘a passionate innate inner curiosity’, which you say is ‘wordless and thoughtless’, if what you mean by ‘inner curiosity’ is curiosity to be aware of yourself as you actually are, then that is an apt description of the practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), because if we are intensely curious to be aware of ourself as we actually are, our entire attention will thereby be directed back towards ourself, the one who is attending. In such a state of intense self-curiosity there will be no room for any other thoughts to rise to a noticeable extent, because as soon as any thought begins to arise it will die, since no thought can survive unless we attend to it.

This is what Bhagavan implied in the following sentences in the tenth and eleventh paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?:
தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும் அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும். அத்தனை வாசனைகளு மொடுங்கி, சொரூபமாத்திரமா யிருக்க முடியுமா வென்னும் சந்தேக நினைவுக்கு மிடங்கொடாமல், சொரூபத்யானத்தை விடாப்பிடியாய்ப் பிடிக்க வேண்டும்.

toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum. attaṉai vāsaṉaigaḷum oḍuṅgi, sorūpa-māttiram-āy irukka muḍiyumā v-eṉṉum sandēha niṉaivukkum iḍam koḍāmal, sorūpa-dhyāṉattai viḍā-p-piḍiyāy-p piḍikka vēṇḍum.

Even though viṣaya-vāsanās [inclinations or desires to be aware of things other than oneself], which come from time immemorial, rise [as thoughts] in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness] increases and increases. Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘Is it possible to dissolve so many vāsanās and remain only as svarūpa [my own actual self]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to svarūpa-dhyāna.

மனத்தின்கண் எதுவரையில் விஷயவாசனைக ளிருக்கின்றனவோ, அதுவரையில் நானா ரென்னும் விசாரணையும் வேண்டும். நினைவுகள் தோன்றத் தோன்ற அப்போதைக்கப்போதே அவைகளையெல்லாம் உற்பத்திஸ்தானத்திலேயே விசாரணையால் நசிப்பிக்க வேண்டும். அன்னியத்தை நாடாதிருத்தல் வைராக்கியம் அல்லது நிராசை; தன்னை விடாதிருத்தல் ஞானம். உண்மையி லிரண்டு மொன்றே.

maṉattiṉgaṇ edu-varaiyil viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ irukkiṉḏṟaṉavō, adu-varaiyil nāṉ-ār eṉṉum vicāraṇai-y-um vēṇḍum. niṉaivugaḷ tōṉḏṟa-t tōṉḏṟa appōdaikkappōdē avaigaḷai-y-ellām uṯpatti-sthāṉattilēyē vicāraṇaiyāl naśippikka vēṇḍum. aṉṉiyattai nāḍādiruttal vairāggiyam alladu nirāśai; taṉṉai viḍādiruttal ñāṉam. uṇmaiyil iraṇḍum oṉḏṟē.

As long as viṣaya-vāsanās exist in the mind, so long the investigation who am I is necessary. As and when thoughts appear, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or vigilant self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise. Not attending to anything other [than oneself] is vairāgya [dispassion or detachment] or nirāśā [desirelessness]; not leaving [or letting go of] oneself is jñāna [true knowledge or real awareness]. In truth [these] two [vairāgya and jñāna] are only one.
Viṣaya-vāsanās are the ego’s propensities, inclinations or desires to be aware of things other than itself, so they are the seeds that give rise to thoughts (and hence to all phenomena, since phenomena are only thoughts). Therefore when Bhagavan says ‘விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும்’ (viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum), which means ‘even though viṣaya-vāsanās rise [or appear] in countless numbers like ocean-waves’, what he implies is that they sprout in the form of thoughts or phenomena, like seeds that sprout as plants, because all thoughts and phenomena are just the arising, appearance or manifestation of our own viṣaya-vāsanās.

Another analogy that Bhagavan gave to illustrate how viṣaya-vāsanās arise in the form of thoughts or phenomena is the projection of a film in a cinema. All thoughts and phenomena are like the moving pictures that appear on the screen, and viṣaya-vāsanās are like the images on the film reel rolling in the projector. At any moment only one of the images on the reel is projected on the screen, but the rolling of the reel causes a series of such images to be projected in rapid succession, thereby creating the illusion of a moving picture on the screen. Likewise at each moment only a small sample of our numerous viṣaya-vāsanās appear as thoughts, but they do so in rapid succession, thereby creating the illusion of a vast world full of countless phenomena.

What projects the images on the reel out from the projector onto the screen is a beam of light, which originates from a point deeper within the projector than the rolling reel of film. Likewise what projects all thoughts from within us is our ego’s power of attention, which originates from deeper within ourself than our viṣaya-vāsanās. Therefore whenever we direct our attention outwards, thoughts and phenomena appear in our awareness, whereas if we turn our entire attention back towards ourself, no thoughts or phenomena will appear in our awareness.

Therefore to the extent that we manage to turn our attention back to ourself, thoughts and phenomena will cease appearing in our awareness. If our attention is only partially directed back towards ourself, thoughts and phenomena will still appear, but they will occupy less space in our awareness, because the rest of the space will be occupied by our self-attentiveness. Therefore the more we manage to turn our attention back towards ourself, the less room we will be giving to the arising of any thoughts or phenomena, and the less room we give to their arising the weaker our viṣaya-vāsanās will become, like seeds deprived of water and exposed to the scorching heat of the sun.

This is why Bhagavan says, ‘அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும்’ (avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum), which means ‘they [one’s viṣaya-vāsanās] will all be destroyed when self-attentiveness (svarūpa-dhyāna) increases and increases’, and ‘நினைவுகள் தோன்றத் தோன்ற அப்போதைக்கப்போதே அவைகளையெல்லாம் உற்பத்திஸ்தானத்திலேயே விசாரணையால் நசிப்பிக்க வேண்டும்’ (niṉaivugaḷ tōṉḏṟa-t tōṉḏṟa appōdaikkappōdē avaigaḷai-y-ellām uṯpatti-sthāṉattilēyē vicāraṇaiyāl naśippikka vēṇḍum), which means ‘As and when thoughts appear, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or vigilant self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise’.

Since viṣaya-vāsanās are our desires in seed form, giving room in our awareness for them to appear in the form of thoughts or phenomena by allowing our attention to leave ourself and go outwards is what Gaudapada describes in 3.42, 44 and 46 of Māṇḍūkya Kārikā as the mind being scattered about or distracted by desires and enjoyments, and turning our attention back to ourself and thereby away from all other things is what he describes in 3.43 as turning the mind back from the enjoyment of desires. Withdrawing our attention from all thoughts or phenomena by turning it back to ourself is the simple practice that he calls asparśa yōga (the yōga of not touching) and that Bhagavan calls ātma-vicāra (self-investigation) or svarūpa-dhyāna (self-attentiveness).

8. Ātma-vicāra is not asking any question or thinking any thought but only keeping one’s mind fixed firmly on oneself

Therefore our aim when practising ātma-vicāra is to be so keenly and steadily self-attentive that we give no room to the arising of any kind of thought, so I assume that this what you were referring to when you wrote that in the stillness that results from wordless and thoughtless inner curiosity you ‘cannot introduce any gross thought “who am I?” or “inquire” further’. Though the term ātma-vicāra is often translated as ‘self-enquiry’ or ‘self-inquiry’, in this context vicāra means enquiry only in the sense of investigation and not in the sense of asking any question, whether vocally or mentally, so when Bhagavan advised us to investigate who am I, he did not mean that we should merely ask ourself the question ‘who am I?’ but that we should keenly observe ourself in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are.

If we think ‘who am I?’, that thought is something other than ourself, so by thinking it we are allowing our attention to be distracted away from ourself. Therefore we should be so keenly self-attentive that we do not give room even to the rising of the mentally articulated thought ‘who am I?’.

Therefore though it is written in many English books that Bhagavan advised people to ask ‘who am I?’, such wordings are the result of a misinterpretation or inaccurate translation of what he actually said in Tamil. When explaining the practice of self-investigation the Tamil verb that he used most frequently was நாடு (nāḍu), which means investigate, examine, scrutinise, observe or seek to know, but he also often used other verbs that have a similar meaning. Though some of those verbs, such as விசாரி (vicāri), can in certain contexts mean enquire in the sense of asking, in this context he used them in the sense of ‘investigate’, but translators who did not have a clear understanding of his teachings or of the actual practice of ātma-vicāra often misinterpreted them to mean ‘enquire’ or ‘ask’.

To make it clear that what he meant by the term ātma-vicāra was only simple self-attentiveness, in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? he defined the meaning of this term in a clear and unequivocal manner:
சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்.

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

The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to keeping the mind always in [or on] oneself (ātmā).
ஆத்மாவில் (ātmāvil) is a locative case-form of ஆத்மா (ātmā), so it literally means ‘in oneself’, but though in Tamil ‘keeping one’s mind in something’ is an idiomatic way of saying attending to it, in English the equivalent idiom is ‘keeping one’s mind on something’, so what Bhagavan clearly implies by the clause ‘சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பது’ (sadā-kālamum maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadu), which literally means ‘putting [or keeping] the mind always in oneself’, is always keeping one’s attention fixed firmly on oneself. Thus in this sentence he made it clear that ātma-vicāra does not entail mentally asking any question such as ‘who am I?’, because if we always keeping our attention fixed firmly on ourself, there will be no need or room for us to mentally articulate any such question.

9. Ātma-jñāna is the only real state and is immutable and indivisible, so there are no stages of it or states other than it

Regarding what you write about ‘three progressive distinct stages of Self-Realization’ and ‘states which are either simultaneous with Self-Realization or perhaps might occur later after initial Self-Realization’, what do you mean by the term ‘Self-Realization’? If you mean being aware of ourself as we actually are, there cannot be any stages to it, because either we are aware of ourself as we actually are, which is ātma-jñāna (self-knowledge), or we are aware of ourself as something else, which is ajñāna (self-ignorance). We cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are and at the same time be aware of ourself as anything else, because being aware of ourself as anything else is the antithesis of being aware of ourself as we actually are.

Being aware of ourself as anything other than what we actually are is what is called ego, and it is only this ego that is aware of other things. As Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
Since everything other than ourself seems to exist only when we seem to be this ego (as we seem to be in waking and dream), and since nothing else seems to exist when we do not seem to be this ego (as in sleep), if we investigate our ego keenly enough and thereby experience ourself as we actually are, the illusion that we are this ego will be destroyed forever, and hence the illusory appearance of all other things will also cease to exist. This is why Bhagavan concludes this verse by saying, ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādalē ōvudal yāvum), which means ‘Therefore, investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’.

Therefore in the state of ātma-jñāna (true self-knowledge or pure self-awareness) there is nothing other than ourself, so there is no room there for any differences or distinct stages, and if ātma-jñāna is what you mean by ‘Self-Realization’, there are no other ‘states which are either simultaneous with Self-Realization or perhaps might occur later after initial Self-Realization’, because ātma-jñāna is the only real state. What exists and shines in ātma-jñāna is only what alone always actually exists, namely ourself, and since nothing else exists, we are the one infinite, indivisible and immutable whole, as Bhagavan explains in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṯpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தனாது இயல் யாது என தான் தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த சத்து அகண்ட சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa tāṉ terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta sattu akhaṇḍa cit āṉandam.

அன்வயம்: தான் தனாது இயல் யாது என தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த அகண்ட சத்து சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta akhaṇḍa sattu cit āṉandam.

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] beginningless, endless [or infinite] and undivided sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].
Since sat-cit-ānanda is akhaṇḍa (undivided), sat, cit and ānanda are not three separate things but one and the same thing — the only thing that actually exists, namely ourself. We are sat (being or what actually exists), we are cit (pure awareness) and we are ānanda (perfect happiness), so sat is cit and cit is ānanda.

Since we are the one eternal, infinite, undivided and ever-unchanging whole, no differences or distinctions actually exist, and hence they seem to exist only when we seem to rise as this ego. But in whose view do we rise as this ego? Not in the view of our actual self, because our actual self alone exists and is immutable, so in its view nothing other than itself exists or even seems to exist. Therefore this ego is an illusion that seems to exist only in its own view, and hence it is called māyā, which is a term that literally means ‘she () who is not ()’ or ‘what is not’, because it does not actually exist.

10. We are already real, so there is no need for us to ‘realise’ ourself

Regarding the term ‘self-realisation’, Bhagavan pointed out that it is not a suitable term to describe the one real state of ātma-jñāna, and he joked about it saying that what is real is always real, so there is no need to realise it, but we have now realised or made real what is actually unreal, namely our ego and all the phenomena experienced by it, so all we need to do is not to realise what is already real but only to unrealise what is always unreal. When we unrealise the unreal, what will remain as always is only what is real, namely ourself.

The term ‘self-realisation’ originally came into use in a spiritual context as a translation of the Sanskrit term ātma-sākṣātkāra, which literally means ‘making (kāra) oneself (ātman) sākṣāt (visible, evident or directly perceived)’, but this is also a term that Bhagavan pointed out is not appropriate, because he said that ātman alone is what is always sākṣāt, so there is no need to make it sākṣāt. The problem we now face is not that we are not sākṣāt, but that by rising as this ego we have made other things seem to be sākṣāt, so what we now need is not to make ourself sākṣāt (ātma-sākṣātkāra) but only to cease making other things seem sākṣāt, which we can do only by turning our entire attention back towards ourself, away from all other things, and thereby dissolving our ego in the perfect clarity of pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna).

11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 40: liberation is destruction of our ego, the sole cause of all differences

Regarding the idea that there are ‘distinct stages of Self-Realization’ and ‘states which are either simultaneous with Self-Realization or perhaps might occur later after initial Self-Realization’, such ideas are very widespread and always have been, because for thousands of years the culture of India has been fertile ground in which numerous different philosophies, beliefs and practices have developed, thrived and lived side by side, feeding each other with fresh ideas, and each modifying the ideas of others to fit their own view, but one thing that most of these philosophies have had in common is the idea that our present condition is imperfect and that the ultimate aim of philosophy or religion is therefore the liberation of ourself from this imperfect condition. This ultimate goal is generally called mukti or mōkṣa, which both mean liberation, emancipation or freedom, but it is also known by other various names (depending on one’s conception of it) such as nirvāṇa, manōnāśa, ātma-jñāna or ātma-sākṣātkāra.

However, though most philosophies and religions of Indian origin agree that our ultimate aim is the attainment of liberation, each philosophy or religious sect has its own beliefs or conceptions about the nature of liberation, so there are countless different and often contradictory ideas that people hold about it. Broadly speaking such ideas fall into three categories, namely those that consider liberation to be a state in which one retains one’s form or individuality (such as those who consider it to be a state in which one lives in some sort of divine realm or world in the company of God in whatever form they believe him to be), those that consider it to be a state devoid of form, and those that consider it to be a state in which one can alternate back and forth between being a form or being formless. However all these different conceptions of liberation are beliefs held by the egos of whichever people espouse them, so in verse 40 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan gave his verdict of all such beliefs and the disputes between them:
உருவ மருவ முருவருவ மூன்றா
முறுமுத்தி யென்னி லுரைப்ப — னுருவ
மருவ முருவருவ மாயு மகந்தை
யுருவழிதன் முத்தி யுணர்.

uruva maruva muruvaruva mūṉḏṟā
muṟumutti yeṉṉi luraippa — ṉuruva
maruva muruvaruva māyu mahandai
yuruvaṙitaṉ mutti yuṇar
.

பதச்சேதம்: உருவம், அருவம், உருவருவம், மூன்று ஆம் உறும் முத்தி என்னில், உரைப்பன்: உருவம், அருவம், உருவருவம் ஆயும் அகந்தை உரு அழிதல் முத்தி. உணர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uruvam, aruvam, uru-v-aruvam, mūṉḏṟu ām uṟum mutti eṉṉil, uraippaṉ: uruvam, aruvam, uru-v-aruvam āyum ahandai-uru aṙidal mutti. uṇar.

அன்வயம்: உறும் முத்தி உருவம், அருவம், உருவருவம், மூன்று ஆம் என்னில், உரைப்பன்: உருவம், அருவம், உருவருவம் ஆயும் அகந்தை உரு அழிதல் முத்தி. உணர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uṟum mutti uruvam, aruvam, uru-v-aruvam, mūṉḏṟu ām eṉṉil, uraippaṉ: uruvam, aruvam, uru-v-aruvam āyum ahandai-uru aṙidal mutti. uṇar.

English translation: If it is said that mukti that one will experience is three, form, formless, or form or formless, I will say: know that destroying the ego-form, which distinguishes form, formless, and form or formless, is mukti.

Explanatory paraphrase: If it is said that mukti [liberation] that one will experience is of three kinds, with form, without form, or either with form or without form, I will say: know that destruction of the ego-form, which distinguishes [these three kinds of liberation], with form, without form, or either with form or without form, is [alone real] mukti.
Forms, and hence the distinction between form and formlessness, exist only in the view of ourself as this ego, which is essentially just pure formless self-awareness, but which rises into being as a seemingly separate entity by projecting forms and identifying itself with some of them, so all ideas about liberation with form, without form, or with form or without form originate from this ego and can last only so long as it survives. Since all limitations and consequent problems are experienced only by this ego, and since its very nature is to experience limitations, we can liberate ourself from all limitations only by liberating ourself from this ego, so Bhagavan concludes this final verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying, ‘அகந்தை உரு அழிதல் முத்தி’ (ahandai-uru aṙidal mutti), which means ‘destroying the ego-form is liberation (mukti)’.

Since all differences are just thoughts or ideas projected and experienced only by our ego, when our ego is destroyed all differences will cease to exist, and what will then remain is only pure, single, indivisible and undifferentiated self-awareness, which is what we always actually are. Therefore until the illusory appearance of differences is destroyed along with its root, our ego, we should persevere in our practice of asparśa yōga — that is, investigating ourself by trying to be so keenly and steadily self-attentive that we remain calmly and silently poised in our centre, which is the point between being overpowered by sleep or any other state of manōlaya and being distracted by the appearance of any thoughts.

Though achieving this state of equipoise in the very core of ourself without succumbing either to laya or to the distraction of thoughts may now seem to us to be a well-nigh impossible task, it is actually our natural state of pure self-awareness, so it is certainly achievable, albeit only by persistent practice. It may seem to be as difficult as emptying the ocean drop by drop with the help of a blade of grass, as Gaudapada says in Māṇḍūkya Kārikā 3.41, but the simple instrument of self-attentiveness is far more powerful than any blade of grass, because if we cling firmly to being self-attentive we will eventually destroy our ego, which is the sole basis for the appearance of this seemingly vast universe, so by persistently drawing our mind back from all other things and fixing on ourself alone we will certainly succeed sooner or later. All that is required, therefore, is patient and steady perseverance, without which no one has ever succeeded in this path.

80 comments:

Bob - P said...

Thank you Michael I found this most recent article of yours very helpful especially the sections below:

[If we think ‘who am I?’, that thought is something other than ourself, so by thinking it we are allowing our attention to be distracted away from ourself. Therefore we should be so keenly self-attentive that we do not give room even to the rising of the mentally articulated thought ‘who am I?’.]

[what do you mean by the term ‘Self-Realization’? If you mean being aware of ourself as we actually are, there cannot be any stages to it, because either we are aware of ourself as we actually are, which is ātma-jñāna (self-knowledge), or we are aware of ourself as something else, which is ajñāna (self-ignorance). We cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are and at the same time be aware of ourself as anything else, because being aware of ourself as anything else is the antithesis of being aware of ourself as we actually are.]

[Investigating ourself by trying to be so keenly and steadily self-attentive that we remain calmly and silently poised in our centre, which is the point between being overpowered by sleep or any other state of manōlaya and being distracted by the appearance of any thoughts.]

In appreciation as always.
Bob

just an other dream said...

Michael,
section 5.
"..., it will subside forever and merge back into its source only by attending to itself alone, thereby refraining from projecting the appearance of any other thing."

The ego's favourite sport is just not to attend to itself alone.
How can we ever overcome the ego's gigantic will power/strength of will to attend to other things than itself and to project a seeming world ?
Your answer will surely be : By self-investigation.
But is not this self-investigation easily prevented by the (seeming) titanic omnipotence of this ego ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

What is the difference between mindfulness and self-enquiry?

Michael has uploaded his latest video dated 9-7-2016 in his Utube channel, Sri Ramana Teachings. The video is titled Discussion with Michael James on overcoming pramada. Michael talks about the concept of ‘mindfulness’ after about 53 minutes of this video. I found it interesting; therefore, I reproduce it below:

Devotee: What is the difference mindfulness and self-enquiry?

Michael: Mindfulness means simply attentiveness. Self-enquiry or self-attentiveness is self-mindfulness, being mindful of oneself alone. What is often called mindfulness is the Buddhist practice of vipassana; you are being mindful of the body, and the things you are doing. These are all anya, all things other than ourself.

Devotee: It does kind of diminish the ego…

Michael: It may to a certain extent, but it can’t completely diminish the ego, because what is mindful? It is the ego that is mindful, and it arises by attending to things other than itself. We don’t want to be mindful; we want to be mindless. We can be mindless by being mindful of ourself alone, being mindful of self-awareness, nothing else .

Devotee: When you become mindless you go into an abyss, there is no activity at all…

Michael: Well, the state in which there is no activity is called manolaya. When the mind subsides is sleep, but the mindfulness I am talking about is not the manolaya but the manonasa - the destruction of the mind. That’s what we are seeking. We can achieve that by being mindful of ourself alone.

If we are mindful of anything else, we are still feeding the ego. May be we are keeping it in check, instead of the ego roaming about thinking of so many things – like, ‘How can I acquire more money?’; ‘How can I achieve this or that?’ By being mindful of a few things, we are keeping the ego in check. That’s why a lot of spiritual practices do work in so far as they purify the mind; they reduce the attachments to other things.

If you train yourself to attend to one thing…suppose if you are Rama-bhakta, you are always doing japa of Rama-nama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama… Your whole attention is on that, it is not on other things. The attachments to other things get weakened and you are quite satisfied just by repeating the Rama-nama, so your mind is thereby purified. But Rama is the name of whom? Of God… I have got his name, but am still not experiencing him. God appears in the form of guru and says, ‘You are that’, so we then have to turn within.

(I will continue this comment in my next post)



Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment on mindfulness

Once our mind is purified by doing other sadhanas, this [turning within] becomes very easy. But in order to purify our mind we don’t have to do all these other sadhanas, because the most purifying of all the sadhanas is attending to ourself. That’s why Bhagavan says in Upadesa Undiyar: There are two types of meditation. Either you are mindful of something other than yourself - like, God, body, etc that is, anya-bhava, or you can do ananya-bhava, that is, meditation on yourself alone. This ananya-bhava, Bhagavan says, is the highest of all.

By attending to anything other than ourself, we are reducing the attachment for other things, but increasing our attachment for one particular thing. By meditation on Rama-nama, I get great attachment for that Rama-nama; I lose my attachment for other things, but increase my attachment for Rama-nama. But this attachment is mixed with love, so when Rama appears before me and says, ‘You are that, the Rama which you are seeking is within you, turn within and see it’, then I have to let go of that Rama-nama and turn within to know myself. Because Rama himself has told me, ‘You are that’ (or Rama is myself) and because I have so much faith and love in him, I turn within with conviction that ‘I am more real that Rama-nama’.

Even when I am not repeating the Rama-nama, I still am. So with that love to know who Rama really is, the mind turns within and merges within.

[Transcript ends]

Michael James said...

Just An Other Dream, yes, as this ego we will do all we can to avoid attending to ourself alone, because we cannot survive as this ego without attending to other things. Therefore in order to attend to ourself alone and thereby be aware of ourself as we actually are we must be willing to surrender ourself (this ego) entirely, so all-consuming love (bhakti) is needed, because unless our love to surrender ourself is greater than our love for anything else, we will not be willing to attend to ourself alone.

As you imply, it is all a matter of will. What do we want: to be aware of all this multiplicity, or to be aware of nothing other than ourself? This is what we each need to decide for ourself, and it is a decision we are faced with each moment of our waking or dream states. If we want to be aware of multiplicity, we just allow our mind to flow outwards (away from ourself towards anything else), which is its natural direction, whereas if we want to be aware of ourself alone, we must turn our entire mind inwards (back towards ourself and thereby away from everything else).

Most of the time we choose the wrong option, but that is inevitable, given the nature of our ego, so we can overcome this habit of going outwards only by patient and persistent practice. No matter how many times we fail to make the right choice, we just have to persevere in making it as often as possible. The more we make the right choice the weaker our out-going tendencies (viṣaya-vāsanās) will become, and correspondingly the stronger our love to be self-attentive will grow.

Therefore if we persistently try to be self-attentive as much as possible, our love to be self-attentive will increase and thereby eventually we will certainly overcome the out-going power of our ego. It may seem to be a huge task, but trying to be self-attentive is not beyond our power, so little by little we should try, and we should never give up hope or desist from our efforts until this ego merges forever in its source.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael has uploaded his latest video dated 9-7-2016 in his Utube channel, Sri Ramana Teachings. The video is titled Discussion with Michael James on overcoming pramada. There are some useful conversations in the video between Michael and others. We can call it ‘points to be noted and reflected upon’. I reproduce the transcriptions of these points:

• We can say, as an analogy, our ego has closed its eyes in sleep. Though the self-awareness exists, it’s not seeing it, because it is not there to see it.

• There is a term manonasa (destruction of the mind). The implication of the destruction of the mind is that the mind actually exists, and we have got to destroy it. But language has its limitation; we have use language to convey something. Because the mind seems to exist, the realisation that there is no mind is called ‘destruction of the mind’.

• Michael: We are eternally free, eternally liberated (nitya-mukta)…
Devotee: Does it help us to have that knowledge that we are eternally liberated?
Michael: It does help, because if it was something to be attained in future… whatever is newly attained could be lost. It wouldn’t be worth seeking, if it wasn’t eternal. We say ‘it’, because we are talking in language, and language is by nature dualistic. But it isn’t ‘it’, it is ‘I’.

• Ramakrishna Paramhamsa said dissatisfaction is the proof that we are brahman. If we have all the wealth and power in the world, we will still not be satisfied, because we cannot be satisfied with anything less than that absolute fullness of pure self-awareness, which is brahman. […] When we experience ourself as we really are, we will be actually be satisfied. We are what we are seeking.

• Once someone asked Bhagavan, I think it was some Christian missionary, “Isn’t it blasphemy to say ‘I am God’”. Bhagavan said “Isn’t it blasphemy to say ‘I am separate from God’”. He is the infinite whole, so claiming a separate existence for ourself is blasphemy.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,

Atma Vicara and Jnana Yoga
Thanks for writing this. I appreciate your fine translation skills and passion, reaching crossed a thousand+ years and delivering a modern perspective. You explained some things that I would never have understood otherwise.

Your description of atma-vicara appears to be:
1: keep attention firmly fixed inwardly on oneself
2: if thoughts arise, just notice this then and go back to #1

Is that correct? Or close enough? We could change the words and elaborate endlessly.

This is the same as my practice of Jnana Yoga or neti-neti.

Apparently your school thinks of "neti-neti" as only part of hearing & contemplating? But I have been taught that "not this - not this " while first heard as an outward intellectual process is inwardly applied as step #2 above. "NOT THIS identification with thought or mental activity". If some attachment to some thought arises... the effortless silent noticing of it is "not this" and back to attention on oneself. And... it is a two step process: negation of attachment to arising thoughts or emotions... then resting in the inward state beyond aimless thought which might be described variously as: "I AM", "I-I", passionate innate inward curiosity, attending to ourself etc...

I am choosing my words intentionally: I say "identification or attachment" to thought and emotion is negated and "aimless thought" is negated suggesting the potential for subtle thought activity but without it obscuring our essential nature.

Although I hope we can agree that our practices are very similar... of course there are many other differences in our approaches. To be elaborated endlessly... Ha!

Do you agree on the similarities in our practice? Our interaction then becomes very positive in that we are just engaging in supportive contemplation.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
Sleep and attention
Twice you said "if our attention is firmly fixed we will not fall asleep"

I believe that there are multiple valid perspectives to virtually any situation. Maybe that is my rule #2, where #1 is "never believe anything that anyone says including the guru and especially me". Ha!

Your statement is agreeable from one perspective: that inward attention can delay sleep.

But from another: Turiya the 4th state underlies waking, dream and sleep. With sufficient practice at being self attentive... awareness will start to be experienced during dream & sleep. google on things like "witnessing during sleep" perhaps add the word "turiya". This is also mentioned in the wikipedia article on turiya. And it's in the BG: "That a real yogi never sleeps means that while he is asleep he remains aware, alert".

This is easy to practice or to anticipate. If you have a sitting meditation practice, lie down after meditating, let go of all effort, let go of the body and just be inwardly attentive -or- while falling asleep at night or awaking, be attentive. While being attentive, thoughts may arise in the background, but also... dream may arise in attentiveness with a slightly different quality than thoughts. And sleep too, perhaps crossing the boundary into and out of sleep repeatedly but with awareness. Perhaps if attention starts to become lost during sleep... it maybe possible to move intentionally back to awareness.

The always present background state of Turiya (the 4th state of consciousness) which Bhagavan describes in Godman "be as you are" as "Samadhi, turiya and nirvikalpa all have the same implication, that is, awareness of the Self. Tuirya literally means the fourth state, the supreme consciousness..."

Turiya, the supreme consciousness, can be glimpsed in the transition between waking and sleeping.

vigilant watcher said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks again for your transcription now of some points of Michael's new video.
As we know: Appearances are deceptive.
As long as the mind seems to exist we have to destruct the seeming appearance of that illusion. This contradiction in terms appears due the limitations of language.
Regarding blasphemy: Because the missionary felt/experienced himself separate from God he concluded to be really separate from the infinite whole. However, on that fundamental misunderstanding he is in good company with most of us.
So let us on Bhagavan's advice seek ourself as we really are, because we cannot be satisfied with anything less than that absolute pure self-awareness.

just an other dream said...

Michael,
thank you for your encouraging response.
As far as I'm concerned this ego fights tooth and nails against attending to myself alone.
As you say it is all a matter of will. To have the firm intention to make the right choice - to be aware of ourself alone – all-consuming love (bakti) is needed.
Bakti cannot sprout and grow without the conviction of the correctness of the teaching. That conviction can only follow from correct understanding of the teaching. Full understanding is/will not arising without will.
All these ingredients seem in some way to form a chain and are interdependent/mutually dependent. Therefore to make us persistently trying to be self-attentive as much as possible all must go hand in hand. For my part I would already be happy if I would persist merely to start to be self-attentive.
Self-attentiveness is most easy to me during day-to-day realities. To go in realy deep meditation (dhyana) I could not seem to manage in the last years.
Never give up hope is at present my greatest promising and auspicious hope.

Noob said...

Every body sooner or later will take their last breath, paying full attention to this "I" is surely the most important thing at that time, therefore it is better to practice beforehand. Death is very personal, there will be no Master showing the "way" and no one else but me and the understanding that "This is it".

nirvana said...

Noob,
what you say is very sensible/reasonable.
But unfortunately we as rational beings are acting not always reasonably but often irrationally or emotionally.
Did you really experience death, so that you can describe the then current scene ?

Noob said...

Had I known death, I would not be here. There was only one time when I thought I would die, but it was not my time then.

Sivanarul said...

"Once someone asked Bhagavan, I think it was some Christian missionary, “Isn’t it blasphemy to say ‘I am God’”. Bhagavan said “Isn’t it blasphemy to say ‘I am separate from God’”. He is the infinite whole, so claiming a separate existence for ourself is blasphemy. "

From a Saiva Siddhantha perspective, God remains the substratum of the Jiva in all 3 states of Kevala Thasai (With Anava/Primal Ignorance alone), Petha Thasai (With Anava, Maya, Karma) and in Muktha Thasai (in liberation, With Anava subdued, like a burnt rope). So there is never a time, Jiva is completely separate from Siva. However, the 'I am God' is a different story. It is not considered blasphemy. In the Saivite tradition, nothing said against Lord Siva is ever considered blasphemy. But, it is considered as egoic conceit, if such saying comes merely from the intellect and not as an experiential reality. It is explained well in the following article, relevant parts that I have reproduced:

http://shaivam.org/english/sen-san-sivagnana-botham-jmnp-1.htm

9'th sutra of Siva Jnana Botham: The soul, on perceiving in itself with the eye of Gnanam, the Lord who cannot be perceived by the human intellect or senses, and on giving up the world (Pasa) by knowing it to be false as a mirage, will find its rest in the Lord. Let the soul contemplate Sri Panchatchara according to Law.

This Sutra treats of the Sadana that is required for the Gnana padha, and during the period after Sarguru Darshan, and before becoming Jivan Mukta, and while in the human body. The necessity for any Sadana at all during this period is because as is indicated in the 3rd argument, the human soul by its long association with Asat, sometimes forgets itself even after it has found out its own nature and though it cannot do evil, there is an hankering after evil. This is what is called Vasana Malam or Thosham, evil of habit or association. The man whose sight is restored in the beginning loves to shut his eyes a little. The worm even tasting sweetness forgets it and delights to eat the bitter bark by its long habit previously contracted. The reason why it lingers is shown further on by the illustrations of the potter’s wheel which revolves even after the potter’s hand is withdrawn, and the empty asafoetida pot. The Sadana given in this Sutra for removing this Vasana Malam is the contemplation of Sri Panchatchara or say Pranavam. The principle is what is called Soham bavana. The word ‘Sivoham’ is also its equivalent; and the word means Brahm is myself or I and Brahm. This in fact is also the purport of the four Maha Vakyas in the Veda which are 4 Mantras intended for practice or Sadana and to be taught by the Guru to the initiate. Like every other Sadana provided for the first three stages which are mistaken for the end itself by Vedantists and these proclaim that they are themselves God. And the caution is therefore conveyed and repeated several times in the 1st and 2nd arguments and in the illustrations (see especially illustration 2 (b) ) that the soul practicing Soham bavana should not mistake itself for God. This practice of the Gnani therefore is as much a symbolic worship or Bavana as that of the Yogi (illustration 2 (c) Sutra VI.) But the Yogi gains certain Sadhia or Siddhis by his Bavana and the Gnani also gains something and what this is shown in the 3rd argument. The great mistake of Vedantic writers and Vedantic books consists in this that instead of treating of the Maha Vakya in its proper place and confining it within its proper scope, they discuss it, when they speak of proof or in the argumentative or expository stage. And this is what makes many of these books ridiculous. To say to ordinary mortals that he is God and he must believe himself to be God is certainly absurd when as we have seen above, to whom and by whom this instruction (Mantra) has to be imparted and even then, accompanied with proper caution. This then is what constitutes throwing pearls before swine and who is the more blame worthy of the two?

Noob said...

I really liked the analogy from one of the series of David Godman that Sri Bhagavan once said that if the "seed is dropped it WILL consume the whole tree". I do not remember which was the the serie. Maybe Michael knows, but that is very inspiring.

poor sinner said...

Sivanarul,
(to whom) can eternal beings ever appear to be "ordinary mortals" ?

Sivanarul said...

poor sinner,

"(to whom) can eternal beings ever appear to be "ordinary mortals" ?"

To us, of course. Very easy to check whether you are an ordinary mortal or eternal being "now". Can you give away all your possessions and become completely dependent on what grace provides for your food and shelter (like peace pilgrim did)? Can you have a surgery without anesthesia (like Bhagavan did)? Can you eat extremely bitter food without any reaction (like a Saiva saint did) ? These are just some sample tests. I cannot do any of these and hence I am a mere mortal. What you are, you can answer that for yourself.

Noob said...

There must be many eternal beings.

Sivanarul said...

"There must be many eternal beings."

Yes, according to Thirumanthiram Verse 115
பதிபசு பாசம் எனப்பகர் மூன்றில்
பதியினைப் போற்பசு பாசம் அனாதி

They speak of the Three--Pati, Pasu and Pasa;
Beginningless as Pati, Pasu and Pasa are:

Pati here is Lord Siva, Pasu is the infinite number of Jiva's and Pasa is the primal ignorance (anava). All 3 are considered eternal.

Noob said...

What is Thirumanthiram and who wrote it?

nirvana said...

Noob,
in case of death and coming back to life you would surely 'know death' enough.
Regarding 'not time to die' I can tell my experience. When I was young - I had to wait 14 hours for sure death in a hopeless position cowering on the root of a mountain pine almost 100 meters over ground in a nearly vertical mountain face of loose/crumbly scree rock. Then a helicopter brought a mountain rescue service team to save my life from falling down. It too obviously 'then was not my time' to die.

Noob said...

Also by who are they considered eternal?

poor sinner said...

Sivanarul,
your check-list does not at all show any being who is not eternal.

Mouna said...

"I cannot do any of these and hence I am a mere mortal."

Lots of people do all these feasts talked about here without having a single inch of spiritual inclinations (soldiers in extreme circumstances, homeless people, mind and body control freaks, etc.)
The logic "I cannot do any of these..." sounds like a very "honest" statement for the ego to shield itself behind its own defeat.
Again, is to consider oneself a body being the cornerstone of reality instead of trusting our teachers and guides who keep telling us to take a different starting point (we are not the body), even if we do not "feel" it.
I for one prefer being somewhat delusional thinking I am not the body (although everything around tries to prove you wrong) than being completely delusional thinking I am.

Noob said...

Those 14 hours, heh, enough time to reconsider one's life. I was not coming back, I saw that I may die any moment, difficult to explain. My favorite song when I was a kid was "It could happen to you" by Belgian group Telex, looking back I think it all makes sense, but the only way to know is to die.

Noob said...

That is why I say Grace leads us.

Sivanarul said...

""I cannot do any of these and hence I am a mere mortal.""

"I for one prefer being somewhat delusional thinking I am not the body (although everything around tries to prove you wrong) than being completely delusional thinking I am."

Saying I am a mere mortal does not mean I am saying I am the body. If one thinks I am the body (intellectually), then there is no point in walking a spiritual path. It means I am saying, I am not God (experientially). There is indeed a state (intellectually) where one sees clearly that he/she is not the body but experientally is still completely identified with it. I am a mere mortal implies that I am experientially identified with the body (not intellectually).

Sivanarul said...

poor sinner,

The point of the checklist is to say that we can talk all the talk we want about being eternal being, but can we really walk some of the talk?

Sivanarul said...

"What is Thirumanthiram and who wrote it?"

Thirumanthiram was written by Thirumoolar, one of the 63 Saiva Nayanmar.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirumantiram
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirumular

"Also by who are they considered eternal?"

They are considered eternal by the 3000+ year Saivite tradition and philosophy.

Noob said...

Tradition and philosophy acting as subjects?

Sivanarul said...

"Lots of people do all these feasts talked about here without having a single inch of spiritual inclinations (soldiers in extreme circumstances, homeless people, mind and body control freaks, etc.)"

Yes and they are much more spiritual experientially (whether they are spiritually inclined or not) than someone who does not do these things and just intellectually thinks he is an eternal being. A man who experienced great depression at age 29, out of that suffering did a spontaneous inquiry and emerged as Eckhart Tolle. Viktor Frankl survived holocaust and emerged with deep insights.

The mind and body control freaks, if and when exposed to Jnana or Bhakthi, rapidly awaken.

The point is these people have been able to tolerate pain and suffering to such an extent, that deep within, 'I am the Body' idea has been weakened to a great extent, whether they consider themselves spiritual or not. In contract, an intellect, who understands estoric spiritual concepts but otherwise lives a life of ease and comfort, has very less weakening of "I am the Body" experientially.

Fasting is prescribed and followed in many religions to provide an experiential experience for weakening 'I am the Body' idea.

Sivanarul said...

"Tradition and philosophy acting as subjects?"

Tradition and philosophy point to subject(s), just like Bhagavan and this blog points to subject(s). You are free to take whatever you agree with and discard the rest.

Noob said...

The only subject is oneself.

nirvana said...

Noob,
there was no necessity for reconsidering my life. I accepted the apparently inevitable free fall and nevertheless I tried to think in which landing position the body could survive the following apparently certain impact on rock ground. During those 14 hours I three times regained consciousness (from unconsciousness). The inside Arunachala evidently decided: you young lad of 23 years, you are still too inexperienced for dying. Today should not be your dying day.

Sivanarul said...

"The only subject is oneself."

Yes, to some.

For others, there is oneself as the subject and there is also the subject of the subject (God) both within and without oneself.

Noob said...

Dying day is decided only God, not this ego. Google the song, looking back, I find it amusing how we are driven by Grace.Accepting the inevitable is the key.

nirvana said...

Noob,
God as the inside Arunachala is of course not this ego. He is the ordainer/ruler of karma who could decide about the postponement of my dying day.

Mouna said...

"It means I am saying, I am not God (experientially)."
According to our teachers, that is where the mistake originates. Our belief obnubilates the actual experience of the fact that we are existing and we know about it, which is Brahman essential nature. That belief is the outward tendency of mind, starting with the “I am this body and this person” idea.

We really believe our story and believe that others have their own and that we are all “pieces” of this big thing called “god”, and there are “people” that can do things and others can’t, etc.
There is only one story, one mirage, one dream, and it isn’t mouna’s or sivanarul’s or michael james’, it is just THIS dream.
In any case, all this nonsense goes away when we hit the pillow deeply or we lay down in the funeral pyre.
and then, apparently starts all over, and that’s why we do all this sadhanas, that are also kind of belief that we will break the cycle.
Within the ego walls, there is no exit, and we will never get there although some believe we will.
So why continue to think within the box? (when there is none?..)

Sivanarul said...

"It means I am saying, I am not God (experientially)."
"According to our teachers, that is where the mistake originates"

Yes, according to some teachers. According to other teachers, this is the right attitude to take and anything else is simply egoic deceit.

"There is only one story, one mirage, one dream, and it isn’t mouna’s or sivanarul’s or michael james’, it is just THIS dream."

Quite possible. Equally possible is that, this is not a dream as is typically understood of dream, but a degree ot reality amidst a spectrum of realities ending in an absolute reality called God.

"In any case, all this nonsense goes away when we hit the pillow deeply or we lay down in the funeral pyre."

Yes, it goes away, on a temporary basis, as rest. That is the same as an employee going on vacation for a week. For that week, the job does go away. But he is right back in the job, after vacation.

"Within the ego walls, there is no exit, and we will never get there although some believe we will.
So why continue to think within the box? (when there is none?..)"

Of course, within the walls of the ego there is no apparent exit and "we by our own effort alone" will not get there. But God/Ishvara creates the exit and breaks down the walls. When one has begin the process of withdrawal from the firm grip of the senses and begin his journey to Ishvara, he has already started working outside the box.

Roger Isaacs said...

Michael says: there are no other ‘states which are either simultaneous with Self-Realization or perhaps might occur later after initial Self-Realization’ ...

If there are no stages of enlightenment.... then why did Bhagavan have two death experiences?

If there is only one state, then why did we see Bhagavan in state #1: eating, drinking, talking. And in state #2: withdrawn into silence ?

Mouna said...

"According to other teachers, this is the right attitude to take and anything else is simply egoic deceit.”
I really don’t care anymore about other teachers, that’s why i’m in this blog, to deepen my understanding of what my teacher says.
I already did the round of many of them (teachers and philosophies). Bhagavan is the one that makes more sense and matches my experience. But agree, we all go to the marketplace and buy what best suits our taste, we are still living in a “free” society.

"Equally possible is that, this is not a dream as is typically understood of dream, but a degree ot reality amidst a spectrum of realities ending in an absolute reality called God.”
I define “real" as Bhagavan defines it, so according to that definition, a dream in bed is exactly the same “degree of reality” as me typying this posting, impermanent, changing, and relative if I am in bed asleep or dreaming the “other” dream, meaning it doesn’t reveal itself by itself, it depends on “me”. Oh, and God of course, also disappears when the “me” disappears, ergo=concept.

"Yes, it goes away, on a temporary basis, as rest. That is the same as an employee going on vacation for a week. For that week, the job does go away. But he is right back in the job, after vacation."
Fully agree, and as I said before, that is why we do sadhana, because we also have the strong “belief” of reincarnation.

"But God/Ishvara creates the exit and breaks down the walls. When one has begin the process of withdrawal from the firm grip of the senses and begin his journey to Ishvara…”
Two sentences that contradict each other. But no problem, I like contradictions!

Sivanarul said...

"I really don’t care anymore about other teachers, that’s why i’m in this blog, to deepen my understanding of what my teacher says."

Fair enough. Just as a joke, one of your teachers named Ribhu (as he said to Nigadha) would say to you to the above two lines:

I understand you don't care and I understand you want to deepen your understanding. But pray, who is the 'I' who says it is "my teacher"?

Just kidding! Good night.

Mouna said...

Roger,
"If there are no stages of enlightenment.... then why did Bhagavan have two death experiences?”
Have you ever consider that Bhagavan is a story that YOU fabricated? sounds blasphemy, right?… unreligious! (am I going to be beheaded??)
YOU means ego fabricated, of course, because Roger is just a puppet of the lila/play, as mouna writing this nonsense.
What about “your" story, is it real, or just a passing thought in the moment?…

Let me tell you another story, at least for me is more pragmatic and useful than philosophical eccentricities: Bhagavan never died (two three or x times) because was never born. (Oups, this is also a philosophical eccentricity, soooorry...)

Mouna said...

"But pray, who is the 'I' who says it is "my teacher"?”


Touché.
I'll never tire to say that I admire your sense of humor my friend. (and the depth of it).
One of your most powerful weapons to disarm any adversary.

Good night also, and… sweet dreams?...

Roger Isaacs said...

ROGER part 1:
Hi Mouna,
Yes, you would have been burnt at the stake only brief centuries ago, but not now if you are reasonably careful. Did you know that Jesus actually did come back several times but the Christians burnt him at the stake each time and so he eventually gave up? As for me, I refuse to say which continent I live on. Well, it's actually Antarctica.

The high purpose of blasphemy is to clear out fetid social thought structures. Is that ALL thought?

regarding your comments:
-Have I considered that I fabricated Bhagavan as a story.
-Roger is a puppet of the lila/play,
-Bhagavan never died or was never born.

The seeking part of me is at peace with the nubilous outer circumstances and "the way" for me is clear, if subtle refinements are required they are revealed.
"The way" for me is to be absolutely inwardly as still as possible (which is freaking impossible) during long periods of alert sitting meditation, and during activity... so that obnubilation ceases. Although... there is no promise of the transition... it does not matter, that is all that can be done. There is absolute mental certainty (as much as such a thing exists) about the profound stillness coupled with occasionally instructive glimpses and this allows the troublesome mind to agree to shut down. But... other people will require coming at it from a different direction.

Perhaps because I was a computer software developer (says something about the way my brain works), and because I have deeply studied several different very intelligent masters... my mind is at peace with philosophical concerns and so the mind understands that it must be still, including while writing this, if possible. Sometimes the mind cooperates.

It was only a couple of days ago that to my satisfaction I realized where Bhagavan was coming from, before that, some of the teaching sounded crazy. Unfortunately... explaining it is outside the school boundaries.

Regarding your questions:

There are different states of consciousness, these are undeniable (noting that this description is not absolute)
1: duality sleep & nirvikalpa: no awareness
2: duality dream: projected fantasy world: both experiencer & experience are projected.
2: duality waking: projected apparent concrete physical world, ego identification with world, doership & experiencership falsely claimed: obnubilation of the real.
3: Turiya sleep / nirvilkalpa / God Out Of Existence: no physical world, but with awareness, the only Absolute Real
4: Turiya dream (actually I'm not sure if this exists, maybe dream stops in Turiya?)
5: Turiya waking: world exists but may be understood as a thought, and maybe experienced as identical with Self, Self is forever totally uninvolved in any egoic sense, ego identification destroyed.

Roger Isaacs said...

ROGER part 2

There are two aspects of existence which are undeniable:
1: God out of existence, The Absolute, nirguna Brahman (thks!), God Transcendent, Genesis says: The earth was without form and void.
2: God in existence, The Relative, God Immanent, the very subtle Mind of God

Such tables and categories could go on for a long time. Do I think about such things? Not really, the question for me is: am I inwardly attentive while writing?
Is such categorization really useful? The task that language is given is to describe that which is beyond description. Manana may precede or point to the Real.

So... there is no single answer to just about any question: there are different answers depending on, for example, the state of consciousness.

Yes, Bhagavan is a thought story in the mind of God, of God In Existence, and at this level is just an Idea. And this has less substance than the archetypally higher God Out of Existence. But... the Roger identify at the duality level with very limited intelligence could never fabricate or project such a story. The story would appear to be real, just as men landing on the moon, but... there is no reason to be attached to it.

"Roger is a puppet of Lila": the limited duality waking state Roger identity understands that the only way to escape the play of lila is to be inwardly still. And... that the apparent beauty of lila is there for outward satisfaction in whatever way seems natural.

"Bhagavan never died or was never born": depends on what level of Bhagavan you are considering.
At the level of Nirguna Brahman... yes, Bhagavan is always the ultimate Transcendental Reality.
At the level of God Immanent: God in Existence: Bhagavan was an Idea which was projected into physical form in a particular setting: apparently was born and apparently died (probably many times), and probably still exists in the subtler realms planning his next insurrection.

Do time and space exist?
Yes, No and Maybe.
not in Nirguna Brahman.
yes in "God In Existence": first as a subtle Idea in the Psyche, then as the basis for the apparent physical manifestation.
Personally: Yes, No or Maybe( maybe = dream) depending on the state of consciousness.

And what is your story?
highest regards,
Roger

Mouna said...

roger,

thanks for taking the time to answer so eloquently.

many points to consider, I shall only point out the discrepancies I noticed in your posting that do not match my viewpoint.
the rest understood and agreed with.

you are a natural born writer, have you ever considered?

here it goes:

"There are different states of consciousness”
to my understanding and experience (yes, experience) there is only one state (the un-named one), the rest is different levels of mind.


"God out of existence”
4 me, not possible. maybe by “out of existence” you meant the seemingly existent “reality" created by ego.
the same goes for “god in existence”.


"And... that the apparent beauty of lila is there for outward satisfaction in whatever way seems natural.”
Amen.


”...depends on what level of Bhagavan you are considering...”
yes, but… the most practical for me nowadays is to consider Bhagavan as the ultimate reality that I Am.


”Do time and space exist?” Yes, No and Maybe.
Yes and No, but not Maybe.

"And what is your story?”
the same as yours brother, but with less writing abilities!

me too, highest regards (add warmest also)
m

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sannyasa means the following according to Wikipedia:

Sannyasa (saṃnyāsa) is the life stage of renunciation within the Hindu philosophy of four age-based life stages known as ashramas, with the first three being Brahmacharya (bachelor student), Grihastha (householder) and Vanaprastha (forest dweller, retired). Sannyasa is traditionally conceptualized for men or women in late years of their life, but young brahmacharis have had the choice to skip the householder and retirement stages, renounce worldly and materialistic pursuits and dedicate their lives to spiritual pursuits (moksha).

Sannyasa is a form of asceticism, is marked by renunciation of material desires and prejudices, represented by a state of disinterest and detachment from material life, and has the purpose of spending one's life in peaceful, love-inspired, simple spiritual life. An individual in Sanyasa is known as a Sannyasi (male) or Sannyasini (female) in Hinduism, which in many ways parallel the Sadhu and Sadhvi traditions of Jain monasticism, the bhikkhus and bhikkhunis of Buddhism and the monk and nun traditions of Christianity, respectively. ~~ [Extract from Wikipedia ends]

Michael spoke on the subject of renunciation in his recent video dated 9-7-2016. This is what he said:

Atma-vichara is the supreme renunciation. It entails giving up everything, because when we investigate the ego it disappears, so everything [which are just offshoots of the ego] disappears. Until we are able to investigate the ego so keenly that it disappears, [it is not proper] to renounce our job, to renounce our family, or to go and live in the Himalayas. The cave is still a part of our projection; the Himalayas is still a part of our projection.

The real renunciation is not external renunciation, but renouncing the ego, and we can renounce the ego only by vigilantly attending to it. Bhagavan used to say, ‘What’s the use of taking sannyasa and then feel, ‘I belong to the highest ashrama. I am superior to all these householders’. Bhagavan says a householder who doesn’t think he is a householder is a better sannyasi then the sannyasi who thinks, ‘I am a sannyasi’. The real sannyasi is the jnani. ~~ [Transcript from the video ends]


Bob - P said...

Mouna said:

[I really don’t care anymore about other teachers, that’s why i’m in this blog, to deepen my understanding of what my teacher says.
I already did the round of many of them (teachers and philosophies). Bhagavan is the one that makes more sense and matches my experience. But agree, we all go to the marketplace and buy what best suits our taste, we are still living in a “free” society.]

This is my perspective too my friend.

I am so grateful for all the teachers on my journey especially Douglas Harding for showing me how easily I can attend to myself and for all Nisargadatta's writings along with Pradeep Apte for his wonderful books devoted to his master "The Nisargadatta Gita" and "The Nisargadatta Sadhana". Plus Peace Pilgrim for teaching me about surrender. It is my understanding that all the different teachers on my journey were Bhagavan because Bhagavan is myself as I really am the one non dual happy being manifested in a limited form within my illusory dualistic egoic projected world.

I feel there is not much more to know now, I still do have the odd question arise but Bhagavan's teaching is in essence so beautifully simple and so brutal for the ego and the peron Bob it is presently identified with .

The hard climb at the end of our journey is trusting Bhagavan and showing our love for him by surrendering ourself to him by attending to him alone and never turning outwards again.

I wish you luck along with everyone else with regards practise.
It is evident to me I am not yet strong or mature enough to surrender myself to him completely. But I must persist and keep trying.

Take care.
Bob

Sanjay Lohia said...

When someone asked Bhagavan, ‘How is dhyana practised?’, Bhagavan replied ‘It may be done with eyes open or closed. The point is that the mind must be introverted and kept in its pursuit’.

In the section 3 of this article, Michael expanded on whatever Bhagavan said as quoted above. Michael writes:

• If our entire attention is fixed keenly and steadily on ourself, we will not even notice whether our eyes are open or closed, so the opening or closing of them will make no difference to us, whereas if we do not attend to ourself sufficiently keenly we are liable to be distracted by thoughts whether our eyes are open or closed

• Perhaps keeping our eyes open may reduce the likelihood of our falling asleep

• If our attention is firmly fixed on ourself, we will not be distracted by other things, nor will we fall asleep or subside into any other state of laya

• Since we are always self-aware whether our eyes are opened or closed, we can try to be attentively self-aware at any time and in any circumstances, so the opening or closing of our eyes should make no difference to our ability to be self-attentive. It is all just a matter of attention

In conclusion: Perhaps most of us who practise being attentively self-aware, practise it combining both these ways, namely with eyes open and with eyes closed. Bhagavan has suggested to us that we should practise nirantara svarupa-smarana (uninterrupted self-remembrance). Since we would need to practise this uninterruptedly amidst our day-to-day activities, we cannot practise nirantara svarupa-smarana with our eyes closed; therefore, such uninterrupted practice can only be done with our eyes open.

However, there cannot be any hard and fast rule in this regard. Even amidst our worldly activities we may find some time to close our eyes and try practicing attending to ourself alone. Whereas we may occasionally find it appropriate to practise with our eyes open, even when we try to attend exclusively to ourself alone. As Bhagavan says, ‘It [self-attentiveness] may be done with eyes open or closed. The point is that the mind must be introverted and kept in its pursuit’.





Roger Isaacs said...

Regarding attentive self-awareness at any time:
There is a useful description from Osho called the "double arrow of attention". Normally we have just one arrow of attention going outward. But in this exercise, not only do we have that, we also have an arrow of attention going inwards AT THE SAME TIME during activity. google on "double arrow osho".

Perhaps with the inward arrow, you can go direct to inner attentiveness of some sort in a progressive fashion. For me, since I have practiced Barry Longs being attentive on the inner sensation of the body, I put my attention not only on outer circumstances, but also on the inner sensation of the body at the same time and intending to do it all the time. "inner sensation" is not really different than "self attentive" or "I am" or "being" (a pre-realization state). The subtle pure sensation or energy of the body becomes "I AM", it can be an entry into the formless.

Another angle: if you can place your attention inwardly with eyes open, it's interesting looking in a mirror while doing this. There is a distinct visual shift when looking at your image in the mirror with just one arrow (attention outward only) and then double arrowed (attention within and without simultaneously), identification with the image in the mirror which is typically primary becomes secondary. There is even a story that one of the Jain Masters realized enlightenment while looking in a mirror. This sounds more practical than the jain master who realized by standing motionless for months till vines grew up his body. :-)

Regarding Michaels comment "If our entire attention is fixed keenly and steadily on ourself, we will not even notice whether our eyes are open or closed, so the opening or closing of them will make no difference to us, whereas if we do not attend to ourself sufficiently keenly we are liable to be distracted by thoughts whether our eyes are open or closed"

IMO what Michael is describing here is Nirvikalpa Samadhi with attention because the world is removed from awareness. Michael or Bhagavan seem to prefer world removed from awareness? This is a very high technique. However, Samadhi can also be attained with awareness of the surroundings and that seems to be my physiological preference (savikalpa samadahi?). As Bhagavan says in Godman "be as you are", both Nirvikalpa and savikalpa lead to sahaja. It seems to be a matter of what your physiology prefers.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ego or mind depends on something gross ~ Extracts from Michael’s video dated 9-7-2016:

Devotee: You quoted Bhagavan where he said, ‘The mind or the ego depends on something gross, and having attached to a form it grows fat…. Is the gross thing the body?

Michael: Yes, the ego never rises without experiencing itself as a body. Whether in waking or in dream, we always experience ourself as a body, so Bhagavan sometimes described the ego as awareness ‘I am this body’ (dehatma-buddhi), the body-self-awareness. So that is what the ego is.

So the ego never rises without grasping a body as itself? How does it grasp? Is there a body waiting for the ego to rise and grasp? No, the ego rises in dream [and in waking], projects a body, projects a world… it all happens simultaneously.

Devotee: But the body itself is just a projection of thought…

Michael: Well, the body itself is a thought; it is one of the many thoughts projected by the ego, but the ego never exists without projecting and grasping a body as itself…

Devotee: And what about the other things that the ego attaches itself to…

Michael: We don’t say, ‘We are seeing so many bodies here’. We say, ‘We are seeing people’, because with the body there is a mind associated, a personality, all these things. Each one of us has our own history – we were born in such-and-such a family, we went to such-and-such a school… So many events have happened in our life. That’s our history. We identify ourself with all these things. It was ‘I’ who went to that primary school; it was ‘I’ who travelled to India; it was ‘I’ who worked in such-and-such an office.

By attaching ourself to a body, we are attaching ourself to a whole bundle. That bundle is called a person…. The person is not the ego; the person is changing. The little Alasdair [name of a person], who 60-70 years ago was playing around in the sand with his little friends is quite different to the Alasdair who is sitting here now. But ‘I’ that experienced that little Alasdair as ‘I’ (myself) is the same ‘I’ who experiences the older Alasdair as ‘I’ (myself).

Roger Isaacs said...

more on being attentive during activity:
We can intentionally create time during activity to focus inwardly. For example:
Waiting for and riding the elevator, nothing is required of you at this time: go inward.
can you focus inwardly and outwardly while driving your car in a way that is actually more aware, or during other routine mundane activities?
There are endless options...
As I recall, BL, suggests adopting patterns: "stop, drop, go": that is: for example: when the phone rings, STOP, DROP everything, be in attentiveness.... then "go" and answer the phone. (Meditation a Foundation Course by Barry Long)

There is an issue here: Michael apparently prefers loosing awareness of the world. But the suggestions above are for being attentive in the world.

BOTH maybe equally useful depending on your preference, depending on your unique psychology/physiology.

One aims towards the state "Bhagavan withdrawn inwardly, perhaps eyes open, but 100% inward, out of this world."
The other aims for the state "Bhagavan in activity: eating, talking, interacting with Lakshmi the cow..... but 100% free and egoless in the midst of the projection of the world. attentive inward... but in the projected world."

You may be able to Realize solely by dropping the world. Especially if your preference is to be monk. But... if you are a person of the world and spend the majority of your time being active... freedom does exist and can be Realized while being in the body aware and acting in the projected world.


Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Mouna,
Thanks for your friendly post. I don't have any disagreement at all with what your are saying, what I feel is warmth... and any thoughts come later. :-)

R: "There are different states of consciousness”
M: to my understanding and experience (yes, experience) there is only one state (the un-named one), the rest is different levels of mind.


You say that there is only one state so this must be from a person glimpsing or established in Turiya? Then... sleep, dream, waking are only relative changes in constant Turiya? Do you experience awareness during sleep? Then... there is only one state: awareness.

R: "God out of existence”
M: 4 me, not possible. maybe by “out of existence” you meant the seemingly existent “reality" created by ego.
the same goes for “god in existence”.


"god out of existence" is BL's terminology for the place where no world is projected. The same as "God UnManifest, Nirguna Brahman, The Absolute, The Formless" known by many names.

M: yes, but… the most practical for me nowadays is to consider Bhagavan as the ultimate reality that I Am.

That is inspiring, thanks.

R:”Do time and space exist?” Yes, No and Maybe.
M: Yes and No, but not Maybe.


That sounds reasonable. I was just thinking that time in the dream state can be far different than waking state.

Mouna and Bob said:
I really don’t care anymore about other teachers, that’s why i’m in this blog, to deepen my understanding of what my teacher says.
This is my perspective too my friend.


Then I am a distraction? I often wonder if there is any use in my posting here.

Mouna said...

Roger, hello my friend. How’s life? (like the russians say)

"You say that there is only one state so this must be from a person glimpsing or established in Turiya?”
There is only Turiya. A “person" cannot have a glimpse because Turiya has no person.


"Then... sleep, dream, waking are only relative changes in constant Turiya?”
Turiya doesn’t change, those changes are magic tricks of an unknown witch/sorcerer who has the power of hypnotism.
And, they happen by themselves.


"Do you experience awareness during sleep?”
Awareness of what? And who has it?
People has crazy memories from sleep, but always in the waking state, when they are asleep deeply I can bet you “no-body” is aware of anything lest of all of deep sleep.
Only self-awareness remains, but not of “some-thing”.

”..."god out of existence" is BL's terminology for the place where no world is projected. ”
Brahman is not god. Add maya to the soup and you have god or Ishvara (from maya’s point of view).
Couldn’t be more reduced than that the terminology.


" I was just thinking that time in the dream state can be far different than waking state.”
Deep sleep no time.
In waking, clock time and psychological time, like when you are in a hurry and the bus take sooooooooo long to come.
Time in the dream is still time, psychological time, crazy time.
So yes and no but not maybe.


"Then I am a distraction?”
EVERYTHING is a distraction. Even this posting.


"I often wonder if there is any use in my posting here”
If you wouldn’t have posted here, the universe would have stopped.
Because nothing can be spared in ma-ya… ergo, good thing you did.


Cold regards, my friend, just for a change.
m

Sanjay Lohia said...

Don’t be in such a hurry to wake up ~ Michael’s video dated 8-6-2016 at 0:46

Devotee: If you are practicing self-enquiry as you go to sleep, that process carries on…

Michael: Well, it is very beneficial, because at the moment the mind is subsiding, if we are able to try and hold on to that light…. Bhagavan also said the moment you wake up, try to catch that light, because there is a transitional state between waking and sleep, or between dream and sleep, either going into or coming out of sleep, there is a transitional state. That is so subtle; most of us miss it completely.

Bhagavan also said between each two thoughts there is a gap. Just like when a cinema picture is projected on a screen, between each frame there is a gap, but we don’t see that gap, because it is going at a faster speed than our eyes can grasp, so we have an illusion of a moving image. So trying to catch that gap between thoughts, or between waking and sleep, these are all things which we can try and achieve. These are all ways of describing it, because however we describe it, what we are trying to catch is the ‘I’. What is it that is thinking thoughts? What is it that is waking or sleeping? We should aim for that ‘I’. That’s the most valuable clue.

We can describe it in so many ways. Bhagavan has said try and practise whenever your mind is free from other pressing activities, but the moment of falling asleep is a very precious moment. Bhagavan also said to some people, ‘Don’t be in a rush to get up’. The mind is still relatively calm; therefore, before all the thoughts about all the things, about the things you have to do during the day, and all the things that happened yesterday, and all the things that are going to happen tomorrow, before all these thoughts rush in, try to hold that moment.

So Bhagavan gave us many clues, but the essence of all the clues, the essential ingredient in all the clues he gave is clinging to ‘I’, holding to the ‘I’.

Devotee: Even when we experience the gap between two thoughts, the seer is there. So long as the seer is there, there is no gap…

Michael: Actually, we never experience the gap between two thoughts. […] Our whole experience is made up of many thoughts, rising and subsiding very quickly. With every thought the ‘I’ rises with it, as soon as the thought subsides the ‘I’ also subsides. So actually in the gap between two thoughts there is no seer but only self, because self is not a seer in the sense that there is nothing for it to see. The only thing it sees is itself. […]

For one moment if you experience the gap between two thoughts, you will realise that there never were any thoughts. There is only that ‘gap’, the eternal ‘gap’, and the very dangerous 'gap' [because this ‘gap’ will swallow, or destroy everything].


Bob - P said...

{Mouna and Bob said:
I really don’t care anymore about other teachers, that’s why i’m in this blog, to deepen my understanding of what my teacher says.
This is my perspective too my friend.

Then I am a distraction? I often wonder if there is any use in my posting here.}

Dear Rodger
Your posts are no more a distraction than my own posts.
I hope you keep posting here
All the best.
Bob

Bob - P said...

Sorry Roger I misspelt your name in my last post, apologies.
Bob

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
My understanding (which begs to be corrected) is that Turiya (the Supreme Consciousness) underlies Waking, Dream & Sleep. Therefore, when Turiya is realized the other 3 states are known in it. Therefore, when established in Turiya, the experience of the waking state is unbounded.

But it seems you are saying something entirely different, that the waking state with the projection of the world blocks realization of the supreme. You say that the projection of the world in waking state is just more ego to be overcome.

Why the difference?

thanks,
Roger

Noob said...

I think it is because the consciousness (awareness) is just one and not three.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael, Noob,

Michael says in the blog above things like :
"Only when our ego subsides completely do all worlds disappear. The appearance of the world in our awareness is an arising, and like any other arising it is a projection of our ego. If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything. And such things as: when the ego is destroyed, the body and world are also destroyed. And that the world is a projection of the ego."

These comments are somewhat correct but only when they refer to nirvikalpa samadhi, sleep or some similar temporary state where the ego, body and world are not in awareness.

The statements about "world is a projection of ego" are false. The world is a ultimately projection... but "body-consciousness... makes no difference to the knowledge of the supreme" (quoting Bhagavan).

See Bhagavan: Godman: be as you are Chapter 14 "Samadhi".

Bhagavan says
"What does it then matter whether the body-consciousness is lost or retained, provided one is holding on to that pure consciousness? Total absence of body-consciousness has the advantage of making the samadhi more intense, although it makes NO DIFFERENCE to the knowledge of the supreme."

"What is body-consciousness? It is the insentient body plus consciousness. Both of these must lie in another consciousness which is absolute and unaffected and which remains as it always is, with or without the body-consciousness."


In this regard Bhagavan agrees with Sankara and Gaudapada in the Karika.

Rattlesnake said...

Roger Isaacs,
you should quote a clause or sentence correctly in its connection and completely. Omitting the beginning words "Total absence" leads to a wrong meaning /sense of the clause. The quoted clause reads:
"Total absence of body-consciousness...".

Roger Isaacs said...

yes, but rattlesnake.... I have quoted several phrases. And it's not clear which phrase your addition applies to.

Rattlesnake said...

Roger Isaacs,
if you take time to read your own comment you will find the missing clarity:
Bhagavan says
"what does it then matter whether...?
Total absence of body consciousness..."

Roger Isaacs said...

Rattlesnake,
You rattle unnecessarily.

I quoted the whole sentence once in my post. Am I not allowed to partially quote it as well... or am I required to fully quote it in both places? Doing so would not alter the meaning.

Go curl up on a rock and take a nap in the sun, as rattlesnakes are known to do.

If you'd really like to be useful, why don't you come out in the open and strike your venomous fangs at whatever misconceptions delude us regarding the issue at hand.

Rattlesnake said...

Roger Isaacs,
I have to admit that you are right and I was wrong: The fundamental difference between saying "Total absence of body consciousness..." and "body consciousness..." did not alter your judgement on your remark about "The statements about 'world is a projection of ego' are false".
Now I will take the recommended nap on a rock in the sun. Please do not make any noise or shadow. Otherwise my venomous fangs could easily hurt you again.
Influencing the conduct of a rattlesnake is seldom a request concert because they use not to dance to somebody's tune. Smile.

nirasa said...

Michael,
section 7.
Let us be in the state of intense curiosity and thereby detach us from the illusion of a vast world full of countless phenomena. May we be able to deprive our visaya-vasanas of the water (of fanning flames of desires) and expose them the scorching heat of the terrible sun (of fierce determination).

homecomer said...

Michael,
section 6.
"Only when we manage to (be) attend to ourself so keenly... will our ego finally subside completely in manonasa, and then it will no longer exist to experience the absolute stillness that alone will remain."
If I understand you correctly I have to ask : Why should we avoid to experience the absolute stillness of manonasa ?
When I am - as the ego - subsided in the absolute stillness, who then will be there to experience the absolute stillness of awareness ?

sakti-pada said...

Michael,
section 5.
That the ego should terminate its arising and refrain from projecting the appearance of any other thing than itself will be felt by the ego to be an insult. Due its nature the ego therefore will resist any attempts made to attend to itself alone. To overcome the ego's resistance we completely are at Arunachala's mercy. All our striving should be to gain Arunachala's favour.

Michael James said...

Yes, Sakti-Pada, at his mercy. But we know his love is infinite, so we are safe and will be saved. Saved from ourself, this devilish ego. His love is beyond our understanding, because he loves us as himself, since he sees us as nothing but himself. Our only goal is to lose ourself by merging in that love, as that love.

அம்புவி லாலிபோ லன்புரு வுனிலெனை
      யன்பாக் கரைத்தரு ளருணாசலா.

ambuvi lālipō laṉburu vuṉileṉai
      yaṉbāk karaittaru ḷaruṇācalā
.

பதச்சேதம்: அம்புவில் ஆலி போல் அன்பு உரு உனில் எனை அன்பா கரைத்து அருள் அருணாசலா.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ambuvil āli pōl aṉbu-uru uṉil eṉai aṉbā karaittu aruḷ aruṇācalā.

English translation: Arunachala, like ice in water, lovingly melt me as love in you, the form of love.

Bhagavan’s sweet words of love in Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai verse 101.

sakti-pada said...

Thank you Michael,
for your reply giving Bhagavan's sweet words of love in Sri Arunachala Aksaramanamalai verse 101.
Oh Arunachala, let me become mature for melting me as love in you. At present I am not even aware that you love me as yourself. How then could I merge in that love, as that love ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
Is there is there a subtler translation for "savikalpa samadhi": "holding on to Reality with effort is savikalpa samadhi" ?

This makes sense from my level of development as it requires effort.
However, for Bhagavan it must have been effortless. Thus... it seems like there might be a subtler translation.

thanks,
Roger

unrealise the unreal said...

Michael,
section 10.
how to unrealise the unreal ?

mukti said...

Michael,
section 11.
How can this ego whose very nature is to experience limitations be nevertheless and simultaneous essentially just pure formless self-awareness ?

Mouna said...

Mukti,

How can this snake that I see there whose nature is to hiss and curl and bite with poison be nevertheless and simultaneous essentially a rope?

mukti said...

Mouna,
the rope is never a snake. To see the rope as a snake is only a case of wrong perception.
But can we apply that allegory or metaphor in a transferred sense one to one to this ego - as you seem to assume ?

Mouna said...

mukti,

Exactly. You already knew the answer.

mukti said...

Mouna,
you did not answer my question.

Mouna said...

Sorry mukti, I didn't express myself correctly then.

You are right when you say: “the rope is never a snake. To see the rope as a snake is only a case of wrong perception.
That is exactly the characteristics of the ego and its projections, a case of error, hallucination or wrong perception.
If we had to paraphrase your statement I would put it this way: "oneself (the self) is never the ego. To see oneself as the ego is only a case of wrong perception."

So yes, we can apply that allegory or metaphor in a transferred sense one to one to this ego. Actually, that is one of the principal functions of the analogy.

Hope this clarifies my take on your question.

mukti said...

Mouna,
thank you for your clarifying reply.
I was a bit slow on the uptake.
Of course in both cases the wrong perception is on the ego's side.