Saturday, 13 August 2016

Why is it so necessary for us to accept without reservation the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings?

In a comment on my previous article, The observer is the observed only when we observe ourself alone, a friend called Sivanarul wrote: ‘Only in things pertaining to phenomenal world, one can say there is a direct or indirect method that applies to everyone (For example, reaching from point A from point B). In the spiritual journey, there is no direct or indirect method that applies to everyone. The very usage of direct or indirect is simply a play of the ego that has assumed a spiritual identity and to satisfy its need for superiority, it must label its method as the “direct” method. (Jnanis and/or saints saying that, is very different, since they are promoting the way they attained the goal in this life. Also when they promote it, they are very careful to tailor the promotion based on the seeker)’. This article is my answer to these contentious ideas.

Sivanarul, regarding what you write in this paragraph, particularly in the second sentence of it, namely ‘In the spiritual journey, there is no direct or indirect method that applies to everyone’, do you not believe Bhagavan when he says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār ‘மார்க்கம் நேர் ஆர்க்கும் இது’ (mārggam nēr ārkkum idu), which means ‘This [practice of investigating the form of one’s mind without forgetting] is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone’?

Wherever we may stand in our spiritual development, the only direct means for us to be aware of ourself as we actually are is to attend to ourself. This is a very simple principle and in perfect accord with logic. How can we see what we actually are unless we look at ourself? It is as simple and as logical as that. It is a principle that even a child can understand.

We may find it difficult to attend to ourself — indeed most of us do find it difficult to attend to ourself — but that is not because being self-attentive is actually difficult, but because the natural மனப்போக்கு (maṉa-p-pōkku), the flow, direction or inclination of our mind, is to go outwards, away from ourself towards other things, so being self-attentive is to swim against the current of this natural outward flow. However, though it is natural for our mind to flow outwards, it is not natural for us to do so, so we are easily able to refrain from going outwards whenever our mind subsides in sleep. The reason why we feel compelled to attend to things other than ourself whenever we rise and stand as this mind is that we cannot survive as this mind unless we constantly do so. However, being self-aware is our natural state, because we are always self-aware, even when we are attending to other things, so it is possible for any of us to be attentively self-aware if we truly want to be.

This is all that it comes down to: do we or do we not want to be attentively self-aware? Wanting or liking to be attentively self-aware is what is called svātma-bhakti (love for our own actual self) or sat-vāsanā (inclination just to be), and it is the key to persistently and successfully practising self-investigation and thereby eventually being aware of ourself as we actually are.

For most of us, myself included, our svātma-bhakti is still relatively weak, and our viṣaya-vāsanās (our inclinations, desires or likings to be aware of things other than ourself) are therefore correspondingly strong, so being attentively self-aware at all times and in all circumstances seems to us to be difficult. However Bhagavan has assured us that if we persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible our svātma-bhakti will increase and our viṣaya-vāsanās will be correspondingly weakened, until eventually we will subside and merge back into our source forever, thereby losing ourself entirely in the infinite light of pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are.

Some of us may feel more drawn to this path of self-investigation than others, whereas some may feel more inclined to practise other forms of bhakti or some other kind of spiritual practice. In the case of those who belonged to the latter group, Bhagavan gently encouraged them to try to investigate themself, but he never discouraged them from practising whatever other sādhanas appealed to them, because he knew that by following such sādhanas with genuine love and dedication their minds would gradually be purified (as he explained in verses 3 to 7 of Upadēśa Undiyār) and thereby they would sooner or later be drawn to the path of self-investigation, which is what he described as அனனியபாவம் (aṉaṉiya-bhāvam) in verse 8, saying that it is ‘அனைத்தினும் உத்தமம்’ (aṉaittiṉum uttamam), ‘the best of all’ or ‘the best among all’, thereby implying that it is the most purifying of all forms of bhakti, meditation or spiritual practice.

No matter how strongly inclined we may be to try to practise either self-investigation or any other sādhana, if we are devoted to Bhagavan and accept him as our sadguru, we should at least be willingly to accept the basic principles of his teachings. We may not feel inclined to try immediately to apply all those principles in our current spiritual practice, but we should at least acknowledge them and aspire towards applying them more fully than we do at present.

What Bhagavan has given us in Nāṉ Yār?, Upadēśa Undiyār, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and other texts is a simple and clear set of spiritual principles that are applicable to everyone, because they are fundamental laws of nature. Contrary to what you imply, he was not merely ‘promoting the way [he had] attained the goal in this life’, but was teaching us fundamental principles that apply to everyone, and he left us free to decide what use, if any, we choose to make of them. If we are wise we will try to apply them as fully as we can by doing our best to follow the simple path of self-investigation that he taught us on the basis of these principles. Most of us cannot at present apply all these principles as well as we need to do if we are to experience ourself here and now as we actually are, but we should at least aspire to apply them eventually.

To what extent and in what way we choose to apply them now is up to us, but at least we should accept them, and most importantly we should try to understand them and not allow ourself to argue against them either in our own mind or in discussions with our fellow devotees. If we allow our mind to rebel against accepting the fundamental principles of his teachings even theoretically, we would be placing an unnecessary obstacle between ourself and the opportunity of being guided more fully by him, and we would thereby be hindering our own spiritual progress. On the other hand, if we accept at least theoretically all the principles taught by him, even if we cannot yet apply them as successfully as we should aspire to, we will be opening our heart more fully to being guided by him on our inward journey.

This is why it is so important for us to study, think carefully about and try to understand as fully and as coherently as possible all the principles that he has taught us in his original writings, particularly Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, which are the three texts in which he has unequivocally set forth these principles in the clearest and most systematic manner. If we clearly understand and are firmly convinced by all the simple and fundamental principles he has taught us in these three core texts, that will enable us to assess the relative accuracy and value of the recordings found in other books of whatever he said in reply to various questions that he was asked by devotees and visitors, many of whom had numerous interests, concerns, cares and aspirations other than just being aware of themselves as they actually are.

If we do not try to understand and accept the core principles that he taught us and the reasons why these principles are true, we will be throwing away a priceless opportunity that he has given us. To understand all these principles clearly and coherently we do not need to be very learned or of a particularly intellectual bent of mind, because they are very simple and coherent principles based on a clear and uncomplicated analysis of our own experience of ourself and other things. All we need, therefore, is a simple heart, a curious and enquiring mind, and above all a willingness to set aside all our biases, prejudices and cherished beliefs in order to see the clear and indisputable truth in the simple principles he taught us.

Bhagavan is the very form of love, as he sang to Arunachala in verse 101 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai:
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.
Therefore the only way to reach Bhagavan is through love. Only by melting as love in him, the very form of love, like ice in water, can we merge and become one with him.

True love requires total acceptance of the one we love. To be accepted fully by Bhagavan we must accept him fully and in every way. He is always ready to accept us, because he loves us as himself, but we must be willing to be accepted by him, and that entails our being willing to accept him in every way possible and as fully as possible.

He is our guru and we are his disciples, or at least we aspire to be his disciples. In the love between guru and disciple, the disciple must accept the guru fully, and since the function of guru is to teach and show the way to the ultimate goal of human life and to guide his disciples along that way, full acceptance of the guru by the disciple entails complete and unreserved acceptance of his teachings.

We cannot separate Bhagavan from his teachings. The very purpose of his appearance in human form was to teach us how to be aware of ourself as we really are, so though his human form has passed away, as all human forms must, he continues to be manifest among us in the form of his clear and simple teachings expressed unequivocally in his own original writings. His written teachings are himself in the form of words that guide us on our inner journey back to our own actual self.

If we want to be true disciples, we cannot just pick and choose which teachings we like and ignore or reject the rest. We must be willing to accept all his teachings in their entirety. And to accept them in their entirety we must understand them clearly and coherently, which means that we must identify all the fundamental principles of his teachings.

Therefore, to make it easy for us to identify and understand all the fundamental principles of his teachings in a clear and coherent manner, he has written them in a systematic way in three core texts, namely Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, so we need to carefully study and imbibe the meaning of these three precious gems along with all his other original writings, which consists of just a handful of beautiful Tamil songs, poems and a few brief prose pieces, which you as a Tamilian are fortunate to be able to read and study in the original.

Many of the core principles that he teaches us in these texts force us to question all that we have hitherto believed about ourself, God and the world, so in order to fully accept all his fundamental principles we must be willing to jettison all our former ideas and beliefs — to clear out all the old rubbish in order to make room for his teachings to occupy our whole heart. This may be difficult for us at first, but it is a small price to pay for what we stand to gain from fully accepting and imbibing all the clear, simple and coherent principles that he has taught us, because by accepting them wholeheartedly we are embarking on the final smooth and easy stretch of our hitherto long and arduous journey back home to our own heart.

Unless we wholeheartedly and without any reservation accept the fundamental principles of our guru’s teachings, how can we wholeheartedly follow the simple path that he has taught us, and unless we follow this path, how can we expect to reach the ultimate destination that he has shown us? As he says in the twelfth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
கடவுளும் குருவும் உண்மையில் வேறல்லர். புலிவாயிற் பட்டது எவ்வாறு திரும்பாதோ, அவ்வாறே குருவினருட்பார்வையிற் பட்டவர்கள் அவரால் ரக்ஷிக்கப்படுவரே யன்றி யொருக்காலும் கைவிடப்படார்; எனினும், குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்.

kaḍavuḷ-um guru-v-um uṇmaiyil vēṟallar. puli-vāyil paṭṭadu evvāṟu tirumbādō, avvāṟē guruviṉ-aruḷ-pārvaiyil paṭṭavargaḷ avarāl rakṣikka-p-paḍuvarē y-aṉḏṟi y-oru-k-kāl-um kaiviḍa-p-paḍār; eṉiṉum, guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum.

God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the glance of guru’s grace will surely be saved by him and will never instead be forsaken; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown.
He will do everything for us, and in return all he asks us to do for ourself is to wholeheartedly and unreservedly follow the path that he has shown us. And to follow this path we need to wholeheartedly accept all the fundamental principles on which it is based, because accepting them wholeheartedly will give us the dedication and perseverance that we require to follow it successfully to its conclusion, and because unless we accept them and discard whatever old ideas or beliefs of ours are in any way in conflict with them or not in perfect tune with them, how can we discard our ego, which is what clings to those old ideas and beliefs so firmly? In order to surrender our ego entirely, the first thing we need to do is to give up any ideas or beliefs that stand in the way of our wholeheartedly accepting Bhagavan and all that he has taught us.

As Sadhu Om often used to say, in order to fully imbibe and absorb Bhagavan’s teachings, and to allow them to impress themselves firmly and indelibly in our heart and mind, we must first make our heart and mind a blank slate. If we ask Bhagavan to write his name on a well-scribbled slate, his beautiful name will become just another confused and illegible scribbling, so we must first wipe our slate clear, and then when he writes his name on it we will be able to appreciate its beauty fully. Likewise, unless we are willing to clear our heart and mind of all our old ideas, beliefs, desires and aspirations, when we read his teachings they will not be able to make a clear and indelible impression on our mind, but will just become further unclear additions to the confused mass of scribblings already present there. Therefore acceptance of the clear, simple and fresh ideas that Bhagavan has taught us requires us to give up clinging to all our old ideas and beliefs, and thereby to make our mind a blank slate that is ready to see everything afresh in the clear light of his teachings and the core set of simple principles on which they are all based.

157 comments:

Sivanarul said...

Michael,

Thanks for taking the time to write the article. As I have expressed many times, I have deep admiration and respect for your act of renunciation at a young age and walking the spiritual path for so many decades with single-minded devotion. I wish I had those qualities. Our following of Bhagavan's teachings are quite different and I don't see that converging in this life.

As I have said before Bhagavan devised two paths, one for non-religious spiritual aspirants (like yourself) known as Vichara and the other for religious spiritual aspirants (like myself) known as Surrender to Ishvara. While the two practices will end up the same (according to Bhagavan), the way they are practiced are different. The religious path entails strong faith in Ishvara and repeatedly looking at every experience of the aspirant as something that happended as per the will of Ishvara (easier said than done, that is why it is a practice). The path of vichara requires looking deeply at at source of the experiencer of every experience. I jknow you lovo call both Vichara and Surrender are just different names for Vichara. Hopefully my explanation helps in seeing how the "practice" is different. Just want to emphasize that once can also "practice" looking at the source (Vichara) and Surrender at the same time. It need not be exclusive. With that said, I will answer few of your questions.

"do you not believe Bhagavan when he says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār ‘மார்க்கம் நேர் ஆர்க்கும் இது’ (mārggam nēr ārkkum idu), which means ‘This [practice of investigating the form of one’s mind without forgetting] is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone’?"

I believe Bhagavan directed that to the Vichara practioners. For the "Surrender to Ishvara" practioners, he directed us to the following in Aksharamanamalai, which are his core teachings to us:

O Arunachala! Do protect me like a supporting pole so that I may not wither away like a tender creeper that has no support!
O Arunachala! The knot of ignorance whose beginning or end cannot be traced, Thou hast to untie, like a mother. I cannot untie it by myself.
O Arunachala! Ocean of grace in the form of Hill! Graciously bestow Thy grace on me.
O Arunachala! By what strength can I, who am worse than a dog, approach Thee and attain Thee?
O Arunachala! When will my thought-waves cease so that I may unite with Thy subtle being in the Heart-ether?
O Arunachala! Bestow Thy grace on me who am a fool without even the knowledge of scriptures, by destroying my delusion.
O Arunachala! If I give up (Thy rememberance at the time of death), I shall have trouble (and be born again). Do shower Thy grace that I may die without giving up (remembering Thee).

He directed us to Surrender to Ishvara, live our lives following ahimsa and sattavic diet in moderation and do whatever practices that we are comfortable with (be it japa, meditation or sloka recital or anything else). The key teaching is to practice looking at every experience as that happening due to the will of Ishvara. This practice, according to him, if practiced with full intensity and devotion will result in Ishvara striking down the ego.

While "Surrender to Ishvara" is my primary path, this does not mean that Vichara does not happen. I do not practice Vichara violitionally. But it happens spontaneously in some cases. One is during contemplation of physical death. When that contemplation gets a little deeper, since the world and everything else has dissapeared (due to simulation of physical death), the I and Ishvara are the only things remaining. During that time, due to curiosity, spontaneously the question arises, "Who am I" really?

Continued in next comment...

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment...

"We cannot separate Bhagavan from his teachings."

Absolutely! I never separate Bhagavan for his "Surrender to Ishvara" teachings.

"Contrary to what you imply, he was not merely ‘promoting the way [he had] attained the goal in this life’, but was teaching us fundamental principles that apply to everyone, and he left us free to decide what use, if any, we choose to make of them"

As i explained earlier in one of the comments, when Jnani's/saints experience reality and they report back that experience (Irai Anubhavam), they report back a facet of that experience and promote the way they had attained that in this life. Bhagavan, after having the death experience, looked at how he got that experience and since it was due to Vichara, promoted that as one of the ways aspirants could get it. But he being a great Bhaktha, also saw that as a valid means of arriving at the same destination and promoted that also in "Surrender to Ishvara".

Pamban swamigal attained that same experience by his devotion to Lord Muruga and by the Lord appearing before him in physical form with Saint Arunagirinathar and Saint Agastihar by his side, promoted worship of Lord Muruga and the mantra japa of "OM Saravanabhava" along with meditation, ahimsa and strict diet as the means of attainting that experience, since that was the way he attained it.

"If we allow our mind to rebel against accepting the fundamental principles of his teachings even theoretically, we would be placing an unnecessary obstacle between ourself and the opportunity of being guided more fully by him, and we would thereby be hindering our own spiritual progress"

Yes, those of us, who follow "Surrender to Ishvara" as our path must be willing to accept that it is the one "parameshwara shakthi" that governs this universe and willing to submit to it, if we want it guide us more fully. If we don't, it will not hinder our progress per se, but we will simply be not availing it's help in full. As Appar swamigal say's in this thevaram "Viragil..", we must first create a strong relationship/bond with Ishvara, then using emotions/feelings we must churn intensly, for Ishvara who lies hidden to manifest and grace us fully.

"If we want to be true disciples, we cannot just pick and choose which teachings we like and ignore or reject the rest."

Absolutely!. Once we have chosen Vichara or Surrender to Ishvara as our primary path, we cannot pick and choose which teachings in that path we like or reject. For example, once having chosen "Surrender to Ishvara" as our path, we must be willing to accept whatever happens in life as happening due to the will of Ishvara. We cannot pick and choose some things due to Ishvara and some things due to something else.

"He will do everything for us, and in return all he asks us to do for ourself is to wholeheartedly and unreservedly follow the path that he has shown us."

Absolutely!. He being Ishvara himself, will do everything for us. In return he asks us to follow sincerely either Vichara or Surrender to Ishvara or both, the paths he has shown us.

venkat said...

Hi Sivanarul,

Worth considering Aksharamanamalai verse:

40: May you impart to me the knowledge that arises through vichara so that there is an end to the weariness which arises through possessing only a longing to reach you, but without the necessary jnana to do so.

Murugunar's comment: "Since jnana alone is the direct means for knowing and attaining the Lord whose very form is that jnana, he speaks of 'not possessing jnana'. Since, until that knowledge is gained the Lord cannot be known by direct experience, if one possesses only the resultant desire to attain Him, but without the necessary knowledge to do so, that desire will in turn results only in weariness . . . If you ask whether or not the Supreme can be attained by bhakti alone we will reply that since the perception of Himself that Arunachala gives to his bhaktas is only a form in which they conceptualise Him, it is only a path to the true perception of Him. It is not the true perception, since it is only of the form of the mind of the individual perceiver. Since such a perception is impermanent, there will be no end to that weariness."

44: Turning towards the Heart and away from external phenomena through detachment, ceaselessly and one-pointedly examine and know the Self through the self with the inward-turned vision which is of the form of the enquiry 'who am I?'. Then shall you yourself clearly know as your very own nature the truth of the words 'You yourself, You alone, are the essence of the Real'). Thus did you instruct me Arunachala!

Zubin said...

What a great post, especially about the love and full acceptance of self-enqiury and Ramana.

Since starting self-investigation, I sometimes figuratively fall to my knees with how beautiful, simple, and perfect Ramana’s teachings are.

I see that I — like all of us — have fallen in love with thoughts, not only because of habit, but because of the I AM feeling at their core.

So it is beautiful to see, with a simple shift in perspective, that the intensity of my love and addiction to my thoughts is really a love for my true self.

And so I return again and again to Ramana’s love (his teachings and the I AM feeling) to experience the true Self instead of the obscured one I am addicted to behind all thoughts.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Michael and Sivanarul,

Here is a poem I penned on your recent exchange of views:


O, What emotions pass through my Being

When I read Bhagavan's clear teachings

Of paths to Truth there are two he said

The path of atma-vichara is one of them

And equally valid is the path of surrender

For in man we find two forces at work

Strong is man's intellect and its ratiocinations

Strong also is man's heart with its emotions

Go by the way of intellect and its powers

Then jnana-marga is the one for you

Go by the way of heart and its love

Then surrender is the path for you

Both these paths are well-trodden

And neither is the road less travelled

So, go by anyone with equal confidence

And you are sure to reach the destination

Be not concerned in the beginning

Whether these paths merge in the end

For our business is with travelling

And not how the road winds and wends

Throughout the course of its journey

Because our sight is limited

And we can see only so far ahead.

venkat said...

Sivanarul

A further thought . . . Aksharamanamalai is a poem by Bhagavan, as if he is a seeker, begging / cajoling / blackmailing Arunachala to bestow its grace upon him, to remove his ignorance and give him jnana that destroys the ego.

In Vedanta, there has always been the sense that knowledge alone cannot deliver liberation. Grace is needed to help the jiva be devoted to abiding in the Self.

In Katha Upanishad:
1.2.23: This Atman cannot be attained by the study of the Vedas, or by intelligence, or by much hearing of sacred books. It is attained by him alone whom IT chooses. To such a one, Atman reveals Its own form.
1.2.24: He who has not first turned away from wickedness, who is not tranquil and subdued, and whose mind is not at peace, cannot attain Atman. It is realised only through the Knowledge of Reality.

So Bhagavan and Vedanta say that once you have the knowledge of the truth, you need to abide in the Self, until it grants you the grace of the dissolution of the ego and sahaja samadhi.

Hence Bhagavan's v8 in Aksharamanamalai:

Compelled by its inherited dispositions my mind wanders ceaselessly among things of the world. May you in grace reveal to it the exquisite beauty of your all-embracing Self so that, contemplating you ceaselessly, it subsides irreversibly within you.

Sivanarul said...

Venkat,

Aksharamanamalai is both Bhakthi and Jnana fused together. So there is no wonder it contains mention of Vichara in it. As I said in my comment to Michael, "when Jnani's/saints experience reality and they report back that experience (Irai Anubhavam), they report back a facet of that experience and promote the way they had attained that in this life. Bhagavan, after having the death experience, looked at how he got that experience and since it was due to Vichara, promoted that as one of the ways aspirants could get it."

So there is nothing peculiar that Bhagavan would promote some degree of Vichara in Aksharamanamalai also, since that is the means he got Irai Anubhavam. I have never said the paths of Bhakthi and Jnana are mutually exclusive. All I said was the "practice" differs and I explained how it differs and Bhakthi/Surrender on it's own is fully capable of taking an aspirant all the way (since when Bhakthi matures, certain level of Jnana will automatically emerge, without the aspirant seeking it).

Sivanarul said...

Viveka Vairagya,

What a wonderful poem! I especially love the following:

"Be not concerned in the beginning
Whether these paths merge in the end
For our business is with travelling
And not how the road winds and wends"

Occasionally some real gems emerge out of Satsang. Your poem is one such gem. Thank you very much.

Have a good day!

ananiya-bhava said...

Bhagavan,
did you not already write your name on the clear slate of my heart ?
Oh sorry, yes, my slate of mind was not clear enough to make your teachings an indelible impression on it. Please may you have patience a little while longer because I am still busy with wiping all the confused mass of unclear scribblings from that slate.

svatma-bhakti said...

Bhagavan,
may I approach you directly ?
It is said that you before your human form has passed away you did give the assurance:"Where can I go, I am always here."
In which mode should we understand or interprete your statement ?
Would you please let Michael write some explanatory clarification ?

careful observer said...

Michael,
is it not a little bit strange that just many Indians do hardly realize the unique greatness of Sri Bhagavan Ramana and his fundamental principles of his teachings ?
Could you therefore please repeat explaining exactly what a real sadguru is and why Bhagavan is such one ?

atma-saksatkara said...

Oh Bhagavan, Arunachala, you blazing fire of Jnana !
Obviously I feel not inclined to practise the most purifying of all forms of spiritual practice. Let me recognize which sadhana appealed to me should I follow in order to purify my mind.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sivanarul,

Thank you for the appreciation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

This is another heart-touching article by Michael. He may appear to be an intellectual when he talks about Ulladu Narpadu, the practice of atma-vichara, and so on, but he is a pure bhakta at heart. His bhakti towards our sadguru is worth emulating.

As he implies, we should have more fidelity towards our sadguru and his teachings, then we have towards our respective spouses. Our spouses accompany and support us only for one lifetime, whereas our sadguru is looking after all our spiritual and material well-being for many life times, and will continue to do so in our future lives also.

Our sadguru, Bhagavan Ramana, has given us an atom bomb: his teachings and more particularly the practice of atma-vichara, but most of us keep this atom-bomb aside, and instead use guns, swords, cannons, and so on. These guns, swords, cannons are our sadhanas other than atma-vichara.

As Michael writes in this article:

No matter how strongly inclined we may be to try to practise either self-investigation or any other sādhana, if we are devoted to Bhagavan and accept him as our sadguru, we should at least be willingly to accept the basic principles of his teachings. We may not feel inclined to try immediately to apply all those principles in our current spiritual practice, but we should at least acknowledge them and aspire towards applying them more fully than we do at present.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

So, there are "two" paths, atma vichara (attention to your mere being and ignoring anything else, body, thoughts, world etc..) and surrender to God (Ishwara).

What exactly can we surrender to God? Our rising thoughts right?! What else?! And if so, how do we exactly surrender them? We give them to God, we stop being bothered about them, it's God's business, we don't pay attention to them... right?

But... if we truly surrender, i.e, we don't pay attention to the rising thoughts, what remains? It remains for us just to be, which is atma-vichara. Therfore THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE WHATSOEVER BETWEEN ATMA-VICHARA (ATTENTION TO OUR OWN MERE BEING WHILE IGNORING EVERYTHING ELSE) AND SURRENDER. THEY ARE EXACTLY THE SAME PATH!!!

If a thought rises (say an urge to buy something) and you say to yourself (ok, this thought has arisen, let me surrender it to God, but you follow it and go ahead with the action the thought produces) this is not surrender, is mere indulging in thoughts while thinking you have surrendered it to God...

This is what I think about the two seemingly different "paths"..

Peace.

eppodum ulladu said...

Dragos,
why should there be a path at all ? Path implies distance.
To be attentively self-aware which is the same as our own actual self is here and now.
There is no need of any path to be just what I always am.
I think 'path' is only metaphorically speaking. Or am I wrong ?

striving after liberty said...

Sanjay,
of course we should have complete and unreserved acceptance of the (sad)guru.
But it is not necessary to play your spouse off against your (sad)guru.
Do not forget that your respective spouse is in essence not different from your (sad) guru.

Sanjay Lohia said...

striving after liberty, first of all, why do you write sadguru as (sad)guru? It would be interesting to know this. According to you, are guru and sadguru different from each other? As per my understanding guru and sadguru are synonymous terms, which in our case is Bhagavan Ramana. Any other person who imparts us any worldly or religious knowledge can be called a ‘teacher’, ‘guide’ . . . Only sadguru can lead us from darkness to light, or from ignorance to knowledge; only he can show us the way to liberation. For that reason, the terms guru or sadguru have a very specific meaning.

Any analogy cannot be 100% true or perfect. What I meant was: if the love of our spouse for us is, say, 1/100, the love of our sadguru for us is 100/100. Our spouse surely loves herself/himself more than she/he loves us; thus, their love for us is khanda (broken or limited), whereas our sadguru’s love for us is akhanda (unbroken or unlimited). In his views there are no others, and therefore he experiences us as himself. As he surely loves himself, as we all do, his self-love is infinite; therefore, his love and compassion for us is also without any boundaries.

Yes, as you say, our respective spouse in her or his essential nature is not different form the sadguru, but as long as we experience ourself as a person, we definitely have to give more importance to our sadguru than to our spouse. Our sastras say: we can have the feeling of advaita (oneness) towards all, but we should not have this advatic feeling towards our guru. Guru’s main function is to help us destroy our ego, whereas our spouse can, at best, give us companionship in our worldly journey and provide us with some material comforts. Therefore, equating our sadguru with our spouse is like equating a candle flame (our spouse) with the sunlight (our sadguru). Of course, in very rare cases our spouse can be our sadguru, if she or he is atma-jnani.

Mouna said...

Is there one path that fits all or different paths fit all?
If it was in my power I would add a verse to Ulladu Narpadu (sorry for being so pretentious, but it is just for argument's sake, UN is perfect the way it is), I'll be maybe naming it 3bis and would read something like this:
'Atma Vichara is the only practice to attain self-realization - Self-surrender to Ishwara is also as efficient,' 'Jnana is the pinnacle of bhakti - Bhakti is the mother of jnana,' ‘Bhagavan's ultimate teaching is atma-vichara, no it's not,' ‘Bhagavan is ourself - no, Ishwara is ourself'... why do these profitless arguments persist? The egoless state, beyond Duality and Non-Duality, in which one has abandoned the world and come to know oneself as god, self or para-brahman through investigation and surrender, is the fitting state for all.

With our left eye we see a different perspective than with the right one, and this "dual" vision is what give us the illusion of three-dimensionality. We don't use much our hidden "between those two" third one which unites the opposites thereby destroying them.

Sanjay Lohia said...

'Atma-vichara is the direct and easy method; how can it be difficult to go to your own self?', says Bhagavan (Day by Day with Bhagavan * 2002 edition * page 324 pdf version * date 8.10.46)

Introduction: As mentioned in this article, Sivanarul claimed: 'In the spiritual journey, there is no direct or indirect method that applies to everyone'. In this article, Michael has tried to explain why indeed atma-vichara is the direct path for all, and the following extract from Day by Day with Bhagavan further elaborates on this:

This afternoon, a visitor asked Bhagavan, “No doubt the method taught by Bhagavan is direct. But it is so difficult. We do not know how to begin it. If we go on asking, ‘Who am I?’ ‘Who am I?’ like a japa, with ‘Who am I?’ for mantra, it becomes dull. In other methods, there is something preliminary and positive with which one can begin and then go step by step. But in Bhagavan’s method, there is no such thing, and to seek the Self at once, though direct, is difficult.”

Bhagavan: You yourself concede, it is the direct method. It is the direct and easy method. When going after other things, alien to us, is so easy, how can it be difficult for one to go to one’s own Self? You talk of ‘Where to begin’. There is no beginning and no end. You are yourself the beginning and the end. If you are here and the Self somewhere else, and you have to reach that Self, you may be told how to start, how to travel and then how to reach. Suppose you who are now in Ramana Asramam ask, ‘I want to go to Ramana Asramam. How shall I start and how to reach it?’, what is one to say? A man’s search for the Self is like that. He is always the Self and nothing else. You say ‘Who am I?’ becomes a japa. It is not meant that you should go on asking ‘Who am I?’ In that case, thought will not so easily die. [. . .] In the direct method, as you call it, by saying ask yourself ‘Who am I?’ you are told to concentrate within yourself where the I thought (the root of all other thoughts) arises. As the Self is not outside but inside you, you are asked to dive within, instead of going without, and what can be more easy than going to yourself? But the fact remains that to some this method will seem difficult and will not appeal.

That is why so many different methods have been taught. Each of them will appeal to some as the best and easiest. That is according to their pakva or fitness. But to some, nothing except the vichara marga will appeal. They will ask, ‘You want me to know or to see this or that. But who is the knower, the seer?’ Whatever other method may be chosen, there will be always a doer. That cannot be escaped. Who is that doer must be found out. Till that, the sadhana cannot be ended. So eventually, all must come to find out ‘Who am I?’. You complain that there is nothing preliminary or positive to start with. You have the ‘I’ to start with. You know you exist always, whereas the body does not exist always, e.g., in sleep. Sleep reveals that you exist even without a body. We identify the ‘I’ with a body, we regard the Self as having a body, and as having limits, and hence all our trouble. All that we have to do is to give up identifying our Self with the body, with forms and limits, and then we shall know ourselves as the Self that we always are.

The visitor further asked, “May I believe that there is nothing more to be known now, so far as the technique of sadhana is concerned, than that which has been written in your books from time to time? This question arises from the fact that, in all other systems of sadhana , the sadguru unfolds some secret technique of meditation to his disciple at the time of initiation or diksha, as it is called.”

Bhagavan: There is nothing more to be known than what you find in books. No secret technique. It is all an open secret, in this system.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Aloha! Excellent addendum to Ulladu Narpadu and you certainly have the power to add to it in my version, at least. Bhagavan acted as per what is written in 3bis. Saint Thayumanavar certainly has 3bis in his song(s), one of which is:

Bliss That Is Perfect Full

The Maya into which the elements subside
Is the origin of all, so some say. *[1]

The Substance into which the sense organs merge
Is the reality, so some say. *[2]

Where the cognitive organs, the karanas end,
Is the finite reality, so some say. *[3]

Where the gunas find their home
Is the Reality ultimate, so some say *[4].

Nadam it is, some say *[5]
Bindu it is, others say *[6].
The Self it is, yet others say *[7].
Formed it is, some say. *[8]
Formless it is, if you search deeper, so some say *[9].

The state where jiva merges losing identity in full
Is the reality, so some say *[10].

Divine Grace is the finite reality, so some say *[11].
The Void that neither beginning nor end has

Is the reality final so some say *[12].
And thus and thus yet other things they say.

By all these, except that my mind sore troubled,
Reaches a mercurial state.
Will I ever attain
The bliss of Transcendental Samadhi?

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

FootNotes:
[1] School of Niriswara Sankhya
[2] School of Pasana Vadins
[3] School of Sangranda Vadins
[4] School of Niganta Vadins
[5] School of Sabda Brahma Vadins
[6] School of Jnananma Vadins
[7] School of Ekanma Vadins
[8] School of Sivasama Vadins
[9] School of Maya Vadins
[10] School of Bhaskara Charya
[11] School of Aikya Vada Saivas
[12] School of Sunya Vadins

'I am I' said...

Sivanarul,
Thayumananvar sang "You, the Bliss that is Perfect Full".
My song would be : I am the bliss that is perfect full.

striving after liberty said...

Sanjay,
thanks for your reply.
Sorry , I do not consider guru and sadguru as synonymous terms because only a sadguru can lead us to self-knowledge.
I cannot believe that your wife has love for you only 1/100 when expressed as a percentage. She would make a protest against your remark.

swim against the current said...

Michael,
"This is all that it comes down to: do we or do we not want to be attentively self-aware? Wanting or liking to be attentively self-aware is what is called svātma-bhakti (love for our own actual self) or sat-vāsanā (inclination just to be), and it is the key to persistently and successfully practising self-investigation and thereby eventually being aware of ourself as we actually are."
"However Bhagavan has assured us that if we persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible our svātma-bhakti will increase and our viṣaya-vāsanās will be correspondingly weakened, until eventually we will subside and merge back into our source forever, thereby losing ourself entirely in the infinite light of pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are."

Evidently my wanting to be attentively self-aware is still weak.
Therefore my perseverance in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible cannot easily increase. As a result my svatma-bhakti will not increase and my visaya-vasanas will correspondingly not be weakened. Consequently losing myself entirely in the infinite light of pure self-awareness seems to be far away.
So I humbly pray to Arunachala and/or Bhagavan to make me willing to be accepted by him which entails my complete and unreserved acceptance of his teachings.

Roger Isaacs said...

Sivanarul was quoted in the main blog"the very usage of a "direct [way to Self]" or indirect [implies] a play of the ego that has assumed a spiritual identity and to satisfy its need for superiority..."

Sivanarul is exactly right and Michael's post demonstrates this.

Michael (apparently) separates Bhagavan's work into the "core" teachings which he has translated and everything else. Everything else is given less importance. But... is it even remotely possible that Bhagavan spoke (or wrote) a higher level of truth on one day and less truth at other times? Obviously not. Any teaching that claims to represent Bhagavan must thoroughly study and incorporate (or at least account for) all of his work!!! Michael said above "We must be willing to accept all his teachings in their entirety", so yes, let's do that!

Michael claims:
"the only direct means for us to be aware of ourself as we actually are is to attend to ourself. This is a very simple principle and in perfect accord with logic. How can we see what we actually are unless we look at ourself? It is as simple and as logical as that. It is a principle that even a child can understand."

"even a child can understand" is condescending and patronizing speech.

Michael's claim above sounds like a strong logical argument, but is it true?

Bhagavan says: Talk 78.
D.:A man from Masulla asked the Master: “How to realise the Self?”
M.: Everyone has experience of the Self every moment of his life.
D.: But the Self is not realised as one would like.
M.: Yes. The present experience is viparita - different from real. What is not is confounded with what is.
D.: How to find the Atman?
M.: There is no investigation into the Atman. The investigation can only be into the non-self. Elimination of the non-self is alone possible. The Self being always self evident will shine forth of itself.
The Self is called by different names - Atman, God, Kundalini, mantra, etc. Hold any one of them and the Self becomes manifest. God is no other than the Self. Kundalini is now showing forth as the mind. When the mind is traced to its source it is Kundalini. Mantra japa leads to elimination of other thoughts and to concentration on the mantra. The mantra finally merges into the Self and shines forth as the Self.


Bhagavan said there are multiple ways to the Self: there is "kundalini, mantra, etc...".
Bhagavan states directly that Michael's claims are FALSE regarding "atma vicara is the direct way, the final way for everyone, 'the best'" etc.

How can Bhagavan say or write one thing one day and something different another day? There is always the case where different people require different answers. But more likely the apparent contradictions are because reality is diverse. Language is far too limited to ever express the whole truth. Therefore, different perspectives must be expressed.

Regarding diversity of spiritual approaches Bhagavan says (Talks 319, Jan 7th 1937):
M.: It is unity in diversity. The universe is now seen to be diverse. See the common factor (sama) in all the objects. When that is done equality in the pairs of opposites (dwandwani) naturally follows. It is the latter which is however spoken of as equanimity ordinarily.

D.: How is the common factor to be perceived in the diversity?

M.: The seer is only one. They do not appear without the seer. There is no change in the seer, however much the others may change.

Yogah karmasu kousalam = Skill in work is yoga,
Samatvam yoga uchyate = Equanimity is yoga,
Mamekam saranam vraja = Only surrender to Me,
Ekamevadwiteeyam = Only one without a second,

representing Karma, Yoga, Bhakti and Jnana convey the same meaning. They are only the single Truth presented in different aspects.

Mouna said...

SIvanarulji, Vannakkam

You wrote: "Aloha! Excellent addendum to Ulladu Narpadu and you certainly have the power to add to it in my version, at least.”

Don’t read me wrong.
I still think based on my experience, as I told you many times before, that Bhagavan’s “direct path” is what its name declares, direct.
I would add “the most” direct, because of the simple logic that oneself is the closest and most available thing/experience to oneself.
And why is that?

If I'd say, I’d like to go from here where I am standing to here where I’m standing, would you advice me to go “there” and come back?
If I'd say, I’d like to be in the present moment, would you advice me to wait a little?
Evidently not. Why not?

The same happens when we try to acknowledge existence, and again, I am not saying to acknowledge that “I” exist, but rather that there is existence.
There is no temporal or spatial distance between that realization and myself, in fact according to Bhagavan, the knowledge of existence (or reality) IS ourself.
You can’t have reality without the knowledge of it and vice versa.
In religious language, is called god, in non religious, self. Beyond those two languages, brahman.

But at the same time, you are absolutely right when you state that sadhanas has to be considered according to the level of the sadhaka.
Indeniable right of every sadhaka, and to go further, I believe the spiritual learning evolution is an organic and comprehensive process.
Organic in the sense that it is like a seed that turns into a sprout that turns into a small shoot, a plant, a tree and further gives fruits. You can’t alter the factors neither ommit any of them. And comprehensive because the steps have to be followed in a certain order, a little bit like the Vedantic Shastras, starting with rituals and ending in ajata.

What I was aiming with my 3bis verse was to denounce the intellectual position that either takes one “camp" or the other, omitting the gray area that lies in between and where we devotees all try to navigate our boats. It gets even muddier when words start to sound “ad hominem” rather than a required intellectual honesty (and humility!) very necessary to attain the clarity of heart and intellect we need to carry whatever sadhana we are embarked upon.

I know (I think I know...) where you are coming from as well as Michael trying to clarify not only the members' understanding of this blog but his own, and I learnt a lot from all these interactions, because they are not in the books!!! At the same time I can’t spot any errors of judgement on either point of view, because they just look like the pieces of a gigantic 4D puzzle unfolding and changing all the time where I also am one of those pieces…

……

Oh, yes, by the way, I love to watch the Olympics, although not all sports I connect with; football, swimming, diving, gymnastics and running are my favorites. These people really demonstrate what a concentrated focused mind looks like!
May the same intensity reach us by Grace and put us closer to...

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji, addendum to my last posting.

Of course you understood that when I spoke about critic “ad hominem” I wasn’t talking about you, correct?
Just wanted to be sure you understood that.

Be well and let’s swim deep.

Sanjay Lohia said...

'If God guides me, what should I think, why should I think?', said Mahatma Gandhi ~*~ (Talks, 2003 reprint * pdf version page 624 * talk no 646, dated 13th March 1939)

Sri Bhagavan referred to the following passage of Gandhiji in the Harijan of the 11th instant:

“How mysterious are the ways of God! This journey to Rajkot is a wonder even to me. Why am I going, whither am I going? What for? I have thought nothing about these things. And if God guides me, what should I think, why should I think? Even thought may be an obstacle in the way of His guidance.

“The fact is, it takes no effort to stop thinking. The thoughts do not come. Indeed there is no vacuum - but I mean to say that there is no thought about the mission.” [. . . ]

Devotee: He also says, “It takes no effort to stop thinking”.

Maharshi: Of course no effort is necessary to stop thoughts whereas one is necessary for bringing about thoughts.

Reflections: Yes, as Gandhiji says: if we have total trust is God, we should not even think. Even our thinking can hinder his flow of grace towards us. This is real surrender. We think thoughts because we hope thereby to achieve something, but once we are convinced that it is only God who is doing everything, why should we waste our energy in thinking thoughts? If it is only God’s will or plan which will bear fruit, should we not just relax and let God act as he feels proper and appropriate in every given situation. Can we even match the infinite and benevolent intelligence of Bhagavan? This is why Bhagavan advised his mother - remaining silent is the best or most appropriate [in all circumstances].

Bhagavan explains: ‘no effort is necessary to stop thoughts whereas one is necessary for bringing about thoughts’. Our primal state of pure self-awareness is an effortless state, but we (our ego) make all kinds of effort by way of our thoughts. It is only because of these outward directed efforts that we seem to need inward effort to get back to our true state of just being.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

I love how David explains self enquiry in his video (starting from around minute 16 to 24:20)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UDVQC_uHRCI&feature=youtu.be&t=16m

It helped me a lot to understand the practice and to avoid reading other spiritual material (I know a lot here will disagree, but if we follow this path and understand the basics we will not be distracted anymore by anyone and any other spiritual guru or material)

I hope this will help some people here how it helped me also...

Peace.

Bob - P said...


Michael thanks for your wonderful post, it came straight from the heart.

As you say it all comes down to trust and surrendering our self to Bhagavan / Arunachala / His teaching.

As you point out the basic core principles of his teaching are very simple for us to understand. That's why they are so precious. That is the priceless gift he gave us.

Your writings are constantly repeating these core principles over and over again in different ways, hammering them away, again and again. They are helpful beyond measure to devotees to Bhagavan, thank you Michael.

We mustn't pick and choose principals like you say but trust them and do our best to follow them.

I love all your articles but I have copied this short one and will read it often to remind me to try my very best to do what you say and try my utmost to love Bhagavan as much as he loves me by attending to myself as much and as intensely as I can.

I hope this article was as helpful for other Bhagavan devotees who visit your blog as it was for me.

All my most sincere and heartfelt best wishes.
Bob

brush aside the unreal said...

Dragos,
yes I too feel David's explanation quite well.
Thank you.
Peace.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The deeper we sink into our being, the less we will be affected by the movement of any thought ~*~ (Happiness and The Art of Being, third PDF edition 2007 * chapter 10: The Practice of the Art of Being * page 518)

Introduction: We have to constantly drill into our heads Bhagavan’s core teaching: the theory and practice of self-investigation. In a way we are relatively lonely on this path, as very few of our friends (I do not necessarily mean on this blog) seem to be attracted to Bhagavan’s path of atma-vichara. Thus, we have very little inputs from outside by way of worthwhile writings or discussions on this subject. Also very few like-minded friends travel with us on this path. However, do we really need anybody else to travel with us? It is not strictly necessary; group practice of atma-vichara is not really needed. Bhagavan also once said: it is better to practise alone.

But we have to keep ourself motivated by constant sravana and manana of Bhagavan’s teachings. It is because of this very reason that Sadhu Om and Michael are very precious to us, because they have expanded and explained Bhagavan’s teachings with great clarity. As part of my manana, I have chosen an important topic this time: importance of intensity of effort while practicing self-attentiveness, and why we should try to go deeper, and deeper, and deeper . . . within ourself, until we lose ourself (our ego) in ourself (in our true self). Michael writes:

From the standpoint of our spiritual practice, therefore, our aim should always be to experience our self-consciousness or self-attentiveness with the greatest possible degree of clarity.

Hence we should try to focus our attention so keenly on our own self-conscious being that all our awareness or knowledge of any other thing is entirely excluded. The more we are able by such keen self-attentiveness to exclude all other knowledge or thoughts, the more clearly and intensely we will become conscious of ourself as we really are.

In order to illustrate this process by which we can make our self-consciousness become increasingly clear and intense, Sri Ramana gives us the analogy of a pearl-diver who sinks deep into the ocean to collect a pearl. Our thoughts, which are the imaginary knowledge that we have of things other than ourself, are like the ever-restless waves on the surface of the ocean. The closer we are to the surface of our mind, the more we will be buffeted about by the movement of our thoughts. However, instead of floating about near the surface, if we sink, dive or penetrate deep into our being, we will increasingly approach the absolute core and essence of our being, which is entirely free of all such movement. The deeper we sink into our being, the less we will be affected by the movement of any thought.

Sinking or diving deep into ourself therefore means penetrating deep beneath the surface activity of our mind by focusing our attention ever more keenly, pointedly, exclusively and firmly upon our ‘am’-ness – our fundamental consciousness of our own essential being, which we always experience as ‘I am’. When our attention penetrates thus into the very essence of our being, our mind will subside or sink into the state of just being, and thus all its activity or thinking will automatically and effortlessly cease.

Only by repeatedly and persistently penetrating thus into the depth of our own ‘am’-ness – our essential self-conscious being – will we eventually be able to reach its innermost depth or absolute core, which is itself the ‘pearl of self’, the perfect state of true and infinitely clear self-knowledge, which we are seeking to attain. * (extract ends)

brush aside the unreal said...

Sanjay,
you are metaphorically speaking. I do not assume that our awareness can be described in geometrical terms of space like depth or surface. Do we not consider awareness as infinite and therefore spaceless ? Saying that consciousness has any depth would suggest having also height/altitude and volume.

tackling this ego said...

Dragos Nicolae,
particularly I like the analogical story of the big wedding feast where one visitor pretends to be an important person...and when investigated more accurately by both parties he takes flight.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji, Good overall comment.

"I still think based on my experience, as I told you many times before, that Bhagavan’s “direct path” is what its name declares, direct.
I would add “the most” direct, because of the simple logic that oneself is the closest and most available thing/experience to oneself.
And why is that? If I'd say, I’d like to go from here where I am standing to here where I’m standing, would you advice me to go “there” and come back?
If I'd say, I’d like to be in the present moment, would you advice me to wait a little?Evidently not. Why not?"

Congratulations! You have been hired to do a 10 second Hollywood commercial. Here it is. Lights on, camera and Action....

In the background there is a huge picture of Bhagavan. Mounaji enters observing Mouna. A few seconds pass. Then he suddenly does a Ussain Bolt signature move pointing to the sky. Caption appears on the screen that states "Bhagavan's Direct Path" and is displayed parallel to the signature move pointing to heaven. Mounaji stays for 5 seconds in that signature move. Various other paths pass by quickly on the screen, all put to shame, never to compete again. It's a wrap.

From now on, when you write about the "direct path", think about the 10 second commercial, and get a good laugh out of it. I will.

Continued in next comment...

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment...

Now to some serious stuff. Your comment, that I quoted, is like first deciding the solution and then formulating the question for that solution. You have already decided that "experiencing oneself" is the solution and then asking what more can be direct than looking at oneself.

Let us first start with the question without worrying about the solution. Many people turn to spirituality because they see the ephemeral nature of life and the inherent dukkha that lies underneath it. They sense that there must be something that is transcendent. They study various scriptures and find out the ego that constantly chatters "me me me me me me me me me me me" and does everything for that "ME" chatter is the problem. Then they look at various solutions offered by the scriptures which primarily boils down to rendering the ego to a burnt up rope (BUR) (whether it is alive or dead, it is practically harmless). Then they study the various methods to get to that and choose the one that is the "direct path" for them.

When Mahatma Gandhi did the above analysis, he found that working for the welfare of the nation (Karma yoga) and Ram nama japa (Bhakthi yoga / surrender to Ishvara) was the way that was the "direct path" for him to render the ego as BUR and by all means he greatly succeeded in it. He never cared for the welfare of himself or his family, lived an ascetic life, obtained freedom for a nation, had his pores emanated Ram japa (according to Maurice).

When Bhakthi towards Ishvara (both within and without) blossomed in the hearts of the Saiva nayanmar's, it became the "direct path" for them. They did not start out to "experience oneself". They simply loved Ishvara like mad (falling madly in love), that the ego was completely annihilated in the process. Please read periya puranam, to know more details.

Again as I said, spiritual path is not where you can use distance analogies like standing here, going there and coming back etc. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes (done by Grace/Ishvara), that calling something "direct path for everyone", is simply the ego wanting to play the role of Ishvara. In other words, the ego is basically saying this without actually saying it: "I don't know anything about your past lives. I don't know anything about you in this life. But I know this is the direct path for you, even though I don't know anything about you". In other words, it is like a patient who is undergoing a treatment, that seems to be working for him (experience), now starts saying to every other patient he sees, that this treatment is the one he needs. Note that the patient is not a Doctor and he has not done an examination on the patient to whom he is offering the solution. Hiding behind a Doctor's written text is not any better, because Doctor's write many texts and many treatment plans for various patients and we have no idea which treatment plan he will choose for a patient.

IMO, Ishvara is more than capable of showing what is the "direct path" for each one of us. For some of us, it is Vichara. For others, it is something else with or without Vichara.

The ego that thinks it knows what is direct/best for others, is what we are trying to get to become BUR.

Mouna said...

Sivanarulji, namaste

Before I address the second comment I would like to make an observation about the first.
We are friends, at least virtual for the moment, so in general I don't mind the making fun and have "a good laugh" as you suggest here and there...
With this first comment I felt different this time and to be honest, I not only didn't laugh but also thought that it could have being a trick to water down something that was written not in a "very serious" manner (that will justify the use of some innocuous humor) but with the intention of having an honest conversation.
Again, I don't mind the jokes but when it becomes a pattern in some way it could hide something underneath.. maybe and I don't know, that's why I wanted to share this observation with you.

In the next few days I'll ponder on your second comment that I didn't read yet and need be I'll share my thoughts on it.

Be well my friend,
M

Roger Isaacs said...

Sivanarul says From now on, when you write about the "direct path", think about the 10 second commercial, and get a good laugh out of it. I will.

The play in my imagination is as follows: Michael is sitting gracefully on a chair on a raised platform with flowers around, sniffing a rose, incense smoke rising, sipping on a guinness stout, and the framed photo of Bhagavan behind him, you know... the usual satsang presentation. The talk begins....

But the audience listening to him speak is: Krishna, Jesus, Buddha, Mahavira, Patangalli, Sankara, Gaudapada etc...

Just imagine all these truly great enlightened souls listening to an unenlightened upa-guru explain why his teaching is the only way, the most direct way, that all seekers will come to Atma Vicara in the end etc.

I just hope they have a good sense of humor. If Arjuna is present with his bow... things could get ugly.

Bhagavan is also in the audience and is shouting: "No! No Michael! I said in Talk 78:"
"The Self is called by different names - Atman, God, Kundalini, mantra, etc. Hold any one of them and the Self becomes manifest."

"And I said in Talk 319:"
..."Karma, Yoga, Bhakti and Jnana convey the same meaning. They are only the single Truth presented in different aspects. "

I do enjoy Michael's great translations skills and enthusiasm. But anyone who believes that he/she has the only best direct superior way for everyone else is simply on a bit of an ego trip.

Sanjay Lohia said...

rush aside the unreal, I think in my comment nowhere pure-awareness was described in geometrical terms of space, like depth or surface. Yes, pure-awareness is infinite, and therefore timeless and spaceless.

What Michael was trying to explain was that our mind will sink or penetrate deep into our own being - in other words subside deep within ourself – in direct proportion to how keen, pointed and exclusive our self-attentiveness is. As Michael wrote:

When our attention penetrates thus into the very essence of our being, our mind will subside or sink into the state of just being, and thus all its activity or thinking will automatically and effortlessly cease.

brush aside the unreal said...

Roger,
of course, Bhagavan's teaching about the core principles of the direct way does not meet with everybody's approval. Some prefer to suffer from this ego's refusal to develop the correct understanding. There is nothing any one can do about it. So let the ego run wild ...hahaha...
May everybody finally catch/reach the right train/avenue !
Did not Bhagavan say: Yes, there is hope !

brush aside the unreal said...

Sanjay,
my reply was regarded to the sentence of your comment:"As part of my manana, I have chosen an important topic this time: importance of intensity of effort while practicing self-attentiveness, and why we should try to go deeper, and deeper, and deeper . . . within ourself, until we lose ourself (our ego) in ourself (in our true self)."

brush aside the unreal said...

Sivanarul,
IMO, IMO,IMO...Who is the bearer of IMO ?
To whom is the same old story of IMO told ?
To whom does the idea of Ishvara appear ?
Everybody is free to accept or reject the teaching of somebody beyond of IMO and Ishvara.

Sanjay Lohia said...

brush aside the unreal, my use of three ‘ourself’ in the last phrase I wrote could have been confusing. Actually I was trying to play around with the word ‘ourself’, because all the three ‘ourself’ can be interpreted slightly differently. However, I would rephrase the sentence as follows: ‘As part of my manana, I have chosen an important topic this time: importance of intensity of effort while practising self-attentiveness, and why we should attend or focus on our ego with greater and greater intensity, until our ego merges in our true self’.

We should attend to or look at ‘I’ or ourself with more and more keenness or one-pointedness - this is what I meant when I wrote, ‘and deeper, and deeper, and deeper . . .’ This exclusivity of our self-attentiveness will make our true self more and more clear, until eventually we will experience ourself with absolute clarity. This absolute clarity is atma-jnana.

brush aside the unreal said...

Quotes of Sri Ramanasramam

A man should surrender the personal selfishness which binds him to this world. Giving up the false self is true renunciation.

Sivanarul said...

Mounaji,

Aloha! my friend. Please don't read too much into the humor comment. It is apparent that what appeared as humorous to me did not appear as humorous to you. It was just something that came to mind after reading various comments over time of how Vichara is the "direct path" and watching Ussain Bolt doing his signature move pointing to the sky. Let's depersonalize that comment. Please take Mounaji out of the comment and put Ussain Bolt himself doing his own move. Having depersonalized it, if you read the comment, it just represents pictorially what is typically written in this blog (that is Vichara is the direct way, everything else is like a round about way (bicycle analogy used often). Just like there is no single path that is direct for everyone, there is nothing that will appear humorous to everyone. Just leave it at that.

Sivanarul said...

brush aside the unreal said,

"IMO, IMO,IMO...Who is the bearer of IMO ?"

The bearer of IMO is the one that read your comment addressed to Roger "Some prefer to suffer from this ego's refusal to develop the correct understanding". The bearer of IMO is the one that having read that, thought here we go again. Another example of a patient who thinks that if someone else does not follow their treatment plan then they are condemned to suffer.

"To whom is the same old story of IMO told ?"

To the same one, whom you think is condemned to suffer due to an understanding that is different than your "correct" understanding.

"To whom does the idea of Ishvara appear ?"

To the one that Ishvara wants it to appear.

"Everybody is free to accept or reject the teaching of somebody beyond of IMO and Ishvara."

Since there is nothing beyond Ishvara (I view Ishvara as both manifested and unmanifested), there is nothing to accept or reject.

brush aside the unreal said...

Sivanarul,
to whom seem your given answers to be quite clean, straightforward or smooth ?
There is no need to think of any condemnation to suffer because that suffering is quite sturdy felt.
Ishvara - manifested or unmanifested - is only a conceptual idea to understand the world-appearance experienced by this ego.
Something different: Will the Jamaican "heaven-pointer" will win also the 200 meters in Rio - perhaps with the help of Ishvara ?
Aloha !

Sivanarul said...

brush aside the unreal,

Aloha! to you.

"to whom seem your given answers to be quite clean, straightforward or smooth ?"

To the one who seems them as clean, straightforward and smooth.

"There is no need to think of any condemnation to suffer because that suffering is quite sturdy felt."

Your comment "Some prefer to suffer from this ego's refusal to develop the correct understanding" clearly says that if anyone refuses to develop the correct understanding (that matches your), they prefer to suffer. Smells like condemnation.

"Ishvara - manifested or unmanifested - is only a conceptual idea to understand the world-appearance experienced by this ego."

That may be your understanding. My understanding is that, your thinking of Ishvara as only a conceptual idea is really the conception.

brush aside the unreal said...

Sivanarul,
Aloha to you again.
Having understandings about unclear concepts seems to be in any case a bit fruitless because it leads us in the whirl of our thought-machine called mind.
The correct understanding is evidently only that which frees us from the one defect, the ego. Mistaken awareness does not provide undisturbed inner awareness.
Let us therefore point the indexfinger of our 'heavenly' attention into the direction where we get established in the Real - maybe with new olympic or world record.
Since Brahma and Vishnu suffered from false consciousness let us pursuit not of defective and objective knowledges which are merely superimposed on Self, the Pure knowledge.

Sivanarul said...

brush aside the unreal,

Fair enough and amen.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The feet of guru are that which is always shining within you as ‘I [am] I’. Grasp that: Bhagavan ~*~ (HAB, third PDF edition 2007 * chapter 9: Self-Investigation and Self-Surrender * page 518)

Introduction: In our Hindu way of life, touching God’s or guru’s feet is a special way of showing our love, respect and reverence for them. Many of us touch the feet of our elders and teachers when we meet them after a gap, say after a few weeks or months. This is a way of seeking their blessings. Of course, this act is also used as sycophancy in India. People often shamelessly touch the feet of politicians and other influential people in order to gain favours from them.

Is this custom of touching feet also prevalent in other cultures and countries? It would be interesting to know this from the various participants of this blog.

In the epic Ramayana, Rama was asked to go to forest for 14 years, to enable his younger brother Bharat to occupy the throne. However, though reluctantly Bharat looked after the kingdom in the absence of Rama, but he never sat on the throne. He merely kept the wooden slippers of Rama on the throne and tried to rule the kingdom on his behalf. For Bharat those wooden slippers represented his brother Rama himself. This is the importance attached to the feet (or even to the footwear) of God or our guru.

Michael: In Hindu devotional poetry and literature the adoration of God is often described as bowing to his feet, falling at his feet, clinging to his feet, taking refuge in or at his feet, and so on, because such actions imply humility, devotion and submission. Therefore in Indian languages the term ‘feet’ has come to be synonymous with God as the ultimate object of worship or adoration. Moreover, as Sri Ramana often explained, the term ‘the feet of God’ is an allegorical description of his true state – the egoless and perfectly non-dual state of unalloyed self-conscious being, which always shines within each one of us as ‘I am’. In order to remind us that we can experience God as he really is only in the core of our own being, he always emphasised the truth that the ‘feet of God’ cannot be found outside but only within ourself. On one occasion, when a lady devotee bowed before him and caught hold of his feet saying, “I am clinging to the feet of my guru”, he looked at her kindly and said, “Are these the feet of guru? The feet of guru are that which is always shining within you as ‘I [am] I’. Grasp that”.

Conclusion: Bhagavan’s feet are within us, so we can touch it anytime, anywhere whenever we wish to do so. Bhagavan never allowed his devotees to touch his physical feet, but he constantly encourages us to touch his real feet: the core of our being. In some Ramana shrines they organize special elaborate pujas to the idol (vigraha) of Bhagavan. Such pujas will definitely purify our minds if done with love for Bhagavan. However, we can simply attend to Bhagavan’s real feet within ourself; it is easier, and much-much more purifying. As Bhagavan advises the lady, he wants us to constantly cling to his feet – by practising nirantara svarupa-smarana. There is nothing more worthwhile or important than this practice!

Botafogo said...

Sanjay,
I am rather new on this blog. Could you please explain what exactly means :
"shining within each of us" or "shining within ourself"
"in the core of our own being".
I assume that places referred to are not considered to be in the physical body.

sakti-pada said...

Bhagavan,
I am indeed self-aware but presumably not sufficient attentively. Also I do not really feel in what way you are present in me. Please do open my heart more fully to being guided by you on my inward journey.
That is my pray to you. Without your grace I am lost in the big dense forest of ignorance. Too long I was wandering in a self-satisfied manner in delusion. I did not even hear about the pure and blissfull state of Sahaja Samadhi. Rather like a blind man I was caught up in the net of duality of the sentient and the insentient, wriggling in deceptive, unreal and dual imaginations not knowing the supreme Shiva-awareness.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi "Brush aside.."

You say "of course, Bhagavan's teaching about the core principles of the direct way does not meet with everybody's approval. Some prefer to suffer from this ego's refusal to develop the correct understanding."

All outer teachings are only ADJUNCTS. I know Michael likes to say that things like pranayama are adjuncts and not be taken very seriously, well... all teachings fall into the same category! The only "correct understanding" is when the ego is dead in your experience ("dead" using the terminology of your school which I do not like). This transformation is an inward discovery and not to be found in the outward teaching.

Teachings can be helpful, but, when a teaching is pointing outwards rather than inwards the value is being lost. When it is emphasized that "atma vicara is the best way, most direct way for everyone, all people will come to atma vicara eventually".... then the teaching is being used as an OUTWARD device in egoic competition with other teachings and it's losing it's status as an inward tool.

Outward teachings can only point to the inward truth, and when the teachings get involved in outward competition between schools they are pointing in the wrong direction!!!

You say "Bhagavan's ... core principles":
These are not Bhagavan's core principles, they are one's that Michael has selected, but they are not all of Bhagavan's words.
Bhagavan's principles are found when considering ALL of his words.

Michael's core principles DO NOT meet with Bhagavan's approval.
Therefore, I am in good company when I question the core principles!
:-)

Frequently in "Talks with Ramana..." these "core principles" of Michael's are found to differ from Bhagavan's later words.

Michael demands endlessly "atma vicara is the best, most direct...".
But later Bhagavan says "Karma, Yoga, Bhakti and Jnana convey the same meaning. They are only the single Truth presented in different aspects". And "The Self is called by different names - Atman, God, Kundalini, mantra, ETC... Hold any one of them and the Self becomes manifest."

So clearly, Michael's teaching does not entirely meet with Bhagavan's approval!!!

Michael is very logical and wants to present a teaching that is entirely consistent. But Bhagavan's teaching is not entirely logical and consistent and he sometimes contradicts himself. But... this is good because reality is diverse, there is no single teaching that is best for all, only multiple perspectives.

You tell me "some prefer to suffer...".
I'm not suffering. But when you place yourself in competition with other schools and claim your teaching to be "the best, the only" for everyone, you place yourself in outward egoic competition.... this invites suffering. On an extreme scale, this is how religious wars have claimed 100's of millions of lives over the eons.

Personally I think Michael's teaching is great, but... this part of it which is egoic saying that atma vicara is superior etc... needs adjustment. I would like to see Michael succeed in a big way, but for a spiritual teaching... outward competition leads to failure to point inwardly with precision.

Just imagine: If Michael eliminated words about competition how much more space there would be for the truth to shine through! I find no issues with Michael's teaching... except the competitive superiority part. If he chooses to focus on a subset of Bhagavan's words, great, just don't claim that it's all things to all people.

R Viswanathan said...

Many of us who benefit from the articles of Sri Michael James might agree on one point: that Sri Michael James genuinely believes and feels that self attentiveness is suited for everyone who wants to realize the self.

I see that Sri David Godman also agrees with Sri Michael James with regard to the question as to whether Bhagavan considered Self enquiry as the direct method for all. I give below an extract from one of the old articles of Sri David Godman:
http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2010/07/qualifications-needed-to-do-self.html


"If I may sum up: I accept that the comments on the qualifications needed to undertake self-enquiry that were made by Bhagavan in the original Sanskrit text of Sri Ramana Gita (7:8-11) are undoubtedly authentic, but I also am inclined to believe they are not typical of what he had to say on this topic. It was more usual for him to say that anyone who felt an inclination towards enquiry was qualified to pursue it.

Bhagavan’s conviction that the path of self-enquiry is suitable for everyone finds confirmation in Upadesa Undiyar. In two succinct verses he describes the method:

18 The mind is only thought. Of all [these thoughts] the thought ‘I’ alone is the root. What is called ‘mind’ is ‘I’.

19 When one scrutinises internally in the following way ‘What is the rising place of “I”?, the ‘I’ will die. This is jnana vichara.

And who is qualified to undertake this? The answer is clearly given in the preceding verse:

17 When one scrutinises the form of the mind without forgetfulness [it will be found that] there is no such thing as mind. This is the direct path for all."

Steve D said...

This comment is addressed to everyone who is saying that Michael James' assessment of spiritual practices and their relative value is incorrect. I think it is worth bearing in mind that everything that Michael says on the topic is not his own opinion on the matter, but a pretty much ver batim exposition of what Bhagavan himself has said on the aforementioned topic. Michael is constantly backing up any and all claims he makes about the efficacy of vichara with direct quotes from Bhagavan's own writings and teachings. So for anyone who claims Michael is incorrect in saying that only vichara will lead one to the goal, you might as well be disagreeing with Bhagavan himself, as that is what he said over and over again in so many ways for over 50 years. There are so many examples from Bhagavan's direct writings/teachings wehre he states things like "only through vichara can one reach the goal" ... "amongst all the methods, i.e. karma, yoga and bhakti, vichara is the best of all" ... "jnana yoga and atma vichara is the direct route for everyone" ... "all other paths and all other yogas lead ultimately to vichara" ... "Only by the enquiry "who am I?" will the vasanas be destroyed and realization of the Self attained" etc etc etc. Incidentally these are not direct quotes but close to them...don't have the time right now to look through all Bhagavan's writings and write everything down word for word, but anyone who wants to on their own will find the above quotes very close to what He actually said. Anyway, Bhagavan says the same thing over and over again, time and time again, ONLY through vichara with the vasanas be eradicated and the mind destroyed. So when Michael asserts this position he is only stating what Bhagavan himself said for his entire life. If you disagree with Michael's position on this matter, then you disagree with Bhagavan directly, and if that's the case, which is fine of course and everyone is free to do so, it makes me wonder why you who disagree are on this blog in the first place. I think the general assumption here is that Bhagavan obviously knew what he was talking about, and since he said time and time again, over the course of 50 years, that atma vichara is the direct route, the only practice that will lead to destruction of the ego, I'm really quite dumbfounded how so many people here beg to differ with him, and accuse Michael of being "ego driven" in his assessment of spiritual practice and flat out incorrect in asserting that only through vichara can the Self be realized and that realization be permanent and abiding.

Steve D said...

For those who bring up the conversations in "Talks" where Bhagavan says that other paths, practices and methods also lead to the same goal, Michael has already addressed this more than once. Many people would come up to Bhagavan and say "I'm doing Rama japa (or some other practice) - will this lead me to the goal?" to which Bhagavan would reply "Of course, what is better than Rama japa? ... continue with your practice." Or "I am doing this practice or that practice, will I reach God?" to which Bhagavan would reply "Of course, your practice is fine...it will take you to the goal." But keep in mind that in Upadesa Saram Bhagavan said "All other practices will help purify the mind and ultimately lead to vichara." I don't think things can be any more clear than this. And also, "Self abidance (as a result of atma vichara) is the consummation of karma, bhakti, raja and jnana yoga." It is also worth bearing in mind that not only has Michael been practicing atma vichara diligently for 40 years, but he spent 20 years in Tiruvannamalai under the direct tutelage of saints like Sri Sadhu Om and Annamalai Swami, both of whom spent many years with Bhagavan directly, realized the Self under His divine gaze, and obviously know what Bhagavan's real teachings were, regardless of what he said to many people who came to him and wanted to know if the practices they were doing other than vichara were ok and effective, to which he always said "yes". The fact that he said, in effect, that all practices were good and would ultimately lead to the goal, doesn't in the least change the fact that Bhagavan was adamant about the fact that only through vichara would one eradicate the vasanas and eventually destroy the mind.

I hope this post doesn't come off as confrontational as that is not my intention, but please let's listen to Bhagavan's own teachings on the matter at hand, and not act as if Michael James is just making things up and asserting that only his method works. His method is Bhagavan's method, and Bhagavan is on record saying over and over again for 50 years that only this one method works. As far as I am concerned, case closed. If you disagree, which again, is fine by me and you are more than free to do, but let's call a spade a spade here, then you are saying, either explicitly or implicitly, the Bhagavan doesn't know what he is talking about. Think about tha...

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi R Viswanathan,
Interesting article, thanks. I will read through it slower later.

I am only drawing attention to the claims or advertising that atma vicara is superior to all other techniques. Such claims appear egoic, they appear to invite emotions such as pride or conceit and sound like grandiose advertising.

In my opinion (noting that this is just my opinion and others may think differently), even when we are convinced that something is better than everything else, we should not advertise, debate or evangelize about it because this invites ego, competition and conflict. Others will often see things differently and we might even learn from them by examining their opinions rather than forcing our own.

I do not wish to challenge anyone's practice, only the grandiose claims. I have been here for several months and at certain times the whole conversation for days or weeks can get side tracked into atma vicara is superior to all other techniques. Such conversations seem to indicate that there is ego attachment to the IDEA of atma vicara, and this is definitely not the practice of atma vicara!

It is interesting in the article it says that Bhagavan does allow that some people may be drawn to other techniques or require other preliminary techniques: "He says that those who are temperamentally inclined towards vichara can and should practise it, whereas those who are not should take to other methods."

This is my understanding from multiple sources that Bhagavan instructed people depending on their level or predispositions.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Steve D,
You have supreme confidence in your approach. This is very important. Good luck!
thanks,
R

Sanjay Lohia said...

Botafogo, what shines within us is pure-awareness or pure-consciousness, whatever we chose to call it, and this pure-awareness is the core of our being. Yes, pure-awareness does not exist within the physical body, but physical body and this entire world-appearance exists as an imaginary construct within pure-awareness – like the dream appears with our awareness as an imaginary construct.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Steve D, I agree with all that you wrote in your two recent comments. Michael interprets, expands and explains Bhagavan’s teachings with absolute faithfulness and clarity. Bhagavan has clearly, repeatedly and unequivocally stated that atma-vichara is the most simple, easy and direct path. It is by far the most purifying practice, and the only way which can destroy our ego. After studying Bhagavan’s works if devotees are still not able to understand this clear message, it could mean that:

They have:

• not studied Bhagavan’s teachings in sufficient depth, especially his direct works
• not done sufficient manana on his teachings
• not tried to practise atma-vichara with perseverance
• too much attachment towards other paths, and this attachment does not let them understand the importance of atma-vichara
• goals other than annihilation of their egos. As Michael often says: different goals require different paths

A small point: you wrote in your second comment: ‘only through vichara would one eradicate the vasanas’. Yes, we can eradicate all our vasanas only through vichara, but we do destroy some of our vasanas through other practices also. Dualistic bhakti, mantra-japa, pranayama etc., all destroy our vasanas (to greater or lesser extent).

My next two comments will give an extract from one of Sri Sadhu’s Om article, The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention. It mentions 10 quotes of Bhagavan, in which he clearly says that atma-vichara is the only direct path for everyone, and also the easiest.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ten quotes on the atma-vichara ~*~ extract from the The Paramount Importance of Self-Attentiom (2nd February 1978)

Sadhu Om: Bhagavan repeatedly emphasised that atma-vicara is the only path, the direct path for everyone, and also the easiest path. For example, in Nan Yar? he says:

(1) Only by [means of] the vicara [investigation] who am I will the mind subside [or cease to be]; […]

(2) To make the mind subside [permanently], there are no adequate means other than vicara. If restrained by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, [but] will emerge again. [...] Therefore pranayama [breath-restraint] is just an aid to restrain the mind, but will not bring about manonasa [the annihilation of the mind].

(3) Just like pranayama, murti-dhyana [meditation upon a form of God], mantra-japa [repetition of sacred words such as a name of God] and ahara-niyama [restriction of diet] are only aids that restrain the mind [but will not bring about its annihilation]. […]

In verse 885 of Guru Vacaka Kovai he says:

(4) Except [by] the path of investigating the vital awareness [‘I am’], whatever effort is made by other means beginning with karma, one will not attain and enjoy self, the treasure shining in the heart.

In verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar he says:

(5) When [anyone] scrutinises the form of the mind without forgetting, [it will become clear that] there is no such thing as ‘mind’. For everyone this is the direct path.

Likewise, in Maharshi’s Gospel (Book 2, chapter 1) it is recorded that he said:

(6) Whatever form your enquiry may take, you must finally come to the one I, the Self. [...]

(7) Self-enquiry is the one infallible means, the only direct one, to realise the unconditioned, Absolute Being that you really are. [...] every kind of sadhana [spiritual practice] except that of atma-vichara presupposes the retention of the mind as the instrument for carrying on the sadhana, and without the mind it cannot be practised. The ego may take different and subtler forms at the different stages of one’s practice, but is itself never destroyed. [...]

(8) The attempt to destroy the ego or the mind through sadhanas other than atma-vichara is just like the thief assuming the guise of a policeman to catch the thief, that is himself. Atma-vichara alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists, and enables one to realise the pure, undifferentiated Being of the Self or the Absolute.

(9) [...] To be the Self that you really are is the only means to realise the bliss that is ever yours.

Since self is aware of nothing other than itself, ‘I am’, ‘to be the self’ simply means to be aware of nothing but ‘I’ alone, which is all that the practice of atma-vicara entails. As Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Upadesa Undiyar: ‘Being self alone is knowing self, because self is not two. […]’.

I will continue this in my next comment

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ten quotes on atma-vichara part - 2 ~*~ extract from The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention (2nd February 1978)

Because of our desire to be constantly experiencing something other than just ‘I’, it may seem difficult for us to experience only ‘I’, but Bhagavan assures us that this is actually very easy – much easier than any other means by which we may try to attain liberation. This is emphatically affirmed by him in verse 4 of Atma-Vidya Kirtanam:

(10) To untie the bonds beginning with karma, [and] to rise above the ruin beginning with birth, rather than whatever [other] path, this path [atma-vicara] is exceedingly easy. When [one] just is, having settled down without even the least action of mind, speech or body, ah, in [one’s] heart the light of self [will shine forth]. [This is our] eternal experience. Fear will not exist. The ocean of bliss alone [will remain]. ([Therefore] ah, the science of self is extremely easy, ah, extremely easy!)

Every other sadhana entails doing some action (karma) by mind, speech or body, whereas atma-vicara entails the mind subsiding without the least action by focusing its entire attention on its source, ‘I am’. Therefore, whereas any other sadhana is a practice of ‘doing’, atma-vicara is the practice of just being as we really are – with perfect clarity of self-awareness. Hence, since being is easier than doing, atma-vicara is the easiest of all paths.

The purpose of niskamya puja, japa and dhyana, and of all sadhanas other than atma-vicara, is only to purify the mind. Purification of mind is the sole benefit that can be gained from any such sadhanas, because none of them can ever by itself destroy the ego. The benefit of a purified mind is that 'it shows the path to liberation', as Bhagavan says in verse of Upadesa Undiyar. That is, it enables the mind to discriminate, understand and be firmly convinced that atma-vicara alone is the path to liberation.

Thus, when Sri Bhagavan says in Maharshi’s Gospel (Book 2, chapter 1), ‘Atma-vichara alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists’, he is not being partial, nor is he criticising other sadhanas. He is merely asserting the truth that though other sadhanas can purify the mind, they cannot destroy it. Therefore, we should not confuse these paths for mental purification with ‘the path to liberation’, which is the ‘one path’ taught by Bhagavan – the path he describes as or vazhi [the ‘one path’ or the ‘path of investigation’] in verse 14 of Upadesa Undiyar.

A true aspirant is one whose mind is sufficiently purified to understand that atma-vicara alone can be ‘the path to liberation’, and therefore to love to practice it. Those who cannot understand this are at best just devotees of God.

Bhagavan says that atma-vicara is the direct path, not because he expects us to attack the mind directly, but because he expects us to turn directly towards self, ‘I am’, and by thus remaining in self to ignore the mind. Thus atma-vicara is, so to speak, avoiding and hiding from the mind instead of fighting it face to face.

[extract ends]

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

I see it (based on Bhagavan's teachings and persistent practice as far as I am able) as a problem of attention only! We wake up in the morning, thoughts rise up (like the ones I CHOSE to put into words here instead of ignoring them and turning to what sees/perceives them) and we begin feeding them our attention.

Bhagavan said we should switch our attention from this constant flow of rising thoughts towards what sees/perceives/knows them. He says that if we do that (and we can check this from our (feeble as it may be) experience) we will start to subside into our Source. Since we deprive thoughts of our attention they cannot sustain the illusory feeling of personality (the me/ego) anymore and they will die down. WE CAN CHECK THIS IF WE REALLY GIVE IT A TRY!!!! Arguing is usless unless we try, and of course, people who really tried this can see how hard it is! What we are actually doing by this process (constantly and perseveringly turning our ATTENTION from the rising thoughts towards what perceives/knows them) is we are actually beginning to clean up our mind of all the accumulated rubish from this and previous lives. Because they will start to rise up once we make this the focus of our life! If we really begin doing it we cannot but open a can of worms (vasanas) (in most cases). Some have little or weak vasanas, I for one I know I have a lot of them and some are really devilish to say the least.

So it's all about WANTING to switch ATTENTION from the constant flow of thoughts to what perceives/knows them. ANYONE can do this!

I mean, you can take an illiterate person and tell him "Look, are you aware of your thoughts?! -Yes, they trouble me all the time... -Try to see what is aware of them.. etc etc".

I mean this is not rocket science, is very simple to understand. Once we practice, as said before, all kind of rubbish will rise up. Whatever rises up, the cure is the same, we switch attention to what perceives the rubbish...

Every other "expansion" of the teaching is based on that. We are told that the world is like a dream because it helps the practice a lot by not giving so much thought about the world, we are told that now we experience prarabdha so that we can put our thought aside regarding this incarnation and so on...

The essential is simple and ANYONE can practice it if it really commits himself/herself to it. So it is a path for everyone. (of course in the sense like every normal human being is able to learn to read and write if he/she wants to <- that kind of sense)

Doing advanced mathematics for example is not a path for everyone ...

PS: Roger, why this obsession with paths competing with each other?!

All the best to all!
Dragos

brush aside the unreal said...

R Viswanathan,
nice to have you back again. (When you say) that Michael James genuinely believes and feels that self-attentiveness is suited for everyone who wants to realize the self, hereby you are expressing something of considerable importance. Crucial is the clause 'for everyone who wants to realize the self ' i.e. to be aware of his true nature.
Someone who wants to blow up and nourish this ego might Bhagavan's and Michael's advice feel to be an insult or at least a challenge/provocation.
May in the end everybody have the luck to remain in true happiness of being.

brush aside the unreal said...

Roger,
to be in good company with questioning Michael's 'core principles' does not reflect any credit on you.
When you are repeatedly full of praise saying "Personally I think Michael's teaching is great..." and denying in the same breath his competence to judge Bhagavan's core teaching you are fooling yourself.

brush aside the unreal said...

Steve D,
I can easy share your view given in both your today comments.
Some want to invent Bhagavan's role in new version.

Sivanarul said...

Reading through the latest set of comments the following stuck me:

In the phenomenal world, in democratic nations, there was a time where superiority was claimed by race, gender, skin color, sexual orientation etc. During this time, it was spiritual teachings that provided a safe harbor and reminder that we are one as spirit and in God's eyes we are equal and the same, in spite of our outward appearances.

Now, in most democratic nations, there is convergence towards equality by race, gender, skin color and sexual orientation. It is then very ironic, in the spiritual teaching world of this blog, one would repeatedly advertise superiority of one thing over all other things. The phenomenal world (in most democratic nations) is now providing that safe harbor by reminding us that we are one as spirit and to not keep on highlighting the differences. Using Steve D's words, I am also dumbfounded about how events in phenomenal world and spiritual teachings (in this blog) have switched places.

Such highlighting of superiority slowly makes the heart rigid and results in condemning others (who do not follow the superior path) to suffer, as wrote recently by brush aside the unreal.

On this topic, I am closing out with the reminder that we all share one common goal, which is "realizing reality" and we are walking the path in what we think is the direct and best way, for each one of us.

Peace and Shanthi.

Steve D said...

Sanjay Lohia

Thanks for pulling up all those direct quotes of Bhagavan on vichara. That is actually what I had in mind last night when I posted my comment, but didn't have the time to go searching through all the various texts as it was already almost midnight. Appreciate it.

Steve D said...

Roger Isaacs

Again I apologize if my comments came across as harsh or aggressive. Not the intention. And I don't really have any particular approach per se, except that I trust Ramana Bhagavan implicitly. This is where my issue lies with some of the comments here. If Bhagavan says "x,y,z" regarding spiritual practices and sadhana, then as far as I'm concerned, it's x,y and z. Period. I don't mean to be presumptuous, but I would assume Michael James feels similarly. The thing that I find hard to grasp is when people say, "well Bhagavan says x,y,z...but I'm saying a,b,c also....and d,e,f for that matter..."

I just don't understand the thought process of assuming any of us knows better than Bhagavan himself on this issue of sadhana and practice. If He says "x,y,z", then it's x,y,z. Period. I don't agree with starting arguments about sadhana with other devotees who are simply stating or repeating what Bhagavan himself said on the matter.

brush aside the unreal said...

Does anybody know how to heal a bad inferiority complex ?
Hopefully that suffering from that disease is not beyond remedy.
But time is agreat healer.

Steve D said...

I think part of the problem here is also people saying that the advocates of vichara are saying that this practice is "better" or "superior" to other practices. Nobody who has thoroughly studied Bhagavan's teachings would use those words to describe the practice. What Bhagavan himself said is that whatever practices you are doing, all of which have some efficacy in purifying the mind, eventually will lead one to vichara in the end, so why not just work on vichara from the get go? This is not saying that vichara is "superior" to anything else. Simply that it's the last door one must go through. Bhagavan said in referring to vichara and other practices, that there may be 100 different ways to get to a particular city, but to enter the city itself one must pass through the entry gate which is only one. The gate is vichara. He never said other practices were useless and didn't work, and I don't think that that is what any of his devotees on this blog are saying either.

All spiritual practices work, but eventually one will have to adopt vichara regardless of what one was doing earlier. This is all Bhagavan said on the matter. I don't see why certain devotees echoing this sentiment is so upsetting to some people.

brush aside the unreal said...

Sanjay,
thank you for giving the ten quotes on atma-vichara.
But can we expect that your extract would have a lasting influence on Roger ?

R Viswanathan said...


Let us pray to Bhagavan to absorb us in himself and thereby dissolve our ego and all the differences that seem to exist only in its view. I borrowed the sentence from Sri Michael James, which he concluded our recent email exchanges with.

pratyabhijna said...

R Viswanathan,
yes, let the wicked ego, the knower of the ego-bound world appearance, die as food to Siva, who shines as the supreme consciousness. Let us therefore humbly pray to Arunachala.

Botafogo said...

Sanjay Lohia,
many thanks for your explanation.
Could you further explain where else does this pure awareness exist if not in the physical body ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Part 1:Hi Michael and All,

It's fine to say that "our master, our spiritual school or religion is the highest"... IF we openly allow the possibility that other masters and schools may also rise to that same level. And... it would be especially good if we put some small effort (when appropriate) into learning about other masters, schools, religions because they do have pearls of wisdom for us, and this alleviates tension between schools (regarding tension I'm thinking of jihadists with explosives).

Masters have been proclaiming their particular teachings as superior for eons. This is no longer appropriate in the 21st century.

The idea of religious superiority has killed massive numbers of people (100+ million?). Most wars and conflicts have some basis in spiritual or religious superiority. This is all so tragic even more so because the role of spirituality & religion is to overcome boundaries (in love for example), not create them through elitism and superiority Although Atma Vicara is not and will never be directly involved in mass homicide, the shared values of spiritual/religious superiority and elitism are. Better to be part of the solution (love and acceptance & wisdom between schools overcoming difference) than share values with the problem?

In addition to practicing whatever form of inquiry is appropriate to us, we can also reach out to others in genuine openness and love, and to de-escalate and defuse these very deep divisions in the world resulting from eons of religious elitism and superiority.

I understand that one of the real strength's of atma vicara is the emphasis on the un-manifest, the high advaita teachings. But I am appealing to Michael to begin teaching the real superiority, the superiority of love and wisdom that rises above and heals divisions caused by spiritual-religious elitism & superiority. Then... the appeal of Atma Vicara will regain the warmth of Bhagavan's presence and be much more popular.

The major religions of the world do put some attention on inter-faith dialogue, of breaking down barriers. You consider your school to be highly advanced (and it is), but the rigid Catholic Church puts more attention towards inter-faith acceptance! In this regard, Atma Vicara should be leading, not lagging behind!

We could say to some friend or stranger: "yes, I practice Ramana Maharshi's teachings and for me it is the highest, but tell me: what you do? what is your perspective? I'm sure that your school has pearls of wisdom for me that will help me learn about my own approach."

Roger Isaacs said...

Part 2
Dragos says "PS: Roger, why this obsession with paths competing with each other?!"
Why do you have an obsession with the superiority of atma vicara? I would not need to speak of it if it were not the theme here. You have become accustomed to superiority and elitism and so you don't see it?

How many people have to be murdered by religious superiority before it becomes important to you? Would millions more deaths the coming decades perhaps in your backyard be enough? I am just speaking the truth, unfortunately, this is a very real possibility (imagine jihadists with nuclear bombs etc...).

This is so remarkable: you all are fascinated with the idea of destroying the body & world as ego, but you do not see that superiority is absolutely the ego?

The demonstration of love, openness and acceptance of difference will help eliminate the ego. You often speak of love: love is not really full until it fully extends outside the boundaries of your organization and embraces all regardless of orientation. Expressing your love for Bhagavan is great, but... isn't the entire world an expression of Bhagavan's Self ? Love is kind of crippled when it is only "inside the school" and fails to extend to everything and everyone.

It is fine with me if all you atma-vicara-ers want to do is to escape the ego,body & world, however, since you occupy the world for at least a while (and you may have to come back if you fail to get the job done!) would you please leave this place a little better than you found it by reducing elitism and superiority and increasing acceptance, openness, appreciation of diversity and love even for those who are different?

Steve says "I just don't understand the thought process of assuming any of us knows better than Bhagavan himself..."
Yes, but Bhagavan is not here in the flesh speaking. What Bhagavan knows is not possible to communicate exactly using words. Surely, contemplating Bhagavan's words from many sources is useful? I am trying to illustrate what I think is a more generous attitude in Bhagavan's teachings toward other practices in an attempt to reduce elitism and superiority which can only be ego. I do not think Bhagavan intended for his message to become about elitism and superiority since this only increases ego.

Michael, can you possibly write blogs without in some way claiming that Atma Vicara is superior to all others? The emphasis on comparison seems to suggest weakness. The message will be more popular & powerful by dropping competition and emphasizing embracing warmth & intelligence.

Atma Vicara is perfect, beautiful, wonderful as it is, there is absolutely no need to try and prop it up with competition, this only weakens the message.

The truth is this: pure attention on self is a quality of many schools at the advanced level. I have found it in my Jnana Yoga practice and in my gentle kundalini yoga practice. No single school can lay exclusive claim to self attention. To do so is just ego.






Steve D said...

Roger

I think you just made the point that everyone has been stating here anyway in your last paragraph: "...pure attention on self is a quality of many schools at the advanced level."

This is basically all that everyone on this blog has been saying and what Bhagavan himself said time and time again. It's not a matter of better or worse, superior or inferior. As you yourself just said, it's considered an "advanced" practice as far as spiritual disciplines go. And "pure attention on self" is called atma vichara. So if at the advanced level of your kundalini practice one is advised to practice pure attention on self, then one is simply practicing vicahara, which is what I attempted to point out in my previous comments, and which is what Bhagavan himself said when he stated that "all other paths lead to vichara" and "all other practices help purify the mind and show the way to (the one path that leads to)liberation." So all this being as it is, I don't see where the quarrel lies. If all paths lead ultimately to self attention, atma vichara, which you yourself just said, then why the constant comparison of one path vs. another? The whole argument seems pointless and misconstrued, and basically this is all that I have seen people saying: that vichara is an advanced practice, the direct route to the self, and the path that one must ultimately adopt in their sadhana and quest for realization. I just don't see where any argument rises out of this whole thing.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Steve,
I agree with what you are saying regarding the advanced levels of different practices being similar and effective. Although, I don't necessarily believe that "self attention" in other schools is the same as taught here. For example, attention on self as kundalini is different than what is taught here, although, IMO has the same result.

I see the discussion on this blog differently than you.

When I first came here, Michael told me in so many words that my Jnana Yoga (neti-neti) practice could not possible be beneficial because all other practices other than atma vicara are simply activity of the mind. Then... over some weeks, I learned that virtually all other classical yoga schools were called the same, just mental activity without any real spiritual value. (literally that is what is said).

It is a big change from "this atma vicara school is the only way and and no others are useful" to "other schools may also result in an effective practice similar to atma vicara."

I will quote from my first interaction with Michael on the blog "we-can-separate..."
Michael says:

However, because nēti nēti literally means ‘not thus, not thus’ and implies ‘I am not this phenomenon, nor that one’, it entails thinking about whatever we are not rather than about what we actually are. Therefore it is not intended to be a spiritual practice or a direct means to know what we actually are, but is simply an intellectual analysis that is intended to clear the ground, so to speak, for the practice of self-investigation.


So... when I hear frequently that atma vicara is the "most direct, best, sooner or later everyone will come to it" etc... I hear this as meaning Michael's teaching about atma vicara is superior to all other spiritual teachings, none of the others are effective. I have never heard from Michael that any other schools might have the possibility of leading to a result similar to atma vicara.

Although, perhaps he could make that statement now?

It would be a momentous and very positive change to hear from Michael that other schools (for example: integral yoga, bhakti, kundalini, jnana yoga, karma yoga, raja yoga, hatha yoga, tantra) might at least in theory have the possibility of being "direct means" on their own.

thanks,
R

Steve D said...

Roger

I understand where you are coming from in regards to all of this, but I just do not understand why it is so vitally important for you to have Michael James concede his view on this matter, acknowledge publicly that he is wrong and agree with your particular point of view. If you are doing certain spiritual practices that you find beneficial, then who cares what anyone else says about the matter? What difference does it make whether Michael or anyone else disagrees with your point of view or says that your practices are less effective than some other one? I feel like you are trying so hard to get Michael to "admit" that he is wrong and you are right, and in the long run, what difference does it make? If you think he's wrong, then think he's wrong. Who cares? What difference does it make to your own sadhana what Michael James thinks?

As far as the efficacy of other practices, I feel that Michael and some others have pointed out rather poignantly why vichara is unique in it's approach and why it may be more effective as a sadhana, whereas certain other sadhanas may be less effective. The uniqueness of Bhagavan's teaching is in his pointing out that it is only the ego itself which experiences objects, that the ego rises by being aware of objects, and that the only way in which the ego subsides is by its turning attention away from objects to the subject, which it the awareness of "I am". Based on this simple principle, any practice that relies on keeping the attention on an object will not only fail to make the ego subside, but will actually strengthen it, as the ego is sustained by and feeds on attention to objects. So given that this fact is one of the core tenets of Bhagavan's teachings, if you practice kundalini yoga and put your attention on a particular chakra, the ego has no chance of subsiding as the attention is fixed on an object, and it's only the ego which experiences any chakra, whatever that experience may be. If you are doing a mantra and the attention is on the mantra, the same principle applies. If you are doing pranayama, the same principle applies. If your attention is on a deity or certain form of God, the same principle applies. If you are doing karma yoga and your attention is on the people you are selflessly serving, the same principle applies. So the only method which undercuts the ego at the root, in which it cannot stand because attention is not on any object, is atma vichara. So when Michael points out that it is the only practice which is effective in destroying the ego, he is absolutely correct, in the light of Bhagavan's teachings and considering what Bhagavan taught us about the ego, how it rises, and how ultimately to destroy it.

If you find other practices helpful to you in your sadhana, by all means use them. But in light of what I just mentioned above, I still don't understand why it's so important to you to have Michael acknowledge that he is incorrect and that you are correct in regard to sadhanas of different sorts, when all that Michael has done is meticulously explain and expound upon Bhagavan's own teachings, which as per the principle I mentioned above, are the only teachings that show directly how to destroy the ego and abide naturally as the Self.

Roger Isaacs said...

part 1:
Hi Steve,
you say I just do not understand why it is so vitally important for you to have Michael James concede his view on this matter

Michael speaks as is natural for him, I do the same. Where is the mystery? I've been told publicly that my spiritual tools can't possibly work and that many other classical systems can't work, why should I not challenge this as seems natural to me? Perhaps I will learn something. When one speaks publicly about such things (atma vicara is the only, best, most direct etc... including for YOU Roger) then... one might expect a challenge?

You say "who cares": well... if I care... then why would you challenge my natural behavior? Why do you care about my behavior? I'd rather discuss the issues than justify my behavior, so thank you for the opportunity for discussion. In the end, we all do what is appropriate for us, and this varies. In the beginning, I came here because I was curious about Bhagavan and wanted to learn more, and this is happening. It seems to me that Bhagavan's teaching may be slightly misrepresented, so maybe it's good that I care. :-)

regarding your statement on Atma Vichara (thanks for the summary):
I have struggled to understand this from my own perspective "so the only method which undercuts the ego (as all objects) at the root .. is atma vichara". IMO using language that I understand, Bhagavan / Michael is describing an approach (exclude ego as all objects including the body and world) which is conscious nirvikalpa samadhi. Nirvikalpa is the exclusion of all objects. This sounds like an excellent approach... but IMO only one of several possible alternatives. Why am I scrutinizing alternatives with such intensity? Because I am doing due diligence trying to discover what works for my particular system, leaving no rock unturned. Maybe there is something I have missed. I am inviting nature to show me potential alternatives.

you say all that Michael has done is meticulously explain and expound upon Bhagavan's own teachings
Well, Michael has meticulously explained from some of Bhagavan's texts, but not others.

So... Bhagavan is describing nirvikalpa samadhi, the exclusion of all objects in awareness leaving only "I". And he calls it "the only practice which is effective in destroying the ego". And you say "he is absolutely correct". Correct for you? You have destroyed the ego with this method? If not... how do you know that it is absolutely correct for you?

Are you are saying with certainty that it is also correct for me? I think you'd be stepping over a line by saying that you know what is best for me. :-)
I do not know what is best for me!!! that is why I experiment. And I would never assume what might be correct for someone else.

In "Godman.. be as you are" as well as "Talks..." Bhagavan describes how his state is Sahaja nirvikalpa (when withdrawn) or Sahaja savikalpa (in the world but free). He also states that practice of either of these samadhis leads to the Self. So in that regard, the 1930's Bhagavan stating "either nirvikalpa or savikalpa (in the world conscious of objects but unattached) leads to Self" gives a different perspective than the earlier writings.

You say: "if you practice kundalini yoga and put your attention on a particular chakra, the ego has no chance of subsiding as the attention is fixed on an object".
Later in the 1930's Bhagavan said that kundalini is the Self. Putting attention on kundalini is putting attention on the Self.
In "Talks" and Paul Brunton "Search in Secret India" Bhagavan describes the benefits of putting attention on the "current" (of energy), which is a different viewpoint than your earlier texts.

Roger Isaacs said...

part 2This is not just a philosophical discussion for me. What this means for my practice is the most interesting thing. I only do one thing, but it seems like there are different perspectives:
A very limited explanation:
1: I meditate sitting with attention on self, but I rarely totally lose body consciousness, and there is energy, and there is "I"
2: AND.... after sitting, I lie down and experiment with retaining strong awareness of "I" and in this case, yes, it seems more likely to lose body/world consciousness but retaining "I": I am experimenting,
3: AND... during activity, such as walking, it seems interesting to put attention on the "current" of energy as Bhagavan describes above, but maybe "I" is found in the "current".

So I have an experiential approach. I can not say with certainty that any single one of these approaches is sufficient in itself. It seems to me that how it is described just depends on what one looks for, and of course other people might see it differently. Perhaps the different perspectives (energy, loss of body/world consciousness, "I") are just different characteristics that are seen when the attempt is made to keep the attention on the Self all the time. At any rate, I don't care if some of these things are an "outer","adjunct", "secondary" focus: the thing is to grab the focus, it helps thinking to stop, then it may refine...

So you see, my approach is very experiential and only using authorities as input but not assuming anything. As this group is based on a single authority and a bit rigid by my standards... it seems unlikely that I stay here for long.

thanks for the conversation because by speaking I understand more
R

Sanjay Lohia said...

Botafogo, pure-awareness is what is - in other words, it is what really exists. In Vendantic texts, pure-awareness is popularly known as sat-chi-ananda, meaning ‘existence-awareness-happiness’. What exists is pure self-awareness, and since nothing exists besides pure self-awareness, it is also absolute happiness, because there is no second thing to disturb its happiness. Bhagavan explains this in verse 28 of Upadesa Undiyar:

If one knows what one’s own nature is, then [what will remain and shine is only] the beginningless, endless and unbroken existence-consciousness [awareness]-bliss [anadi ananta akhanda satchit-ananda].

We can argue, what about this solid world which exists before us? It appears real to us. Yes, this world of names and forms seems to exist, but does it really exist? Bhagavan makes this clear in paragraph seven of Nan Yar:

That which actually exists is only atma-svarupa [our own essential self]. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigal [imaginations, mental creations or fabrications] in it [our essential self], like [the imaginary] silver [that we see] in a shell. These three [basic elements of relativity or duality] appear at the same time and disappear at the same time. [Our] svarupa [our 'own form' or essential self] alone is the world; [our] svarupa alone is 'I' [our mind or individual self]; [our] svarupa alone is God; everything is siva-svarupa [our essential self, which is siva, the absolute and only truly existing reality.

Pure-awareness can also be described as atma-svarupa, or svarupa, or siva-svarupa. Therefore, as Bhagavan says in this verse, world, soul and God (as an entity separate from our atma-svarupa), are all our ego’s imaginations or mental creations: these do no not really exist. What exists is only infinite, unbroken pure self-awareness, and we are that.

Sanjay Lohia said...

So long as our attention is fixed only on ourself and on nothing else, it does not matter what posture our body may be in ~*~ (HAB pdf * page 582 * chapter: The Practice of the Art of Being)

Introduction: While practising most of the yogic meditations, pranayama, and so on, correct bodily posture is important. These postures help to keep the body still and firm; thus, aids concentration. However, Bhagavan had repeatedly stressed that for practising self-investigation any particular body posture is not necessary. As Michael explains, what is necessary is to try and constantly keep our attention fixed on ourself, ignoring the need for any particular body posture.

Michael: However the posture of our body really does not matter, because the only thing that is important during our intense practice of just being is that our attention is withdrawn entirely from our body and from every other object or thought, and instead focused keenly and vigilantly upon our mere consciousness of being.

Therefore when Sri Ramana said, ‘leaving [our] body like a corpse’, he did not merely mean that we should physically lay it down like a corpse, but that we should mentally withdraw our attention from it as if it had become a lifeless corpse – something with which we no longer have any connection. Since our sole aim during moments of intense practice is to penetrate deep within our being, we must entirely disregard our body, and hence we should not concern ourself in the least with its posture or any other such trivial matter.

So long as our attention is fixed only on ourself and on nothing else, it does not matter what posture our body may be in, or whether it happens to be active or inactive. In fact we may often find it easier to be self-attentive while our body is engaged in some mechanical activity such as walking, which does not require any significant attention, than when we are sitting or lying down with our eyes closed, because as soon as we close our eyes to meditate upon our being, our mind tends to struggle to resist such meditation or self-attentiveness, and hence we may quickly forget why we have closed our eyes and instead begin thinking of anything except our own being. [extract ends]

If we sincerely attempt to practise self-attentiveness whenever our mind is not pressingly engaged in any other work, we will soon find what suits us best in terms of bodily posture or activity. Whether we are sitting, lying, walking or engaged in any other physical activity, we should attempt as frequently and as intensely as circumstances permit to focus our attention keenly on our being, or at least to maintain a certain degree of self-attentiveness. Therefore all questions about bodily posture are missing the whole point of the art of self-attentive being, which is that we should concentrate our entire attention upon our being and should thereby ignore our body and all other things.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sorry, in my previous comment I wrote '[extract ends]' at the wrong place. It should appear after the last paragraph, which ends with the sentence:

Therefore all questions about bodily posture are missing the whole point of the art of self-attentive being, which is that we should concentrate our entire attention upon our being and should thereby ignore our body and all other things. [extract ends]

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Roger, the "I" is what observes/is aware of everything else. You cannot see it/grasp it. We may call it Awareness (when we call it "I" the idea might come that we have to grasp some object within ourself) Whatever you are aware of (energy etc..) cannot be you. It's as simple as that. When you lie down to practice you disentagle you attention from whatever you are aware (no matter how subtle) and try (keenly) to see what sees/is aware of that. It requires great power of attention to isolate this "I" that can be strengthen by persistent practice. The "I" or "I-current" is the same. With practice you are able to feel this "I-current"/inner awareness all the time (although it's the experience of everyone but we are trying to merge in it consciously)

Of course there are not two "I" one "ego" and another that is aware of the ego. It's just one I full of impurities (in most cases). By this practice we are cleaning it of all the accumulated rubbish (vasanas that rise up). When the "I"/mind/inner Awareness becomes clear of any trace of such impurities then we are the Self. That's the process as far as I can personally express it..

I don't think you are practicing correctly. If you did, it would become clear and realize this is not a special path of Bhagavan but as Michael said in one of his articles this is a law of experience (consciousness)

by the way, I hold no grudge against you or anyone, I really like these discussions... think in the future how many people with similar questions would read them! ... spearing them of all the trouble and maybe clearing confusions... so it's all great... these discussions. :)

Mouna said...

History proves again and again that after a teaching is brought about in a pure form by its original teacher, a process of fragmentation and institutionalization takes place where different strains of thought take over the original understanding and start pulling the teaching apart in as many directions as "institutions" are created.

Buddha with the Teravada, Mahayana and Zen traditions (to name only a few), Jesus with the catholic, orthodox, protestant and the myriad of denominations existing nowadays, Vedanta with its different philosophical interpretations like Dwaita, Vishistadwaita and Adwaita plus different religious sects, it is no surprise that the same phenomenon might be happening, even in our own time and in front of our eyes, with Bhagavan Sri Ramana's teachings.

Because of our own egoic fragmented vision we are incapable of having a comprehensive understanding of Bhagavan's teaching as a whole from beginning to end (process magnificently explained by Bhagavan in Upadesa Untiyar). While Bhagavan keeps repeating that our essential nature (atma-swarupa) is already realized (and we have only to "un-realize" the unreal), from the ego/mind's point of view, subject to time and space, this "liberation/realization" from its own self-inflicted unreal grasp is a process that occurs in time and space (according to Bhagavan, in his own case, took several lifetimes to unfold).

The core principles of the teachings of realized/liberated Masters like Sri Ramana are very simple and pragmatic, but to access them and fully understand their import in relation to the whole of the teaching requires deep immersion in sravana, manana and nididhyasana, a private and personal process that none of us can't avoid, as long as we don't fall into the traps of institutionalized thinking.

know the knower said...

Quotes from Sri Ramanasramam

"The mind is a unique power (sakti) in the Atman whereby thoughts occur to one. On scrutiny as to what remains after eliminating all thoughts, it will be found that there is no such thing as mind apart from thought. So then, thoughts themselves constitute the mind."
Does anyone know why the Atman provides or seems to provide his power patiently or at least without resistance or rather enthusiastically as stage or screen for the appearing of the sakti-play of thoughts ? Maybe I will find the answer only inside my thoughtfree awareness.

Botafogo said...

Sanjay Lohia,
again many thanks for your illuminating commentary about pure awareness(atma svarupa).
But why are we or am I in waking not clearly aware of that what really exists which is said to be our own essential self ? How is it anyway possible not to know what one's own nature is ? Is it at all possible not to be aware that we are that infinite unbroken pure self-awareness -as you say ? There is something wrong here.
My confusion is perfect. It is similar to lying under an avalanche of snow more than a metre deep. Apparently does our world view mainly based on sense perceptions not at all help further.

know the knower said...

Quotes from Sri Ramanasramam

"Man’s real nature is happiness. Happiness is inborn in the true self. His search for happiness is an unconscious search for his true self. The true self is imperishable; therefore, when a man finds it, he finds a happiness which does not come to an end."

Why is there at all a need to search for inborn happiness ? Usually what is here I need not to seek. There might be something wrong here.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, it appears that the teachings of most of the famous guru’s like Buddha, Jesus and others have been fragmented, diluted and distorted, because, as Michael explained me in one of his e-mails, these guru’s did not leave any written records of their teachings, and their spoken teachings have been twisted by their followers in different ways. It is because of such different interpretations that we see so many sects in these religions. In Bhagavan’s case also, his oral conversations have been diluted or wrongly recorded. For example, the recordings in books such as Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi and Day by Day with Bhagavan are not entirely faithful to his actual teachings.

However, fortunately Bhagavan has left for us his original writings, and these works give us his teachings in a clear, systemic, coherent and unambiguous way. His following written works give us his true and authentic teachings:

• Ulladu Narpadu
• Nan Yar?
• Upadesa Undiyar
• Atma Vidya Kirtanam
• Ekatma Panchakam
• Guru Vachara Kovai (co-authored with Muruganar)

These six works are the benchmarks of his true and authentic teachings, and will always remain so. So if anyone dilutes or distorts his teachings, devotees can always refer to these works, and find out any deviations from his core teachings. Nevertheless, his teachings have been distorted in the past, and will continue to be distorted in future also, but these distortions can easily be detected if his written works are studied carefully.

As you imply, the assimilation and practice of Bhagavan’s teachings is a private and personal process; thus, if we are true to his teachings we can never institutionalize it.



know the knower said...

Quotes from Sri Ramanasramam

"No matter how many thoughts thus occur to you, if you would with acute vigilance enquire immediately as and when each individual thought arises to whom it has occurred, you would find it is to ‘me’. If then you enquire ‘Who am I?’ the mind gets introverted and the rising thought also subsides."

Who of you commentators has tried that vichara ? Does it work ? What experiences are/were made with it by you ?

know the knower said...

Mouna,
we all walk and fall permanently into any traps of thinking.
Will we be saved by any Messiah ? Or will we be stuck in the mire of our mental nebulous attitude ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Botafogo, our pure-awareness or atma-svarupa is clearly aware of itself as pure awareness or atma-svarupa. In other words, our primal existence is aware that it exists, and this infinite existence-awareness is what we really are. However, due to inattentiveness when we rise as this ego, we take a body to be ourself, and through the five senses of this body we experience this world. Thus, our pure-awareness seemingly becomes mixed with the awareness of our body and mind, and consequently our atma-svarupa become relatively unclear, but not entirely unclear, in the view of our ego.

However, when the ego tries to attend to itself alone by persistent practice of atma-vichara, the seeming mist (body-mind awareness) around our pure-awareness starts dissolving, and we start experiencing our true nature more and more clearly. If we diligently practise self-attentiveness, a time will come when our ego or ‘I am this body’ idea will be destroyed, and thus we will experience ourself as really are.

Botafogo said...

Sanjay, thank you again for your reply.
Yes, the ego is not a good fellow. Its rising and its inattentiveness should be prevented because we awfully suffer from its fateful error of imagining itself as separated individual. Now the damage is caused and we have to repair that heavy defect.
Fortunately Bhagavan advised us how we can destroy that disastrous 'I - am - the - body'- idea.

swim against the current said...

Quotes from Sri Ramanasramam

"H.: I wish to help the world. Shall I not be helpful? M.: Yes! Helping yourself, you help the world. You are (Sic) in the world – you are the world. You are not different from the world, nor is the world different from you."

Michael,
could you please explain at some time the significance of that oracular statement in some detail ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Dracos,

>> the "I" is what observes/is aware of everything else. You cannot see it/grasp it.

Ah, I see, I may have said "grasp the I" which runs afoul of the usage of "grasp" in this school. Yes, "grasp" could imply outward effort. However, "grasp" is also defined as "comprehend, understand, to master". Furthermore, we are using subtle effort to exclude everything but "I", in this sense, when "I" is located, in some way it could be said it has been "grasped"?

Actually, NOTHING that can be discovered with subtle effort in practice is the ultimate "you". If you call it "I" or current of energy, none of this is "you" ultimately. But it is as close as you can get with any effort then grace may do the rest.

>> I don't think you are practicing correctly. If you did, it would become clear and realize this is not a special path of Bhagavan but as Michael said in one of his articles this is a law of experience (consciousness)

That is potentially a useful statement that I am "not practicing correctly". Please elaborate in detail.

IMO this process of Self Realization or "killing the ego" or whatever you want to call it is entirely scientific and reproducible and just a natural potential of humans. But... it is also entirely subjective. Because it is subjective, beyond language and concepts, there is much confusion about it. Typically what happens (as Mouna says) is that over time the pointings by a realized being becomes more and more diluted. One of the ways dilution happens is that seekers become egoically enamored with the teaching. The realized being shines so brightly like the sun in darkness that small egos become identified as proclaim: this teaching must be the ONLY way. As there have been many enlightened beings over the ages with many different styles, this "my teaching is the ONLY or best or most direct" is simply an outward movement of mind/emotions/ego identifying with a particular teaching.

So I know absolutely that inquiry is not something owned exclusively by Bhagavan. But I have never heard Michael say this. I have heard Michael tell me that my personal practice couldn't work and he never really asked me in detail what I was doing! What I hear is that atma vicara is the "only, best, most direct" that all others are "merely outward activity of the mind" which to me sounds like ego. Seems to me like Michael ( in some limited way at least) is teaching how to be spiritual materialistic: atma vicara is "the only, best way, most direct."

This would be a big change to hear Michael state openly that this is just a scientific process of human evolution and atma vicara is just a tool, theoretically only one of many.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
There have been many great guru's who wrote: for example Gaudapada, Sankara, Patangali. Much of the great literature from India was written by enlightened beings. But even in these cases, without a realized being to provide commentary on the words the meaning still gets twisted. This is because words absolutely fail to convey reality. You can not transfer the taste essence of a strawberry to the person next to you by language, even less so the elusive spiritual reality.

Are we to believe regarding "talks with Sri Ramana" and "Day by Day" that Bhagavan spoke for decades and either never said anything useful or was constantly misquoted?

How absolutely ridiculous! I have not looked at Day by Day... but I see the author was a lawyer so I expect he should have been able to take notes properly.

Michael has difficulty including the these works because they have a different theme(s). They don't fit within Michael's logical plan.

A true scholar would study everything and make detailed notes about any issues on a case by case basis!!! Isn't that the truth?

Michael actually creates a divide by studying only some of the work. In my brief study of "talks" Bhagavan speaks on many issues with great intelligence. I have never heard of Michael speak about savikalpa samadhi even once, but Talks addresses it and well as the "current of energy" and the "body": 'it doesn't matter whether there is body consciousness or not'.

The other works are difficult to include because Bhagavan sometimes contradicts what he said earlier for example. But many masters do this. It is because issues (like the spokes of a wagon wheel connecting to the hub) can be approached from different sides. Christianity did the same thing as Michael: they only kept 4 of the gospels when there were perhaps dozens (?). But now... we can read some other others that weren't included (the gospel of thomas etc) and see that Jesus was much different than the church paints him. They kept the 4 gospels that empowered the church and tossed the ones that empowered the individual! Similarly Michael tosses works that do not fit within his logical framework.... but supply a more diverse viewpoint.


hocuspocus said...

Our happiness to have learnt a lot from Michael James about the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana did not last long. Now we have to look up to a new star on the heaven ...

hocuspocus said...

Roger,
many thanks to you, you have opened our eyes. It took us thumbsucker a terribly long time.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hocuspocus,
Michael has his inspiring qualities and is very talented. Are you saying that he is beyond constructive criticism?

hocuspocus said...

Roger,
you know certainly fairy tales; behind the seven mountains at the seven dwarfs there is Snow White, which is tousand times more beautiful than you...

Steve D said...

Roger

With all do respect, what is your problem??? This blog is a forum for devotees of Bhagavan to discuss his teaching and help each other with sadhana. It is not an open forum to criticize people, either constructively or otherwise. You have made it quite clear from all of your posts that you have some kind of personal vendetta against Michael James and seem to be on a crusade of some sort to criticize, humiliate and publicly shame him. It has really gotten to the point of being in very poor taste and is quite against the spirit of this blog and what it is about. You seem more interested in arguing with people at every given opportunity than genuinely trying to learn about Bhagavan's teaching and apply them to your own life and sadhana. I'm sure that you will post two or three very long paragraphs arguing with what I just said here as that seems to be your sole aim and motivation of being on this blog. People do not want to hear it. We are here to discuss and learn, help each other and generally add a spirit of positivity, not argue, criticize and personally attack one another, be it Michael James or anyone else. Please respect the members of this blog by not continuing to post this negativity and vitriol directed at Michael and find some other outlet to deal with whatever ego issues you are dealing with in regard to people disagreeing with you or your viewpoints on sadhana and spirituality. This is not the place for the type of personal attacks you have been waging and the negativity that goes along with it.

And please note that I have no interest in engaging you in a discussion or argument about what I have just written, so know ahead of time that I will not respond to any lengthy retorts you have regarding this post. As I said, the point of this blog is to discuss Bhagavan's teachings and help one another in that regard. Anything beyond this please respectfully take somewhere else.

R Viswanathan said...

Sri Nochur Venkataraman, who is a very highly respected Bhagavan devotee for his discourses on Bhagavan and his teachings, as well as on Bhagavatham, Bhagavat Gita, Yoga Vasishta Saram, and Ramayanam gives a very beneficial description and discussion of Ulladhu Narpadhu verses in his book 'Swathma Sukhi'. The importance of Nama Japam and Rupadhyanam are beautifully brought out by him for verse 8 by stating that he knows examples of some sadhakas who stopped doing Nama Japam and Rupadhyanam to practise atma Vichara, are actually languishing in 'Trisangu Swarga' due to lack of purity of mind that is required for sustained practice of Atma Vichara, but at the same time involving themselves strongly with the intellectual business dealings. He suggests that one can pursue Atma Vicharam along with other practices, by citing that he himself was brought to Atma Vicharam by Antharyami during such practices and that even now the Puja and Japa are being performed by him in the form of Atma Bhajanai.

The given below passage for Ulladhu Narpadhu verse 8 is from an old article of Sri Michael James:
http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2009/06/ulladu-narpadu-explanatory-paraphrase.html

"in verse 8 Sri Ramana discusses the reality of ‘seeing’ or experiencing God, saying that though he is the பொருள் (porul) or ‘essential reality’, which is truly devoid of name or form, it is possible to see him in name and form by worshipping him in any form, giving him any name, but that knowing one’s own உண்மை (unmai) — ‘truth’, ‘being’ or ‘am-ness’ — and thereby subsiding and becoming one with his உண்மை (unmai) is alone seeing him in truth."


Sanjay Lohia said...

Every moment is a previous opportunity for us to be self-attentive ~*~ (HAB pdf * page 583 * chapter: The Practice of the Art of Being)

Introduction: In most types of yogic meditations, it is recommended that we do it at a fixed time, place, and so on. However, these rules are not applicable for the practice of self-investigation. Michael writes:

Michael: Another question that is often raised is whether or not we should set aside certain periods of time each day to practise self-attentiveness. Again the answer to this question is that it is not necessary for us to do so, but that we may find it to be helpful.

It is all a matter of personal preference and lifestyle. So long as we find it helpful, we should set aside certain periods of time each day to practise self-attentiveness, but if we find that our set periods of ‘meditation’ are just becoming a mechanical routine, and that we are not really spending those periods usefully engaged in clear and steady self-attentiveness, we should find some better way of ensuring that we spend some time each day engaged in self-attentiveness.

To experience our true and essential being with perfect clarity does not in truth require any time. If we have an overwhelming and all-consuming love to know ourself, we can attain true and eternal self-knowledge by just a moment of total self-attentiveness, as Sri Ramana himself did.

Just as death is something that happens in an instant, and is not something that we can ever experience partially, so the experience of true self-knowledge ‘happens’ in an instant, and can never be experienced partially. Either we imagine ourself to be a finite individual, as we do so long as we still feel that our self-attentiveness or self-conscious being is a practice and not something entirely natural and unavoidable, or we are wholly consumed by the absolute clarity of true self-knowledge, in which case we will know that we have always been nothing other than infinite and perfectly clear self-conscious being.

Our aim during practice, therefore, is to experience that one moment of absolute unqualified self-attentiveness. Hence long periods of ‘meditation’ are not necessary. It may be helpful for us at times to sit quietly for a while attempting to focus our attention wholly and exclusively upon our being, but if our mind rebels too strongly we should relax for a while and try again later with a fresh and calm mind. If we struggle for too long a period to oppose the force of our desires to think, our mind will become agitated, and will therefore cease to be a suitable instrument for practising self-attentiveness. But if we relax our efforts for a while and allow our mind to become relatively calm once again, then we will be able to practise self-attentiveness with a renewed vigour.

In practice what we need is not long hours seated in a desperate struggle to maintain continuous self-attentiveness, but rather many brief periods of time here and there throughout each day when we try with fresh vigour and intense enthusiasm to experience our naturally ever self-conscious being. During the midst of our normal daily activities, there are many times when our mind is not pressingly engaged in any particular work, and normally during such times we allow our mind to wander and think of many trivial and unnecessary matters. Each such time is a precious opportunity for us to be self-attentive.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Every moment is a previous opportunity for us to be self-attentive - part two ~*~ (HAB pdf * page 583 * chapter: The Practice of the Art of Being)

Most of the thoughts we think each day are not pressingly urgent, but are merely the way in which our mind usually chooses to occupy itself. Therefore if we have a true love for self-attentiveness, instead of wasting most of our day in idle thoughts, we can very easily spend many moments here and there attempting to be self-attentive. This frequent drawing of our mind back towards ourself is what Sri Ramana sometimes referred to as the practice of ‘self-remembrance’.

Therefore, as Sri Sadhu Om used to say, what we need is not long periods of ‘meditation’, which usually turn out to be merely a futile struggle attempting to resist the force of our desire to think, but rather just many intermittent attempts to be self-attentive. If we
remember to make such intermittent attempts frequently throughout the day, each individual attempt may only last a brief while, but all such brief attempts will together add up to a considerable amount of time spent in the state of self-attentive being.

By thus practising self-attentiveness intermittently, we will make each attempt with a fresh vigour and therefore a more intense clarity. Rather than longer periods of unsteady and therefore unclear self-attentiveness, shorter periods of more intense and therefore clearer and more precise self-attentiveness will be more beneficial.

Conclusion: As Michael indicates, our fixed time sessions of being self-attentive can become a mechanical routine, and I see this happening in my case. I have been trying to practise mostly at fixed times, but now I feel that I will give it up, and try to practise as and when I remember to do so, or whenever I have free times in between my worldly commitments. Like products sold in the market have a shelf life; our style of practice also has a shelf-life. It needs adjustment and fine-tuning as we progress in our practice. At one time I felt we should practise at fixed times, but now I think I have to change this style to a more flexible one - some practice here, some practice there. I have to wait and watch how things go.

Viveka Vairagya said...

Sanjay,

You write, "we can attain true and eternal self-knowledge by just a moment of total self-attentiveness". So, the question arises in my mind, what is preventing the next moment being that moment for me of total self-attentiveness. How can I make sure that it is? Also, you seem to be implying that there is no need for prolonged samadhi for the truth to be realized. If so, why are there these various samadhis mentioned, like savikalpa and nirvikalpa.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Viveka Vairagya, yes, Michael has repeatedly emphasized: ‘we can attain true and eternal self-knowledge by just a moment of total self-attentiveness’. You ask, ‘So, the question arises in my mind, what is preventing the next moment being that moment for me of total self-attentiveness’? Our desires and attachments towards the things of this dream-world, or in other words, our vishaya-vasanas (our inclinations to experience things other than ourself), are preventing us from experiencing total self-attentiveness. Or we do not yet have sufficient svatma-bhakti (love to experience ourself alone), and this lack of sufficient svatma-bhakti is keeping us away from this moment of total self-attentiveness.

Samadhi has different meanings is different contexts and, as Michael has explained us, it is not a very useful term to use while discussing Bhagavan’s teachings Samadhi means any of the various types of mental absorption that result from yogic or other forms of spiritual practice; therefore, it is an ambiguous term which can be interpreted in various ways.

In the context of Bhagavan’s teachings, all that we have to know about samadhi is given to us in verse 13 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Subsidence [of mind] is of two kinds, abeyance [laya] and destruction [nasa]. That which is in abeyance [laya] will rise. [But] if the form dies, it will not rise.

Sri Sadhu Om: The various states in which the mind may subside are of two kinds, namely abeyance of the mind and destruction of the mind. If the mind subsides in a state of abeyance or laya, it will rise again in due courses, but if its form dies by subsiding in the state of destruction or nasa, it will never rise again.

The subsidence of mind gained by breath-restraint, like the subsidence of mind gained in states such as sleep, death, swoon and coma, is temporary and is thus only mano-laya or abeyance of the mind. From such abeyance the mind will rise again. Since happiness is experienced only when the mind subsides, and since the rising of the mind is misery itself, if we are to enjoy happiness forever, it is necessary that the mind should subside permanently. Such permanent subsidence of the mind, which is the true goal of all spiritual endeavor, is called mano-nasa or destruction of the mind. Sri Bhagavan says in the eighth paragraph of Nan Yar? (Who am I?):

For making the mind subside, there is no adequate means other than enquiry [vichara]. If made to subside by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, but will rise again.

In order to bring about the destruction of the mind, it is necessary for the mind to scrutinize itself, the first person feeling ‘I’, and thereby to know its own true form of consciousness. [Notes by Sri Sadhu Om ends]

Conclusion: Bhagavan sometimes used the term sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi (our natural non-differentiated state), but generally he used simpler and clearer terms to describe our primal, natural state, like: sahaja stithi (natural state), svarupa-darshana (experience of our true state), svarupa (our ‘own form’), atma-svarupa (our essential self), atma-jnana (self-knowledge), jnana-drishti (the experience of true self-knowledge).

Thus in Bhagavan’s path, we should not aim for any of the yogic-samadhis, whether we call it nirvikalpa, or savikalpa, or whatever, but should only aim for mano-nasa which will enable us to experience ourself as we really are, and for which we need just a moment of total self-attentiveness.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

... just wanted to put another string of ideas into words that my mind came up with ... and then asked "What is aware of them?!" and they finally left me... hope to be able to do this more often and stop commenting :) :P

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael, Steve and all,

Steve, I told you recently that I practice Kundalini yoga. You immediately responded that my practice could not be of any ultimate value.

When I first came here, Michael immediately told me that my practice of Jnana Yoga had "no spiritual value" and was "only intellectual activity".

I have heard most of the classical spiritual schools of India denounced here as having no value.

Michael & Steve, where you live, how do your new neighbors respond when you greet them with "your spiritual practice has no value and mine is the only superior way" ???

Every blog has this theme present in some amount: atma vicara is superior, the best way, the only final way, the most direct way, "a child" can see the logic of it's superiority, everyone will come to it in the end, Atma Vicara came to fullfil Jnana Yoga. Karma Yoga, Mantra Yoga, Hatha Yoga, Raja yoga etc... have no value.

You ask "what is my problem"? I see what my problem is: I have been way too tolerant and accepting and hopeful for too long!!! I must be precisely direct. How could you possibly think that my challenging you on your intolerance is MY problem???

How would you react if someone met you in this way? What would you do to resolve this issue of someone denouncing your spiritual practice while at the same time keeping good relations? Is it possible? I have been tolerant & hopeful over months and obviously that does not work.

As part of my interest in Sri Ramana, I picked up a number of works. For example, it says on the cover of my "Talks with Ramana" a credit by Ken Wilber "Talks is the living voice of the greatest sage of the twentieth century." I have also searched through the Paul Brunton archives, and have other texts such as Godman.

Now I learn that all these and the records of Bhagavan's interviews for decades are not considered useful by your school. The truth is that every word of Bhagavan is a pearl, a drop of nectar. You only avoid these works because they challenge your intolerance.

The dictionary says:
Bigotry stubborn intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own. The actions, beliefs, and prejudices of a bigot.

Prejudice: an unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought or reason. Any preconceived opinion. Unreasonable feelings, opinions, attitudes regarding a religious group.

Prejudice is absolutely the truth: many here instantly tell me that my spiritual practices and all other spiritual practices have no value and you have never asked me what I am doing and you have no interest! You condemn my practices from your preconceived opinions. Oh my god!

Intolerance: unwillingness or refusal to respect opinions or beliefs contrary to one' s own.

Did Bhagavan teach you to be bigoted, intolerant, prejudiced, dogmatic and narrow minded? These words are the absolute truth. You can not deny it logically. Of course I'm not applying these words to everyone here and for those of you who do not participate in such activity I challenge you to see it & do something about it.

Do you think these attitudes are what Bhagavan intended?
Do you think he approves of your behavior?
Do you think he's up there looking down smiling with approval?

I believe that religious bigotry is one of the main problems in the world today. The least I can do is to stay here and challenge every single bigoted statement. How would you suggest I deal with this? If I go away... the bigotry, prejudice and intolerance will simply continue and grow and fester. Those responsible will immediately deny that they are involved and in so doing you will simply ignore your opportunity to shed the ego and live in peace with those around you

Certainly if this were a fundamentalist religious group I would not even bother. But I expect more from a group dedicated to "the sage of the century". I am shocked!

Ken said...

Hi Roger,

Consider this. Why would someone do a practice that was only something described by a person who died before most of us were born?

Solely because the practice makes more rational and logical sense than any other. In order for that to be true, that person has to compare the rational basis for that practice and all others they know about.

So, it is not surprising that they do so in the case of any particular practice you describe.

If someone comes here and says "I do thumb yoga", then those here are going to either say "Wow, your thumb yoga looks like the best yet" or else "Sorry, but your thumb yoga is not as good as Self-Enquiry".

Tolle once talked about this situation you describe, when he talked about road rage. Road rage occurs because the person is taking everything personally: "He cut me off! He did that to ME!!" but in reality, the person in the other car has no idea who you are and will likely never meet you.

Well, the same thing is occurring here. No one should take anything personally, because no one knows who you are or will likely ever meet you.

So, they are just talking "academically" about the practice you describe you are doing. The fact that you are doing that practice is irrelevant.

PS So, who initiated you into Kundalini Yoga?

Anonymous said...

Sri Atmananda on kundalini

4. Yogas (e.g. Kundalini yoga): Still another class of aspirants take to the path of
meditating on the various nerve centres or adhara-cakras – gross as well as subtle –
assumed to be situated along the course of the spinal chord. This exercise is supposed
to arouse the vital energy called ‘kundalini’ – which lies dormant at the lower ex-
tremity of the spinal chord – and to raise it in gradual stages to the crown of the head.
The aspirant obtains a variety of phenomenal experiences, as the kundalini passes
from centre to centre.
The whole process depends upon the concept of the centres; and the centres in turn
depend upon the body, even for their very concept. Therefore, this exercise can never
be expected to yield anything but relative results in the dual plane. This exercise also
falls short of the ultimate goal.
On reaching the crown of the head ( ‘brahma-randhra’ ), the yogin finds his progress
blocked by a blank wall of ignorance or nothingness. Therefore, he seeks a Karana-
guru, and under his instruction visualizes the ultimate Truth and gets established in it.

Comparing all these so called paths and exercises, we come to the conclusion that
they only prepare the ground for the aspirant, by purifying his mind and heart.

Anonymous said...

Ramana Maharshi on kundalini

The yogis attach the highest importance to sending the kundalini up to the sahasrara, the brain centre or the thousandpetalled lotus. They point out the scriptural statement that the lifecurrent enters the body through the fontanelle and argue that,viyoga [separation] having come about that way, yoga [union] must also be effected in the reverse way.

Therefore, they say, we must by yoga practice gather up the pranas and enter the fontanelle for the consummation of yoga. The jnanis on the other hand point out that the yogi assumes the existence of the body and its separateness from the Self. Only if this standpoint of separateness is adopted can the yogi advise effort for reunion by the practice of yoga.

In fact the body is in the mind which has the brain for its seat. That the brain functions by light borrowed from another source is admitted by the yogis themselves in their fontanelle theory. The jnani further argues: if the light is borrowed it must come from its native source. Go to the source direct and do not depend on borrowed resources.

That source is the Heart, the Self. The Self does not come from anywhere else and enter the body through the crown of the head. It is as it is, ever sparkling, ever steady, unmoving and unchanging. The individual confines himself to the limits of the changeful body or of the mind which derives its existence from the unchanging Self.

All that is necessary is to give up this mistaken identity, and that done, the ever-shining Self will be seen to be the single non-dual reality. If one concentrates on the sahasrara there is no doubt that the ecstasy of samadhi ensues. The vasanas, that is the latent mental tendencies, are not however destroyed. The yogi is therefore bound to wake up from the samadhi because release from bondage has not yet been accomplished.

He must still try to eradicate the vasanas inherent in him so that they cease to disturb the peace of his samadhi. So he passes down from the sahasrara to the Heart through what is called the jivanadi, which is only a continuation of the sushumna.

The sushumna is thus a curve. It starts from the lowest chakra, rises through the spinal cord to the brain and from there bends down and ends in the Heart. When the yogi has reached the Heart, the samadhi becomes permanent. Thus we see that the Heart is the final centre.

Anonymous said...

Lakshmana Swamy on kundalini

The kundalini tradition is not speaking from the highest standpoint because it does not teach that the mind must go back to the heart for the final realization to occur. When you speak of the kundalini rising to the sahasrar you are speaking of a yogic state which is not the highest state. At the moment of realization the 'I' -thought goes down the channel (amrita nadi) and is destroyed in the heart. After realization neither the amrita nadi nor-the heart-center are of any importance. The jnani then knows that he is all-pervading Self.” (13)

Anonymous said...

Roger

In light of the previous posts stating teachings by well recognized and well respected jnanis, maybe Michael James and Steve D are correct on the limitations of kundalini yoga.

Ken said...

Roger,

Here is another Ramana Maharshi expert (NOT Michael James) describing why "Talks with" and some other works are not very reliable:

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.in/2008/05/authenticity-of-bhagavans-writings-and.html

BTW, Ken Wilber has to be the most overrated spiritual writer of all time. And, Paul Brunton is very unreliable, he is thought to have some literally deranged episodes, and was certainly not detail oriented.

Ken said...

A little more clarification on Paul Brunton - he was a Theosophist, which is a group that made up all sorts of fake things - like the "Akashic Record" - which does not appear in any scriptures prior to Theosophy, and "Ascended Masters".

An example - Paul Brunton believed that "Man cannot be descended from Apes because monkeys evolved after men."

PS on Papaji - it's worth noting that there is no corroboration of his realisation of the Self other than his own words. He did a lot of dubious things that would make one question his "level". For example, by his own admission, he lied to his disciples, telling them they were "enlightened" - just to get them to go away! The result of that was those disciples went off and started the noxious Neo-Advaita movement. So, Papaji should not be taken as an authority.

Ken said...

Lastly, one other clarification on Ramana's theory.

Roger mentioned - paraphrased - that since Ramana was talking in the world, that showed that the world had not "died" and that Ramana was using his ego to operate in the world.

But this is looking at the World from our current perception of it.

Ramana says that the World is like a movie being projected in the theater. You see a character and you identify with him. When the character is hit in the face, you are dismayed, and when he accomplishes a goal, you are happy.

When you decide to pay attention to the theater, you can turn on the light there, and the movie no longer exists. And you are no longer identified with that character.

To continue his analogy, somewhere in another theater, someone else is watching the same movie. They see the character, even though you have stopped doing so.

So, identifying with the character or not, does not prevent the movie and character from being viewed by others.

For more on Ego, The World and Free Will, here is another article written by David Godman - warning: not for those who are attached to the details and forms of life:

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/04/god-scriptwriter.html

Sanjay Lohia said...

Since God is all-loving, nothing can happen that is not for the true benefit of all concerned ~*~ (HAB pdf * page 466 * chapter The Practice of the Art of Being)

Michael: Everything that happens in this world happens only by the ‘will of God’, that is, by the love of this one supreme ruling power. Since God is all-knowing, nothing can happen without him knowing it. Since he is all-powerful, nothing can happen without his consent. And since he is all-loving, nothing can happen that is not for the true benefit of all concerned (even though our limited human intellect may be unable to understand how each happening is truly good and beneficial). In fact, since he is the source and totality of all the power that we see manifest in this universe, every single activity or happening here is impelled, driven and controlled by him. As an ancient Tamil proverb says, “avan arul andri or anuvum asaiyadu”, which means ‘except by his grace, not even an atom moves’.

Since God is therefore bearing the entire burden of this universe, he can perfectly well bear any burden that we may place upon him. But what exactly do we mean when we speak of placing our burden upon him, and how can we do so? We all feel that we have some cares and responsibilities, but since God is responsible for everything, and since he is taking perfectly good care of everything the truth is that we need not take any care or responsibility upon ourself.

Our only responsibility is to surrender ourself to him – that is, to yield our individual will to his divine will, which simply means to give up all our personal desires, fears, likes and dislikes, and thereby to leave all our cares and worries in his perfectly capable hands. If we surrender our individual will in this manner, he will take perfect care of us and will bear all our responsibilities.

Reflections: We all want to ‘do’ and ‘achieve’ many things in this world, because we do not realize or remember who the real doer is, therefore, our trying to ‘do’ and ‘achieve’ this and that is foolishness. God, or the supreme power, is the only power that exists, and therefore there is no second entity to oppose this power. So God’s will has to be supreme in all situations. We just have to trust his will unconditionally. After all, as Michael says, God’s will is impelled, driven and controlled by his absolute knowledge, power and love; thus, his will is always for the benefit for all concerned.

Why should we strain ourself unnecessarily imagining that we are the doers, and therefore responsible for whatever we do or experience? Whatever good and bad experiences that we undergo in this life are decided by God. Thus we hardly have any role in our actions and their results. However, most of the time we foolishly try to act against our predestined prarabdha, and thus create problems for ourself.

Thus we have to surrender our will to the will of God, but how to do this? Since our ego imagines that it has a free-will, and it tries to use it to achieve various things in this world, the only way to surrender our will is to surrender our ego, and we can surrender our ego only by remaining vigilantly self-attentive, as intensely and as frequently as possible.


R Viswanathan said...

'I expect more from a group dedicated to "the sage of the century". I am shocked!'

Please be assured that we do feel benefitted by the articles of Sri Michael James as well as by all comments aired by other aspirants. A genuine Bhagavan devotee will not be affected by any comment that appears to question or actually questions the validity of or power of Bhagavan's words. Surely everyone who participates in discussion in this blog has the grace of Bhagavan showed on him/her and consequently stands to benefit by it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan alone knows what is best for us ~*~ (Sadhanai Saram pdf, by Sri Sadhu OM * page 5)

The following is in continuation of my today’s comment on the same topic. Sri Sadhu Om says in his book Sadhanai Saram:

Leave it to Him

He knows the best of all,
Leave it to Him, be calm;
Believe Him most of all,
Then rests the mental storm
.

Explanatory paraphrase by Sri Sadhu Om: Our Sadguru (Self-realized Guru, or guide) Sri Ramana, alone knows what is best for us. Therefore, entrusting all our burdens and cares to Him, we should always remain peaceful and calm. If we believe Him more than we believe anyone or anything else, knowing that He alone is the Supreme all-knowing, all powerful and all-loving reality, then, at that very moment, we will attain that perfect peace in which the raging storm of thoughts will have come to an end, forever.

Reflections: Such trust on Bhagavan, as Sri Sadhu Om advises, may appear difficult, at least in the beginning. But it makes a lot of sense, especially in the context of our practice of self-investigation. Without entrusting our burdens and cares to Bhagavan, we cannot remain peaceful and calm. We would always be worried or anxious about our worldly duties, goals, and so on, and our ego will mostly be preoccupied with attending to the things of this world.

Therefore, only a surrendered mind can be a perfect instrument for carrying out the practice of self-investigation. Only when we give up our outside, worldly concerns, can we devote our full attention on attending to ourself alone.

He knows the best of all, Leave it to Him, be calm; Believe Him most of all, Then rests the mental storm.



Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael & all,

Would someone please answer my question, please make this the topic of the next blog:

A new family moves into your neighborhood, that evening you are helping them with boxes and you bring them dinner. You are telling them about the local grocery stores etc.... and then in a moment of silence you suddenly announce proudly: I don't know what you are doing for religious / spiritual practice but I'm sure that it can't be of ultimate value, my way (atma vicara) is the only final way, the most direct, a child can see the superiority of it, all other practices are simply outward activity of the mind.

How do they respond?

BTW, I am your new neighbor and I am describing my experience here.

Bhagavan's teaching is being misrepresented.

It is very clear that Bhagavan never took this attitude in his ashram. Every lecture here, and on most days, you here atma vicara described as superior to all others and you hear other schools denounced as not useful. Did Bhagavan pound this into people every [expletive deleted on Bob's request] day? Were the seekers in the ashram frequently found in conversation about the superiority of atma vicara versus other techniques? If so then they were practicing ego, not atma vicara. Sanjay, listen up!

You have one of the greatest spiritual teachings. It should be presented with the biggest heart, the most open arms, and the biggest smile. Constantly proclaiming superiority is competitive: the heart is not open and it certainly does not appear inviting.

#1: It must be true: there are rarely some seekers stuck at a lower level of practice of one of the yogas or repetitive unproductive mindless meditation... and they need to hear about pure attention on self beyond elementary technique.
#2: But... it is also true: self attention is available in many schools (I have found it Jnana Yoga and Kundalini), self attention is NOT an exclusive of your teaching, your school... or any other!
#3: Furthermore, as atma vicara, pure attention on self, is an advanced teaching, in my practice, decades ago, and even now under stressful circumstances I benefit from other adjuncts. discouraging other practices must block many seekers. They may need other practices to form a stable base (a relative still mind) in which to succeed at atma vicara.

I suggest that every time "atma vicara is called most direct, the only final way etc...", it should immediately be softened and qualified by something like my statements above.

ANY TIME someone utters, "atma vicara is superior, some other school is not useful"... this is [expletive deleted] ego. If you want to go beyond the ego... if you hear yourself thinking in such a way... maybe it's time to find some other practice to supplement atma vicara because atma vicara is not [several expletives deleted on Bob's request] working!

venkat said...

Shankaracharya emphasised that jnana yoga was the path of advaita vedanta. He wrote commentaries on vedantic texts in order to clarify their meaning, and to vigorously challenge and dismiss what he regarded as false interpretations of Vedanta. As such, he made clear jnana yoga was the final and only path to liberation, and that karma yoga, raja yoga, kundalini, nirvikalpa samadhi were at best preparatory steps to jnana yoga but could not yield liberation on their own. So to be clear, jnana yoga has absolutely nothing to do with kundalini or nirvikalpa samadhi.

Why did Shankara go to that effort? Because of compassion, to clarify the doubts and obfuscations that had arisen around different interpretations of Vedanta, even back then.

If someone (A) asks a passerby (B) to confirm that the way to Oxford is by turning left, and B knows that A needs to turn right, should B not tell him that he is making a mistake? Clearly, if A still wants to turn left, that is his choice and there is nothing wrong with it, and no one will try to stop him. But it is then bizarre if A screams at the prejudice of B, for insisting that he is making a mistake, and not in anyway acknowledging that yes, maybe A can indeed arrive at his destination by turning left.

There are a lot of signposts along our path - Shankara, Ramakrishna, Bhagavan, Nisargadatta, Michael and various neo-advaitins. Some point in the right directions; others in a circular route, and still others in a totally opposite direction. It is up to us individually to figure out which signpost is the most reliable, and to decide how ardently to follow it. Which signpost others choose to follow, should be a matter of total irrelevance, unless they ask for help.

Coming to Michael's website is equivalent to asking for help to understand Bhagavan's path. If this path is not of interest, or if you believe Michael's interpretation is incorrect, is seems madness (or the height of insecurity) to scream at those who are following this, to acknowledge that some other path or interpretation is correct. Challenge your understanding / others' understanding - yes. of course. But if you feel that you have understood correctly, and others haven't, why waste further time?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Venkat,
Nice to talk with you.

Teachers have told me Sankara is talking about Jnana Marga as the final step. It is confusing because he also represents Jnana Yoga. Karma Yoga, Raja Yoga, Kundalini etc.. are all at the same level of Jnana Yoga, AND they have their respective teachings on the level of Jnana Marga. Jnana Marga for a Jnana Yogi will be slightly different than Jnana Marga for a Kundalini Yogi so the different perspectives of the various schools have value.

If you say "Jnana Yoga" is the path of Advaita, then Michael teaches the opposite: "Atma Vicara came to fulful Jnana Yoga".

If you say "there are a lot of sign posts": I agree, but Michael teaches that there are no signposts.

BTW: I have no problem with Michael's teaching at all, I take inspiration from it, except for the issue that it is presented as the only, most direct etc... This is just ego. Michael wants to focus on certain writings of Bhagavan exclusively: This is fantastic, he is do a great job at this. My only issue is that the other writings of Bhagavan have value too, as do the works of other teachers. My only objection is the elitism & superiority.

regards,
Roger

venkat said...

Roger,

I'm afraid that your teachers are wholly incorrect and misguided if they told you that Shankara taught that jnana yoga is at the same level as the others. And you will not find a reference anywhere in Shankara's writings about kundalini yoga. Shankara was absolutely clear that liberation could only arise from jnana, but karma and bhakti may be required to "purify" a seeker's mind.

Bhagavan is no different - except that he says you can jump straight to atma vichara, without the preliminary steps, because the practice of atma vichara will itself purify the mind.

As jnana yoga is the path to understanding that everything perceived, starting with the 'I', is a superimposition on the ever-pure Atman, then clearly atma vichara (a close investigation of the 'I') is the pre-eminent means to achieve this jnana. Therefore, atma vichara is the means to jnana, and not different from it, as I have explained previously.

Shankara wrote to dispel what he regarded as erroneous beliefs of other teachings. If you have read Mandukya karika, you will know that both Guadapada and Shankara go to great lengths to dismiss such beliefs - because of the confusion they can cause in the minds of seekers. I guess you would have expletive-ly called them prejudiced and elitist as well.

You obviously did not carefully read my mail. Whilst I said there are lots of signposts, I did not say that they were all correct. You seem to be insisting on saying that both left and right are equally good roads to follow, when Michael, and others here, is/are confident that turning right is the only direct road. And yet you want Michael to go against his own conviction and tell you that "yes, left is equally good".

Really?

Ken said...

ROGER -

You typed "happinessofbeing.blogspot.com" in your browser.

You came HERE and posted HERE.

You are NOT a neighbor who has moved next door.

You are also not reading very much of the posts.

IF someone questions -->ALL<-- of their assumptions - period - and starts from scratch, you end up with Ramana Maharshi's technique, because that is how it is derived.

If you spent a small fraction of the time you have spent writing posts, and read "The Path of Sri Ramana Maharshi, Vol 1" cover to cover (appendices and footnotes not necessary), you will agree, I think.

venkat said...

PS If you are convinced that left is the best path, or an equivalent path, then you should of course follow it. Maybe even set up a website to guide others. But there is little point at getting frustrated at those who believe that turning right is the quickest path.

R Viswanathan said...

With Acharya Sankara being often referred to here, I would like to bring to the attention of Bhagavan devotees that the book "Atma Tirtham" written by Sri Nochur Venkataraman will be of great benefit.
Tamil, English, and Malayalam versions are available. Please see this link:
https://nochursravana.com/books/atmatirtham-2/

Roger Isaacs said...


Hi Venkat,
Numerous gurus proclaim their teachings superior. I don't have a problem with this particularly, it is a competition at the enlightened guru level. It is advertising. Although, I don't think it is appropriate going forward because of the following effect: When non-enlightened students take up this cry "our's is superior"... then it is ego. If I tried to insist to you that [insert a path here] is superior to what you are doing... you would immediately see this as ego on my part? Why don't you see the claims of superiority here the same?

We all have to discover what is best for us. But... when we proclaim that what works for us must also be the best for everyone else... ego. That is just about all I have to say here.

>> Shankara was absolutely clear that liberation could only arise from jnana, but karma and bhakti may be required to "purify" a seeker's mind.

In this case Sankara is refering to the 3 Margas: jnana marga, karma marga, bhakti marga, the 3 steps of development on the path that I have discussed earlier.

This knowledge seems to have been lost: if you google on marga, you will find many references that treat the 3 margas identical to the yogas. Why is this done? Why are the margas called identical to the yogas? Is there some difference?

Any non-enlightened people that insist that what they do is best for everyone is indulging in ego. Anyone who projects their preferences onto other people is indulging in ego. Wouldn't you agree?

You here are dedicated to killing the ego. Why would you object to my suggestions? It seems strange to have a teaching where no suggestions are allowed.

venkat said...

Hi Viswanathan

I really enjoy Sri Nochur's talks on Bhaagavan, and frequently listen to them. I have read this book, and whist it is an interesting semi-biography of Sankara, to be honest, I thought it fell short of his audio discourses. On Sankara, there really is nothing to beat his own commentaries on Bhagavad Gita or the Upanishads.

Ken said...

Roger,

This is NOT a case of someone happening to buy a Toyota and then proclaiming "Toyota is superior to all other cars!".

It is instead the process of questioning all assumptions, and then logically analyzing the world.

The explanation of the path includes this analysis.

No other path does this.

It is thus automatically superior, not by personal choice or personal taste.

In order to challenge that claim, YOU HAVE TO CHALLENGE THE LOGIC OF THE PATH.

In order to do that, YOU HAVE TO READ IT FIRST.

Mouna said...

Roger, friend

What I am about to say comes with the utmost respect of you as a person and as a spiritual neighbor seeker regardless of what sadhana you follow or the way you express your views in this blog.

I think you nailed down the source of your frustration of what is happening here when, a few postings back you finish your commentary with three words: "I expect more...etc."
If there is a direct path at all, expectations about others and events, is the one that leads directly, in most of the cases, towards frustration that then develops into inner and then outer negativity.
As you know this is not only your problem but "our" problem.

To put myself in the hot spot, I expect drivers in the fast lane of the highway to... yes, fast! And if they don't... I expect politicians to be or al least to act as sages and enlightened beings and When they don't... I expect spiritual teachers to be pure, honest, all-embracing and emotional, etc... And when they don't... I expect the food to be warm when is brought by the server, especially in an expensive restaurant, and when it's not... Well, as you might have guessed, this can go on and on and on until the end of times.

The only positive side about expectations is that they give us the energy to pursue our goals, I do expect Bhagavan's teachings to work in a short time frame and that is what kept me going all these years, but I also know that the result of my sadhana not only depend on my efforts but also on grace pulling me in....

Expectations are offsprings of the sense of doership, and should be treated with caution in the sense that as long as I don't "identify" with the outcome then all is good, but if I expect that the outcome SHOULD match my expectations, we are in a smooth way to our own hell.

I can assure you that people of this "neighborhood" are not bad people waiting for newcomers to convert them into satanic vichara rituals to feed the belly of some corrupted devil, everyone here has doubts, everyone here makes errors of appreciation, everyone here get heated for the discussion at times, but everyone here is also struggling the best they can, even if we feel it or not, in fact everything here is trying to reach.... (fill in the blanks) with whatever means their understanding allows them to use.
And yes! we get defensive of the means we use and yes! we think our means are better at times but ultimately we know in the core of our being that we will need to leave EVEN THAT behind, our sadhana, our life, our loved ones... Hopefully for a better future (self-realization), but at least for another chance in a future beginning life.

Everything is as it is, whether we like it or not. Let's that dislike don't ruin our own inner state.

That's all I have to say, is not an advice from a sage, is just an observation from a fellow traveler... let's expect less and don't be identified with the results of our actions/ expectations and surely life will aligned better with our ultimate aim.

As someone once said: "Expect the unexpected and you will never be disappointed!"

Be well,
M

Roger Isaacs said...

Part 1:

Hi Anonymous,

I appreciate your posts on kundalini, the phrase I appreciate the most is "maybe Michael and Steve are correct".

The truth is that we can site sources, but actually, we do not know with certainty and we can't speak for everyone, so maybe is a great way of stating an opinion. My main complaint here is that opinions are stated with absolute certainty "atma vicara IS the ONLY way", but the word "maybe" would resolve all of my concerns and then I would shut up (maybe).

You have mentioned other sources that I am not familiar with, Sri Atmananda for example... so I have to go research him later. Is this Atmananda Krishna Menon?
you quote: "they only prepare the ground for the aspirant, by purifying his mind and heart"
Certainly kundalini is NOT for everyone.
It is my opinion (noting I can only ever speak from a limited opinion) that many things may result in initial purification. This initial purification can be essential.

In the future, please site sources for your quotes. I do not see that Bhagavan's quote is necessarily against kundalini. Here they speak against a kundalini tradition because they do not teach about the heart. This doesn't necessarily say that ALL kundalini traditions avoid mentioning the heart, furthermore, there are great sages such as Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj who certainly pass my test that don't mention the heart experience. Furthermore, the opening of the heart is sometimes referred to as a kundalini experience.

Here are some other quotes from Bhagavan from "Talks" regarding kundalini.
Talk 282: 16th november, 1936
D.: Does the Tantrik sadhana bring about Self-Realisation?
M.: Yes.
D.: Which worship in Tantra is the best?
M.: It depends on temperament.

D.: What part does Kundalini play in bringing about Self-Realisation?
M.: Kundalini rises from any lakshya that you have. Kundalini is prana-sakti (life-current).
D.: Different deities are said to reside in different chakras. Does one see them in course of sadhana?
M:: They can be seen if desired.
D.: Does the path to Self-Realisation go through samadhi?
M.: They are synonymous.


Bhagavan is saying that which technique to use DEPENDS ON TEMPERAMENT. And that Tantrik sadhana does result in Self Realization. How about that! Bhagavan says directly that something other than atma vicara leads to Self-Realization!! And it depends on temperament! This contradicts Venkat's understanding that only Jnana Yoga leads to realization.

Talk 77:
The Self is called by different names - Atman, God, Kundalini, mantra, etc. Hold any one of them and the Self becomes manifest. God is no other than the Self. Kundalini is now showing forth as the mind. When the mind is traced to its source it is Kundalini.

Roger Isaacs said...

part 2:

Talk 195:

D.: I do not yet understand how it is to be done.

M.: You are practising breath-control. Mechanical breath-control will not lead one to the goal. It is only an aid. While doing it mechanically take care to be alert in mind and remember the ‘I’ thought and seek its source. Then you will find that where breath sinks, there ‘I-thought’ arises. They sink and rise together. The ‘I-thought’ also will sink along with breath. Simultaneously, another luminous and infinite ‘I-I’ will become manifest, which will be continuous and unbroken. That is the goal. It goes by different names - God, Self, Kundalini Sakti, Consciousness, Yoga, Bhakti, Jnana, etc.


This is a fascinating quote: Bhagavan says mechanical breath control will not work. This kind of validate some of my experience in that I have practiced some types of pranayama and just got the hiccups!
But he says "WHILE DOING IT...." so he is providing subtler instruction on how breath control can be used successfully!!! AND... he says kundalii, Bhakti, Jnana are the same as God. Thus, when Venkat quotes Sankara as saying liberation can only come from Jnana, Bhagavan is stating otherwise here.

24th December, 1936 talk 299
Kundalini is not different from the Heart.

talk 392
M.: The Kundalini of jnana marga is said to be the Heart, which is also described in various ways as a network of nadis, of the shape of a serpent, of a lotus bud, etc.

Talk 465.
Meditation should remain unbroken as a current. If unbroken it is called samadhi or Kundalini sakti.

Ken said...

Roger,

Here is another Ramana Maharshi expert (NOT Michael James) describing why "Talks with" and some other works are not very reliable:

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.in/2008/05/authenticity-of-bhagavans-writings-and.html

Ken said...

The link provides examples of where the author of "Talks" actually added words that Ramana did not say, because the author assumed that Ramana meant those words.

Ken said...

A similar example is in the New Testament, where there is an incident where Jesus and his followers cannot remove a stubborn demon, and Jesus says "This one can only be removed with prayer and fasting".

However, someone did a survey and comparisons of all extant texts of the Bible, and (among other things) found that all copies of the New Testament prior to the 5th Century did not include the words "and fasting".

Some historical research indicates that fasting became a popular technique within the Church in the 5th Century. So clearly, someone said "we need to promote fasting, and we know Jesus did some fasting, so we benefit everyone by adding 'and fasting' to what is recorded". Of course, in his zealotry, the person did not understand the implications theologically of changing the method of removing demons.

Ken said...

Lastly, if you are advocating accepting any source of Ramana's words, then Paul Brunton (who did not know Tamil) says that Ramana Maharshi said:

"This path [attention to the ‘I’] is the direct path; all others are indirect ways. The first leads to the Self, the others elsewhere. And even if the latter do arrive at the Self it is only because they lead at the end to first path which ultimately carries them to the goal. So, in the end, the aspirants must adopt the first path. Why not do so now? Why waste time?"

Anonymous said...

Roger

So in the interest of trying to get to the bottom of why you seem to be so argumentative, confrontational and combative with basically every single person on this blog who engages in a discussion with you, I did I little experiment. I picked three random posts of yours (if you like I can tell you which ones) and counted the number of times you said "I", "me" or "my" in the posts. Here are the results:

"I" - 48 times

"me/my" 25 times

This is a combined total of 73 times in only three posts that you are talking about yourself. Now this is especially interesting in light of the fact that you have accused multiple members of this forum of being egotistical and ego driven, so I challenge you to do the same thing I did; take three random posts of one of the people you are convinced is so egocentric and count the number of times they say "I", "me" or "my". Since you seem to have an unhealthy obsession with comparing things I assume you will revel in this opportunity.

The truth of the matter is, that the content of 90% of the posts on this forum is people talking about Ramana Maharshi and his teachings, while the content of 90% of all your posts are you talking about yourself!! And then you have the temerity to call other people ego driven!! It's no wonder that you are so defensive all the time, so confrontational and get into an argument with pretty much every person on here who responds to one of your posts, given how self concerned you are, and the proof is in the posts themselves. (see above data)

I am not writing this to be mean, but seriously, I think this data is worth looking at and seriously considering. If you really are an earnest spiritual aspirant, that information should concern you and you should genuinely want to do something about it, especially in light of the fact that you can't seem to even have a simple conversation with other spiritually minded individuals without having your gigantic ego bruised, getting defensive and starting an argument.

And the irony about this whole thing is, that this whole line of conversation and debate started around you getting defensive about the fact that some people suggested that the practices you have been doing might not be that effective. Based on the above data I would suggest that they are correct! It might genuinely benefit you to put your pride and ego aside and actually listen to what the members of this forum are telling you in terms of spiritual practice and how to effectively practice vichara as opposed to arguing with everyone and asserting that your own practices and understanding are just as effective as everyone elses, because obviously they are not. (see above data)

I hope you can actually take this information with a bit of humility and detachment and not immediately get defensive about it and start arguing again. Perhaps you can actually investigate the "I/me" that you are constantly talking about and that is so dear to you that you would basically antagonize an entire community in protection of. Honesty, NOBODY on this blog talks about themselves as much as you do. All of your posts are riddled with "I,I,I" ... "me,me,me" ... "my,my,my". Take a look at them. And then maybe consider the fact that whatever practices you have been doing may not actually be that effective in eradicating your ego, and maybe you should take to atma vichara, as so many kind and gentle folk here have suggested.

Roger Isaacs said...

Ken says "Here is another Ramana Maharshi expert (NOT Michael James) describing why "Talks with" and some other works are not very reliable "

Ken's claim "not very reliable" is false. Do your homework next time Ken. Why am I challenging Ken forcefully? Isn't falsely condemning records of 10 years of Bhagavan's interviews pretty serious?

Some of what David Godman actually said about "Talks" is reproduced below with key sections in bold. I have no problem accepting that the written word always fails to accurately describe the ultimate state because it is beyond description! But the total condemnation of "Talks" is not reasonable according to Godman. I also think that ALL WORDS should be taken ONLY as tentative or "possible pointers" to truth because we are actually going for the reality within and do not want words getting in the way.

Godman:

Parts of the Talks manuscript did appear in Maharshi’s Gospel, which came out in 1939. The second half of Maharshi’s Gospel contains dialogues that do not appear anywhere else. I strongly believe that they were dialogues that Maurice Frydman, the editor of the book, had with Bhagavan but I can’t prove this conclusively because he covered his tracks very well. The first half of Maharshi’s Gospel, though, comprises conversations that were lifted verbatim from the Talks manuscript. Judging by the small number of alterations that were made to the Maharshi’s Gospel proof copy by Bhagavan, one can infer that he was reasonably happy with the text in the manuscript.
....
Having said all this, I have to say that Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi is one of my favourite books of Bhagavan’s teaching. One can feel the power of Bhagavan’s words and teachings on every page. It may not be exactly what Bhagavan said, but his teachings are simple and clear enough to withstand the occasional embellishment.

Ken said...

So therefore, if you are quoting from Maharshi's Gospel, it avoids the lack of reliability of Talks. But you are not quoting from Maharshi's Gospel.

Maharshi's Gospel is a small portion of Talks that were edited by Maurice Frydman. Maurice Frydman was characterized by Nisargadatta as the only person he was sure understood his teachings.

The Godman quote is a generalized overall opinion - after he gave details of segments of "Talks" that Ramana never said.

You bolded "It may not be exactly what Bhagavan said..." so therefore Talks does not prove that Ramana meant something.

Again, if you are advocating accepting any source of Ramana's words, then Paul Brunton (who did not know Tamil) says that Ramana Maharshi said:

"This path [attention to the ‘I’] is the direct path; all others are indirect ways. The first leads to the Self, the others elsewhere. And even if the latter do arrive at the Self it is only because they lead at the end to first path which ultimately carries them to the goal. So, in the end, the aspirants must adopt the first path. Why not do so now? Why waste time?"

Sivanarul said...

Roger,

You have made some remarkable quotes this week. Some of my favorites are:

"Masters have been proclaiming their particular teachings as superior for eons. This is no longer appropriate in the 21st century."

"But I am appealing to Michael to begin teaching the real superiority, the superiority of love and wisdom that rises above and heals divisions caused by spiritual-religious elitism & superiority. Then... the appeal of Atma Vichara will regain the warmth of Bhagavan's presence and be much more popular."

"Outward teachings can only point to the inward truth, and when the teachings get involved in outward competition between schools they are pointing in the wrong direction!!!"

A big amen to all of the above. Your passion, dedication and care for making the spiritual camp more inclusive (both within and beyond Bhagavan's teachings) is much appreciated. Thank you for caring. Your aim of promoting inclusiveness is in perfect accordance with Bhagavan's actions. Bhagavan never turned anyone down and is well known for his inclusive approach to everything (asking everyone to have medicine along with him :-). Considering your sudden intense zeal, I would not be too surprised if Bhagavan himself is the one prompting you to care this much, since he never intended his core teachings to be used to constantly narrate "bicycling in the wrong direction", "merely an aid", "merely a devotee" etc etc. He wrote his core teachings for those who are very ripe, and in their ripeness after assimilating it, would simply observe it internally. I don't think he thought it would be used by traveler's on the path to start playing the role of Ishvara.

Having said all of the above, the following is also true. This is Michael's blog. As Ken said, he is not forcing you or me to come read it or participate in it. We are the one's clicking on the link and participating in it. Michael sincerely believes that Vichara is the direct path and it is for everyone (Both you and I disagree). He believes it to such an extent that he writes in this article:
"All we need, therefore, is a simple heart, a curious and enquiring mind, and above all a willingness to set aside all our biases, prejudices and cherished beliefs in order to see the clear and indisputable truth in the simple principles he taught us"

What he is basically telling is, any belief that contradicts the core teachings, like "Sristi-Dhristi", "World is real when experienced", "aneka jivas" etc are all biases, prejudices and cherised beliefs. By that measurement, it would be safe to say that a significant portion of Bhagavan's devotees both during his lifetime and now would all then be filled with these biases, prejuidices and beliefs. During Bhagavan's lifetime, there were the ashrama cooks (many of them widowed ladies), who were very simpple at heart and did not know anything about his teachings. They looked at Bhagavan as God, were deeply comforted by his presence and were spritually uplifted by simply being around Bhagavan.

Continued in next comment...

Sivanarul said...

Continued from previous comment....

As you say, Michael has decided to focus an entire lifetime on a portion of Bhagavan's teachings and is very convinced that it applies to everyone and those who do any accept it in theory at least, cannot really be devoted to Bhagavan. "if we are devoted to Bhagavan and accept him as our sadguru, we should at least be willingly to accept the basic principles of his teachings". What he misses is that, if one has at least partially surrendered to Ishvara, then one has indeed accepted Bhagvan's basic principles that he taught for religious spiritual aspirants.

But here is where the rubber meets the road. He does not come to our house and evangelize his convictions on us. We have chosoen to move to his house (his blog) and in his house he evangelize's his convinctions. He does not charge for it and we are free to take it or leave it.

But I also fully support your idea that if Michael's writings are more inclusive, it will serve a broad set of spiritual aspirants. That is up to Michael. He already follows a lot of Bhagavan's actions (not censuring anything, accepting critisism with indifference etc). Who knows, someday, he may decide to imitate Bhagavan on the inclusiveness also.

In the meantime, let's try not to give the power of attorney to Michael or any other commentator in this blog. If we trust in our inner guide, then we know what that inner guide is telling us is the direct path for us (whether it be Jnana Yoga as per your school, Kundalini Yoga, Surrender to Ishvara etc). I trust in Ishvara both implicitely and explicitely and I have no doubt that whatever practices I do is the direct path specificially chosen by Ishvara for me. There is no going right or left, no direct or indirect, no bicyling in the wrong direction. It is the most straight and direct path possible, since Ishvara has carefully chosen it and I in no way can come up with anything better than that.

Thanks again for your passion, dedication and care. I have learnt a lot from you (Jain tradition, inward/outward facing at the same time etc). Look forward to your future insightful comments.




Sivanarul said...

Reposting again, since the earlier post seems to have been deleted. Sorry, if it is a duplicate.

Continued from previous comment....

As you say, Michael has decided to focus an entire lifetime on a portion of Bhagavan's teachings and is very convinced that it applies to everyone and those who do any accept it in theory at least, then we cannot be devoted to Bhagavan. "if we are devoted to Bhagavan and accept him as our sadguru, we should at least be willingly to accept the basic principles of his teachings".

But here is where the rubber meets the road. He does not come to our house and evangelize his convictions on us. We have chosoen to move to his house (his blog) and in his house he evangelize's his convinctions. He does not charge for it and we are free to take it or leave it.

But I also fully support your idea that if Michael's writings are more inclusive, it will serve a broad set of spiritual aspirants. That is up to Michael. He already follows a lot of Bhagavan's actions (not censuring anything, accepting critisism with indifference etc). Who knows, someday, he may decide to imitate Bhagavan on the inclusiveness also.

In the meantime, let's try not to give the power of attorney to Michael or any other commentator in this blog. If we trust in our inner guide, then we know what that inner guide is telling us is the direct path for us (whether it be Jnana Yoga as per your school, Kundalini Yoga, Surrender to Ishvara etc). I trust in Ishvara both implicitly and explicitly and I have no doubt that whatever practices I do is the direct path specificially chosen by Ishvara for me. There is no going right or left, no direct or indirect, no bicyling in the wrong direction. It is the most straight and direct path possible, since Ishvara has carefully chosen it and I in no way can come up with anything better than that.

Thanks again for your passion, dedication and care. I have learnt a lot from you (Jain tradition, inward/outward facing at the same time etc). Look forward to your future insightful comments.

Mouna said...

Michael's silence amidst lot of noise is very eloquent, and completely in tune with what Bhagavan's real teaching was about, and that Silence is not found in any books, even the ones Bhagavan wrote...
And since what we called Bhagavan is no longer among us, it can only be found within.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Mouna, I agree. Bhagavan also said something to the effect: ‘Silence is more eloquent that the most wonderful and eloquent speeches’. Yes, as you say, ‘Silence is not found in books’, but there the some books or words which motivate us to seek mental silence.

Bhagavan’s, Sri Sadhu Om’s and Michael’s written works certainly show us a clear path to reach that silence. However, their words can only take us thus far – that is, they can only help us in our sravana and manana, but they cannot help us in our nididhyasana - the actual journey towards our goal of absolute silence. Here we are alone.

Mouna said...

And I agree with you Sanjay that the aim of all these words in sacred books, commentaries, videos, blogs, etc, that constitute, as you rightly point out, our sravana and manana, when coming from the heart, the center, their sole aim is to point us the way through nididhyasana, directly, to our most intimate Silence.
Hope it reach us all, right here right now.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael and all,

I am not interested in personality. Anyone can attack my me and I don't care (maybe). What's there? Ultimately... nothing! Good luck attacking (mostly) nothing!

The biggest failing that I have is this: to live up to the adage: "speak truth, truth which is pleasing". How to do this in a way which is "pleasing" or at least minimally offensive is an impossible challenge. There are gentle souls here that just want to bask in devotional bliss. I apologize to these people as I must be upsetting. Just ignore me please.

People:
0: Roger: (zero is intentional): this personality Roger is not worth defending or arguing about, only IDEAS are interesting.

1: Bhagavan: Bhagavan is entirely above reproach. I would question Bhagavan endlessly... but this is because words are unreliable as well as my understanding. Are there any issues that have only one answer? Is light a particle or a wave? It is like the wagon wheel hub with multiple spokes radiating inwards: each spoke is a different perspective. Words can't be trusted. Perhaps silence is the only answer, but we must speak. I love Bhagavan.

2: Michael: I am giving Michael a hard time. However, Michael deserves immense credit.

Michael has selflessly put himself in a risky position by speaking out the best that he can in a public environment which invites challenge: that sure as hell takes guts (sorry Bob, a curse word was the only way to get adequate emphasis).
Michael's dedication to the "core" principles, to translate and teach them, is exemplary and I learn from him all the time!
Michael's passion is inspiring. I was just reading the story that the desire for enlightenment must be a burning zeal : the master holds the seeker underwater till he is almost drown, then points out: "your passion for air just before you were about to drown demonstrates the passion necessary for realization". Michael's dedication certainly approaches this level.

Sivanarul, agreed: We are in Michael's house at his invitation. And thanks for your supportive comments!

I love Michael perhaps as a brother. It is funny: take two people off the street, by listening to our rants they would not be able to tell the difference between us. I have more in common with Michael that just about anyone. Brothers can argue. Who knows where this will go. There is always hope.

I only have a couple of issues with Michael and ONLY the ideas are interesting. Let's eliminate personality and simply discuss ideas impartially.

The fact that Michael focuses on the "core" teachings only and ignores for example "Talks" is not an issue, this is fine. I only bring up Talks as a way of addressing my issue that there is not just one way.

IMO there is no single path to God, no single perspective about anything, atma vicara is NOT the only, the most direct etc. I believe in the philosophy "not one" (religion, philosophy, spiritual practice) has a monopoly on truth (the Jain Anekantavada philosophy). But... an astute observer would notice that Anekantavada says that it is not the only perspective either.

One more argument which is perhaps the strongest:. As we can not agree on Atma Vicara as the "only, best, most direct way" can we consider this:

Even if atma vicara was, for sake of argument, the ONLY way to enlightenment... if we take this in an egoic fashion, become proud about Atma Vicara, speak negative judgments about other practices without examining them (and we could never examine them sufficiently), we commit the sin of prejudice (preconceived opinion without investigation) and intolerance (refusal to respect the beliefs and opinions of others) which combined are bigotry and... this also violates ahimsa.

Michael, can you refute this argument? :-)
I hope not because I am running out of ammo.

OH!!! I need to check the word count on "I" and "me" in this article, I may have revealed myself as an ajnani.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The more clearly we know our essential being, the more we will love it, because it is the true source of all happiness ~*~ (HAB pdf * page 435 * chapter 9: Self-Investigation and Self-Surrender)

Introduction: As Michael explains, the path of bhakti and the path of vichara are one and the same. I used to feel (like many others) that bhakti is our devotion to an outside Ishvara, the supreme power that governs this world, and atma-vichara is altogether a different path, in which we try to experience ‘the Self’. However, after Michael explained that these are not two but essentially just one path, I am now convinced about this. Michael explains:

Michael: We can attain spiritual emancipation or ‘salvation’ only by experiencing true self-knowledge – that is, by knowing ourself to be only the real and infinite spirit or consciousness ‘I am’, and not this unreal and finite individual whom we now imagine ourself to be.

In order to know ourself thus as the absolute reality, we must be consumed by intense love for our essential being, because if we are not consumed by such love, we will not be willing to relinquish our false individual self, which we now hold more dear than any other thing. In other words, in order to attain spiritual emancipation we must know our essential being, and in order to know our essential being we must love it. Thus ‘knowing’ and ‘love’ or devotion are the two essential means by which we can attain emancipation from our present illusion of being a finite individual.

The more we love our essential being, the more we will attend to it, and the more we attend to it, the more clearly we will know it. Conversely, the more clearly we know our essential being, the more we will love it, because it is the true source of all happiness. Thus love and knowing go hand in hand, each feeding the other. We cannot know without loving, and we cannot love without knowing. Therefore the ‘path of knowing’ and the ‘path of loving’ or devotion are not two alternative means, but are just two aspects of the one and only means by which we can regain our natural state of absolute being.

The two means to attain true self-knowledge taught by Sri Ramana correspond to these twin paths of ‘knowing’ and ‘devotion’. The practice of self-investigation is the true ‘path of knowing’, and the practice of self-surrender is the true ‘path of devotion’. Therefore self-investigation and self-surrender are not two separate paths, but are just two aspects of the same one path – the only means by which we can experience the absolute reality, which is our own true and essential being.

Though Sri Ramana taught the practice that leads to true self-knowledge in these two different ways, describing it either in terms of self-investigation or in terms of self-surrender, he taught it most frequently in terms of the former.

Conclusion: Our svatma-bhakti (love for our essential being) is the key to our experiencing ourself as we really are. The more we love ourself the more we will attend to it, the more we attend to ourself the more clearly we will know it. And the more clearly we know it, the more clearly we will experience the source of all happiness. Thus this cycle will continue with more and more vigour. It is like a snow-balling process: a small snow-ball starts to fall from the top a mountain, and as it comes down it gathers more and more momentum and collects more and more snow, until eventually it becomes a huge snow-ball. Likewise as we go on practicing atma-vichara, our svatma-bhakti will also go on increasing like this snow-ball, and eventually this bhakti will consume our ego.

Michael James said...

Roger, I have replied to your latest comment in a separate article, Is it incorrect to say that ātma-vicāra is the only direct means by which we can eradicate our ego?

Ken said...

As with many other arguments, when Roger clarified his viewpoint and Sivanarul responded, it is revealed to be a Straw Man argument:

Quote:"But I am appealing to Michael to begin teaching the real superiority, the superiority of love and wisdom that rises above and heals divisions caused by spiritual-religious elitism & superiority. Then... the appeal of Atma Vichara will regain the warmth of Bhagavan's presence and be much more popular."

Quote:"Outward teachings can only point to the inward truth, and when the teachings get involved in outward competition between schools they are pointing in the wrong direction!!!"

No one here is competing with anyone else (other than Roger and Sivanarul who seem to see competition in every moment of their lives).

This is entirely an academic discussion about the nature of the world and human beings.

As far as "love and wisdom" - what can be wiser than finding the most direct path to realisation? What greater love can one show to the world than finding that path?

===

However, I strongly disagree with:

Quote:"Masters have been proclaiming their particular teachings as superior for eons. This is no longer appropriate in the 21st century."

Finding and sharing superior methods is always appropriate.

For example, if someone is trying to drain their bathtub with a teacup, it is always appropriate to point out the button that will release the drain and do it automatically.

The entire responsibility for conflict on religion and spirituality lies with those who take it personally, not on those who find superior methods and share them.

The error lies with the concept of "my path".

Sivanarul said...

Ken,

"No one here is competing with anyone else (other than Roger and Sivanarul who seem to see competition in every moment of their lives)."

How do you figure we see competition in every moment of our lives. Are you there to witness every moment? That seems to be one heck of a judgement.

"For example, if someone is trying to drain their bathtub with a teacup, it is always appropriate to point out the button that will release the drain and do it automatically."

The thought that other methods are like draining their bathtub with a teacup and Vichara alone is what will release the drain and do it automatically is what is being pointed out as something that does not sync up with the spiritual literature and spiritual masters.

This discussion seems to be reaching a point where it is counter productive for any of our spiritual growth. As I have said in the previous comment, this is Michael's blog and he is free to label anything as superior as he sees fit. It is well understood that this blog is for very ripe souls like Michael and yourself. We are guests on this blog and all that was being requested of him is to stop using "merely" with respect to other spiritual practices, so that aspirants who do other practices may slowly imbibe the wisdom he writes. That's all.

Have a nice Sunday.

Ken said...

No, the example about the bathtub was to give an example from real life, where it is clear that giving another person a "superior method" was helping them, not competing with them.

Also, you missed "seem" in "...who seem to see competition in every moment of their lives)."

Ken said...

There is a widespread tendency these days to either believe in:

* atheistic scientific materialism

OR

* a dualistic conventional religion of your parents

OR

* the view that all famous people of the past who claimed to be spiritual teachers were "great".

All three positions are wrong.

All three will see this blog as "attacking them".

Why?

Because human beings tend to view their beliefs as their identity.

Of course, it is a central concept of spirituality that you are not your beliefs.

One of the posters this summer gave a long list of "great realized masters", and a majority of the names were fakes.

In the 19th Century, was the rise of the middle class, and a variety of products appeared to make money off them (such as novels and magazines).

What also arose was a large group of con men, "charlatans", fake spiritual and religious teachers. Since their aim was fame and fortune, then a large number of the famous teachers of the 19th and 20th Century are fakes.

Since these fakes cut-and-pasted from older true writings (such as scriptures), then some of what they wrote was okay - by coincidence.

But large sections of what they taught were simply incorrect.

If someone who posts to this site, believes the writings of fake teachers, then they are going to have wrong views.

Helping them must include saying that those views are wrong.

For example, if a poster firmly believes that walking back and forth while saying "wub wub" will make one realized, then we can only help that person by saying "that practice will not work".

It is certainly true that there are more tactful and less tactful ways to say so. But my long-term experience is that anyone who says "my path is..." has made his identity equal to his beliefs and viewpoints, and so is going to be offended no matter how impersonal the wording.

Anonymous said...

Ken

Couldn't agree with you more. Very good points.

Ken said...

When someone starts with the idea that "all the famous names were great", then they will believe that choosing a teaching is only a matter of personal taste.

But in reality, this is not true, because spiritual teachers are made famous solely because they have a large number of beginning students, not because they have a large number of successfully realized students who have completed years of instruction and practice.

So, spiritual practice is not a matter of choosing whatever appeals to you, but instead starts with investigating which teacher has the most accurate, logical and assumption-free description of the world and human nature. Only someone who accurately understands our situation can make good recommendations for practice.