Sunday, 22 January 2017

Like Bhagavan, Sankara taught that objects are perceived only through ignorance and hence by the mind and not by ourself as we actually are

In two comments on my previous article, What is aware of everything other than ourself is only the ego and not ourself as we actually are, a friend called Ken quoted Swami Nikhilananda’s English translation of Adi Sankara’s commentaries on Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.12 and 2.33, and in response to that I wrote the following comment:
Ken, in one of your comments you quote Sankara’s commentary on Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.12, in which (according to Swami Nikhilananda’s translation) he says, ‘The self-luminous Ātman himself, by his own Māyā, imagines in himself the different objects [...] like the imagining of the snake, etc., in the rope, etc. He himself cognizes them, as he has imagined them’, whereas in your previous comment you had quoted his commentary on 2.33, in which he says, ‘Just as in a rope, an unreal snake, streak of water or the like is imagined, [...] even so this Ātman is imagined to be the innumerable objects such as Prāṇa, etc., which are unreal and perceived only through ignorance, but not from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality. For, unless the mind is active, nobody is ever able to perceive any object. But no action is possible for Ātman. Therefore the objects that are perceived to exist by the active mind can never be imagined to have existence from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’.

If we consider them superficially, in these two passages Sankara seems to be contradicting himself, because in the first he says that ātman itself imagines and cognises objects, whereas in the second he says that objects ‘are unreal and perceived only through ignorance, but not from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’ and that ‘unless the mind is active, nobody is ever able to perceive any object. But no action is possible for Ātman. Therefore the objects that are perceived to exist by the active mind can never be imagined to have existence from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’, thereby implying that objects are imagined and perceived only by the active mind and not by ātman, which is the ultimate reality.

How should we reconcile this seeming contradiction? The answer is simple: the term ‘ātman’ means ‘oneself’ or ‘ourself’, and as we actually are we imagine nothing and are aware of nothing other than ourself as we actually are, which is just pure, infinite and indivisible self-awareness or sat-cit-ānanda, the one ultimate reality, but when we seemingly rise as this ego or mind, as such we project (or imagine) and perceive all objects (everything that seems to be other than the pure self-awareness that we actually are). In other words, as it actually is ātman does not project or perceive anything, so it is only as this ego or mind that it projects and perceives everything.

This is why Bhagavan says in the portion of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? that I quoted in section 5 of this article: ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [ourself as we actually are] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear’.
In response to this a friend called Jeremy wrote a comment in which he objected, ‘I don’t see a contradiction between Sankara’s comments which are quoted by Ken’, and then offered his own interpretation of Sankara’s commentaries on these two verses of Māṇḍukya Kārikā. Therefore in this article I will reply to what he said in that comment.
  1. The seeming contradiction between Sankara’s commentaries on Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.12 and 2.33
  2. The ego or mind is māyā, and without it there can be no imagination or perception of objects
  3. Objects are perceived only through ignorance, so they are perceived only by ourself as the mind and not by ourself as the ultimate reality
  4. Objects are nothing other than ātma-svarūpa, but we cannot see ātma-svarūpa as it is while seeing it as objects
  5. Nāṉ Yār? paragraphs 3 and 4: perception of the world will cease when we see svarūpa, our ‘own form’ or real nature
  6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 7: what actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa, so whatever else may seem to exist is not what it seems to be but is only ātma-svarūpa
  7. Since ātma-svarūpa is not self-ignorant, it cannot see itself as anything other than itself, so everything else is perceived only by the self-ignorant mind
  8. Though ‘ātman’ is a masculine noun or pronoun, it refers to our genderless self, so its implied meaning is best conveyed by the generic and genderless pronouns ‘one’ and ‘oneself’
  9. Since ‘ātman’ serves as a generic pronoun referring to oneself, whether it refers to oneself in general, oneself as one actually is or oneself as one seems to be depends upon the context in which it is used
  10. Since some Buddhist philosophers deny the existence of any self whatsoever, they maintain that there is no support for knowledge and memory
  11. What we actually are is pure intransitive awareness, because in sleep we are aware without being aware of anything other than ourself
  12. In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we must be willing to cease forever being aware of anything else whatsoever
1. The seeming contradiction between Sankara’s commentaries on Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.12 and 2.33

Jeremy, if we interpret the term ‘ātman’ in both passages to mean ourself as we actually are (which is what Bhagavan generally calls ātma-svarūpa, the ‘own form’ or real nature of ourself), then there would very clearly be a contradiction, because what we actually are is the ultimate reality, so if Sankara were using ‘ātman’ in that sense in his commentary on Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.12, he would be saying there that the ultimate reality itself imagines and cognises objects, whereas in his commentary on 2.33 he repudiates that idea by saying that objects ‘are unreal and perceived only through ignorance, but not from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’ and that ‘unless the mind is active, nobody is ever able to perceive any object. But no action is possible for Ātman. Therefore the objects that are perceived to exist by the active mind can never be imagined to have existence from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’.

Therefore, unless we are ready to accept that he contradicted himself, which would obviously be an unreasonable assumption, we have to infer that in his commentary on 2.12 he was not using ‘ātman’ in the sense of ourself as we actually are but only in the sense of ourself in general, and that what he implied when he wrote ‘The self-luminous Ātman himself, by his own Māyā, imagines in himself the different objects [...] like the imagining of the snake, etc., in the rope, etc. He himself cognizes them, as he has imagined them’ is that when we rise as this ego or mind, which is māyā, we thereby project and perceive objects. In other words, what imagines and perceives objects is not ourself as we actually are but only ourself as this mind.

2. The ego or mind is māyā, and without it there can be no imagination or perception of objects

Without the ego, which is the root and essence of the mind, there would be no such thing as māyā, because māyā does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, and it seems to exist only in the view of the ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are. This is why Bhagavan says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘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. The ego itself is everything’. Therefore the ego or mind itself is māyā, and there is no māyā other than that (which is why Bhagavan often used the compound term மனமாயை (maṉa-māyai), which means ‘mind-māyā’ or ‘māyā, the mind’, as recorded by Muruganar in many verses of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, such as verses 22, 55, 118, 296, 560, 597 and 1090).

Without māyā, the mind, there can be no imagination or perception of objects, as Sankara confirms in his commentary on 2.33 when he says that objects ‘are unreal and perceived only through ignorance, but not from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’ and that ‘unless the mind is active, nobody is ever able to perceive any object. But no action is possible for Ātman. Therefore the objects that are perceived to exist by the active mind can never be imagined to have existence from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’.

3. Objects are perceived only through ignorance, so they are perceived only by ourself as the mind and not by ourself as the ultimate reality

What he says in his commentary on 2.33 very clearly confirms that objects are ‘perceived only through ignorance’ and that ‘unless the mind is active, nobody is ever able to perceive any object’, so since the ultimate reality, which is what we actually are (ātma-svarūpa or brahman), is not the mind and is never subject to ignorance, how can it ever perceive any object? The idea that it imagines or perceives any objects (anything other than itself) is explicitly repudiated by him in the same passage when he says that objects are not perceived ‘from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’ and that since ‘no action is possible for Ātman’, ‘the objects that are perceived to exist by the active mind can never be imagined to have existence from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’.

4. Objects are nothing other than ātma-svarūpa, but we cannot see ātma-svarūpa as it is while seeing it as objects

You try to explain away this obvious implication of what Sankara says in his commentary on 2.33 by saying, ‘In 2.33 he says that objects which are in reality the Self (Atman) do not have separate existence and are perceived as being real (having separate existence) through ignorance’, but though it is true that everything is ātma-svarūpa and therefore not separate from it, what Sankara actually says is that objects are ‘perceived only through ignorance’ and cannot be perceived ‘unless the mind is active’, since they ‘are perceived to exist by the active mind’, and he does not mention anything about their being ‘perceived as being real (having separate existence) through ignorance’. By adding ‘as being real (having separate existence)’ instead of ‘only’ in the phrase ‘perceived only through ignorance’, you are limiting and therefore distorting the meaning of what he said. When he says that objects are ‘perceived only through ignorance’, he meant that except through ignorance they are not perceived at all, and not merely that they are not perceived as real or as having separate existence.

When you add ‘as being real (having separate existence)’, you imply that objects could be perceived as not separate from ātma-svarūpa, and you seem to think that if they were perceived as not separate it would not be through ignorance. But how could objects ever be perceived as not separate from ātma-svarūpa? And if it were said that they could be perceived as not separate, what would that mean? Being perceived as not separate from ātma-svarūpa means being perceived as ātma-svarūpa, and if objects were perceived as ātma-svarūpa they would not be perceived as objects, because though objects are nothing other than ātma-svarūpa, just as an illusory snake is nothing other than a rope, the nature of objects is in many respects quite contrary to the nature of ātma-svarūpa. For example, ātma-svarūpa is one, infinite, indivisible, immutable, otherless, formless, timeless, self-aware and self-shining, whereas objects are numerous, finite, divisible, changeable, other, forms, time-bound, not aware and shining only by the light of the mind, which is cidābhāsa, a mere reflection or semblance of the original awareness that is ātma-svarūpa.

Just as we cannot see a rope as a rope and as a snake simultaneously, because if we recognise that it is just a rope we cannot mistake it to be a snake, and so long as we mistake it to be a snake we are not recognising that it is just a rope, we cannot see ourself as we actually are and as objects simultaneously, because if we recognise ourself to be what we actually are (namely ātma-svarūpa or brahman) we cannot mistake ourself to be anything else (any objects, forms or phenomena), and so long as we mistake ourself to be any objects, forms or phenomena we are not recognising ourself to be what we actually are.

5. Nāṉ Yār? paragraphs 3 and 4: perception of the world will cease when we see svarūpa, our ‘own form’ or real nature

This is why Bhagavan says in third and fourth paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār?:
சர்வ அறிவிற்கும் சர்வ தொழிற்குங் காரண மாகிய மன மடங்கினால் ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கும். கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது.

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

If the mind, which is the cause for all awareness [of things other than oneself] and for all activity, subsides, jagad-dṛṣṭi [perception of the world] will cease. Just as unless awareness of the imaginary snake ceases, awareness of the rope, which is the adhiṣṭhāna [base or foundation], will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is a kalpita [a fabrication or figment of the imagination], ceases, seeing svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature], which is the adhiṣṭhāna, will not arise.

[...] மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது. [...]

[...] maṉam ātma sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu. [...]

[...] When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear. [...]
Since ātma-svarūpa (the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself) alone is what seems to be all objects (forms or phenomena), just as a rope alone is what seems to be a snake, if we are aware of ātma-svarūpa as ātma-svarūpa we cannot be aware of it as any objects, and if we are aware of it as any objects we cannot be aware of it as ātma-svarūpa.

6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 7: what actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa, so whatever else may seem to exist is not what it seems to be but is only ātma-svarūpa

As Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), which means ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa’, so whatever else may seem to exist does not actually exist as it seems to be, because what it actually is is only ātma-svarūpa. Therefore all objects, forms or phenomena do not actually exist as such, because what they actually are is only ātma-svarūpa.

7. Since ātma-svarūpa is not self-ignorant, it cannot see itself as anything other than itself, so everything else is perceived only by the self-ignorant mind

Since ātma-svarūpa can never be self-ignorant, it is always aware of itself as it actually is, and therefore it can never be aware of itself as anything else (as any objects, forms or phenomena). Therefore what is aware of ātma-svarūpa as if it were numerous objects, forms or phenomena is not ourself as we actually are (because what we actually are is just ātma-svarūpa) but only ourself as this self-ignorant ego or mind, which is māyā. This is why in his commentary on 2.12 Sankara says that oneself (ātman) by one’s own māyā (that is, by rising as the mind) imagines in oneself the different objects, and that oneself cognises them as one has imagined them (that is, by one’s own māyā, which is what appears as this mind and thereby projects and perceives all objects).

8. Though ‘ātman’ is a masculine noun or pronoun, it refers to our genderless self, so its implied meaning is best conveyed by the generic and genderless pronouns ‘one’ and ‘oneself’

In his translation of Sankara’s commentary on 2.12 Nikhilananda translated this portion as: ‘The self-luminous Ātman himself, by his own Māyā, imagines in himself the different objects [...] like the imagining of the snake, etc., in the rope, etc. He himself cognizes them, as he has imagined them’. Though in this context ātman means ‘oneself’, and though oneself is genderless, Nikhilananda used masculine third person pronouns to refer to it because, as I explained in the final section of my previous article, ‘ātman’ is a singular and masculine noun or pronoun, even though it can refer to a noun of any number or gender (and hence depending on the context it can mean myself, yourself, himself, herself, itself, ourselves, yourselves or themselves). Therefore though Nikhilananda treated ‘ātman’ literally as masculine by using masculine pronouns to refer to it, the implied meaning of this portion can be conveyed more clearly by using the generic and genderless pronouns ‘one’ and ‘oneself’ in place of ‘he’, ‘him’ and ‘himself’.

9. Since ‘ātman’ serves as a generic pronoun referring to oneself, whether it refers to oneself in general, oneself as one actually is or oneself as one seems to be depends upon the context in which it is used

In your comment you wrote, ‘I don’t think you can argue that in 2.12 Sankara is using atman to refer to “oneself”’, but in a spiritual context such as this ‘ātman’ cannot refer to anything other than oneself (or ourself), because there is no other ‘self’ that it could refer to, since we are one and indivisible. The question we need to consider, therefore, is not whether or not it refers to ourself, but whether it refers to ourself in general or specifically either to ourself as we actually are or to ourself as as we seem to be, namely this ego or mind. In this case we cannot say that it refers specifically either to ourself as we actually are or to ourself as this mind, because what is self-luminous is only ourself as we actually are, whereas what imagines and perceives objects is only ourself as the mind that we now seem to be, so Sankara is using the term ‘ātman’ here to refer to ourself in general.

That is, what we actually are is self-luminous, because we ourself are the fundamental awareness that illumines (or makes known) our own existence, but when we seem to be this ego or mind, as such (that is, as this ego or mind) we imagine and perceive objects. Since we are one, infinite, indivisible and immutable, we never actually change in any way whatsoever, so we do not actually rise as or become this ego, but in the limited and distorted view of this ego, which is māyā or ‘what is not’, we seem to be this ego, and as such we seem to perceive objects, which are things that seem to be other than ourself, the subject who perceives them. Our seeming existence as this object-perceiving ego is just māyā, which means that it does not actually exist at all, even though it seems to exist from the perspective of ourself as this ego, but not from the perspective of ourself as the ultimate reality that we actually are (as Sankara says explicitly in his commentary on 2.33).

10. Since some Buddhist philosophers deny the existence of any self whatsoever, they maintain that there is no support for knowledge and memory

As you say, in his commentary on 2.12 Sankara was arguing against the view of ‘Buddhistic nihilists’ who maintain that there is no support for knowledge and memory, since they deny the existence of any self (ātman) that knows or remembers. However, you are not quite correct when you write that ‘the essential difference between Vedanta and Buddhism (as Sankara notes) is that Buddhists deny the existence of a universal Self’, firstly because not all Buddhists deny the existence of any self, but only certain nihilistic schools of Buddhist philosophy do so, and secondly because what the nihilists deny is not just the existence of ‘a universal Self’ but of any self whatsoever.

If they denied just the existence of any infinite self (which is what I assume you mean by the term ‘a universal Self’) and accepted the existence of a finite self, they would not have to maintain that there is no support for knowledge and memory, because the immediate support for knowledge and memory is our finite self (the ego, mind or jīva), since this finite self is what knows and remembers objects. However, they take the absurd position of denying the existence of any self whatsoever, so they have to maintain that there is no support for knowledge and memory, since there is no one to know or remember anything.

Knowledge and memory could not seem to exist if we did not seem to be this ego or mind, which is what knows and remembers things other than itself, so since they do seem to exist, we cannot deny that we seem to be the one who knows and remembers. And since we could not seem to know or remember anything if we did not actually exist, we cannot reasonably deny or doubt our own existence. Therefore the question we need to consider is not whether or not we actually exist, but whether or not we are actually what we seem to be. So what actually are we? Are we this finite ego, the one who knows and remembers other things, as we now seem to be, or not?

Though we now seem to be this object-knowing ego, we did not seem to be any such thing while we were asleep, yet we existed and were aware of our existence then. Therefore, since we were aware of ourself while asleep, even though we were not then aware of this ego or of anything else, this ego cannot be what we actually are. Hence, since we exist whether this ego appears or not, we ourself are the source from which it rises (appears) and into which it subsides (disappears), so we are the base or foundation that supports its seeming existence in waking and dream. Therefore just as the ego is the support for knowledge and memory, what we actually are is the support for the ego, so whereas the ego is the immediate support for knowledge and memory, what we actually are is their ultimate support.

The Buddhist philosophers who deny the existence of any self whatsoever are thereby maintaining an absurd contention, because the term ‘self’ refers to nothing other than whatever thing it is the self of, since nothing can be other than itself. For example, a table and itself are not two different things, because in this context the term ‘itself’ refers only to the table itself. Likewise, we and ourself are not two different things, because each of this pair of pronouns refers to the same thing, namely us ourself. Therefore we cannot deny the existence of any self whatsoever without thereby denying the existence of anything whatsoever, because nothing could exist without itself, since nothing is anything other than itself.

As I explained in What did Buddha mean by anattā?, anattā is a Pali form of the Sanskrit term अनात्मन् (anātman), which means ‘non-self’ or ‘not oneself’, but his use of this term was misinterpreted by many Buddhists to mean that there is no self at all. When he said, for example (as recorded in various texts such as Dhammapada verse 279), ‘sabbē dhammā anattā’, which means ‘All phenomena are non-self’, he obviously did not mean that anything is not itself (which would be absurd), but only that all impermanent things (everything that appears and disappears or that changes in any way) are not ourself — that is, they are not what we actually are. In this respect what Buddha taught is the same as what Gaudapada, Sankara and Bhagavan taught.

Since in his commentary on Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.12 Sankara was repudiating the view of those Buddhists who deny the existence of any self whatsoever and who therefore have to maintain that there is no support for knowledge and memory of objects, we do not have to interpret his use of the term ‘ātman’ in this context to mean ourself as we actually are, because if we interpret it to mean ourself in general, what he says would still be a repudiation of their absurd view. What supports our knowledge and memory of objects is ourself as this ego or mind, and what supports our seeming existence as this ego or mind is ourself as we actually are.

11. What we actually are is pure intransitive awareness, because in sleep we are aware without being aware of anything other than ourself

You end your comment by asking, ‘How can awareness not be aware?’, but I am not sure what you intend to imply by this. Presumably you are using the term ‘awareness’ here in the sense of ‘what is aware’, and obviously in this sense awareness cannot not be aware, because if it were not aware it would not be awareness. What is actually aware is always aware, but being aware does not entail being aware of anything other than oneself, because in sleep we are aware without being aware of anything other than ourself.

Since we are aware in sleep without being aware of anything other than ourself, being aware of other things (objects or phenomena), as we are in waking and dream, is just a temporary appearance, and hence it is not our real awareness. Being aware of other things is what Bhagavan called சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), which literally means ‘pointing’ or ‘showing’ awareness and which therefore implies transitive or object-knowing awareness, and since what is aware of other things (objects or phenomena) is only the ego or mind, he often used this term to refer to the mind. Since awareness of other things (transitive awareness or suṭṭaṟivu) appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep, it is not real awareness, nor is it what we actually are.

Whether we are aware of other things or not, we are always aware, so the awareness that we actually are is not transitive awareness (awareness of other things) but only pure intransitive awareness (awareness that is just aware, without being aware of anything other than itself), which is what we experience alone in sleep, and which is the foundation of the transitive awareness that we experience in waking and dream. That is, since we could not be aware of anything unless we were aware, intransitive awareness is what supports the appearance of transitive awareness in waking and dream, but since we continue to be aware even when we are not aware of anything else, as in sleep, intransitive awareness is permanent, and hence it alone is real awareness, as Bhagavan explains very clearly in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (which I cited and discussed in detail in section 16 of my previous article).

12. In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we must be willing to cease forever being aware of anything else whatsoever

Why does it matter whether what perceives objects is ourself as we actually are or ourself as this ego? Why did Bhagavan emphasise in so many ways (such as in the various verses and passages from Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Yār? and Guru Vācaka Kōvai that I cited and discussed in my previous article, What is aware of everything other than ourself is only the ego and not ourself as we actually are) that as our actual self (ātma-svarūpa) we are not aware of anything other than ourself, and that it is only as this ego that we are aware of other things? And why did he say in the third and fourth paragraphs of Nāṉ Yār? that we cannot see our real nature (svarūpa) unless perception of the world ceases, because when we are aware of any world we are not aware of svarūpa, and when we are aware of svarūpa we will not be aware of any world? And why did Sankara likewise say in his commentary on Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.33 that objects are ‘perceived only through ignorance, but not from the standpoint of the Ultimate Reality’ and that ‘unless the mind is active, nobody is ever able to perceive any object’?

What they taught us in this regard matters because we are faced with an extremely stark choice: either we can continue perceiving phenomena and therefore not being aware of ourself as we actually are, or we can be aware of ourself as we actually are and therefore cease perceiving phenomena. We cannot have our cake and eat it. So long as we choose to continue being aware of phenomena, we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are, and if we choose to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we must give up being aware of phenomena.

The reason we are all still here discussing this subject is that we have not yet chosen to be aware of ourself as we actually are and thereby to give up being aware of anything else. Therefore we each need to be aware of our present unwillingness to pay the simple price that is necessary in order for us to be aware of ourself as we actually are, namely the price of giving up being aware of anything else, because only if we recognise that this is the reason why we are not yet aware of ourself as we actually are will we be willing to begin working to give up our attachment to being aware of other things.

How can we give up this attachment? The first requirement is willingness to try to do so, and in order to be willing to try we must recognise that it is necessary for us to do so. Once we have recognised this and are therefore willing to try, we are ready to begin patiently and persistently turning our attention back towards ourself, the one who is aware of all other things. When we try to do so, we will find that our attention is constantly being drawn back to other things, but if we persevere in trying to turn it back to ourself whenever it is drawn away towards anything else, we will thereby gradually weaken our viṣaya-vāsanās (our inclinations, propensities, desires or liking to be aware of anything other than ourself) and correspondingly strengthen our sat-vāsanā (our inclination, liking or love just to be, which entails being aware of ourself alone).

This is the simple path of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) that Bhagavan taught us, and it is the only means by which we can weaken and eventually destroy all our viṣaya-vāsanās along with their root, the ego, who is the one who likes to be aware of other things (viṣayas) and is therefore unwilling to give up being aware of them forever.

Since the ego rises, stands and flourishes only by grasping form (namely viṣayas: objects, phenomena or things other than itself), as Bhagavan explains in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, it is naturally inclined to continue doing so, because it cannot survive unless it does. However, by persistent practice of self-attentiveness it can gradually cultivate the love to be aware of itself alone, and thereby weaken its inclination to cling to other things, until eventually its love to be aware of itself alone will consume all its other desires and attachments.

Though we now seem to be this object-grasping ego, it is not what we actually are, and since it is nothing but a mistaken awareness of ourself as a body, which is something other than what we actually are, it does not actually exist as such. It seems to exist and to be ourself only so long as it grasps other things by being aware of them, so if it ceases to grasp them by trying to be aware of itself alone, its illusory existence will dissolve and be consumed forever in the clear light of pure intransitive self-awareness, which is what we actually are and what alone actually exists.

31 comments:

Jeremy said...

Michael,

The passage from Sankara which Ken quoted (Karika 2.12) says:

The self-luminous Ātman himself, by his own Māyā, imagines in himself the different objects, to be described hereafter. It is like the imagining of the snake, etc., in the rope, etc. He himself cognizes them, as he has imagined them. There is no other substratum of knowledge and memory. The aim of Vedānta is to declare that knowledge and memory are not without, support as the Buddhistic nihilists maintain.

In this passage you concede that “self-luminous” describes the infinite Self rather than the limited self, but explain that the imagination of objects (that is here ascribed to the infinite Self) is actually performed by the limited self (ego/mind), and say that the contradiction is only apparent because the limited self is in reality the infinite Self.

If you take that argument to its logical conclusion, you could say that everything that the limited self perceives is in reality perceived by the infinite Self.

Michael James said...

Jeremy, if a poor actor acts as King Midas, we can say that as Midas he is very rich, but he is rich only as Midas, because as an actor he is still poor. Likewise, when it is said that we (oneself or ātman) as the ego perceive objects through ignorance, that means that only as this self-ignorant ego do we perceive them, because as we actually are we are not self-ignorant and hence we are always aware of ourself as we actually are, and since what we actually are alone exists, there is nothing other than ourself that we could ever be aware of.

You argue that ‘because the limited self is in reality the infinite Self’, ‘you could say that everything that the limited self perceives is in reality perceived by the infinite Self’, but though that is true in a certain sense, we need to understand in what sense it is true. As the infinite awareness that we actually are, we are aware of everything that the ego is aware of, but with one very important difference, namely that whereas the ego is aware of everything as a multitude of objects (forms or phenomena), which appear and disappear and undergo numerous other changes, what we actually are is aware of everything as itself, which is one, formless, infinite, indivisible and every unchanging. What is seen is the same, but what it is seen as is quite different.

The subject we are now discussing is a very subtle one, so it is expressed by Bhagavan, Sankara and others in an appropriately nuanced manner, so if we want to understand their words correctly, we have to cultivate an equally nuanced understanding.

Michael James said...

Jeremy, in brief, as the ego we see the one as many, but as the one we see the one as one.

Jeremy said...

Michael,

In the actor analogy the actor (representing the infinite Self) is aware of the play and is also aware of the reality behind the play, whereas the character (the ego/mind) is aware of the play but is not aware of the reality behind the play.

Jeremy said...

Michael,

“whereas the ego is aware of everything as a multitude of objects (forms or phenomena), which appear and disappear and undergo numerous other changes, what we actually are is aware of everything as itself”

I think this agrees with what I said in a comment on your previous article:

“My understanding of Ramana and Vedanta is that the world does exist but it does not exist separately from Brahman. Seeing the world is not a misperception. The misperception is seeing the world as separate objects.”

Jeremy said...

Michael,

The translation of Kārikā 2.12 has a footnote which discusses the question of solipsism:

“This illusory Jīva, Īśvara and the world last as long as ignorance (Māyā) lasts. Solipsism cannot be a charge against Vedānta. For, according to Vedānta, the ego is not the creator of the non-ego. They come into existence together. One cannot exist without the other. From the relative standpoint both ego and non-ego are the products of the mentation of Īśvara or the cosmic mind.”

Is that also your opinion?

I'm not a robot. what am I? said...

thank you Michael
for the article and posts.
especially this is very illuminating

"As the infinite awareness that we actually are, we are aware of everything that the ego is aware of, but with one very important difference, namely that whereas the ego is aware of everything as a multitude of objects (forms or phenomena), which appear and disappear and undergo numerous other changes, what we actually are is aware of everything as itself, which is one, formless, infinite, indivisible and every unchanging. What is seen is the same, but what it is seen as is quite different."

venkat said...

Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7

As the spider sends forth and draws in its thread, as plants grow on the earth, as hair grows on the head and the body of a living man - so does everything in the universe arise from the Imperishable.

From Nikhilananda's translation of Shankara's commentary:
These three illustrations stress the spontaneous nature of the creation. Brahman itself, without the help of an extraneous cause, projects the universe out of itself. It is both the material and efficient cause.

This is the sense in which Mandukyakarika 2.12 needs to be understood.

Ken said...

Michael wrote:

"Jeremy, in brief, as the ego we see the one as many, but as the one we see the one as one."

That's an excellent way to make this simpler and easier to grasp.

What you say is certainly true, but take it one step further:

As the ego we see the one as many, and the many as many, but as the one we see the one as one, and the many as one.

In regards to this, a corrected manuscript shows Ramana approved this quote from Maharshi's Gospel:

"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."

Yes, "to the jnani it is quite immaterial". As Ramana has said, the jnani no longer has likes and dislikes.

For there to exist teachings by Ramana Maharshi, there are only a few possibilities:

* The first possibility is that this world is completely and totally like a dream. When we wake up from a dream in which our car - with us and friends or family has just gone off the cliff, do we say "I've got to go back there and save them" ? No, we say "Whew, thank god it was just a dream". So, our world is not entirely like a dream, otherwise the "awakened" jnani would not return to the world to teach.

In fact, the formal Advaita Vedanta teachings include three different viewpoints - roughly speaking: from the view of the Absolute, from a viewpoint of the consensus of jivas, from the viewpoint of the individual. A text puts this as "So, a cardinal doctrine of Advaita Vedanta is the scheme of three descending orders of reality, – “paaramaarthika satyam” (absolute reality), “vyaavahaarika satyam” (empirical reality) and “praatibhaasika satyam” (subjective reality)."

* So, since this world is more than just subjective, then the other possibilities are two depending on the origin of the teachings. The first of these is that the origin of the teachings is a jnani, meaning a body-mind in which there is no longer ignorance. In that case, the identity of the body-mind is the Self. So, the teachings come from a body-mind that is no longer clouded by ignorance, and thus capable of helping ajnanis.

* The other possibility is that the origin of the teachings is not a jnani. If the world "vanishes" permanently upon realization, then this is the case. Then each time realization occurs for a body-mind, the world vanishes, and there is a perfectly featureless experience forever for the jnani. So, not only is the quote above by Ramana not true, but also all teachings attributed to "Ramana Maharshi" must be written by ajanis, because all jnanis never experience the world.

That would mean that all spiritual and religious teachings are fake, and so no one actually achieves realization, so even in this case, it is not true that "upon realization the world vanishes", because no one can achieve realization from fake teachings.

So, logically, there is no possibility in which jnanis do not experience the world.

====

PS Michael wrote:
"What they taught us in this regard matters because we are faced with an extremely stark choice: either we can continue perceiving phenomena and therefore not being aware of ourself as we actually are, or we can be aware of ourself as we actually are and therefore cease perceiving phenomena. We cannot have our cake and eat it. So long as we choose to continue being aware of phenomena, we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are, and if we choose to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we must give up being aware of phenomena."

This is entirely true for the ajnani.

dawn of knowledge said...

Michael,
section 10.
..."Therefore just as the ego is the support for knowledge and memory, what we actually are is the support for the ego, so whereas the ego is the immediate support for knowledge and memory, what we actually are is their ultimate support."

The above lines leave me in entire bewilderment.

If this is true which sense/point would have to escape the ego's grip ?
Why should our purpose in life be to destroy this ego if actually are in any case/anyway the "support for the ego".

Perhaps the meaning of the term "support"(noun), derived from the verb "support" in the sense of "hold up", "give strength", "provide for" or "tolerate" makes me confused.

Sanjay Lohia said...

manana ...

Section 4 of this article is titled:

Objects are nothing other than ātma-svarūpa, but we cannot see ātma-svarūpa as it is while seeing it as objects

I share my manana on what Michael is trying to explain us in this section:
When it is said that the jnani perceives this entire world as nothing other than himself, what does that mean? Does he (or she) see all the objects of this world and at the same time see himself as he really is? In other words, does he see both, but at the same time perceive them to be non-different?

This is not the case. Though in reality the objects of this world are nothing other than atma-svarupa (the real svarupa of the jnani), atma-svarupa is only aware of itself, and is therefore totally ignorant of this world-appearance. atma-svarupa is only aware of itself as anadi ananta akhanda sat-chit-ananda, whereas the the objects of this world have a beginning and an end, and are broken up in parts. They are unreal, unaware of itself, and totally devoid of happiness.

Therefore, how can atma-svarupa experience all its contrasting attributes or properties within itself? How can ‘truth’ experience ‘untruth’; ‘pure light’ experience ‘darkness; ‘infinite’ experience ‘finitude’?

Bhagavan clarifies this in the fourth paragraph of Nan Yar?:

Therefore when the world appears, svarupa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] does not appear [as it really is]; when svarupa appears (shines) [as it really is], the world does not appear.



dawn of knowledge said...

Sanjay Lohia,
your final conclusion "Therefore when the world appears, svarupa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] does not appear [as it really is]; when svarupa appears (shines) [as it really is], the world does not appear." prompts me question regarding the included simultaneousness of seeing:
When we see a jnani (who is recognising himself/herself to be brahman or atma-svarupa) playing with a child does he/she simultaneously perceive/recognise the form of the child's body as an object (separate from atma-svarupa)?
The presumption is that the jnani's play with the child happens without any perception of separation from atma-svarupa.


dawn of knowledge said...

Sanjay,
one could extend the question also to the situation when Bhagavan was correcting manuscripts/texts by hand. This work can hardly imagined without perceiving the manuscripts as an object.

dawn of knowledge said...

Ken,
I do not see any difference between "empirical reality" and "subjective reality" because the viewpoint of the consensus of jivas is just as based only on subjective experience.

Sanjay Lohia said...

dawn of knowledge, I was quoting Bhagavan when I wrote:

Therefore when the world appears, svarupa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] does not appear [as it really is]; when svarupa appears (shines) [as it really is], the world does not appear.

The jnani sees only himself. His experience is simply, as Michael often reminds us, ‘I am I’ or ‘I am I and nothing but I, and therefore I know nothing other than I’. Therefore he (or she, to be absolutely accurate ‘it’) does not see the form of the child (or for that matter any form) as separate from himself.

The jnani loves himself because love is his very nature, and since he perceives the child as himself, he loves the child as himself. Therefore his love for the child is infinite and total. We are incapable of such love because of our bheda-buddhi (the idea of differentiation).

In fact, we see the jnani lovingly playing with a child, or correcting manuscripts and so on, but it is only in our view. In his view there is no child and no manuscript. The jnani is anadi ananta akhanda, sat-chit-ananda. By the very definition of these terms (which means ‘beginningless infinite unbroken, existence-awareness-happiness’), nothing can exist apart from this absolute non-dual self-awareness.



dawn of knowledge said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for your reply. In our limited/finite ego's everyday view of seeing material objects of the world it is hard to comprehend for example being aware also of material things like a manuscript, the paper or the pen as not separated from atma-svarupa.

Sanjay Lohia said...

manana

According to me, the most important message of this article is in its last but one paragraph:

Since the ego rises, stands and flourishes only by grasping form (namely viṣayas: objects, phenomena or things other than itself), as Bhagavan explains in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, it is naturally inclined to continue doing so, because it cannot survive unless it does. However, by persistent practice of self-attentiveness it can gradually cultivate the love to be aware of itself alone, and thereby weaken its inclination to cling to other things, until eventually its love to be aware of itself alone will consume all its other desires and attachments.

We are constantly grasping objects, phenomena or things other than ourself, and it is only our interest in vishayas (vish incidentally means ‘poison’ or ‘venom’), that is keeping our ego fat and healthy. Our ego will always make us go after vishayas, because only such transitive pursuits can keep it alive, and obviously it wants to live as long as possible.

Therefore, we have to fight a fierce battle against these vasanas, and this can only be done by our persistent and extraordinary effort at self-attentiveness. Our svatma-bhakti or sat-vasana should increasingly grow, and only then this highly obstinate enemy, ego, can be defeated.

This battle-royal is not for weak hearted. We have to give it our heart and soul, and try to ignore all our worldly concerns as much as possible. There is no short cut. ‘Perseverance and more perseverance, patience and more patience’, this is Bhagavan’s golden advice to us.

Sanjay Lohia said...

dawn of knowledge, yes, we cannot understand the state of the jnani. Since we experience ourself as this finite form, we can only experience things which are finite, and therefore separate from us. Whereas the jnani experiences himself only as infinite self-awareness (‘endless eye’), and therefore he cannot experience anything finite - even if he wants to. Michael explains verse 4 of Ulladu Narpadu in his article: Ulladu Narpadu – an explanatory paraphrase as follows:

In verse 4, by asking a rhetorical question, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kan alal katchi undo?), which means ‘is the sight otherwise than the eye?’, he teaches us a subtle but very important truth, namely that the ‘sight’ (whatever is seen or experienced) cannot be otherwise than the ‘eye’ (the consciousness that sees or experiences it). Hence he says that if we are a form (a body), the world and God will be likewise, but if we are not any form, who could see their forms, or how could we see them? He then ends this verse by saying that the real eye is only our essential self, which is the ‘endless eye’ (the infinite consciousness of being, ‘I am’).

Ken said...

Sanjay

Then how do you reconcile my last post? It is at:

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.com/2017/01/like-bhagavan-sankara-taught-that.html?showComment=1485109265822#c3320863672042274374

Ken said...

dawn of knowledge

To answer your question, here is part of an Outline of Advaita Vedanta that can be found on the Web:

"Mithya can be either vyavaharika satyam or pratibhasika satyam (Mithya common to all is vyavaharika. Mithya perceived by a particular person and not by others is pratibhasika.) Mithya is defined as that which is cognised but which has no independent existence and is subject to change. The perceived world, which is mithya, is a superimposition on Brahman, the substratum (adhistaanam) viewed in its aspect of Existence. Mithya cannot appear without an adhishtaanam. Erroneously perceived snake cannot appear if there is no rope. The dream cannot appear unless there is a waker. (‘Waker’ is a technical term used for a person who is dreaming and takes the dream world to be real but realizes that it is unreal when he wakes up from sleep.) If there were no substratum of Existence, we would not experience a world. If there is no superimposition of the perceptible part of the world on the sub-stratum, then also we would not experience a world. Another definition of mithya is that which can neither be said to be existent nor said to be non-existent. (The technical word in Sanskrit is 'anivacaniiya'). "

dawn of knowledge said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for giving your appropriate comment.
Indeed we should experience only the sight of the 'real and endless eye'.

dawn of knowledge said...

Ken,
thank you for pointing out the meaning of superimposition on Brahman, the substratum.

Roger Isaacs said...

Thanks all for the interesting conversation. A couple of thoughts:

Michael prefers elimination of the world and body as the way. Such as above:
12: In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we must be willing to cease forever being aware of anything else whatsoever.

I believe it is subtler than that. Bhagavan is quoted as saying both Nirvikalpa Samadhi (elimination of body and world in awareness) AND savikalpa samadhi ("pure intransitive awareness" but during waking state) BOTH lead to Sahaj.

If we think of Bhagavan, he was in one of two states: withdrawn inwardly and out of the world, OR interactive in the world but certainly still in the transcendental state.

Therefore, the practice of "being aware of ourself as we actually are" is not just confined to deep meditation without awareness of body & world... but ALSO during waking state. Michael says "cease forever being aware of anything else what-so-ever" but this can also be cultured during waking state by total focus on our inner essence while in the midst of objects.

Quoting from Talks 19th May 1936:
D.: What does Maharshi say about hatha yoga or Tantric practices?

M.: Maharshi does not criticise any of the existing methods. All are good for the purification of the mind. Because the purified mind alone is capable of grasping his method and sticking to its practice.

D.: Which is the best of the different yogas, Karma, Jnana, Bhakti or Hatha?

M.: See stanza 10 of “Upadesa Sara”. To remain in the Self amounts to all these in their highest sense.

Maharshi added: In dreamless sleep there is no world, no ego and no unhappiness. But the Self remains. In the waking state there are all these; yet there is the Self. One has only to remove the transitory happenings in order to realise the ever-present beatitude of the Self. Your nature is Bliss. Find that on which all the rest are superimposed and you then remain as the pure Self.

D.: Yes. It amounts to the removal of alien limitations for discovering the ever-present Self. That is what Sankara says. There is no attainment or loss.

M.: Quite so. (Aside) He understands.

Roger Isaacs said...

Another compelling and applicable quote from Talks #33:

A visitor: “The Supreme Spirit (Brahman) is Real. The world (jagat) is illusion,” is the stock phrase of Sri Sankaracharya. Yet others say, “The world is reality”. Which is true?

M.: Both statements are true. They refer to different stages of development and are spoken from different points of view. The aspirant (abhyasi) starts with the definition, that which is real exists always; then he eliminates the world as unreal because it is changing. It cannot be real; ‘not this, not this!’ The seeker ultimately reaches the Self and there finds unity as the prevailing note. Then, that which was originally rejected as being unreal is found to be a part of the unity. Being absorbed in the Reality, the world also is Real. There is only being in Self-Realisation, and nothing but being. Again Reality is used in a different sense and is applied loosely by some thinkers to objects. They say that the reflected (adhyasika) Reality admits of degrees which are named....

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ken, I suggest you carefully read Bhagavan’s texts written by him in his own words, namely Nan Yar?, Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar. A clear answer to all our relevant spiritual questions can surely be found in these three gems by Bhagavan. These three texts contain Bhagavan's undiluted teachings in a clear, systematic and coherent form. Books such as Talks, Day by Day and other such books are not very reliable because:

• they were recorded after a few hours of Bhagavan having had these conversations, and therefore they are as good as the recorder’s memory

• recorders of these books (specially the recorder of Talks) have added a lot of their ideas and beliefs in their recordings

• often Bhagavan had to give his teachings in a diluted form (in his conversations) in order to suit the understanding capacity of the listener

This is not to say that these books do not contain Bhagavan’s teachings, but they are not in very clear terms, and even have sometimes been twisted by the recorders. Therefore, first we have to carefully read his three gems, and also Guru Vachaka Kovai (a detailed recordings of his teachings) by Muruganar. These are accurate (because these were checked by Bhagavan), though not in such brief form as his three gems.

Afterwards we can definitely read Talks, Day by Day and other such books, and try to separate the grains from its husk. Michael has been relentlessly reiterating this in his writings and videos, and with a very good and clear reason.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Ramana Maharshi on the Self

from http://www.inner-quest.org/Ramana_Abide.htm

Question: I have read much of the Vedas and the scriptures, but no Self-knowledge has come to me. Why is this?

Ramana: Self-knowledge will come to you only if it is there in the scriptures. If you see the scriptures, knowledge of the scriptures will come. If you see the Self, Self-knowledge will shine.

Question: How to see the Self?

Ramana: Everyone says "I am." How do we know that this is true? Do we know this by looking in the mirror or do we know it only after looking in the scriptures? Tell me.

If the Self is something to be seen, there should be two selves, the self which looks and the Self which is seen. Would you agree that you have two "I"s?

Question: No.

Ramana: The Reality that exists is only One. Then how can there be another self which is to be seen? All are seeing the Self everywhere but they don't understand. What a pity! What to do? If the thought "I am this body" is given up, what is seen is only the Self.

Question: You have stated that knowledge of the Self is very easy. How is this very easy?

Ramana: As an example of direct perception everyone will quote the simile of the nellikai [similar to a gooseberry] placed in the palm of the hand. The Self is even more directly perceivable than the fruit on the palm. To perceive the fruit there must be the fruit, the palm to place it on and the eyes to see it. The mind should also be in the proper condition to process the information. Without any of these four things, even those with very little knowledge can say out of direct experience, "I am."Because the Self exists just as the feeling "I am," Self-knowledge is very easy indeed. The easiest path is to see the one who is going to attain the Self.

Question: Why cannot the Self be perceived directly?

Ramana: Only the Self is said to be directly perceived [pratyaksha]. Nothing else is said to be pratyaksha. Although we are having this pratyaksha, the thought "I am this body" is veiling it. If we give up this thought, the Self, which is always within the direct experience of everyone, will shine forth.

Question: Sri Bhagavan has stated this so simply. But the thought "I am the body" does not leave us.

Ramana: It is not leaving you because it is very strong.

Question: Why and how did that thought come into being?

Ramana: It came into being only through a lack of enquiry on your part. A verse in Kaivalya Navanitam gives the same explanation: "Because its nature is not determinable, the illusion [maya] is said to be inexpressible. They are in its grip who think: "This is mine", "I am the body", "The world is real." O son, no one can ascertain how this mysterious illusion came into being. As to why it arose, it is because of the person's lack of discerning enquiry."

If we see the Self, the objects which are seen will not appear as separate from us. Having seen all the letters on a paper, we fail to see that paper which is the base. Likewise, suffering only arises because we see what is superimposed on the base without seeing the base itself. What is superimposed should not be seen without also seeing the substratum.

How were we in sleep? When we were asleep the various thoughts such as "this body", "this world" were not there. It should be difficult to identify with these waking and dreaming states that appear and disappear, but everyone does it.

Everyone has the experience, "I always am." In order to say "I slept well", "I awoke", "I dreamt", "When unconscious I knew nothing", it is necessary that one exists, and knows that one exists, in all these three states. If one seeks the Self, saying, "I don't see myself", where can one find it? To know that everything we see is the Self, it is enough that the" I am the body" thought ceases to exist.

Sandhya said...

The idea that Mind is projected from reality is also illusory? And concepts of unreal and real also doesn't exist. And that is the reason we are taught to be as we are?

"I always am" said...

D Samarender Reddy,
thanks for quoting Ramana Maharshi's statements "on the Self".
However, the first clause of the last sentence:"To know that everything we see is the Self, it is enough that the" I am the body" thought ceases to exist."
extremely deviates from our day-to-day experience in waking and dreaming state.
For example: I am looking just now out of my window and what I am seeing is only the neighbouring house and above that some clouds. How can it be said that "everything we see is the Self" and relating to the named example of seeing a house and clouds ?
I will first of all assume that the statement of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi is absolute correct. I do not mistrust him. On the contrary he looks trustworthy and inspires confidence by his appearance.
Of course, my perception of the neighbouring house is based only on the optical sense perception made by my eyes and the centre of vision in my brain in this waking state. But that very sense-impression imparts the picture of that neighbouring house as an object separated from me as separated from any other "seer". In this very moment I do not feel any closeness/sympathy/attachment to that house and clouds. So it is clear that the "I am this body-thought" reigns over me - at least seemingly. In order to maintain my every trust in Bhagavan (and Michael James) I have therefore to mistrust my own mental sense-perception and should try to cast off the seeming yoke of bondage. Because it is stated that to gain the correct knowledge "it is enough that the false "I am the body-thought ceases to exist" I have primarily to try to eradicate that erroneous and fatal attitude.
May I get released from my suffering from my wrong view by the recommended remedy (perseverance in practising self-investigation), oh Arunachala.

fallen in the trap said...

Sandhya,
the tyranny of wrong ideas is the reason why we should get rid from all that (wrong ideas).

Ken said...

Roger

If you want to go further in these discussions, it is essential to read "The Path of Sri Ramana Part One" by Sadhu Om, which is available as a free download in PDF form, from:

http://www.happinessofbeing.com/books.html#sadhu_om_english

If you do not have time to read the whole thing (it is not long), at least read Chapters Seven and Eight.

Even Nisargadatta web sites that find Nisargadatta's teachings better than Ramana's, recommend Chapters Seven and Eight of The Path of Sri Ramana Part One, as essential reading.

If you look at Amazon customer reviews of Ramana books, you will find a variety of people recommending The Path of Sri Ramana Part One instead of those books, because it is the clearest and most thorough explanation. (In fact that is where I found out about it.)

Participating in these discussions on this blog, takes far more time than it takes to read it.

You will love it - or your money back. :)

Roger Isaacs said...

In the following quote Bhagavan eloquently & brilliantly corrects 1000+ years of drift in Sankara's teaching.

Talk 315.
One of the attendants asked: Sri Bhagavan has said: ‘Reality and myth are both the same’. How is it so?

M.: The tantriks and others of the kind condemn Sri Sankara’s philosophy as maya vada without understanding him aright. What does he say? He says:
(1) Brahman is real;
(2) the universe is a myth;
(3) Brahman is the universe.


He does not stop at the second statement but continues to supplement it with the third. What does it signify? The Universe is conceived to be apart from Brahman and that perception is wrong. The antagonists point to his illustration of rajju sarpa (rope snake). This is unconditioned superimposition. After the truth of the rope is known, the illusion of snake is removed once for all.

But they should take the conditioned superimposition also into consideration, e.g., marumarichika or mrigatrishna (water of mirage).

The mirage does not disappear even after knowing it to be a mirage. The vision is there but the man does not run to it for water. Sri Sankara must be understood in the light of both the illustrations. The world is a myth. Even after knowing it, it continues to appear. It must be known to be Brahman and not apart.