Saturday, 18 February 2017

What is the difference between pure awareness and the ego, and how are they related?

A friend recently wrote asking me to explain the difference between awareness and consciousness and how consciousness is connected to the ego, so the following is what I wrote in reply to her:

In the context of Bhagavan’s teachings consciousness and awareness are more or less synonymous.

The ego is sometimes described as cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement (or rather seeming entanglement) of awareness (cit) with phenomena (beginning with a body), which are all non-conscious (jaḍa). It is therefore a mixed and confused form of awareness, and though it is not real as such, its essential element is pure awareness, which alone is real.

However, pure awareness (cit) is just aware, and not aware of anything other than itself, so it is the awareness we experience in sleep, but it is also the foundation and support for the transitory awareness of other things that we experience in waking and dream. It is therefore our permanent and fundamental awareness, and is what we actually are.

Therefore the difference between the pure awareness that we actually are and the ego that we now seem to be is that pure awareness is aware of nothing other than itself (because it alone actually exists), whereas the ego is always aware not only of itself but also of other things (which are all its own projections and therefore unreal like itself).

We seem to be this ego so long as we are aware of other things (objects or phenomena), as we are in waking and dream, but it is not what we actually are, because we exist and are aware that we exist in sleep even though we are then not aware of this ego. Therefore the way to eradicate the delusion that we are this ego (the object-knowing subject) is to cease being aware of other things by focusing our entire attention on ourself alone.

At first most of us are not able to do so, because as this ego we are too strongly attached to being aware of other things, since it is only by being aware of other things that we can survive as this ego. However according to Bhagavan the more we cultivate this practice of being attentively self-aware, the more our mind will be purified (cleansed of all its outward-directed desires and attachments) and the more our power of attention will thereby be refined, until eventually it will become so keen and sharp that we will be able to be attentively aware of ourself alone, whereupon our ego will be eradicated forever, and we will remain just as the pure, infinite and eternal awareness that we always actually are.

10 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Video of 11-02-2017, Sri Ramana Centre, Houston: Discussion with Michael James on Ulladu Narpadu verse 1 manana part one

1) In Bhagavan’s view there is nobody other than himself, so he has infinite love for himself. Therefore his love encompasses all of us, because in his view he is one with all of us. So Bhagavan is that form of love. Bhagavan’s entire story, his entire teaching, is one of pure love. As he sings in Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai:

Melt me as love in you, the form of love, O Arunachala!

2) Mind, maya, nanavan sakti and atisaya sakti are synonymous terms. These mean ‘a power which is many’, or ‘a power that becomes many’. This is an extraordinary and a wonderful power in atma-svarupa, but is non-different from it.

3) Verbal language is appropriate to talk about duality. We need verbal instructions to find our way to the nearest supermarket. But if one explains to us the way to ourself, it will always be full of contradictions. How can one show the way to ourself, when we are ourself?

4) Silence lies deep within our heart, and we are seeking this infinite silence. It is only in this silence that the truth can be revealed. That is why Bhagavan said that his real teaching is silence, and silence can only be experienced by remaining silent.

5) Who is this ‘we’ who has risen as the ego, and experiences a world? Who is it that has separated itself from the infinite whole, and now seems to be finite? This cannot be adequately answered in words. For the answer we have to turn our attention back within: who am I? Am I this ego that I now seem to be?

Though the ego doesn’t actually exist, but so long as we see the world, so long as we see anything other than ourself, we see it through the ego. But if we look at ourself, this ego disappears.


Mouna said...

Reflections on Michael’s topic of the first UN verse.
A theory based on awakening “to” and awakening “from”.

Although pure awareness is nondual (without an opposite), the egoic dream seems to have levels. Because we see the world in dreams and “awake”, those levels are established, within those two dreams, by what we awake "to" and what we awake "from" (by dream is meant both the "sleep" dream and the "waking" dream as well).
In sleep-dream there are times when we awake "to" the dream and we define that experience as "lucid dreaming", the dream body-mind knows that it is dreaming, creating a sense not only of vividness of experience but also of detachment and control of the dream environment. It is the pinnacle of the mind's subjective experience.
But then, we awake "from" the sleep-dream state into the waking state and understand, from this new state point of view, that the sleep-dream state was only a creation of "our individual" mind.

Religious and spiritual studies, at one point, and from applying different means and methods, may produce the second type of awakening to this egoic kind of dream. We awake "to" the waking state, and from that point onwards becomes the "waking-dream". Now we identify with the awareness that seems to be the background (the screen) on which the film (the dream) of life is projected upon. Eventually those two become one, screen and projection, play and stage, "seeing and being god in everything”. For some this is the ultimate stage of realization, when we awake "to" the waking and supposedly real state, realizing that the dream is also “I”.
But is that sufficient for the dream-power (that “doesn’t exist in the first place”) to go away? Does it need to go away?

The crucial question is what could it mean to awaken "from" the waking dream?
Into what? Another level of dreamt reality?

The mind cannot cross this barrier, because it means experiencing and understanding a state were "it" is not there to witness or experience. It can only do so by inferring the "non-experience" of deep sleep, the only state that can't be a dream because there is no projection being projected by the mind (its projector), no perceiver neither perceived or perception existing.

Pure, borderless, timeless, peaceful and self-effulgent silence.
According to the sages this may be what to awaken "from" this apparent waking dream of life means.

(comments welcome if interest be)

venkat said...

Hi Mouna

Why do we seek liberation?

Because we are suffering, afraid, confused. And perhaps because we want to know what is true, what is real.

The sages tell us that suffering is because of our ego, because we are selfish, because we are attached (most importantly to our own body-mind). And they tell us the truth is advaita, not two - and we are that already.

The prescription of the sages then is to discard attachments, discard personal thoughts, discard the ego whenever they and it arises. Simple. But the ego is not satisfied with that. It wants an experience called realisation, enlightenment, nirvana, heaven. The ego-mind wants eternal bliss, peace, silence, that the ego-mind itself has projected. And so it goes about practicing to reach this silence, even though it has been told that it is that already, and the problem is the interjection of the ego itself.

Silence arises when the ego is continuously aware of itself and its thoughts, such that each time they come forth from the fort, they are killed before they can proliferate and do damage. If we can do that, then there is no room for projection of thoughts of further levels of enlightenment.

But the problem is, we are afraid. If we really put this understanding into practice, most of our actions in the world would not bear scrutiny - because to live, to 'progress' we feel we need to grab. We cannot do what Sankara prescribed and Bhagavan and all the sages did - which is to (non-volitionally) give up all possessions (how can one own anything, in the midst of poverty if one has no ego?) and live detached, alone, on what comes to one by chance, like Asktavakra's dry leaf blown in the wind.

best wishes

venkat

Mouna said...

Hi Venkat

Why do we seek liberation?
Because we are suffering, afraid, confused.
And perhaps because we want to know what is true, what is real.

You are so right, that is why ego (we) seeks liberation.

The prescription of the sages then is to discard attachments, discard personal thoughts, discard the ego whenever they and it arises. Simple.
This may be true at one level, but at another level, at least from Bhagavan’s perspective, the idea is not to discard the ego (since obviouslyit is there from its viewpoint) but rather to investigate if there is an ego in the first place. If you “discard” phenomena it comes back. Easy to prove this fact.

Silence arises when the ego is continuously aware of itself and its thoughts, such that each time they come forth from the fort, they are killed before they can proliferate and do damage. If we can do that, then there is no room for projection of thoughts of further levels of enlightenment.
Even ego’s experience demonstrates that silence, real silence, is fully “experienced” (although is not an experience but rather pure being) in the absence of ego itself. Deep sleep is the case.
Ego may loose its self-reference even when phenomena is there, like being "in the zone” when watching a gripping movie, dancing, making art, racing, etc, etc… but that doesn’t obliterates it, it does coming back. Fact checked also

We cannot do what Sankara prescribed and Bhagavan and all the sages did - which is to (non-volitionally) give up all possessions (how can one own anything, in the midst of poverty if one has no ego?) and live detached, alone, on what comes to one by chance, like Asktavakra's dry leaf blown in the wind.
Possesions are not the problem, poverty is not the solution. Our sole, unique and most cherished possessions are ego's projections and the only poverty possible is getting rid of the source of them. We don’t have any possessions in deep sleep.

There is only one ego and one mind, not yours, not mine. We don’t think enough about that, but “we" all experience it.
It appears suddenly like a magic trick and creates all possible universes and phenomena and feeds on that.
But also has the seeds of its own destruction embedded in its software, a kind of “Mission Impossible” tape that keeps pointing in a very specific direction and that will destroy itself with the carrier.

“We” are not that already, there is only that.

All the best for you too my friend.
m

Zubin said...

Beautiful, direct, and simple post. Love it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Video of 11-02-2017, Sri Ramana Centre, Houston: Discussion with Michael James on Ulladu Narpadu verse 1 manana part two

1) Question: If our ego has been completely annihilated, how do we carry out daily activities, like the activity of driving or walking? We need to see, and seeing involves mind, and we have no mind once the ego is not there.

Michael: Can I suggest something: perhaps you are rather jumping the gun. First annihilate the ego, and then come back and ask the question, if it still bothers you. It is like asking after waking up from the dream, how do I continue taking care of my dream family? Or how do I continue taking care of my dream body?

2) Whether you meditate on God or yourself, all these thoughts come. They come because we are more interested to think those thoughts, than thinking about God or ourself. So obstacles are exactly the same, whatever we meditate upon. Bhagavan says, ‘Why not meditate on yourself from the outset, accepting and facing the same difficulties’.

3) When we say, ‘I am alive’, we are talking about a body, but Bhagavan says that is not the real life. Once Kavyakantha said to Bhagavan: ‘it seems to me that we can live with three rupees a month’. Bhagavan replied: ‘we can live even without the body, why then three rupees?’ Bhagavan takes life to be what is real, our real self, which is eternally living.

4) All purposes are for the ego. Ourself as we really are has no purpose. It just is. The ultimate and the only useful purpose which our ego can have is to find out that it doesn’t exist.

5) The silliness is not in the question; the silliness is in rising as an ego to ask a question. So we are all very silly.

6) If you are troubled by thought, don’t think. How to stop thinking? Look at the thinker, and not thoughts.

7) We cannot concentrate on a coca-cola can for a long time, but it is easier (and much more beneficial) for us to meditate on a name and form of God, because we have love for God. This love will enable us focus more and more on God.

This meditation on God will enable the mind to gain one-pointedness (ekagrata), which will reduce the number of thoughts. This will make vichara easier, but we are still directing our thoughts in the wrong direction. We want to know who we are, and not what God is. Therefore ultimately we have to come to ananya bhava, which means meditation on what is not other than ourself.

Sooner or late everyone has to investigate who they are. Why not start investigating ourself from the outset?



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

Mouna said:
"“We” are not that already, there is only that."

do you think that the realization of the above truth is compatible with the usual spiritual goals of destruction of ego, enlightment, liberation, etc. which have in common that they are...goals, expectations, imaginations of future happiness, and, by nature, project a desired object to be experienced?

shouldn't we, after gaining some relative confidence on the teaching, drop the epic future accomplishments in favor of what is...now?

expecting your insights :)

Sanjay Lohia said...

I’m not a robot. what am I?, we can look at our spiritual pursuit in two ways: one, we do have a goal, which is to annihilate our ego and experience ourself as we really are. But we are already the goal that we are seeking, so in another sense there is no goal in real terms.

As you imply, we should try and be attentively self-aware here and now, as vigilantly and as intensely as possible. How can we plan to attain our goal of atma-jnana sometime in future? When we think about a future goal, we are directing our mind outwards, and not attending to the task at hand: being self-attentive at this very moment.

Yes, from our mental perspective, we may experience ourself as we actually are sometime in future, but our practice should not be postponed for the future. As Bhagavan teaches us, we should try to practise self-attentiveness without interruption. Every moment in our life is an opportunity: either we attend to ourself, or attend to things other than ourself. The choice is ours. Nothing outside of us has any power over us, because nothing other than ourself really exists.




Mouna said...

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

1) yes

2) always

"To be or not to be, that is the question"
To be and not to be, that is the answer.

:) -> U

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