Tuesday, 25 October 2016

The difference between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda is not just semantic but substantive

I wrote my previous article, As we actually are, we do nothing and are aware of nothing other than ourself, in reply to various comments written by a friend called Ken, and in reply to it he wrote another comment in which he argued:
Thank you for your thorough research on these topics, they are a significant aid in understanding Ramana’s teaching.

[…]

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.
Therefore in this article I will try to explain to Ken why these arguments of his do not adequately address the issue I was discussing in my previous article, namely the confusion that arises if we believe that our actual self veils itself and sees itself as numerous phenomena.
  1. Though vivarta vāda seems to be true so long as we seem to be this ego, when we dissolve this ego by investigating ourself we will find that ajāta alone is true
  2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 4: as we actually are, we are never aware of forms or anything other than ourself
  3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 6: the world is perceived only by our mind, so it does not exist independent of this mind
  4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: all phenomena seem to exist only when we rise as this ego, so no phenomenon exists independent of this ego
  5. In an absolute sense, ajāta is the sole reality, and therefore not an alternative or parallel reality
  6. What is unborn (ajāta) is only pure self-awareness, and since it is the infinite whole, nothing else actually exists
  7. Ajāta is the experience that there never was any dreamer and hence no dream has ever occurred
  8. Ajāta is the state in which there never was any ego to perceive any illusion at all
  9. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35: spiritual accomplishment is not acquiring supernatural powers but only knowing and being what is real
  10. So long as we seem to be this ego, we need to be taught and to make effort to investigate what we actually are
  11. We need to distinguish what actually exists from what seems to exist
  12. The veil of self-ignorance seems to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are
1. Though vivarta vāda seems to be true so long as we seem to be this ego, when we dissolve this ego by investigating ourself we will find that ajāta alone is true

Ken, when you say ‘it seems to me that we are getting into an area ruled by semantics’ and then offer the various arguments you have given in this comment, what you are in effect saying is that the difference between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda is merely semantic and not substantive. Though you did not actually mention either vivarta vāda or ajāta vāda in this comment, your arguments (both in this comment and in earlier ones) seem to be rooted in a failure to appreciate the importance of the distinction between them, and this was why I tried to explain this distinction in the final section of my previous article, 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.

According to vivarta vāda our ego and all the phenomena of which it is aware are just a false appearance, like everything that we experience in a dream, whereas according to ajāta vāda no ego or any phenomena have ever existed even as a false appearance. The former is true from the perspective of ourself as this ego, so it is true only in a relative sense, whereas the latter is true from the perspective of ourself as we actually are, so it alone is what is ultimately and absolutely true.

These are therefore two diametrically opposed perspectives, because ajāta vāda is a direct contradiction of vivarta vāda, since vivarta vāda acknowledges that this ego and all these phenomena seem to exist, whereas ajāta vāda denies that any such things ever seem to exist at all. However there is a logical connection between these two opposing viewpoints, because in order for anything to appear or seem to exist, there must be something in whose view it seems to exist, and that something is only ourself as this ego, which according to vivarta vāda is itself a false appearance, and hence as Bhagavan taught us if we (this ego) investigate ourself, we will find that there is actually no such thing as this ego, and therefore there is nothing in whose view anything else could seem to exist. Therefore paradoxically the logical conclusion of vivarta vāda is only ajāta vāda, even though ajāta vāda directly contradicts vivarta vāda.

However, though vivarta vāda is completely untrue from the perspective of ourself as we actually are, it seems to be true so long as we seem to be this ego. Therefore though Bhagavan explained that our ultimate experience will be only ajāta, he taught us that until we experience ourself as we really are, we should accept vivarta vāda as the most appropriate and beneficial working hypothesis.

Therefore Bhagavan’s core teachings as expressed in Nāṉ Yār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Upadēśa Undiyār and elsewhere are in accordance with vivarta vāda, and (as indicated in verse 83 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai) the reason why he taught from this standpoint is explained by him in the opening clause of the first verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘நாம் உலகம் காண்டலால்’ (nām ulaham kāṇḍalāl), ‘because we see the world’. That is, because we perceive phenomena, in our view both phenomena and ourself as the perceiver of them seem to exist, but according to vivarta vāda, though they seem to exist, they do not actually exist, so they are just an illusory appearance (vivarta).

How then can we free ourself from this illusion? An illusion seems to exist only in the view of whoever perceives it, and the one who perceives all these phenomena is only ourself as this ego, which according to Bhagavan is itself an illusory appearance — something that does not actually exist even though it seems to exist so long as it is aware of any phenomena. Therefore the root cause of all this illusion is our ego, so we can free ourself from all illusion only by freeing ourself from this illusory and self-deluded ego.

If this ego, the perceiver of all phenomena, were what we actually are, we would not be able to free ourself from it, and hence we would be forever bound by illusion, but since it is not what we actually are but only an illusory appearance superimposed upon ourself, we can free ourself from it by investigating what we actually are. However, though it is not what we actually are, it is (in the view of ourself as this ego) what we now seem to be, so in order to investigate what we actually are we simply need to observe ourself (who now seem to be this ego) very carefully.

If we look at an illusory snake carefully enough, we will see that it is not actually a snake but just a rope. Likewise, if we look at this illusory ego carefully enough, we will see that we are not actually an ego but just pure self-awareness, which alone actually exists and which is therefore aware of nothing other than itself.

2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 4: as we actually are, we are never aware of forms or anything other than ourself

I know you already understand most of what I wrote in the previous few paragraphs, but where your understanding goes wrong is that you seem to assume that since the ego does not actually exist, what perceives all these phenomena is ourself as we actually are, and that therefore even when this ego is eradicated we will continue to perceive phenomena. This is not correct, because as Bhagavan clearly explains in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, our actual self is ‘அந்தமிலா கண்’ (antam-ilā kaṇ), the ‘limitless eye’, which means that it is infinite — and hence formless — awareness, so it can never see any form whatsoever, as he implies in the second and third sentences of that verse by asking rhetorically: ‘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]?’

That is, according to the principle that he taught us in the fourth sentence of this verse, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), which means ‘Can what is seen be otherwise [in nature] than the eye [that sees it]?’, the nature of whatever is perceived cannot be other than the nature of what perceives it. Therefore, since what we actually are is only infinite and formless awareness, we cannot as such be aware of anything that is not infinite and formless, so we are eternally aware only of ourself and of nothing else whatsoever.

What Bhagavan teaches us in this verse is not mere semantics, but is one of the fundamental principles of his teachings, so let us again carefully consider what he says in it:
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.
As this ego we are aware of forms only because we rise as this ego by grasping and identifying ourself with the form of a body, and so long as we are aware of ourself as a form we cannot be aware of ourself as the formless self-awareness that we actually are. However, if we turn within to investigate what we actually are and if we do so keenly enough, we will discover that we are actually just formless self-awareness, and that as such we have never been aware of any forms whatsoever.

Every form is a phenomenon, and every phenomenon is a form of one kind or another, so what Bhagavan refers to in this verse and elsewhere as ‘form’ is phenomena of any kind whatsoever. Since pure self-awareness is infinite and hence formless, it is not a phenomenon, and it cannot be aware of any phenomena. All it is ever aware of is only itself — the அந்தமிலா கண் (antam-ilā kaṇ), the ‘limitless eye’ or infinite awareness that it actually is.

What is aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever is only our ego, because — though this ego is just an ‘உருவற்ற பேய்’ (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy) or ‘formless phantom’ (as Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), since like an illusory phantom it does not actually exist — it comes into existence and stands only by grasping a form (a body) as itself, and consequently it is able to perceive only forms or phenomena.

Since all phenomena seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of ourself as this ego, and since this ego itself is not real as such, all phenomena are just an illusory appearance. That is, according to the principle ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can what is seen be otherwise [in nature] than the eye [that sees it]?’, since this ego is just an illusory appearance, whatever it perceives is likewise just an illusory appearance. And according to the same principle, since the pure, infinite and formless self-awareness that we actually are is alone what actually exists, it cannot perceive any forms or phenomena, but can only be aware of itself, because nothing other than itself actually exists or is either infinite or formless.

That is, since our actual self is formless, it can be aware only of what is formless (namely itself) and can never see any forms whatsoever. Likewise, since it is infinite, it can be aware only of what is infinite (namely itself) and can never see anything that is finite. And since it alone actually exists, it can be aware only of what actually exists (namely itself) and can never see anything that merely seems to exist.

What can see forms is only our ego, because it comes into existence and stands only by grasping the form of a body as itself. It cannot see what is formless, because having risen as a form it has overlooked its real nature, which is the formless self-awareness that we actually are. Since it is finite, it can see only what is finite (namely phenomena) and can never see the infinite whole. And since it does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, it can only be aware of what seems to exist and can never be aware of what actually exists (or more precisely, it can never be aware of it as it is).

Therefore vivarta vāda seems to be true only in the experience and perspective of ourself as this ego, and it is applicable only to this ego, whereas what is true in the experience and perspective of ourself as we actually are is only ajāta. This is why Bhagavan said that his own experience is that ajāta alone is true, but he taught vivarta vāda for our benefit, because though in his view this ego and all these phenomena do not seem to exist at all, in our view they do seem to exist, at least as illusory appearances.

As we actually are we are never aware of anything other than ourself, and since we are eternal and hence beginningless, this experience of ourself as we actually are called ajāta (which means not born, not begotten, not arisen or not appeared), but as this ego we perceive the appearance of phenomena and are consequently aware of ourself as a separate perceiver, and according to Bhagavan this experience is just vivarta (an illusion or false appearance). Understanding this and the distinction between these two kinds of experience (of which one alone is real and the other utterly unreal) is crucial, because unless we understand it correctly our understanding of his teachings as a whole will be confused and insufficiently coherent.

That is, if we imagine that as our actual self we are ever aware of anything other than ourself even to the slightest degree or in any form whatsoever, that would mean that we are actually subject to ignorance and bondage and hence inherently imperfect, in which case we would never be able to escape permanently from the state of ignorance. One of the most fundamental principles not only of Bhagavan’s teachings but also of the entire advaita philosophy is that our actual self is brahman, which is eternally free and never subject to ignorance, so since Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), which means ‘awareness of multiplicity is ignorance’, and in verse 12 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ, ‘நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம் அன்றி இன்று ஆம் அஞ்ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa ñāṉam aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu ām aññāṉam), which means ‘ignorance, which is nothing other than awareness that sees as many’, it should be clear to us that as we actually are we are never aware of anything other than ourself alone (since being aware of anything else would entail being aware of multiplicity, which is ignorance).

3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 6: the world is perceived only by our mind, so it does not exist independent of this mind

Not only in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu but also in many other verses Bhagavan has clearly indicated that what sees phenomena is only our ego or mind. For example in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
உலகைம் புலன்க ளுருவேறன் றவ்வைம்
புலனைம் பொறிக்குப் புலனா — முலகைமன
மொன்றைம் பொறிவாயா லோர்ந்திடுத லான்மனத்தை
யன்றியுல குண்டோ வறை.

ulahaim pulaṉga ḷuruvēṟaṉ ḏṟavvaim
pulaṉaim poṟikkup pulaṉā — mulahaimaṉa
moṉḏṟaim poṟivāyā lōrndiḍuda lāṉmaṉattai
yaṉḏṟiyula kuṇḍō vaṟai
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

அன்வயம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். மனம் ஒன்று உலகை ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. maṉam oṉḏṟu ulahai aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

English translation: The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-data, not anything else. Those five [kinds of] sense-data are sensory phenomena [related] to the five senses. Since the mind alone perceives the world by way of the five senses, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?
Since the world is perceived only by our mind, it does not exist independent of this mind, so when our mind is destroyed by the infinite clarity of pure self-awareness, the illusory appearance of this or any other world will cease to exist. Even now when it seems to exist, it does not actually exist, because it seems to exist only in the view of this mind, and if we investigate this mind we will find that there is no such thing, as Bhagavan says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār.

When Bhagavan asks rhetorically, ‘மனம் ஒன்று உலகை ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ?’ (a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. maṉam oṉḏṟu ulahai aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō?), which means ‘Since the mind alone perceives the world by way of the five senses, is there [any] world besides [other than or without] the mind?’, he clearly implies firstly that no world exists independent of the one mind that perceives it, and secondly that no world exists in the clear view of ourself as we actually are.

4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: all phenomena seem to exist only when we rise as this ego, so no phenomenon exists independent of this ego

Bhagavan implies this even more emphatically 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.
அனைத்தும் (aṉaittum) and யாவும் (yāvum) both mean ‘everything’ or ‘all’, which in this context refers to all phenomena, which means everything other than ourself. Since all phenomena are perceived only by our ego, they do not exist independent of it, so they seem to exist only when we rise and stand as this ego, and they do not exist at all (even as illusory appearances) when we do not mistake ourself to be this ego.

Though this may initially be hard for us to accept, because we are so accustomed to assuming that the world exists independent of our perception of it, what Bhagavan says in this verse actually tallies with our experience, because whenever we rise and stand as this ego (namely in waking and dream) we are always aware of phenomena, and whenever we do not rise as this ego (as in sleep) we are not aware of any phenomena. Since we do not have any adequate reason to suppose that anything exists independent of our perception of it, we have no adequate reason to suppose that any phenomena exist except when we rise as this ego to perceive them.

In a dream we perceive phenomena, just as we do now in this state that we take to be waking, and so long as we are dreaming we assume that all the physical phenomena we perceive around us exist even when we do not perceive them, but as soon as we wake up we recognise that they were all just our own mental projections and therefore seemed to exist only because we perceived them. Likewise, though we now habitually assume that all the physical phenomena we perceive around us exist even when we do not perceive them, according to Bhagavan our present state is just a dream, so none of these phenomena are any more real than whatever we perceived in any other dream, and hence they do not exist independent of our perception of them.

So who is it who perceives all the phenomena that appear in this or any other dream? It is only ourself as this ego, because only when we experience ourself as this ego do any phenomena appear. Therefore this ego alone is what perceives all phenomena, and in its absence no phenomena exist or even seem to exist.

If phenomena could seem to exist in the view of ourself as we actually are, that would mean that they could appear even in the absence of our ego, but that is not in accordance with our experience, because we have never perceived any phenomena except when we have been mistaking ourself to be this finite ego. This is why Bhagavan always insisted that the seer or perceiver of all phenomena is not ourself as we actually are but only ourself as this ego that we now seem to be.

Therefore since this ego is just an illusory apparition that disappears when we look at it sufficiently keenly, in the clear view of ourself as we actually are no ego or any phenomena have ever existed or even seemed to exist. Therefore the experience of our actual self is always only ajāta, the truth that nothing other than ourself has ever appeared, been born or seemed to exist.

5. In an absolute sense, ajāta is the sole reality, and therefore not an alternative or parallel reality

Let us now consider more carefully some of the arguments you have offered in the comment I cited at the beginning of this article.

After saying that ‘we are getting into an area ruled by semantics’, you proceed to discuss several analogies that illustrate what you consider to be the relationship between this universe that we are now aware of and ‘a universe where there was never any appearance of temporary phenomena, never any maya, never any mistaken identification, never any ego ... just satchitananda’, as if these were two alternative and parallel realities, the first of which corresponds to vivarta (illusory appearance) and the other to ajāta (absolute non-appearance). However, none of the analogies you mention adequately illustrate their relationship, because there is actually no such relationship, since from the absolute perspective of ajāta it is the sole reality (because it alone exists) and vivarta is entirely unreal (because it does not exist at all). Only from the relative perspective of vivarta vāda does it seem to be a precursor to ajāta, even though ajāta is a complete denial of any vivarta at all.

That is, if ajāta is true, it is not an alternative or parallel reality but the only reality, and in it or beside it there is no room at all for vivarta vāda or for anything else whatsoever. This is something that defies all logic and that our mind can never conceive, but according to Bhagavan and to various ancient texts it is the ultimate and absolute truth (pāramārthika satya). It is inconceivable and defies logic because it denies the very existence of our mind even as an illusory appearance, so all we can do now is to accept at least tentatively that it is the absolute truth, and therefore investigate this mind of ours to see whether it actually exists.

Whereas analogies can be used to illustrate vivarta vāda, no analogy could ever illustrate ajāta vāda, since according to ajāta vāda what exists is only one infinite, eternal, immutable and indivisible awareness, and nothing else has ever seemed to exist at all. Therefore if we try to use any analogy to explain ajāta, we will certainly not be doing justice to it.

Regarding ajāta we have a simple choice: either we accept that in an absolute sense it is the only truth, and that all other viewpoints are therefore not actually true at all, even though they may be seemingly true and beneficial from the perspective of ourself as this ego, as Bhagavan has assured us; or we do not accept it, in which case we will be unable to adequately understand various important aspects of his teachings, and hence our understanding of them will not be entirely coherent.

6. What is unborn (ajāta) is only pure self-awareness, and since it is the infinite whole, nothing else actually exists

The first analogy you give to illustrate the relationship between what you take to be two alternative and parallel realities, namely vivarta and ajāta, is the reality of Sherlock Holmes:
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.
This is not a particularly appropriate analogy to illustrate the relationship between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda, but if we want to use it for this purpose we would have to analyse and interpret it as follows:

In our present world Sherlock Holmes does not exist and is not real as an historical character, but he does exist and is real as a fictional character (an idea), whereas in the fictional world created by Conan Doyle he exists and is real as an historical character, so in neither of these two worlds is he entirely non-existent or unreal. Only in a hypothetical world in which neither Conan Doyle nor anyone else had ever created this fictional character would he be entirely non-existent and hence unreal.

As analysed by Bhagavan, every possible creation theory belongs to one of three classes, namely sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda (also known as krama sṛṣṭi or pariṇāma vāda), dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (also known as yugapat sṛṣṭi or vivarta vāda) and ajāta vāda. The vast majority of creation theories, whether religious, scientific or philosophical, are each a form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, which is the contention that creation (sṛṣṭi) precedes and eventually results in perception (dṛṣṭi), and such theories are therefore called krama sṛṣṭi (gradual, progressive or step-by-step creation) and pariṇāma vāda, the contention that the world is as it is as a result of some kind of pariṇāma, which means change, transformation, development, evolution or becoming, because they consider that the world as it is now is the result of a gradual transformation, development or evolution of some original substance (such as brahman, an idea or word of God, prakṛti, primordial matter or physical energy). Such theories are all based on the assumption that the world exists independent of our perception of it, which is an assumption unsupported by any adequate evidence, whereas according to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda perception (dṛṣṭi) is what causes creation (sṛṣṭi), because the world seems to exist only when we perceive it, and hence this view is also called yugapat sṛṣṭi (simultaneous creation), because perception and creation occur simultaneously, and vivarta vāda, because what is created by perception is not real but just an illusory appearance (vivarta). In contrast to both of these two classes of creation theory, ajāta vāda is the contention that no creation has ever occurred even as an illusory appearance, because what actually exists is immutable and is therefore ever as it is, and hence in its clear and unchanging awareness no event such as creation, appearance or perception could ever occur.

The fictional world in which Sherlock Holmes exists as a real person is analogous to sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, because though all phenomena are just an illusory appearance and hence fabricated like a fiction, sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda considers them to be real; our present world in which Sherlock Holmes exists only as a fictional character is analogous to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda considers all phenomena to be just an illusory appearance; and the hypothetical world in which neither Conan Doyle nor any of the fictional characters created by him have ever existed even as ideas is analogous to ajāta vāda, because in such a world Conan Doyle is non-existent like our ego, and the fictional characters created by him are therefore non-existent like the phenomena projected and perceived by this ego.

However, such a hypothetical world is not an adequate analogy for ajāta, because using it as an analogy in this way implies that ajāta is just another alternative reality, whereas it is in fact the only reality, because nothing else actually exists or could ever exist at all. Therefore it is not like a world in which just a single person and his ideas do not exist, but like a vast space in which nothing exists or ever could exist, because it is just pure self-awareness — since nothing other than pure self-awareness is unborn (ajāta) — and in pure self-awareness nothing other than itself exists.

Pure self-awareness, which alone is ajāta, is one infinite, eternal, immutable and indivisible space, other than which nothing can exist, because nothing could exist outside or independent of it, since it is infinite, and there is absolutely no room for anything else to exist inside it, since it is absolute fullness (pūrṇatva). Since it is the one infinite whole (paripūrṇa vastu), what it is full of is only itself, which is infinite being (sat), infinite awareness (cit), infinite happiness (ānanda) and infinite love (priya). Therefore there is nothing that could ever be compared to it, and hence no analogy could ever do justice to it.

7. Ajāta is the experience that there never was any dreamer and hence no dream has ever occurred

The second analogy you give to illustrate your understanding of vivarta and ajāta is dream:
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.
When we wake up from a dream, it would not be correct to say ‘nothing ever happened’, because though nothing may seem to have happened in our waking world, in our mind the dream did happen. Therefore as you say there is a difference between a sleep in which we dreamt and another sleep in which we did not dream. However this is not what we need to infer from our dream experience, and it does not illustrate the nature of the experience of ajāta.

Everything that we experience in a dream is created or projected only by own mind, and according to Bhagavan our present state is just another dream, as also is any other state in which we are aware of phenomena, so whatever phenomena we may experience in any state are all only our own mental creations. Hence according to vivarta vāda all phenomena are just illusory appearances, like all the phenomena we experience in a dream.

But who perceives all these phenomena? It is only ourself as this ego, so the illusory appearance of any phenomena can occur only if there is actually an ego to perceive it. However, according to vivarta vāda not only are all phenomena just an illusory appearance, but so too is this ego, and this ego seems to exist only when it is aware of phenomena of one kind or another. Therefore if we (this ego) investigate ourself by focusing our entire attention on ourself alone, thereby ceasing to be aware of any phenomena whatsoever, this ego will dissolve and disappear, and what will remain shining clearly is only pure intransitive self-awareness, which is what we actually are.

The reason our ego disappears when we investigate it in this way is that it does not actually exist even now, but merely seems to exist when we are looking elsewhere instead of at ourself alone. Therefore when this ego is annihilated by self-investigation, our experience will not be that there was once an ego that has now ceased to exist, but that there was never any ego at all, and that there was accordingly never any illusory appearance of anything whatsoever. This is the experience of ajāta.

Therefore ajāta is not like a random night of sleep in which we happened not to dream, in contrast of other nights when we happened to dream, but is the experience that there never was any dreamer and hence no dream has ever occurred or ever could occur.

8. Ajāta is the state in which there never was any ego to perceive any illusion at all

The third analogy you give to illustrate your understanding of vivarta and ajāta is the illusion of mistaking a rope to be a snake:
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 we recognise a rope as a rope, no illusion has occurred, but if we mistake a rope to be a snake, the appearance or seeming existence of the snake is an illusion. Obviously these two conditions are different, as you say, but understanding this difference does not help us to understand the truth of ajāta.

We may on one occasion recognise a rope as a rope, but so long as we remain as a perceiver of ropes, we are liable at any time to mistake one to be a snake. However, if we did not ever exist as the perceiver of anything, we would not be liable to make any such mistake, nor would we be liable to perceive any other illusions of any kind whatsoever. The state of never being a perceiver illustrates the nature of ajāta more accurately than the condition of being a perceiver who is fortunate enough to recognise a rope as a rope instead of mistaking it to be a snake, because ajāta is the experience of pure self-awareness, in which there is not and never could be any ego to perceive anything.

9. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35: spiritual accomplishment is not acquiring supernatural powers but only knowing and being what is real

After saying that there is a difference between recognising a rope as a rope and mistaking it to be a snake, you wrote:
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.”
Though the extract of a translation of verse 35 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu that you cited here is from the translation of the kaliveṇbā version by Sadhu Om and me that is printed on page 74 of Sri Ramanopadesa Noonmalai, it was not printed there exactly as we had translated it, so the opening words should not be ‘The subsided mind having subsided, knowing and being the Reality’ but ‘The mind subsiding, knowing and being the reality’, and the final sentence should not be ‘(Therefore) know and be (as) you (the Reality) are’ but ‘[Therefore] know and be you [the reality]’.

Without the extra words that Bhagavan added in the kaliveṇbā version in order to join all the verses together as a single verse for ease of memorising for recitation, this verse as he originally composed it was:
சித்தமா யுள்பொருளைத் தேர்ந்திருத்தல் சித்திபிற
சித்தியெலாஞ் சொப்பனமார் சித்திகளே — நித்திரைவிட்
டோர்ந்தா லவைமெய்யோ வுண்மைநிலை நின்றுபொய்ம்மை
தீர்ந்தார் தியங்குவரோ தேர்.

siddhamā yuḷporuḷait tērndiruttal sidddipiṟa
siddhiyelāñ soppaṉamār siddhikaḷē — niddiraiviṭ
ṭōrndā lavaimeyyō vuṇmainilai niṉḏṟupoymmai
tīrndār tiyaṅguvarō tēr
.

பதச்சேதம்: சித்தமாய் உள் பொருளை தேர்ந்து இருத்தல் சித்தி. பிற சித்தி எலாம் சொப்பனம் ஆர் சித்திகளே; நித்திரை விட்டு ஓர்ந்தால், அவை மெய்யோ? உண்மை நிலை நின்று பொய்ம்மை தீர்ந்தார் தியங்குவரோ? தேர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): siddhamāy uḷ poruḷai tērndu iruttal siddhi. piṟa siddhi elām soppaṉam ār siddhigaḷ-ē; niddirai viṭṭu ōrndāl, avai meyyō? uṇmai nilai niṉḏṟu poymmai tīrndār tiyaṅguvarō? tēr.

அன்வயம்: சித்தமாய் உள் பொருளை தேர்ந்து இருத்தல் சித்தி. பிற சித்தி எலாம் சொப்பனம் ஆர் சித்திகளே; நித்திரை விட்டு ஓர்ந்தால், அவை மெய்யோ? உண்மை நிலை நின்று பொய்ம்மை தீர்ந்தார் தியங்குவரோ? தேர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): siddhamāy uḷ poruḷai tērndu iruttal siddhi. piṟa siddhi elām soppaṉam ār siddhigaḷ-ē; niddirai viṭṭu ōrndāl, avai meyyō? uṇmai nilai niṉḏṟu poymmai tīrndār tiyaṅguvarō? tēr.

English translation: Knowing and being poruḷ [the one real substance, which is oneself], which exists as siddham [what is always accomplished], is [real] siddhi [accomplishment]. All other siddhis are just siddhis experienced in dream; if one wakes up leaving the dream, are they real? Will those who, standing firmly in the real state, have left unreality [or illusion] be deluded [by such unreal siddhis]? Know.
In the kaliveṇbā version Bhagavan added two words before the beginning of this verse and two and a half words are the end. The two words he added at the beginning are ‘ஒண்டி உளம்’ (oṇḍi ulam), which means ‘the mind uniting [merging, taking shelter or concealing itself in]’ (and which therefore implies ‘the mind subsiding’), and at the end he changed the final word, தேர் (tēr), which is an imperative form of a verb meaning ‘know’, to ‘தேர்ந்து இரு நீ’ (tērndu iru nī), which literally means ‘knowing be you’ and which in this context implies ‘you know and be [poruḷ, the real substance]’, because ‘தேர்ந்து இரு’ (tērndu iru) refers to the phrase in the first line ‘பொருளை தேர்ந்து இருத்தல்’ (poruḷai tērndu iruttal), ‘knowing and being poruḷ’.

Therefore the meaning of the kaliveṇbā version of this verse is:
The mind merging, knowing and being poruḷ [the one real substance, which is oneself], which exists as siddham [what is always accomplished], is [real] siddhi [accomplishment]. All other siddhis are just siddhis experienced in dream; if one wakes up leaving the dream, are they real? Will those who, standing firmly in the real state, have left unreality [or illusion] be deluded [by such unreal siddhis]? You know and be [poruḷ, the real substance].
In the final sentence of this kaliveṇbā version, ‘தேர்ந்து இரு நீ’ (tērndu iru nī), தேர்ந்து (tērndu) is a participle that means ‘knowing’ and இரு (iru) is an imperative that means ‘be’, so ‘தேர்ந்து இரு’ (tērndu iru) means ‘knowing be’ or ‘know and be’. நீ () means ‘you’ and is the subject of these two verbs, so ‘தேர்ந்து இரு நீ’ (tērndu iru nī) means ‘you know and be’, but in Tamil as in English it is not necessary or usual to include ‘you’ in an imperative statement, because it is implied, so its inclusion here adds emphasis to the imperative (just as in English ‘you come here’ would be a more emphatic order than ‘come here’).

The Sanskrit word siddhi means accomplishment, but it is often used to refer to supernatural powers, which are commonly believed to be spiritual accomplishments, so in this verse Bhagavan repudiates this belief by pointing out that supernatural powers or anything else that we may accomplish in this waking state are no more real than such powers or accomplishments in a dream, thereby implying that they are just illusory appearances. Therefore the only real spiritual accomplishment is to know and be what is real, which is our own actual self and hence always accomplished.

If we know and are firmly established as the one real substance (poruḷ or vastu), which is ourself as we actually are, what we will then experience is only ajāta, which is what Bhagavan refers to here as ‘உண்மை நிலை’ (uṇmai nilai), ‘the real state’, so no supernatural powers or any other illusory appearances will seem to exist, and hence we will not be deluded by such things. Since ajāta is our real state, we are always firmly established in it, and hence it is eternally accomplished, but because we now seem to have risen as this ego and to be consequently aware of the illusory appearance of phenomena, it now seems to us as this ego that both this ego and other phenomena do exist at least as illusory appearances.

Therefore, like all the other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Bhagavan wrote this verse from the perspective of vivarta vāda, because it is only in this unreal state of vivarta that we seem to be this ego and that consequently dreams, supernatural powers and other phenomena seem to exist. So long as we seem to be this ego, we need to be told to know and be the one real substance that we actually are, namely pure self-awareness.

Therefore your argument that if there were no difference between recognising a rope as a rope and mistaking it to be a snake, Bhagavan would not have advised us to know and be what we actually are is correct, but only from the perspective of vivarta and not from the perspective of ajāta, because from the perspective of ajāta no differences exist at all. All differences are illusory appearances that seem to exist only so long as we seem to be this ego, and when we seem to be this ego we need to make effort to know and be what we actually are.

10. So long as we seem to be this ego, we need to be taught and to make effort to investigate what we actually are

You then wrote:
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.”
From Bhagavan’s perspective no differences exist at all, but from our perspective they do exist and they cause us endless troubles, so since Bhagavan is our own actual self and therefore loves us as himself, his infinite love manifested in human form in this dream of ours to advise us to know and be what we actually are. Though the ego and mind that we now seem to be do not actually exist and are therefore entirely unreal, they seem to us to exist and to be what we are, so we (as this ego) are now in a right mess, and we cannot get out of this mess by watching cricket or anything else, but only by vigilantly watching ourself, this ego, to see what we actually are.

In ajāta no teachings and no spiritual practice are necessary or even possible, because there is no ignorance or bondage from which anyone needs to escape, and there is no one to teach anything and no one to be taught anything or to do any spiritual practice. This is the absolute truth, but because we now seem to be this ego and consequently seem to be aware of numerous phenomena, we do need firstly to be taught how to get out of this illusory dream, and secondly to make effort to get out of it by investigating what we actually are, as Bhagavan has advised us to do.

11. We need to distinguish what actually exists from what seems to exist

Another argument that you give is:
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 the context of Bhagavan’s teachings ‘real’ means what actually exists and ‘unreal’ means what does not actually exist even though it seems to exist, and he taught us that the defining characteristics of what is real is that it is eternal, unchanging and self-shining. The only thing that fits this definition is ourself as we actually are, because everything else, including our ego, appears and disappears, and is therefore not eternal; because even while they appear, all other things change, so nothing other than the pure self-awareness that we actually are is unchanging; and because, since all other things seem to exist only because our ego is aware of them, none of them are self-shining. The only other thing that seems to be self-shining is this ego, but it seems to be self-shining only because it seems to be ourself. In sleep, when we do not seem to be this ego, it does not shine at all, but we continue to shine as ‘I am’, the fundamental self-awareness that we actually are, so we alone are self-shining, and when our ego shines, it does so only by the light of our self-awareness, which it misappropriates as if it were its own.

Since nothing other than our fundamental self-awareness is real, all other things do not actually exist but merely seem to exist. Therefore what you call ‘The Advaita Vedanta standard of “real” and “exists”’ draws a clear distinction between what actually exists (and is consequently real) and what merely seems to exist (and is consequently unreal). Therefore, contrary to what you say, we do need to apply this standard in all contexts in order to distinguish actual existence from seeming existence. This is what the so-called ‘neo-advaitins’ fail to do, so they frequently confuse what seems to exist with what actually exists, and hence they try to apply the standards of ajāta in the context of vivarta.

For example, if they say as you have quoted, ‘Nothing ever happened, the ego never existed, so go home and watch T.V., that will be $50, thanks’, they would be failing to understand that though the ego does not actually exist and therefore nothing has ever actually happened, it seems to exist and consequently things seem to be happening, and that going home, watching TV, paying $50 or any other actions that we seem to do seem to be possible only because we seem to be this ego. So long as we seem to be this ego, we seem to experience all sorts of problems, and consequently we seem to suffer. None of these things are real, but they will continue to seem real until we investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as we actually are.

Many neo-advaitins assume that since it is said that the ego does not actually exist and that nothing has therefore ever actually happened, no spiritual practice is necessary, so we can continue living our life as we please. This is obviously a foolish conclusion, because though this ego does not actually exist, it seems to exist and consequently we seem to be not aware of ourself as the eternal, infinite and immutable happiness that we actually are. Therefore if we take our present condition seriously, we will not be satisfied with such immature beliefs, and we will understand that we do need to investigate ourself in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are.

What is actually true is only ajāta, but so long as we are aware of phenomena, we seem to be in the realm of vivarta, and according to vivarta vāda the root cause of the illusory appearance of phenomena is the illusory appearance of ourself as this ego. Therefore in order to experience ajāta, we need to investigate ourself and thereby experience ourself as the unborn and infinite reality that we actually are.

12. The veil of self-ignorance seems to exist only in the view of ourself as this ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are

In the final few paragraphs of your comment you discuss the concept of ‘veiling’ and you quote the final sentence of the fourth chapter of the first part of The Path of Sri Ramana:
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).
What is it that imagines the five sheaths (the physical body, life, mind, intellect and the blissful ‘darkness’ of sleep) to be ourself? Does sat-cit-ānanda imagine this? No, obviously not. What imagines this is only ourself as this ego, because these five sheaths and all other phenomena are projected and perceived only by this ego that we now seem to be and not by the sat-cit-ānanda that we actually are.

Since this ego is what imagines itself to be these five sheaths, it is also what has veiled itself, because in this context ‘veiling’ means self-ignorance, which is the error of not being aware of ourself as we actually are, and what is not aware of itself as it actually is is only ourself as this ego and not ourself as we actually are, because as we actually are we are immutable and therefore always clearly aware of ourself as we actually are. That is, absolutely clear, blemishless and immutable self-awareness is our real nature, so as such we can never not be aware of ourself as we actually are, and hence we can never veil ourself or even seem to veil ourself.

However you assume that ‘the Self’ (ourself as we actually are) is what veils itself, and in your final paragraph you argue: ‘Before the “veiling”, there was no ego, so Sadhu Om can only be referring to the Self as the one who veils’. The fallacy in this argument is that veiling and the ego are not two separate things but one and the same, so veiling does not precede the appearance of ourself as this ego. By rising as this ego we (this ego) veil our awareness of ourself as we actually and we simultaneously project and mistake other things (adjuncts such as these five sheaths) to be ourself.

All these events — our rising as this ego, our veiling ourself, our projecting these five sheaths and other phenomena, our mistaking these five sheaths to be ourself — occur simultaneously, and this is why vivarta vāda or dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda is also called yugapat sṛṣṭi, which means ‘simultaneous creation’. This is what Bhagavan implies in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu when he says: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), ‘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’.

Prior to the rising of our ego there is no such thing as veiling, nor anything else other than ourself, so all such things are just an expansion of our ego, which is why Bhagavan says, ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), which means ‘The ego itself is everything’. Veiling and the ego are synonymous, because the ego alone is what veils our real nature, and it is only in the view of this ego that our real nature is veiled.

Veiling means self-ignorance, which is the nature of this ego, because what is self-ignorant is only this ego, and without self-ignorance no ego would seem to exist. Therefore veiling or self-ignorance is nothing other than this ego, and this ego is nothing other than veiling or self-ignorance.

You also argue, ‘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’, but since there is nothing other than ourself as we actually are, there is no veiling nor any action of any kind whatsoever, so our actual self does not ever do anything. It is immutable and hence motionless (acala), so any change, movement, action or event that seems to occur is just an illusory appearance (vivarta) that seems to occur only in the self-ignorant view of ourself as this ego and not in the absolutely clear and undeluded view of ourself as we actually are.

Your argument that ‘the Self’ must be ‘the one who veils’ because there is nothing else that could force it to do anything is based on your assumption firstly that ‘the Self’ actually does something and secondly that veiling actually happens, neither of which is the case. As we actually are, we are immutable, so we never do anything, and veiling seems to have occurred only in the view of ourself as this ego. If we investigate ourself to see whether we are actually this ignorance-enveiled ego, we will find that there is no such thing, and that we have always been clearly aware of ourself as we actually are and of nothing else whatsoever.

In the experience and perspective of ourself as we actually are, ajāta alone is true, so no ego, no veiling nor anything else have ever existed or happened even as an illusory appearance. This alone is the absolute truth (pāramārthika satya). However, in the experience and perspective of ourself as this ego that we now seem to be, all this illusory appearance (vivarta) seems to exist, so until we (this ego) have investigated ourself keenly enough to recognise what we actually are, we need to consider vivarta vāda to be true, because it is the only viewpoint that will enable us to escape from this illusory condition and thereby experience ajāta as the only truth.

That is, if we consider vivarta vāda to be true, we will not consider anything other than pure self-awareness to be real, and we will understand that other things seem to be real only because of our self-ignorance, so we will investigate ourself in order to see what we actually are. And if we understand vivarta vāda correctly, we will understand that this self-ignorant ego does not actually exist, and hence nothing else actually exists other than our fundamental self-awareness, so if we investigate this ego and thereby see what we actually are, this ego will no longer seem to exist (since it seemed to exist only in its own view) and it will not even seem to have existed in the past or at any time at all (since time seems to exist only in its view), and hence what we will then experience will only be ajāta, the absolute truth that no illusory appearance (vivarta) ever seems to exist at all.

Therefore contrary to what you seem to assume, the difference between vivarta vāda and ajāta vāda is not just semantic but substantive, but this substantive difference seems to exist only from the perspective of ourself as this ego, which is the first illusory appearance (vivarta) and the root and basis of all other illusory appearances, because from the perspective of ajāta (which is the eternal and immutable perspective of our actual self) there is absolute no vivarta whatsoever, nor is there any ego to be aware of any vivarta. However, ajāta can never be the perspective of ourself as this ego, because when we are aware of ourself as this ego we are also aware of phenomena, and both this ego and phenomena are just an illusory appearance, so as this ego we have to adopt the perspective of vivarta vāda, but with the understanding that what is actually true is only ajāta.

184 comments:

Ken said...

Thanks again for your informative and well-reasoned comments.

The only thing further I can do on this topic is to add a very interesting comment by Ramana.

Here is some background. The Advaitic branch of Shaivism is commonly called "Kashmir Shaivism" (because it was centered in Kashmir around the 10th Century) and its most popular and prominent school is "Pratyabhijna" - usually translated as "Recognition".

Yes, it is from "Talks", so we cannot rely on its accuracy, but it is interesting from the standpoint of Ramana talking philosophically outside of the framework of Vedanta. Apparently, this was the sole significant topic of discussion of that day, and we have only Venkataramiah's summary of what was said.

" 29th November, 1936

Talk 288.

Explaining Maya of Vedanta and swatantra of Pratyabhijna (independence of recognition), Sri Bhagavan said:

The Vedantins say that Maya is the sakti of illusion premised in Siva.
Maya has no independent existence. Having brought out the illusion
of the world as real, she continues to play upon the ignorance of the
victims. When the reality of her not being is found, she disappears.
‘Recognition’ says that Sakti (power) is coeval with Siva. The one does
not exist without the other. Siva is unmanifest, whereas Sakti is manifest
on account of Her independent will swatantra. Her manifestation is the
display of the cosmos on pure consciousness, like images in a mirror.
The images cannot remain in the absence of a mirror.

So also the world cannot have an independent existence. Swatantra
becomes eventually an attribute of the Supreme. Sri Sankara says that
the Absolute is without attributes and that Maya is not and has no
real being. What is the difference between the two? Both agree that
the display is not real. The images of the mirror cannot in any way
be real. The world does not exist in reality (vastutah).

Both schools mean the same thing. Their ultimate aim is to realise
the Absolute Consciousness. The unreality of the cosmos is implied
in Recognition (Pratyabhijna), whereas it is explicit in Vedanta. If the
world be taken as chit (consciousness), it is always real. Vedanta says that
there is no nana (diversity), meaning that it is all the same Reality.
There is agreement on all points except in words and the method of
expression.
"

Throw everything away said...

Infinite love is the only truth. Everything else is illusion.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The best business deal we can ever do (Michael’s video taken on 23-10-2016 * 19 minutes onward)

Michael: Bhagavan used say the people who are reluctant to surrender their ego… it is like someone who has a quarter paisa (in those days they had very small coins)… he is unwilling to let go of this quarter paisa in exchange of all the wealth in the universe.

So surrendering this ego is a very good bargain. If we are interested in business – in doing business deals – this is the best deal we can ever do. Bhagavan is willing to give us everything just is exchange of our ego.

Reflection: A very powerful message and it needs to be internalized. This should motive us to practise atma-vichara with greater and greater intensity. As Michael says, why try and hold on to this worthless quarter paisa coin, our ego, which is the root and cause of all our problems.

purna-vastu said...

Michael,
section 3.
Bhagavan clearly implies firstly that no world exists independent of the one mind that perceives it, and secondly that no world exists in the clear view of ourself as we actually are.
Bhagavan implies with it that the clear view is not seen by the mind but (only) by our then remaining mindless being.
But what will we then see in our clear view when the content of our view will be lacking any world ?
I feel in a state of tension: On the one hand the mind - my mind - dislikes to investigate itself and seems to put up resistance to self-investigation. So at present I can only read about terms as "infinite clarity of pure self-awareness". On the other hand the same mind does not want to descend into hell.
Nevertheless my longing for seeing the clear light of self-awareness is growing constantly.

Michael James said...

Purna-Vastu, when this mind, which is the veil that obscures our clear view, dissolves the the bright light of pure self-awareness, what we will then see in the clear view of ourself as we actually are is only ourself, the real pūrṇa-vastu (full and whole substance).

purna-vastu said...

Michael,
thank you for your reply.
When does the mind dissolve in the bright light of pure self-awareness ?
For dissolving of my mind there are no indications whatever.
Evidently my yearning is only just a flash in the pan.
To see the purna-vastu I would really love.
Not seeing the purna-vastu is driving me mad.
But where is to pick the required ripeness ?

paramarthika satya said...

Michael,
section 4.
Yes I am not different from the habitually assumers you mention.
The habitual experience of the rising of this ego is an everyday occurence to me.
It has evidently blinded me to reality.
Not to mistake myself to be this ego are my most earnestly desires.
Because of not looking at this ego sufficiently keenly it is not annihilated till now. I regrettably was not able to experience 'ajata'.

ulam said...

Throw everything away,
how do you know it ? How could you - if you did - get free from illusion ?
Perhaps you did read your statement beforhand in a spiritual newspaper.
Perhaps the 'infinite love' you are speaking about is only a term in an English dictionary. Therefore please tell me:
What is 'infinite love' ?
Who is aware of this 'infinite love' ?
Who is blessed with this 'infinite love' ?
Who does radiate this 'infinite love' ?
Who does feel this 'infinite love' ?

Michael James said...

Purna-Vastu, in my previous reply I meant to write ‘when this mind [...] dissolves in the bright light of pure self-awareness’ but by mistake I wrote ‘when this mind [...] dissolves the the bright light of pure self-awareness’.

Our mind will dissolve in the bright light of pure self-awareness only when we look at and see ourself alone, just as our eyes would be blinded if we were to look directly at the midday tropical sun. The ripeness we require to look at ourself thus is all-consuming love (bhakti) to be aware of ourself alone and consequent freedom from desire (vairāgya) to be aware of anything else whatsoever. At present we all lack such ripeness, but we can cultivate it by patient and persistent practice of trying to be self-attentive as much as possible.

Since we alone are pūrṇa-vastu, we can see pūrṇa-vastu only by looking at ourself alone.

purna-vastu said...

Michael,
many thanks for replying again.
When you say "Since we alone are pūrṇa-vastu, we can see pūrṇa-vastu only by looking at ourself alone." I now ask me why I should want to see what I already am.
Of course in order to be aware of that purna-vastu the mind must dissolve in the bright light. That requirement will not happen without looking directly to ourself alone. Though there is no reason not to cultivate the required bhakti and vairagya, the hesitant sluggishness of the mind in trying so is terribly irrational.
Crawling and creeping it becomes clear to me that only patient and persistent practice of trying to be self-attentive as much as possible can and will cultivate the required ripeness - as you say.

venkat said...

"ajāta vāda is the contention that no creation has ever occurred even as an illusory appearance".
Michael I think that you might be incorrect in your understanding of the advaitic meaning of ajata vada. I cannot argue with you on what Bhagavan Ramana meant by it.

Gaudapada's famous ajata verse occurs in the second chapter of his karika. If this verse is taken in context of the verses that precede and follow it, it is clear that Gaudapada does indeed mean that there is no real creation of the world or the jiva, and that both are illusions.

30: This Atman, though non-separate from all these, appears as it were separate. One who knows this truly interprets the meaning of the Vedas without hesitation
31: As are dreams and illusions or a castle in the air seen in the sky, so is the universe viewed by the wise in the Vedanta
32: There is no dissolution, no birth, none in bondage, none aspiring for wisdom, no seeker of liberation and none liberated. This is the absolute truth.
33: This (the Atman) is imagined both as unreal objects that are perceived as the non-duality. The objects are imagined in the non-duality itself. Therefore non-duality alone is the highest bliss.

Sankara's commentary on v32 is also worth reading, though quite long. Relevant extracts:
"This verse sums up the meaning of the chapter. When duality is perceived to be illusory and Atman alone is known as the sole Reality, then it is clearly established that all our experiences, ordinary or religious, verily pertain to the domain of ignorance."
"Thus duality being non-different from mental imagination cannot have a beginning or an end . . . Therefore it is established that duality is a mere illusion of the mind. Hence it is well-said that the Ultimate Reality is the absence of destruction, etc, on account of the non-existence of duality (which exists only in the imagination of the mind".

My understanding is that srsti-drsti vada says first the world is created and then jivas evolve from it thereafter. Then, vivartha vada takes a step back to say that actually the jiva's perceiving creates the world. And ajata vada then takes a further step back to point out that the jiva itself is an illusion, a superimposition on the atman.

Best,
venkat

Ken said...

Venkat -

Ramana translated Sankara's most famous work, "Vivekachudamani" from Sanskrit to Tamil. (I do not know who translated the Tamil into English, it is from "Collected Works"). Since Ramana's version does not include every part of the original, then we can be certain that he approved of the portions he did include. I cite this, because it clearly is not presenting and "either/or" choice of bland, featureless, void-like satchitananda versus an ignorant ego-caused world of phenomena, but instead seems to imply that both are true at the same time, because it refers to the Self as being immanent in the world, in a not entirely passive way. For example, "That Self sees all of its own accord" - the last word is defined in this context "Voluntary or spontaneous impulse":

“Now I am going to tell you about the real nature of the
supreme Self, by realizing which, man attains liberation and
is freed from bondage. That realization of ‘I’ is indeed the
Self which is experienced as ‘I-I’ shining of its own accord,
the absolute Being, the witness of the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, distinct from the five sheaths, aware of the mental modes in the waking and dream states, and of their absence in the state of deep sleep. That Self sees all of its own accord but is never seen by any of these. It gives light to the intellect and ego but is not enlightened by them. It pervades the universe and by its light all this insentient universe is illumined, but the universe does not pervade it even to the slightest extent. In its presence the body, senses, mind and intellect enter upon their functions as if commanded by it. By that unbroken knowledge, all things from the ego to the body, objects and our experience of them, occur and are perceived.
By it life and the various organs are set in motion. That inner
Self, as the primeval spirit, eternal, ever effulgent, full and infinite Bliss, single, indivisible, whole and living, shines in everyone as the witnessing awareness.
That Self in its splendour, shining in the cavity of the Heart as the subtle, pervasive yet unmanifest ether, illumines this universe like
the sun. It is aware of the modifications of the mind and ego,
of the actions of the body, sense organs and life-breath. It
takes their form as fire does that of a heated ball of iron; yet it
undergoes no change in doing so. This Self is neither born
nor dies, it neither grows nor decays, nor does it suffer any
change. When a pot is broken the space inside it is not, and
similarly, when the body dies, the Self in it remains eternal. It
is distinct from the causal maya and its effects. It is pure
knowledge. It illumines Being and non-being alike and is
without attributes. It is the witness of the intellect in the
waking, dream, and deep sleep states. It shines as ‘I-I’, as
ever-present, direct experience. Know that supreme Self by
means of a one-pointed mind and know ‘This ‘I’ is Brahman’.
Thus through the intellect you may know the Self in yourself,
by yourself, and by this means cross the ocean of birth and
death and become one who has achieved his life purpose and
ever remain as the Self."

D Samarender Reddy said...

David Godman on The Unity of Surrender and Self-Enquiry

There is so much of talk in this blog on the similarities/differences between the path of self-enquiry (jnana yoga) and the path of surrender (bhakti yoga), here is what David Godman says, and says quite meaningfully, on the issue:

http://ramana-maharshi.weebly.com/the-unity-of-surrender-and-self-enquiry.html

Ken said...

No you are mischaracterizing it. there is no "bhakti yoga" involved. The word "yoga" does not appear on the page you linked.

"Bhakti yoga" is usually a dualistic practice on many levels.

[Just note - no one is attacking any practice, we are just trying to accurately describe them.]

Ken said...

And, by the way, all this has been discussed on this very blog extensively by Michael James, see 30+ blog articles on self-surrender:

https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/search/label/self-surrender

and 30+ blog articles on bhakti:

https://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/search/label/bhakti%20%28devotion%29

venkat said...

Sankara, in his philosophical work Upadesa Sahasri writes on, what amounts to, ajata:

19.8: O my mind, here thou art of the nature of non-existence. For when the matter is scrutinised thou canst not rationally be said to exist. The real, O my mind cannot be destroyed, and neither can the unreal be born. Thou art both born and destroyed. Therefore thou art non-existent.
19.10: An imagination is itself nothing other than the non-dual reality. For it has nothing for its object, like the circles of fire made by whirling a torch in the air. It is ascertained from the Veda that there is no plurality of selves and that the Self is not (internally) differentiated on accounts of its powers.
19.12: I neither possess anything nor am I possessed by anything. For I am non-dual and what is merely imagined does not exist. I myself am not imagined for I am evident prior to all imaginations. Only duality is imagined.

venkat said...

Ken, thanks for your comment on Vivekachudamani.

Bhagavan also translated into Tamil, 40 odd verses from the Bhagavad Gita that he felt were the essence of it.

At the outset of Krishna's teaching to Arjuna, there is a statement of ajata vada:

2.16:The unreal comes not into being, the real never lapses into non-being. The truth about both these has been perceived by the seers of Reality.

Interestingly, Bhagavan's Tamil translation reads more expansively than this (as per Commentary on Anuvada Nunmalai, by Smt Kanakammal):

"Listen (Arjuna) to the Truth. The unreal has no being. The real never has non-being. Therefore those seers who, have known the nature of these two as direct experience, are the best among tapasvins, who have known the Self - the true form of jnana - THOUGH REMAINING IN A BODY."

Ken said...

In case anyone still had any illusions about Sathya Sai Baba, I came across the following:

"Sathya Sai Baba claimed that he had said to Ramana Maharshi that it was unfitting for him not to cover his body properly by wearing only a loincloth. However, Maharshi never took this advice, as it is well know that he wore only a loincloth till his dying day. Further, he has told Dr. Hislop “The Ramana Maharshi inquiry by itself is not good. It must be combined with meditation.” [p 146 ‘Conversations with Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba’ by John Hislop, new ed. ISBN 81-7208-049-2]."

sat - bhava said...

Ken,
are we not blessed enough with Bhagavan's teachings and presence ?
What benefit would we ignorant horde gain by looking at another imaginary separate identities ?

Bob - P said...

Michael thanks for your article above, I have just read it.

Again what you say does make sense from our direct experience of the 3 states of consciousness. The body, person, personality, world, other sentient beings etc etc are only temporary and can not be real or the true reality which instead is permanent and unchanging.

If what we really are witnessed or was aware of a world even as a false appearance it would not be non dual but experiencing duality which is the experience of the ignorant egoic consciousness.

So this does make perfect sense to me personally.

Also thank you for what you said below;

[Bhagavan is our own actual self and therefore loves us as himself, his infinite love manifested in human form in this dream of ours to advise us to know and be what we actually are.]

A very powerful reminder.

Best wishes.
Bob

Ken said...

Bob-P wrote:

"If what we really are witnessed or was aware of a world even as a false appearance it would not be non dual but experiencing duality which is the experience of the ignorant egoic consciousness."

You should read the comments above where Shankara, Ramana, and others says the exact opposite, for example:

"the absolute Being, the witness of the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, distinct from the five sheaths, aware of the mental modes in the waking and dream states, and of their absence in the state of deep sleep. That Self sees all of its own accord"

Here is the logical problem. You say:

"If what we really are witnessed or was aware of a world even as a false appearance it would not be non dual."

But one can also say:

"If what we really are, does not witness and is not aware of a world even as a false appearance it would not be non-dual. Why? Because non-duality means nothing exists other than what we really are. Therefore there is no separate thing that is aware, while 'what we really are' sits in the closet not aware of what is happening."

If Awareness is not aware of everything, then what is it aware of, and what second thing is aware of the world?

Noob said...

In our dreams we are aware of many things, so as in this so called "real world", it is the same ego that is aware of all the phenomena, but what is this that is aware of all this? Some one has to cut this umbilical cord, and there is no one to cut it but ourselves.

Noob said...

The death is our greatest assistant in this endeavor.

soham iti said...

Noob,
pure awareness is aware only of itself. Consequently that "what is aware of all this" is this ego. Yes, we ourself have to cut the knot (Chit-jada-granthi), this ego.
Death of what ?

D Samarender Reddy said...

A Query

Michael (and anyone else inclined to answer),

Is "attentive self-awareness / self-attention" equivalent to "tracing the source of the I-thought / ego / mind"? If so, how?

Shining light upon the "snake" and taking one close look will reveal it to be a rope. Similarly, will "one close look" at the I-thought/ego/mind reveal it to be the Self? So, one session of self-enquiry should be enough but practically speaking why does it take more than one session? Due to vishaya-vasanas in the mind? How can I know that the vishaya-vasanas are reducing in the mind? By the decrease in the flow and volume of thoughts?

venkat said...

Bob,

When you have a dream - and you are acting in that dream . . . the the dream character and the dream world are clearly not two, not separate; and indeed the dreamer himself is not separate from either of these. The same for the waking world.

Murugunar in "Non-dual consciousness", translated by Robert Butler writes the following verses:

114: If we say that those who know the Real are not cognisant of anything existing separately from it, then it follows that duality is an illusion, insubstantial as a cloud in the sky. In Reality, which arises in the purified state of grace through the power of perfect knowledge, all that duality is seen to be none other than the Absolute itself, the infinite Seer.

115: Know that the vision of the truth we behold when we enter and subside within the heart, so that the treacherous ties of worldly bondage which attend the illusion of the body are abolished, is indeed the gracious state of final liberation. For within the Self, whose nature is pure seeing, any world which appears to possess reality is in fact an illusion.

218: Those who through holy grace have purified their consciousness by remaining as the witness, will attain to an awareness whose strength derives from its one pointedness, and through that awareness, they will be free of delusive desires and the terror they bring, attaining the authentic state of supreme bliss, free of all affliction.

219: To dwell in the absolute state of the eternal Sivam, so that, whether one embraces the world or withdraws from it, one remains in the wondrous state of pure consciousness, experiencing the infinite reality independent of which nothing whatsoever can exist, that is realisation. For those who have attained great merit by forfeiting their personal selves, what remains to be desired?

338: Whatever sense impressions appear before me, drawing me as bees are drawn to feed on nectar, a love which bear His form springs up within me, before any thought can take shape, and vanquishes them. Behold the age old truth of his words.

342: When we examine all the objects of our experience, rejecting them one after the other saying 'not this, not this' until none remain, all that is left within the heart is the 'I', that unique and causeless underlying substratum which is none other than the supreme reality.

344: To become established in the state where one remains as the pure 'I', untouched by the fierce gale whipped up by the manifold forms of objective knowledge which are perceived by means of a physical body, shaped by an external world, that is the attainment.

379: To him who, by whatever spiritual practice, comes to perceive the mark of the real in all things, attaining thus to the authentic condition of the realised sage, this whole world will appear as an illusion.

386: To those whose thoughts are bound up with the treacherous notion of a gross physical body, there is a material world, existing separately in time. But for those who have realised the Self's supreme reality and whose gaze is firmly established within the heart, the world is like a picture projected upon a screen.

411; Those who pursue the enquiry 'who am I?' until the last vestige of identification with the physical body is eradicated from their hearts, will be filled with the all pervading glory of Self, shining alone as Sadasiva.


So what Murugunar seems to be saying is that the illusory ego, the mind identifies itself with the body, as 'mine' and separate from the world, and thence come all the desires and fears. If, by self-enquiry, we see the illusory nature of this ego, this 'I'-thought, and it thereby disappears, then there is no longer any identification with a personal body, and therefore no desires or fears with respect to that body for other seemingly "separate" parts of the world.

Riley said...

Ken said: "If Awareness is not aware of everything, then what is it aware of, and what second thing is aware of the world?"
As per my understanding, Awareness is self aware only. The "second thing" is ego-mind or I-thought which is non-existent and whatever it is aware of is also non-existent. A dream if you will, a non-existent dream. What illuminates this non-existent dream is Awareness(chit) without any knowledge or consent, like the sun illuminating the moon and the reflection appearing in the lake. Excuse my crude analogy. No explanation is adequate, since all explanations arise in the non-existent view of the non-existent ego-mind or I-thought, but maybe Michael and others here including you can come up with better analogies and explanations? But as you know the non-existent ego-mind or I-thought feeds on explanations and speculatons to only generate more non-existent questions. Only grace(anugraha) of Bhagavan(Awareness) can permanently annihalate the non-existent ego-mind or I thought, again as per my non-existent understanding.

Bob - P said...

Hi Ken

You wrote:

"If what we really are, does not witness and is not aware of a world even as a false appearance it would not be non-dual. Why? Because non-duality means nothing exists other than what we really are. Therefore there is no separate thing that is aware, while 'what we really are' sits in the closet not aware of what is happening."

My understanding is What we really are does not witness anything or is aware of anything other than itself because nothing else exists (ie) there is only one (ie) non duality.

You said:

{If Awareness is not aware of everything, then what is it aware of, and what second thing is aware of the world?}

My opinion is the ego seems to be aware of the world and things other than itself in its own ignorant false view. My understanding is Bhagvaan said the ego doesn't and has never existed and so everything it experiences other than itself is also false and doesn't actually exist. All that exists is ourself which is the only self aware being that experiences itself as love, joy and happiness, satchitananda.

Ken we do seem to differ with regards our understanding on this, which I have said before in previous comments. This is perfectly fine with me. I am not trying to convince you to my way of thinking or insinuate your thinking is wrong, because it doesn't matter. But you seem to want to convince me to your way of thinking? This doesn't make sense to me. Why does it matter to you?

I always try my best to write highlighting it is only my opinion or my understanding because thats all it is, I am not trying to convince anyone my opinion is true or right. It may be wrong.

My comment was just thanking Michael for his article I had just read and saying how what he wrote does make sense to me personally, that's all.

But I do respect your opinion and find your posts helpful even though some of them don't quite make sense to me.

Pease don't take this comment the wrong way.

All the best Ken.
Bob

soham iti said...

D Samarender Reddy,
your first question is to answer with yes. "Self-attention" is equivalent in meaning with "tracing the source of the 'I'-thought/ego/mind", therefore they are the same means.
If you see next day again any snake in the dim light you will have to take the same close look again to reveal it to be a rope. I think too that the vishaya-vasanas compel us to repeat our "sessions".
The more we increase our practice of self-attention the more the flow and volume of thoughts will decrease.

Bob - P said...

Hi Venkat
Thanks for your comment and the verses you included. It was very helpful and does seem to support what you say at the end.
As I said to Ken we seem to differ in our understanding on this.
This is fine and I totally respect your opinion as you may be right.
What I personally believe as mentioned in my comment above does make sense to me just as Michaels article did make sense to me.
All the very best.
Bob

soham iti said...

Riley,
regarding the "non-existent ego-mind" and your "non-existent understanding": without any persistent effort - made by the actually non-existent but well seemingly existent ego-mind - to annihilate the non-existent ego-mind we will not be able to take part in the permanent flow of Bhagavan's grace (anugraha).
Here we have to consider the mutual interconnection/reciprocity between effort and grace:
Without effort no anugraha.
Without anugraha no effort.
Consequently without effort and anugraha the 'I'-thought will never be annihilated.
Therefore in practice we have to start our self-investigation not from the viewpoint of ajata vada but from the position of the seemingly existent ego.
Please read the heading/headline of section 1.: "Though vivarta vada seems to be true so long as we seem to be this ego, when we dissolve this ego.....".

jacques franck said...

D Samarender Reddy :

From ‘Tracing the ego back to its source’, Sunday, 12 July 2009

What exactly does ‘tracing the ego back to the source’ mean? To answer this question we must first understand how the ego left its source, because as Sri Ramana sometimes used to say, we must ‘go back the way we came’, and before we can do that, we must understand what ‘the way we came’ actually is.

Verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu
<<
Grasping form [that is, attaching itself to a body] it comes into existence; grasping form [that is, attending to thoughts or perceptions of a seemingly external world] it stands [or endures]; grasping form it feeds and grows [flourishes or expands]; leaving [one] form it grasps [another] form. If [we] seek [search, investigate, examine or scrutinise it], it will take flight. Know [that this is the nature of this] formless ghost-ego.
>>
The truth that Sri Ramana teaches us here can therefore be rephrased thus: our mind or ego is nourished and sustained by attending to anything other than itself, and hence it will be dissolved and destroyed only by attending to itself. This is a fundamental and extremely important truth, which I have described elsewhere as the ‘first law of consciousness’ or ‘first law of the science of self-knowledge’.
______
That is, since this ego has no form (no finite or separate existence) of its own, it can seemingly come into existence and endure only when we imagine ourself to be a form (a physical body), and it flourishes when we attend to any form (anything that appears to be separate from ourself). In other words, since this ego is thus just a ‘formless ghost’, it can rise, endure and flourish only by ‘grasping form’, and hence when it tries to ‘grasp’ (or attend to) itself, which is not a form, it will subside and disappear.
The truth that Sri Ramana teaches us here can therefore be rephrased thus: our mind or ego is nourished and sustained by attending to anything other than itself, and hence it will be dissolved and destroyed only by attending to itself. This is a fundamental and extremely important truth, which I have described elsewhere as the ‘first law of consciousness’ or ‘first law of the science of self-knowledge’.

In order to trace our ego back to its source, therefore, all that we need do is to scrutinise it keenly and closely, because as soon as we begin to attend to it, it will begin to subside and sink back into the source from which it originated. Thus we can ‘go back the way we came’ only by being vigilantly self-attentive.

Namaste....

D Samarender Reddy said...

Thanks, Jacques Franck, for quoting Michael's text. I also ended up looking at the article you cite. It clarifies the matter pretty accurately.

venkat said...

Hi Bob

Sorry, not trying to convince one way or another. Who am I to do so? Just sharing with you some verses that point at a more nuanced understanding of non-duality. I too don't know whether my understanding of their translation is more accurate or not than yours or Michael's.

Best,
venkat

Ken said...

Bob - P wrote:
"But you seem to want to convince me to your way of thinking? This doesn't make sense to me. Why does it matter to you? "

There is nothing personal about anything I post here. In one of the threads, a few weeks ago, one of the commenters posted as various other people - including "Michael James" - to point out that the Blogger software does not allow unique names associated with only one person. (This was in response to Mouna's mild dislike of him using a different name for every post.)

Given that environment, I can hardly associate these names with people. But even if I did, my only intent is to make something clear for others (in response to posts that seems to be unclear about the topic).

Ultimately the value of the "theory" is two fold:

1 - If we understand who we are, and our current situation, then we know what is best to do. In the viewpoint of this web site, that is to practice Self-investigation (self-attention). At that point, only "practice instructions" should matter.... if it were not for...

2 - When we are doing our practice, clear "theory" is necessary to be able to judge any results, and to know how to proceed. Some correctly say that "when you get there you will know".... but.... a mind that does not understand the theory can mistakenly convince itself that some intermediate strong experience is "getting there". Ramana himself talks about yogis who have great facility at entering nirvikalpa samadhi, but are not yet liberated.

So, words are helpful for these two aspects of theory, and also for practice instructions.

Lastly, by discussing these matters, all of us clarify our understanding. So, if I post "X is true" and someone convincingly responds "No X is false, because of A, B and C", then I might thereby lose a false understanding of my own.

Ken said...

So, in that spirit...

Bob - P wrote:

"My understanding is What we really are does not witness anything or is aware of anything other than itself because nothing else exists (ie) there is only one (ie) non duality."

And this is true. The whole matter here revolves around the concept of "other than itself".

Since "nothing else exists", then everything must be included in "itself".

A good analogy is a TV.

The images on the TV are the TV. When you look at the TV, you are not actually seeing some prime minister, or some spaceship, you are just seeing the TV screen. (This occurs because the "pixels" on the screen can change color many times a second, of course, giving an illusion of real objects.)

So, in this analogy:

* Only the TV exists
* The spaceship, the prime minister and all the things on the screen do not really exist

and

* When we look at the TV, we are only seeing one thing, the TV.
* Whether the TV is on or off, there is only one thing, the TV. The objects that seems to be on the TV screen are not really there (just like the snake that we mistakenly see in a rope).

Now imagine a mother and her young children. The young children are totally engrossed in the events that seem to occur on the screen - the spaceship and all the characters.

In fact, "Foolish Tenth Man" just posted this more clearly on another thread:

"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."

So, the children's attention is entirely on the spaceship on the screen, and they are not even aware of the TV, or even that they are children and not space voyagers.

In contrast, the mother is not interested in the kids shows on the TV, so she sees the TV as a whole, something that has fleeting images that her children pay attention to.

Similarly, the jnani sees the TV (Brahman) as one whole, without any attachment to any fictional non-existent appearance in Brahman, while the ajnanis are attached to the fictional non-existent story on the TV (Brahman).

Like the children, the ajnanis can only see the TV if they remove their attention from the spaceships and characters on the screen, and place it only on the screen (Self/atman/Brahman).

Ken said...

Here is Ramana saying the exact same thing in Maharshi's Gospel page 60. David Godman says "There is a proof copy of the first edition of Maharshi’s Gospel in the Ramanasramam archives which shows that Bhagavan made minor handwritten revisions to the text prior to its publication." Therefore, Ramana approved the quotes of his statements in the book as accurately representing his viewpoint.

"D: If the jnani and the ajnani perceive the world in like manner, where is the difference between them?

Ramana: Seeing the world, the jnani sees the Self which is the substratum [underlying foundation] of all that is seen; the ajnani, whether he sees the world or not, is ignorant of his true Being, the Self.

Take the instance of moving pictures on the screen in the cinema-show. What is there in front of you before the play begins? Merely the screen. On that
screen you see the entire show, and for all appearances the pictures are real. But go and try to take hold of them. What do you take hold of? Merely the screen
on which the pictures appeared so real. After the play, when the pictures disappear, what remains?

The screen again!

So with the Self. That alone exists; the pictures come and go. If you hold on to the Self, you will not be deceived by the appearance of the pictures. Nor does it matter at all if the pictures appear or disappear.

Ignoring the Self the ajnani thinks the world is real, just as ignoring the screen he sees merely the pictures, as if they existed apart from it. If one knows that without the seer there is nothing to be seen, just as there are no pictures without the screen, one is not deluded. The jnani knows that the screen, the pictures and the sight thereof are but the Self. With the pictures the Self is in its manifest form; without the pictures It remains in the unmanifest form. To the jnani it is quite immaterial if the Self is in the one form or the other. He is always the Self. But the ajnani seeing the jnani active gets confounded."

Riley said...

Soham iti thank you for considered advice, will try to do follow as best as I can. Best rgds.

Bob - P said...

Dear Venkat
Sorry for the delay getting back to you.
No need to apologise to me at all and I am very sorry if I gave the impression an apology was in order. I very much appreciate you sharing the verses about non-duality and all your posts.

I was just pointing out that we will find evidence from what Bhagavan said and wrote that seems to support both our beliefs.

Like you very wisely said in the past all we can do is turn within, investigate and find out for our self.

I believe Bhagavan said we shouldn't trust him but find out for our self.

All the very best Venkat.
Bob

Bob - P said...

Dear Ken
Sorry for the delay in getting back to you.
Thank you for your comments above, I will get back to you as soon as I can about them.
All the very best Ken.
Bob

Dominic said...

IME, for the last 6 years "Who am I?" has been utilized as a direct inquiry question any time self referential internal narrative thoughts have caused discomfort or unease. Over the last 6 years troublesome feelings and thoughts have been greatly reduced, almost to the point of being non-existent. From this DIY approach, it is tough to understand how your interpretation of the teachings were not to directly enquire, Who am I? Where am I? Etc. . IME, directly inquiring has proved useful.

venkat said...

Hi all

I re-read the following from Padmasambhava, the founding master of Dzogchen. I thought it may be of interest here.


Since you do not see the natural condition of the real disposition of things,
You do not know that appearances come from mind, and so you are thrust once again in to Samsara.
By not seeing that your own mind is actually the Buddha, Nirvana becomes obscured.
With respect to Samsara and Nirvana, the difference is simply due to ignorance or to awareness respectively.

If you are not aware that the fundamental error or delusion comes from the mind,
You will not properly understand the real meaning of the nature of reality.

As for this diversity of appearances, which represents relative truth
not even one of these appearances is actually created in reality, and so accordingly they disappear again.

Everything that appears is but a manifestation of mind.
Even though the entire external inanimate universe appears to you, it is but a manifestation of mind.

Even though various kinds of purity appear to you, they are but manifestations of mind.
Even though the experience of remaining in a state of one-pointed concentration without any discursive thoughts appears to you, it is but a manifestation of mind.
Even though a state without characteristics and without conceptual elaborations appears, it is but a manifestation of mind.

There exist no appearances whatsoever that can be understood as not coming from mind.

Michael James said...

Dominic, when you say that my ‘interpretation of the teachings were not to directly enquire, Who am I? Where am I? Etc.’, what exactly do you mean by the verb ‘enquire’? Do you mean it in the sense of ‘question’ or ‘investigate’? If you take ‘enquire’ in this context to mean ‘question’ or ‘ask’, asking yourself ‘who am I?’ whenever you are troubled by unpleasant thoughts or feelings may be an effective palliative, but it cannot eradicate the root cause of all such troubles, which is our ego, the illusion that we a finite person experiencing things other than ourself.

As a question, ‘who am I?’ is just a thought or mental activity, which is something other than ourself, and the nature of this ego is to rise, stand and flourish by attending to things other than itself, so by asking ourself the question ‘who am I?’ we are simply nourishing and sustaining our ego. Since attending to anything other than ourself sustains our ego, we can dissolve this ego only by attending to ourself alone.

Keenly attending to or observing ourself alone in order to find out what we actually are is what Bhagavan describes as ātma-vicāra, which literally means ‘self-investigation’ (or ‘self-enquiry’ in the sense of self-investigation), or as nāṉ-ār eṉṉum vicāraṇai, which literally means ‘investigation called who am I’ (and which implies investigating what we actually are).

In Tamil Bhagavan used various verbs to mean ‘investigate’, including nāḍu and vicāri, but in English books these are often translated either as ‘enquire’ or as ‘ask’. Translating them as ‘enquire’ is not wrong, because in English ‘enquire’ is often used to mean investigate, but it is potentially misleading, because ‘enquire’ can also mean ‘ask’ or ‘question’. Translating them as ‘ask’, on the other hand, is definitely wrong, because asking any question is just a mental activity (manōvṛtti), and all mental activities divert our attention away from ourself and thereby feed and nourish our ego.

One of the key principles of Bhagavan’s teachings is that our ego comes into existence, endures and flourishes by ‘grasping form’ (that is, by attending to any phenomenon — anything other than ourself alone), and that it will thereby subside back into its source (ourself as we actually are) and dissolve forever only by attending to itself alone. This principle is clearly stated by him 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].

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Hi Dominic,

I tried your approach for some time. It seemed effective and useful in reducing mental chatter and eliminating some negative emotions. As far as I was able to understand, it's not actually the technique of Bhagavan. (merging like a diver into our sense of being)


~Nan Yar

"Just as a pearl-diver, tying a stone to his waist and submerging, picks up a pearl which lies in the ocean, so each person, submerging [beneath the surface activity of their mind] and sinking [deep] within themself with vairagya [freedom from desire or passion for anything other than being], can attain the pearl of self."

Perhaps you are in a better position to try it now, having reduced some of your rising thoughts and emotions.

The words in this article (http://bit.ly/2fJui7R) describe best how I am trying to practice right now, and which I thing is a more accurate way of what Bhagavan intended us to do:

"The practice of atma-vichara or self-investigation is therefore just a calm and peaceful focusing of our entire attention upon the innermost core of our being"

I now basically try to ignore everything else and merge in my core of being...

All the best, and I would like to know in more detail what was your experience with the question. I tried it for some time, but deep down I had the feeling it was blocking some things that needed to rise up and gave it up...

Dragos

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

It seemed to be effective in reducing mental activity but I saw no guarantee that I would merge in our being completely once there would be some reduction of mind stuff rising. In fact I was actually scared that this could end up a surface thing, ending up in a situation where there would be some peace in the mind and seemingly non affected by what happens outside but still unable to go "all the way". By keep practicing in the way explained in the previous paragraph I was able to understand that in the state we are trying to be (fully merging in our core of being) there would be no more percepetion of the world, people, time, etc... (only pure self awareness)

So, it actually scared me, because I had the feeling I will end up in a situation where I would not be bothered by thoughts but being stuck in a kind of peaceful state. (no fully merging, still aware of my body, other people, the world, time)....

I hope it makes sense...

What is your experience so far?!

Thank you,
Dragos

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

I read a book once, called "In Days of Great Peace" by Mouni Sadhu who spent some months at the ashram. He presents this as Bhagavan's method in the chapter "The Technique of Vichara". Yet he also claims in that book the he was able to experience the temporary samadhi (kevala) with the help of the question. It does not really make sense to me...

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

David Godman also says it's a valid approach in his video of self enquiry on youtube... When Bhagavan said "ask yourself "Who am I?"" I don't think he meant it in the form of a question. If he did it would totally contradict the apparently correct approach outlined in Nan Yar or Ulladu Narpadu i.e, to turn away from anything that rises and merge in your being. By asking a question we are still paying attention to something, we don't necessarily merge...

I do not mean it is useless, it does reduce thoughts to a point of blank if persisted in, but there is still something that perceives/knows the blank or peace. I believe any japa can do this and asking Who am I? is just another form of japa. It is useful for calming the mind, but I always wondered if japa of who am I does nothing else that erase some stuff and block some other, or simply push the thoughts away from some time, and we have no chance of actually clearing some deep rooted patterns...

I hope it makes some sense, these are my inner experiences and sometimes is hard to properly express them...

What was your experience?!

Intuitively for me, merging in our sense of being seems the correct path...

Thank you,
Dragos

Bob - P said...

Dear Ken
I am very sorry for taking so long to reply to you and I understand if you don't have time to reply to this.

I like your T.V analogy and it does support your opinion that the jnani (ourself as we really are) experiences multiplicity as itself or it sees many forms / phenomena as itself. In your analogy you have something other than the T.V that is aware of it (mother & children).

I have been thinking about an analogy that would seem to support my opinion that the jnani doesn't experience any forms, phenomena or multiplicity because everything is itself and it is only aware of itself because nothing else exists. There is only one jnani and only one seeming ego.

I appreciate analogies using a T.V / screen can get confusing because the T.V is actually insentient and not self aware like ourself.

My analogy probably lacks clarity and over complicates, but here goes anyway.

The T.V screen is ourself. It exists, it is self aware, it is happy and it is aware of nothing but itself. It is the only self aware being, the one self awareness. All the pictures that appear on it are not seen as separate from it but only as itself. Therefore the pictures don't actually exist. They only appear to exist when one of the pictures (say a person / character) on the screen for some unexplainable reason seems to become self aware.

Why? That is the question.

It seems to be self aware in its own ignorant view because its source, foundation or what it really is, is the self aware screen. It now takes itself to be self aware and therefore sees the other pictures or characters on the screen as separate from itself. As soon as this happens duality is born along with the observer, the observed and the process of observation. Time is also born (past, present and future). This limited form of self awareness would experience the screen as itself and things other than itself, it would be trapped in duality and at the mercy of time. Which are all an illusion along with its own seeming existence.

In truth / reality the T.V / screen is all there is and all there has ever been. It is aware of nothing but itself because nothing but itself exists. Everything including all the pictures on it / in it including the seeming self aware character is nothing but itself.

When the seeming self aware character on the screen disappears so does all the other 2nd and 3rd person it experiences as the 1st person or as the false 1st person. Simultaneous creation destruction.

Whether it appears (waking /dream) in its own view or disappears (sleep) the screen is completely unaffected because it alone exists and the pictures that appear on it do not actually exist and have never existed. They only seem to exist when the false ignorant limited form of self awareness appears / rises.

Therefore in my analogy the screen is never aware of multiplicity / forms or phenomena it is only ever aware of itself. The only thing that experiences multiplicity / forms and phenomena is the ego / character on the screen. If the seeming self aware character looks at itself carefully and intensely it will see it is nothing but the screen which is its only real element, foundation or source. It will disappear and the screen is completely unaffected and unchanged by the entire illusion.

This analogy is filled with errors I am sure, it is very hard to write about all this.

Ken by the way I think the quote you mention from Bhagavan can be taken to support either belief. It can support or seem to support ourself as we really are the one self aware happy being is aware of nothing but itself or it is aware of multiplicity but sees it all as itself.

It can be used to support either belief I feel.

All the best Ken
Bob

Dominic said...

Hi Michael,
IME, quite simply this is what has occurred. . .to the best of ability, whenever remembered to do so. without expectations and as persistently as possible for many years whenever thoughts (I, Me, My) arose i would inquire with an inquisitive curiosity, "Who am I?"
Upon asking the question, there was always nothing there. The "I" was no where to be found.
A blank peace and quiet. A stillness was left immediately upon using the question as a tool to inquire/investigate.
Often times, early on, thoughts would re-emerge and the practice would be repeated, without expectations, yet persistently through out the day when thoughts (I, ME, My, Self-Referential Internal Narrative) occurred. Practiced whenever compulsive thoughts about past or future diverted one from the reality of the moment. Every time this tool was used, thoughts would disappear and the nothingness blank peace would remain.

This went on for many years, and over time, thoughts started to occur less and less. . and inquiry was needed less and less. . Currently many days and sometimes weeks pass without any self referential internal narrative (I, ME, My) thoughts. A persistent experience free from thoughts about this imaginary "I"/EGO.

"because asking any question is just a mental activity (manōvṛtti), and all mental activities divert our attention away from ourself and thereby feed and nourish our ego."

Yes, i realize that this is a mental activity and can only take one "so far". . .yet, IME, what remains upon inquiry into the nature of the "I" is the source of being. Meaning, the nothing-ness that remains without thought is the essence of source.
Eventually, self inquiry questions burn out as well, and what is left is an experience free from mental chatter as one merges into the NOW, NOW, NOW feelings of existence.

In other words, one realizes their true nature is not the "I" thoughts that occur, yet what remains when one is free from thought.

This is an extremely liberating experience.

Really appreciate your response.

Kindest Regards,
Dominic



Ken said...

"Q: How should a beginner start this practice?

Ramana: The mind will subside only by means of the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ The thought ‘Who am I?’, destroying all other thoughts, will itself finally be destroyed like the stick used for stirring the funeral pyre. If other thoughts rise one should, without attempting to complete them, enquire ‘To whom did they rise?’ What does it matter however many thoughts rise? At the very moment that each thought rises, if one vigilantly enquires ‘To whom did this rise?’, it will be known ‘To me’. If one then enquires ‘Who am I?’, the mind will turn back to its source [the Self] and the thought which had risen will also subside. By repeatedly practising thus, the power of the mind to abide in its source increases.

Although tendencies towards sense-objects [vishaya vasanas], which have been recurring down the ages, rise in countless numbers like the waves of the ocean, they will all perish as meditation on one’s nature becomes more and more intense. Without giving room even to the doubting thought, ‘Is it possible to destroy all these tendencies [vasanas] and to remain as Self alone?’, one should persistently cling fast to self-attention.

As long as there are tendencies towards sense-objects in the mind, the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ is necessary. As and when thoughts rise, one should annihilate all of them through enquiry then and there in their very place of origin. Not attending to what-is-other [anya] is non-attachment [vairagya] or desirelessness [nirasa]. Not leaving Self is knowledge [jnana]. In truth, these two [desirelessness and knowledge] are one and the same. Just as a pearl-diver,
tying a stone to his waist, dives into the sea and takes the pearl lying at the bottom, so everyone, diving deep within himself with non-attachment, can attain the pearl of Self. If one resorts uninterruptedly to remembrance of one’s real nature [swarupa-smarana] until one attains Self, that alone will be sufficient.

Enquiring ‘Who am I that is in bondage?’ and knowing one’s real nature [swarupa] alone is liberation. Always keeping the mind fixed in Self alone is called ‘self-enquiry’, whereas meditation [dhyana] is thinking oneself to be the absolute [Brahman], which is existence-consciousness-bliss [sat-chit-ananda]."

Arunamalai said...

Ken,
"Enquiring ‘Who am I that is in bondage?’ and knowing one’s real nature [swarupa] alone is liberation. Always keeping the mind fixed in Self alone is called ‘self-enquiry’, whereas meditation [dhyana] is thinking oneself to be the absolute [Brahman], which is existence-consciousness-bliss [sat-chit-ananda]."

It seems Bhagavan Sri Ramana did not esteem meditation which he defines/characterizes here as (only) "thinking oneself to be the absolute Brahman", which is...". He obviously considered meditation - at least such as described above - only as mental activity thereby feeding and nourishing our ego.

L.B. said...

I have a question.
If self inquiry is a means to abide in self (sat-chit)
won't a fierceful pah! suffice?
(not only dzogchen, but any other way of thought-interrupt).
Thank you
L.B


Anonymous said...

so much chit chat
what a waste of time

untainted happiness said...

Hey Anonymous,
know the knower and rejoice eternally !

Watima Fhitbread said...

Mr Anonymous, sorry you find the chitter chatter a waste of time. I tend to find this blog an absolute treasure trove! Thanks as always to Bhagavan for choosing such a wondeful messenger in Michael. Peace and love everybody.

L.B said...

I'm with Anonymous on this.
self abidence Is simple and plain as can be.
The hardest part is to keep at it.
But it doesn't require tons of words,
which can only confuse the aspirant.
Cheers (-:

Reg said...

This calls for immediate discussion!

ekavanam said...

L.B and Anonymous,
to prevent this ego from rising even 1000 tons of words would not be sufficient.
Therefore we aspirants need often the reminder of persistently trying by an inward diving mind to scrutinise where the mind rises.
Fortunately your practice did lead you apparently to true knowledge. May you happily exist permanently as the pure adjunct-free 'I am' (brahman).

Ken said...

Anonymous said...

"so much chit chat
what a waste of time"

So you apparently are criticizing Ramana Maharshi, Shankara, and Vasishtha, and find them fools for writing and speaking thousands of words.

Let's see.... the alternative you provide is.... some words. But wait a minute, that is what you are criticizing.

Uh, you have the wrong web site. The Zen web site is further on down the web...

no projection said...

well, the practice of self-abidance may be easy, restfull, etc. BUT if we consider that Ramana (and others, for example Tilopa just came in mind) says that even a MOMENT of pure awareness destroys the ego FOR EVER, then, eh... unless we are self-realized, we only "abide" in subtle objects....

no?

Ken said...

no projection said...

"well, the practice of self-abidance may be easy, restfull, etc. BUT if we consider that Ramana (and others, for example Tilopa just came in mind) says that even a MOMENT of pure awareness destroys the ego FOR EVER, then, eh... unless we are self-realized, we only "abide" in subtle objects....

no?"

No. Ramana says the ego does not exist, and we have always been the Self. "Destroy the ego" is an analogy, not a technical description. The ego does not exist, so you cannot destroy it, any more than you can destroy James Bond, or Luke Skywalker.

If you read more technical descriptions by Ramana and others like Sadhu Om, what actually occurs is that the vasanas (mental tendencies) are "destroyed".

So, someone may be practicing self-attention, and successfully attend only to the Self, but then the vasanas reassert themselves (perhaps in the form of a thought about the self-abidance like "this is really great"), and attention then goes away from the Self alone.

When the vasanas are destroyed, then self-attention on the Self persists.

siva-svarupa said...

We should know that brahman or God is not a thought but only our experience 'I am'.
Therefore we should meditate only on 'I am' and not on any thought - not even on the thought of brahman or God - as Michael wrote some years ago somewhere.

siva-svarupa said...

Our thoughts cannot reach the truth of that which is. Therefore let us just experience only 'I am' - as Michael recommended too some time.
But we are lucky: That what really exists is the same as our awareness of it.
And we should thank our greatest fortune: both exist within our innermost heart.
Arunachala.

siva-svarupa said...

Bhagavan often said:
instead of concerning ourself with any other doubts, we should first doubt the doubter, what means: doubt the doubter !

no projection said...

ken, the following is from the path of Sri Ramana part 1, page 211

"If one once turns one’s attention a full
180 degrees towards Self, one is sure to be caught by this
clutch of Grace, which will then take one as its own and
will forever protect one from again turning towards second
and third person objects. This state in which the mind is
thus caught by the clutch of Grace and is thereby drowned
forever in its source, is known as the experience of
true.knowledge (jnananubhutl), Self-realization (atmasakshatkaram),
liberation (moksha) and so on. This alone
can be called the state of unceasing Self-attention."

i think it is very clear from this quote, that if one attends to the Self ALONE, the vasanas are destroyed. so the fact that vasanas arise again means that attention was not turned "180 degrees".

cidakasa said...

no projection,
before we can be caught by the clutch of grace, we first have to get rid from the clutch of vasanas. In my experience one can hardly turn his attention 180 degrees only by strength of will or wishful thinking.
Only by stopping our fascination with experiencing things other than 'I' will we be able to annihilate the delusion that we are a body-mind compendium.

no projection said...

cidakasa,
i think its the other way around. only the experience of pure aware,ness can destroy the vasanas.
its not a matter of will or thinking, but of surrendering them.
vasanas, or ego, or ignorance, cannot destroy themselves.

L.B said...

Dear Ken,

I came to this understanding of few words needed
for "simple and plain" self-abidence
AFTER reading "tons of words" (:
Including everything related to dear Ramana Maharshi.
I beleive he summed the sadhana himeslf:
I am that I am, be still.

Understanding the nature of mind/awareness
is easy as can be.
The difficult part of practicing
can not be acheived with more words.
It's futile, confusing, time consuming.
That's my humble opinion (:

The true aspirant has to reflect on the simple truth,
not to get into more mind stuff.
It's the difference between indirect and direct experience.
Most of the sages referred to that,
incl. advaita bodha deepika, the dasbodh and yoga vasistha
To name but a few (:

Ken said...

L.B. -

Everything you write is true....

... but someone else can be at a point where they are confused rather than clear (and some of those who think they are clear, are actually confused, as we have seen in some of the posts on this site).

So, again, Ramana spoke words with his students for many decades. The Yoga Vasishtha is hundreds of pages long.

This is not because that length is needed - in fact, Nan Yar explains everything and is only a few pages long. But, they kept speaking as long as students were confused.

If this site were to close - with the idea "we just need to be still", it would be what the Buddhists call "unskillful".

Ramana said...

Questioner: Why do people interpret what you have written to provide guidance to aspirants? Often times this creates discussion where some feel they are "right" and others "wrong" regarding the writings.

Ramana: Pay no mind. Interpretations and opinions are thought constructs. As long as opinions and interpretations are being made one is not free from thought or attachment. Providing opinions regarding how to practice abidance in Self is like telling a person with no legs the only way to ride a bike is with their feet, when they already pedal with their hands. One has to find the nature of source from experience and not the guidance of those whom "think" they "know".
'I am' is experienced by all, everyday, when there are no thoughts.

L.B said...

Ken, there is no argument between us, apparently.

The scriptures have mentioned all the scenarios and possibilities
as reasonable.
"My" words might have sounded a tad judgemental.
This however wasn'y my intention.

Maybe I'm trying to sujest something here,
after 3 years of diving 24/7 into what adavita teachers had to say,
traditional and contemporary.

Modern man and woman needs a short-cut.
The whole thing is merely common sense,
don't you think?



Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Reg,

"This calls for immediate discussion!"


the subject has been well covered in this article: http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.ro/2007/08/question-who-am-i-as-verbalised-thought.html

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

And here ( http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.ro/2007/08/sri-ramanas-figurative-use-of-simple.html ) about "Ask yourself the question ‘who am I?’"

So, I'd say it is useful in warding off thoughts if we then try to abide in our self after... But I don't think that every mind will find this "two-step" approach suitable...

All the best,
Dragos

cidakasa said...

no projection,
to be able to surrendering will and thinking bhakti (love) is necessary.
To gain enough bhakti we need a great portion of grace.
To be blessed with grace ripeness is required and so on.
So we need all kind of virtues which are interdependent. Therefore we have to keep always to the path of straight and narrow.

cidakasa said...

Ramana,
'I am' is always present as our real nature and is consequently experienced uninterruptedly even when thoughts appear.
Thoughts cannot even seem to exist without the underlying stream of 'I am'.

Anonymous said...

Ken says
""Destroy the ego" is an analogy, not a technical description. The ego does not exist, so you cannot destroy it, any more than you can destroy James Bond, or Luke Skywalker.

If you read more technical descriptions by Ramana and others like Sadhu Om, what actually occurs is that the vasanas (mental tendencies) are "destroyed"."

So vasanas exist? Brahman is not the only entity that exists?

Is it just funny to hear advaitins chasing their own tails trying to explain their "philosophy".

By the way, if when one realizes the world stops to exist, then how (and to whom) is he giving out instructions?

Ken said...

The quote from "Ramana" above is fake.

Please do not post fake Ramana quotes.

In fact, the moderator should consider removing the post if he agrees.

Ken said...

Anonymous:

The vasanas exist in the relative sense, but not the absolute sense.

The ego does not exist in either the relative sense or the absolute sense.

Vasanas are part of the casual body that reincarnates.

Ego is a mistake, like someone searching for the sunglasses that are on top of their head.

Ken said...

Anonymous wrote:

"By the way, if when one realizes the world stops to exist, then how (and to whom) is he giving out instructions? "

Your premise is false (a "straw-man" argument, due to your lack of knowledge of Advaita, from only reading third-hand writings.)

"Q: So the world is not really illusory?

Ramana: At the level of the spiritual seeker you have got to say that the world is an illusion. There is no other way.

When a man forgets that he is Brahman, who is real, permanent and omnipresent, and deludes himself into thinking that he is a body in the universe which is filled with bodies that are transitory, and labours under that delusion, you have got to remind him that the world is unreal and a delusion. Why? Because his vision which has forgotten its own Self is dwelling in the external, material universe. It will not turn inwards into introspection unless you impress on him that all this external, material universe is unreal. When once he realises his own Self he will know that there is nothing other than his own Self and he will come to look upon the whole universe as Brahman.

There is no universe without the Self. So long as a man does not see the Self which is the origin of all, but looks only at the external world as real and permanent, you have to tell him that all this external universe is an illusion.

You cannot help it. Take a paper. We see only the script, and nobody notices the paper on which the script is written. The paper is there whether the script on it is there or not. To those who look upon the script as real, you have to say that it is unreal, an illusion, since it rests upon the paper. The wise man looks upon both the paper and script as one. So also with Brahman and the universe."

Dominic said...

Would be curious to hear experiences regarding a thought free state of existence? What is your direct, everyday, moment to moment experience?

IME, as stated above, self inquiry was practiced as a direct inquisitive question, asked any time thoughts(self referential, I, ME, MY) occurred. With a keen sense of curiosity, To whom do these thoughts occur? & Who am I? What was left immediately after was a calm peace serenity. .This was practiced persistently over years. . Over many years it seemed that the mind started to prefer this place of serenity as opposed to the constant blah blah chatter about an imaginary "I" that was no where to be found.
The inquisitive nature of the question left no answer as there is no "I". . .The question was the answer. Some may say that this is not "correct" or "wrong", however i am grateful for finding the "wrong" way for the "wrong" way practiced with enough diligent perseverance, left nothing but a state free from I, ME, MY thoughts a good majority of most days. . some times multiple days will pass without any self referential internal narrative and there is just NOW, NOW, NOW. I.E. Wake up, take a shower, feed the kids, go for a walk, go shopping, read, take a nap, eat lunch, etc. etc. etc. without any thoughts(I, ME, MY).
This is quite a different experience than obsessive persistent thoughts about an imaginary "I" consuming waking existence. There is a serenity to the current experience. No thoughts or concern about past or future.

Current research has shown thru brain scans that the I,ME,MY thought network operates in a different section of the brain than the tasking/planning network. Long time practitioners of meditation and mystics typically have much lower activity in the I,ME,MY network of the brain than those without any spiritual practice. This has been verified.

Quite frankly, i still recognize my children, wife, brother, cousins,uncles, etc. etc., however there is no attachment in regards to the "MY" aspect of those relationships. There is not an underlying internal energy associated with "My Wife" or "My Brother" or "My Dad".
It is a playful recognition that those are the terms used for their description yet there is no holding onto the meaning.

This is the direct experience everyday. peaceful, blissful, serene, quiet. . .many terms to describe This, and This, and This, and This. . .




Anonymous said...

Well Ken, your answer is I don't know advaita? How convenient.

The rest of the sentences you have quoted in no way answers the objection. Are you saying the world exists like the prints on the paper? Both paper and prints are real. So I guess you can stop saying world is unreal. Just by seeing the paper, the scripts don't stop existing. They both exist. Now try your ajaata vaada again and see where you get.

What is third hand writing? I know Sanskrit and can recite a good part of bhagavad gita from memory, so let us leave it at that.

Take care.

Ken said...

Anonymous wrote:

"The rest of the sentences you have quoted in no way answers the objection. Are you saying the world exists like the prints on the paper? Both paper and prints are real. So I guess you can stop saying world is unreal. Just by seeing the paper, the scripts don't stop existing. They both exist."

Yes, I entirely agree.

So what is your objection?

Mouna said...

Dominic, greetings,

"Would be curious to hear experiences regarding a thought free state of existence? "
Deep sleep

"What is your direct, everyday, moment to moment experience? "
It depends what you mean by thoughts. If thought is meant any movement of awareness (vritti) then sensations, perceptions, feelings and thoughts is thought and is what is experienced by the ego, which not only projects these but also feeds on these.

"This is the direct experience everyday. peaceful, blissful, serene, quiet. . .many terms to describe This, and This, and This, and This. . ."
Who is having that "experience"? And please don't tell me "nobody"...

Dominic said...

Hi Mouna,
Quite frankly, without a doubt, i don't know who is having that experience. i really have no clue. IME, it is much better than experiencing persistent self referential internal narrative all day long about past and future "I, ME, or MY".

By thoughts i mean exactly what i mentioned, self referential internal narrative about I, ME, or My. The story-line of "you" that distract from the present moment of what is happening right Now. These typically feel different and IME were the troublesome thoughts that persisted and created suffering. So, i guess the definition of thought would be any of those that create suffering or direct one's attention away from this NOW, NOW, NOW state.

IME, it is possible to be in the waking state and not experience thoughts(I,ME,MY).
i just have no clue who experiences that moment. . i really don't. Which is fine.
i do realize that when thinking about this no thought state of existence, thoughts then tend to arise. . which creates a trap, IME. Only when the no thought state is lived without consideration for what is happening is there total liberation/freedom.


Thank you for your response.

Kindest Regards,
Dominic


chris said...


Only when the no thought state is lived without consideration for what is happening is there total liberation/freedom

sorry to interrupt your dialogue, but this is, i think, a very profound insight.
the mind always want to "know" and "objectify" experience.
to abandon the need to "understand" is peace.
thought, anyway, cannot "understand" being.

thanx dominic

Anonymous said...

Ken:
"Yes, I entirely agree.

So what is your objection?"

It violates Advaita position of ajaata vaada. Since you claim to know the "correct" advaita, you should be able to at least figure that out.

brahmasatyam jaganmiddhya |
jeevo brahmaiva naapara ||

Mouna said...

Dominic, hi

Now I understand what you mean by thoughts, self referential internal narrative.
In that sense ego can exist and still project without "thoughts", as you say, in the waking or dream state, when ego is one with its projection, for example watching a very immersive and "captivating" sport match or film, having sex, running for your life in the middle of an accident, intentionally washing dishes, and the list can go on and on... Those are examples of ego projection without a self referential internal narrative (in other words samadhi), but ego nevertheless, because at one point, it will come back saying "I had a state with no thoughts" as your post describes. Never coming back with self-referential thoughts might be what is called the natural state (sahaja samadhi). But still, let us remember that all these conversations here are from the point of view within maya, because a "state" of no mind (at least of what Bhagavan defines as mind) is unfathomable from within ego.

warm regards,
m

Ken said...

Anonymous wrote:
"It violates Advaita position of ajaata vaada. Since you claim to know the 'correct' advaita, you should be able to at least figure that out."

Sorry, I do not know what "It" refers to in that sentence. I literally do not know what your objection is.

vicaranai said...

While discussing we should not forget that according Sri Ramana, if we attend sufficiently keenly and vigilantly to 'I' alone, this ego will disappear, since it is not what it seems to be, and therefore does not really exist as such, but is just an insubstantial phantom.
So we should primarily verify for ourself what he taught us.

Dominic said...

Hi Mouna,
Thanks for your response. Appreciate you informing me of what is going on IME.

What is your direct, everyday, moment to moment experience?

Do you experience suffering?

What type of Self Enquiry practice have "you" ventured into?

IME, for the last 6 years, everyday, to the best of ability, whenever thoughts arose i would enquire curiously, to whom do these thoughts occur or Who am I?
i am grateful for finding out the "wrong" way to do it, for without finding this "wrong" way, present experience(typing this message) may be clouded by thoughts about what "I" am going to type or possibly obsessive thoughts about any number of different things.

Along this path, IME, it has also been realized that there is absolutely, not an "I" that is in control of anything. Decisions that appear to be intentional or unintentional merely just happen. The clinging to "I" do this or "I" did that was troublesome for some time and whats left is very peaceful.

The misunderstanding of a personal doer of deeds, "good" or "bad" is a roadblock.

i don't know much, however, as vicaranai said above, "So we should primarily verify for our self what he taught us." is a thing that has occurred IME and not via my own will, but rather a grace from somewhere.

Things are rather persistently quiet most days IME. Thanks be to Ramana teachings.

The only thing i know is that i don't know. And i don't even know that.

Kindest Regards,
Dominic










Mouna said...

Dominic, greetings

It is somewhat difficult to answer in first person terms some of the questions you raise.
Words are so hollow, like silent echoes. And can be so easily misunderstood.
But since you ask...

"What is your direct, everyday, moment to moment experience?"
Maya unfolding on top of silence

"Do you experience suffering?"
No, but there is the experience of pain, although not all the time as everybody else.
Suffering is not pain (and vice versa)

"What type of Self Enquiry practice have "you" ventured into?"
Bhagavan's instructions: turn attention inwards, investigating the 'i' (if there is really one), when not found, abidance in 'that silence'.

My friend, we are in the same page regarding many of the statements you made. How could be otherwise since we are characters of the unique same dream?...

Be well,
m





Anonymous said...

Ken, let me be more specific. The example you gave disproves the very thing it is trying to prove. Both paper and print are real. So if you equate world to the print and brahman to paper, it follows that both brahman and world are real. This conclusion violates ajaata vaada and even advaita doctrine itself. You cannot have it both ways.

Let us look at your claims (1) ego does not exist in absolute or relative (begs the question relative to what) sense and (2) vasanas exist in the relative sense.

I experience ego as I write this message. So your claim that ego does not exist is not correct. Advaitins claim it is like rope mistaken as snake. The problem comes when you propose existence of vasanas.

If ego does not exist, and vasanas do, in whom do they exist? Who experiences the vasanas? It cannot be brahman since brahman is not tainted by anything. Vasanas then exist independently. Which means they cannot be destroyed and they are real.

These conclusions are inadmissible in advaita.


Ken said...

Anonymous wrote:
"This conclusion violates ajaata vaada and even advaita doctrine itself."

First, it would be helpful if you used some other name other than Anonymous, since it is commonly used, and so a discussion thread is harder to follow.

Second, I care not for any doctrine, I am not an advocate for identity politics, I am only interested in the nature of reality.

"Let us look at your claims (1) ego does not exist in absolute or relative (begs the question relative to what)"

Suppose you were dreaming and in that dream, fish could fly through the air only during the day. Then, you wake up, and fish can no longer fly at all.

So, we say that in the world of that dream, it was "true in a relative sense" that fish can only fly during the day - it was true only in that dream world. What is true in an absolute sense, applies regardless.

"If ego does not exist, and vasanas do"

Ego is a misidentification.

Mark Dyczkowski, a scholar of ancient Scriptures, writes:
"The ego arises from the mistaken notion that the light of consciousness
reflected in the intellect and coloured by objectively perceived phenomena is
the true nature of the Self. Thus, the personal ego falsely identifies the Self
with that which is not the Self and vice versa."

So, the ego is like someone today thinking that they are Napoleon Bonaparte.

This misidentification occurs in the present moment. The misidentification ceases at various times (such as sleep, coma or some samadhis), but returns due to the vasanas. The vasanas are real in the same relative way that this world is real. They are part of the causal body and are involved with reincarnation.

So, if the person who thinks he is Napoleon Bonaparte has a framed plaque that says "You are Napoleon Bonaparte", then when he goes to sleep, he may forget that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. But as soon as he sees the plaque the next day, he is reminded and he once again thinks he is Napoleon Bonaparte.

In this analogy, the plaque is like the vasanas, and the ego is like when the person thinks he is Napoleon Bonaparte. Only when the person destroys the plaque, will he then stop being reminded of the false idea that he is Napoleon Bonaparte.

If instead of destroying the plaque, he is advised to "fight against the idea that you are Napoleon Bonaparte", that will be counterproductive, because it only keeps making the Bonaparte idea more solid in his mind and constantly reminds him about it.

Similarly, teachings about "the devious ways of the ego and how to fight it" only reinforce the idea that one is the ego.

"Ramana Maharshi: Self-enquiry is the one infallible means, the only direct one, to realise the unconditioned, Absolute Being that you really are.

D: Why should Self-enquiry alone be considered the direct means to jnana?

Ramana: Because every kind of sadhana except that of atma vichara presupposes the retention of the mind as the instrument for carrying on the sadhana, and without the mind it cannot be practised. The ego may take different and subtler forms at the different stages of one’s practice, but is itself never destroyed.

The attempt to destroy the ego or the mind through sadhanas other than atma vichara, is just like the thief assuming the guise of a policeman to catch the thief, that is himself. Atma vichara alone can reveal the truth that neither the ego nor the mind really exists, and enables one to realise the pure, undifferentiated Being of the Self or the Absolute. Having realised the Self, nothing remains to be known, because it is perfect Bliss, it is the All."

From Maharshi's Gospel, page 49

Dominic said...

Hi Mouna,
"It is somewhat difficult to answer in first person terms some of the questions you raise.
Words are so hollow, like silent echoes. And can be so easily misunderstood.
But since you ask..."

enjoyed the first statement. . thanks for dancing. .

Couldn't be otherwise.

Smiles my friend,

Dom



Anonymous said...

Ken, I will use the name k7 for identification.

The problem with mixing aspects of different schools is that nothing holds up. What you are proposing is a mix of traditional advaita and dvaita schools with a term relative thrown in. And that is a dangerous combination.

At some point you will have to answer whether the vasanas and the world itself are real. If they are not, then without ego they cannot be existing in a relative sense. Because in Brahman there is no relativeness. To say vasanas and the world are like plaques, implies that they are existing before mis-identification can occur. i.e. they exist independently of the ego, which means they are real and cannot be destroyed. That will lead to the next question who creates and controls all this (world and vasanas)? You will also have to explain other beings. It is a slippery slope.

If vasanas die when the mis-identification goes away, it means vasanas exist only when there is mis-identification. Not the other way.

In advaita school, ego as well as the world and vasanas are all mis-identification of brahman. In fact the mis-identification of ego is described as the beginning (refer to gaudapada karika and sankara's commentary); only after that other things and beings are imagined. Hence ajaata vaada (nothing was ever created etc.).

-k7

Ken said...

k7 -

Again, I am not concerned with schools, doctrines, etc.

Everything I write here is from Ramana Maharshi's statements. (Of course, I am a fallible human being, I may be incorrect in anything I say.) I am guessing you are from some more "orthodox" Advaita Vedanta school...

I am certainly not advocating dvaita, just the opposite. The quote from my previous post was why dvaita does not work as well as Self-Enquiry.

I am only talking about practices and teachings, not theory.

"If vasanas die when the mis-identification goes away,"

No, I mentioned above that mis-identification goes away during sleep or nirvikalpa samadhi, but returns due to vasanas. As I mentioned, the mis-identification occurs in the present moment. (Likely the vasanas result from earlier mis-identification.)

"D: What prevents the infinite, undifferentiated light of Consciousness arising from the heart from revealing itself to the ajnani?

Ramana Maharshi: Just as water in the pot reflects the enormous sun within the narrow limits of the pot, even so the vasanas or latent tendencies of the mind of the
individual, acting as the reflecting medium, catch the all-pervading, infinite light of Consciousness arising from the heart and present in the form of a reflection the phenomenon called the mind. Seeing only this reflection, the ajnani is deluded into the belief that he is a finite being, the jiva.

If the mind becomes introverted through enquiry into the source of aham-vritti, the vasanas become extinct, and in the absence of the reflecting medium the phenomenon of reflection, namely, the mind, also disappears being absorbed into the light of the
one Reality, the heart.

This is the sum and substance of all that an aspirant needs to know. What is imperatively required of him is an earnest and one-pointed enquiry into the
source of aham-vritti."

From Maharshi's Gospel, page 91-92

"Q: What are kevala nirvikalpa samadhi and sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi?

Ramana Maharshi: The immersion of the mind in the Self, but without its destruction, is kevala nirvikalpa samadhi. In this state one is not free from vasanas and so one does not therefore attain mukti. Only after the vasanas have been destroyed can one
attain liberation.

[...]Even though one practises kevala nirvikalpa samadhi for years together, if one has not rooted out the vasanas one will not attain liberation."

From Be As You Are, page 92

Ken said...

k7 wrote:
"In advaita school, ego as well as the world and vasanas are all mis-identification of brahman. "

But that is not the end of the story. From Shankara's Vivekachudamani:

“Now I am going to tell you about the real nature of the supreme Self, by realizing which, man attains liberation and is freed from bondage. That realization of ‘I’ is indeed the Self which is experienced as ‘I-I’ shining of its own accord, the absolute Being, the witness of the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, distinct from the five sheaths, aware of the mental modes in the waking and dream states, and of their absence in the state of deep sleep. That Self sees all of
its own accord but is never seen by any of these.
It gives light to the intellect and ego but is not enlightened by them. It pervades the universe and by its light all this insentient universe is illumined, but the universe does not pervade it even to the slightest extent. In its presence the body, senses, mind and intellect enter upon their functions as if commanded by it. By that unbroken knowledge, all things from the ego to the body, objects and our experience of them, occur and are perceived. By it life and the various organs are set in motion. That inner
Self, as the primeval spirit, eternal, ever effulgent, full and infinite Bliss, single, indivisible, whole and living, shines in everyone as the witnessing awareness. That Self in its splendour, shining in the cavity of the Heart as the subtle, pervasive yet unmanifest ether, illumines this universe like the sun. It is aware of the modifications of the mind and ego, of the actions of the body, sense organs and life-breath. It takes their form as fire does that of a heated ball of iron; yet it undergoes no change in doing so. This Self is neither born nor dies, it neither grows nor decays, nor does it suffer any change. When a pot is broken the space inside it is not, and similarly, when the body dies, the Self in it remains eternal. It is distinct from the causal maya and its effects. It is pure knowledge. It illumines Being and non-being alike and is without attributes. It is the witness of the intellect in the waking, dream, and deep sleep states. It shines as ‘I-I’, as
ever-present, direct experience. Know that supreme Self by means of a one-pointed mind and know ‘This ‘I’ is Brahman’. Thus through the intellect you may know the Self in yourself, by yourself, and by this means cross the ocean of birth and death and become one who has achieved his life purpose and ever remain as the Self."

So are you saying that both Shankara and Ramana Maharshi are dvaitans due to both of them mixing Absolute and Relative perspectives ?

Ken said...

"Q: You seem to be an exponent of ajata doctrine of advaita vedanta.

Ramana Maharshi: I do not teach only the ajata doctrine. I approve of all schools. The same truth has to be expressed in different ways to suit the capacity of the hearer. The ajata doctrine says, ‘Nothing exists except the one reality. There is no birth or death, no projection or drawing in, no seeker, no bondage, no liberation. The one unity alone exists.’ To such as find it difficult to grasp this truth and who ask, ‘How can we ignore this solid world we see all around us?’, the dream experience is pointed out and they are told, ‘All that you see depends on the seer. Apart from the seer, there is no seen.’ This is called the drishti-srishti vada or the argument that one first creates out of one’s mind and then sees what one’s mind itself has created. Some people cannot grasp even this and they continue to argue in the following terms:

‘The dream experience is so short, while the world always exists. The dream experience was limited to me. But the world is felt and seen not only by me, but by so many others. We cannot call such a world non-existent.’ When people argue in this way they can be given a srishti-drishti theory, for example, ‘God first created such and such a thing, out of such and such an element, and then something else was created, and so on.’ That alone will satisfy this class. Their minds are otherwise not satisfied and they ask themselves, ‘How can all geography, all maps, all sciences, stars, planets and the rules governing or relating to them and all knowledge be totally untrue?’ To such it is best to say, ‘Yes, God created all this and so you see it.’

Q: But all these cannot be true. Only one doctrine can be true.

Ramana Maharshi: All these theories are only to suit the capacity of the learner. The absolute can only be one.
The vedanta says that the cosmos springs into view simultaneously with the seer and that there is no detailed process of creation. This is said to be yugapat-srishti [instantaneous creation]. It is quite similar to the creations in dream where the experiencer springs up simultaneously with the objects of experience. When this is told, some people are not satisfied for they are deeply rooted in objective knowledge. They seek to find out how there can be sudden creation. They argue that an effect must be preceded by a cause. In short, they desire an explanation for the existence of the world which they see around them. Then the srutis [scriptures] try to satisfy their curiosity by theories of creation. This method of dealing with the subject of creation is called krama-srishti [gradual creation]. But the true seeker can be content with yugapat-srishti, instantaneous creation."

From Ramana Maharshi – Be As You Are – by David Godman, pg 107-108

I-Love-Ramana said...

Dear fellow devotees, I hope you are all very well. Please could you advise me a great source for the breath control technique which we should follow. Thank you.

vicaranai said...

Dominic,
of course this our ego is the experiencer of that moments of thought-free or "peaceful, blissful, serene, quiet state". The ego is experiencing "just now, now, now" and the same ego is aware of "just not having no clue who experiences that moment".
Your persistance in your quest is quite admirable. But do not stop in your investigation. Do try further tirelessly to find out where in your 'I' this ego arises by attending to the ego alone. This attention is attending to what this 'I' actually is. This 'I' never never changes but our perspective of it does. That is, we cease to see this 'I' as the finite ego that it seemed to be, because we recognise it as the one infinite, indivisible and otherless 'I' that it actually is - as Michael James wrote some years ago in reply to a questioner.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

My last two cents...

The subject-object thing...

There are things that we are aware of (gross, subtle, peaceful, agitated etc...) and "something" that knows these.

If we're still aware of something it's not it!

Take care,
Dragos

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

We should try to keep our attention continuously on that "something", the knower, or what Bhagavan calls the "I-thought". All other things cannot stand once we do it continuously, only that will remain. This can be easily proven if we do the correct practice for some time....It's misleading to think you have achieved the goal just because you experience lack of normal human consciousness (stress, anxiety, etc...)

Sooner or later we are bound to experience peaceful states, or less negative narrative (in our heads). They may not be there permanently... As there is still a subject that cognizes them...

The bottom line is, if we still experience something, it's not it, no matter how peaceful or enlightening it may seems. (by the way, this is just a precautory idea for me personally, everyone can claim any experience)

Well... everybody is basically alone in this search... we only know and can work it with the contents of our mind... what anyone claims cannot substitute our inner experience...

All the best,
Dragos

vicaranai said...

Dragos,
according Bhagavan to be aware of self alone is not a "subject-object thing" because self is pure self-awareness, just being - not "something".
"Something" as a separated form and thus separated from self seems to exist only in the ignorant view of this limited ego.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

"subject-object thing"

We are aware of thoughts. What is aware is always the subject (the "I") what we are aware of are objects... was one way to put it... the situation we are now in...

There is "something" in us (in us as we experience ourselves right now, with a body and mind(i.e. thinking) ) that persists always, in dream and dreamless sleep. Bhagavan calls this the "I" or "I-thought"... of course this is not an object, we are always the subject...

Anyways, Bhagavan's whole point was that we should always turn our attention towards the subject of everything else.... we are aware of anger... what is it the experience/knows/"sees" it?! We are aware of peace?! What cognizes it? ... TO WHOM?

Remember one of your last dreams... all kinds of happening there... but there was something in you there that is present right now also... That never changes and persists forever... That is the "I". Holding on to that (not an object again!) other things are deprived of attention and will dissapear. An we will live forever happy, devoid of a world, body, time, happenings...

That's what Bhagana says.. it can be proven only by practice... we can play with terms all day... still experiencing a body, world, other bodies, time... it's not it! Consider the dreamless sleep where none of this or anything in a dream does not exist...

Just because we experience deep peace and we are free from mental chatter it does not mean we are "enlightened".

Elightenement or realization is defined (by the highest standard as Bhagavan teaches) as the dissapearance of the ego. Bhagavan also says the ego projects two illusory states, each with their own time, people, happenings, i.e. the dream state and the waking state. Both illusory and actually non existent. Our true state is the dreamless sleep state which can be reached by following the thread of "that" in us that persists in the states of dream and waking. Once we are only "that", there can be no rising anymore of any kind of world. So, there is no time, space, people, happenings. Again, consider sleep!

We should study careful this teaching. We are not to reach a peaceful state where we are not seemingly bothered by what happens, but we still feel ourselves to be a body, deal with people, have dreams and we are detached from them or something... etc...

You may say I'm only theorizing...it's true to some extent... but correct practice can settle this things in our mind in a fraction of a second if we persist for some time...

There are some things we can safely use as a guard against error. Doing the correct practice and inutitively perceive that the State we are trying to be in does not include body awareness, time, a world, people, interractions is a very helpful mean agains error. If there is "only being" where is there time, other people, spacial location and so on... all these things that comprise a world-appeareance?!

Think about it!

All the best,
Dragos

vicaranai said...

Dragos,
"if we still experience something, it's not it"
Do not stick so closely to the (literal) wording:
experiencing one's real nature is quite well "it". It is namely just being.
(By the way, you surely wanted to write "precautionary" idea).

vicaranai said...

Dragos,
remember Bhagavan's rhetorical question: Is the world outside of you or is the world inside you ?

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...


...you are correct, 'precautionary' was what I meant... sorry, English is my second language...

All the best,
Dragos

Bob - P said...

Dragos said:

[Elightenement or realization is defined (by the highest standard as Bhagavan teaches) as the dissapearance of the ego. Bhagavan also says the ego projects two illusory states, each with their own time, people, happenings, i.e. the dream state and the waking state. Both illusory and actually non existent. Our true state is the dreamless sleep state which can be reached by following the thread of "that" in us that persists in the states of dream and waking. Once we are only "that", there can be no rising anymore of any kind of world. So, there is no time, space, people, happenings. Again, consider sleep!]

This is my understanding of Bhagavan's teaching too, once waking and dream are removed sleep becomes the one true real state. Waking and dream are superimposed on it / in it. So sleep is the foundation of both waking and dream states. Plus waking and dream and the experience of duality only exists in the ego's own ignorant view. If the one ego investigates itself intensely enough it disappears along with all its creation. What remains is all there has ever been "I am I" the ego along with its creation never actually existed only "I am I" the non dual self aware happy being.

In appreciation
Bob

Mouna said...

I-Love-Ramana,

From "Talks with Ramana Maharshi":
Talk 154 (excerpt from the talk)

Maharshi: Pranayama according to jnana is:
“Na aham” I am not this = out-breathing
“Koham” Who am I? = in-breathing
“Soham” I am He = Retention of breath
This is vichara. This vichara brings about the desired result.

sniper said...

Mouna,
pranayama as a breath-control-technique is not atma-vicara (self-investigation).

Mouna said...

Sniper,
Tell that to Bhagavan or his scribe, he is the one that is supposed to have said that, not me.
I didn't add anything of my own in the previous posting.
Also, he said "according to jnana".
For the whole quote on pranayama, read Talk #154.

I myself don't practice pranayama and don't know the actual techniques of it at all, but thought that I-Love-Ramana would have profit from this quote that I always found interesting because if done in the right spirit by actually going beyond the words into what they mean, it turns out to be atma-vichara anyways.

sniper said...

Mouna,
Michael repeatedly wrote that much of what is recorded in "Talks" do not represent Bhagavan's real teaching. You may also read Michael's article of 18 June 2015 "Pranayama is just an aid to restrain the mind but will not bring about its annihilation."
Regarding the instruction "Tell that to Bhagavan" you may consider that what Bhagavan really is is nothing other than our inner light of self-awareness. Against the background of non-duality it might be not a plain task to pass Bhagavan the mentioned message.

Mouna said...

sniper,

Thanks for your insights. I'll definitely consider your suggestions.

Regards,
m

sniper said...

Smile Mouna.

Ken said...

I-Love-Ramana:

"Q: Is it necessary to control one’s breath?

Ramana Maharshi: Breath control is only an aid for diving deep within oneself. One may as well dive down by controlling the mind.
When the mind is controlled, the breath is controlled automatically. One need not attempt breath control, mind control is enough. Breath control is only recommended for those who cannot control their minds straightaway.

Q: When should one do pranayama and why is it effective?

Ramana Maharshi: In the absence of enquiry and devotion, the natural sedative pranayama [breath regulation] may be tried. This is known as yoga marga [the path of yoga]. If life is imperiled the whole interest centres round one point, the saving of
life. If the breath is held the mind cannot afford to (and does not) jump at its pets -external objects. Thus there is rest for the mind so long as the breath is held.
All attention being turned on breath or its regulation, other interests are lost.
The source of breath is the same as that of the mind. Therefore the subsidence of either leads effortlessly to the subsidence of the other.

[...]

A more advanced man will naturally go direct to control of mind without wasting his time in practising control of breath.

Q: Pranayama has three phases – exhalation, inhalation and retention. How should they be regulated?

Ramana Maharshi: Completely giving up identification with the body alone is exhalation [rechaka]; merging within through the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ along is inhalation [puraka]; abiding as the one reality ‘I am that’ alone is retention [kumbhaka]. This is the real pranayama.

Q: I find it said in Maha Yoga that in the beginning of meditation one may attend to the breath, that is, its inspiration and expiration, and that after a certain amount of stillness of mind is attained, one can dive into the Heart seeking the source of the mind. I have been badly in want of some such practical hint. Can I follow this method? Is it correct?

Ramana Maharshi: The thing is to kill the mind somehow. Those who have not the strength to follow the enquiry method are advised to adopt pranayama as a help to control the mind. This pranayama is of two kinds, controlling and regulating the
breath, or simply watching the breath.

Q: For controlling the breath, is not the ratio 1:4:2 for inhaling, retaining the breath and exhaling best?

Ramana Maharshi: All those proportions, sometimes regulated not by counting but by uttering mantras, are aids to controlling the mind. That is all. Watching the breath is also one form of pranayama. Inhaling, retaining and exhaling is more violent and may be harmful in some cases, for example when there is no proper Guru to guide the seeker at every step and stage. But merely watching the breath is easy and involves no risk."

Ken said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ken said...

Bob-P:

Dragos wrote:


"Bhagavan also says the ego projects two illusory states, each with their own time, people, happenings, i.e. the dream state and the waking state. Both illusory and actually non existent. Our true state is the dreamless sleep state which can be reached by following the thread of "that" in us that persists in the states of dream and waking. Once we are only "that", there can be no rising anymore of any kind of world. So, there is no time, space, people, happenings."

No. You guys did not read my quote from Vivekachudamani above which specificly contradicts that idea. Here is the relevant portion:

From Ramana Maharshi's translation of Shankara's Vivekachudamani:

“Now I am going to tell you about the real nature of the supreme Self, by realizing which, man attains liberation and is freed from bondage. That realization of ‘I’ is indeed the Self which is experienced as ‘I-I’ shining of its own accord, the absolute Being, the witness of the three states of waking, dream, and deep sleep, distinct from the five sheaths, aware of the mental modes in the waking and dream states, and of their absence in the state of deep sleep. That Self sees all of its own accord but is never seen by any of these. It gives light to the intellect and ego but is not enlightened by them. It pervades the universe and by its light all this insentient universe is illumined, but the universe does not pervade it even to the slightest extent. In its presence the body, senses, mind and intellect enter upon their functions as if commanded by it."

Mouna said...

Relax sniper...

Ken said...

"D: If the jnani and the ajnani perceive the world in like
manner, where is the difference between them?

Ramana Maharshi: Seeing the world, the jnani sees the Self which is the substratum of all that is seen; the ajnani, whether he sees the world or not, is ignorant of his true Being, the Self.

Take the instance of moving pictures on the screen in the cinema-show. What is there in front of you before the play begins? Merely the screen. On that screen you see the entire show, and for all appearances the pictures are real. But go and try to take hold of them. What do you take hold of? Merely the screen on which the pictures appeared so real. After the play, when the pictures disappear, what remains?
The screen again! So with the Self. That alone exists; the pictures come
and go. If you hold on to the Self, you will not be deceived by the appearance of the pictures. Nor does it matter at all if the pictures appear or disappear.

Ignoring the Self the ajnani thinks the world is real, just as ignoring the screen he sees merely the pictures, as if they existed apart from it. If one knows that
without the seer there is nothing to be seen, just as there are no pictures without the screen, one is not deluded. The jnani knows that the screen, the pictures and the sight thereof are but the Self. With the pictures the Self is in its manifest form; without the pictures It remains in the unmanifest form. To the jnani it is quite immaterial if the Self is in the one form or the other. He is always the Self. But the
ajnani seeing the jnani active gets confounded."

From Maharshi's Gospel, page 61-62

Ken said...

Maharshi's Gospel was proofread and corrected by Ramana - a copy of the manuscript with his corrections exists in the ashram archives.

Michael James said...

Dominic, when you write in your second comment, ‘Upon asking the question [‘Who am I?’], there was always nothing there. The “I” was no where to be found’, who was aware that there was nothing there, and that no ‘I’ was found? Was it not you, the one who refers to himself as ‘I’? What is aware of what it mistakes to be an absence of ‘I’ is itself the ‘I’ that it thinks cannot be found.

The term ‘I’ refers only to ourself, and we alone are what is aware of anything, so to say that we cannot find ‘I’ is like the foolish tenth man who counted the other nine but not himself and therefore concluded that one of the ten was missing. We can never be aware of the absence of ‘I’, because ‘I’ is what is aware, and in order to be aware of anything we must be aware of ourself. Self-awareness is our very nature, so it is what we refer to as ‘I’.

Now we (as this ego) confuse our self-awareness with awareness of other things, so we are not clearly aware of ourself as we actually are, but even when we mistake ourself to be something other than what we actually are, we are always aware of ourself. The only thing that persists is all three states, waking, dream and sleep, is this self-awareness, ‘I’, and hence we are aware that it is ‘I’ who am now awake and that it was ‘I’ who was previously sleeping and ‘I’ who was dreaming.

Since ‘I’ is our every-present self-awareness, we cannot ever experience any state in which ‘there was nothing there’ or in which ‘I was nowhere to be found’. Even when all other things are absent, ‘I’ is always present, so ‘I’ alone is real, and hence Bhagavan advises us to see what this ‘I’ actually is. Trying to see this is what is called self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) or the investigation ‘who am I?’.

Everything you describe in your comment is a phenomenon of one kind or another: ‘nothing there’, ‘blank peace’, ‘quiet’, ‘stillness’, the disappearance of thought, ‘the nothingness blank peace’, the passing of days or weeks, ‘persistent experience free from thoughts about this imaginary “I”/EGO’, ‘the nothing-ness that remains without thought’, ‘an experience free from mental chatter’, ‘the NOW, NOW, NOW feelings of existence’, ‘an extremely liberating experience’ and so on. Who or what is it that is aware of all these phenomena that you describe?

So long as we are aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever, we are not aware of ourself alone, and hence we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. Therefore whatever phenomenon may appear, no matter how peaceful, pleasant, blissful or exalted it may seem to be, we should persistently try to turn our attention back towards ourself, the one who is aware of it.

Every phenomenon is a product of our mind, which is māyā, so if we want to escape the clutches of māyā we must ignore all phenomena by trying to be attentively aware of ourself alone. This is the path of ātma-vicāra taught by Bhagavan. Everything other than ourself (the fundamental self-awareness that we always experience as ‘I’) is anātman, so attending to anything other than ourself (any phenomenon) is not ātma-vicāra but only anātma-vicāra.

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

Bob - P said...

{No. You guys did not read my quote from Vivekachudamani above which specificly contradicts that idea. Here is the relevant portion:]

Ken how do you know I didn't read the quote?
All the best.
Bob



Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Dominic:

What do you mean when you refer to ‘the “I” thoughts that occur’? How many ‘I’s do you think there are? Is it not the experience of each one of us that ‘I’ is only one, not many?

What Bhagavan means by the Tamil term ‘நான் என்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu), the ‘thought called I’, and by the Sanskrit term ‘अहं वृत्ति’ (ahaṁ-vṛtti), the ‘I-thought’, is only the ego (as he states explicitly in the eighth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?: ‘நானென்னும் நினைவே மனத்தின் முதல் நினைவு; அதுவே யகங்காரம்’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē maṉattiṉ mudal niṉaivu; aduvē y-ahaṅkāram), which means ‘the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought of the mind; it alone is the ego’), and the ego is only one. That which thinks and is aware of all other thoughts is this ego, the one and only thought called ‘I’.

Moreover, when you say ‘over time, thoughts started to occur less and less’, I assume that what you mean by ‘thoughts’ is just mental chatter, but this is not all that Bhagavan means by this term. According to him all phenomena are thoughts, which means that the entire world is nothing but thoughts, as he states explicitly in the fourteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), which means ‘What is called the world is only thought’, and in the fourth paragraph, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai), which means ‘Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world’. Therefore so long as we perceive any world or any other kind of phenomena, we are still caught up in the realm of thoughts, and the primal thought called ‘I’ (the ego) is still flourishing as the experiencer of whatever thoughts (phenomena) may appear in its awareness.

Therefore to free ourself both from this ego, our primal thought, and from all the other thoughts that it projects in its awareness, we need to turn our attention back towards this ego and thereby away from all other thoughts.

Ken said...

More from Ramana on the three states where he addresses the question directly:

"Q: For one who has realized his Self, it is said that he will not have the three states of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep. Is that a fact?

Ramana Maharshi: What makes you say that they do not have the three states?
In saying ‘I had a dream; I was in deep sleep; I am awake’, you must admit that you were there in all the three states. That makes it clear that you were there all the time.

If you remain as you are now, you are in the wakeful state; this becomes hidden in the dream state; and the dream state disappears when you are in deep sleep. You were there then, you are there now, and you are there at all times. The three states come and go, but you are always there. It is like a cinema. The screen is always there but several types of pictures appear on the screen and then disappear. Nothing sticks to the screen, it remains a screen.

Similarly, you remain your own Self in all the three states. If you know that, the three states will not trouble you, just as the pictures which appear on the screen do not stick to it. On the screen, you sometimes see a huge ocean with endless waves; that disappears. Another time, you see fire spreading all around; that too disappears. The screen is there on both occasions. Did the screen get wet with the water or did it get burned by the fire? Nothing affected the screen. In the same way, the things that happen during the wakeful, dream and sleep states do not affect you at all; you remain your own Self.

Q: Does that mean that, although people have all three states, wakefulness, dream and deep sleep, these do not affect them?

A: Yes, that is it. All these states come and go. The Self is not bothered; it has only one state."

From Letters from Sri Ramanasramam, p. 310-11

mula said...

Ken,
is it not often said that our real state is the (mindless and dreamless) deep sleep state ?
Why then should that unchanging state come and go ?
It seems that the autor of that "Letters from Sri Ramanasramam" misunderstood the teaching about the three states of 'I'. I at any rate do not understand the statement "the Self is not bothered (by the three states); it has only one state." For what reasons should we create quasi a fourth state for the self ? I cannot see the reason of it.

Ken said...

"Q: How are the three states of consciousness inferior in degree of reality to the fourth [turiya]? What is the actual relation between these three states and the fourth?

Ramana Maharshi: There is only one state, that of consciousness or awareness or existence. The three states of waking, dream and sleep cannot be real. They simply come and go. The real will always exist. The ‘I’ or existence that alone persists in all the three states is real. The other three are not real and so it is not possible to say they have such and such a degree of reality. We may roughly put it like this. Existence or consciousness is the only reality. Consciousness plus waking, we call waking. Consciousness plus sleep, we call sleep. Consciousness plus dream, we call dream. Consciousness is the screen on which all the pictures come and go. The screen is real, the pictures are mere shadows on it. Because by long habit we have been regarding these three states as real, we call the state of mere awareness or consciousness the fourth. There is however no fourth state, but only one state. There is no difference between dream and the waking state except that the dream is short and the waking long. Both are the result of the mind. Because the waking state is long, we imagine that it is our real state. But, as a matter of fact, our real state is turiya or the fourth state which is always as it is and knows nothing of the three states of waking, dream or sleep. Because we call these three avasthas [states] we call the fourth state also turiya avastha. But is it not an avastha, but the real and natural state of the Self. When this is realised, we know it is not a turiya or fourth state, for a fourth state is only relative, but turiyatita, the transcendent state."

Q: But why should these three states come and go on the real state or the screen of the Self?

Ramana Maharshi: Who puts this question? Does the Self say these states come and go? It is the seer who says these come and go. The seer and the seen together constitute the mind. See if there is such a thing as the mind. Then, the mind merges in the Self, and there is neither the seer nor the seen. So the real answer to your question is, ‘They neither come nor go.’

The Self alone remains as it ever is. The three states owe their existence to non-enquiry and enquiry puts an end to them. However much one may explain, the fact will not become clear till one attains Self-realisation and wonders how one was blind to the self-evident and only existence so long."

From DDay by Day with Bhagavan, recorded by Devaraja Mudaliar (David Godman says "One plus in favour of this work is that Bhagavan publicly pronounced himself to be highly satisfied with Devaraja Mudaliar’s skill and accuracy as an interpreter. ")

mula said...

Ken,
thank you for your reply. I see now : there is only one real state of the self i.e.the turiya or fourth state of consciousness.
All other three states of consciousness seem to exist only in the view of an ignorant seeker or are a case of interpretation.
But I continue not understanding why we need to construct a further fifth state called turiyatita ?

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Ken,

Personally I'm not starting this discussion again since it has become a big distraction to me.
Everyone should sort these things for himself...

From Michael's above reply:

" ‘What is called the world is only thought’, and in the fourth paragraph, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai), which means ‘Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world’. Therefore so long as we perceive any world or any other kind of phenomena, we are still caught up in the realm of thoughts, and the primal thought called ‘I’ (the ego) is still flourishing as the experiencer of whatever thoughts (phenomena) may appear in its awareness."

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Nan Yar? is beyond any scope of doubt regarding its authenticity and Bhagavan's own written words. http://www.happinessofbeing.com/nan_yar.html

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Also:

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.ro/2016/10/god-is-not-actually-witness-of-anything.html

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.ro/2015/04/witnessing-or-being-aware-of-anything.html

(about the witness)

All the best,
Dragos

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Also, search "turiya" on the search box on this blog, and also "witness" or any other term for related articles... I'm not saying I understand it correctly... let's just practice... let's see then if we are still aware of a world :)

I-Love-Ramana said...

@Mouna & Ken

Many thanks for your replies. I will certainly look further into this technique and also Yoga marga.
Hopefully this will help me quieten the mind as the quest 'who am i' Vichara is not really working...
In fact I would say im pretty hopeless at it, a dismall devotee as it stands and I have been trying for nearly two years.

Thanks again.

Mouna said...

I-Love-Ramana, greetings

"Many thanks for your replies..."

Your name says it all my friend, nothing can beat that in the end...
Wishing you the best in this path, with whatever means (sadhana) Bhagavan's grace will present you.

Warm regards,
m

manonasa said...

Ramana-devotee,
do not give room to any dismal mood/atmosphere.
Ramana answered to a "sinner" who was asking him "Is there any hope ?":
Yes, there is hope !
Breathe out deeply. Relax and try it again later. Do not give up the fight.
Our goal will be reached by persistence and perseverance only.
We learn continually with practice. Two years of effort are not vain.
We must constantly improve, correct or intensify our understanding and practice.

All the best

mula said...

Dragos,
thanks for your hints.
Sometimes I am eager to understand all the teachings also mentally.

Bob - P said...

Dear Ken

Here's a passage from The Path of Sri Ramana – Part One - page 212
That seems to support your belief that the jnani still experiences the world / multiplicity but experiences everything as itself.

This passage has been mentioned before on the blog by Mouna and Venkat.
Hopefully Michael can shed some light on the deep meaning of this passage for us.

[Though after Selfrealization some Jnanis spend their entire lifetime completely oblivious of the body and world, not all Jnanis will necessarily remain thus. The return of bodyconsciousness
(and consequently world-consciousness) after the attainment of Self-realization is according to the prarabdha of that body; in the case of some it might never return, while in the case of others it might return within a second or after a few hours or days. But even in such cases
where it does return, it will not be experienced as a knowledge of second or third persons! That is to say, the body and world are not experienced by the Jnani as second and third persons – objects other than Himself-but as His own unlimited and undivided Self.]

Personally I still believe that the jnani / myself as I really am does not experience the world / body or duality of any kind.

Here's a verse that seems to support my belief.

Ulladu Narpadu - Verse 26

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

Note: The body and the whole world of manifestation,consisting of so many dyads and triads, are nothing but an expansion of the ego, which is the embryo or seed-form of everything. Since the ego is therefore everything, and since (as revealed in the previous verse) the ego will take to flight when it is scrutinized, being found to be truly non-existent, if one earnestly and vigilantly scrutinizes the ego, one is truly renouncing everything!]

This could go on and on as there seems to be verses that support both beliefs.
I am not trying to prove your belief wrong and mine right or convince you of anything.

As Dragos points out all we can do is practise what Bhagavan recommends and find out for our self. Or maybe not find out if the ego does indeed vanish along with the person it takes itself to be and the world.

Cheers Ken
Bob



Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

My intuition tells me we cannot be aware of a body or world once the state of jnana is attained. I can't have a coherent teaching in my head this way. If I still see things after the experience of Jnana it would mean I'll have to keep turning to what perceives them. Back to square one... I might be wrong! Who knows... Although in Nan Yar it says forms are no longer perceived or we cannot see the world and what we call Self at the same time... We can all agree though on the basic principle of the practice: Turn to/scrutinize/see what is aware of everything else...

All the best,
Dragos

PS: I too am waiting on some explanation of Sadhu Om's words...

Ken said...

Dragos quoted:

"‘Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world’. Therefore so long as we perceive any world or any other kind of phenomena, we are still caught up in the realm of thoughts"

Here is another way to understand why both things are true.

The practice of self-attention is to remove attention from second and third persons, and place it only on first person.

If we do that, then we are not perceiving any world or any other kind of phenomena. If during our practice, we do perceive any other kind of phenomena, then we are paying attention to second and third persons (sense perceptions and thoughts) rather than the 'I' thought alone.

So, in order for us to practice self-attention, it is not necessary for Darth Vader to come and destroy the physical universe. We merely need to not pay attention to it.

Michael wrote (on Saturday, 31 May 2014):

"Since we already experience ‘I’ clearly and certainly, why do we need to investigate it? Though we clearly experience the fact that I am, we do not clearly experience what I am, because we now confuse ‘I’ with other things such as our body and mind. So long as we experience anything else, our experience of ‘I’ will always be clouded and confused (but never actually concealed), so we will not experience ‘I’ (ourself) as it actually is. Therefore we need to investigate what this ‘I’ actually is (who am I) by trying to focus our entire attention upon it (ourself) alone in order to experience it in complete isolation from everything else."

So, if we do not need Darth Vader to destroy the world in order to pay attention to the Self alone, then why should the world be destroyed by doing so?

That is why Ramana states in Maharshi's Gospel:

"Ignoring the Self the ajnani thinks the world is real, just as ignoring the screen he sees merely the pictures, as if they existed apart from it. If one knows that without the seer there is nothing to be seen, just as there are no pictures without the screen, one is not deluded. The jnani knows that the screen, the pictures and the sight thereof are but the Self. With the pictures the Self is in its manifest form; without the pictures It remains in the unmanifest form. To the jnani it is quite immaterial if the Self is in the one form or the other. He is always the Self. But the ajnani seeing the jnani active gets confounded."

So why so much emphasis on the unreality of the world?

On page 64 of Maharshi's Gospel:

"Ramana Maharshi: There is no alternative for you but to accept the world as unreal, if you are seeking the Truth and the Truth alone.

D: Why so?

Ramana Maharshi: For the simple reason that unless you give up the idea that the world is real, your mind will always be after it. If you take the appearance to be real you will never know the Real itself, although it is the Real alone that exists.

This point is illustrated by the analogy of the ‘snake in the rope’. As long as you see the snake you cannot see the rope as such. The non-existent snake becomes real to you, while the real rope seems wholly non-existent as such."

So, this is why he said above: "To the jnani it is quite immaterial if the Self is in the one form or the other. He is always the Self."

In Zen, there is a saying about this "First there is a mountain, then there is no mountain, then there is."

As Ramana just said, the practice is to give up the normal viewpoint that the world is real, in order to be able to perceive the Self instead.

And the Self is the only thing that is real. But that is true right now as well.

Ken said...

I've been so intent on using only Ramana's direct quotes, that I missed this clear and eloquent explanation by David Godman in Be As You Are:

"Ajata vada (the theory of non-causality). This is an ancient Hindu doctrine which states that the creation of the world never happened at all. It is a complete denial of all causality in the physical world. Sri Ramana endorsed this view by saying that it is the jnani’s experience that nothing ever comes into existence or ceases to be because the Self alone exists as the sole unchanging reality. It is a corollary of this theory that time, space, cause and effect, essential components of all creation theories, exist only in the minds of ajnanis and that the experience of the Self reveals their non-existence.

This theory is not a denial of the reality of the world, only of the creative process which brought it into existence.

Speaking from his own experience Sri Ramana said that the jnani is aware that the world is real, not as an assemblage of interacting matter and energy, but as an uncaused appearance in the Self. He enlarged on this by saying that because the real nature or substratum of this appearance is identical with the beingness of the Self, it necessarily partakes of its reality. That is to say, the world is not real to the jnani simply because it appears, but only because the real nature of the appearance is inseparable from the Self.

The ajnani, on the other hand, is totally unaware of the unitary nature and source of the world and, as a consequence, his mind constructs an illusory world of separate interacting objects by persistently misinterpreting the sense impressions it receives. Sri Ramana pointed out that this view of the world has no more reality than a dream since it superimposes a creation of the mind on the reality of the Self. He summarised the difference between the jnani’s and the ajnani’s standpoint by saying that the world is unreal if it is perceived by the mind as a collection of discrete objects and real when it is directly experienced as an appearance in the Self."

Arunamalai said...

Ken,
let us brush away the wrong view. We have every reason to rid ourself of all wrong/unreal perceptions and treacherous appearances. That is the only reason why we are in the body.

adi-guru said...

Ken,
the old question of ajnanis may arise : why should appear at all anything in the Self ? How can there be at all any uncertainty if the world should be seen as real or unreal ? Is not our real nature nothing but the alone existing self ?

Ken said...

Arunamalai said:
"That is the only reason why we are in the body. "

So you are saying that the only reason we are sitting in our car, is to get out of the car?

Such formulations are nonsensical, which is why Ramana never answered the "why" questions. He always advised to first find out who you are.

Arunamalai said...

Ken,
did I actually say what you are insinuating me having said.
It seems your fantasy got the better of you. What I intended to express with the mentioned formulation was only to point out that we during the lifetime of our present body should primarily pay closest attention to get rid of all false mental concepts and to give up the false self that we now mistake ourself to be.

Ken said...

"The best thing we can do right now" is conceptually very far from the same as "the only reason why we are in the body".

Arunamalai said...

Ken,
thanks for coaching.

Arunamalai said...

Ken,
until we annihilate this false ‘I’ by examining it, its defects and deficiencies (its desires, fears, attachments, selfishness, ignorance, pride and so on) will continue sprouting in one form or another.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Guys,

Everyone can come up with quotes to support his/her apparently correct view... in the end let the world appear or not after... let's see personally... For me it was somehow important... The coherence of the whole teaching was keeping my mind quiet. Now the quote from Sadhu Om has disturbed a little that peace...We'll see... In the end concepts are only concepts nothing more... just pointers.... This kind of talk was happening around Bhagavan also... when asked about the nature of Deliverance and what was the after experience he said:

"Get to business on the agreed point, namely that the ego must be got rid of."

All the best,
Dragos

daisilui said...

i agree with Dragos, getting busy to finding quotes in defense one's position on matters that more often than not are of little or no importance, is only strengthening the ego. The mind is thriving and the ego too, resting assured under the illusion of being on the 'right path.' [Ken, don't tell me now that there's no ego [with quotes...]
At the same time those quotes may be misleading for some people. Those things quoted were said in certain circumstances to address specific levels of understanding/needs at a certain time- it is like peeping through a keyhole and seeing a limited part of the scene and drawing conclusions from there...

Ken said...

I understand those reactions, but my experience of reading the threads is that the reverse problem is more likely.

In other words, when people do not understand what the Self is, then they have no way of understanding any experience they encounter, and they do not understand what to practice. HWL Poonja said that he wasted years of spiritual seeking, because he did not understand what the Self was, and what practice to do.

The point of:

* The triangular room analogy of Sadhu Om

and

* The Foolish Tenth man analogy of Ramana

are that you are experiencing the Self right now.

The only problem is that you are paying attention to other things.

That's why Michael and Sadhu Om prefer "Self-attention" as the name of the practice. The only thing that changes is Attention.

Some writers on this subject tend to word things to make the Ego seem like a real thing. But in reality, it is only a temporary focus of attention.

For example, if you get a temporary job mowing lawns for a week, then during that time, if someone says "What do you do?" you will likely say "I'm a lawn mower". Then the following month, you finally get a position as an architect, and you forget about grass and lawn mowing tools altogether. They no longer have your attention. "The lawn mower is dead".

Ramana and many other sages say that the ego is simply a misidentification.

Ramana: "Advaita is non-identification."

Ramana: "The false identification of oneself with the body is dehatma-buddhi or ‘I-am-the-body’-idea."

"D: How shall I reach the Self?

Ramana Maharshi: There is no reaching the Self. If Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not here and now but that it is yet to be obtained. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is not worth striving for. So I say the Self is not reached. You are the Self; you are already That.

The fact is, you are ignorant of your blissful state. Ignorance supervenes and draws a veil over the pure Self which is Bliss. Attempts are directed only to
remove this veil of ignorance which is merely wrong knowledge. The wrong knowledge is the false identification of the Self with the body, mind etc. This False identification must go, and then the Self alone remains."

All three quotes are from Maharshi's Gospel, which was read and corrected by Ramana before publication.

Ken said...

By the way, anyone can say in reaction to any Ramana quote - "Oh, he was only saying that for a specific person." So, you can nullify any Ramana quote that you do not like, and you end up with what you want to believe due to your mental tendencies.

The issue of Ramana tailoring responses to specific seekers is a specific issue addressed by Michael, David Godman, and Ramana himself that applies to specific situations - usually a) when Ramana approves of someone doing japa and worship because they have difficulties with Self-attention, and b) when Ramana talked about divine creation with people who asked about it (see David Godman's comment a few posts up).

But the responses you are questioning are not tailored to specific seekers.

Ken said...

Lastly, I see a constant stream of comments:

" These discussions are just chit chat."

" These discussions only strengthen the ego. "

" We should just be doing Self-attention and not these discussions. "

Then don't come to this web site and read it.

Ramana Maharshi answered questions and discussed these topics, so clearly it can be helpful for seekers to clarify their understanding in this way.

Ken said...

The portion of Path of Sri Ramana Part One posted above by Bob P, continues with this following section, where I have put in bold the part that I think some people are missing.

"So long as one is an aspirant one mistakes the limited form of one's body to be oneself, and consequently the remaining portion of one's unlimited real Self is experienced by one as the world - a collection of second and third person objects. But after attaining Self-realization, since one experiences oneself to be the unlimited Whole, one discovers that all the second and third persons which one was previously feeling to be other than oneself, are truly nothing but one's own Self.

Therefore, even while a Jnani is (in the view of onlookers) attending to second and third person objects, He is (in His own view) attending only to Self. Hence, even though He may appear to be engaged in so many activities, both physical and mental, He is in fact ever abiding in the natural state of unceasing Self--attention."

daisilui said...

Ken,
"Then don't come to this web site and read it." do you see things only in black and white all the time?! When you go to the grocery store do you buy everything in there or you go there with a purpose to get what you need and perhaps browse a few items that are on display considering their use to you?
There's a measure in everything- in this case how much one needs to know besides 'if i am not this body then who am i?' One could say that all the side questions arising from this may be the whisper of the 'devil' in your ear- prove me wrong!
There must be a balance which should to lean towards practice, in my opinion. What is the use of knowledge for the sake of knowledge?! There are scholars and practitioners; in between there are all kind of shades of grey- nothing is black or white...

Your ego seems to take this 'constant stream of comments' as a critique; why can't you look at these reoccurring statements at least as to another 'interesting' subject to discuss- e.g. "'how much is too much/pluses and minuses in knowing 'the gospel' by heart?" If you see this as 'constant', isn't that signaling you that this may be a real issue?

Ken said...

"do you see things only in black and white all the time?"

The statement:

"These discussions are just chit chat, we should just practice and not have these discussions. "

seems pretty black-and-white to me.

Can you point out the shades of grey in that statement?

Ken said...

From wikipedia:

"Ad hominem (Latin for "to the man" or "to the person"), short for argumentum ad hominem, is a logical fallacy in which an argument is rebutted by attacking the character, motive, or other attribute of the person making the argument, or persons associated with the argument, rather than attacking the substance of the argument itself.

Fallacious ad hominem reasoning is normally categorized as an informal fallacy, more precisely as a genetic fallacy, a subcategory of fallacies of irrelevance."

Ken said...

Dragos wrote:
"The coherence of the whole teaching was keeping my mind quiet. Now the quote from Sadhu Om has disturbed a little that peace."

You must have missed this quote from Muruganar that was posted by venkat, I think in another thread here from Guru Vachaka Kovai :

"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."

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

Well... if that seems to be the case... if we simply disconnect from identifying with the body-mind and they continue according to destiny and we (as we really are will be eternal and unaffected, like an all-pervasive ether or something)... if we are still aware of the body-mind but we don't really care anymore...ok... I admit I was wrong... I expect Michael's view on this discussion...

paripurna vastu said...

Michael,
I know that the following question is regularly scorned by you.
But I put this question nevertheless:
Could anybody apart from Sri Ramana, Muruganar and Sadhu Om ever experience ajata ?

paripurna vastu said...

Michael,
I should add to the above question:
...also in waking and dream ?

paripurna vastu said...

Michael,
in which form do we exist when our body has died and have not experienced real siddhi till then ?

daisilui said...

"...we should just practice and not have these discussions." No wonder you see it all black and white as this part seems to be your own black-paint addition to the initially white 'chit-chat comment'...
Anyway, if you look at it more carefully my comment on the shades of grey did not refer to interpreting words/statements made on the site but to the variety of reasons people come here- some for passing time, some for the sake of accumulating knowledge, or some others to understand how to get rid of what they think they know. i made that reference in response to your patronizing comment "Then don't come to this web site and read it." that sounded to me like a rather 'ad populum' [would that work as a plural for 'ad hominem', Ken?]

Ken said...

I always go to lengths to avoid referring to any persons, but instead to only talk about spiritual issues.

But if you insist on that area of discussion.... you said:

"getting busy to finding quotes in defense one's position on matters that more often than not are of little or no importance, is only strengthening the ego. The mind is thriving and the ego too, resting assured under the illusion of being on the 'right path.' "

Certainly "are of little or no importance" and "strengthening the ego" are patronizing phrases.

When I said: "Lastly, I see a constant stream of comments:", I was referring to a period of months from several different people.

I did not characterize it as such beforehand, but certainly:

" These conversations are just chit-chat. "

and all similar remarks "we should practice and not discuss" are quite patronizing.

When someone posts about "these discussions" it is automatically patronizing. It is saying "I get to be the judge of what discussions are worthwhile and what discussions are 'strengthening the ego'."

In order for someone to judge spiritual discussions as "little or no importance", then they have to know the mental state of everyone who will read this blog over the coming years.

When I said:

"Then don't come to this web site and read it."

that is referring to anyone who objects to discussions happening. This is a blog, and Michael has enabled comments and sometimes responds to comments. People post questions and others respond. Some people point out errors in the comments, in order that others not take those statements as facts.

Discussions perfect our understanding. Either other statements stand, or others effectively point out our errors. It's all good.

So, if someone is bothered by that process, then they can either just read Michael's blog entries and not read the comments, or else they can do what they are preaching, namely practice and not read web sites.

unmai nilai said...

Yes, most of us have not investigated ourself keenly enough to recognise what we really are. Therefore we should understand vivarta vada correctly in order to escape from all illusory conditions and ego-bound perspectives. Let us INVESTIGATE THIS EGO and therby see what we actually are.
Without keen and sufficient investigation of this ego we will never know the absolute truth. Ajata is the only estimable experience of a human being.

daisilui said...

Ken, again, i am not interested in engaging in a controversial discussion of this kind more than necessary...

i'd rather invite you and others to take a closer look of the phenomenon of what you call 'a constant stream of comments' [which you see as attacks] from... let's call them 'discontented practitioners'. i doubt that any of the people coming to this blog are what is called a 'troll'. Instead of attacks meant to harm the 'establishment' of this blog, behind their comments i see some sort of discontent/frustration with how things are/where discussions are going in relation to their needs/wants/hopes. Perhaps the expression of this frustration is not always the most appropriate but nevertheless is there and it has a cause.

In my view one of the causes may be the discrepancy between the words and the deeds- i.e., quotes from various Masters about the illusion of the I and of the world, of free choice, the Oneness of the Self... and yet sometimes discussions [like this one for example] evolve around me, mine, us vs you, the choice to leave, right and wrong behavior, etc...no different from the quotidian 'dual' life where people are defending their egos, in more or less subtle battles to prove one wrong [while maintaining a righteous image of the "i"].

You say "Discussions perfect our understanding."
Following the above i perceive a kind of feeling that these discussion do little in practice either because there's no need for further intellectual perfection [which sometimes looks like an overkill in these discussions] or that this perfection is not effective/changes nothing in one's effort of achieving something [albeit there's nothing to achieve but this 'news' wasn't something they took from these discussions], or because they do not satisfy one's irrational hopes to find the truth in words. Sometimes, simply the seeker's mood is in a 'low', discouraged because other than a more polished intellectual understanding they can't find 'real progress' [again, a false concept that proves the ineffectiveness of the discussions for them]. Nothing happens, life continues as before and they express this in a misdirected frustration like that of ~'this chit-chat is a waste of time' [instead of investigating the cause of it/"where frustration is coming from/who feels it...'].

These seekers are coming back because as long as they are seekers they are attached to a human community that for better for worse is the closest thing to their aspirations. These discussions keep their minds busy with 'higher' things rather than with worldly things to which every mind is naturally attracted. So i don't think that your invitation to 'take it or leave it' is realistic- in fact it could go the other way too; it is what is, for both sides- 'intellectuals' and 'practitioners' alike.

Mouna said...

Hello all,
I found this quote interesting. It comes from Nisargadatta, but as we know filtered by the editing skills of Maurice Frydman, the editor/writer of “I Am That”.
It not related to any of the topics recently discussed.
Just an interesting quote.
regards, m

"All experience is illusory, limited and temporal. Expect nothing from experience. Realization by itself is not an experience, though it may lead to a new dimension of experiences. Yet the new experiences, however interesting, are not more real than the old. Definitely realization is not a new experience. It is the discovery of the timeless factor in every experience. It is awareness, which makes experience possible. Just like in all the colours light is the colourless factor, so in every experience awareness is present, yet it is not an experience.”

Ken said...

daisilui wrote:

"i'd rather invite you and others to take a closer look of the phenomenon of what you call 'a constant stream of comments' [which you see as attacks] "

I do not see them as attacks.

Your words seem to indicate that you are ascribing various personality traits to posts that are labeled "Ken" (and perhaps posts that have other user names).

That has nothing to do with discussing the teachings of Ramana Maharshi.

I only use the user names to connect comments together. I avoid ascribing personalities to user names (something highlighted by the user who - for comedic purposes - posted as "Michael James" to show that the user names are not unique).

Except for...

Quote: " i doubt that any of the people coming to this blog are what is called a 'troll'."

None of the posters this past week, but if you read the previous blog entries, you can find more than one troll. A few are sincere Dvaitists who come to "fight the brave fight" against the "Mayavadis". There is another who asked a question of Michael about his own practice, and received an honest (and correct) assessment that his practice was not as good as Self-Enquiry. Since then he comes here frequently to "troll".

quote: "In my view one of the causes may be the discrepancy between the words and the deeds"

Sorry, I can only find words here, no deeds at all.

Quote: "Following the above i perceive a kind of feeling that these discussion do little in practice"

That seems to imply an astonishing ability to reach over the Internet and explore the contents of people's minds. That is quite the siddhi !

You do know that for everyone who posts comments in an Internet discussion, there are 10 to 100 more who read but never post.

There are also those who are the audience I mainly write for - the readers of this blog in 2017, 2018, hopefully 2036, etc.

quote: "sometimes discussions evolve around us vs you, right and wrong behavior"

There was a long discussion about "is it right to say that one practice is superior to others". Here are some comments by Ramana Maharshi:

"But the quest for the Self I speak of is a direct method, indeed superior to the other meditation."

"But the best means of realization is the enquiry ‘Who am I?’ "

"Q: So one should adhere to the conventional codes of behaviour?

Ramana Maharshi: Since the prescribed observances for self-discipline [niyamas] help one to a considerable extent, they are worthy to be accepted and followed. But if they are found to obstruct the superior practice of enquiry for true knowledge, give them up immediately as deficient.
"

"Ramana Maharshi: Vichara is the process and the goal also. ‘I am’ is the goal and the final reality. To hold to it with effort is vichara. When spontaneous and natural it is realization. If one leaves aside vichara, the most efficacious sadhana, there are no other adequate means whatsoever to make the mind subside. If made to subside by other means, it will remain as if subsided but will rise again. Self- enquiry is the one infallible means, the only direct one, to realize the unconditioned, absolute being that you really are.

Q: Why should self-enquiry alone be considered the direct means to jnana?

Ramana Maharshi: Because every kind of sadhana except that of atma-vichara [self-enquiry] presupposes the retention of the mind as the instrument for carrying on the sadhana, and without the mind it cannot be practised. The ego may take different and subtler forms at the differ"ent stages of one’s practice, but is itself never destroyed."

unmai nilai said...

To be aware of being plagued by subtle forms of the ego is quite surely high art (of self-awareness or self-control) not widely held.

antam-ila kan said...

Michael,
in the article of 28 May 2015 you write:
1. The ego is formless and hence featureless
2. The ego is a phantom and hence insubstantial
3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: how does this ‘formless phantom-ego’ seem to exist?
In your recent article you state in section 2:
"What can see forms is only our ego, because it comes into existence and stands only by grasping the form of a body as itself. It cannot see what is formless, because having risen as a form it has overlooked its real nature, which is the formless self-awareness that we actually are. Since it is finite, it can see only what is finite (namely phenomena) and can never see the infinite whole. And since it does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, it can only be aware of what seems to exist and can never be aware of what actually exists (or more precisely, it can never be aware of it as it is)."
So first you state that the ego is formless and another time you say that our ego comes into existence and stands only by grasping the form of a body as itself.
Does the first statement of 28 May 2015 come into conflict with your recent declaration ? Could you please give some explanatory note in this point ?

kalpita said...

Michael,
I clearly understand:
"As we actually are we are never aware of anything other than ourself, and since we are eternal and hence beginningless, this experience of ourself as we actually are called ajāta (which means not born, not begotten, not arisen or not appeared), but as this ego we perceive the appearance of phenomena and are consequently aware of ourself as a separate perceiver, and according to Bhagavan this experience is just vivarta (an illusion or false appearance)."
Owing to lack of knowing well English language I do not understand exactly the meaning of the formulation of the following sentence of section 2:
"That is, if we imagine that as our actual self we are ever aware of anything other than ourself even to the slightest degree or in any form whatsoever, that would mean...".
Particularly I do not grasp the meaning why it is first stated ..."never aware of anything other than ourself..." and then ..."ever aware of anything other than ourself"...
Could you please paraphrase the words "That is, if we imagine that as our actual self we are ever aware..." ?
Perhaps it means that already the imagination that as our actual self we are ever aware of ...would be completely wrong.

vivarta said...

Michael,
section 5.
now we hear the glorious message that "in an absolute sense" there is one ultimate and absolute truth which is inconceivable and defies logic because it denies the very existence of our mind even as an illusory appearance. But why should we investigate a from the outset non-existent mind ? Why should we see (even) only after having it investigated that it actually does not exist when it is from the beginning true that it does already (anyway) not exist ? Will not be your answer if at all that ajata, the sole reality, is left up to the absolute view of sages whereas we or most of us as the inhabitants of the vague and confused space of the relative perspective have to carry out possibly all our life kneading heavy dough (self-investigation) which seems to be a task like a hamster running incessantly in its wheel ? No, your answer would be we have to experience it by own investigation.
Only a sage knows if ajata is true. So as you say all we can do now is to accept at least tentatively that ajata is the absolute truth.

Ken said...

vivarta -

What you said is certainly true.

However, remember that - as stated in the upper left, this blog "is dedicated to discussing the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of our sadguru, Bhagavan Sri Ramana."

The word teachings implies verbal instruction, from someone who is considered by students to be an expert. Generally, students later put teachings into practice, at which time they discover whether the teachings are accurate.

Ramana strongly emphasized that students should investigate for themselves, rather than accept other people's remarks. He would say, quote "Find out yourself".

===

You asked "But why should we investigate a from the outset non-existent mind ?"

Because we need to investigate it, in order to discover that it is non-existent.

I find that the English word "mind" is not the best word to use in this context. We often use the word "mind" to include our capacity to think, which is largely dependent on our physical brain. But here "mind" refers to the contents of the mind, or what is often referred to as "ego".

When speaking, as you say, "in an absolute sense", then everything other than the Self, satchitananda, is non-existent.

However, one of the major clues of Advaita, is that the ego - what is here referred to as "mind", is also non-existent "in a relative sense".

In a relative sense, the world and the bodies of human beings, seem to exist. If we investigate the body, we usually find two feet, two hands, a head, hearbeat, etc. It seems to exist in a relative sense.

However, if we investigate the ego, we find that it does not even exist in a relative sense. When we actually experience this, we will identify ourselves with the Self. When that identification occurs, we then will experience that everything else is non-existent "in an absolute sense".

Suppose we graduate with a degree in architecture. Jobs are scarce, so we work as a barista at a coffee bar. Then we are called by Acme Corporation and are told that we got the architect job for which we interviewed, and to report for work next week. We spend the whole weekend telling people " I'm an architect at Acme Corporation ", and in our minds, that is our identity.

When we get to Acme Corporation on Monday, after some embarrassment, we are told that the office clerk called the wrong person. It's back to Starbucks.

So, our mental identity over the weekend, " I'm an architect " was a mistake.

Similarly, Ramana says that we should investigate our own identity, as our current mental identity is a mistake.

vivarta said...

Ken,
how can we as this non-existent ego investigate what does not at all exist and according ajata not even seems to exist?

vivarta said...

Ken,
how can you investigate the non-existent water of a fata morgana when your mind/ego itself does not even seem to exist ?

vivarta said...

Ken,
our seeming existence as an ego is an error.
We are not at all an ego but brahman alone !
Do not forget your own identity as pure self-awareness !

vivarta said...

Michael,
when Bhagavan taught us that until we experience ourself as we really are, we should accept vivarta vada as the most appropriate and beneficial working hypothesis.
But do we not experience ourself as we really are yet right now even when we experience us as this seeming ego or seem to be this ego ?

Ken said...

vivarta asked:

"how can we as this non-existent ego investigate what does not at all exist"

A good question. This is how semantics gets involved.

As Ramana teaches, the physical body is insentient - "it does not say 'I' ". So, we can consider it to be a tool that we use.

As I stated in the previous post, the "ego" is simply a mistaken identity.

So, there is "I" and then there is a tool, the physical body, with its brain and thoughts and feelings (including what the scriptures call the "intellect").

The "I" uses its tool and encounters words from Ramana and his followers, words that say to investigate "Who Am I ?" by simply putting attention on "I" (or more precisely, by just "being I" without attention to thoughts or sense perceptions).

Since the normal situation for human beings (and other creatures) is to make the mistake of misidentifying itself due to the "I am the body" thought, then it is difficult to create words that are both easy to understand and are without seemingly paradoxical statements (such as the ones you often find).

Shankara wrote something which concisely states the above - here is the translation of his words by Ramana Maharshi:

"It shines as ‘I-I’, as ever-present, direct experience. Know that supreme Self by
means of a one-pointed mind and know ‘This ‘I’ is Brahman’. Thus through the intellect you may know the Self in yourself, by yourself, and by this means cross the ocean of birth and death and become one who has achieved his life purpose and ever remain as the Self."

vivarta said...

Ken,
I am shining as the birthless and deathless I am I which is the infinite whole.
Why should I cross a fictitious ocean of birth and death ?
Did I ever leave the self ? At most this ego-phantom was involved in identification-problems and has to make use of an one-pointed mind in order to know that supreme self.

vivarta said...

Ken,
I do not give a single glance to this ego-thought called 'I'.

ajata said...

Ken, I am actually the limitless eye which is formless awareness. So as such I cannot be aware of anything that is not infinite and formless. I am therefore eternally aware only of myself and of nothing else whatsoever.

Michael James said...

Venkat, I have replied to your first comment, in which you question my understanding of the meaning of ajāta vāda, in a separate article: What is the correct meaning of ajāta vāda?

vivarta said...

Michael,
section 1. and 2.,
"If we look at an illusory snake carefully enough, we will see that it is not actually a snake but just a rope. Likewise, if we look at this illusory ego carefully enough, we will see that we are not actually an ego but just pure self-awareness, which alone actually exists and which is therefore aware of nothing other than itself."

The careful onlooker at this illusory ego is itself this ego.
How can an illusory onlooker see that he is not an ego but just pure self-awareness.
Is it not repeatedly said that an illusory eye can see only illusory phenomena whereas only the limitless eye has the clear view to be aware of our infinite and formless awareness ?
In accordance with that statement would not only our pure self-awareness be able to recognise/know that it is just pure self-awareness ?

Michael James said...

Bob, regarding the comment in which you suggest that I may be able to ‘shed some light on the deep meaning’ of a passage that you quote from Part One of The Path of Sri Ramana (2005 edition, p. 212), I have attempted to do so in a separate article: Why does Bhagavan sometimes say that the ātma-jñāni is aware of the body and world?

Bob - P said...

Thank you very much Michael.
In appreciation.
Bob

Michael James said...

Ken, I have replied to several of your comments on this article, such as the one in which you wrote, ‘The vasanas exist in the relative sense, but not the absolute sense. The ego does not exist in either the relative sense or the absolute sense’, in a separate article: When the ego seems to exist, other things seem to exist, and when it does not seem to exist, nothing else seems to exist.