Sunday, 5 March 2017

What is the real ‘living guru’, and what is the look of its grace?

A friend wrote to me recently asking ‘is it really not necessary to have a living guru if one truly opens oneself to Sri Ramana, and tries as best as one can to live the teachings with devotion and sincerity?’, to which I replied:

A living guru is absolutely necessary, but what is ‘guru’ and could it ever be not living? Contrary to popular belief, guru is not a person, and therefore ‘living guru’ does not mean a living body. Guru is not physical but spiritual, because it is the infinite and ever-living reality, which is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness, ‘I’, our own actual self.

As Bhagavan often used to say, God, guru and self are one and non-different, and this is the real significance of the Christian concept of the Trinity (the Father = God, the Son = guru, and the Holy Spirit = self). When we rise as this ego, we seemingly separate ourself from the one infinite whole that we actually are, so we conceive that infinite whole as God, the all-knowing, all-powerful and all-loving Lord of the universe. When our search for happiness in the things of the world is repeatedly frustrated and disappointed, we gradually develop love for God, considering him to be the sole source of real happiness, and hence we seek to come close to him, to reduce or even to remove entirely our separation from him.

However, because we consider him to be something other than ourself, our efforts to reach him are directed outwards, away from ourself, so he appears in human form as the guru to teach us that he is our own self and that to reach him we must therefore turn back within and thereby subside and merge in the pure self-awareness that we actually are. Once the guru has taught us this, the purpose of his human form has been served, and since every human form has a limited lifespan, it inevitably comes to an end, but its teachings remain, and all we then have to do is to follow those teachings by seeking God/guru/self within ourself.

This is clearly implied by Bhagavan in the twelfth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
கடவுளும் குருவும் உண்மையில் வேறல்லர். புலிவாயிற் பட்டது எவ்வாறு திரும்பாதோ, அவ்வாறே குருவினருட்பார்வையிற் பட்டவர்கள் அவரால் ரக்ஷிக்கப்படுவரே யன்றி யொருக்காலும் கைவிடப்படார்; எனினும், குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்.

kaḍavuḷ-um guru-v-um uṇmaiyil vēṟallar. puli-vāyil paṭṭadu evvāṟu tirumbādō, avvāṟē guruviṉ-aruḷ-pārvaiyil paṭṭavargaḷ avarāl rakṣikka-p-paḍuvarē y-aṉḏṟi y-oru-k-kāl-um kaiviḍa-p-paḍār; eṉiṉum, guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum.

God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will surely be saved by him and will never instead be forsaken; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown.
‘குருவினருட்பார்வையிற் பட்டது’ (guruviṉ-aruḷ-pārvaiyil paṭṭadu), ‘being caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace’, means being enchanted by his love and by the teachings that he has so lovingly given us in order to save us from the misery of self-ignorance, so it does not depend upon our being in the physical presence of his human form, because his grace is infinite love, which is ever shining silently in our heart, and is therefore in no way limited to his human form. Therefore if we are drawn to Bhagavan’s teachings, we have been caught in the glance of his grace, even if we never had the opportunity (at least in our present lifetime) to be in his physical presence or to be seen by his physical eyes.

His real eye is pure self-awareness, through which he is always seeing us as we actually are, so all that we need to do is to look through the same eye to see ourself as he sees us. This is why he concluded this paragraph by saying, ‘எனினும், குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்’ (eṉiṉum, guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum), which means ‘nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown’.

The human form of the guru is only its outward manifestation, but the real form of the guru is our own fundamental self-awareness, so though its outward form passes away, the guru lives on eternally as pure self-awareness, which alone is real. Therefore the ‘living guru’ is our own pure self-awareness, so if we are to follow the living guru we must stop seeking in outward forms what always exists within us as ourself, and must instead direct all our love and effort to turning within to know who am I.

Therefore the answer to your question is that ‘if one truly opens oneself to Sri Ramana, and tries as best as one can to live the teachings with devotion and sincerity’, one has already been caught in the look of his grace and one is walking along that path that he has shown, so he is truly our ever-living guru, and hence we do not need any other ‘living guru’.

102 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in this article: ‘Guru is not physical but spiritual, because it is the infinite and every-living reality, which is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness, ‘I’, our own actual self’. If once considers Bhagavan’s teachings and reflect on them, it will be blatantly clear that what Michael writes has to be absolutely true.

Bhagavan teaches us that nothing physical actually exists, and that whatever objects we see exists only within our mind as mental phenomena. In a dream we experience many seemingly physical things, but when we get up from our sleep we realize that these were just our own imagination, mental phenomena. So is guru something mental? No, it cannot be because everything mental is maya - meaning ‘what does not exists’. Everything mental is a temporary phenomenon which exists in waking and dream, and disappears while we are sleep. So we cannot be anything physical or mental.

Then who are we? Bhagavan says in Nan Yar?, 'what exists is only atma-svarupa'. So if there is God, if there is guru, it has to be only this atma-svarupa. Therefore guru is what we really are.

Michael also writes: “being caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace’, means being enchanted by his love and by the teachings that he has so lovingly given us in order to save us from the misery of self-ignorance . . .’ Many of us believe that we experience guru’s grace only when he does something favourable to us, like giving us a good house to live in, a good means of income and so on. But these are not the actual yardsticks of grace, though these could also be manifestation of grace.

Therefore, only when we are irresistibly drawn to Bhagavan and teachings, we are truly in the ambit of his grace.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! Thank you very much, Michael.

BTW, I am reading your first book and really enjoy it.

summa said...

So beautifully expressed. Thank you Michael.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

I get a different message when reading Bhagawan's disciple Sri Lakshman Swamy.

Excerpts from- No mind. I am the self.
By David Godman
Lives and teachings of Sri Lakshmi Swamy and Mathru Sri Sharad

Page 73-

Q: So a physical guru is not absolutely necessary?
Swamy: You may make good progress by concentrating on a god, but in the final stages of sadhana a human guru is essential.
Just before Sharad realised the self her i thought tried to escape by breaking her skull. If i had not been present, the experience would have killed her. The i thought would have broken her skull and escaped to the higher regions where it would have been reborn again.
So, a human guru is essential. In my case, i was able to obtain a brief experience of the self by my own effort but i was unable to make it permanent. I knew I needed a guru. I came to Ramana Maharshi and by his grace i realised the self.
Question: But Ramana Maharshi head no guru?
Swamy: In very rare cases, the self within acts as the guru. But in all other cases a guru is essential.
...
Question: What if the guru is no longer in the body? My guru died many years ago. Can i realise the self by concentrating on him?
Swamy: If a guru gives a devotee a direct experience of the self while he is alive, then it may be possible for the devotee to realise the self after his death. If not, it will be very difficult.

Page 85-
Question: Is not the power that comes from Arunachala the same as the power that comes from the human guru?
Swamy: Yes, it is the same power, but only the human guru is able to use this power to bring about the final destruction of the ego.

ulladu is unarvu said...

Sanjay Srivastava,
messages may differ.
Is it not said that our real guru is our own fundamental self-consciousness 'I am' ? In this context you may study Michael's article of 6 January 2007 Is a 'human guru' really necessary ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sanjay Srivastava, Lakshmana Swamy claimed himself to be a disciple of Bhagavan Ramana, and also claimed that he had ‘realised’ self in his presence. He was also a self-proclaimed guru (that is, he gave occasional darshans and so on). But can he even claim to be a true disciple of Bhagavan, leave alone his claim of being a guru? By his utterances it is clear that he had not understood Bhagavan’s teachings properly, and therefore his claim of being a devotee of Bhagavan including his claim of being a guru, both fall flat.

We have a choice: either we believe Bhagavan’s own writings, which by extension include, according to me, the writings of his devotees like Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om and Sri Michael James, or believe the likes of Lakshmana Swamy. I choose to believe Bhagavan and his true devotees. They clearly say that:

1) We certainly need the teachings of a real sadguru, but he need not currently be in his physical body. His teachings are much more powerful and enduring than his physical form.

2) The presence of the physical form of the guru is not needed to enable us to experience ourself as we really are. Guru is in our heart, and therefore he or she is not something physical.

3) In all cases our guru is only our real self, and not in some ‘very rare cases’ as claimed by Lakshmana Swamy.

4) There is absolutely no difference between the power of a guru in a body, and power of the form of Arunachala. Both these forms are equal manifestations of our real self.

5) What Lakshmana Swamy describes about the final experience of his disciple (Sarada) is all in yoga phraseology, and nothing of this sort happens when we permanently subside in ourself.

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
do we not have a hard time of it ? We cannot even rely on the experiences of famous or at least outstanding disciples of Bhagavan like Sadhu Arunachala and Lakshmana Swamy.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

Thanks Ulladu for reference to Michael's article.
Thanks Sanjay Lohia for your thoughtful comments.
Thus ends my search for a 'living guru'.

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
we have obviously a hard time with Bhagavan's famous devotees.
It is not easy to ignore the statements of Major Chadwick (Sadhu Arunachala) regarding Sri Chakra Meru installed in Matrubhuteswara Temple of Sri Ramanasramam and Sri Lakshmana Swamy regarding "human guru". Can we really consider them as "untrue" devotees ? Are not both to be considered at least as "spiritually advanced" ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Avila, it is very difficult to say who is a true devotee or who is spiritually advanced , because as long as our ego is alive we cannot call ourself true devotees. As long as our ego is intact we are at best spiritual aspirants. However, to my naked eye, Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om and Sri Michael James seem to be true devotees, because whatever Michael says about Muruganar (in his latest article) is perhaps true for all three of them. He said about Muruganar:

Moreover, in his personal life he was the embodiment of perfect humility, and he never claimed to be anything or to have achieved anything. Whenever anyone told him that they considered him as their guru, he would react strongly, saying that he is nothing and only Bhagavan is guru.

Such humility is a sign of spiritual maturity. We have a lot to learn from them. Moreover these three are so clear about all aspects of Bhagavan’s teachings that it leaves me with no doubt that they are true devotees.

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
so you would call only Bhagavan himself and the enumerated names as true devotees ?
I think that every spiritual aspirant who is trying enthusiastically to find his true nature to the best of his ability can be named at least a devotee when he is living a life of devotion to the truth. If he becomes a true devotee will shaw his/her perseverance.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Aliva, I agree when you say, ‘I think that every spiritual aspirant who is trying enthusiastically to find his true nature to the best of his ability can be named at least a devotee when he is living a life of devotion to the truth’. It is just that some of us are more mature than others – by maturity I mean that some of us have more svatma-bhakti and more vairagya than others. These are relatively mature devotees.

However, there are some persons who just make a show of devotion to impress the world, and therefore they cannot be called real devotees.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sorry Avila, I misspelled your name as 'Aliva' in my previous comment.

Mouna said...

"It is just that some of us are more mature than others – by maturity I mean that some of us have more svatma-bhakti and more vairagya than others.

Us? Others? more...?

Mmmm...

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
sooner or later everyone must find if "making a show of devotion" is the right remedy for his suffering form ignorance. Regarding Sri Lakshmana Swami nevertheless David Godman dedicated a book to him.

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
sorry, of course we should read suffering from ignorance (not 'form').

Sanjay Lohia said...

Extract from the article: The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention by Sri Sadhu Om (as recorded by Michael James). The following appears under the date 29th December 1977:

People want a ‘living’ guru. I suppose they expect him to show them the way to a ‘living’ God. Guru wants us to see ourself as brahman, but we want to see brahman as a human form. Bhagavan always said that self alone is guru, and that his body is unnecessary. He proved this by giving the flash of true knowledge only after he had left his body. Muruganar said that Bhagavan always said that his body was a veil over the reality, and so the light only became clear when his body passed away.

People say to me, ‘It’s alright for you to say a living guru is unnecessary, but you had a living guru’. To them I say that what I learnt from my living guru is that a living guru is unnecessary, and everyone else can learn the same if they study Bhagavan’s works and do a little manana (reflection) on their import.

Unless you understand that self is guru, even a living guru cannot help you. Most people who were with Bhagavan didn’t get moksha because they didn’t want it. Bhagavan teaches us that sooner or later we must be satisfied with self, so why not be satisfied with it now?

People think that the guru must be a person, but guru is only the first person, the real ‘I’ within us. Not satisfied with this first person, they go seeking a second person to be their guru. Our aim, however, should only be to get rid of even the first person (our ego) – to drown our false personhood in self.

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
what you write about "the first person" in the first sentence and then in the third sentence of your comment is logically a contradiction in terms and therefore not comprehensible:
"People think that the guru must be a person, but guru is only the first person, the real ‘I’ within us. Not satisfied with this first person, they go seeking a second person to be their guru. Our aim, however, should only be to get rid of even the first person (our ego) – to drown our false personhood in self."
Why should we get rid of the "first person" which you call first the "real 'I' " and then as "(our ego)" ?
Of course, we can get rid only of our ego and certainly not of our infinite and eternal real 'I'. In the second place "the first person" cannot be first the "real I" and another time "our ego".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Avila, whatever I wrote in this comment is as it appears in the article by Sri Sadhu Om (recorded by Michael). Sometimes, as Michael often says, we have to go beyond the words and look at what they are pointing towards.

When Sri Sadhu Om says, ‘but guru is only the first person, the real ‘I’ within us’, he is using the word ‘first person’ here in a general sense of ‘I’. We can take this ‘I’ to be our ego, or can take it to be our true self, or can it to be ‘I’ in a more general sense. That is, when it is used in a more general sense, ‘I’ can refer to either of these – ‘ego’ or ‘our true self’. Therefore when Sri Sadhu Om says ‘but guru is only the first person, the real ‘I’ within us’, what he means by the ‘first person’ is ‘the real ‘I’ within us’, as he himself qualifies it to mean.

Generally when we say the ‘first person’ we mean by this the ego or the thought called ‘I’. However, this first person is an entangled mixture of our pure awareness and all its non-conscious adjuncts. Therefore, a part of this ‘first person’ is real – that it ‘pure awareness’ in this mixture is real. Therefore, when we try and attend to our ego, we begin to separate it from all its unreal non-conscious adjuncts. So eventually we will get rid of even the first person (used in the sense of the ego), and remain as we really are.

Avila said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks, now I comprehend in which sense it is supposed to mean what you have expressed.
But when I read now an other paragraph of that comment;
"Bhagavan always said that self alone is guru, and that his body is unnecessary.He proved this by giving the flash of true knowledge only after he had left his body. Muruganar said that Bhagavan always said that his body was a veil over the reality, and so the light only became clear when his body passed away."
makes me suspicious. I think Bhagavan's "light" of true knowledge was the same whether he was with the body and without the body(after the burial of his body near the Mother's shrine).

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Avila, Bhagavan is the infinite light of true self-knowledge, and this light was the same even when he seemed to be in a body. That is, Bhagavan had nothing to do with the body even when seen with a body. Devotees who lived with Bhagavan were not able to conceive of a Bhagavan without the body. Thus his body was like a veil which seemingly covered the reality.

In this regards we are slightly better off, since we do not have a living body amidst us whom we mistake to be Bhagavan – like we cannot go Tiruvannamalai and be in his bodily presence. Thus Bhagavan has apparently removed his bodily-veil, and therefore if we want to contact Bhagavan now, we have no other option but to look for him where Bhagavan said he is always found - that is, in our heart.

Many people had seen a flash of light, when Bhagavan left his body, emanating from Sri Ramansramam and going up in the sky. This can be taken to mean metaphorically that Bhagavan had cast of his bodily-veil at that moment, in order to exist as pure light from then onwards. But he was always that light only.

Avila said...

Sanjay,
"This can be taken to mean metaphorically that Bhagavan had cast of his bodily-veil at that moment, in order to exist as pure light from then onwards. But he was always that light only."
Again: From July 1896 onwards Bhagavan was nothing other than that one real substance which is ever shining in us as 'I am' - without any break. Therefore as you seem to intimate in your last sentence, the immortal light of Brahman was always the one infinite whole reality which does not depend of casting of any "body-veil".
Only perpetual self-attentiveness will reveal that we too are actually the beginningless, endless, unbroken and unfragmented absolute wholeness and oneness which is called also the supreme awareness of Arunachala or Arunamalai, the Heart of Lord Siva.

agnihotra said...

Michael,
"His real eye is pure self-awareness, through which he is always seeing us as we actually are, so all that we need to do is to look through the same eye to see ourself as he sees us. This is why he concluded this paragraph by saying, ‘எனினும், குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்’ (eṉiṉum, guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum), which means ‘nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown’."
I must admit that I am not always able to walk unfailingly along that path.
Sometimes it seems that due strong vasanas which are roaming in my mind I cannot avoid to turn off to some emotional (erotic) experiences. After a short only partial satisfaction I can continue walking largely undisturbed on the path. So I hope that vasanas are weakened more and more by Bhagavan's grace in order to remain in the egoless state.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Avila, yes, only our practice of self-attentiveness can reveal what we really are. Self-attentiveness is the beginning, middle and the end of Bhagavan’s teachings. Only self-attentiveness can establish us in absolute silence (mouna), and absolute silence is our goal.

daisilui said...

"Only self-attentiveness can establish us in absolute silence (mouna), and absolute silence is our goal."

It looks like there are two kinds of 'self-attentiveness'- one in the relative reality where the ego has a goal [of practicing being attentive to itself] and the other, in the absolute reality where Self attentiveness annihilates the ego and with it any practice or goal. The latter is not an activity of the mind like the former- being attentive to the Self is Being. There is no relation between the two as there's no relation between the truth and the illusion/the relative and the absolute.

purnatva said...

Michael,
"Guru is not physical but spiritual, because it is the infinite and every-living reality, which is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness, ‘I’, our own actual self."
What does mean the word "every-living" ?
"However, because we consider him to be something other than ourself, our efforts to reach him are directed outwards, away from ourself, so he appears in human form as the guru to teach us that he is our own self and that to reach him we must therefore turn back within and thereby subside and merge in the pure self-awareness that we actually are."
I consider the essence of the Siva - mountain Arunachala as my guru and my own self.
Subsiding and merging in that pure self-awareness in the physical presence of the hill this year the mind had/made some unexpected difficulties. Now I recognize that troubles as an examination of my loyalty to him.

mey-jnani said...

daisilui,
in absolute reality there is no longer a seeming ego. Therefore annihilation of the ego can/must occur before being aware of absolute pure self-awareness.
Actually there is no ego, illusion or "relative reality" at all, because the sages say that there is nothing but absolute fullness.

daisilui said...

mey-jnani
you seem to make it a conditional process "annihilation of the ego can/must occur before being aware of absolute pure self-awareness"; but then you also say "Actually there is no ego, illusion or "relative reality" at all" [which was my point too]. If there is no ego, what needs to be annihilated?! All this talk has nothing to do with the absolute as it doesn't even exist... It is just part of the nonexistent dream where you say things, i say things, sages say things... equally irrelevant to the truth.

mey-jnani said...

daislui,
primarily my reply was prompted by your remark "There is no relation between the two as there's no relation between the truth and the illusion/the relative and the absolute."
One could say that truth is veiled by illusion as well as the absolute is veiled by the relative .
Of course, as you intimate: Truth is quite well unmoved by our talk which not even really exists. Therefore also your final remark "It is just part of the nonexistent dream where you say things, i say things, sages say things... equally irrelevant to the truth." is "just part of the nonexistent dream" as well it is this my comment.
But we should not complain about that fact but be happy that we exist at all. Rather let us incessantly try to be aware of our real nature.
Arunachala.

daisilui said...

mey-jnani,
'we' have no choice of being or not [happy of existing]- the Self cannot be not, and 'tat tvam asi'... The ego on the other hand has the choice of seeing a veil and struggling to remove it or to transcend itself and the veil and just be [without any doing].

Being Self attentive/aware is our true nature, being self-attentive is part of the nature of that which complains [among other things, that there is a veil]. I maintain that there is no relation between the two in the way that neither can know the other and such they never meet.

mey-jnani said...

daisilui,
our real self is undivided consciousness, so it has no parts and cannot be part of anything. Pure intransitive self-awareness is aware only of itself. So there is not anything for knowing.
Therefore our true nature is not touched by our veiled limited view. I would name self-attention the ego's effort to let it subside/merge in its source in order to be self-aware. You are right in saying that the real nature can never meet the unreal one - because the latter only seems to exist and hence does not really exist. But we can state that the ego is in its essence the real infinite self because nothing other than the real self in its oneness does really exist. Real means eternal, unchanging and self-shining.

Michael James said...

Purnatva, regarding your question ‘What does mean the word “every-living”?’ (referring to the final sentence of the second paragraph of this article, in which I had written ‘Guru is not physical but spiritual, because it is the infinite and every-living reality, which is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness, ‘I’, our own actual self’), I am sorry, ‘every-living’ was a typo and should have been ‘ever-living’, so I have now corrected it.

As you imply, all the difficulties that our mind (this ego that now poses as ‘I’) faces when it tries to turn within to see what it itself actually is are created by itself, and it creates them in order to avoid seeing what it actually is, because it knows instinctively that if it does see what it actually is it will cease to be what it now seems to be, and thus it will in effect die, which it is not yet willing to do. The sole aim and ultimate fruit of all our efforts to be self-attentive is simply to cultivate all-consuming love to see what we actually are and thereby to become willing to die as the mind that we now seem to be.

daisilui said...

mey-jnani,
i said: "Being Self attentive/aware is our true nature, being self-attentive is part of the nature of that which complains [among other things, that there is a veil]."
You may want to notice that i used Self and self, in relation to my initial comment in which i suggested that there was a difference between self-attentiveness and Self attentiveness.

As regards your statement:
"But we can state that the ego is in its essence the real infinite self because nothing other than the real self in its oneness does really exist." i think i understand what you mean but if "nothing other than the real self in its oneness does really exist." associating the ego with the real infinite self may be misunderstood [by the same ego]. i know these are fine subtleties but for the sake of simplification i prefer to keep reality pure in these 'ego talks' and therefore sever any connection between the two.

purnatva said...

Michael,
thank you for your reply.
According the context of that mentioned sentence I too read "ever-living" but I was not sure enough that it was only a typo.
What you say about the ego's refusal to die is certainly very apposite to the matter:
It was terrible : sitting on a beautiful rock in the peaceful atmoshere near a dried up rivulet bed at mid-altitude of Arunachala and experiencing the total rebelliousness and revolt of the mind which was not even willing to become calm a little bit let alone to subside in its source. I felt like being caught in a kind of shock-rigidity/inflexibility. The mind seemed to rehearse the total rebellion against any attempt to become drowned or lost. As you write the main thing of all our efforts to be self-attentive is simply to cultivate all-consuming love to see what we actually are and thereby to become willing to die as the mind that we now seem to be.

mey-jnani said...

daisilui,
I am sorry, I did not notice the use of capitalization of "Self" and writing "self" with a small initial letter.
Regarding severing any connection between ego and real infinite self you might read Michael's article of Friday, 5 June 2015, Attending to our ego is attending to its source, ourself.

star of Bethlehem said...

Michael,
"As Bhagavan often used to say, God, guru and self are one and non-different, and this is the real significance of the Christian concept of the Trinity (the Father = God, the Son = guru, and the Holy Spirit = self)."
Where would you place the ego in that Christian concept of the Trinity ?

mey-jnani said...

daisilui,
you may want to read also the following articles of Michael James:
1. Tuesday, 4 October 2016
Why does the term ‘I am’ refer not just to our ego but to what we actually are?
2. Wednesday, 31 August 2016
What is the ‘self’ we are investigating when we try to be attentively self-aware?
3. Wednesday, 23 September 2015
We ourself are what we are looking for
4. Saturday, 15 August 2015
Trying to distinguish ourself from our ego is what is called self-investigation (ātma-vicāra)
5. Friday, 31 July 2015
By attending to our ego we are attending to ourself

daisilui said...

mey-jnani
thanks for the effort of listing all of Michael's bibliography that supports your view that 'attending to our ego is attending to its source'. As i explained, this is not my experience- when i wake up every morning i do no have to go through the same process i did when i first experimented with the concepts of non-duality, i.e. i am not this arm, i am not this head, i am not these legs, i am not my organs... i am not this and not that... until exhausting all possibilities in order to get to my true nature. Words were helpful at their time; at this point i don't find necessary to get more words/concepts; if anything i try detaching from them. Occasionally i may read different things though but prefer spending time outside thoughts and don't feel the need to go back to the thought stage. Whenever the ego rises in a form or another i find sufficient to remind myself of its falsity, deny its existence and then direct attention to that gap which knows 'i am'/existence/being without any thought. For how long it may last, there is no form, no concept, just amness/isness. When 'the ego comes back' by grasping the form of the body and of any other form that interrupts attention to the Self the body may act/react as it is predestined [the body is the doer not me] but this does not necessarily imply that the 'images completely obscure the view of the screen', to use the classical analogy where the Self is the screen. Even in writing down these words is not 'me' the doer but the body-mind [ego] that acts on the background of the screen but has nothing to do with it, although knows of its existence at an intellectual level [but can never be that as is just a thought, an illusory thought that does not even exist...]. Sorry, lots of words that do nothing to being...

mey-jnani said...

daisilui,
in my view studying Michael's articles is generally (in any case) useful.
As you describe directing the mind's attention to the "i am-ness" without any thoughts or concepts and remaining aware of the 'screen' of the 'Self' you seem to be well trained in your practice of 'Self'-attention. Never forgetting the background of the screen of the'Self' while performing actions by the 'body-mind[ego]'- complex is our all aim and includes being constantly aware of the mere phantom existence of the ego.
As you imply we should not complicate things...

daisilui said...

mey-jnani,
i didn't mean to say that Michael's articles were not useful; in fact, quite the opposite. But if i look carefully at the snake and see it was a rope, how many times do i need to go back to make sure i wasn't wrong? Well, while on the path there may be times when doubts arise and i need to take another look at the snake/rope [find the doubter] to strengthen my conviction that my eyes don't deceive me but otherwise i can put that fear behind me and move on...
And yes, while reading articles or listening to Michael's videos repeatedly, new perspectives may arise; however, these are more at the level of fine detail rather than unexpected new revelations. So i find that there is a fine line between the need to know and curiosity of the mind/indulgence in mind works. i think that and one needs to be aware of that, discerning between the two.

mey-jnani said...

daisilui,
as you say one may find also new perspectives in repeatedly reading of Michael articles, because sometimes we do not read carefully enough and it can happen that we overview any viewpoints. Quite well it can be necessary/useful to go back to state the rope again. We are permanently called upon to distinguish/differentiate between snake and rope. But this may be only my own experience.
Since you emphasized the idea/viewpoint of "severing any connection between ego and real infinite self" I intended to recommend (repeatedly) studying of the mentioned articles.
But I don't want to leave the impression that I am authorized to give any instruction to you.
I agree with you on your saying "that there is a fine line between the need to know and curiosity of the mind/indulgence in mind works. i think that and one needs to be aware of that, discerning between the two."

Sanjay Lohia said...

This article addresses the question, ‘What is the real ‘living guru?’ We may have understood that the only ‘living guru’ is our true self, but we may not be sure as to how exactly does he really help us? I thought my following e-mail (which I sent to Michael today) could be a useful sharing:

Revered Sir,

The following is an extract from the article The Paramount Importance of Self-Attention, [by Sri Sadhu Om] which has appeared in the latest issue of the Mountain Path (April-June 2017 Vol. 54, No. 2)

People whose attention is habitually turned outwards tend to attach undue importance to outward sat-saṅga, because they are unable to see what is happening within. The most important work being done by guru does not lie in any outward forms, actions or events, but only deep within the heart of each one of us. Shining within us as the clarity of self-awareness, guru is moulding and preparing us so that we can derive the greatest benefit from his outward sat-saṅga, whether in the form of being in his bodily presence, which is still available to us in the form of Arunachala, or in the form of associating with his teachings.

The nature and importance of the vital work that he is constantly doing within us is beyond all human comprehension, but without it no one would ever be fit to obtain any benefit from outward sat-saṅga, because it alone can purify and clarify our mind, thereby making us fit to yield to the subtle influence of his physical presence and to absorb and assimilate his outward teachings. If one is not inwardly prepared and ripe, one will not gain so much benefit from any form of outward sat-saṅga, but if one’s mind is already to a large extent purified and hence clear, one will very quickly gain the full benefit of outward sat-saṅga, namely the blossoming of intense love to turn back within and drown forever in Bhagavan, who is the clear light of awareness that illumines our mind.

My note: We ignore the work being done by our inner guru deep within our heart, by giving undue importance to outward events – saying, ‘this or that has happened due to Bhagavan’s grace’ and so on. As Sri Sadhu Om says, guru’s real work is unceasingly going on within. He is moulding and maturing us from within, totally unknown to our mind. He is purifying and clarifying our mind. It is only such cleansing which enables us to understand his teachings.

The more we practise self-investigation, the more our mind will be clarified; and the more it is clarified, the more we will be able to understand Bhagavan’s teachings. Thus it is only our inner purity which enables us to assimilate his teachings. This inner clarity ‘works by kindling clarity of discrimination (viveka) in our hearts’. This viveka makes us discriminate the real from the unreal. This viveka makes us understand that there is no happiness in any objects outside, and therefore to experience real happiness we have to turn within and drown in our inner light - the only abode of happiness.

In short, if we do not try to contact our inner guru, even the outer guru or his teachings cannot help us much.

With regards,

Sanjay

coconut breeder said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"...one will very quickly gain the full benefit of outward sat-saṅga, namely the blossoming of intense love to turn back within and drown forever in Bhagavan, who is the clear light of awareness that illumines our mind."
Is not the mind as such illumined enough and already to be considered as clear light of awareness ?
Just being awake and thus looking, reading the letters on the computer-screen and typing on the keyboard are abilities which are not at all possible without clear awareness.
Of course, a clear purified mind got drowned in pure self-awareness is a welcome encore.

Sanjay Lohia said...

coconut breeder, as Michael says, our clear light of awareness illumines our mind. Our mind is not the clear light of awareness, but is just an adjunct mixed and reflected light of awareness. Our mind is chit-jada granthi - that is, it is a seeming entanglement of pure-consciousness with a non-conscious body. This reflected consciousness is called chidabhasa (semblance of consciousness).

We use this reflected or impure consciousness to experience things other than ourself, and also to perform all our actions. As we go on practising self-investigation, its impurities starts to disappear. What will eventually remain is only an absolutely purified mind, and this absolutely purified mind is pure self-awareness. The following saying of Bhagavan could be useful to understand this:

Bhagavan: The Self is in the Heart. The Heart is self-luminous. Light arises from the Heart and reaches the brain, which is the seat of the mind. The world is seen by the mind, that is, by the reflected light of the Self. It is perceived with the aid of the mind. When the mind is illumined it is aware of the world. When it is not itself so illumined, it is not aware of the world. If the mind is turned in towards the source of light, objective knowledge ceases and Self alone shines forth as the Heart.

The moon shines by the reflected light of the sun, when the sun has set, the moon is useful for revealing objects. When the sun has risen, no one needs the moon, although the pale disc of the moon is visible in the sky.

So it is with the mind and the Heart. The mind is useful because of its reflected light. It is used for seeing objects. When it is turned inwards, the source of illumination shines by itself, and the mind remains dim and useless like the moon in daytime.


coconut breeder said...

Sanjay Lohia,
is it not said that the "Self" is the "Heart" itself and not in the heart, because "Self" does not have any place ?

"The world is seen by the mind, that is, by the reflected light of the Self. It is perceived with the aid of the mind. When the mind is illumined it is aware of the world. When it is not itself so illumined, it is not aware of the world."

What is the reflecting medium which reflects the light of the Self ?
Presumably that "reduced illumination" of the mind means its state in/of deep sleep.

Sanjay Lohia said...

coconut breeder, the literal meaning of the word ‘heart’ (in this context) is centre, core, nucleus or essense, and therefore when Bhagavan used ‘heart’ as a synonym for ‘oneself’ (our true self), he was merely using it metaphorically. We (ourself as we really are) are not really the centre of anything, because nothing other than ourself actually exists. However, from the perspective of our mind we can say that atma-svarupa is the heart, because it the centre, essence and source of everything.

So whether we say, ‘heart is our true self’, or we say, ‘self is in the heart’, they actually mean the same thing. What they are merely indicating is that we (our fundamental self) exist in and as the very centre or core of our being. We should go beyond the literal meaning, and try to see what they are pointing towards.

In response to one of your other question, it would be useful if you read one of Michael’s old articles titled: What is cidabhasa, the reflection of self-awareness? The answer to your question is given in the section one of this article. Michael says here: ‘The body we identify as ourself is the reflecting medium or surface, our ego is the reflection in it, and what is reflected in it is ourself [our true and fundamental self-awareness]. In other words, we are the original, our ego is the reflection, and the mirror in which this reflection appears is our body’.

Our ego or mind is not present in deep sleep, so no cidabhasa or 'reduced illumination' exists there. What exists in sleep in only our pure-consciousness. Our ego or mind is itself ‘reduced illumination’, and this 'reduced illumination' is present only in our waking and dream states. We (our atma-svarupa) are pure and infinite illumination (awareness); and our ego or mind is reflected and 'reduced illumination' (awareness).

coconut breeder said...

Sanjay,
thank you for your reply and your plausible explanation.
I think the reflecting medium in waking is ultimately the brain of the gross body and in dream a kind of subtle brain of the subtle (astral) dream-body.

Sanjay Lohia said...

coconut breeder, there is absolutely no difference between a so-called ‘waking body’ and our dream body. Both these bodies appear real and awake when we experience them, but are found to be totally non-existent when we get out of these states. Since our brain is part of whatever ‘gross’ or physical body (sthula sarira) we experience, there is no difference between the brains of our so-called ‘waking body’ and dream body. Like our body, our brain is also our imagination.

When you say, ‘I think the reflecting medium in waking body is ultimately the brain’, I am not sure whether or not we can say so. It would be nice if Michael clarifies this.

coconut breeder said...

Sanjay,
regarding the brain of the gross body and the corresponding think tank of the subtle dream body the difference can be seen surely in their structure and consistency, at least from the viewpoint of the waking state of the mind.

coconut breeder said...

Sanjay,
in the above context you may it find useful to read Michael's comment of 5 July 2016 at 15:46 regarding his article of Saturday, 2 July 2016
Names and forms are all just thoughts, so we can free ourself from them only by investigating their root, our ego:
"Sanjay, regarding your questions about Bhagavan’s statement in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘சூக்ஷ்மமான மனம், மூளை இந்திரியங்கள் வாயிலாய் வெளிப்படும் போது ஸ்தூலமான நாமரூபங்கள் தோன்றுகின்றன; ஹிருதயத்தில் தங்கும்போது நாமரூபங்கள் மறைகின்றன’ (sūkṣmam-āṉa maṉam, mūḷai indiriyaṅgaḷ vāyilāy veḷippaḍum pōdu sthūlam-āṉa nāma-rūpaṅgaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; hirudayattil taṅgumbōdu nāma-rūpaṅgaḷ maṟaigiṉḏṟaṉa), ‘When the subtle mind comes out through the portal of the brain and sense organs, gross names and forms appear; when it remains in the heart, names and forms disappear’, whenever our mind comes out of our actual self (ātma-svarūpa), which is what Bhagavan refers to here as ‘ஹிருதயம்’ (hirudayam or hṛdaya), it does so by projecting a body and simultaneously experiencing itself as that body, and it immediately becomes aware of other phenomena (seemingly internal thoughts and a seemingly external world) by projecting them out through the portal or doorway of the brain and senses of that body. Therefore this process by which the mind rises from the heart is what Bhagavan describes here as ‘the subtle mind coming out through the portal of the brain and sense organs’.

Since the body, brain and sense organs are all names and forms projected by the mind, they are mere thoughts like all other names and forms, but they are the conduit through which other names and forms are projected and experienced. We never experience any dream (whether our current one, which we mistake to be waking, or any other one) without experiencing ourself as a body, and we experience thoughts as if they were occurring in the brain of that body, and an external world as if we were perceiving it by means of its senses, so a brain and sense organs are fundamental to our experience of names and forms."
5 July 2016 at 15:46

Sanjay Lohia said...

coconut breeder, thank you for your comment. Incidentally, this comment by Michael (which you quote) was written by him in response to one of by questions.

coconut breeder said...

Sanjay,
that was also the reason why just Michael's comment was now copied especially for you for the purpose of replying to you.

Wittgenstein said...

Sanjay,

When you say, “Like our body, our brain is also our imagination”, in your reply to coconut breeder’s comment, your view is not to attach any importance to a part of the body which is anyway our imagination (ultimately). However, when coconut breeder quotes Michael saying, “brain and sense organs are fundamental to our experience of names and forms”, as it is implied in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, it appears to me that importance is attached to brain, at least to some degree. Regarding this, I would like to share my views.

In the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, referring to the triad world-soul-gods (ஜகஜீவ ஈச்வரர்கள் | jagajeeva eechvarargal), Bhagavan says they appear and disappear simulatenously (ஏககாலத்தில் தோன்றி ஏககாலத்தில் மறைகின்றன | ekakaalathil thondri ekakaalathil maraiginrana). Clearly, Bhagavan is teaching ‘instantaneous creation and destruction’ here, wherein the details of creation and perception (which is also simultaneous with creation) cannot be outlined in detail as a process in space-time. In instantaneous creation, there cannot be any importance attached to created elements, as everything is of equal value. That is, Bhagavan cannot be saying in one breath everything is instantaneous (and of equal value or importance) and in the same breath talk about creation and perception as a process (and of relative importance between various created elements) spreading out in space-time. I feel it would be better to pin down the contexts in both the points of view and how they are linked.

As long as things appear real to us, we do need a theory. With an outward turned mind, we do not feel everything is simultaneous and of equal value. For us, our brains are more important than an object on the desk, for example. Therefore, we dissect our experience and create hierarchies. Any theory of perception in western psychology would take the route ‘world-senses-brain-mind’, as the natural flow of mind (மனப்போக்கு | manappokku) for us is outwards. However, Bhagavan teaches us the reverse (‘mind-brain-senses-world’). In teaching the reverse process, the emphasis would be to point out that it is more of a projection than a normally understood perception, prompting us to go to the source of the projection.

I will continue in my next comment.

Wittgenstein said...

In continuation of my reply to Sanjay:

Of course, for the outward turned mind, this projection would come as a surprise and can at best be used as a hypothesis to explain perception, much akin to a single dreamer instantaneously projecting an entire dream world. In fact this is the best hypothesis, provided we are convinced waking and dreaming are not substantially different. This reversal taught by Bhagavan is the turning in towards ourself. And as long as we are turned in this way, we are simulataneously turning our back on everything else and hence everything is of equal or no value to us.

So, to sum it up, as long as our attention is diverted away from ourself, we would feel we are caught in space-time and perception is an ordered sequence of events of relative importance in space-time. However, as soon as we turn our attention on ourself, by treating the body like a corpse (Ulladu Narpadu, verse 29), we are effectively not placing importance to any of the parts of the body or the world (corpse does not know brain is more important than hand or anything else in the world). Of course, the level to which we succeed in this depends on the intensity of our attention.

Before I close, I would like to note that in your earlier comment, when you quote Bhagavan, he is perhaps talking to someone with a yogic bent of mind, assuring sun (ourself) and moon (ego) would co-exist. However, for rest of us who are willing to accept him, he warns this is not the case in the third paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Wittgenstein, I agree when you say ‘with an outward turned mind, we do not feel everything is simultaneous and of equal value’. Most of us - whether we call it western psychology or modern science or whatever – believe in ‘gradual creation’ (which is called krama srishti or srishti-drishti vada) - a contention that this universe has gradually evolved over thousands of years, and that it will continue to exist long after we are gone. As you say this belief takes the rout of ‘world-senses-brain-mind’ (outside-in).

However, Bhagavan taught us ‘instantaneous creation’ (which is called vivarta or drishti-srishti vada) - a contention that this world comes into seeming existence along with the rising of our mind, and is therefore just an illusory appearance like any other dream. As you say this belief takes the rout of ‘mind-brain-senses-world’ (inside-out).

As we know, analogies are just for illustrative purposes, and hence are mere pointers. They all have their limitations. Bhagavan has made it very clear that as long as we experience ourself as this ego, we do not experience ourself as we really are; and when we will experience ourself as we really are, we will no more experience this ego and mind. In the famous analogy, we cannot simultaneously perceive the rope and the snake.

doubt the doubter said...

Sanjay, what means seeming existence of an illusory world ? A sensual feeling like sorrow and grief, pain/ache or pleasure is at least felt actually by us. What is sense, purpose and use to call that sensory perceptions as illusory ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

doubt the doubter, as long as our ego is intact, all these things - sensual feelings like sorrow, grief, pain, ache and pleasures - seem real. But are they actually real? Feelings, like all other phenomena, appear and disappear; and anything which appears and disappears, according to Bhagavan, can never be real. He says 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].

Bhagavan says, ‘The world, soul and God are illusory superimpositions’. All phenomena we experience, whether they are physical or mental, are included in the term ‘world’. Therefore, our body, mind and all its emotions like sorrow, grief, pain, ache and pleasures are part of our world – a world which is our own creation. We need to be firmly convinced about this fact, because only such deep understanding will motivate us to give up our hold on these imaginations. As long as we cling to these imaginations, we cannot experience ourself as we really are.

The most simple, direct and infallible means to give up hold over these imaginations is to investigate: who has these sensual feelings; who am I? Only when our ego is annihilated as a result of such an investigation, will all our imaginations cease - never to appear again.

doubt the doubter said...

Sanjay,
thank you for your respond.
May I add to your reply a little sequence of logical considerations:
1.) Of course I do not assume that Bhagavan's teaching prove to be erroneus.
2.) I cannot deny : My ego is intact
3.) Therefore knowing the truth is not possible as long the ego is not annihilated.
4.) That the world is my own creation I do not quite comprehend or rather is not experienced as such by me.
5.) A conviction about anything can arise only what is actually experienced.
6.) It seems to be a vicious circle because if the ego is annihilated the mentioned conviction about the "fact that the world is our own creation" is not anymore of use.
7.) The other way round : Knowing the truth is not at all possible because I cannot play Bhagavan and imagine his experience and knowledge.
8.) So I can only try to investigate who I am and thus hope to become Bhagavan by his grace.

Sanjay Lohia said...

doubt the doubter, I have just come across a quotation by Bhagavan which seems relevant to our discussion:

Bhagavan: If the world is real merely because it is perceived, then water seen in a mirage is also real because it too is perceived.

You had written in your previous comment that our sensory perceptions and feelings seem real to us, but by that criteria the water seen in a mirage should also be considered real. However, we know there is no real water in the mirage. Likewise, according to Bhagavan, everything we perceive, experience or think is an illusion, our mental imagination.

We can directly experience this fact by investigation our ego that experiences these illusions. A keenly focused and penetrating self-attentiveness will destroy our ego and all its illusions.

doubt the doubter said...

Sanjay,
I think that this comparison is not quite appropriate because knowing that the illusory water in a Fata Morgana is only a trick of the senses was preceded also by the sense impression/perception or sensory experience that there is no/never real water in a mirage.
If I have for example in a bustling city to cross a busy road with heavy traffic noise and chaos of heavy trucks I must completely rely on my sense perceptions in favour of continuity of my bodily life. It is hard to believe that these sense perceptions are only a mental imagination.
Perhaps the whole scenario is to be seen as unreal, because as you say these experiences are made (only) by the ego which I seem to be now.

doubter said...

How can we know whether the infinite and ever-living reality is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness,'I', our own actual self ?
Which facts or knowledge are based on that religious assumption ?
Are we not evidently far from perfection and rather easy prey of our ego ?
Only a few convincing sages in two thousand years and the daily horror in many fields of the world - does not speak this fact bluntly ?

Mouna said...

Doubter, greetings

How can we know whether the infinite and ever-living reality is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness,'I', our own actual self ?
Which facts or knowledge are based on that religious assumption ?


There are at least two facts that can't be denied (or doubted) which constitute the essence of the infinite and ever-living shining reality, and those are existence and consciousness.
No one can say "there isn't existence right now" because denying that fact will be in itself proof of existence. And no one can say "I do not know that there is existence right now" for the same reason. So existence and the knowing of it (or vice versa) not only are synonymous but also the only facts (not assumptions) we can be sure of. They are experimental truth, not religious assumptions.

Are we not evidently far from perfection and rather easy prey of our ego?
Who is that "we" if not the ego?... we don't "have" an ego. Ego is everything.

Only a few convincing sages in two thousand years and the daily horror in many fields of the world - does not speak this fact bluntly ?
The world with its few sages and horrors is also ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, you make a good point when you write:

There are at least two facts that can't be denied (or doubted) which constitute the essence of the infinite and ever-living shining reality, and those are existence and consciousness.
No one can say "there isn't existence right now" because denying that fact will be in itself proof of existence. And no one can say "I do not know that there is existence right now" for the same reason. So existence and the knowing of it (or vice versa) not only are synonymous but also the only facts (not assumptions) we can be sure of.

doubter said...

Mouna,greetings

1. okay, existence and knowing of this existence right now is experienced by all.
But do that two facts give an adequate or sufficient explanation of what I mentioned in my first question ?

2. okay, we are the ego.

3. okay, the world and our world view is also the ego.

4. I as the ego would be glad if the claim is true.

5. Therefore I repeat the first question of my previous comment because I do not find an immediate connection between the referred "facts" and the above claim.

6. Obviously the ego is not the suitable instrument to produce proof of it - let alone to be aware of that reality.

7. Presumably we must be - or at least be aware of - that reality itself to be able/ready for the ascertainment/proof of truth of the maintained assertion.
There seem to be no other means to be sure whether the claim is true.

8. Because the statement of the claim contains a fundamental concern, there is no longer any justification for the further existence of this seeming institution "ego".

Mouna said...

doubter, hello again,

"1. okay, existence and knowing of this existence right now is experienced by all.
But do that two facts give an adequate or sufficient explanation of what I mentioned in my first question?"


Your first question was:
"How can we know whether the infinite and ever-living reality is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness,'I', our own actual self ?
So yes, these two facts that are experienced right now (and always) by all, give an adequate and/or sufficient explanation because according to Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi and before him all the Vedic literature, the "infinite and ever-living reality” (aka brahman) is defined as existence/reality/being/sat - consciousness/awareness/knowing'chit - peace/fulfullment/limitless/anada/anantam.

We know and are aware of that reality because it is our most natural, closer to us and moment by moment experience, the problem is that it is veiled by ego (which also projects world, including a body).
Investigating ego, or turning attention to “that” and resting in “it” is called atma vichara.

Agreed that ego doesn’t exist, but seems to… and that is the conundrum.

doubter said...

Mouna,
hello again and thanks for your reply.
But...
being just aware of the own (seeming) ego-existence and knowing that, unfortunately does not per se provide conclusive proof of the maintained statement about the infinite and ever-living reality. With all due respect to your total confidence in Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharishi and the antecedent Vedic literature, necessary own experience of the truth can in no way be replaced/substituted by the advice/reference of their undisputed authority.
Therefore I repeat the first question of my initial comment:
How can we know whether the infinite and ever-living reality is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness,'I', our own actual self ?

Mouna said...

doubter,

I do agree that one has to base one’s own statements first and foremost in one’s own experience.
All teachings are only pointers towards that. But a certain level of confidence in the teaching has to be acknowledged in the first place.
If you go college to learn physics you need to assume that the teacher knows more than you not only intellectually but also experientially. All the rest of the study is to verify his statements to make them yours.

"Therefore I repeat the first question of my initial comment:
How can we know whether the infinite and ever-living reality is always shining in our heart as pure self-awareness,'I', our own actual self?"


Is there a moment in your life apart from awareness? (classic objection: when I am fast asleep or under anesthesia.)
If the answer is yes then, how do you know that?
If the answer is no, then we pass to the other question: according to your experience, is there any moment when you “go out” of existence or there is no existence?
As you can see the answer has to be no because otherwise, you would have to know that moment, so it has to exist in some form, and that means it has to exist.

All this questions and answers demonstrate that the only permanent constant we can be aware of is existence and the knowing of it. Nothing can fall out of them. Eve the concept of nothing enters into that equation.
Being a permanent constant we arrive to the conclusion that is the ground where the apparent “impermanent" builds up, so it has to be the “ever-living (the permanent and real part) always shining (the knowing part) reality shining in our heart (the center, the core, the ground) as pure self-awareness”

Maybe other participants of this blog will be able to throw more light on your pertinent question.

Be well,
mouna

Mouna said...

doubter,

my first paragraph was in relation to quoting Bhagavan or the Vedas.

doubter said...

Mouna,
many thanks for your reasonable explanations. You were patient as an paschal/Easter lamb with me. But at the moment my mind is not easily satisfied and bores some holes even in the massive walls of possibly unchecked confessions and standardized concepts.
Be well too and smile.

Mouna said...

doubter,

:)

daisilui said...

Hi Mouna,
i agree with what you say and i'd only have to attempt adding a clarification to: "... the only permanent constant we can be aware of is existence and the knowing of it. "

i believe there is a subtle nuance here which may throw one off, i.e. there is a point when 'we' cannot exist any longer to be able to say 'i am aware of existence and the knowing of it'. The deep understanding/feeling that everything perceived/felt/sensed is impermanent thought [starting with "I" as the primary root thought], and therefore unreal, results in remaining the 'naked truth' that 'we' are [stripped of all the 'thought clothing']. There is no more 'we/I' left; only existence knowing itself. This is how 'unrealizing the unreal' feels to me .
As soon as awareness of "I" rises and is not caught/seen for what it is [and pushed back as a thought], we are back to we, and out of "it".

Mouna said...

"i believe there is a subtle nuance here which may throw one off, i.e. there is a point when 'we' cannot exist any longer to be able to say 'i am aware of existence and the knowing of it’.

I do agree completely with that daisilui, and what followed.

All implied here in this forum is only spoken in relative terms, and at that level are valid, like bhagavan’s teachings.

but then, going beyond everything (ego), even brahman doesn’t make sense in brahman.

ajata. silence within silence.

...

Sanjay Lohia said...

Since this article is on the topic of the need or otherwise of a living guru, the following saying of Bhagavan could be worth reflecting upon:

Follow only the Self. There is nothing or nobody else to follow.

This demolishes the claim of those who feel that one needs to necessarily follow a guru in a body, because Bhagavan says, ‘Follow only the Self’. As Michael writes in this article: ‘Guru is not physical but spiritual’. Guru is the only existing reality shining in our hearts as ‘I am’, so why do we need a guru in a body?

Michael James said...

Daisilui, in your reply to Mouna you imply that when the ego is eradicated (as it will be when it sees itself as it actually is) no ‘I’ will then remain to be aware of what is (or ‘existence’, as Mouna and you refer to it), but this is not actually the case, because existence cannot exist in abstraction from whatever it is that exists, and what exists is only ‘I’ as it actually is. This is stated clearly by Bhagavan in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?: ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa’, in which ‘ātma-svarūpa’ literally means the ‘own form [or real nature] of oneself’ and therefore refers to ‘I’ as it actually is.

As Bhagavan often used to say, what is real is only ‘I’ or ‘I am’ (ourself or the existence of ourself, which are one and the same, since our existence cannot be other than ourself), whereas what rises and dances as ‘I am this’ or ‘I am that’ (namely the ego, the primal thought called ‘I’) is unreal, being just an imposter, a spurious entity that poses as ‘I’.

What Mouna referred to as ‘existence’ and as ‘the knowing of it’ is only ourself, the one permanent and hence real ‘I’, because we (this real ‘I’) alone are what actually exists, and we are always aware of ourself (our existence) as ‘I am’. Existence is not a mere abstraction, because it cannot be anything separate from or other than whatever exists (which is why Bhagavan generally referred to it as ‘உள்ளது’ (uḷḷadu), ‘what exists’ or ‘what is’), nor is it actually an ‘it’ (a third person), because as he says in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār, ‘உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும்’ (uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum), ‘what exists is awareness’, and awareness (in the sense of what is aware, which is the sense in which he uses it here) is always aware of itself as ‘I’ or ‘I am’. Therefore what exists is not actually ‘it’ but only ‘I’, as implied by mahāvākyas such as ‘tat tvam asi’ (it [that or this] you are), and ‘ahaṁ brahmāsmi’ (I am brahman).

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Daisilui:

When we investigate ourself keenly enough and thereby see ourself as we actually are, what we will experience is not that there is no ‘I’ but that ‘I’ is not what it seemed to be so long as it seemed to be mixed and confused with adjuncts such as ‘this’ or ‘that’. In other words, we will cease to be aware of ourself as ‘I am this’ (‘நான் இது’: ‘nāṉ idu’) or ‘I am that’ (‘நான் அது’: ‘nāṉ adu’), and will instead be aware of ourself only as ‘I am I’ (‘நான் நான்’: ‘nāṉ nāṉ’), as Bhagavan indicates in verse 20 of Upadēśa Undiyār, verse 30 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 2 of Āṉma-Viddai.

Since we cannot be anything other than ourself, our real identity can be expressed accurately only as ‘I am I’, so when we are aware of ourself just as ‘I am I’, what we will thus be aware of is what we actually are, as indicated by Bhagavan in verse 21 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

நானெனுஞ் சொற்பொரு ளாமது நாளுமே
நானற்ற தூக்கத்து முந்தீபற
     நமதின்மை நீக்கத்தா லுந்தீபற.

nāṉeṉuñ coṯporu ḷāmadu nāḷumē
nāṉaṯṟa tūkkattu mundīpaṟa
     namadiṉmai nīkkattā lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: நான் எனும் சொல் பொருள் ஆம் அது நாளுமே, நான் அற்ற தூக்கத்தும் நமது இன்மை நீக்கத்தால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nāṉ eṉum sol poruḷ ām adu nāḷumē, nāṉ aṯṟa tūkkattum namadu iṉmai nīkkattāl.

அன்வயம்: நான் அற்ற தூக்கத்தும் நமது இன்மை நீக்கத்தால், நான் எனும் சொல் பொருள் நாளுமே அது ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): nāṉ aṯṟa tūkkattum namadu iṉmai nīkkattāl, nāṉ eṉum sol poruḷ nāḷumē adu ām.

English translation: That [the one whole that shines as ‘I am I’] is at all times the substance [or true import] of the word called ‘I’, because of the exclusion of our non-existence even in sleep, which is devoid of ‘I’ [the ego].

aha-mukham said...

daisilui,
when you state
"There is no more 'we/I' left; only existence knowing itself. This is how 'unrealizing the unreal' feels to me ."
one should not brush the remaining 'I' as the knower off the table.
"Only existence knowing itself" is just an other name for "Knowing the knower" which cannot happen without any knowing subject/awareness i.e. the 'I'. Therefore it happens only as 'I am' or 'I am I'.

aha-mukham said...

daisilui,
I did not notice that Michael James repied to you in the meantime. So my comment is rather superfluous.

Mouna said...

The conceptual framework upon which we think and base our discussions is still the ego's. It is often said that Bhagavan taught vivarta vada mainly because ajata (oneself) surpasses our ability of comprehension with the limited intellect we have.
Notions of "I", oneself, what is, existence, consciousness, absolute, brahman, even "I Am" and "I am I", exist only within this mental (egoic) conceptual framework.
When this framework is dissolved with the dissolution of the ego, there is no more place of reference for an "I", no matter how absolute "I" is or I "am".
"I am that I am" and "I am I" are the closest interpretations, from the deluded egoic viewpoint, of what actual reality (ajata) is. I believe that is why Bhagavan used to say that the highest form of teaching is silence, since it doesn't require the conceptual framework of the mind and connects directly with the non duality of what is.
Another hint could be deep sleep, where all conceptual notions, including the sense of I Am are nonexistent for the simple reason (although it may sound as a contradiction) that there is only I Am.

Reality doesn't need words to explain its identity, because it doesn't have one.

aha-mukham said...

Mouna,
1. when you write that "the sense of I Am" is not existent in deep sleep you should consider that the sense of anything implies duality whereas being 'I am' is nondual.

2- "Reality doesn't need words to explain its identity, because it doesn't have one."
Reality is itself its own identity called self-awareness.

aha-mukham said...

Mouna,
I should add that being 'I am' always is and never ends and therefore does not cease to be in deep sleep.

Mouna said...

aha-mukham,

"I should add that being 'I am' always is and never ends and therefore does not cease to be in deep sleep."

Who is saying that?
The moment you will make that statement in deep sleep I'll then consider it.

My point, my friend, is that ego is everything, and that "everything" means also thoughts and conceptual frameworks such as even what lies beyond ego.

No one can say I am in deep sleep, not because there is no I, is because there is only I, as paradoxical as it may sound.

daisilui said...

i cannot add too much to what Mouna said in his reply referring to the ajata teaching. i would only bring some clarification to my way of expressing the experience of being.

i don't question Michael's knowledge of the teaching, he and Ramana may be right [i know Ramana wouldn't mind me saying that...] but...
There was a time when i followed the path of 'I am' and it felt the right thing at that time. After a while there was too much confusion between the use of the same word "I" for different meanings. Later things started to become confusing therefore to circumvent that i found alternatives that felt more appropriate and in the end would be just different paths to the same destination, e.g. Self/Being/Existence/Awareness, etc. If the feeling of existence exists and is known 'here' [instead of by me], does it necessarily need an "I" to know it?! Without the I, does it mean this knowing of being is false?!

Language is developed for communication, dealing with this relative/unreal environment and therefore when it comes to following a spiritual teaching it needs to be as precise and clear as possible [the teaching is still within the relative]. From my perspective one way to achieve clarity is by eliminating confusion and in this situation i found it more practical to experience existence and the knowing of it at an impersonal level, i.e. not as I but as existence knowing itself. In the end this is a minor detail that makes no difference to Being. If i was to reply from an absolute perspective i'd send out a blank page as a response.

Mouna said...

daisilui,

"From my perspective one way to achieve clarity is by eliminating confusion and in this situation i found it more practical to experience existence and the knowing of it at an impersonal level, i.e. not as I but as existence knowing itself.”

I couldn’t agree more.

That is why instead of asking the question “Do you exist right now?” or “Are you aware right now?”, which fall prey of the different meanings of “you” (ego or self), if we ask impersonally: “Is there existence right now?" or "Is there awareness right now?”, we connect right away with the impersonal “flavor” of the non-dual nature of what is.

At the risk of being profane or sacrilegious, I wonder if the question “Who Am I?” wouldn’t have more investigation impact if it was translated “Who (or What) is I?"

daisilui said...

Mouna,
you may remember in the past i expressed a preference for 'isness' to 'amness'...

As for the blasphemy :) i'd say you cannot be profane or sacrilegious towards the Self, only towards the unreal [ego]. As far as i know Ramana Maharshi didn't reject any paths that take you to the same destination. Self investigation does not necessarily require words and if words are to be used they are simple tools so i'd say that if incoherent blabbering takes you deep into reality, does it matter how you got there, is anybody left to judge anything?!

Mouna said...

daisilui,

:)

aha-mukham said...

Mouna, my friend,
you know from your own daily experience: in deep sleep the ego-phantom is not present but only the real 'I am'- as you say in the last sentence of your reply to me.
You are also right in saying "No one can say I am in deep sleep,..".
But you might understand that we necessarily must differentiate between ego and real I.
Of course, the real 'I am' does not make statements let alone in deep sleep.
it is not at all a paradox that in deep sleep is only the real I - free of any adjuncts.

Mouna said...

aha-muhkam, hello

"But you might understand that we necessarily must differentiate between ego and real I."

Absolutely, it is part of Bhagavan’s teachings, maybe even we could say the very first stages of it.
We need to understand, though, that this difference is just conceptual because “the snake is actually the rope” or “the pot is actually only clay".
After that was understood and saw through, it is only abiding...

ahamukham said...

daisilui,
"...if incoherent blabbering takes you deep into reality, does it matter how you got there...?
yes, one should not pass up an opportunity. :)

daisilui said...

ahamukham
you left out the end which is quite important- once there who is to pass up an opportunity?! Anyways, i am not sure i understand- opportunity for what?

ahamukham said...

Mouna,greetings again,
in discussing that point of deep sleep conceptual distinction is unavoidable and even necessary.
Who or what is abiding in what ?

Mouna said...

ahamukham, greetings

"Who or what is abiding in what?"

touché...

ahamukham said...

daisilui,
my suggestion to give "incoherent blabbering" a chance to "take one deep into reality" was only intended jokingly.

daisilui said...

ahamukham
i got the joke :) but my preference is no blabbering at all [even the coherent type...]

ahamukham said...

Mouna,
nothing is easy...:)

ahamukham said...

daisilui,
yes, time is a treasure - death walks behind us.

Ravikiran Jana said...

I don't know this is correct place to post. But I could not mail Micheal ji. That is why this post here.


Dear sir ,
I have some questions regarding sadhana. Please answer so that I can progress.

1. As you are suggesting everyone to attend to ego (I- thought) directly [of course, it is the method of 'self-enquiry'], but it is almost impossible for me. After so many attempts, only once I had sense of my 'I thought'. Most of the time is being passed in eliminating other thoughts itself in meditation. How to overcome this problem??

2. Every spiritual teacher says there is no essence or happiness in outside the world (or so much misery in world we see). Intellectually I can understand. But how and when my mind will know the pain and misery in outside world and turn inward?

3. I feel from my practice 'SELF ENQUIRY' is not possible at all times. But how to make it possible in all times? and also if self enquiry is being difficult at a particular time , what practice is better? Whether we can have some gap and again try self enquiry or we have to continue with some other practice. Please clarify.

4. Another problem is with schedule. How to make disciplinary life? Please if possible suggest me a daily schedule [at least give daily routine of some serious sadhakas so that I can carve out a plan]

Best regards,
JANA RAVI KIRAN

gargoyle said...

Ravikiran Jana

May I make a comment in regards to my experience about scheduling? I'm sure Michael will clear this up for your much better than my comment.

For some time in the past I had a daily schedule of practise. At first my practise seemed to work fine but something happened and regardless of how hard I tried to get back to my practise at the same time and place each day I suddenly had problems and could not duplicate my previous practise of atma vichara.

I found that the best way for me to practise is to be spontaneous. Regardless if I only have 1 minute or an hour not making a set time and place seemed to be best for me.

I referred to this as tricking the ego. Whatever it was it worked for me.

Just my humble opinion.

We are all different and what works for one person may not work for someone else.

I wish you the very best.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravikiran, yes, it is not possible to practise self-investigation at all times, although that should be our aim. Whenever we remember to do so or whenever we do not have any pressing engagements, we should try and turn our gaze towards ourself alone, and keep it there for as long as possible. We know it is easier said than done, but there is no other direct and infallible path to self-knowledge.

I agree with gargoyle when he implies that we need not practise at fixed times. Bhagavan also said that fixed times are for spiritual novices. Therefore, we should try and practise whenever we feel inclined to do so. This practice is propelled by our self-love (svatma-bhakti), and we cannot expect to generate such love at fixed times. However, for some a fixed schedule may help, but generally it is not very useful.

gargoyle said...

Sanjay Lohia

After reading your reply and thinking deeply about my practise I realized something that I had overlooked (or the ego did on purpose)...that when I practised at the same times of day I was only going by the clock.
I was practising because I felt I had to and not out of love. I let the clock dictate what I would do and when I would do it.

Take Care

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, gargoyle, as Michael has explained, we cannot and should not try to practise self-investigation dictated by a clock. To put it slightly crudely, we cannot make love to our wife by deciding a fixed time-table. Similar is the case with atma-vichara. If we try to practice at fixed times, we may remember to practise it only at such times, and therefore miss many valuable free moments which are available to us everyday. We have a choice each and every moment of the day: either we attend to the things of this illusory world, or try to attend to ourself alone. We know what we should be choosing.

gargoyle said...

May I switch gears and ask for clarification on another subject?

....accepting karma without attachment

I was reading ozhivial odukkam, vs. 243, page 321 and wondered if anyone can give me some examples, such as...

One man is born with a silver spoon in his mouth and becomes a billionaire while another man will be in poverty his entire life. Bad examples perhaps so any other examples may make more sense to me.

I understand Bhagavan's instruction to his mother regarding the ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their past deeds, their prarabdha karma. What will happen will happen and what won't happen will not happen.

The part about accepting our karma without attachment should be easy to understand but....

sorry to ask such a question but it helps me to understand

Thanks

pavalakunru said...

gargoyle,
what is your question ?