Wednesday, 19 October 2016

As we actually are, we do nothing and are aware of nothing other than ourself

In several comments on one of my recent articles, What is the ‘self’ we are investigating when we try to be attentively self-aware?, a friend called Ken wrote:
Note that the Self is what is watching the movie [...] (4 September 2016 at 17:45)

[...] the ego is actually the Self in another form. (4 September 2016 at 23:27)

The Self is God [...] The Lila (play) of the Self (Brahman/Atman) is that it “veils” itself so it itself thinks it is limited. As “veiled”, it is watching the movie. When it decides to stop watching the movie, and the lights go on, it then sees it is actually the Self. Hence “Self-” “realisation”, i.e. realizing that it is the Self. (5 September 2016 at 04:16)

The ego stops giving attention to “2nd person and 3rd person”, i.e. sense perceptions and thoughts. The Self sees this and if it is convinced of complete sincerity, then it terminates the ego (this is the “action of Grace performed by the Self” according to Ramana — paraphrased). [...] since the Self IS your own basic awareness, then it is entirely aware of everything you have ever thought, said or done. (5 September 2016 at 04:26)

The Self (atman) is: The present moment [and] That which is looking. (7 September 2016 at 03:26)

This is what is called “The Play of Consciousness” (lila in Sanskrit). [...] The Self makes the “mistake” of identifying with a character in the world. (8 September 2016 at 02:09)

The Self definitely wants to see the movie, otherwise the movie would not even exist. (8 September 2016 at 17:49)

Because there is nothing other than the Self, so there is nothing that can force the Self to do anything. The Self is alone, so it decides to “veil” itself and limit itself as a multitude of “individuals”. This is the Lila, the play. (9 September 2016 at 00:04)
Ken, in these remarks you have attributed properties of our ego (and also properties of God) to ‘the Self’, which is ourself as we actually are, so in this article I will try to clarify that our actual self does not do anything and is neither aware of nor in any other way affected by the illusory appearance of our ego and all its projections, which seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of ourself as this ego.
  1. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 1: our ego is nothing other than our actual self, but our actual self is not this ego
  2. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 7: our actual self alone exists, so as such we are aware of nothing other than ourself
  3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: transitive awareness is the nature of our ego, not of our actual self
  4. Nāṉ Yār? paragraphs 3 and 4: when we shine as our actual self, nothing else seems to exist
  5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: we rise as this ego only by grasping a form as ourself
  6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 4: we can perceive forms only if we perceive ourself as a form
  7. Our actual self never becomes this transitively aware ego, but merely seems to be it
  8. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 17: what seems to the ignorant to be a finite body is actually only the infinite ‘I’
  9. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 18: the world is real not as a finite set of forms but only as its formless substratum
  10. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 15: as our actual self, God does not do anything
  11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 22: we cannot fathom God except by turning our mind within and drowning it in him
  12. As this ego we can never ‘realise’ ourself, and as our actual self we do not need to ‘realise’ ourself
  13. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: we must not just cease attending to other things but must keenly attend to ourself alone
  14. Grace is our infinite love for ourself, and its ‘action’ is ‘doing without doing’
  15. Our actual self is the presentness of the present moment
  16. Our actual self does not look at or see anything other than itself
  17. The mistake of seeing ourself as a person is made only by our ego and not by our actual self
  18. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 17: if we keenly investigate our ego, we will find that there is actually no such thing at all, and hence no world or anything else other than ourself
1. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 1: our ego is nothing other than our actual self, but our actual self is not this ego

Firstly, in order to avoid making the mistake of attributing the properties of our ego to our actual self, it is important for us to understand clearly the fundamental difference between the ego that we now seem to be and what we actually are. Though it is correct to say that the snake is a rope, it is not correct to say that the rope is a snake. Likewise, it is correct to say both that the ego is our actual self and that God is our actual self, because our actual self alone is what really exists, so whatever else seems to exist cannot actually be anything other than that, but it is not correct to say either that our actual self is the ego or that it is God. It is what seems to be this ego and what seems to be God, but it is actually neither of these things, because it is just pure awareness, in whose clear view nothing else (no form or phenomenon of any kind whatsoever) exists at all.

The fact that our ego and everything else that seems to exist are all nothing other than our actual self is clearly stated by Bhagavan in verse 1 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (which you cited in one of your comments):
நாமுலகங் காண்டலா னானாவாஞ் சத்தியுள
வோர்முதலை யொப்ப லொருதலையே — நாமவுருச்
சித்திரமும் பார்ப்பானுஞ் சேர்படமு மாரொளியு
மத்தனையுந் தானா மவன்.

nāmulahaṅ kāṇḍalā ṉāṉāvāñ cattiyuḷa
vōrmudalai yoppa lorutalaiyē — nāmavuruc
cittiramum pārppāṉuñ cērpaḍamu māroḷiyu
mattaṉaiyun tāṉā mavaṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: நாம் உலகம் காண்டலால், நானா ஆம் சத்தி உள ஓர் முதலை ஒப்பல் ஒருதலையே. நாம உரு சித்திரமும், பார்ப்பானும், சேர்படமும், ஆர் ஒளியும் — அத்தனையும் தான் ஆம் அவன்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nām ulaham kāṇḍalāl, nānā ām śatti uḷa ōr mudalai oppal orutalaiyē. nāma uru cittiramum, pārppāṉum, sērpaḍamum, ār oḷiyum — attaṉaiyum tāṉ ām avaṉ.

English translation: Because we see the world, accepting one original thing [source, base or fundamental reality] that has a power that becomes many is certainly the one best option. The picture of names and forms [the world], the one who sees [it], the cohesive screen [on which it appears], and the pervading light [of awareness that illumines it] – all these are he [the one original thing], who is oneself.
What Bhagavan aims to establish in this verse is firstly that because we see the world, we can plausibly infer that there is one fundamental reality that has the power to appear as many things. We can infer that there is one fundamental reality from the fact that we who see or perceive the world are one, because though we usually assume the existence of other minds that perceive the world just as we do, we are actually the only perceiver or conscious experiencer of whom we are directly aware. Our belief in the existence of other perceivers is merely an assumption, and it is an extremely dubious one, because while we are dreaming we make the same assumption about the other people we perceive in our dream world, but as soon as we wake up from any dream we are able to recognise that the entire world we saw then was just our own mental projection, and that all the other people in that dream world were accordingly not actual perceivers but only phenomena projected and perceived by us.

When we see a dream, the power (śakti) that becomes all the phenomena that constitute our dream world is our own mind, so it is reasonable for us to suppose that our own mind is likewise the power that has become all the phenomena that constitute this current world. However, we know that this mind is not permanent, because though it seems to exist in waking and dream, it disappears in sleep, so we can reasonably infer that there is a single source or origin from which it appears. That single source is what Bhagavan refers to here as ‘ஓர் முதல்’ (ōr mudal), which means one first thing, beginning, origin, base, foundation or cause (particularly in the sense of the substantial cause, the substance of which an effect is made, which in Indian philosophy is generally considered to be its primary and fundamental cause), so in this context it implies one first, original or fundamental reality.

The term that I have translated as ‘the one best option’ is ஒருதலை (orutalai), which is a compound of two words, ஒரு தலை (oru talai), which literally mean ‘one head’ or one best or highest thing. As a compound word ஒருதலை (orutalai) can mean either one-sidedness or certainty, but in this context I take it to mean ‘the one best option’, because though accepting the existence of one fundamental reality with a power to appear as if it were many things is certainly a very plausible option, and arguably the best one, it is not the only one, as Bhagavan acknowledges in the next verse by referring to philosophical and religious arguments about whether there is only one permanent reality that appears as many things or more than one permanent reality, which he says are arguments that can occur only so long as there is an ego to contend them (thereby indicating that the fundamental issue that he intends to address in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is the seeming existence of this ego and the means by which we can eradicate it).

Having established in the first sentence of this verse that the best option is to accept that there is just one fundamental reality with a power to appear as if it were many things, what Bhagavan aims to establish in the second sentence is that everything that seems to exist, including ourself as the one who perceives it all, is only that one fundamental reality, which is our actual self. The ‘நாம்’ (nām) or ‘we’ whom he refers to in the first sentence when he says ‘நாம் உலகம் காண்டலால்’ (nām ulaham kāṇḍalāl), ‘because we see the world’, and the பார்ப்பான் (pārppāṉ), the ‘seer’ or ‘one who sees’, whom he refers to in the second sentence are both only ourself as the ego whom we now seem to be, so when he concludes this verse by saying ‘அத்தனையும் தான் ஆம் அவன்’ (attaṉaiyum tāṉ ām avaṉ), which means ‘all these [or all such many things] are he [the one original thing], who is oneself’, he clearly implies that the picture of names and forms (the world consisting of numerous phenomena), we who see it (namely this ego), the screen on which it appears and the light of awareness that illumines it are all in substance only the one fundamental reality, which is our actual self.

However, though our ego and everything else is in substance only our own actual self, our actual self is not in fact any of these things, any more than a rope is in fact a snake, because all these things are only an illusory appearance, and they seem to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego, and not in the view of ourself as we actually are. This is not stated explicitly in this verse, but we can clearly infer it from many of the later verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, because this verse is only intended to be an introduction to the subject matter of the entire text, so the analysis in it is not as deep as in later verses.

One example of the way in which Bhagavan’s analysis in this verse is less deep than elsewhere is the fact that here he says that everything is our actual self, whereas in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (which I will quote and discuss more fully in section four) he teaches us that the entire world is just a series of thoughts or ideas projected by our mind, and in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (which I will quote and discuss in section three) he says that everything is only our ego. All these three statements are correct, but each in its own way.

That is, all the phenomena that constitute this or any other world, whether in dream or in waking, are just a constantly changing series of perceptions, and perceptions are mental phenomena, which are what Bhagavan calls thoughts or ideas, so other than thoughts there is no such thing as a world. However, as he points out in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār, the root of all thoughts is our ego, which is our primal thought called ‘I’, and which is what alone projects and experiences all other thoughts, so all thoughts are an expansion of our ego, and hence since everything other than ourself is just a thought (a mental phenomenon), everything is only this ego. But what actually is this ego? If we investigate it keenly enough it will disappear, because it does not actually exist and seems to exist only so long as we are attending to and hence aware of other things, and what will remain shining when it disappears is only our actual self — the pure self-awareness that we always actually are. Therefore though the immediate source and substance of everything is only ourself as this ego, the ultimate source and substance of this ego — and hence of everything else — is only ourself as we actually are.

Therefore in order to form a clear and coherent understanding of Bhagavan’s fundamental teachings, we need to consider them all as a whole and not just individual parts of them in isolation from each other. Another example to illustrate this is that if we read this verse in isolation, it may appear to us that the power (śakti) he refers to here and the many things that he says it becomes are all as real as the fundamental reality whose power he says it is, whereas if we read it in the broader context of his other teachings, we will be able to understand that this power is what is sometimes called māyā (which as Bhagavan often explained means ‘what is not’), and is nothing other than our own ego or mind, which becomes many things by expanding as numerous thoughts. As such this power and all its progeny are not actually real, but seem to be real only in the view of ourself as this ego. What is real (in the sense of what actually exists and does not merely seem to exist) is only our own actual self, which is the ஓர் முதல் (ōr mudal) or one original and fundamental substance that he refers to in this verse.

In conclusion, since we are one, and are therefore just one single self, our ego cannot be anything other than our actual self. However, our ego is ourself as we now temporarily seem to be, whereas our actual self is ourself as we always actually are, so though in substance our ego is only our actual self, in appearance and function it is quite different (just as the snake is in substance only a rope, but in appearance and function (such as the function of causing fear) it is quite different). The function or property of the ego is to do actions and to be aware of things other than itself, whereas the ‘function’ or ‘property’ of our actual self is not to do any action but just to be, and to be simply aware without being aware of anything other than itself. Therefore what is ‘entirely aware of everything you have ever thought, said or done’ is not our actual self (as you claimed in the fourth of your comments cited above) but only our ego.

2. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 7: our actual self alone exists, so as such we are aware of nothing other than ourself

As you say in the same comment, our actual self is our own basic awareness, but our basic awareness is not any kind of transitive awareness (awareness of anything other than ourself) but only pure intransitive awareness (awareness that is just aware without being aware of anything except itself). Since our actual self alone is what really exists, in its clear view nothing else exists or even seems to exist, so there is nothing else that it could ever be aware of.

As Bhagavan affirms unequivocally in the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே. ஜக ஜீவ ஈச்வரர்கள், சிப்பியில் வெள்ளிபோல் அதிற் கற்பனைகள். இவை மூன்றும் ஏககாலத்தில் தோன்றி ஏககாலத்தில் மறைகின்றன. சொரூபமே ஜகம்; சொரூபமே நான்; சொரூபமே ஈச்வரன்; எல்லாம் சிவ சொரூபமாம்.

yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē. jaga-jīva-īśvarargaḷ, śippiyil veḷḷi pōl adil kaṟpaṉaigaḷ. ivai mūṉḏṟum ēka-kālattil tōṉḏṟi ēka-kālattil maṟaigiṉḏṟaṉa. sorūpam-ē jagam; sorūpam-ē nāṉ; sorūpam-ē īśvaraṉ; ellām śiva sorūpam ām.

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [our own real self]. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigaḷ [fabrications, imaginations, mental creations, illusions or illusory superimpositions] in it, like the [illusory] silver in a shell. These three appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously. Svarūpa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] alone is the world; svarūpa alone is ‘I’ [the ego or soul]; svarūpa alone is God; everything is śiva-svarūpa [our actual self, which is śiva, the one infinite and absolute reality].
Since our actual self (ātma-svarūpa) alone is what exists (uḷḷadu), we alone are also what is actually aware, and hence as our actual self we are clearly aware that we alone exist, so nothing else can seem to exist in our clear view. All other things (our ego and this world and God) are just illusory appearances, and they appear only in the view of ourself as this transitively aware ego and not in the clear intransitive awareness that we actually are.

That is, according to the principle that Bhagavan teaches us in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), which means ‘Can what is seen be otherwise [in nature] than the eye [that sees it]?’, what actually exists can see only what actually exists, and what seems to exist can be seen only by what seems to exist, so our actual self cannot be aware of anything other than itself, because it alone actually exists, and since everything else merely seems to exist but does not actually exist, it can be seen only by our ego, which is the only awareness that seems to exist even though it does not actually exist.

When Bhagavan says here, ‘சொரூபமே ஜகம்; சொரூபமே நான்; சொரூபமே ஈச்வரன்’ (sorūpam-ē jagam; sorūpam-ē nāṉ; sorūpam-ē īśvaraṉ), which literally means ‘svarūpa alone is the world; svarūpa alone is ‘I’ [the ego]; svarūpa alone is God’, he does not mean that our actual self (svarūpa) is really any of these things, but only that it is what seems to be all of them, because none of them actually exist, even though they seem to exist (in the view of ‘I’, the ego), as he indicates by saying that they are all just illusory fabrications (kalpanaigaḷ), like the illusory silver seen in a shell.

3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: transitive awareness is the nature of our ego, not of our actual self

All other things seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of our ego, because the nature of this ego is to be transitively aware, and hence Bhagavan often referred to it as சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), which literally means ‘pointing awareness’ or ‘showing awareness’, and which implies the same as the English term ‘transitive awareness’ (awareness of anything other than oneself, that is, of any object, form or phenomenon). Whenever we rise and stand as this ego, as in waking and dream, we are transitively aware, and whenever we cease to be this ego, as in sleep, we cease being transitively aware. Therefore, since other things seem to exist only when we seem to be transitively aware, the seeming existence of all other things depends upon the seeming existence of ourself as this transitively aware ego.

This is why Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
All things other than ourself (all forms or phenomena) seem to exist only in the view of this ego, so they seem to exist only when we rise as this ego, and they cease to exist as soon as we subside. However, even when our ego and whatever phenomena it is aware of seem to exist, they do not actually exist, and in the clear view of ourself as we actually are they do not ever even seem to exist, because our actual self is only pure intransitive awareness (awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself), and since it is immutable, it can never become transitively aware.

4. Nāṉ Yār? paragraphs 3 and 4: when we shine as our actual self, nothing else seems to exist

The fact that our actual self is never aware of the world or anything other than ourself is also clearly implied by Bhagavan in the third and fourth paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?, because in these paragraphs he explains that awareness of any world in effect obscures our awareness of ourself as we actually are (just as perception of an illusory snake obscures our perception of the rope that it actually is), so we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are unless we cease being aware of any world. In the third paragraph he summarises this by saying:
சர்வ அறிவிற்கும் சர்வ தொழிற்குங் காரண மாகிய மன மடங்கினால் ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கும். கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது.

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

If the mind, which is the cause for all awareness [of things other than oneself] and for all activity, subsides, jagad-dṛṣṭi [perception of the world] will cease. Just as unless awareness of the imaginary snake ceases, awareness of the rope, which is the adhiṣṭhāna [the base that underlies and supports the illusory appearance of the snake], will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is a kalpita [a fabrication, mental creation or figment of the imagination], ceases, svarūpa-darśana [seeing ‘one’s own form’ — what one actually is], which is the adhiṣṭhāna [the base or foundation that underlies and supports the imaginary appearance of this world], will not arise.
The term svarūpa literally means ‘own form’ and implies ‘real nature’, so Bhagavan often used it, as in this case, to refer to ourself as we actually are (and as he says here, our svarūpa or actual self is the adhiṣṭhāna, the base or foundation, thereby implying that it is the ultimate foundation that underlies and supports the illusory appearance of this world). Therefore svarūpa-darśana means seeing ourself as we actually are, and we obviously cannot see ourself as we actually are so long as we see ourself as this ego and whatever person it currently takes itself to be. Hence, since the world is just an expansion of our mind, the root of which is our ego, and since it therefore seems to exist only in the view of this ego, he says here that we cannot see ourself as we actually are so long as we continue to perceive the world (which in this case includes anything other than ourself).

Another important point to note about this paragraph is that Bhagavan concluded the previous paragraph by saying ‘அறிவே நான். அறிவின் சொரூபம் சச்சிதானந்தம்’ (aṟivē nāṉ. aṟiviṉ sorūpam saccidāṉandam), which means ‘awareness (aṟivu) alone is I. The nature (svarūpa) of awareness (aṟivu) is being-consciousness-bliss (sat-cit-ānanda)’, and then begins this one by describing the mind as the cause (kāraṇa) for ‘all awareness’ (sarva aṟivu). Obviously the awareness he refers to here, which is caused by the mind, is not the same as the awareness that he says is alone ‘I’ and the nature of which is sat-cit-ānanda, so what is the difference between these two distinct kinds of awareness?

The awareness that is ‘I’ and sat-cit-ānanda is obviously not transitive awareness, because we exist even in sleep, which is a state in which we are not transitively aware (aware of anything other than ourself) but only intransitively aware (simply aware, though not necessarily aware of anything except ourself), so the transitive awareness that we experience in waking and dream is something that is temporarily superimposed upon the intransitive awareness that we actually are. Therefore when he says in this paragraph that the mind is the cause for ‘all awareness’, the awareness he is referring to is not the pure intransitive awareness that we actually are but only the transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) that appears with the mind in waking and dream and disappears with it in sleep. In other words, all the awareness caused by the mind is awareness of things other than ourself, namely forms or phenomena.

Therefore, since perception of the world (jagad-dṛṣṭi), which is what you refer to as ‘seeing the movie’, is a form of transitive awareness, and since all transitive awareness is caused by the mind (which alone is what is transitively aware), there can be no perception of any world except by the mind (or more precisely by the ego, which is the root, essence and perceiving element of what we generally call ‘mind’). Moreover, since the mind or ego is what we experience ourself to be when we do not see ourself as we actually are, we cannot see ourself as we actually are so long as we rise as this mind, and accordingly we cannot see ourself as we actually are unless we cease perceiving any world (or anything else other than ourself), as Bhagavan states categorically in this paragraph.

In the first sentence of this paragraph he says that the mind is the cause (kāraṇa) not only for all awareness (sarva aṟivu) but also for all activity (sarva toṙil), so this is another clue that he gives us regarding the nature of our actual self (svarūpa). That is, just as in the absence of the mind there is no transitive awareness, so there is also no activity, as we can infer from our experience in sleep. As soon as our mind subsides in sleep, all transitive awareness and all activity cease, and as soon as it rises in either waking or dream, transitive awareness and activity (particularly mental activity, which is the root and cause of all other activity) resume. Therefore since the mind is the cause for all transitive awareness and all activity, what knows and does everything that we seem to know and do is not our actual self but only our mind. As we actually are, we are neither a knower nor a doer, because our nature is just pure being, which does nothing, and pure awareness, which is aware of nothing other than itself.

Having indicated all this in the third paragraph, in the fourth paragraph he explains in more detail why we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as any world appears in our awareness:
மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி. அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது. நினைவுகளை யெல்லாம் நீக்கிப் பார்க்கின்றபோது, தனியாய் மனமென் றோர் பொருளில்லை; ஆகையால் நினைவே மனதின் சொரூபம். நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது. மனதின் சொரூபத்தை விசாரித்துக்கொண்டே போனால் தானே மனமாய் முடியும். ‘தான்’ என்பது ஆத்மசொரூபமே. மனம் எப்போதும் ஒரு ஸ்தூலத்தை யனுசரித்தே நிற்கும்; தனியாய் நில்லாது. மனமே சூக்ஷ்மசரீர மென்றும் ஜீவ னென்றும் சொல்லப்படுகிறது.

maṉam eṉbadu ātma sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti. adu sakala niṉaivugaḷai-y-um tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu. niṉaivugaḷai y-ellām nīkki-p pārkkiṉḏṟa-pōdu, taṉiyāy maṉam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ illai; āhaiyāl niṉaivē maṉadiṉ sorūpam. niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagam-um illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagam-um uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉṉiḍamirundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉam-um taṉṉiḍattilirundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu. maṉadiṉ sorūpattai vicārittu-k-koṇḍē pōṉāl tāṉē maṉam-āy muḍiyum. ‘tāṉ’ eṉbadu ātma-sorūpam-ē. maṉam eppōdum oru sthūlattai y-aṉusarittē niṟkum; taṉiyāy nillādu. maṉam-ē sūkṣma-śarīram eṉḏṟum jīvaṉ eṉḏṟum sollappaḍugiṟadu.

What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [our own actual self]. It projects all thoughts [or makes all thoughts appear]. When one looks, excluding [eliminating or setting aside] all thoughts, solitarily there is not any such thing as mind; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or fundamental nature] of the mind. Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] does not appear [as it really is]; when svarūpa appears (shines) [as it really is], the world does not appear. If one goes on investigating the nature of the mind, oneself alone will turn out to be [what now seems to be] the mind. What is [here] called ‘tāṉ’ [oneself] is only ātma-svarūpa. The mind stands only by always going after [conforming or attaching itself to] a sthūlam [something gross, namely a physical body]; solitarily it does not stand. The mind alone is described as sūkṣma śarīra [the subtle body] and as jīva [the soul].
What Bhagavan describes here as the mind coming out of our actual self (ātma-svarūpa) is the rising of ourself as this mind, which entails our being aware of ourself as something other than the pure intransitive self-awareness that we actually are. Since the world (which in this case means the sum total of all phenomena) consists only of thoughts or ideas projected by this mind, it cannot appear in any form in the absence of the mind (as we can infer from our experience in sleep, in which all phenomena disappear along with our mind, and from which they subsequently reappear along with it), so we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as we are aware of any world, and we cannot be aware of any world when we are aware of ourself as we actually are.

This is why he says here: ‘மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது’ (maṉam ātma sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu), which means ‘When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear’.

What he describes here as svarūpa appearing (or shining) is our being aware of ourself as we actually are, and hence svarūpa not appearing means our not being aware of ourself thus. Therefore what he teaches us here is that whenever we are aware of any world or phenomena, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, and when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, we cannot be aware of any world or phenomena. Being aware of ourself as we actually are entails being aware of ourself alone — or in other words, being just intransitively aware, without any transitive awareness whatsoever.

5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: we rise as this ego only by grasping a form as ourself

Though our ego (which is the essence of our mind) is merely a formless phantom, it comes into seeming existence only by projecting and grasping the form of a body as itself, as Bhagavan explains in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows [spreads, expands, increases, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight. Investigate [or know thus].
Since everything other than ourself comes into seeming existence only when we rise and stand as this ego (as Bhagavan explains in verse 26), grasping form entails projecting forms into our awareness. In other words, being aware of any form is grasping it, and the first form we grasp as soon as we rise as this ego from sleep (either in waking or in dream) is whatever body we currently grasp as ourself. Then having projected and grasped a body as ourself, we project and grasp numerous other forms, all of which (except those that, along with this body, constitute the person we now seem to be) seem to us to be other than ourself.

Our real nature is just pure and formless self-awareness, but as this ego or mind we always experience ourself as a form. In this verse Bhagavan describes our ego as an ‘உருவற்ற பேய்’ (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy), a ‘formless phantom’, because in essence our ego is nothing other than the formless self-awareness that we actually are. Therefore before grasping any form our ego is nothing but our actual self, and hence it has no separate existence, but as soon as it grasps a form as itself, it assumes properties that are other than the properties of our actual self, and hence it seems to exist as a separate entity.

What exists and what we are aware of when we do not rise as this form-grasping ego is only our actual self, but what rises by grasping the form of a body as itself is not our actual self but only this ego. This is why Bhagavan says that the ego comes into existence by grasping form. Its coming into existence and its grasping form are not two separate actions, and neither can occur without the other, because our ego does not exist as such when it does not grasp any form.

This is what he indicated when he said in fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘மனம் எப்போதும் ஒரு ஸ்தூலத்தை யனுசரித்தே நிற்கும்; தனியாய் நில்லாது’ (maṉam eppōdum oru sthūlattai y-aṉusarittē niṟkum; taṉiyāy nillādu), which means ‘The mind stands only by always going after [conforming or attaching itself to] a sthūlam [something gross, namely a physical body]; solitarily it does not stand’. அனுசரித்து (aṉusarittu) literally means following, pursuing, going after or conforming to, but in this context it implies attaching itself to, and the primary ஸ்தூலம் (sthūlam) or gross thing that the mind always attaches itself to is a physical body (or rather a body that is actually just a mental projection but that seems to be physical, like any body that we experience as ourself in a dream).

The mind is in essence just our ego, which can rise and stand only by grasping the form of a gross body as itself, so what Bhagavan says in these two sentences of Nāṉ Yār? is essentially the same as he teaches us in the first line of verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, namely ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum), ‘Grasping form it rises into existence; grasping form it stands’.

6. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 4: we can perceive forms only if we perceive ourself as a form

Since our actual self is just formless awareness, we cannot as such be aware of any form, because according to Bhagavan the nature of whatever is perceived cannot be different to the nature of the perceiver. Therefore in order to perceive any other form, we must first perceive ourself as a form, as he explains in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருவந்தா னாயி னுலகுபர மற்றா
முருவந்தா னன்றே லுவற்றி — னுருவத்தைக்
கண்ணுறுதல் யாவனெவன் கண்ணலாற் காட்சியுண்டோ
கண்ணதுதா னந்தமிலாக் கண்.

uruvandā ṉāyi ṉulahupara maṯṟā
muruvandā ṉaṉḏṟē luvaṯṟi — ṉuruvattaik
kaṇṇuṟudal yāvaṉevaṉ kaṇṇalāṯ kāṭciyuṇḍō
kaṇṇadutā ṉantamilāk kaṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

அன்வயம்: தான் உருவம் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; தான் உருவம் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை யாவன் கண் உறுதல்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ uruvam āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; tāṉ uruvam aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai yāvaṉ kaṇ uṟudal? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

English translation: If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how [to do so]? Can what is seen be otherwise [in nature] than the eye [that sees it]? The [real] eye is oneself, the infinite eye.
In the first sentence of this verse, ‘உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்’ (uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām), which means ‘If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise’, he clearly implies that if we rise as this ego by grasping the form of a body as ourself, we will inevitably see the world only as numerous separate forms, and even God will seem to us to be a form separate from ourself. Then by asking a pair of rhetorical questions in the second and third sentences, ‘உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), which mean ‘If oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? [And] how [to do so]?’, he implies that as the formless awareness that we actually are we cannot by any means whatsoever be aware of any forms.

In the fourth sentence he states this as a general principle by asking another rhetorical question, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), which means ‘Can what is seen be otherwise [in nature] than the eye [that sees it]?’ Here he uses the word கண் (kaṇ), which literally means ‘eye’, as a metaphor for awareness in the sense of what is aware or perceives. Therefore the principle that he states implicitly here is that the nature of whatever is perceived cannot be otherwise than the nature of whatever perceives it.

What we can infer from this principle, therefore, is that only awareness that is aware of itself as a form can be aware of other forms, so since the only awareness that is aware of itself as a form is our ego, it alone can be aware of forms. Accordingly, since our actual self is not a form but only formless self-awareness, it can never be aware of any forms. Being formless, as we actually are we can see only formlessness, or in other words, we can see only ourself, and can never see any otherness or separateness, because what creates the illusion of otherness and separation is only forms. Therefore, since the root and origin of all forms or phenomena is only our form-projecting ego, in the absence of this ego no forms will seem to exist, as we know from our experience in sleep, in which all forms disappear along with this ego.

Finally in the last sentence Bhagavan describes the nature of our real ‘eye’ or awareness, saying ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தமிலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), which means ‘The [real] eye is oneself, the infinite eye’. அந்தம் (antam) means end or limit, so அந்தமிலா (antam-ilā) means endless, limitless or infinite. Therefore, since every form has limits or boundaries that separate it from each other form, when Bhagavan describes our actual self as ‘அந்தமிலா கண்’ (antam-ilā kaṇ), the ‘limitless eye’, he implies that our real nature is just pure formless awareness.

Therefore, since we are actually just limitless and hence formless awareness, we can as such never be aware of any form or any limitation whatsoever. In other words, as our actual self, we are never aware of anything other than ourself, the one infinite and hence formless pure awareness. What is infinite cannot see anything finite, and what is finite can never see the infinite, so it is only by just being our infinite self (and thereby ceasing to rise as this finite form-grasping ego) that we can see our infinite self.

Therefore as we actually are we are just pure intransitive awareness — awareness that is never aware of anything other than itself — and we can never actually become the transitive (form-perceiving) awareness called ‘ego’. Therefore our seeming existence as this ego is not real but just an illusory appearance, and since this illusory appearance seems to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego, it is actually completely non-existent, as we shall discover if we investigate ourself sufficiently keenly.

7. Our actual self never becomes this transitively aware ego, but merely seems to be it

In the second of your comments that I cited at the beginning of this article you claimed that ‘the ego is actually the Self in another form’, but to express our ego’s relationship with our actual self in this way is potentially misleading, because it seems to imply that our actual self has in some way been transformed into this ego. An illusory snake is not a rope in another form, because the form of the rope remains unchanged, so the snake is just the rope seeming to be something other than what it actually is. Likewise, our ego is not ‘actually the Self in another form’, because our actual self is immutable and is therefore never transformed in any way, so our ego is just ourself seeming to be something other than what we actually are. Just as the snake never actually existed except in the ignorant view of whoever mistook the rope to be a snake, the ego never actually exists except in its own self-ignorant view, so it is a non-existent thing that seems to exist only in the view of itself, and hence it is called māyā, which means ‘what is not’ (or more literally ‘she who is not’).

In two passages in Day by Day with Bhagavan Devaraja Mudaliar recorded what Bhagavan said about the difference between our mind (which in this context means our ego) and our actual self: ‘The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world’ (11-1-46: 2002 edition, page 106), and ‘The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self’ (8-11-45: 2002 edition, page 37). Our ego or mind rises into existence by turning its attention outwards to project and be aware of things other than itself, so when it turns inwards to be aware of itself alone, it subsides and merges in our actual self, which is what it always actually is.

What turns outwards to be aware of other things is not our actual self but only our ego. Our actual self never becomes this transitively aware ego (any more than a rope ever becomes a snake), but seems to be this ego only in the view of this ego itself. However, when our ego turns its attention back towards itself alone it ‘becomes’ our actual self in the sense that it ceases to be aware of itself as a finite transitive awareness and thus ceases to seemingly exist as anything other than the one infinite and intransitive awareness that we always actually are.

Since transitive awareness (that is, awareness of anything other than ourself) seems to exist only in waking and dream and not in sleep, it is not real, even though it seems to be real in the deluded view of this ego, whose nature is to be transitively aware. As Bhagavan often explained, three defining characteristics of what is real are that it is eternal, unchanging and self-shining, so since transitive awareness is not permanent, nor unchanging, nor self-shining, it cannot be real.

It is not permanent because it ceases to exist as soon as our ego subsides in sleep or in any other state of manōlaya (any temporary state in which the mind is dissolved completely), and likewise also when it eventually subsides forever in manōnāśa (annihilation of the mind); it is not unchanging because even when it seems to exist it is shaped by its contents (all the phenomena that the ego is aware of), which are constantly changing; and it is not self-shining, because it could not shine even temporarily if it were not supported by our fundamental intransitive awareness (that is, awareness that is just aware without being aware of anything). We cannot be transitively aware without being intransitively aware, but we can be intransitively aware without being transitively aware, as we are in sleep, so intransitive awareness is our fundamental awareness, and it is what illumines the temporary appearance of our ego and its transitive awareness.

Therefore what is real is only the intransitive awareness that we actually are. It is our fundamental nature, so it is permanent, and since nothing could seem to exist without it, even though it exists without anything else in states such as sleep, it is eternal; it never changes in any way, so it is immutable; and it shines without depending on anything else, so it is self-shining. Since it is the only thing that is eternal, unchanging and self-shining, it alone is what is real.

And what does real or unreal mean in this context? What is real is what actually exists, and what is unreal is what does not actually exist but merely seems to exist. Therefore, since according to Bhagavan’s definition of reality, intransitive awareness is the sole reality, it alone is what actually exists, and since transitive awareness is unreal, it does not actually exist even though it seems to exist.

Intransitive awareness is always intransitive, because it is immutable, and it can therefore never become transitive awareness. When the ego rises, intransitive awareness seems to become transitively aware, but it never actually becomes that, because transitive awareness is just an illusory superimposition, like the illusion of a snake superimposed on a rope. Therefore if we are seeking to experience only what is real, we must be willing to give up being transitively aware (which we can do only by ceasing forever to rise as this transitively aware ego) in order to remain just as the real intransitive awareness that we always actually are.

8. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 17: what seems to the ignorant to be a finite body is actually only the infinite ‘I’

In a comment that you wrote on another recent article, ‘I am’ is the reality, ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ is the ego, you cited verses 17 and 18 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, which you seem to interpret as support for your view that the ātma-jñāni is aware of the body and world as such, which would imply that our actual self is aware of such things, since the ātma-jñāni is nothing other than ourself as we actually are. However, though these verses may seem to support this view if we consider them superficially, if we consider them more deeply it should be clear to us that this is not what Bhagavan intended to imply by the subtle and precise wording that he used in them.

In verse 17 he says:
உடனானே தன்னை யுணரார்க் குணர்ந்தார்க்
குடலளவே நான்ற னுணரார்க் — குடலுள்ளே
தன்னுணர்ந்தார்க் கெல்லையறத் தானொளிரு நானிதுவே
யின்னவர்தம் பேதமென வெண்.

uḍaṉāṉē taṉṉai yuṇarārk kuṇarndārk
kuḍalaḷavē nāṉṯṟa ṉuṇarārk — kuḍaluḷḷē
taṉṉuṇarndārk kellaiyaṟat tāṉoḷiru nāṉiduvē
yiṉṉavartam bhēdameṉa veṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் நானே, தன்னை உணரார்க்கு, உணர்ந்தார்க்கு. உடல் அளவே ‘நான்’ தன் உணரார்க்கு; உடல் உள்ளே தன் உணர்ந்தார்க்கு எல்லை அற தான் ஒளிரும் ‘நான்’. இதுவே இன்னவர் தம் பேதம் என எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal nāṉē, taṉṉai uṇarārkku, uṇarndārkku. uḍal aḷavē ‘nāṉ’ taṉ[ṉai] uṇarārkku; uḍal uḷḷē taṉ[ṉai] uṇarndārkku ellai aṟa tāṉ oḷirum ‘nāṉ’. iduvē iṉṉavar tam bhēdam eṉa eṇ.

அன்வயம்: தன்னை உணரார்க்கு, உணர்ந்தார்க்கு உடல் நானே. தன் உணரார்க்கு, ‘நான்’ உடல் அளவே; உடல் உள்ளே தன் உணர்ந்தார்க்கு ‘நான்’ தான் எல்லை அற ஒளிரும். இன்னவர் தம் பேதம் இதுவே என எண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): taṉṉai uṇarārkku, uṇarndārkku uḍal nāṉē. taṉ uṇarārkku ‘nāṉ’ uḍal aḷavē; uḍal uḷḷē taṉ uṇarndārkku ‘nāṉ’ tāṉ ellai aṟa oḷirum. iṉṉavar tam bhēdam iduvē eṉa eṇ.

English translation: To those who do not know themself [and] to those who have known themself, the body is only ‘I’. To those who do not themself, ‘I’ is [limited to] only the extent of the body, [whereas] to those who have known themself within the body, oneself [called] ‘I’ shines without limit [boundary or extent]. Consider that the difference between them is only this.
The body is just a finite form, whereas our actual self, which is what the self-knower (ātma-jñāni) is aware of as ‘I’, is only infinite self-awareness, as Bhagavan implies in this verse by saying ‘எல்லை அற தான் ஒளிரும் நான்’ (ellai aṟa tāṉ oḷirum nāṉ), which means ‘oneself [called] ‘I’ shines without limit [boundary or extent]’. Since the body is a form, like every other form its extent is limited, whereas the extent of ‘I’ is unlimited, because it is formless. If ‘I’ were a form, it would necessarily be limited, so since it shines without limit, it is necessarily formless.

By saying that ‘I’ (our actual self) shines without limit, Bhagavan implies that it not only has no outer limit or boundary, but also has no internal limits or boundaries, so it is not only infinite but also indivisible. Since it is infinite, nothing can exist outside of it or other than it, and since it is indivisible, it cannot consist of parts, so it is otherless, partless and hence absolutely non-dual. Therefore it alone actually exists, as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (which I cited above in section 2).

Why then does he say that for the ātma-jñāni the body is only ‘I’? For the jñāni what exists is only ‘I’, the one unlimited self-awareness, so whatever seems to exist cannot be anything other than ‘I’. This does not mean, however, that the jñāni is aware of the body or of any other form, because as Bhagavan explains in verse 4 (which we considered in section 6), one can be aware of any forms only if oneself is a form, so since for the jñāni ‘I’ shines without limit, it is formless and can therefore never be aware of any forms.

If we mistake a rope to be a snake, someone who knows that it is just a rope may say to us, ‘That snake is only a rope’, just as Bhagavan says in this verse ‘உடல் நானே’ (uḍal nāṉē), which means ‘the body is only I’. However, just as we should not infer that the person who says ‘That snake is only a rope’ actually sees the rope as a snake, when Bhagavan says ‘the body is only I’ we should not infer that he is actually aware of ‘I’ as a body.

When someone says ‘That snake is only a rope’, what we should understand is that they do not actually see any snake at all but only a rope, so what they mean is just that what we mistakenly see as a snake is what they correctly see as a rope. Likewise, when Bhagavan says that for the jñāni ‘the body is only I’, what we should understand is that the jñāni is not actually aware of any body at all but only of ‘I’, so what he means is just that what we mistakenly see as the limited form of a body is what the jñāni correctly sees as ‘I’, which shines without any limit and hence without any form.

When Bhagavan expressed any teaching, he generally did so in a very nuanced manner, choosing his wording carefully and precisely so that those who were not yet ready to understand what he intended to convey would understand his words according to the limits of their own understanding, whereas those who were ready to understand what he intended to convey would understand the intended meaning of his words clearly and correctly. This and the next verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu are very clear examples of such nuanced wordings, and if we comprehend correctly what he implies in these two verses, we will understand how important it is for us to carefully consider and rely upon the precise wording that he used in his own actual writings rather than relying upon any of the imprecisely (and in many cases extremely inaccurately) worded recordings of his oral teachings made by devotees who often failed to understand the nuances in what he said.

9. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 18: the world is real not as a finite set of forms but only as its formless substratum

In verse 18 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says:
உலகுண்மை யாகு முணர்வில்லார்க் குள்ளார்க்
குலகளவா முண்மை யுணரார்க் — குலகினுக்
காதார மாயுருவற் றாருமுணர்ந் தாருண்மை
யீதாகும் பேதமிவர்க் கெண்.

ulahuṇmai yāhu muṇarvillārk kuḷḷārk
kulahaḷavā muṇmai yuṇarārk — kulahiṉuk
kādhāra māyuruvaṯ ṟārumuṇarn dāruṇmai
yīdāhum bhēdamivark keṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு உண்மை ஆகும், உணர்வு இல்லார்க்கு, உள்ளார்க்கு. உலகு அளவு ஆம் உண்மை உணரார்க்கு; உலகினுக்கு ஆதாரமாய் உரு அற்று ஆரும் உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை. ஈது ஆகும் பேதம் இவர்க்கு. எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu uṇmai āhum, uṇarvu illārkku, uḷḷārkku. ulahu aḷavu ām uṇmai uṇarārkku; ulahiṉukku ādhāram-āy uru aṯṟu ārum uṇarndār uṇmai. īdu āhum bhēdam ivarkku. eṇ.

அன்வயம்: உணர்வு இல்லார்க்கு, உள்ளார்க்கு உலகு உண்மை ஆகும். உணரார்க்கு உண்மை உலகு அளவு ஆம்; உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை உலகினுக்கு ஆதாரமாய் உரு அற்று ஆரும். ஈது இவர்க்கு பேதம் ஆகும். எண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uṇarvu illārkku, uḷḷārkku ulahu uṇmai āhum. uṇarārkku uṇmai ulahu aḷavu ām; uṇarndār uṇmai ulahiṉukku ādhāram-āy uru aṯṟu ārum. īdu ivarkku bhēdam āhum. eṇ.

English translation: To those who do not have knowledge and to those who have, the world is real. To those who do not know, reality is [limited to] the extent of the world, [whereas] to those who have known, reality pervades devoid of form as the ādhāra [support, substratum or foundation] for the world. This is the difference between them. Consider.
When a rope is mistaken to be a snake, the snake is just an illusory appearance superimposed upon the rope, so the rope is the ādhāra (support, substratum or foundation) that underlies and supports the false appearance of the snake. Likewise, according to Bhagavan what we now mistake to be this world is only our actual self, which alone is real and which is just pure self-awareness, so the world is an illusory appearance superimposed upon our actual self, and hence our actual self is the ādhāra that underlies and supports the false appearance of the world.

If we mistake a rope to be a snake, in our view the snake will seem to be real as such, and if we were to say to someone who recognises that it is actually just a rope, ‘See, this snake is real, isn’t it?’, they may reply, ‘Yes, certainly, the snake is real’, but what they would mean by saying this is not that it is real as a snake but only that it is real as a rope. That is, there is actually something lying there on the ground, but it is not what it seems to be, so it is real, but not as the snake that we mistake it to be.

Likewise, when Bhagavan says that for the jñāni the world is real, what he means is not that it is real as such (that is, as a myriad of forms) but that it is real as the formless substratum (ādhāra) that it actually is. What we mistake to be a world consisting of countless and ever-changing forms is actually just one formless, indivisible and immutable self-awareness, which alone is what is real, and which is therefore the ādhāra that underlies and supports everything that seems to exist but does not actually exist.

This is why he says, ‘உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை உலகினுக்கு ஆதாரமாய் உரு அற்று ஆரும்’ (uṇarndār uṇmai ulahiṉukku ādhāram-āy uru aṯṟu ārum), which means, ‘For those who have known, reality pervades devoid of form as the ādhāra for the world’. That is, what the jñāni sees as real is only the formless ādhāra, which is infinite self-awareness and therefore what always shines without any limit as ‘I’. Since it is formless and hence limitless, nothing can be other than it, so it alone actually exists, and hence if anything else seems to exist, what that seeming thing actually is is nothing other than this one formless self-awareness. In this sense for the jñāni everything is real, because nothing other than the reality actually exists.

This does not mean, however, that the jñāni sees any of the forms that we see, because the jñāni is only the formless ādhāra, in whose clear view no forms can appear. Being aware of forms entails being aware of multiplicity (because every form is limited in one way or another, and every limitation entails the existence or seeming existence of something else outside its limits), so since Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), which literally means ‘knowledge [or awareness] which is many is ignorance (ajñāna)’ and which implies ‘awareness of multiplicity is ignorance’, being aware of forms is not real knowledge (jñāna) but only ignorance (ajñāna).

Many people imagine that the jñāni sees oneness in difference and difference in oneness, or more precisely, non-difference (abhēda) in difference (bhēda) and difference in non-difference, and in fact most forms of vēdānta other than pure advaita postulate the doctrine of bhēdābhēda (the co-existence of difference and non-difference) in one form or another. However, Bhagavan explicitly repudiated this doctrine, pointing out the obvious fact that if one is aware of any difference whatsoever, one is not aware of absolute non-difference, and if one is aware of absolute non-difference or oneness, one cannot be aware of any differences at all.

Since forms are what differentiate one thing from another, one cannot see any forms without seeing differences, and one cannot see any differences without seeing forms. Therefore, since the one reality is formless, no differences can exist in it, so if one sees any differences of any kind whatsoever, one is seeing forms and hence not seeing the formless reality as it actually is. We cannot be aware of the formless reality without being aware of ourself as the formless reality, and if we are aware of ourself as the formless reality, we cannot be aware of any forms, as Bhagavan teaches us unequivocally in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

Since the jñāni is nothing other than our actual self, which is the formless ādhāra, it cannot be aware of any forms or any differences whatsoever. Therefore when Bhagavan ends both this and the previous verse by saying that this is the difference (bhēda) between the jñāni and the ajñāni, we should understand that the difference he points out in each case exists only in the view of the ajñāni and not in the view of the jñāni, because in the view of the jñāni no differences exist at all.

This is why Bhagavan often used to say that in the view of the jñāni there is no such thing as an ajñāni. That is, for the jñāni there are no forms and hence no others, because what exists is only the one formless and hence infinite self-awareness, other than which nothing can exist or even seem to exist. All forms, differences and otherness exist only in the view of the ego, which is the very embodiment of self-ignorance (ajñāna), and if we investigate this ego keenly enough, we will find that it does not actually exist and has never even seemed to exist.

10. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 15: as our actual self, God does not do anything

In the third of your comments that I cited at the beginning of this article you wrote, ‘The Self is God [...] The Lila (play) of the Self (Brahman/Atman) is that it “veils” itself so it itself thinks it is limited’, and in several of your other comments you referred to this dualistic concept that the appearance of the ego and world is a līlā or play of God. Though in certain contexts Bhagavan did refer to this concept of līlā, it is not in accordance with his core teachings, because God as a separate entity seems to exist only in the view of our ego, and as our actual self God does not actually do anything.

‘The Self is God’, as you say, but this means that God is nothing other than ourself, which is the ultimate truth about God. However, when we rise as this ego, God seems to be something other than ourself, so as long as he seems to be such, the statement ‘The Self is God’ is true only in the sense that our actual self is what appears as God, but this does not mean that the properties and functions that are usually attributed to God are properties or functions of our actual self, because our actual self just is and does not do anything or know anything other than itself. It is only for those who believe that the world and God (as a separate entity) exist independent of the ego that he is said to perform functions such as creation, sustenance, dissolution, veiling and bestowing grace, and that all such functions and their effects are said to be his līlā or divine play.

So long as we consider God to be anything other than ourself and to have any function such as ‘veiling’ or playing any līlā, he is not real but just a creation of our ego. As he actually is, God is just our real self, which never does anything or knows anything, but just is, so as such he has no function whatsoever. As Bhagavan explains in the fifteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, God never actually does anything and is untouched by anything that seems to be done, but all the functions that are usually attributed to him (creation, sustenance, dissolution, veiling and grace) happen by the special power of his mere presence, just as all the life processes and so many other actions on earth happen due to the mere presence of the sun:
இச்சா ஸங்கல்ப யத்நமின்றி யெழுந்த ஆதித்தன் சன்னிதி மாத்திரத்தில் காந்தக்கல் அக்கினியைக் கக்குவதும், தாமரை மலர்வதும், நீர் வற்றுவதும், உலகோர் தத்தங் காரியங்களிற் பிரவிருத்தித்து இயற்றி யடங்குவதும், காந்தத்தின் முன் ஊசி சேஷ்டிப்பதும் போல ஸங்கல்ப ரகிதராயிருக்கும் ஈசன் சன்னிதான விசேஷ மாத்திரத்தால் நடக்கும் முத்தொழில் அல்லது பஞ்சகிருத்தியங்கட் குட்பட்ட ஜீவர்கள் தத்தம் கர்மானுசாரம் சேஷ்டித் தடங்குகின்றனர். அன்றி, அவர் ஸங்கல்ப ஸஹித ரல்லர்; ஒரு கருமமு மவரை யொட்டாது. அது லோககருமங்கள் சூரியனை யொட்டாததும், ஏனைய சதுர்பூதங்களின் குணாகுணங்கள் வியாபகமான ஆகாயத்தை யொட்டாததும் போலும்.

icchā-saṅkalpa-yatnam-iṉḏṟi y-eṙunda ādittaṉ saṉṉidhi-māttirattil kānta-k-kal aggiṉiyai-k kakkuvadum, tāmarai malarvadum, nīr vaṯṟuvadum, ulahōr tattaṅ kāriyaṅgaḷil piraviruttittu iyaṯṟi y-aḍaṅguvadum, kāntattiṉ muṉ ūsi cēṣṭippadum pōla saṅkalpa-rahitar-āy-irukkum īśaṉ saṉṉidhāṉa-viśēṣa-māttirattāl naḍakkum muttoṙil alladu pañcakiruttiyaṅgaṭ kutpaṭṭa jīvargaḷ tattam karmāṉucāram cēṣṭit taḍaṅgugiṉḏṟaṉar. aṉḏṟi, avar saṅkalpa-sahitar allar; oru karumam-um avarai y-oṭṭādu. adu lōka-karumaṅgaḷ sūriyaṉai y-oṭṭādadum, ēṉaiya catur-bhūtaṅgaḷiṉ guṇāguṇaṅgaḷ viyāpakam-āṉa ākāyattai y-oṭṭādadum pōlum.

Just as in the mere presence of the sun, which rose without icchā [wish, desire or liking], saṁkalpa [volition or intention] [or] yatna [effort or exertion], a crystal stone [or magnifying lens] will emit fire, a lotus will blossom, water will evaporate, and people of the world will engage in [or begin] their respective activities, do [those activities] and subside [or cease being active], and [just as] in front of a magnet a needle will move, [so] jīvas [sentient beings], who are caught in [the finite state governed by] muttoṙil [the threefold function of God, namely the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the world] or pañcakṛtyas [the five functions of God, namely creation, sustenance, dissolution, veiling and grace], which happen due to nothing but the special nature of the presence of God, who is saṁkalpa rahitar [one who is devoid of any volition or intention], move [exert or engage in activity] and subside [cease being active, become still or sleep] in accordance with their respective karmas [that is, in accordance not only with their prārabdha karma or destiny, which impels them to do whatever actions are necessary in order for them to experience all the pleasant and unpleasant things that they are destined to experience, but also with their karma-vāsanās, their inclinations or impulses to desire, think, speak and act in particular ways, which impel them to make effort to experience pleasant things and to avoid experiencing unpleasant things]. Nevertheless, he [God] is not saṁkalpa sahitar [one who is connected with or possesses any volition or intention]; even one karma does not adhere to him [that is, he is not bound or affected by any karma or action whatsoever]. That is like world-actions [the actions happening here on earth] not adhering to [or affecting] the sun, and [like] the qualities and defects of the other four elements [earth, water, air and fire] not adhering to the all-pervading space.
From the viewpoint of ourself as this ego, it may appear that God is watching the movie of our life and directing every detail of it, but his doing so is only as real as our ego, which is actually non-existent. In reality, God is our actual self, and as such he is never aware of anything other than himself. However, since in his view he alone exists, nothing is actually other than him, so it is true to say that he loves us all as himself, because he sees us as nothing other than himself, but in our view his love for us as himself seems to be a love for us as the person we mistake ourself to be.

After writing, ‘The Self is God [...] The Lila (play) of the Self (Brahman/Atman) is that it “veils” itself so it itself thinks it is limited’, in the third of your comments that I cited at the beginning of this article you wrote, ‘As “veiled”, it is watching the movie. When it decides to stop watching the movie, and the lights go on, it then sees it is actually the Self’. However as our actual self, not only does God not watch any movie, but it also does not decide to stop watching. In fact it never decides or does anything, because it is just pure self-awareness, which is intransitive, so it is aware of nothing other than itself. Only as the separate entity that he seems to be in the view of our outward-turned mind does God know anything, do anything or decide anything.

11. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 22: we cannot fathom God except by turning our mind within and drowning it in him

Therefore, since we see differences where God sees none, we (as the ego we now seem to be) can never adequately understand him or his view. All we can do is merge within and lose ourself in him, as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 22 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
மதிக்கொளி தந்தம் மதிக்கு ளொளிரு
மதியினை யுள்ளே மடக்கிப் — பதியிற்
பதித்திடுத லன்றிப் பதியை மதியான்
மதித்திடுக லெங்ஙன் மதி.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: Consider, except by turning the mind back within [and thereby] completely immersing it in God, who shines within that mind giving light to the mind, how to know [ascertain, evaluate or fathom] God by the mind?
So long as our mind is turned outwards, we experience ourself as this finite ego, and hence we can never know God as he really is, because he is nothing other than our infinite self, which is what shines within our mind as the fundamental intransitive awareness that illumines it, enabling it to be transitively aware of other things. Therefore we can know God, who is our own actual self, only by turning our mind within and drowning it in him.

12. As this ego we can never ‘realise’ ourself, and as our actual self we do not need to ‘realise’ ourself

In the same comment, after saying that when our actual self ‘decides to stop watching the movie’ it ‘sees it is actually the Self’, you added ‘Hence “Self-” “realisation”, i.e. realizing that it is the Self’, but as our actual self we are never not aware of ourself as we actually are, so we can never ‘realise’ ourself, nor do we need to. We are immutable, so for us as we actually are there is never any such event as ‘self-realisation’ or what you describe as ‘it then sees it is actually the Self’. What happens is only that the non-existent ego dissolves in the pure self-awareness that we always actually are, but even this does not actually happen, because even when this ego seems to exist, it seems to exist only in its own self-deluded view, so in whose view could it ever cease to exist? The son of the barren woman drank the nectar of immortality and died. What a sensational non-event!

However, so long as we seem to be this ego, the son of the non-existent barren woman called māyā, we do need to drink the nectar of immortality, which is pure self-awareness, and which we can therefore drink only by trying to be exclusively self-attentive — that is, attentively aware of nothing other than ourself. But whether we are self-attentive or not, our actual self remains ever unaffected and immutable, because it is always just as it is, aware of nothing other than itself.

13. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: we must not just cease attending to other things but must keenly attend to ourself alone

In the fourth of your comments that I cited at the beginning of this article you wrote, ‘The ego stops giving attention to “2nd person and 3rd person”, i.e. sense perceptions and thoughts. The Self sees this and if it is convinced of complete sincerity, then it terminates the ego (this is the “action of Grace performed by the Self” according to Ramana — paraphrased)’. However, as this ego, it is not sufficient for us just to cease attending to second and third persons (things other than ourself), because we cease attending to them whenever we fall asleep. Giving up attending to other things without focusing our entire attention on ourself results in manōlaya (a temporary dissolution of our mind along with its root, our ego), whereas our aim should be to attain manōnāśa (permanent annihilation of our mind and ego), which we can achieve only by being keenly and vigilantly self-attentive.

This is clearly implied by Bhagavan in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār, in which he defines real awareness (or true knowledge) thus:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
The main clause in this verse is not ‘மனம் வெளி விடயங்களை விடுதலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்’ (maṉam veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viḍudalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām), which would mean ‘the mind leaving aside external phenomena is alone real awareness [or true knowledge]’, but only ‘மனம் தன் ஒளியுரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-y-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām), which means ‘the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [or true knowledge]’ or ‘the mind only knowing its own form of light is real awareness [or true knowledge]’. The other clause, ‘வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu), which means ‘leaving aside external phenomena’, is an adverbial clause, and it states a precondition that is required in order for the mind to know its own form of light. That is, unless the mind ceases attending to any external phenomena (second or third persons) it cannot focus its entire attention keenly on ‘its own form of light’ (taṉ oḷi-y-uru), which is the pure self-awareness that illumines it.

However, though ceasing to attend to external viṣayas (which means anything other than ourself) is necessary, it is not sufficient, as we know from our experience each day in sleep, because we cease attending to all other things whenever we fall asleep, but our ego is not thereby destroyed. In order to destroy our ego, we much focus our entire attention on ourself alone, because our ego is a mistaken knowledge of ourself (an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are), so it can be destroyed only by our being aware of ourself as we actually are.

This is why in this verse Bhagavan defines true knowledge or real awareness (uṇmai uṇarcci) as ‘மனம் தன் ஒளியுரு ஓர்தலே’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-y-uru ōrdalē), ‘the mind only knowing its own form of light’. ஓர்தலே (ōrdalē) is an intensified form of the verbal noun ஓர்தல் (ōrdal), which means knowing, particularly in the sense of knowing by investigating, examining or observing attentively, so in this context ஓர்தலே (ōrdalē) means ‘only knowing by attentively observing’. The reason why our mind is not annihilated when we fall asleep is that at that time we withdraw our attention from everything else but do not attentively observe ourself, so the key to liberating ourself from the illusion that we are this ego or mind is to be attentively aware of ourself alone.

You say, ‘The Self sees this [the ego ceasing to attend to second or third persons] and if it is convinced of complete sincerity, then it terminates the ego’, but when we try to be keenly self-attentive, our actual self does not see this, because all it ever sees is only pure self-awareness, which is itself, nor is it ever convinced of anything other than its own clear awareness of itself. What is trying to be keenly self-attentive is ourself as this ego or mind, and by trying we are willingly surrendering ourself. This willingness to surrender ourself is weak at first, but with patient and persistent practice it grows steadily stronger, until eventually it is so strong that the ego is dissolved in the infinite light of pure self-awareness, thereby being terminated. This willingness is true bhakti, and it is the fruit of grace, which is the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself.

14. Grace is our infinite love for ourself, and its ‘action’ is ‘doing without doing’

In the same comment you say that the termination of the ego is the ‘action of Grace performed by the Self’, but ‘the Self’ (ourself as we actually are) does not perform or do anything, because our real nature is not ‘doing’ but just ‘being’. Doing (which means action of any kind) is a distortion of being, and it occurs only in the view of ourself as this ego, whose nature is to rise and do actions. Though things seem to happen due to grace, grace itself does not ever do anything. Grace is just love, which is the very nature of our actual self, but since in the clear view of our actual self nothing exists other than ourself, our infinite love is love only for ourself as we actually are.

Because our real nature is just to love ourself as the pure being-awareness (sat-cit) that we actually are, this pure self-love reflects in the ego as love for itself as it seems to be. However, though as this ego we love ourself as such, we are never satisfied, because we are infinite happiness and can therefore never be perfectly satisfied with anything less. Since as this ego we are always dissatisfied, we sooner or later become disillusioned with finite pleasures and begin to seek something beyond that, so grace, which is our own infinite self-love, appears to us in the form of our guru to teach us that happiness is our real nature, but is seemingly obscured by the appearance of our ego, so to experience the infinite happiness that we actually are we must turn within in order to see ourself as we actually are.

Though it is said that grace, which is our actual self, appears to us in the form of our guru, it does not do anything or undergo any kind of change in order to appear thus, nor does it have any specific volition to do so. Because it loves each one of us as itself, the pure love that it actually is causes it to appear in the view of our ego as if it were another person who lovingly teaches us the path by which we can surrender our ego in the clear light of pure self-awareness, and that same pure self-love is what manifests in us as bhakti, which is love to investigate what we actually are and thereby to surrender whatever seems to be ourself but is not what we actually are.

This manifestation of grace outside in the form of our sadguru and his teachings and inside as bhakti, which is the force that impels us to follow what our guru has taught us, is what is sometimes described as the ‘action of grace’, even though grace itself does not actually do anything. This ‘action of grace’ is therefore sometimes described as ‘doing without doing’, because by just being as it is without doing anything whatsoever grace, which is our own infinite love for ourself, causes us to turn our attention back to investigate and be aware of ourself alone, thereby eradicating this formless phantom called ‘ego’.

15. Our actual self is the presentness of the present moment

Regarding your statement that ‘the Self’ is the present moment, this is true only in a certain sense. It is not true in the sense that it is one of the three divisions of time, past, present and future, because it transcends time and all other dimensions. What we call the present moment or the present location in space seems to us to be present because of the presence of our ego at this particular time and place, and the presence of our ego is a finite reflection of the infinite presence of ourself as we actually are (which is what you refer to as ‘the Self’).

As our actual self we are omnipresent — present in all times and all places — because time and space seem to exist only in the view of our ego, which rises and stands in and by the light of the pure self-awareness that we actually are, so like this ego and everything else, all of time and space (both bhūtākāśa or physical space and cittākāśa or mental space) seem to exist only in cidākāśa, the infinite space of pure awareness, which is what we actually are. Therefore as the ultimate presence that gives our ego its sense of finite presence, which in turn gives rise to the appearance that whatever place and time the ego seems to be present in are what are currently present, our actual self can be said to be the presentness of the present moment.

16. Our actual self does not look at or see anything other than itself

In the same comment you also say that ‘the Self’ is ‘That which is looking’, but what is looking through our eyes or in any way observing or perceiving anything other than ourself is only our ego and not our actual self. As we actually are we are just pure intransitive self-awareness, in whose clear view nothing other than itself exists or even seems to exist, so we cannot look at or be aware of anything other than ourself. Only as this formless phantom called ‘ego’ do we seem to be aware of other things, but if we had sufficient love (bhakti) to turn back and look only at ourself, we would see that no ego actually exists, and that what we actually are is only pure intransitive awareness — that is, awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself.

17. The mistake of seeing ourself as a person is made only by our ego and not by our actual self

In another comment you say, ‘The Self makes the “mistake” of identifying with a character in the world’, and you explain that ‘This is what is called “The Play of Consciousness” (lila in Sanskrit)’. However this is not the case, because as I have explained above ‘the Self’ (ourself as we actually are) is just pure and immutable self-awareness, which can never make any mistake or identify itself with anything, and in its clear view no world or characters in it exist or even seem to exist. All these things seem to occur only in the self-ignorant view of our ego and not at all in the clear view of ourself as the pure self-awareness that we actually are.

What you call the ‘Play of Consciousness’ is not a play of our real consciousness, which is just pure intransitive self-awareness, but only the play of our ego, which is the false adjunct-mixed self-awareness that we now seem to be. Our real consciousness is absolutely intransitive, so it is never aware of anything other than itself (ourself), and hence it can never do anything or be aware of anything happening. Whatever happens or seems to be done occurs only in the transitive view of ourself as this ego, so it seems to occur only because we seem to have risen as this ego. Therefore the only one playing in this illusory drama is our ego, which according to Bhagavan is māyā — that which does not actually exist.

As I explained in a comment in reply to a friend who wrote that it makes no sense to say that ‘the mistake to be this adjunct-mixed self-awareness was committed/done by our pure self-awareness’:
[…] What we actually are is only pure self-awareness, which is never mixed or confused with anything. What is mixed and confused is only our ego, which rises as this adjunct-mixed self-awareness that we now mistake ourself to be.

Our pure self-awareness is never in any way affected by this, just as a rope is never affected by its being seen as a snake. The mistake of seeing the rope as a snake is made by an ignorant onlooker, so it is only in the view of that onlooker that the snake seems to exist. Likewise the mistake of seeing pure self-awareness (ourself as we actually are) as an adjunct-mixed self-awareness (ourself as this self-ignorant ego) is made by this adjunct-mixed self-awareness, so it is only in the view of this adjunct-mixed self-awareness that we seem to exist as such.

Our ego (this adjunct-mixed self-awareness) does not actually exist, but paradoxically it seems to exist only in its own self-ignorant view. This is the wonder called māyā, which means ‘what is not’ or ‘she who is not’. The simple solution to this paradox that Bhagavan has taught us is for ourself as this ego to look very carefully at ourself, because if we do so carefully enough we will see that we are not this ego but only pure self-awareness, and that therefore this paradoxical ego or māyā has never actually existed or even seemed to exist.

How can that which does not exist seem to exist in the view of itself? It can never happen, and according to Bhagavan it has never happened, as we shall discover if we investigate ourself keenly and carefully enough.

18. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 17: if we keenly investigate our ego, we will find that there is actually no such thing at all, and hence no world or anything else other than ourself

In another comment you say ‘The Self definitely wants to see the movie, otherwise the movie would not even exist’, but this argument of yours is based on the assumption that the movie — the illusory appearance of phenomena — does actually exist, which is precisely what we should be questioning. Now this movie seems to exist, but does it actually exist?

Just because it seems to exist does not mean that it actually exists, and even its seeming existence is questionable. It can seem to exist only if there is something in whose view it seems to exist, so to whom does it seem to exist? In whose view does it appear? It seems to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego, so its seeming existence depends upon the seeming existence of this ego. Therefore in order to determine whether it even seems to exist we first need to ascertain whether this ego actually exists.

If there is no ego, nothing can seem to exist in its view, so we need to investigate whether or not this ego actually exists. Now we seem to be this ego, the body-bound self-awareness in whose view the movie called our life seems to exist, but is this ego what we actually are? According to Bhagavan the ultimate truth is that there is no such thing as this ego, and hence nothing else seems to exist, because there is nothing in whose view it could seem to exist. In other words, there is no movie at all, because there is no one to see any movie.

This ultimate truth is called ajāta, which Bhagavan said is his actual experience (as Muruganar recorded in verse 100 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai). However, though it is his experience and the ultimate truth, it is not the standpoint from which he begins his teachings, because in our view this ego and world do seem to exist, so he conceded this but taught that they are just an illusory appearance (vivarta) that seems to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego.

This standpoint is called vivarta vāda, the contention (vāda) that everything other than our fundamental self-awareness is just an illusory appearance (vivarta), and as Bhagavan often explained (as recorded in verse 83 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai) it forms the core of his teachings as expressed by him in his original writings, particularly in Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār. According to this view what actually exists is only ourself as we really are, which is just pure self-awareness, so everything else, including ourself as this ego, does not actually exist, even though it seems to exist in the view of this ego.

However, according to Bhagavan if we (this ego) investigate ourself keenly enough, we will find that we are not and have never been this ego, because what we actually are in just pure and immutable self-awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself, and which never undergoes change of any kind whatsoever. Since this ego is a mistaken awareness of ourself, when we investigate ourself and thereby become aware of ourself as we actually are, it will be clear to us that we have always been aware of ourself as we actually are and that therefore no ego has ever existed.

This is stated clearly by Bhagavan in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: மனத்தின் உருவை மறவாது உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. மார்க்கம் நேர் ஆர்க்கும் இது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maṉattiṉ uruvai maṟavādu usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. mārggam nēr ārkkum idu.

அன்வயம்: மறவாது மனத்தின் உருவை உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. இது ஆர்க்கும் நேர் மார்க்கம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṟavādu maṉattiṉ uruvai usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. idu ārkkum nēr mārggam.

English translation: When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without forgetting, anything called ‘mind’ will not exist. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone.
What he refers to here as ‘மனத்தின் உரு’ (maṉattiṉ uru), which means ‘the form of the mind’, is the ego, as indicated by him in the next verse (verse 18), in which he explains that what the mind essentially is is just the ego, the thought called ‘I’, because that is the root and basis of all the other thoughts or mental phenomena that constitute the mind as a whole. If we investigate this ego by observing it very keenly and steadily, we will eventually be aware of ourself as we actually are, and thus it will be clear that there is no such thing as the ego or mind at all.

Therefore, since everything else seems to exist only in the view of this non-existent ego, when the ego ceases to exist everything else will cease to exist along with it, as Bhagavan clearly indicates in the second sentence of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), which means, ‘If the ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, and in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), which means, ‘If the thought called ‘I’ does not exist, anything else does not exist’.

Therefore, though vivarta vāda is the most appropriate explanation of the seeming existence of our ego and all the phenomena of which it is aware, it is not the ultimate truth, because it assumes that the ego seems to exist in order to be aware of the appearance of all other things, whereas when we investigate it keenly enough, it will be clear that there never was any such thing as this ego. Therefore, as Bhagavan often explained, the ultimate truth is not vivarta vāda but only ajāta vāda, the contention that nothing has ever been born, come into existence or happened, according to which neither this ego nor anything else even seems to exist.

Because we see the world (as Bhagavan says in the first clause of verse 1 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), we need a teaching that will explain the seeming existence both of this world and of ourself as the perceiver of it, and that will also provide us a means to escape from all the trouble caused by our rising as this ego to perceive things other than ourself. For this purpose, the most appropriate teaching is vivarta vāda, even though it is not the ultimate truth, because so long as we seem to exist as this transitively aware ego, being told that neither this ego nor anything else seems to exist at all will not provide us a means to escape from this illusory condition.

Vivarta vāda is therefore useful as a working hypothesis, but if we test this hypothesis by investigating whether there is actually any such this as this ego that we now seem to be, we will find that there is no such thing and that therefore nothing has ever seemed to exist at all. Therefore the ultimate truth is only ajāta, as Bhagavan stated clearly in verse 24 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ (which he composed as a condensation of verse 1227 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, in which Muruganar expressed the idea in a Sanskrit verse that Bhagavan often used to quote, which occurs in various texts such as Amṛtabindōpaniṣad verse 10, Ātmōpaniṣad 2.31, Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.32 and Vivēkacūḍāmaṇi verse 574):
ஆதலழி வார்ப்பவிழ வாசைமுயல் வார்ந்தாரில்
ஈதுபர மார்த்தமென் றெண்.

ādalaṙi vārppaviṙa vāśaimuyal vārndāril
īdupara mārttameṉ ḏṟeṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஆதல், அழிவு, ஆர்ப்பு, அவிழ ஆசை, முயல்வு, ஆர்ந்தார் இல்; ஈது பரமார்த்தம் என்று எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ādal, aṙivu, ārppu, aviṙa āśai, muyalvu, ārndār il. īdu paramārttam eṉḏṟu eṇ.

English translation: There is no becoming [or coming into existence], destruction, bondage, desire to untie [bondage], effort [made for liberation], [or] those who have attained [liberation]. Know that this is paramārtha [the ultimate truth].
Though our mind cannot adequately grasp the fact that what exists is only our fundamental self-awareness, and that neither this mind nor anything else even seems to exist, Bhagavan has assured us that if we investigate ourself keenly enough this is what we will ultimately discover.

In one of your comments you quote an extract from David Godman’s introduction to chapter 17 of Be As You Are (1985, pp. 181-2) in which he explains his understanding of ajāta vāda by saying that ‘the jnani is aware that the world is real [...] as an uncaused appearance in the Self’, but this is not correct and not what Bhagavan taught us, because according to ajāta there is no world and no appearance of any kind whatsoever. The contention that the world is just an illusory appearance caused by the rising of ourself as this ego is not ajāta vāda but only vivarta vāda, and vivarta vāda seems to be true only so long as we seem to be this ego.

If we investigate whether we are actually this ego, we will find that there is not and never was any such thing, and hence nothing else seems to exist because there is no ego to see it. Therefore ajāta vāda is an absolute and unconditional denial of the reality or even the appearance of anything other than ourself, whose real nature is explained clearly and unequivocally by Bhagavan in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṯpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] beginningless, endless [or infinite] and undivided sat-cit-ānanda [being-consciousness-bliss].
Whatever appears must have a beginning and an end, so appearance or disappearance of anything can only occur in time, and if time existed it would divide the one infinite whole that we actually are. Therefore, by saying that our real nature is just beginningless, endless and undivided sat-cit-ānanda, Bhagavan is in effect denying the existence of time and hence the appearance or disappearance of anything. Thus in this verse he clearly implies that the ultimate truth experienced in the state of true self-knowledge (ātma-jñāna) is only ajāta, the absolute non-appearance of anything whatsoever.

This is the distinction between ajāta vāda and vivarta vāda. As indicated by the term vivarta, which means illusion or unreal appearance, vivarta vāda accepts the seeming existence of the ego and world, but maintains that they are just an illusory appearance, whereas ajāta vāda denies that anything seems to exist even as a false appearance. What exists is only ourself, and since we are beginningless, endless and undivided, there is no room in us for anything else to appear even momentarily.

If you want to understand more about vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda and the difference between them, as taught by Bhagavan, you may find it helpful to read three articles that I wrote on this subject two years ago, namely Metaphysical solipsism, idealism and creation theories in the teachings of Sri Ramana, The perceiver and the perceived are both unreal and We can believe vivarta vāda directly but not ajāta vāda.

Since the ultimate truth is that ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [our own real self]’ (as Bhagavan states unequivocally in the first sentence of seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), and since according to ajāta nothing else even seems to exist, and there is therefore no becoming, no destruction, no ego, no world, no dream, no movie, no līlā, no veiling, no bondage and no liberation, we can infer that as we actually are we are not aware of anything other than ourself, the one beginningless, endless and undivided sat-cit-ānanda, so we never veil ourself or decide to veil ourself, we never play any līlā or watch any movie, nor do we ever do anything, desire anything, decide anything or know anything else. We are just what is (uḷḷadu), and what is always is just as it is.

75 comments:

Anonymous said...

Recipe

1 cup of self inquiry
1 tablespoon of perseverance
mix thoroughly

Repeat as necessary

Enjoy the bliss

abode of bliss said...

Anonymous,
you better take a big laddle of perseverance.
Because perseverance implies recurrent application,
it is advisable to take that remedy regularly.

Karuna said...

Michael,
how does it feel the awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself ?

Anonymous said...

Your mind loves things,
but your being just loves to be.

Ken said...

Michael -

Thank you for your thorough research on these topics, they are a significant aid in understanding Ramana's teaching.

Some of my comments that you quote, were worded imprecisely because they were in the context of trying to explain a particular concept to a blog reader who was requesting clarification.

For example, what you explain in "15. Our actual self is the presentness of the present moment" is precisely my understanding that was the basis for my comment. In fact, I find that this is a very helpful clue that is not emphasized enough.

Beyond that, it seems to me that we are getting into an area ruled by semantics.

For example, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character. As such, he "is unreal and never existed". However, his lack of existence is a semantic one. From our viewpoint, we certainly find a difference between our current world (with at least two different Sherlock Holmes series in production) and an alternative universe where Conan Doyle never invented the character Sherlock Holmes.

In a similar way, we go to sleep and have a dream. When we wake up, we realize that the events in the dream were unreal. "Nothing ever happened". But we cannot say that our night was the same as a night where we did not dream at all.

And, if we go into the dark garage and mistake the coiled rope for a snake, we can certainly say "the snake is unreal and never existed". However, there is a difference between going into the garage and immediately recognizing the rope, or else going into the garage and mistakenly seeing the snake. If there were no difference, then Ramana would not have advised, in Ulladu Narpadu 35:

"The subsided mind having subsided, knowing and being the Reality, which is (always) attained, is the (true) attainment (siddhi). [...]
(Therefore) know and be (as) you (the Reality) are."

If there were no difference between seeing the snake and seeing the rope, then he would have said instead:

" The mind is unreal and does not exist, so do not practice self-attention, go home, watch cricket and stop bothering me. "

So, a universe where there was never any appearance of temporary phenomena, never any maya, never any mistaken identification, never any ego... just satchitananda.... is perhaps theologically, metaphysically, and/or philosophically identical to this universe.... but it is not entirely identical, otherwise Ramana would have never answered Pillai's question of "Who Am I?".

The Advaita Vedanta standard of "real" and "exists" is very meaningful - it tells us what is important. But if we use it in all contexts, we end up with "Neo-Advaita", i.e.

"Nothing ever happened, the ego never existed, so go home and watch T.V., that will be $50, thanks."

In Path of Sri Ramana, Sadhu Om is careful to apply absolute metaphysical standards to theology and philosophy, but not otherwise. For example, he stated:

"The sole cause of all miseries is the mistake of veiling ourself by imagining these sheaths to be ourself, even though we are ever this existence-consciousness-bliss (sat-chit-ananda)."

This is similar to my statement quoted from 9 September 2016:

"Because there is nothing other than the Self, so there is nothing that can force the Self to do anything. The Self is alone, so it decides to “veil” itself and limit itself as a multitude of 'individuals'. This is the Lila, the play."

The Upanishads, Shankara and Ramana all agree that there is nothing other than the Self. So, there cannot be anything that forces the Self to do anything.

Sadhu Om characterizing veiling as a "mistake", while I characterize it as a "decision". Well, certainly those two things are compatible. Plenty of decisions are found to be mistakes (such as deciding to drive when you have drunk far too much alcohol).

Before the "veiling", there was no ego, so Sadhu Om can only be referring to the Self as the one who veils.

love for being said...

Anonymous,
you seem to assume that the 'things-loving mind' could prevent the being from loving just to be. How can anything stop the omnipotent, omniscient and eternal being from just being ?
Nothing unreal can ever be an obstacle to the real self-awareness - if I am not on the wrong track.

love for being said...

How can I ignore the mind as something non-existent ?
How can I consciously abide in the self unless I am not able to prevent the mind from rising and jumping out through the senses ?

love for being said...

Sorry about an error in my last comment:
of course it should read "unless I am able ..." instead of "not able".

form grasper said...

Bhagavan,
are you really able to put yourself in my tricky situation ?
Do you know the pain/sorrow I am feeling ?
Certainly you have a clear conscience.
You certainly are surprised at my inability to walk constantly on the right path i.e. to be aware of myself as I actually am. You are not responsible for my blindness.
Out of my heavy and serious ignorance I gave away quite a lot of chances. Easily my hypocrisy was transparent for you.
How long will you have patience with me ? Rightly you will say: life is what you make it.
May I nevertheless humbly continue resorting to you, Arunachala ?

Michael James said...

Karuna, you yourself must find the answer to your question ‘how does it feel the awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself?’ because no one else can answer it for you. Since our mind is a transitive awareness (an awareness that is always aware of things other than itself) it can never know the answer to this question, but if we turn our mind within to attend to ourself keenly enough, this mind will dissolve and what will remain is the pure intransitive awareness that we always are — the awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself.

The closest that we as this mind can come to knowing how this awareness ‘feels’ (that is, what it is to be aware of nothing other than ourself) is our recollection of sleep. However, though in sleep we are aware of nothing other than ourself, our recollection of such awareness is clouded now by our mind, which was absent in sleep, so we only have a clouded recollection of it. Therefore to be clearly aware of it here and now we must turn our entire attention inwards in order to be attentively aware of ourself alone and thereby to dissolve this transitively aware mind.

Bob - P said...

Michael thanks for posting this article.
I look forward to reading it.
In appreciation.
Bob.

Karuna said...

Michael,
thank you for your answer to my rather foolish question.
However, unfortunately my recollection of sleep is not merely clouded by my mind but seems to be not existing or available. The worst of it is that my ability to turn my entire attention inwards and thereby dissolve this transitively aware mind is not exactly world-shaking or of Olympic standard. Therefore I cannot seize the opportunity of being clearly aware of the awareness in sleep here and now with both hands.

Riley said...

Thank you Michael. Your wisdom arrows hitting the 'markless mark' and penetrating deep into the Bull's 'I'.
Pranams _/\_

in quest of the self said...

Michael,
Quote of Sri Ramanasramam:

"The source of the mind is the same as that of breath and vital forces. Therefore, when the mind subsides, breath and vital forces also subside; and conversely, when the latter subside, the former also subsides."

We all would be glad if that quote would be explained in more detail.
Particularly worth knowing would be a description of the most important characteristics of that namely place/source - as far as possible.
How can the mind as a bundle of thoughts/ideas(process/activity of thinking) flow from the same source as the breath which is mainly an inhalation or exhalation of air from the lungs.
Which vital forces have the same source as the breath and the mind ?

Noob said...

If we say that the the Self is the only thing that is real, existing and self-aware, then we have no grounds for existence.
What is the reason for pramada? Can self have pramada, if he cant, then why this world came to be. the dreams are the part of ego, but how can an ego even come into existence? why self keeps dreaming?

Noob said...

or is it just me?

Noob said...

in this analogy snake-rope, it works only when there is "someone., ie a subject" who can see the rope as a snake. From where comes this someone if there exists nothing but the rope?

Ken said...

Noob -

An analogy is for the purpose of making the reader understand a particular idea.

The snake-rope analogy is for the purpose of making someone understand the idea of something that is seen, but is not real.

However, it is a quality of analogies that they do not perfectly correspond to reality, otherwise they would not be concepts, they would be reality.

For example, in the snake-rope analogy, once someone has turned on the light in the garage, and seen the rope, then they do not see the snake that they seemed to see in the dark garage.

However, in other situations, seeing the real rope does not prevent you from seeing the fictional appearance. For example, if children are laying on the ground looking at clouds, one may say "that one looks like a horse's head - the ears are there, and the mouth is there!" and the other one says "I see it too!". This does not prevent them from then seeing it as clouds and then seeing the horse's head again.

So again, the analogy is ONLY for the purpose of getting someone to understand an idea, and is not to be analyzed and taken apart.

Ken said...

in quest of the self -

In Asian religious philosophy, within the physical body is a system of energy often called "the subtle body". This energy is called Prana in India, and Chi in China. Both countries' system has this energy flowing through a system that is similar to blood vessels, called Nadis in India and Meridians in China.

The breath is directly connected to the subtle body and vice versa, and the same with the mind.

This is why we can calm ourselves by taking a deep breath, and you can find more elaborate breath exercises that affect the mind by doing a web search.

Remember that the mind is still a physical entity - we usually think in a language that only is known in the physical place we were born; if a certain part of the brain is removed, we lose some or all of our memories, if other parts are removed, we lose the ability to have certain kinds of thoughts.

follow the pointings said...

Noob,
My love, leave behind all this fruitless thinking
And come lay down here in the silence of Being.

Nan Yar ? said...

Again and again my mind cannot get over it:
How could ever happen or can it be possible that a power which is said not to be actually real can have a seemingly own homespun view of itself though it means only 'what is not'?
And always I come to the conclusion that this assumption/theory cannot be true.
But then I am at my wit's end and I am stuck.

Ken said...

The commenter called "Nan Yar ?" -

In Advaita Vedanta, there are many verbal phrasings that are technically true, but they are used as teaching tools to try and emphasize that things are not as they seem.

The ego is not real, in the same way that in your dream, the fish that flies through the air and says "Hello" is not real.

In general, dreams and movies are both good analogies for how we should view the ego and the world.

When we are watching a really entertaining movie, we can get into a mental state where we feel good when the star achieves something, and feel bad when he fails. In fact, we can even forget that we are not the movie character for a short time.

This is similar to what Ramana is suggesting occurs in our own lives. He says the ego is the thought "I am this body".

Nan Yar ? said...

Ken,
we know only what we are not and what is not real.
But who are we actually ? That is the only decisive question.
How can we manage to reach the bank of that raging torrent of ignorance ?

The son of a barren woman who drank the nectar of immortality and died said...

I was not born, nor will I die; i am existence consciousness bliss supreme.

Nan Yar ? said...

Son of a barren woman,
Your sensational knowledge really takes my breath away.
If you really have become clear in your mind about what you are, then it is good (for you). Please tell me how did you gain your valuable glass of that nectar of immortality ? Possibly I may take too a sip from that precious juice ?
Hopefully your knowledge is not a case of easy come, easy go.
Is it possible that you just dreamt your above mentioned discovery ?
Or have you had one too many ?

queen of honey bees said...

Son of a barren woman,
we hope that you have drained your glass of nectar not to the dregs.
Perhaps that pitcher is a giant vat/cauldron.
Please let us drink too from it. How can we come to that nectar ?

The son of a barren woman who drank the nectar of immortality and died said...

Queen of honey bees : apropos your query as to how to possess the nectar of immortality, the answer is that that nectar is always existent within each one of us as "i" for us to plunder and relish to our heart's content. Assisting us in this worthwhile enterprise will be the sweet nectar of the words of our guru Bhagavan, guiding and directing us through his incomparable teachings.

Nan Yar? : my mind will never become clear as to what it is, for it is the very nature of mind to be ignorant of what it is. The way to obtain the nectar of immortality is to investigate what we are using the supreme curiosity which is of the form of your pseudonym. My previous comment was merely an assertion of my conceptual understanding. I happen to be a teetotaller.

queen of honey bees said...

Son of a barren woman,
thank you for revealing your secret.
But now my hopes are dashed. I only wanted to drink from the cup of nectar thinking you give me something to taste. To uncover our inner 'I' brings surely an awful tribulation and hardship to me. Bhagavan's command will not be enough to overcome the difficulties of a simple honey bee let alone of the queen. In order to investigate our ego we seem to need many years preparation time.

Nan Yar ? said...

Son of a barren woman,
so we sit in the same boat. What, are you really teetotal from the nectar of immortality ?

kalpanaigal said...

Michael,
"Since our actual self (ātma-svarūpa) alone is what exists (uḷḷadu), we alone are also what is actually aware, and hence as our actual self we are clearly aware that we alone exist, so nothing else can seem to exist in our clear view. All other things (our ego and this world and God) are just illusory appearances, and they appear only in the view of ourself as this transitively aware ego and not in the clear intransitive awareness that we actually are."
I want to verify the correctness of that statement ?
Can I do that even though I am not trained in sitting for long meditations ?

Michael James said...

Ken, I have replied to the arguments you offer in your first comment above in a separate article: The difference between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda is not just semantic but substantive.

Bob - P said...

Dear Michael
I have just finished reading this article.
What you say does make sense to me personally.
I believe when I experience myself as I really am I will be aware of nothing but myself (non duality).
There will be nothing apart from my infinite self awareness.
I won't see any illusion, false appearance or anything whatsoever apart from myself.
If I am aware of anything other than myself (duality) no matter how pleasurable or heavenly it may appear to be or if I see multiplicity / forms as myself it will be in the view of the ignorant false ego.
So my practise of self investigation must carry on.
I must make sure to not get off the train till the last desired stop which is (to experience myself as I really am).
But I (Bob the person the one ego presently takes it self to be will never know I have successfully arrived or if I have succeeded because I (the false ignorance) will vanish simultaneously on arrival (true reality).
Because in truth the one ego and Bob the person it presently takes itself to be never actually existed, but only seemed to exist in it's own ignorant dualistic view.
I must admit like I said this does makes sense to me personally.
Thank you again for writing and publishing this article.
Bob

Ken said...

Bob - P,

venkat recently posted in another thread:

"From Guru Vachaka Kovai (David Godman's version) on ajata vada:

44: The world does not exist in the state of ultimate truth. Its appearance, its apparently existing nature in maya, is like the imagined appearance of a snake in a rope, a thief in a wooden post, and water in a mirage. Their essential nature is delusion.

1119:Though the mind that has been captivated and held under the sway of the shining of pure being may move away to sense objects that are seen, heard, eaten, smelt and touched, as in the past, its knot has definitely been severed through perfect, firm, vichara.

Murugunar: There is no rule that the mind whose knot has been cut should not operate among the sense objects. Through strength of practice, it can remain without kartrutva [sense of doership], the suttarivu [the false consciousness that divides itself into someone who sees and objects that are seen], and it can operate among them [the sense objects] wholly as the Self, but it will not in the least become bound by them."

Bob - P said...

Dear Ken
Thanks for posting the above, I had missed it.
I must admit I still do believe what I said in my post above to Michael.
If waking and dream states (duality) rise out of sleep (non duality) then if they cease to rise deep sleep becomes the one true state.
During sleep I experience nothing but myself, there's nothing else for me to be aware of and there is no duality of any kind.
I know I existed and was self aware because if I didn't I would only experience waking and dream with no gap. Which from personal experience doesn't seem to be the case.
I am aware of a gap where I was aware of nothing but myself.
It appears to me that sleep (non dual self awareness) is also present during waking and dream as it is the supporting foundation from which they rise.
It only appears to be a separate temporary state in my ignorant dualistic view during waking and dream.
It is the one continuous unchanging state of being.
My goal is to bring the experience of sleep into waking or dream states by practising self investigation.
This is just my understanding and my opinion.
All the best Ken
Bob

Ken said...

Bob - P,

This same subject is right now being discussed in another blog comment thread here and Mouna posted a very clear and detailed statement by Ramana, the link is:

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2016/05/what-is-logic-for-believing-that.html?showComment=1478112707428#c4177784836946429317

Bob - P said...

Thanks very much for the link Ken.
All the Best.
Bob

venkat said...

Hi Bob

My understanding is that we are always Brahman, consciousness, which is best understood in terms of the attribute-less deep sleep state, which as you note is always present in waking and in dream.

The I-thought - the jiva - is we are told by Shankara an uncaused illusion / ignorance that arises in consciousness. The illusion is also that which is seeking liberation. The locus of that ignorance is the illusory jiva, I-thought itself - Brahman can never be ignorant or veil itself. So when our thinking stops- i.e. no-mind, mauna - then there is no more ignorance. And then it becomes redundant to talk about birth, death, someone in bondage, a seeker of liberation, and the liberated. Because there is just non dual being; ajata vada. Which is how I interpret Murugunar's comments, and the various other comments from Bhagavan, Lakshmana Sarma, Sadhu Natananda and Annamalai Swami, that we have been discussing.

Either way it doesn't matter . . . except possibly, that under your interpretation, there is created a concept of no-percpetion that an ego can cling to and work towards (which of course, is a play of the ego). As opposed to just ameliorating the ego, through paying attention to it, whenever it arises. And leave aside any pre-conception of jnana as involving perception or non-perception of the world, form or no-form.

with warm wishes,
venkat

Ken said...

I think that the most helpful analogy is Sadhu Om's triangular room (from Path of Sri Ramana Part One).

The analogy is that of a man who is facing a corner formed by two walls. He is unhappy because in his perception, he is trapped by the two walls. But if he turns around and faces the other direction, then he sees that behind him there is actually no wall, and he is free to go.

In the analogy, the two walls are thoughts and sense perceptions, and turning 180 degrees is giving attention to the Self.

The value of this analogy is that it makes sense of Ramana's statements that "we were never bound, so we cannot be liberated" and it makes sense of many sages' characterization of the ego as simply a mistaken perception, meaning a mistaken thought.

The tricky aspect of all this is identity. Modern people base their identity on not only their body, but their thoughts (I am against this, and dislike that).

This is like someone watching a movie and becoming totally identified with the main character, and forgetting that they are a person watching a fictional character.

So, again there is a mistake - identification with a body and its "story".

Thus, the triangular room analogy and the movie analogy together give a reasonable viewpoint on what is actually going on.

Thus, I think that the ideas of "the destruction of the mind" and "the world vanishes" are unhelpful, because they seem to give the idea of a solid thing that goes away, but what actually occurs is the correction of a mistake.

“We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.” - Kalu Rinpoche

Mouna said...

Ken,
"Thus, I think that the ideas of "the destruction of the mind" and "the world vanishes" are unhelpful, because they seem to give the idea of a solid thing that goes away, but what actually occurs is the correction of a mistake.


And this is the tricky part, because the correction of the mistake in the snake analogy is the disappearance of the snake, since we cannot see the snake and the rope at the same time.
But the correction of the mistake in the mirage water analogy (or sun rising and setting) is the disappearance of the ignorance that mistook the water as real, although it continues to perceive the illusory water (in general, this is the traditional vedantic position).

As was said before, Bhagavan's position seems to be that we have to consider both at the same time to understand the whole idea, something that our mind can't cope with, like ajata and vivarta co-existing.

Note: in Sadhu Om’s analogy of the two walls, once we turn 180 degrees and see there is no third wall, the other two disappear from our view also.

Ken said...

Mouna wrote: "Note: in Sadhu Om’s analogy of the two walls, once we turn 180 degrees and see there is no third wall, the other two disappear from our view also."

Not within the text of the analogy.

venkat said...

Hi Mouna,

Actually if we examine your quote from Talk 315 Bhagavan seems to say:
- That the protagonists that argue that the universe is conceived to be apart from Brahman, have understood incorrect Shankara's teaching in statements 1 (Brahman is real) and 2 (the universe is a myth). These protagonists point to Shankara's snake and rope analogy to support their position
- However they should actually consider that Shankara made the third statement (Brahman is the universe) and his water mirage analogy, because "Even after knowing it, it continues to appear. It must be known to be Brahman and not apart"

I don't think that he is trying to say hold ajata and vivarta views together. He is actually shifting the attention of the protagonist from rope-snake to water mirage. Also, as I've commented previously, I don't think it is right to hold that ajata means absence of even the existence of an illusion.

Mouna said...

Ken wrote:"The analogy is that of a man who is facing a corner formed by two walls. He is unhappy because in his perception, he is trapped by the two walls. But if he turns around and faces the other direction, then he sees that behind him there is actually no wall, and he is free to go."

Mouna wrote: "Note: in Sadhu Om’s analogy of the two walls, once we turn 180 degrees and see there is no third wall, the other two disappear from our view also."

Ken wrote:"Not within the text of the analogy."

???? (let's go back and read the text then)

All depends what "free to go" means. It is definitely not in the direction of the two walls. And if he goes in 180 degrees, he will not see the two walls.

Mouna said...

Hi Venkat,

If you read a little further in the quote (that I highlighted in bold), Bhagavan (if he ever said this) says: "Sri Sankara must be understood in the light of both the illustrations." He meant the snake/rope (unconditioned superimposition) and water mirage (conditioned superimposition).

We both know that there are many quotes of Bhagavan highlighting the total annihilation of the world as they are highlighting the world continues for the jnani but without attachment whatsoever to it.

This is an old advaitic discussion that I've seen in many advaita lists through time in many form and colors, and to take one position over the other is pouring gasoline into the ego's fire.

venkat said...

Mouna,
If your interpretation is correct, that would mean that Bhagavan is moving the 'protagonist' AWAY from the snake-rope / 'ajata' (in your terms) viewpoint to the vivarta viewpoint, i.e. away from the ultimate truth. That would be illogical. Clearly therefore the thrust of the talk is to point out the importance of Sankara's third statement, which Bhagavan is supporting through the water-mirage analogy!

Good night my friend!

venkat

Mouna said...

Venkat,

Hope I'm not keeping you from a good night sleep!

Last thought of the night then. Many times Bhagavan moved away from the 'ajata' point of view towards 'vivarta', but at the same time he made it clear it was to address the different levels of understanding of his questioners.

But we may continue tomorrow, or never.

A very last thought, let's think what would happen to all these talks if tonight 'we' die in our deep sleep...

Gnight friend.

Ken said...

Mouna wrote:
"All depends what 'free to go' means. It is definitely not in the direction of the two walls. And if he goes in 180 degrees, he will not see the two walls."

Again, he is facing the corner formed by two walls. If he turns 180 degrees, he can still see the two walls to the left and the right, but the way is open straight ahead, and he is 'free to go'.

"The friend: 'Well, why don't you search for a way out on the third wall behind you !'

The man (turning behind and looking): 'Ah, here there is no obstacle ! Let me run away through this way.' (So saying, he started to run away.)

The friend: 'What ! Why do you run away? Is it necessary for you to do so? If you do not run away, will you remain in prison ?'

The man: 'Oho! yes, yes ! I was not at all imprisoned ! How could I have been imprisoned when there was no wall at all behind me' It was merely my own delusion that I was imprisoned, was never imprisoned, nor am I' now released ! So I do not even need to run away from near these walls where I am now ! The defect of my not looking behind was the reason for my socalled bondage; and the turning of my attention behind is really the sadhana for my so-called liberation! In reality, I am ever remaining as 1 am, without any imprisonment or release !'

Thus knowing the truth, he remained quiet.

The two walls in the story signify the second and third persons. The first person is the third wall said to be behind the man. There is no way at all to liberation by means of second and third person attention. Only by the first person attention 'Who am l?' will the right knowledge be gained that the ego, the first person, is ever non-existent, and only when the first person is thus annihilated will the truth be realized that bondage and liberation are false."

So, note that the helpful friend tells him that there is no need to run away, because he is not really confined. Also, note that it is the wall behind, the first person, that is not really there - not the second or third walls. So, Sadhu Om is saying that there is no need to "run away" from the world and that the whole crux of the matter is that the first person - the ego - is actually really not there - which Ramana has also said numerous times - it is something that is implied by everything in our life, but actually fictional.

An example might be "James Bond". When a "James Bond" movie is released, a large amount of the culture is talking about him, and he could be trending on Twitter and Facebook. But, if you actually try to find the real flesh-and-blood James Bond, you will find that there is none, and has never been.

Foolish Tenth Man said...

Ken

[..] So, Sadhu Om is saying that there is no need to "run away" from the world and that the whole crux of the matter is that the first person - the ego - is actually really not there - which Ramana has also said numerous times - it is something that is implied by everything in our life, but actually fictional.

If the ego is 'something that is implied by everything in our life, but actually fictional', then does it not logically follow that everything else, whose seeming existence depends on this ego, is also fictional?


An example might be "James Bond". When a "James Bond" movie is released, a large amount of the culture is talking about him, and he could be trending on Twitter and Facebook. But, if you actually try to find the real flesh-and-blood James Bond, you will find that there is none, and has never been.

The problem with the analogy of James Bond is that we don't experience him as 'I'. Therefore, he is an illusion experienced by the primary illusion, namely the ego or 'I am this'. Whereas the illusion of James Bond can disappear and the world still remain, it is not so in the case of the primary fundamental illusion of the ego. Thus it can be concluded that all illusions (or phenomena) depend upon the ego, but the ego does not depend upon any one particular illusion to sustain its seeming existence.

venkat said...

There is no where in Shankara's Vedanta which says that the perception of the world disappears on liberation. Indeed, I think it is in the Brahma Sutras, there is a discussion that liberation can only happen on death (when both the body and mind dissolve), and it is concluded that it is possible to be jivanmukta (liberated in life). And all the scriptures, from the upanishads (including Gaudapada's Mandukyakarika) to the Bhagavad Gita, Vasistha, Ashtavakra Gita, Kaivalya Navaneeta and Ellam Ondre, (all of which Bhagavan recommended and quoted from) talk about how the liberated live.

For example, take this excerpt from Kaivalya Navaneeta:

“94. The wise, remaining like ether and liberated even here, are of four classes, namely Brahmavid (i.e., knower of Brahman), vara, varya, and varishta, in order of merit.
95. The Brahmavids who by steadfast practice have gained clear realisation of Brahman, continue to perform even the hard duties[39] of their caste and stage in life, exactly as prescribed by the shastras, for the benefit of others, without themselves swerving from their supreme state.
96. Should passions rise up they disappear instantly and cannot taint the mind of the Brahmavids, who live in society detached like water on a lotus leaf. They look ignorant not showing forth their knowledge and remain mute owing to the intensity of inward Bliss.”

Now, in addition to these scriptures, we also have unambiguous statements about this from Annamalai Swami, Murugunar, Lakshmana Sarma and Sadhu Natanananda, and Bhagavan.

My understanding of the point of ajata vada is that everything is an illusion, a mirage. So with the elimination of the ego, there is no one there to have likes / dislikes / ambitions / fears / expectations, or even a model of how a liberated person should live. Life just goes on without the usual selfishness on the part vs the whole, because there is no 'perception' of difference - different forms of jewellery but all made up of the same gold.

In any even, as Mouna and Bob point out, Bhagavan didn't seem to encourage questions on the jnani's experience and actions post-liberation. He just said to practice atma vichara in earnest whenever the ego arises, otherwise summa iru . . . and then see. Having a concept / expectation of what happens in liberation is a preconception for the ego to cling to, as opposed to being wholly detached and desireless, even for liberation.

Bob - P said...

Venkat you said:

[Hi Bob

My understanding is that we are always Brahman, consciousness, which is best understood in terms of the attribute-less deep sleep state, which as you note is always present in waking and in dream.]

Yes this is my understanding too Venkat just as is in reality there is no waking and dream just the one state. The 3 separate states of consciousness exist in the ignorant view of the dualistic ego / jiva / mind.

[The I-thought - the jiva - is we are told by Shankara an uncaused illusion / ignorance that arises in consciousness. The illusion is also that which is seeking liberation. The locus of that ignorance is the illusory jiva, I-thought itself - Brahman can never be ignorant or veil itself.]

Yes this makes sense to me too Venkat

[So when our thinking stops- i.e. no-mind, mauna - then there is no more ignorance. And then it becomes redundant to talk about birth, death, someone in bondage, a seeker of liberation, and the liberated. Because there is just non dual being; ajata vada. Which is how I interpret Murugunar's comments, and the various other comments from Bhagavan, Lakshmana Sarma, Sadhu Natananda and Annamalai Swami, that we have been discussing.]

Yes this is my personal understanding but I'm also open to other opinions and beliefs my friend.

[Either way it doesn't matter . . . except possibly, that under your interpretation, there is created a concept of no-percpetion that an ego can cling to and work towards (which of course, is a play of the ego).]

Yes agreed I see your point Venkat thank you for pointing this out it is very important point to make.

[As opposed to just ameliorating the ego, through paying attention to it, whenever it arises. And leave aside any pre-conception of jnana as involving perception or non-perception of the world, form or no-form.]

Yes again I agree wholeheartedly we can discuss the teaching as much as we like and it is very helpful to reinforce and encourage us to simply reverse our focus of attention from outward to inward. All we can do is investigate our self / self awareness and look carefully at our self to find out what we are so to speak. I appreciate that is a bad way of wording it.

[with warm wishes,
venkat]

Same to you Venkat
Take care.
Bob

jnanagni said...

Foolish tenth Man,
you may consider that this ego depends very well upon the attention to it which we can also call 'particular illusion'. On the contrary that attention has to be called the very fundamental illusion.

jnanagni said...

venkat,
as you recommend in the last paragraph of your above comment:
firstly we have to turn off/eliminate/dismiss this ego. After that any speculation about the conduct/behaviour of awareness in egoless state out of sheer curiosity will be unnecessary.

Ken said...

Venkat wrote:
"Having a concept / expectation of what happens in liberation is a preconception for the ego to cling to, as opposed to being wholly detached and desireless, even for liberation."

Yes, but I think it can work the opposite way as well. (And we may be seeing that with Dragos' recent comments.)

In other words, the viewpoint of the result of sadhana being a negative thing - the end of the universe - a cold, dark void - what often comes to mind from the Buddhist terms "void" or "nirvana", can cause students to not be enthusiastic about practice, which would hinder realisation.

Ken said...

Foolish tenth man,

One of the points of the story that gave us your name, is that (as Ramana and Sadhu Om have told us), bondage has never existed, and the ego has never existed. So then if it is also true that the world's existence is dependent on the existence of the ego, then the world has never existed.

What that means is that there will not be a change in what exists, after realisation. The world will exist just as much as it does now.

eight eighth said...

Ken,
"ego and world have never existed."
Consquently that statements have never existed too.
Why care about what exists "after realisation" when non-realisation has never existed ?
To conjecture about the view of jnana or to rely on such conjectures is not helpful in practice. We seemingly ignorant ones should primarily try to eradicate our ignorance in order to know and be the real.

Foolish Tenth Man said...

Ken

[...]In other words, the viewpoint of the result of sadhana being a negative thing - the end of the universe - a cold, dark void - what often comes to mind from the Buddhist terms "void" or "nirvana", can cause students to not be enthusiastic about practice, which would hinder realisation.

Each one of us cannot but help love that state which involves the 'end of the universe'. I am referring to the state of deep dreamless sleep. No matter how pleasurable or miserable our existence in this world is, each one of willingly foregoes all thoughts about the same every time we go to sleep. The void of sleep - which more accurately is only a void of transitive awareness - does not affect the intransitive awareness which is all that remains in sleep.

As a student of the incomparable teachings of our guru, it behooves us to be conceptually clear about the teachings, based upon an impartial analysis of our experience of three alternating states of waking, dream and sleep. The result of the sadhana - from the perspective of this ego - will be the clear experience of intransitive awareness and consequent cessation of all transitive awareness. In other words, it would be a state similar to sleep due to absence of transitive awareness, but different from it in that there will be full clarity of self awareness, which seems to be lacking in sleep.


[...]What that means is that there will not be a change in what exists, after realisation. The world will exist just as much as it does now.

What exits is immutable, so it will never undergo a change. The world - which is nothing but an aggregate of changing phenomena - is something which seems to exist in the view of this ego, just like a snake mistaken for a rope exist in the view of the onlooker. The world at best only seems to exist, whereas our self awareness exists eternally in all states, immutable and self shining.

adhisthana said...

Foolish Tenth Man,
how do you know what the world is ?
How do you know that our self-awareness exists eternally in the three alternating states of waking, dream and sleep ?

Foolish Tenth Man said...

adhistana

Please ignore this comment if your questions were rhetorical. Following is my response to them.


how do you know what the world is ?

In our experience, the gross world is a series of changing sense impressions. Sense impressions include sight, sound, smell, taste, and tactile feeling. There is nothing in our experience which can point to the existence of this world apart from our experience of it from our sense impressions. The master of these senses is the mind, which is what ultimately experiences and interprets them. A distinguishing power of this mind is its power of attention. It can choose what impressions to experience. For instance, if we are engrossed in reading, we may not hear someone sitting right beside us calling our name in an audible voice. Moreover, it is the mind which decides how to interpret the impressions.

We may agree that mind is what thinks all thoughts. For instance, our experience of dreams, based upon our memory of it now, is series of thoughts thought by our mind. Since we now concur that dreams, while they certainly seemed to be real while we experienced them, are unreal, we have to doubt the veracity of our assumption in the existence of this world independent of our experience of it. This statement is augmented by our non-experience of a world in the state of sleep, where we continue to experience the consciousness of our own existence.

In conclusion, the world is
1. not eternal
2. not immutable
3. not certainly known to itself


How do you know that our self-awareness exists eternally in the three alternating states of waking, dream and sleep ?

We can only answer this question by considering who experiences these states. We will concur that it is 'I' that am now awake, 'I' who dreamed last night, and 'I' who slept peacefully. Thus, our consciousness of our existence, or our self-awareness, exists eternally in the tree alternating states of waking, dream, and sleep.

adhisthana said...

Foolish Tenth Man,
thanks for your answer.
Regarding the conclusion what the world is, I do not concur with what you say in point 3. because the physical/material world as such seems to have no awareness/consciousness to know itself.
I agree on your statement that self-awareness exists in all the three states.
But could this 'I' as the ego-mind have "slept peacefully" though it was not present but absent then.
What do we call "sleep" ?
Who is actually the sleeper or the sleeping subject ?
The gross body and some of its functions are resting in sleep. The dreaming ego-mind had its dream and did not sleep. The eternal presence of our real self-awareness does not sleep at all, because it is present permanently. Can we call the simultaneous absence of this ego-mind during dreamless sleep as "sleep" ? Which sheats (of the five)are really envolved in that what we call sleep ?
There is obviously a need for an exact analyse/clarification about the term "sleep". We should address that questions to Michael James in order to shed light on that topic.

Foolish Tenth Man said...

adhisthana

What I wrote in point 3, seems to be the same as your take on the subject, namely that we can never know for certain that the world experiences its own existence. However, an insentient computer can be provided with digital 'senses' like thermometer, anemometer, and the like which enables it to experience and know some of the phenomena in the world. Thus to be rigorous in expressing a logical statement, I presented my argument in the words '[the world is] not certainly known to itself', which accounts for the fact that even if a machine can 'sense' temperature like our skin can, it is not certain to know that it exists, unlike our eternal self-awareness.


Sri Michael James may reply to your questions when he finds time. Presently, I will peruse some of the articles in this free-for-all treasure trove of the essence of vedantic teachings provided to us as a raft to cross this ocean of action to the shore of repose. I may respond to your other queries afterwards.

adhara said...

Michael,
section 9. The world is real not as a finite set of forms but only as its formless substratum
"Likewise, according to Bhagavan what we now mistake to be this world is only our actual self, which alone is real and which is just pure self-awareness, so the world is an illusory appearance superimposed upon our actual self, and hence our actual self is the ādhāra that underlies and supports the false appearance of the world."
The question arises whether our actual self is aware of being the adhara that underlies and supports the false appearance of the world.
If so (why) does it continue willingly to be the adhara ?

adhara said...

Michael,
may I add to the above comment:
Does not our self-awareness, which alone is what is real, and which is therefore the adhara that underlies and supports everything that seems to exist but does not actually exist, appear as an accomplice for making possible that false appearance -at least in the view of this "not knowing" ego ?

Ken said...

Adhara,

In everything that I've read in Advaita Vedanta, including from Ramana, the "why" is called a mystery.

"Q: What is the purpose of creation?

Ramana: It is to give rise to this question. Investigate the answer to this question, and finally abide in the supreme or rather the primal source of all, the Self. The investigation will resolve itself into a quest for the Self and it will cease only after the non-Self is sifted away and the Self realized in its purity and glory.
There may be any number of theories of creation. All of them extend outwardly. There will be no limit to them because time and space are unlimited. They are however only in the mind. If you see the mind, time and space are transcended and the Self is realized."

adhara said...

Michael,
section 10. as our actual self, God does not do anything
"As he actually is, God is just our real self, which never does anything or knows anything, but just is, so as such he has no function whatsoever."
"...happen by the special power of his mere presence, just as all the life processes...due the mere presence of the sun:"
To know how God actually is is possible only by being God itself which means to be aware of nothing other than himself. To know that he is just pure self-awareness, which is intransitive, can alone be called real knowledge. That knowledge we can have only when our ego is merged within and lost in him. How can we bear the misery to vegetate without (having) that knowledge ?

adhara said...

Ken,
as you seem to suggest all "why"-questions should be dissolved in the source of the mind and of all.

adhara said...

Michael,
section 12.
Being always just as we really are and aware of nothing other than ourself - what a luxury ! It seems to be sheer extravagance. If I could at least get a taste of that flower of the divine nectar of immortality.

adhara said...

Michael,
section 10.
"In fact it never decides or does anything, because it is just pure self-awareness, which is intransitive, so it is aware of nothing other than itself. Only as the separate entity that he seems to be in the view of our outward-turned mind does God know anything, do anything or decide anything."
It sounds fascinatingly that we in our outward-turned mind would have a source from which we can assume or rather know, that "God in fact never decides or does anything, because it is just pure self-awareness, which is intransitive, so it is aware of nothing other than itself."
Such a source must be God itself.

unmai unarcci said...

Michael,
section 14. Grace is our infinite love for ourself...
What you write here is only grace, 'doing without doing'. Thanks.

unmai unarcci said...

Michael,
section 16. Our actual self does not look at or see anything other than itself
What you say"...but what is looking through our eyes ...is only our ego and not our actual self." is hardly to believe when we receive or imagine the gloriously bright look of the radiant eyes of Bhagavan Sri Ramana' big photography which is seen on the horthern wall in the new large dining hall at Sri Ramanasramam.

paramartha said...

Michael,
section 18.
last paragraph:
'What actually exists is only atma-svarupa[our own real self]'.
'...we are the one beginningless, endless and undivided sat-chit-ananda.'
We are just what is (ulladu), and what is always
is just as it is."
So after reading of all this teaching I do still not know who I am.
Is there any hope ?

ahankara said...

Today morning again I could not prevent my form-projecting ego from rising.
I cannot confidently hope that tomorrow morning this ego will not arise and grasp this gross body again. Even when this gross body would die in this night this ego would grasp a more subtle one (suksma sarira) - if I am not in error. Therefore during the lifetime of this gross body I will hardly experience ceasing to rise as this finite form-grasping ego.

Ken said...

Ramana Maharshi once stated:

"The ego in its purity is experienced in the intervals between two states or between two thoughts."

So, one has far more than one chance per day.

ahankara said...

Ken,
what Sri Ramana said is surely correct. Regrettably till now I (this ego-mind) did not develop the required keen vigilance to experience with sufficiently clear consciousness the underlying stream of pure awareness in the short intervals between two successive states of consciousness let alone between two successive thoughts. Therefore the mentioned many chances per day are opportunities given only theoretically - at least for me.

Ken said...

Ahankara -

I have never tried the "between two states" method.

In the "between two thoughts" method, the practice is not doing anything, but rather just "being" and merely paying attention.

In between two thoughts, there only remains that which is always present.

If we reflect on the only thing which is always present throughout our life, and is still there between two thoughts, then just "be" that.

ahankara said...

Ken,
thank you. I will do my best in trying to be vigilantly self-attentive, that is just being.

commentator said...

Michael,
may I describe a quite technical problem at commenting in the box "Leave your comment" which happens to me since a few days very often:
After choosing an identity and marking with a cross the square box in front of "I'm not a robot" if clicking on the button "Preview" always I am confronted with the answer "Bad Request Error 400".
Could you please inquire at blogger how to end that problem with the "Preview" box ?