Friday, 6 January 2017

When this world is nothing but an illusion, why do we run after it?

A friend wrote to me this morning, ‘When this world is nothing but an illusion... Why run after it; why try to change it; why try to enjoy its seeming pleasures; why be over concerned about expected profits and losses; why look forward to various relationships... why? Why not just remain still, now and always...When this world is nothing but an illusion...’, to which I replied:

If we really believe that the snake we see lying on the ground is an illusion, we will not be afraid of it, so if we still feel even the slightest fear we are not yet fully convinced that it is just an illusion. Likewise with the world.

Why then are we not yet fully convinced that this world is an illusion? For the simple reason that we cannot be so long as we experience this body as ourself, because since we are real, if the body is ourself it must also be real, and since this body is part of this world-appearance, if this body is real so must be the world.

Therefore we cannot escape from the allure of this world (the need we feel to change it, our liking to enjoy its seeming pleasures, our concern about expected profits and losses, our desire for various relationships and so on) so long as we experience ourself as this body. And so long as we rise as this ego, we will always experience a body as ourself and the corresponding world as real, so the only way to escape from the allure of any world is to investigate and thereby eradicate this ego.

There is no other way, and no shortcut. We just have to follow this simple path that our beloved Bhagavan has so lovingly shown us.

91 comments:

avasthatita said...

Michael,
the path shown by our beloved Bhagavan may be simple.
Much less simple is to get the indispensable precondition of following that path, that is the spiritual ripeness. Just to give an example: The truth is that I am still dazzled by this world and its seeming pleasures to a certain degree although I study Bhagavan's teaching for some decades. For me it seems to be a long journey to be able to knock on heavens door the proper way. Till now I am not able to dry out/up the mighty river of the ego's desires completely, particularly the carnal desires. Arunachala, you might at least try to make me ready some time or other.
Om Namo Bhagavate Sri Ramanaya.

Michael James said...

Avasthatita, if it is any consolation to you, we are all more or less in the same boat. We are aiming for the highest, but are painfully aware of our apparent unfitness for the task we have undertaken. However, sincere aspiration and consequent perseverance is all that we need to succeed in this path.

We have been on a very long journey and are now tired, but at last we have found the way home, so it is now just a matter of time till we reach there, and all we have to do in the meanwhile is just to try our best to follow this simple path that our beloved Bhagavan has so lovingly shown us.

avasthatita said...

Michael,
yes, sometimes I am painfully aware of the apparent unfitness to walk straight the way home. Unfortunately that pain is not storm enough to blow away instantly all clouds of the acrid ignorance.
As you say we never should abandon sincere aspiration and unremitting perseverance. So there is no other way but to try our best to follow Bhagavan's path.
Which emotions may Bhagavan have felt when recognizing/seeing people's or our poor spiritual condition ? His teaching is surely direct expression of his all-embracing compassion for us.

upadhi said...

Michael,
would you view love for music, arts(painting, sculpture, architecture, masonry et cetera) or the attractions of unspoilt nature, walking, travelling and so on also as 'allure of this (illusory) world' ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Upadhi, you ask Michael: ‘would you view love for music, arts (painting, sculpture, architecture, masonry et cetera) or the attractions of unspoilt nature, walking, travelling and so on also as 'allure of this (illusory) world'? Before Michael wishes to answer this question, may I share my views on this?

When we attend to anything other than our pure, non-dual, intransitive awareness, we are perpetuating the allure of this illusory world, because anything other than ourself is an illusion. However, as long as our ego is alive we will inevitably act in one way or another, and therefore the activities you have listed, namely, music, arts, being with the nature, walking, travelling and so on are definitely a less of a problem than, say, our interest in making more and more money or wealth, sex, crime, and other vices. The latter activities will definitely bind us more strongly to this illusory world, and make our ego fat and strong.

Therefore, if we love music, nature, walking, travelling and so on, we can definitely go on with these harmless activities, but at the same time should try to investigate who is interested in these activities. This is what Bhagavan expects us do. ‘Who is doing these activities? I am; who am I?’ In this way we should constantly be trying to turn our attention towards ourself. Eventually, our interests in activities, whether they are perceived harmless or harmful, will gradually wear off as we progress in our practice of self-attentiveness.


Mouna said...

Sanjay, greetings.

"our interest in making more and more money or wealth, sex, crime, and other vices."

Wealth and sex are not "vices" per se, it depends in which context you define those two words. In general they are attached to the social and cultural conditioning.
On the other hand "making more and more money" (greed) and crime (understood as himsa) could be catalogued as vices in any culltural environment.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, greetings. Yes, as you imply, the thought of wealth and sex are not ‘vices’ per se, but overindulge in them is certainly a vice in any context. The more we try to acquire wealth, the more we will develop a taste (vasana) for such pursuits, likewise the more we indulge in sex, the more we will want it. Bhagavan talks about this subject in verse 588 of Guru Vachaka Kovai:

Mean-minded people, being objects of ridicule, will dip only into the pit, the filthy spring of sex; they will never reject it and lovingly take a bath, drowning in the ocean of the supreme bliss of Siva.

Therefore, we have to gradually but surely try to wean ourself away from the yearning of sex and wealth. Of course, our practice of self-investigation will greatly help us to ultimately give up all our desires. Bhagavan has unequivocally stated this at many places.

Yes, as you say, wealth and sex are looked at differently in different social and cultural scenarios, although the differences are increasingly narrowing down of late. People do indulge in more promiscuous sex in the west than they do, say, in India. But the inner yearning remains almost the same, and this yearning is the problem. Bhagavan had also said to the effect: ‘It is better to do it (sex) than to always think about it’.

Moreover sexual energy is a very powerful form of energy. Why not conserve it for our paramount task: our practice of atma-vichara. It is said that if we conserve our sexual energy (called rajas), it gets transformed into spiritual energy (called tejas).

Mouna said...

Sanjay,
Thank you for your thoughtful clarifications on the usage of those words.
Regards,
m

upadhi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
You say "When we attend to anything other than our pure, non-dual, intransitive awareness, we are perpetuating the allure of this illusory world, because anything other than ourself is an illusion."
Is it not said that there is nothing but our pure self-awareness which is without a second ? How can there be anything other than our pure self-awareness ?
Yes, transforming our sexual energy into spiritual energy would be a master-piece.
But in my experience strictly holding back sexual desires leads some time inevitably to an explosion of that desire or any other rescue bid.

upadhi said...

Michael and Sanjay,
to the listed activities I should add also handicraft, poetry and any other creative or artistic/literary or form-giving work.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Upadhi, yes, there is nothing but our pure self-awareness, as Bhagavan has explained us: ‘what is is only atma-svarupa', but we do experience otherness, don’t we? Who experiences this otherness? It is only our ego, the first person. Therefore, when this ego seemingly comes into existence, it experiences both itself and others. Though this ego and all its experiences are illusory, a mental fabrication, but as long as it seems to exist, we cannot deny the seeming existence of everything else also.

Regarding holding back of spiritual energy, it would be useful if you read Michael’s article entitled: Self-investigation and sexual restraint (Interview on Celibacy: Part 1). There are five articles in this series.

He says in these articles that like all other biological needs like food, sleep and air, sex is also our biological need. Therefore we cannot avoid it altogether; in-fact it is better to satisfy it if the urge for it is too great. Of course, this satisfaction should be within our permissible family and social norms, and in between consenting partners. When we indulge in these acts, Michael says, we will sooner or later get sick and tired of these carnal instincts, and therefore try to give it up. However, as long as long as our ego is intact we will be drawn to sexual desires or feelings, in some form or another.

Therefore, to give up all our sexual attractions we have to destroy our ego, and to destroy our ego we have to vigilantly attend to it here and now.

Yes, ‘handicraft, poetry and any other creative or artistic/literary or form-giving work’ are harmless activities. But supposes if we play loud music during night, we will create nuisance for our neighbours, and therefore this activity becomes harmful for others.
We can safely indulge in any activity which does not harm us or others, but should simultaneously investigate: ‘who is indulging in these creative, literary and artistic works? who am I?'

svatma-bhakti said...

Michael,
to investigate this ego in the midst of the allure of any world is surely a ridge walk and a balance act. The string of interdependences (rising as this ego - experiencing ourself as this body as a part of this world-appearance) bind us to the seeming allures of this world.
As you say there is no other way to escape from that allure than to eradicate this ego by the means of persistent self-investigation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, I wrote in one my recent comments addressed to you: ‘Moreover sexual energy is a very powerful form of energy. Why not conserve it for our paramount task: our practice of atma-vichara. It is said that if we conserve our sexual energy (called rajas), it gets transformed into spiritual energy (called tejas)’.

I remembered subsequently , the correct word is ojas and not tejas, though I believe ojas and tejas are quite similar in meaning. Ojas means: strength, spendour, power, energy, vigour, vitality and so on. Thus my modified sentence will read:

Moreover sexual energy is a very powerful form of energy. Why not conserve it for our paramount task: our practice of atma-vichara? It is said that if we conserve our sexual energy (called rajas), it gets transformed into spiritual energy (called ojas).

Mouna said...

Thank you Sanjay, noted.

upadhi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for your reply and giving the hint to Michael's article series "Self-investigation and sexual restraint" (Interview on Celibacy, reproduced in five instalments up from 15 March 2014 till 11 April 2014).
It is rather sure that indulging in sexual/carnal desires, experiences in waking and even in dream rule out the simoultaneous practice of self-investigation.

prowling leopard said...

Michael,
to gain the required full conviction that this world is nothing but an illusion has it not just as a prerequisite to be a jnani (from the outset) ?
To me it seems to be clear that only a jnani can have the full conviction from own experience what is real and unreal/illusory.

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

when the mind is in itself, the question of the reality of the world does not rise.
when the mind rises as ego-world, whether it thinks "the world is illusion" or "the world is real" does not change the state of the mind. the extroverted mind cannot be relieved by any answer. it can only take refuge to itself, when the world, illusory or not, fails to deliver the needed fulfilment.
so the real question is not whether the world is illusory, but if it can fill the heart.
can the ego-state, that we have sufficiently experienced, give us abiding happiness?
so, as we melt in the peace of Bhagavan, we may ask ourselves: what could even come close to This?
we are trully blessed by His Grace to be here.

paramesvara sakti said...

no robot, greetings,
how is it "when the mind is in itself" ?
What is the "state of the mind" ?
Taking "refuge to itself" means certainly to its source.
When you say "so the real question is not whether the world is illusory, but if it can fill the heart." one might think that your "real question" is only expressed in other words because neither an illusory world nor "the ego-state" can ever "fill the heart" and "give us abiding happiness".
After melting in the peace of Bhagavan no more further question (to ourself) is needed.
As you say: We are truly blessed by his grace to exist eternally in Bhagavan.
If you wanted to express that we are blessed by his existing grace, this is also correct.
So if you are not a robot what then are you ?
Kind regards.

Sanjay Lohia said...

prowling leopard, yes, only the jnani can have full conviction, born out his experience, that this world is nothing but an illusion. However, as Michael says, we will take this world to be real to the extent we take our body to be real, and his body seems to be real because our ego is still alive, and as long as our ego is alive it will always experience a body as itself. And since this body is part of this world, we will always take this world to be real as long as we take this body to be real.

Therefore, we can never be 100% convinced that this world is nothing but an illusion.

However, we can believe Bhagavan and theoretically understand that world is nothing but an illusion. We may forget it when we are in the midst of our worldly activities, but at least during our manana we should try to impress upon ourselves that this world is nothing but an illusion, a figment of our imagination, a dream, a non-existent phantom. As Bhagavan says in the paragraph seven of Nan Yar?:

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa[our own essential self]. . . . everything is śiva-svarūpa [our actual self, which is śiva, the absolute and only truly existing reality].

Sanjay Lohia said...

I'm not a robot. What am I?, as you say, ‘when the mind rises as ego-world, whether it thinks "the world is illusion" or "the world is real" does not change the state of the mind. the extroverted mind cannot be relieved by any answer. it can only take refuge to itself . . .’. This is clearly explained by Bhagavan in verse three of Ulladu Narpadu:

‘The world is real’, ‘(No, it is) an unreal appearance’; ‘the world is sentient’, ‘It is not’; ‘the world is happiness’, ‘It is not’ – what is the use of arguing thus in vain? Having given up the world and having known oneself, both one and two (duality) having come to an end – that state in which ‘I’ has ceased to exist is agreeable to all.
Explanatory paraphrase: ‘The world is real or sat, it is sentient or chit, and it is happiness or ananda’. ‘No, it is unreal, insentient and miserable’ – to engage in such vain arguments is futile. When one has given up attending to the world, when one has known oneself by enquiring ‘Who am I, where is the individual who seeks to know the truth about the world?’ and when one has thereby put an end to all thoughts both about non-duality and about duality, the resulting state of egolessness will be free of all arguments and will be loved by everyone.

Note by Sri Sadhu Om: Sri Bhagavan and other Sages teach that the world is an unreal appearance which is devoid both of sentience and of happiness, only in order to enable us to give up our attachment to it and thereby to turn within and to know Self. When they teach this truth about the world, they do not intend that we should engage in futile arguments about the world. If we have really understood the truth that the world is unreal, we should give up all arguments about it and should instead turn within in order to know ‘Who am I, the individual who knows this unreal world?’ Only if we thus know the truth of ‘I’, the knowing subject, can we correctly know the truth of the world, the known object. Since the resulting state of Self-knowledge is devoid of the ego, which is the root of all problems and sufferings and the cause of all arguments, Sri Bhagavan declares that state is agreeable to all.

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

paramesvara sakti,
the question is expressed in other words only to make clear that our top priority motive is not an academic persue of the "truth", but the magnetic pull towards happiness.
we like to play with words and concepts, but what we need is to address our deepest motive, so that our habitual running after experiences that are really not satisfactory will gradually lose power.
in a way, as Bhagavan says, we need to replace our attachments-vasanas, with the attachment or clinging to our being.
so a question like, "where am I really happy? is it when i am having the X experience or when i just am?"
serves this purpose of "making clear" where peace really is.
after all, we are just confused, so such "mini-realizations" could bring some more clarity..

and yes, Sanjay, Bhagavan couldn't be clearer, and, whatever we say, we are just quoting Him.
good day to everyone

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, I'm not the robot. What am I?, Bhagavan couldn't be clearer, because it is the eternal clarity itself. It is the content-less, clear and pure consciousness, which is the only existing reality.

gargoyle said...

after reading Michaels reply....

"We have been on a very long journey and are now tired, but at last we have found the way home, so it is now just a matter of time till we reach there, and all we have to do in the meanwhile is just to try our best to follow this simple path that our beloved Bhagavan has so lovingly shown us"

I recalled verses 26-31 in Siva Puranam..

"As grass and plant, as worm and tree,
as wild beast of every description, as bird and snake,
as rock, man, ghoul and as one of the hosts of heaven,
as powerful asura, rishi and god,
as all of this company of mobile and immobile forms,
I took birth and grew weary, my Master


We have come a long long way and finally found the way home. It may take me many more births but it matters not, I was shown the correct path and have been eternally grateful ever since. Sometimes I feel my practice is going too slow and I become sad but when this happens I read the verses from Siva Puranam and realize just how far I have come.

Jnana waking said...

Sanjay,
why do you call Bhagavan "content-less ...consciousness ? Is that your own experience or did you read it any where ?

Sanatkumar said...

gargoyle,
it is said that we actually took never birth in any forms.
There is no path, no way home because you - as you really are - have never been away from home. Therefore only our impure mind got stuck in ignorance and had to grasp some forms and was now overcome by weariness. In reality we did not move ("come") any distance neither far nor near.
There is no reason for lamentations over "practice going too slow" and becoming sad because we were never separated from siva-svarupa, our essential self, the absolute and only truly existing reality.
So only subsidence of the blind mind by vigilant self-attentiveness is necessary.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Jnana waking, it was just today that I read Michael describe our true state as ‘content-less consciousness’. It was perhaps in one of his comments on this blog. No, it is not my experience, because as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we are always filled with ‘content’: our body, mind and all its thoughts. Only in our sleep we are content-less, but as this ego we cannot recall that state as it really was.

However, theoretically it is clear that our pure consciousness has to be content-less, otherwise it is not pure. And since Bhagavan is nothing but pure consciousness, he is content-less jnana; the jnani is nothing but jnana.

prowling leopard said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for replying.
Theoretical understanding may only to some degree encourage us to surmount this illusory ego together with its deceptive world-appearance. This ego must parch/smoulder and go out by the scorching heat of the bright/dazzling and glorious/brilliant light of jnana.

Jnana waking said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks. Now I know in which sense you wanted to impart the idea of content-less consciousness. I think you thought on 'pure awareness'.

paramesvara sakti said...

no robot, good day, yes,
our pursuit of the truth should result in intense purifying of our mind.
Only a purified mind can be turned within sufficiently. By intense ananya-bhava (meditation on God as [not other than] ourself) we will be able to be in sat-bhava, that is our natural state of being, peace and happiness.

star of Bethlehem said...

So listen you listener:
If the mind, which is the instrument of knowledge and is the basis of all activity, subsides, the perception of the world as an objective reality ceases.
Therefore the only way to escape from the allure of any world is to investigate and thereby eradicate this ego. So you may 'just follow this simple path that our beloved Bhagavan { Sri Ramana Maharshi from the Mountain of Silence : Arunachala } has so lovingly shown us !

Sanjay Lohia said...

This article addresses the question: When this world is nothing but an illusion, why do we run after it? Michael’s following comment may be useful to understand what exactly happens at the time when this illusion ends. Since I found it useful, I felt like sharing it on this blog:

One moment of absolutely adjunct-free (thought-free) and hence perfectly clear self-experience is . . . a powerful atom bomb that will split the original atom, the illusory idea that ‘I am this body’ (which is cit-jada-granthi), the knot that binds consciousness with the non-conscious, and thereby release so much power (power of clear self-consciousness, cit-sakti) that it will destroy the appearance of this entire universe and anything else that seems to be other than ‘I am’.

So, as Michael once said elsewhere, we are playing a dangerous game here. Slowly but surely we are moving towards our own (ego’s) destruction. Cit-sakti, the eternal fire of jnana, is waiting for us to get sufficiently close to it, and when we do so it will explode our ego in a fraction of a second: like the powerful atom-bomb that destroyed the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Only after such mass destruction will all our illusions end forever, and there will remain no world for us to run after. What will remain will be only eternal and unalloyed happiness: as they say, calm after a storm.


Periyar Nandi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say:"Only after such mass destruction will all our illusions end forever, and there will remain no world for us to run after. What will remain will be only eternal and unalloyed happiness...".
What shall do then the other 7 billions persons whose egos have not exploded at that mentioned moment ? Shall they be left to cope with their ignorance and grief alone ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Periyar Nandi, Bhagavan says in the eighteenth paragraph of Nan Yar?:

Except that waking is long-lasting and dream is momentary, there is no other difference [between them]. To what extent all the vyavahāras [activities or events] that happen in waking seem [at this present moment] to be real, to that extent even the vyavahāras that happen in dream seem at that time to be real. In dream the mind takes another body [to be itself]. In both waking and dream thoughts and names-and-forms [the objects of the seemingly external world] occur in one time [that is, simultaneously].

In the above verse Bhagavan says, ‘Except that waking is long-lasting and dream is momentary, there is no other difference [between them]’. However, in verse 560 of Guru Vachaka Kovai he clarifies that even this distinction is not true, and that there is absolutely no difference between dream and waking:

The answer that said that whereas dream momentarily appears and ceases, waking endures for a long time, was a reply given by acquiescing to the question asked. [This seeming difference in duration is] a deceptive trick [or illusion] that has arisen because of the adhering of mana-māyā [the self-deluding power that is mind].

When we wake up from a dream in which we may have witnessed 7 billion egos or persons, we realize that it was just our dream. Therefore, the other 7 billion egos or persons never existed in reality, but were just a figment of our imagination, a product of mana-maya. Likewise, when we wake up to our true state of atma-jnana, we will realize that only one ego seemingly existed (the ego which took itself to be ‘Periyar Nandi’ or ‘Sanjay’), and when this one ego is annihilated by self-investigation, all the other egos which it experienced in its dream (our current so called 'waking state') will also simultaneously disappear, never to return again.

I was alluding to this when I wrote: ‘Only after such mass destruction will all our illusions end forever, and there will remain no world for us to run after. What will remain will be only eternal and unalloyed happiness...’.




Periyar Nandi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
your statement given in your reply may be correct in your ego's viewpoint.
But I referred to the viewpoint of 7 billion persons although they may exist only in the view of this or their ego.
As you say: "Likewise, when we wake up to our true state of atma-jnana, we will realize that only one ego seemingly existed (the ego which took itself to be ‘Periyar Nandi’ or ‘Sanjay’), and when this one ego is annihilated by self-investigation, all the other egos which it experienced in its dream (our current so called 'waking state') will also simultaneously disappear, never to return again." the disappearance of all (the other) egos will happen only when this seeming ego is annihilated. Of course from the viewpoint of a jnani there has never existed any ego at all. But so long as we are not absorbed in the clear light of jnana we cannot deny the seeming existence of 7 billion others.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Periyar Nandi, from the view point of the jnani there has never existed any ego, or for that matter anything other than itself – that is, anything other than content-less, featureless, formless, pure self-awareness.

As you imply, as long as we experience ourself as this ego, ‘I am this body’ idea, we cannot deny the seeming existence of other egos, which all seem to be like ourself. But if we try and attend only to ourself with a keenly focused attention, our ego will be annihilated, and therefore along with its destruction all the other seeming egos will also vanish for good.

Periyar Nandi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say: "But if we try and attend only to ourself with a keenly focused attention, our ego will be annihilated, and therefore along with its destruction all the other seeming egos will also vanish for good."
That is beyond me -
Now I ask you to judge by using your brain and lucid mind, and you may summon up all your mental powers: Have after the annihilation of Venkataraman's ego (Bhagavan as a boy) in the year 1896 all other seeming egos actually vanished ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Michael says "therefore we cannot escape from the allure of this world ... so long as we experience ourself as this body. ... There is no other way...".

Bhagavan experienced his body in the world both before and after enlightenment. So why the issue with experiencing ourself as a body?

Yes, it seems reasonable that nirvikalpa samadhi (where awareness of the body and world fall away) can be valuable for some. But as long as you are alive in a body... you MUST come back to body and world awareness... otherwise how would you eat? Do you think that when Bhagavan taught, spoke, ate.... that because he was in body and world awareness that he lost his enlightenment?

Bhagavan, after enlightenment, continued to have a body and experience the world. This is undeniable. Nirvikalpa Samadhi (no world, no body) is TEMPORARY while you are alive in a body.

So these teachings about "when the ego dies the body and world die too" refer to a style of meditation but NOT a permanent state of consciousness at least while you are alive in a body.

The problem is NOT that the body and world exist, the problem is NOT that "profit and loss, relationships etc..." exist. The illusion that we are trying to remove is IDENTIFICATION with these things.

After Bhagavan's enlightenment... the financial & legal status (profit and loss) of the ashram continued to exist, relationships with students and lakshmi the cow continued to exist for Bhagavan... the profound change was that he was no longer identified or attached with these things, he was totally inwardly free while still experiencing these relationships in the world.

In India, in Hinduism in general, and in Michael's corruption of Bhagavan's work the idea of ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD predominates. This has had a detrimental effect on cultural development & spiritual unfoldment.

Unfortunately this idea of escape is a duality, it is a teaching reenforcing duality and attachment: it is the duality of "escaper and the thing to escape from". As long as you think of yourself as an "escaper" with something to escape from.... you are still trapped in duality. "Escape" is just another form of "profit and loss" and defines your mental "relationship" with the world. Your "profit" is now "escape" and your relationship with the world is through illusions about escape.

The emotional attachment to a beautiful woman (or man) and your job, your house and big bank account and fast car are NO DIFFERENT than attachment to ideas about escape from the world: all are just different forms of identification.

There are ways through this, as they say the path is like walking along the edge of a razor. Unfortunately, Michael has fallen off the path. The continual statements "there is no other way" than the way that Michael James teaches are simply egoic advertising from a delusional mind. How incredible to have an unenlightened teacher proclaiming that his teaching is the only way to a destination that he has not attained. Unbelievable.

This is just the same as a man saying that he alone knows the ONLY way to London... but in fact he has never been to England. Ha! Delusion!

>>"When this world is nothing but an illusion, why do we run after it?"

A key issue here is "who am I?". If you discover by persistent vigilant inward attention that you are not this outward going activity of the mind and emotions such as lusting after women, power, money, big houses and fast cars etc... if you realize that you are not limited to body/world awareness... then what does it matter that the body and world continue to exist in awareness? If you are inwardly free from the world.... then you may continue to act as is natural and appropriate.... just as Bhagavan did.

Mouna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sanjay Lohia said...

Periyar, you enquire: ‘Have after the annihilation of Venkataraman's ego (Bhagavan as a boy) in the year 1896 all other seeming egos actually vanished?’ Logically, you should ask this question to Bhagavan, and know directly from him if all the other egos that he experienced before his ‘death experience’ remained or vanished after 1896.

However, since it is not possible to ask him directly, the second best thing we can do is to rely on his teachings, especially those which he directly wrote, namely Nan Yar?, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar, and also GVK. These are the works to find the answers to all our questions pertaining to Bhagavan’s teachings, as Michael has been tirelessly reminding us.

It would also be useful to reflect upon the following passage from Day by Day (22-11-45 afternoon, 2002 edition p. 49), where Bhagavan says, ‘The spark of jnana will easily consume all creation as if it were a mountain-heap of cotton. All the crores of worlds being built upon the weak (or on) foundation of the ego, they all topple down when the atomic bomb of jnana comes down upon them’.

If the crores of world being built upon the weak (or no) foundation of the ego topple down, how can other egos survive this atomic bomb of jnana? All other seeming egos are part of this seeming world, and they will all disappear without a trace.

Now let try to read and reflect verse 31 of Ulladu Narpadu:

For those who are [blissfully immersed in and as] tanmayānanda [‘happiness composed of that’, namely our real self], which rose [as ‘I am I’] destroying themself [the ego], what one [action] exists for doing? They do not know [or experience] anything other than themself; [so] who can [or how to] conceive their state as ‘it is such’?

What do you infer from these two passages? My inference is clear: this seeming world-appearance will instantaneously vanish when we experience ourself as we really are - like morning mist vanishes on sunrise, and what we will then experience will only be ourself as we really are and nothing but ourself.

Periyar Nandi said...

Mouna,
greetings,
in heavy metal and punk music - even though only in the best varieties of that genre/ kind of expressions - you can at least sometimes hear too Bhagavan's silence, if you have ears for hearing. The longing for happiness in some variants of hard rock music which is surely audible or perceptible by (y)our heart if open enough, is germinating from the same tree from which Bhagavan's silence is growing/sprouting.

Periyar Nandi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
we should not confuse jnana with our wrong knowledge. Bhagavan's state of jnana let 'topple down all the crores of worlds being built upon the weak foundation of the (his)ego' but did not change our ignorance at all. The atomic bomb of jnana unfortunately eliminated only all ignorance of his former ego. However, thank God ! he has shown us the way out of this dilemma that we undisputably NOW experience ourself us as this seemingly ego, although we know within that this awareness is not real.
So we can easily comprehend that your hope that "this seeming world-appearance will instantaneously vanish when we experience ourself as we really are - like morning mist vanishes on sunrise, and what we will then experience will only be ourself as we really are and nothing but ourself." is a matter of your own view and will cover/touch/affect of course only your own realm and not the view of "seemingly others". We should bring us down to earth with a bang.

Mouna said...

Periyar Nandi, greetings

I said (now deleted), "Heavy metal, punk music... Bhagavan's silence... "

You replied: "even though only in the best varieties of that genre/ kind of expressions "

I was referring to the worst kind, which actually is much more noise than music.
Although is true that even noise arises from silence, within their content, they point to different things.
I was drawing the parallel with certain thoughts in Mind that although " born" from the same ego produce very different effects within the transactional dream.

But eventually, even drawing that difference is giving too much importance to something that at its core, is based and built in error, (that's why the deletion of the previous post)

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,

You say:
My inference is clear: this seeming world-appearance will instantaneously vanish when we experience ourself as we really are - like morning mist vanishes on sunrise, and what we will then experience will only be ourself as we really are and nothing but ourself.

Please go into more detail about your "inference".

So what do you expect when you say "world-appearance will instantaneously vanish.... experience nothing but ourself" ?

Would you care to venture outside the rigid confines of quoting others?

Do you expect the world and your body to literally vanish permanently? Poof? The body of Sanjay will never been seen again by anyone? Nor will the body of Sanjay or the world be seen by the that which knows "ourself as we really are"?

Do you consider some sort of integration of your new state "ourself as we really are" with the physical body and world?

Does "ourself as we really are" include the world and the body? Can the world & body be other than God in some way?

Bhagavan continued to exist as a body in the world after enlightenment. But it seems your model has no precedent for this?

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth. Marcus Aurelius

Ken said...

Well, I agree with Roger's last two posts ! :)

Sanjay wrote: " this seeming world-appearance will instantaneously vanish when we experience ourself as we really are "

What is interesting about this point of view, is that it is based on Ramana's writings... but... is found nowhere in his description of Ramana's realization experience.

So, I will paste here one of Ramana's own descriptions of that experience - in which there is no description of the world vanishing at all.

Another important aspect of his experience description is that he very specifically states that after becoming Realized - he did not understand what was going on. I will add bold for that portion.

That totally refutes several people's opinions that "so and so cannot be a realized person because he said something inaccurate about spirituality". By his own admission, Ramana was a clueless teenager who was totally ignorant about religion, and only understood later when he started to read spiritual texts. Clearly someone can be a realized being and be wrong about any number of issues (which explains why many famous sages disagreed on some things).

This will be continued in a second post immediately following.

"Bhagavan: My fear of death was some six weeks before I left Madurai for good. That was only on one day and for a short time. At the time there was a flash of excitement; it may roughly be described as ‘heat’, but it was not clear that there was a higher temperature in the body, nor was there perspiration. It appeared to be like some avesam or some spirit possessing me. That changed my mental attitude and habits. I had formerly [had] a preference for some foods and an aversion to others. This tendency dropped off and all foods were swallowed with equal indifference, good or rotten, tasty or tasteless. Studies and duties became matters of utter indifference to me, and I went through my studies turning over pages mechanically just to make others who were looking on think that I was reading. In fact, my attention was never directed towards the books, and consequently I never understood their contents. Similarly, I went through other social duties, possessed all the time by this avesam, i.e., my mind was absent from them, being fascinated and charmed by my own Self. I would put up with every burden imposed on me at home, tolerating every slight with humility and forbearance. Periodically, interest in and introspection on the Self would swallow up all other feelings and interests.

That fear was only on the first day, that is, the day of the awakening. It was a sudden fear of death which developed, not merely indifference to external things. It also started two new habits. First, the habit of introspection, that is, having attention perpetually turned on my Self, and second, the habit of emotional tears when visiting the Madurai Temple. The actual enquiry and discovery of ‘Who I am’ was over on the very first day of the change. That time, instinctively, I held my breath and began to think or dive inward with my enquiry into my own nature.

‘This body is going to die,’ I said to myself, referring to the gross physical body. I had no idea that there was any sukshma sarira [subtle body] in human beings. I did not even think of the mind. I thought of the gross physical body when I used the term body, and I came to the conclusion that when it was dead and rigid (then it seemed to me that my body had actually become rigid as I stretched myself like a corpse with rigor mortis upstairs, thinking this out) I was not dead. I was, on the other hand, conscious of being alive, in existence. So the question arose in me, ‘What was this “I”? Is it the body? Who called himself the “I”?’

(cont'd)

Ken said...

"So I held my mouth shut, determined not to allow it to pronounce ‘I’ or any other syllable. Still I felt within myself, the ‘I’ was there, and the thing calling or feeling itself to be ‘I’ was there. What was that? I felt that there was a force or current, a centre of energy playing on the body, continuing regardless of the rigidity or activity of the body, though existing in connection with it. It was that current, force or centre that constituted my Self, that kept me acting and moving, but this was the first time I came to know it. I had no idea of my Self before that. From that time on, I was spending my time absorbed in contemplation of that current.

Once I reached that conclusion (as I said, on the first day of the six weeks, the day of my awakening into my new life) the fear of death dropped off. It had no place in my thoughts. ‘I’, being a subtle current, it had no death to fear. So, further development or activity was issuing from the new life and not from any fear. I had no idea at that time of the identity of that current with the personal God, or Iswara as I used to call him. As for Brahman, the impersonal absolute, I had no idea then. I had not even heard the name then. I had not read the Bhagavad Gita or any other religious works except the Periyapuranam and in Bible class the four Gospels and the Psalms from the Bible. I had seen a copy of Vivekananda’s Chicago lecture, but I had not read it. I could not even pronounce his name correctly. I pronounced it ‘Vyvekananda’, giving the ‘i’ the ‘y’ sound. I had no notions of religious philosophy except the current notions of God, that He is an infinitely powerful person, present everywhere, though worshipped in special places in the images representing Him. This I knew in addition to a few other similar ideas which I picked up from the Bible and the Periyapuranam. Later, when I was in the Arunachala Temple, I learned of the identity of myself with Brahman, which I had heard in the Ribhu Gita as underlying all. I was only feeling that everything was being done by the current and not by me, a feeling I had had ever since I wrote my parting note and left home. I had ceased to regard the current as my narrow ‘I’. This current, or avesam, now felt as if it was my Self, not a superimposition.

It was not fear of death that took me to the Madurai Temple during those six weeks in 1896. The fear seized me for a short while when I was upstairs in my uncle’s house, and it gave rise to that avesam or current. That obsession made me introspective and made me look perpetually into my own nature, and took me also to temples, made me sob and weep without pain or joy or other explanation, and also it made me wish that I should become like the sixty-three saints and that I should obtain the blessings or grace of Iswara – general blessings, specifying and expecting nothing in particular. I had no thought or fear of death then, and I did not pray for release from death. I had no idea before those six weeks or during those six weeks that life on earth was full of pain, and I had no longing or prayer to be released from samsara, or human life or lives. All that idea and talk of samsara and bandha [bondage] I learnt only after coming to this place and reading books. I never entertained either the idea that life was full of woe or that life was undesirable.

That avesam continues right up to now. After reading the language of the sacred books, I see it may be termed suddha manas [pure mind], akhandakara vritti [unbroken experience], prajna [true knowledge] etc.; that is, the state of mind of Iswara or the jnani."

Mouna said...

Hi Roger,

"Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

It also applies to you, right my friend?...

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you quote Marcus Aurelius: ‘Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth’. I agree with Marcus: everything we hear or see is not a fact or truth, because they are phenomena – what appears and disappears in our awareness – and anything which appears and disappears is by its very definition false, a product of mind or maya (that which is not).

According to Bhagavan, we can call anything real only if it is:

• eternal
• unchanging
• and self-shining

Therefore, only our atma-svarupa meets these criteria of reality. As Bhagavan says in the seventh paragraph of Nan Yar?: ‘That which exists is only atma-svarupa [our own essential self].’ Everything else is a temporary phenomenon, a figment of our imagination.

You repudiated my inference, namely that ‘this seeming world-appearance will instantaneously vanish when we experience ourself as we really are - like morning mist vanishes on sunrise, and what we will then experience will only be ourself as we really are and nothing but ourself’, but Bhagavan’s teachings tallies with my inference. For example, he says in the fourth paragraph of Nan Yar?:

Therefore when the world appears, svarupa [our ‘own self’ or essential self] does not appear [as it really is, as the absolute and infinite non-dual consciousness of just being], when svarupa appears (shines) [as it really is] the world does not appear.

Doesn’t this confirm my inference: ‘this seeming world-appearance will instantaneously vanish when we experience ourself as we really are’?


Ken said...

You keep missing that:

"what we will then experience will only be ourself as we really are and nothing but ourself"

is what everyone currently experiences.

This is the point of Sadhu Om's triangular room story.

This is also the point of the Foolish Tenth Man story.

The men don't have to disappear. They don't add another man.

Mouna said...

"what we will then experience will only be ourself as we really are and nothing but ourself"
is what everyone currently experiences.


no, what "everyone" (ego/chidabhasa) "experiences" is the body/world.

what "everyone" IS is self.

different.

self doesn't experience anything because experience requires an experiencer experiencing what is experienced. duality.

difficult to understand with mind, that's why god (ishwara) enters the scene and explains all that as witness, ordainer, material and efficient cause, etc.

beyond the concept of god there is no-thing (nothing) only pure intransitive, unconditioned, boundless, timeless, thoughtless, phenomena-less, reality, pure knowledge, peaceful self.

Ken said...

Mouna wrote:

"what 'everyone' IS is self."

"what 'everyone' (ego/chidabhasa) 'experiences' is the body/world."

Therefore Self experiences the body/world.

"self doesn't experience anything because experience requires an experiencer experiencing what is experienced. duality."

But, Self vs Ego is duality.

That is the point of Ramana's screen analogy. The images on the screen are still the screen. Only the screen "exists", yet there are images and the images "are" the screen.

Or as Nisargadatta said, the body is within you (the Self), the mind is within you (the Self).

So, from the Absolute perspective, the mind, body, ego, are all the Self.

Ramana said in Maharshi's Gospel, "You are the Self; you are already That. The fact is, you are ignorant of your blissful state."

If you are already the Self, then you are the Self when you are paying attention to thoughts and sense-perceptions.

Suppose someone who has never seen a movie, walks into a dark movie theater after the movie has started. They only see the images of the movie.

During the intermission, the lights come on, and then for the first time, the person can see the screen.

After the intermission, the lights go off, but this time, the person can be aware that the images are on a screen - he is no longer "ignorant of the existence of the screen".

Roger Isaacs said...

Mouna says:
It also applies to you, right my friend?
regarding "everything we see is a perspective and not the truth etc..."

Of course, absolute Truth can never be spoken by anyone, and I am at the top of that list. A requirement for Truth to be absolute is that it be eternal and non-changing. For our purpose of spiritual investigation eternal Truth is only found as our ultimate nature, eternal non-changing Being. Being can never be totally conveyed with language and concepts simply because it is far subtler than the level of conceptual mind.

This is our dilemma: we seek Being and it is our essential nature, yet it is too subtle to be named.

While Truth cannot be named, it is possible to speak more confidently about what is NOT truth. Not this... not this...

Michael is a gifted translator and blessed with enthusiasm. But when Michael says "there is no other way, and no shortcut" other than what he teaches, I can confidently say that this is NOT the whole truth. Michael does have a seemingly valid PERSPECTIVE (which is remarkable), but there are other perspectives. Masters throughout the ages have never ever been able to present a single conceptual "only way", How can Michael (an unenlightened being) claim to have "the only way"? This is not a mature presentation. And it seems that he will never hear me.

When I heard "no shortcut" in the blog above I thought: but being in the physical presence of a Master can be a shortcut comparatively. Also... intense passion about the process (for example some style of meditation) must help. The Dalai Lama speaks about meditating 5 hours a day and Nisargadatta Maharaj was talking about sitting in "I AM" as often as possible despite his responsibilities at the time.

Mouna said...

Ken,
When we say "stop paying attention to thoughts and sense-perceptions, and instead pay attention to the Self", that is a relative world sentence. In that sentence, there is a duality "Self" and "thoughts and sense-perceptions”.
The duality "Self" and "thoughts and sense-perceptions" is a practice technique.

As per my understanding, here “Self” refers to the ego.

"On the Absolute level of non-duality, "Self" includes "thoughts and sense-perceptions" because there is no second thing."
This is pure Vivarta Vada, where the dream analogy is applied. In this case again “Self” is ego. Let us remember that ego (disclaimer: every time I’ll say ego, we are agree that it does not exist per se but equates maya/mind/illusion/hallucination, etc.) has awareness as locus, the same as the snake has the rope as locus. The rope is the snake only when seen through error (ego), otherwise the rope doesn’t have the snake as atribute or limitation.
In the case of the mirage, that refers to ishwara that actually has as its veiling and projecting power, maya (ego).
Here applies the “non-duality” you are taking about because ishwara and maya are non-dual, like gold and ornaments.

Ramana talks about this Relative vs Absolute distinction in this quote from Maharshi's Gospel page 73:
your quote of Maharshi’s Gospel is pure Vivarta Vada talk.

Mouna wrote:
"what 'everyone' IS is self."
"what 'everyone' (ego/chidabhasa) 'experiences' is the body/world."
Therefore Self experiences the body/world.

I wrote this to establish the difference between sat (pure isness or being) and experience where according to my definition of experience () always involves an experiencer of some kind.
Like “The snake, actually is the rope. But again, the rope is not the snake from the rope’s point of view but it is from the “snake’s” viewpoint (the level where we are discussing right now or vyavaharika /pratibashikam satya).

"self doesn't experience anything because experience requires an experiencer experiencing what is experienced. duality."
But, Self vs Ego is duality.

Again, self and ego are one from the point of view of ego, otherwise ego never existed/exists/will exist.

(continues on the next posting)

Mouna said...

(continues on the previous posting)

That is the point of Ramana's screen analogy. The images on the screen are still the screen. Only the screen "exists", yet there are images and the images "are" the screen.
From whose point of view, not from the screen viewpoint but from the viewer point of view.

Or as Nisargadatta said, the body is within you (the Self), the mind is within you (the Self).
Every time you encounter the word “consciousness” or “you”, Nisargadatta (through Frydman, the scribe) is talking about the ego, or chidabhasa. He uses awareness or parabrahman to denoote self or absolute reality.

So, from the Absolute perspective, the mind, body, ego, are all the Self.
First of all the “Absolute” has no point of view, but I understand that we need to communicate an idea, so it’s ok semantically speaking as a figure of speech, and second that is not the “Absolute” perspective, that is the ego’s perpective from the dream analogy point of view = vivaria point of view.

If you are already the Self, then you are the Self when you are paying attention to thoughts and sense-perceptions.
Of course, “we” are always self and that is all there is… but let us remember that the ego is the link/knot (figuratively speaking) between awareness/consciousness/pure knowing and its own projection, the insentient body/world.
So, when we are paying attention to thoughts/perceptions/sensations/feelings, is the ego paying attention, and where does “it” gets the power of attention? from awareness of course because is part of its make up (one side of the know)

Suppose someone who has never seen a movie, walks into a dark movie theater after the movie has started. They only see the images of the movie.
During the intermission, the lights come on, and then for the first time, the person can see the screen.
After the intermission, the lights go off, but this time, the person can be aware that the images are on a screen - he is no longer "ignorant of the existence of the screen".

Very good description of the dream analogy, again, vivarta or vedantic point of view.

Hope I didn’t sound too boring my friend.
Be well,
m

Mouna said...

Roger, greetings
This is our dilemma: we seek Being and it is our essential nature, yet it is too subtle to be named.
I agree and I’ll add, impossible to be named. As Bhagavan used to say, the closest is “I am That I Am”.

But when Michael says "there is no other way, and no shortcut" other than what he teaches,...
Michael is not the teacher here, he help us understand Bhagavan’s teachings from his perspective because he studied not only with the best devotees but also himself.

I can confidently say that this is NOT the whole truth. Michael does have a seemingly valid PERSPECTIVE (which is remarkable), but there are other perspectives. Masters throughout the ages have never ever been able to present a single conceptual "only way", How can Michael (an unenlightened being) claim to have "the only way”?
First of all my friend, we can never judge another’s “enlightenment” because one, according to Bhagavan, there are no others (the illusion is created because we take ourself to be a body/mind) and two because the only thing we can be aware of is our own existence/consciousness at any moment in time (being awake, dreaming or sleeping).
And Second, Michael doesn’t “claim” as far as I know, to have any “my way or the highway” kind of attitude. Again, he just explains (and proves very calmly, logically and patiently), from his viewpoint, what he understand about Bhagavan’s teachings and why he (Michael) thinks it’s the most direct, ultimate and effective way to know oneself as one is.
No doubt other traditions/masters came through their teachings to the same point. But here we are talking about Bhagavan’s teachings. This is not, to my understanding, a course in comparative religion.


This is not a mature presentation. And it seems that he will never hear me.
Roger my friend, please hear yourself saying or writing this… you have no proof that it is “not a mature” presentation.
C’mon brother, go deep into your heart, you really think so? Why did you write a few sentences above that is a “valid remarkable PERPECTIVE” if it is immature…
And to finish, that he doesn’t or never “hears” you, is definitely not true and you know it. (I know, you might have said that as a figure of speech). Many times he responded to you and answer your questions with a lot of poise and calm reason, even when you claim that his understanding is a “corrupted” view of Bhagavan’s teachings. I don’t know if I could have his patience after such verbal attacks.


Nisargadatta Maharaj was talking about sitting in "I AM" as often as possible despite his responsibilities at the time.
Actually Nisargadatta (according to his scribe Maurice Frydman who wrote II Am That), didn’t “sit in “I AM”, his guru told him: "Watch the sense ‘I am', find your real Self." I obeyed him, because I trusted him. I did as he told me. All my spare time I would spend looking at myself in silence.
To me that really sounds like alma-vichara… and that is what my guru, Bhagavan, kept repeating all the time, as well as Michael.

Be well friend,
m

mind-polisher said...

Sanjay,
would our imperial Roman majesty also extend his very remark into saying:
Everything we say is only a perspective and not the truth ?
How would have been his statement when reading /seeing the Mahavakyas, the Great Sayings of the Upanishads ?

mind-polisher said...

Mouna,
our friend Roger obviously has not fully recovered from his disease of inept criticism. He better should go on holiday to convalesce.

Ken said...

Mouna,

I think the thread has become too confused with semantic differences to be easily followed (e.g. "experience" as requiring an object vs not requiring one), but I will comment on one side issue:

"Every time you encounter the word “consciousness” or “you”, Nisargadatta (through Frydman, the scribe) is talking about the ego, or chidabhasa. He uses awareness or parabrahman to denoote self or absolute reality."

That's usually the case, but unfortunately not with total consistency.

The actual quote I was paraphrasing is:

"You are not in the body, the body is in you!
The mind is in you.
They happen to you.
They are there because you find them interesting."
- Nisargadatta

It doesn't work with "you" as "ego". (The last line is his paraphrasing of the "play of consciousness" idea.)

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Ken,
Thanks a lot for your post, I will print it out and put it on my wall because it speaks to me. In some way, although there is a considerable gulf between me and everyone else here, at times like this I feel the gulf shrinking. Or at least from my side I feel no gulf at all between me and Bhagavan. The quotes from Bhagavan are beautiful.

Where are you quoting from?

The main feeling I have after reading this is as follows:
The transcendental state and exactly how to realize it is totally beyond description. You say "Bhagavan did not understand what was going on." If Bhagavan had studied very deeply then he might have anticipated some of what was happening... but still, all the study could have only resulted in preconceptions which would be totally inadequate.

My feeling is that we here get stuck on words, we obsess on how our descriptions differ. Words only point in the general direction and all words are insufficient. Words should not keep people apart or result in judgment of others who think differently. Words should not result in one group proclaiming itself more knowledgeable than others.

This is good that Bhagavan said different things at different times because no single description could ever be adequate.

The descriptions about the ego, body and world dying do make sense from a perspective. Here we see that the gross physical layer which had been the primary focus has suddenly become a faint background. The foreground is now the previously unknown subtle body, he is rooted or unshakably established in the subtle body.

There are descriptions from sages in the Rig Veda and modern sages that I like: suddenly... I saw all the things which I previously identified with, the body, mind, emotions, thinking etc... I saw them as if from a very great distance totally uninvolved, and although these activities of the world continue and exist... they can never touch me or have any impact on me as I am totally forever separate from them.

Ken said...

I meant to put the link to the original source at the bottom and then forgot.

It is material originally from The Mountain Path, reposted by David Godman in 2008 on his blog at:

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.in/2008/05/bhagavans-death-experience.html

pearl diver said...

Roger,
what do you mean saying "The foreground is now the previously unknown subtle body, he is rooted or unshakably established in the subtle body." ?
Who is rooted...in the subtle body, the foreground or the previosly unknown subtle body or who else ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

mind-polisher, yes, anything we say, do, see, touch, smell or taste is not the truth. In fact, everything other than our pure atma-svarupa is just our ego’s imagination, or conception. As Bhagavan once said:

The greatest of things are conceptions; the conceptions are of the mind; beyond the mind there is the Self. So the Self is subtler than the subtlest.

mind-polisher said...

Sanjay,
may it be a comfort to us to state that the mind is essentially nothing but the self ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,

You misunderstand me. I am not "repudiating" your comments. "Repudiate" means "deny the truth or validity of, to refuse to accept..."

Rather, I am trying to learn more about how you think about it. And I do not think that such statements as "world-appearance will instantaneously vanish" are the ONLY way to describe the event. So I am accepting your comments but trying to dig into it further.

Words forever, completely & totally fail to precisely describe the transcendental state. Therefore, I seek different descriptions from different schools for inspiration.

I believe that the present teaching of Advaita has over thousands of years become slanted towards minimizing the gross physical world. Perhaps this is because traditions that have kept this knowledge are monastic, the monks are withdrawn from the world, so they over emphasize the aspect of world as illusion.

You quote statements such as "world-appearance will vanish..." and this seems to give inadequate emphasis to the world-appearance and the continuing role of an enlightened being in the world appearance.

In my opinion ("my" meaning just one limited mind/body) describing the body and world as "illusion" is not exactly correct. For me it is more like: "ultimately the body and world are DIFFERENT than we commonly perceive.... but not an illusion."

The emphasis in India, in Advaita, and in some of Bhagavan's teaching is that the world does not really exist or is just an illusion and this view has some side effects. It can cause people to ignore their duty in the world. Did Krishna tell Arjuna that the world was an illusion and that therefore duty is not important? Absolutely not! India lags behind the West in many ways IMO due to this preoccupation with "the world is an illusion so therefore why bother with worldly duty and action."

Consider the ancient King Janaka. His conversation with Asthvakra is recorded as "The Astavakra Gita". He is said to have become enlightened at the instant when he was placing his foot in the stirrup getting ready to mount his horse. Now... surely he was an effective King before his enlightenment, and even a more effective king afterwards. So... this demonstrates the very high importance of action in the world... even if ultimately the world has less substance than commonly believed. After enlightenment.... Janaka's perception of the world must have changed radically, but... as an enlightened philosopher king his action in the world must have been absolutely impeccable, dynamic and powerful & wise.... and this is an entirely different perspective than "world-appearance will instantaneously vanish." But certainly "vanish" is one useful and valid perspective.

Ken said...

Roger wrote:

"I believe that the present teaching of Advaita has over thousands of years become slanted towards minimizing the gross physical world."

What you describe is actually the teaching of Advaita Vedanta of the 20th Century.

The present teaching of Advaita - as represented by various teachers one can view on Youtube - has become slanted towards maximizing the gross physical world.

Why?

Because whereas, as you say, previous the teachers were all monks, nowadays they are all married people living comfortably in large houses, making 6 and 7 figure incomes.

More importantly, they spend all day doing something in the physical world that is undeniably important - namely teaching spirituality.

So, they are disinclined to ever examine "normal human life", and so never discover that human culture and human society are inherently meaningless and arbitrary.

For example, in the early 1980s, the biggest topic of conversation was "El Salvador and Nicaragua" (in the same way that recently it has been Syria). This was endlessly debated with great emotion. Many careers hung in the balance.

Today, most people have never in their life heard the names "El Salvador" and "Nicaragua". The only situation had no real inherent meaning.

This is just an example of the concept of "impermanence". There is a good and short discussion of the idea, and its philosophical implications at:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impermanence

mind-polisher said...

Roger,
"In my opinion ("my" meaning just one limited mind/body) describing the body and world as "illusion" is not exactly correct. For me it is more like: "ultimately the body and world are DIFFERENT than we commonly perceive.... but not an illusion."
Bhagavan's statement that ego, together with its adjuncts i.e. body and world are clearly an illusion should not carelessly be doubted.
According Bhagavan we firstly should investigate to whom this opinion happens.
Regarding the criteria of judgement/assessment it is since then general knowledge that the ego's viewpoint is based on fundamental ignorance.
To disparage the gem of Advaita to the laging of India in many ways is not appropriate.
We should rather humbly and respectfully try to fully comprehend the richness of the spiritual teaching and be grateful to be able scooping up the clear waters of wisdom of the vast well fed by the great Indian sages. It is not really the Westerner's area of responsibility to judge possible "side effects" of Advaita or Bhagavan's teaching.

Sanjay Lohia said...

mind-polisher, yes, Bhagavan has explicitly stated the our ego or mind is nothing but our true self (atma-svarupa), because that is all that exists. So whatever else seems to exist is just our true self (atma-svarupa) misperceived as those various other things, experiences, happenings and so on. Bhagavan explains this in the seventh paragraph of Nan Yar?:

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [our own essential self]. The world, soul and God are kalpanaigaḷ [imaginations, fabrications, mental creations or illusory superimpositions] in it, like [the imaginary] silver [seen] in a shell. These three appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously. Svarūpa [our ‘own form’ or actual self] alone is the world; svarūpa alone is ‘I’ [our ego, soul or individual self]; svarūpa alone is God; everything is śiva-svarūpa [our actual self, which is śiva, the absolute and only truly existing reality].

However, as long as we experience ourself as this ego this information - that everything is only our atma-svarupa - will hardly give us much comfort, because like all other ideas this is also one of the idea in our mind. However, since our ego is only an impostor which poses as ‘I’, once we look at this ‘I’ with a keenly focused power of attention, it will vanish forever, leaving the inescapable residue – ourself as we really are.

Only such a clear experience of ourself as we really are can give us permanent and eternal comfort. This state is called mukti or liberation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, I agree, the words or even thoughts cannot capture or describe our transcendental state. Their scope is limited as these can just show us in which direction to go, and then have to necessarily leave us alone. The last part of the journey is ours and ours alone.
It would be useful to reflect on the ideas contained in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar. Michael explains:

Bhagavan affirms the unreality of our mind and teaches us the direct means by which we can experience its non-existence and the reality that underlies its false appearance, saying that when we scrutinise its form without forgetting — that is, without pramāda or self-negligence — we will discover that there is no such thing as ‘mind’ at all. This is for everyone, he says, the நேர் மார்க்கம் (nēr mārggam) — the straight, direct, correct and proper path or means to experience true self-knowledge.

Actions are important in the world, agreed, but if we try and keenly investigate the subject, ‘I’, who does all the actions, it slips off taking our world along with it. Bhagavan calls this marga arjavat (in Sanskrit), or ner marggam (in Tamil) - the direct path to experience ourself as we really are.

We have to give this path a chance to prove or disprove - whether or not any world survives our mind's annihilation.

Ken said...

Sanjay:

Did you catch my previous post of Ramana's realization experience? No part of it involved the world going away.

Instead, for Ramana, realization involved - by his own statements above in this thread - no longer being interested in reading his assigned books, because paying attention to the Self was so much more worthwhile. Those books were clearly in the world, and the same world, because they were the same books that he obtained before realization.

Here is yet another statement by Sadhu Om from Path of Sri Ramana part One, page 212:

"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."

The key here is that Sadhu Om, and Ramana Maharshi, and Sankara, all say that after Realization, the world is seen as "truly nothing but one's own Self". This is not the same as "the world is no longer seen and only one's Self is seen".

The subtle difference in grammar is a huge difference.

The latter interpretation is impossible.

If the world disappears for all jnanis, then no spiritual or religious work is written by them. Thus all writings by "Ramana Maharshi" are fakes, because Venkataraman would never have written anything because the world vanished for him when he was 16 years old and attained realization.

Ramana himself agreed with this analysis:

"If a man must at once leave his body when he realises the Self, I wonder how any knowledge of the Self or the state of realization can come down to other men. And that would mean that all those who have given us the fruits of their Self-realization in books cannot be considered jnanis because they went on living after realization."

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Mouna,

Mouna: Michael is not the teacher here

Michael has written books on the subject, gives lectures, he fields questions, people look up to him, this is his blog. He is the teacher. How can you claim otherwise?

Mouna: First of all my friend, we can never judge another’s “enlightenment”

Michael says that he is not enlightened in various blogs. His testimony is acceptable? Or... do you think he is lying? :-)

Your statement is not completely true "never judge another's enlightenment": aren't we all here having judged Bhagavan?

Mouna: Michael has studied with the BEST devotees of Bhagavan.

Please supply proof for your statement that the teachers that Michael has studied with are superior ("BEST") as compared with others.

"Best devotees" as the "line of succession" connecting a teaching back to the original Master guarantees nothing. Do we really think the Catholic Church is "truth" simply because they have the bones of Peter who knew Jesus?

Mouna: This is not, to my understanding, a course in comparative religion.

You're dead wrong about that!

This IS very much a course in comparative religion. Atma Vicara is compared with all the other approaches and has been declared to be the ONLY WAY and all the other approaches are said to have no spiritual value.

Every time "atma vicara is the ONLY WAY" is stated this is comparative. Michael cannot preach without invoking "the ONLY WAY". It's his crutch.

This "ONLY WAY" comparison leaves the mind of the seeker occupied with the "pairs of opposites" in the field of impermanence.... and this have nothing to do with self inquiry.

Mouna: Michael proves logically...

For example, Michael says "when the ego dies the body and the world die"... but Bhagavan's body lived on after enlightenment. This is not logical. This statement probably has usefulness as a metaphor... but taken literally it is not logical.

Mouna: you have no proof that it is “not a mature” presentation. Why did you write a few sentences above that is a “valid remarkable PERSPECTIVE”

Bhagavan is brilliant and Michael's translations are often useful.

But obviously, "ONLY WAY" can't be the whole truth.
Aren't we vigilantly watching to determine what is impermanent and in the field of constant change?
Every century there will be a few more Masters (or followers) who claim that their way is the ONLY way.
We could do a survey every century to see what is currently the "ONLY WAY" and it's always changing.

We agree that the transcendental state cannot be described with any veracity. A corollary to this is that various descriptions about paths to enlightenment, although potentially useful, are also beyond any totally accurate description. So there cannot be any "ONLY WAY" because there can not be any precise description.

If atma vicara is the ONLY Way, why didn't Jesus, Buddha, Shankara & Krishna focus exclusively on it? Do you think Michael is superior to Jesus, Buddha, Shankara, Krishna... ?

The "only way" has for thousands of years resulted in religious wars with those of one side claiming "the only way" feeling justified about butchering those of the other side who also claim "the only way".

To proclaim "only way" in the modern age is immature.

Roger Isaacs said...

Part 2:
And please understand my intent: I have the deepest love and trust for Bhagavan. That is why I am trying to cut away what is false. Bhagavan often stated things from different perspectives. He goes against "ONLY WAY" on many occasions.

See Ken's marvelous post of Bhagavan's death experience: http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.in/2008/05/bhagavans-death-experience.html

"ONLY way" is never mentioned!!!
"I" is mentioned more than once in the sense of "who am I?".
But he discusses "the current" a dozen times, maybe we should investigate that.

"Current" or "avesam" is NOT mentioned in the index to Michael's blog.... even though it is a central part of Bhagavan's enlightenment experience. This shows how Michael's blog falls short of being the comprehensive "ONLY WAY".

Bhagavan:
I felt that there was a force or current, a centre of energy playing on the body, continuing regardless of the rigidity or activity of the body, though existing in connection with it.
It was that current, force or centre that constituted my Self...
It had no place in my thoughts. ‘I’, being a subtle current...
I was only feeling that everything was being done by the current and not by me...
I had ceased to regard the current as my narrow ‘I’. This current, or avesam, now felt as if it was my Self, not a superimposition.
While, on the one hand, the awakening gave me a continuous idea or feeling that my Self was a currentor force in which I was perpetually absorbed whatever I did...
The akhandakara [unbroken] current was sporting with these and still remained despite that desire.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
Sanjay says: the words or even thoughts cannot capture or describe our transcendental state. Their scope is limited

Yes, and I do like your focusing passionately on the words of the Master.

The scope of words is ALWAYS limited including when describing a path to enlightenment. That is because enlightenment is an INTERNAL experience and words are just pointers that can never convey essence. You say "words... show us which way to go". In my opinion, people have different characteristics. For example some resonate with the warriors path (kundalini etc, Bhagavan speaks of "the current of energy") which can be very intense, others with a purely devotional & compassionate style (Bhagavan speaks of devotion). So people of different temperaments may require the opposite instructions, "which way to go" is a personal thing.

An example I like: when we are sitting with someone and eating a strawberry... can we convey the taste essence of the strawberry to our friend using words? No way at all. And they may LOVE strawberries or HATE them. So this demonstrates natural personal preferences and the extreme limitation of words. Given this situation, I have given up judging what other spiritual practitioners do. There are so many different masters and different styles and different levels of attainment: it is difficult to say anything for sure regarding styles. The only thing I can say is that no single way, or teaching, or school, or religion works for all people for all of the time. Yes, some schools actually use drugs on the path, I will not do this myself, but I can not say that this is totally wrong for everyone at all times.

At any rate, even if one does not accept "different styles for different people"... given the nature of the mind, one can at best only determine the style or "direction to go" for one's self. It's impossible to judge for other people, "atma vicara is the ONLY WAY for everyone" is more like a political statement and has nothing to do with my practice.

Roger Isaacs said...

part 2:
From a perspective, actually there is no such thing as a "path", no such thing as "ONLY WAY" or even "WAY", none of these can exist. "Path" or "way" are projections into an imagined future. If you say "mind" does not exist, then "ONLY WAY" is held in a mind and is therefore illusory.
Everyone talks about "atma vicara is the most direct". All that can be said is that it may be the most direct for you and you get to make that determination. If you read Bhagavan's enlightenment experience (sent by Ken) you can see that his description is broad.

It could be said that the mind or ego are "annihilated".
But... from another perspective, according to Ramakrishna, just enough ego continues to exist to allow functioning in the world appearance and to protect the appearance of the body.
"Mind" is difficult to define. But there mind is responsible for operating in the world appearance. When enlightened, you are likely to remember to avoid touching a hot stove, and how to operate a car etc. So... perhaps it is not that the "mind" has been annihilated, rather, the "mind" is put in it's place and now operates perfectly. If anything is "annihilated" is it attachment and identification.

Anyway... I don't believe in words, or thoughts, they are so slippery. I'm sure you think otherwise, but actually I avoid taking positions on just about everything. My "position" is that ideally "no position" is best ("position" such as "atma vicara is the only way", or "Jesus is the ONLY one who can save me" etc...). My intent is to be in the "current of energy" described by Bhagavan. When in the current then discursive random thought is automatically minimized or perhaps eventually eliminated. And when taking a "position" (ie "atma vicara is the ONLY way" or "MY football team is best") this involves going into some form of mental excitement or identification with the position... and then one forgets to stay in the "current of energy".

Ken said...

Roger wrote:
"Atma Vicara is compared with all the other approaches and has been declared to be the ONLY WAY and all the other approaches are said to have no spiritual value."

This is simply not true.

You have read "is more direct" or "is better" and somehow in your mind this became "the only way".

But Ramana did say that Atma-Vichara is better in some respects than other ways. Quote:

"Ramana Maharshi - The easy way, the direct way, the shortest cut to salvation is the enquiry method. By such enquiry, you will drive the thought force deeper till it reaches its source and merges therein. It is then that you will have the response from within and find that you rest there, destroying all thoughts, once and for all." (From Be As You Are, p. 37)

and

"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 different stages of one’s practice, but is itself never destroyed.
"

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Ken,
The phrase "There is no other way, and no shortcut" is a direct quote from Michael's summary above in the blog that we are commenting on.

Michael says in atma-vicara-and-practice-of-neti-neti.html 2008/11 and I quote directly:

Any practice other than atma-vichara — which is the non-dual practice of thought-free self-conscious being — is merely a mental activity...

translated: ALL spiritual practices, other than atma vicara, are just mental activity and not ultimately useful. This subordinates ALL spiritual practices to atma-vichara.

This sentiment is everywhere here... but Bhagavan provides both supporting and contradicting testimony.

You quote above:
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 different stages of one’s practice, but is itself never destroyed."

It is very difficult if not unnatural to be 100% consistent all the time. This is because there are always different perspectives (if not Alzheimer's or dementia) and it's natural for a person or a guru to take one side for the benefit of some, and then the other side for the benefit of others.

Bhagavan says one thing one day (or one decade) and contradicts it the next. This is good because there are always different perspectives. The only problem is that devotees take sides with one statement and forget that the opposing perspective is also presented.

In your marvelous "death experience" post Bhagavan mentions "the current", "the current of energy" 12+ times!!!
The "current of energy" is of course what is cultured in the practice of kundalini yoga. And in "Talks" and "Godman" etc... Bhagavan says Kundalini Yoga and other types of practice are equally sufficient for enlightenment.

Kundalini Yoga has nothing to do with "retention of the mind" and Kundalini Yoga is entirely different than Atma Vicara, although, if one wishes to find similarities they can be found just as Bhagavan does by weaving them together in your "death experience" post.

I read the "death experience" post and to me it appears highly consistent with other accounts from kundalini Masters. But then I read the Bible and feel the authors are speaking of the same reality as the Yogis. Whether light is pure white or a rainbow of colors... or a particle or a wave.... it is a matter of perspective. How silly to take sides: "light is ONLY purple...". Taking sides suggests the possibility of egoic attachment.

From your post and my re-post: "The Current" (kundalini or Self as energetic) is given equality to "I" or "Self":
Bhagavan:
I felt that there was a force or current, a centre of energy playing on the body, continuing regardless of the rigidity or activity of the body, though existing in connection with it.
It was that current, force or centre that constituted my Self...
It had no place in my thoughts. ‘I’, being a subtle current...
I was only feeling that everything was being done by the current and not by me...
I had ceased to regard the current as my narrow ‘I’. This current, or avesam, now felt as if it was my Self, not a superimposition.
While, on the one hand, the awakening gave me a continuous idea or feeling that my Self was a current or force in which I was perpetually absorbed whatever I did...

Mouna said...

Hi Roger,

I will respond to some of the claims you do in your posting addresed to me personally.
One thing I want you to know is that after my response, I shall stop this personal back and forth between you and me (at least in this topic). You may have the last word, and I’ll read it, but I shall not respond anymore. I have my reasons.

(Your quotes will be in bold)

Michael has written books on the subject, gives lectures, he fields questions, people look up to him, this is his blog. He is the teacher. How can you claim otherwise?
He doesn’t claim to be a teacher, and besides teachers and gurus are what other people define them to be, except in cases of narcissism.

Michael says that he is not enlightened in various blogs. His testimony is acceptable? Or... do you think he is lying? :-)
There are no enlightened or unenlightened beings anyway, one day you will understand that everything and everyone is a projection of this one ego or mind (not even yours) and the picture will change for “you”. When you see someone in your dream, would you say that the “person” you see is enlightened? What happens when you wake up?

Your statement is not completely true "never judge another's enlightenment": aren't we all here having judged Bhagavan?
It might sound sacrilegious but what you call Bhagavan is also a character in ego’s projection, as well as Roger and Mouna.

Please supply proof for your statement that the teachers that Michael has studied with are superior ("BEST") as compared with others.
You always have a problem with the word “best”. Sadhu Om (that had a deep transmission from Muruganar, who actually I am not sure if Michael knew him) and many other devotees who were with Bhagavan that Michael encountered make me think that yes, they were among the best.

Do we really think the Catholic Church is "truth" simply because they have the bones of Peter who knew Jesus?
Someone that knew Peter in the chair certainly would have a “better" connection to the teaching than someone who just look at his bones.

(continues in next commentary)

Mouna said...

(continues from last commentary)

Mouna: This is not, to my understanding, a course in comparative religion.
You're dead wrong about that!

This is mission statement of this blog: "A collection of articles discussing the philosophy and practice of the spiritual teachings of Bhagavan Sri Ramana, written by Michael James and forming an extension of his main website, www.happinessofbeing.com.”
If you are interested in comparative religions there are many other blogs that will satisfy your hunger, for example “luthar.com” which has a subtitle “Interfaith Enlightenment Site”.

This IS very much a course in comparative religion. Atma Vicara is compared with all the other approaches and has been declared to be the ONLY WAY and all the other approaches are said to have no spiritual value.
Every time "atma vicara is the ONLY WAY" is stated this is comparative. Michael cannot preach without invoking "the ONLY WAY". It's his crutch. This "ONLY WAY" comparison leaves the mind of the seeker occupied with the "pairs of opposites" in the field of impermanence.... and this have nothing to do with self inquiry.

I don’t agree with the way you put things here, so I’ll leave it aside.

For example, Michael says "when the ego dies the body and the world die"... but Bhagavan's body lived on after enlightenment. This is not logical. This statement probably has usefulness as a metaphor... but taken literally it is not logical.
Bhagavan’s teachings said that is you think you are the body, you will see others like bodies, including Bhagavan.
Venkataraman is a character in this plot called ego, that character later on became Ramana Maharshi, the real Bhagavan is pure jnana, and you are that (not you Roger, of course)

But obviously, "ONLY WAY" can't be the whole truth
If atma vicara is the ONLY Way, why didn't Jesus, Buddha, Shankara & Krishna focus exclusively on it? Do you think Michael is superior to Jesus, Buddha, Shankara, Krishna... ?

It has been proved over and over by Michael (and Bhagavan) why alma-vichara is the most direct way, but you have to practice it to understand Roger, till the end. And actually you really DO NOT KNOW what Jesus or Buddha told to their closest disciples outside of what the respective churches that grew out of their teaching wrote about much later.

One last thought. I don’t think is the only way, but I do think is the only way for me. It gave me the results it says is supposed to give, so basically I do not care if there are true ways out there or not anymore, least of all compare them, what a waste of time when you found what you were seeking for!

Stop. That’s all I have to say.

Be well my friend, and this I really mean it.
m

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ken, does the jnani experience himself as a body and mind? Does he see this world? Our deluded outlook says, yes, he experiences his body as ‘I’, and likewise sees this world as we do. But is this the truth? Let us consider the following:

Michael explains verse 31 of Ulladu Narpadu Anubandham: In verse 31 he describes a mey-jnani (one who knows the reality) as being ‘asleep in a body of flesh’ (that is, unaware of the body or anything else other than the one reality, which is self) and says that he (or she) does not know the passing states of bodily activity, nishtha (self-absorption) and sleep, just as a person who is asleep in a bullock cart does not know whether the cart is moving, stationary or unyoked.

Bhagavan says in verse 15 of Upadesa Saram –malayalam version: The form of [his] having died, for the great atma-yogi [the person [the person who has united with self], who is seen as a a human being because of [his] outward appearance, there is no action whatsoever to do, because he has attained his own true form or nature.

Michael explains verse 31 of Ulladu Narpadu: In verse 31 he reiterates the truth that he stated in verse 15 of Upadesa Undiyar, asking rhetorically what there is to do for one who enjoys the bliss of self, which rose (as ‘I [am] I’) destroying the false self (or ego) — thereby implying that our natural state of clear self-consciousness is absolutely devoid of karma or action (since the mind, the agent or ‘doer’ of all action, has cease to exist) — and he concludes this verse with another rhetorical question, asking who can understand what this non-dual state of true self-knowledge really is, since one in this state does not know anything other than self.

What do you infer from the above three passages? It would be interesting to know. The jnani is seen as a human being, but that is because we see ourselves as human being beings. When we experience ourself as we really are, we will clearly understand about his true state – which is also our true state here and now.


Ken said...

Sanjay:

Did you catch my previous post of Ramana's realization experience? No part of it involved the world going away.

Instead, for Ramana, realization involved - by his own statements above in this thread - no longer being interested in reading his assigned books, because paying attention to the Self was so much more worthwhile. Those books were clearly in the world, and the same world, because they were the same books that he obtained before realization.

Here is yet another statement by Sadhu Om from Path of Sri Ramana part One, page 212:

"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."

The key here is that Sadhu Om, and Ramana Maharshi, and Sankara, all say that after Realization, the world is seen as "truly nothing but one's own Self". This is not the same as "the world is no longer seen and only one's Self is seen".

The subtle difference in grammar is a huge difference.

The latter interpretation is impossible.

If the world disappears for all jnanis, then no spiritual or religious work is written by them. Thus all writings by "Ramana Maharshi" are fakes, because Venkataraman would never have written anything because the world vanished for him when he was 16 years old and attained realization.

Ramana himself agreed with this analysis:

"If a man must at once leave his body when he realises the Self, I wonder how any knowledge of the Self or the state of realization can come down to other men. And that would mean that all those who have given us the fruits of their Self-realization in books cannot be considered jnanis because they went on living after realization."

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Ken,
My reply to you did not post for a long time ... so I will rephrase it as I feel very strongly about it.

In your marvelous post on Bhagavan's death experience he uses the word "current" or "current of energy" over a dozen times.
http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.in/2008/05/bhagavans-death-experience.html

He states that the "current constitutes my Self", "'I' being a subtle current", "centre of energy".

Atma vicara is all about "who am I?". This has become the ultimate slogan of Atma Vicara and neo-advaita etc...

But... in this remarkable death experience discussion... he says "I" and "SELF" _are_ also the CURRENT. We have a NEW description for "I": the current of energy.

"Current of energy" is kundalini. Kundalini Yoga is all about culturing the "current of energy".

You quote Bhagavan:
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.


Kundalini yoga has nothing at all to do with the "retention of the mind", it is about culturing the "subtle current" which Bhagavan equates as "I" or "Self".

Because Bhagavan IS "the subtle current" (just as much as "I" or "Self") how can kundalini yoga be considered any less than a "direct means"?

Michael's logic is that because our essential nature is "I" therefore "who am I?" is of course the most direct way. But here Bhagavan says "I" and "subtle current" are identical, so I tell you that culturing the "current" is just as direct because your essence is also "the current".

Bhagavan says the same in "Talks":
Bhagavan: The Self is called by different names - Atman, God, Kundalini, mantra, etc. Hold any one of them and the Self becomes manifest. God is no other than the Self. Kundalini is now showing forth as the mind. When the mind is traced to its source it is Kundalini. Mantra japa leads to elimination of other thoughts and to concentration on the mantra. The mantra finally merges into the Self and shines forth as the Self. ...
Simultaneously, another luminous and infinite ‘I-I’ will become manifest, which will be continuous and unbroken. That is the goal. It goes by different names - God, Self, Kundalini Sakti, Consciousness, Yoga, Bhakti, Jnana, etc.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Mouna,

I respect your practice of atma vicara, it's great that you've found something that works for you and I support your practice!

But... we are not "friends" (as you say). Friendship is based on mutual respect. You are certain that atma vicara is the "most direct" way for everyone, including for me. Therefore you don't respect my perspective, my choice, my inner guide. You actually believe that you can make better choices for me than I can. This is not respect or friendship.

You say this blog is a place for discussion about Ramana Maharshi. Actually, that's not entirely correct. This is a place for discussion about the sub-set of works that Michael has translated.

This is a quite unfortunate situation because only a portion of Bhagavan's works is considered here: all that Bhagavan gave us is not being fully represented. The teaching here is slanted or biased because decades of comments from Bhagavan (ie "Talks" etc) are not considered useful. In my opinion every word from Bhagavan is nectar. The attitude here is not flexible enough, not mature enough to take in ALL of Bhagavan's work.

Ken said...

Roger,

Clearly when you were a small boy, someone beat you up repeatedly while always screaming:

"MERELY !! MERELY !!"

Because you keep equating the word with totally denying whatever is in the sentence thereafter.

And you have been bashing Michael for that same sentence for months now.

"merely a mental activity" means "only a mental activity".

It therefore does not mean "nothing at all" or "totally ineffective" or "the worst possible thing ever".

No one writing or commenting on this blog has ever said:

" No other spiritual practice will ever work !! "

Here is David Godman explaining Ramana's preference for Self-Enquiry and his view on all other methods:

(continued in the next post)

Ken said...

"Sri Ramana’s insistence that awareness of the ‘I’-thought was a prerequisite for Self-realization led him to the
conclusion that all spiritual practices which did not incorporate this feature were indirect and inefficient:
This path [attention to the ‘I’] is the direct path; all others are indirect ways. The first leads to the Self, the others
elsewhere. And even if the latter do arrive at the Self it is only because they lead at the end to the first path which
ultimately carries them to the goal. So, in the end, the aspirants must adopt the first path. Why not do so now? Why
waste time? That is to say, other techniques may sometimes bring one to an inner state of stillness in which selfattention or self-awareness inadvertently takes place, but it is a very roundabout way of reaching the Self. Sri Ramana
maintained that other techniques could only take one to the place where self-enquiry starts and so he never endorsed
them unless he felt that particular questioners were unable or unwilling to adopt self-enquiry. This is illustrated by a
conversation in Sri Ramana Gita (an early collection of his questions and answers) in which Sri Ramana explained in
detail why self-enquiry was the only way to realize the Self. After listening carefully to Sri Ramana’s explanation the
questioner was still unwilling to accept that self-enquiry was the only route to the Self and so he asked if there were
any other methods by which the Self could be realized. Sri Ramana replied:
The goal is the same for the one who meditates [on an object] and the one who practises self- enquiry. One attains
stillness through meditation, the other through knowledge. One strives to attain something; the other seeks the one
who strives to attain. The former takes a longer time, but in the end attains the Self. Not wanting to shake the faith of a
man who had a known predilection for subject-object meditation and, having already ascertained that he was
unwilling to take up self- enquiry, Sri Ramana encouraged him to follow his own chosen method by telling him that it
would enable him to reach the Self. In Sri Ramana’s view any method is better than no method since there is always
the possibility that it will lead to self-enquiry.
He gave many other similar replies to other people for similar reasons. These replies, which indicate that methods
other than self-enquiry or surrender could result in Self-realization, should not be taken at face value since they were
only given to people who were not attracted to self-enquiry and who wanted to follow their own methods. When he
spoke to other devotees who were not attached to what he called ‘indirect methods’, he would usually reaffirm that
self-attention was ultimately indispensable.
Although Sri Ramana vigorously defended his views on self-enquiry he never insisted that anyone change their beliefs
or practices and, if he was unable to convince his followers to take up self-enquiry, he would happily give advice on
other methods. In the conversations in this chapter he is mostly answering questions from devotees who wanted
advice on conventional forms of meditation (dhyana). In giving this advice he usually defined meditation as
concentration on one thought to the exclusion of all others, but he sometimes gave it a higher definition by saying that
keeping the mind fixed in the Self was true meditation. This latter practice is really another name for self-enquiry, for,
as he explained in one of his early written works, ‘Always keeping the mind fixed in Self alone is called self-enquiry,
whereas meditation is thinking oneself to be Brahman."

(from Be As You Are, intro to Ch. 10)

Ken said...

David Godman on Kundalini:

"Sri Ramana never advised his devotees to practise kundalini yoga since he regarded it as being both potentially dangerous and unnecessary. He accepted the existence of the kundalini power and the chakras but he said that even if the kundalini reached the sahasrara it would not result in realization. For final realization, he said, the kundalini must go beyond the sahasrara, down another nadi (psychic nerve) he called amritanadi (also called the paranadi or jivanadi) and into the Heart- centre on the right-hand side of the chest. Since he maintained that self-enquiry would automatically send the kundalini to the Heart-centre, he taught that separate yoga exercises were unnecessary.

The Self is reached by the search for the origin of the ego and by diving into the Heart. This is the direct method of Self-realization.
One who adopts it need not worry about nadis, the brain centre [sahasrara], the sushumna, the paranadi, the kundalini, pranayama or the six centres [chakras]."

Michael James wrote about kundalini:

" Regarding kundalini, it is sometimes said that all that is described about the kundalini in yoga sastras is effected automatically and without our awareness when we practice vicara. But such explanations are useful or interesting only for those whose minds still attach importance to such phenomena. For those of us who just want to know what this ‘I’ actually is, such explanations are of very little interest.

Sadhu Om used to explain that what is called kundalini is nothing other than the consciousness ‘I’ spreading throughout the body. When we attend only to ‘I’, it begins to withdraw from the body, and this withdrawal is what is described as the rising of the kundalini. However, in order to experience what this ‘I’ really is, we do not need to know anything about the kundalini or its rising.

Ultimately the body, its nadis (the subtle nerves or channels through which the life-force is said to travel throughout the body and the kundalini is said to rise up to the head) and the kundalini are all just concepts, ideas or beliefs, and our aim should be to ignore all concepts and ideas in order to focus our entire attention only on ‘I’."

Ramana Maharshi on kundalini:

"The yogis attach the highest importance to sending the kundalini up to the sahasrara, the brain centre or the thousandpetalled lotus. They point out the scriptural statement that the life-current enters the body through the fontanelle and argue that, viyoga [separation] having come about that way, yoga [union] must also be effected in the reverse way.
Therefore, they say, we must by yoga practice gather up the pranas and enter the fontanelle for the consummation of yoga. The jnanis on the other hand point out that the yogi assumes the existence of the body and its separateness from the Self. Only if this standpoint of separateness is adopted can the yogi advise effort for reunion by the practice of yoga.
In fact the body is in the mind which has the brain for its seat. That the brain functions by light borrowed from another source is admitted by the yogis themselves in their fontanelle theory. The jnani further argues: if the light is borrowed it must come from its native source. Go to the source direct and do not depend on borrowed resources. That source is the Heart, the Self. The Self does not come from anywhere else and enter the body through the crown of the head. It is as it is, ever sparkling, ever steady, unmoving and unchanging. The individual confines himself to the limits of the changeful body or of the mind which derives its existence from the unchanging Self. All that is necessary is to give up this mistaken identity, and that done, the ever-shining Self will be seen to be the single non-dual reality."

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Ken,
We might engage in conversation to try and find a deeper understanding.

But your imaginations about my childhood have nothing to do with a such a search for truth or common understanding. Your words are just offensive and insulting.

Ken said...

I was merely trying to come up with some plausible explanation for your overreaction to the word "merely".

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Ken,
You state that I overreacted to the word "merely" and that this is your justification for your making disparaging remarks about my childhood.

Apparently, this was all just a play inside your head. I have no interest in the word "merely". So possibly the overreaction was entirely yours and you are trying to put the responsibility for your inner reaction on me.

The claims that Atma Vicara is the only, best, most direct for everyone are EVERYWHERE here. Including in your recent posts: such as:
"After listening carefully to Sri Ramana's explanation the questioner was still unwilling to accept that self-enquiry was the ONLY route to the Self..."

I agree often with what you have said above. But... I just do not think that your school has a monopoly on the "ONLY route". Or at least different schools will have their own different and equally direct routes with subtle variations, or perhaps using slightly different language to achieve a similar way.

Furthermore... my main concern...when individuals feel that they have the only or best of anything... this generally becomes an ego attachment. Getting the BEST of anything is just the everyday process of acquisition, not a great deal different than acquiring a faster car or a bigger bank account. So there are dangers involved. INWARD PRACTICE is the key and any claims of "ONLY route" which are at the level of egoic thinking must be given up during actual practice.

Haven't you been faced with religious zealots who claim that their way is the only way? Can't Atma-vicara-ites fall into the same trap?

I agree that traditional kundalini practice can be dangerous and should not be recommended to everyone.
I agree that (for me at least) the intricate process of nadis and the complex kundalini teachings can be a distraction and unnecessary.
I disagree with Bhagavan that Kundalini practice is always entirely unnecessary: I believe that for some people who have a natural skill at kundalini then it is essential. There are some people who are natural risk takers and so any risks involved with Kundalini are easily managed.

For me personally, placing full and complete & totally devoted attention on "the current of energy" for extended periods of time is a big part of my practice and most useful. (this is not really traditional Kundalini practice, just a very mild variant). For me, this is an outgrowth of what I have been taught as Jnana Yoga practice, although, we have our different ideas about that.

Now... the Atma-Vicara-ites here will immediately chime in with "But Roger... what about 'I' ? This can't be a direct way unless you are focusing on 'I' !!! As always Roger you are off-base! Get with it bozo!"

My response to this question is in your post of Bhagavan's death experience: "I", "Self", and "the current" are not different, they are the same, they are identical. Therefore, attention on the "current" is or can be identical with "I".


Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Ken,
YOU say:
No one writing or commenting on this blog has ever said:" No other spiritual practice will ever work !! "

And then YOU post a quote:

"After listening carefully to Sri Ramana's explanation the questioner was still unwilling to accept that self-enquiry was the ONLY ROUTE TO THE SELF...

Your comments appear to be inconsistent: if as you say self-inquiry is the ONLY ROUTE TO THE SELF then this seems to imply "that no other spiritual practice will ever work."

Please explain.

thanks,
R

Ken said...

Roger:

My adult son does the same thing of stopping reading as soon as he gets to a sentence that he views as not true. This can be a problem, because the writer often later explains more fully what is meant by the sentence.

The very next portion after "the questioner was still unwilling to accept that self-enquiry was the only route to the self" is:

"Sri Ramana replied:
The goal is the same for the one who meditates [on an object] and the one who practises self-enquiry. One attains stillness through meditation, the other through knowledge. One strives to attain something; the other seeks the one who strives to attain. The former takes a longer time, but in the end attains the Self. Not wanting to shake the faith of a man who had a known predilection for subject-object meditation and, having already ascertained that he was unwilling to take up self-enquiry, Sri Ramana encouraged him to follow his own chosen method by telling him that it would enable him to reach the Self."

Roger Isaacs said...

Ken:

The statement "ONLY ROUTE TO THE SELF" is a conclusion and further elaboration follows. The further detail in no way challenges the summary atma vicara is the "ONLY ROUTE TO THE SELF".

You are attempting to deflect attention from your position which is totally inconsistent. I have seen you do this multiple times using deflection and digression for the purpose of obfuscation. Do you have a career in politics?

You say No one ...has ever said:" No other spiritual practice will ever work !! "

And then you actually say it: self-enquiry ... the ONLY ROUTE TO THE SELF!!!

Astonishing!! "Denial" is not just a river in Egypt.

The claims "ONLY ROUTE TO THE SELF" place atma vicara on the same level as the many various religious missionaries that come knocking on your door that claim they have the ONLY way, or the many other cults making the same statement. You've got a lot of company.

This is very unfortunate to drag atma vicara through the mud as it does have value.

Ken said...

Roger:

You are missing the distinction between "route" and "practice".

The use of the "only route" phrase has appeared on this blog for the first time when I posted David Godman's paragraph in which it appears, it is Godman's wording that no one has used on this blog.

In the paragraph following, there is this quote from Ramana explaining that it is not the only practice:

"Sri Ramana replied:
The goal is the same for the one who meditates [on an object] and the one who practises self-enquiry. One attains stillness through meditation, the other through knowledge. One strives to attain something; the other seeks the one who strives to attain. The former takes a longer time, but in the end attains the Self. Not wanting to shake the faith of a man who had a known predilection for subject-object meditation and, having already ascertained that he was unwilling to take up self-enquiry, Sri Ramana encouraged him to follow his own chosen method by telling him that it would enable him to reach the Self."

Ken said...

Now let me explain the word "route". Along the way, it will be clear why Self-Enquiry is automatically the most direct method.

Suppose our only goal is to eat a bunch of grapes.

We can cut up the grapes, along with apples and oranges and melon, and then boil some sugar until it becomes a syrup, and then mix them all up, and put it in a bowl with a spoon.

We could also put the grapes out on a sunny deck until they became raisins and mix with some other dried fruit and nuts.

We could also put the grapes into a press, add yeast, put in a barrel and let them ferment for two years, and then drink the resulting alcoholic liquid.

All of these would work towards the goal of eating the bunch of grapes.

However, the most direct and fastest method would be to just put the grapes directly into our mouth.

====

The goal for those who want to achieve Self-Realization is..... to realize the Self.

What does "realize" means? It means to realize that "you" are the Self.

In order to do that, you must directly experience the Self.

The obstacles to experiencing the Self are the mind's attention to sense objects and thoughts.

One can avoid attending to sense objects, by going to a place where there will be less sense objects, and more importantly, where those objects are known to be non-threatening (so they can be not given attention). A "meditation retreat" is exactly such a place.

However, thoughts are internal, rather than external, and we are hard-wired to always pay attention to our thoughts.

So, various practices have been formulated to help us acquire the ability to not pay attention to thoughts. These are called "spiritual practices".

"Q: In the practice of meditation are there any signs in the realm of subjective experience which will indicate the aspirant’s progress towards Self-realization?

Ramana Maharshi: The degree of freedom from unwanted thoughts and the degree of concentration on a single thought are the measures to gauge the progress."


So, when we not paying attention to either sense perceptions or thoughts, then we can pay attention to the Self. Spiritual practices help us do this.

But, is there a direct method, just like in the example of the grapes?

Yes. That method is to simply do the very last part of all the other spiritual practices - pay attention directly to the Self.

But where is this Self? It is the source of "I" (the latter sometimes termed "the I thought" or "the feeling I am"). So, if we only pay attention to "I", then that is the "direct method".

Since all the other practices to realize the Self, must end with "paying attention to the source of I", then it can be said that Self-Enquiry is simply just doing the last part.

That is what Godman meant by "only route".

In all the grape examples, they all end with putting the grapes (in whatever form) into the mouth. So, the direct method of eating grapes, uses the "only route" - putting the grapes into the mouth.

Similarly, Self-Enquiry - paying attention to "I" - is the direct method by going directly to the very last part of all spiritual practices.