Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Does anything exist independent of our perception of it?

In a comment on my previous article, Why is effort required for us to go deep in our practice of self-investigation?, a friend called Samarender Reddy asked:
Take the case of anesthesia. I may be undergoing an operation, for which anesthesia is given. Under the influence of anesthesia, I am unaware or do not perceive the world. But once the operation is done and the anesthetic wears off and I wake up, I might see a big scar with stitches on my abdomen. Can I not thereby conclude that the world existed during the anesthesia for the operation to have taken place even though I was not perceiving it due to the effect of anesthesia. Otherwise, how to account for the fact of the scar on the abdomen, and the consequent relief from pain I might be experiencing. If the world did not exist when I was under anesthesia, then how did the operation take place, as evidenced by the scar and relief of symptoms, and maybe, say, even a specimen of my gallbladder taken out. And if we so concede that the world existed during anesthesia, then analogously can we not conclude that the world exists even during deep sleep. Perception is not the only means to establish a fact, right, with inference and verbal testimony being the other means of knowledge to establish a fact. In the case of anesthesia and deep sleep, while I cannot resort to perception as a means of knowledge to establish the fact of the existence of the world during those states, but surely inference (with regard to cause-and-effect) and the verbal testimony of others can lead me to conclude that the world does indeed exist during anesthesia and deep sleep, right?
In reply to this I wrote the following comment:
Samarender, we draw inferences from evidence, but when we do so we need to be critical of the evidence, of our interpretation of it and of the logic by which we draw inferences from it, because unless we do so, we are liable either to draw wrong inferences or to be unduly sure of whatever inferences we happen to draw.

In your latest comment you offer some hypothetical evidence (such as the scar we may see on our abdomen and the relief from pain that we may feel after waking from anaesthesia) and you suggest that we can infer from such evidence that the world did exist while we were under anaesthesia. But how sure can we be that this inference is correct? In a dream we may see a building and infer that it was built by some people, and that those people must have worked on it for some time in order to build it, and that would be a perfectly reasonable inference if we were to assume that we are not dreaming. But are we justified in assuming that we are not dreaming?

While dreaming we normally assume we are not dreaming, and even if we question this assumption, the dream world still seems to us at that time to be as real as this world now seems to be. Therefore are we justified in assuming that we are not now dreaming, or are we ever justified in assuming that we are not dreaming?

If our present state (and also any other state in which we perceive any kind of phenomena) is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, then whatever we perceive is just our own mental projection and does not exist independent of our perception of it, in which case the inference that you suggest we can draw from whatever evidence we may perceive after waking from anaesthesia cannot be correct.

Any evidence we may offer to prove that our present state is not a dream could be adequate evidence only if our present state were actually not a dream, so we cannot infer that this is not a dream without assuming that it is not. Therefore any argument that anyone may offer to support the contention that this is not a dream would entail circular reasoning, and such arguments are what is technically called ‘begging the question’, which is a term used to describe the logical fallacy in which a contention (an inference or the conclusion of an argument) is assumed to be true and that assumption is used either as an implicit or an explicit premise in order to prove or at least support the contention.

Since we cannot be sure that our present state is not a dream, and since we have no evidence to support the contention that it is anything but a dream, there is no adequate justification for us to assume that whatever we perceive is anything other than our own mental projection or that it exists independent of our perception of it. Therefore, since the verbal testimony of others and even the principles of cause and effect are all phenomena perceived by us, we should not assume that they exist when we do not perceive them, as in sleep or when we are supposedly under the influence of general anaesthesia.

The inference you attempt to draw in your comment is therefore unjustified. If everything we perceive is just a dream, the scar on your abdomen, the relief from pain, the specimen of your gallbladder, the verbal testimony of others, the laws of cause and effect, and any other evidence you may find are all just your own mental projection and hence they seem to exist only when you perceive them and not when you are asleep or in any other state in which you perceive no phenomena.
Samarender then wrote another comment in reply to this:
I understand that waking life could also be, and to all accounts is, dream-like. Yet, it is a bit difficult to believe that no operation was done and yet I ended up with a scar. Imagine telling the doctor, “Sorry buddy, I will not be giving you the fees because how could you have operated on me when the world did not exist once you gave me the anesthesia”. Because if I were the doctor and the one administering the anesthesia, I would see that the world does not disappear when I give anesthesia to a patient. But I know what you are going to say. You will say from the doctor’s viewpoint it does not disappear but from the viewpoint of the patient it disappears. Somehow, I find it too far-fetched to believe that the world disappears the moment someone administers me anesthesia, although I do admit that from my point of view or in my experience it does not exist. There is a distinction between Ishvara-srishti and jiva-srishti, which even Bhagavan alluded to in an analogy he gave of a father receiving the wrong news that his son was dead. Moreover, Bhagavan says at one point that in the Avasthatraya analysis, the object is to be kept in view and one should not accentuate the differences between dreams and waking life, thereby hinting that there are some differences between waking life and dreams. From Talk 399: “There are different methods of approach to prove the unreality of the universe. The example of the dream is one among them. Jagrat, svapna and sushupti are all treated elaborately in the scripture in order that the Reality underlying them might be revealed. It is not meant to accentuate differences among the three states. The purpose must be kept clearly in view”.
The following is my reply to this:
  1. Is the proposition that the world may not exist when we do not perceive it as far-fetched as it may seem?
  2. Even though this world may be a dream, we should act in it as if it were real
  3. Is there any significant difference between our present state and dream?
  4. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 4: this world is a mental projection, so it does not exist independent of our perception of it
  5. What actually exists is perfect, so imperfection lies only in our misperception of it
  6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 18: there is no substantive difference between waking and dream
  7. If what we now take to be waking is actually just another dream, nothing that we perceive exists independent of our perception of it
  8. Since nothing other than ourself is certainly real, we should focus on investigating what we ourself actually are
1. Is the proposition that the world may not exist when we do not perceive it as far-fetched as it may seem?

Samarender, you say that you find it ‘too far-fetched’ to believe that the world disappears (in the sense of ceasing to exist) the moment you are anaesthetised, but presumably you do not find it at all far-fetched to believe that the world you perceive in a dream ceases to exist as soon as you cease perceiving it, so the proposition that this world likewise ceases to exist as soon as you cease perceiving it (that is, as soon as you cease to be in this present state) seems to you far-fetched only because you assume that this present state is not a dream. However according to Bhagavan it is just a dream, as is any other state in which we experience ourself as a body and consequently perceive a world, and as I explained in my previous reply we do not have any adequate evidence or other reason (except perhaps wishful thinking) to believe that this is actually anything other than a dream.

2. Even though this world may be a dream, we should act in it as if it were real

You argue that when the world ceases to exist in our view, as in sleep or when we are anaesthetised, it does not cease to exist in the view of others, but those others are part of the world whose existence whenever we do not perceive it is in question, so the testimony of others whom we perceive only in our present state is not adequate evidence to prove that this world existed even when we were not in this state. In a dream the people we perceive may testify that they and the world of which they are a part continue to exist even when we are asleep or anaesthetised, but though we may believe their testimony so long as we remain in that dream, as soon as we wake up we would recognise that their testimony did not actually prove anything, because they, their testimony and the world about which they testified were all mere figments created by our dreaming mind. Likewise, if our present state is a dream, all the other people we perceive in it are just figments created by our dreaming mind and hence their testimony about the continued existence of this world when we are not in this state proves nothing.

So long as we are dreaming, we experience ourself as a person (a body) who is part of our dream, so we need to play our role in the dream as if it were real, because it is as real as the person we then seem to be. However, though we need to outwardly behave in the dream as if the dream world and all the people in it were real, we should inwardly doubt and try to ascertain whether anything we perceive in that state is real, and we can ascertain this only by investigating the reality of ourself, the one who perceives it all.

Since we now experience ourself as a body and consequently as part of this world-appearance, we obviously have to interact with this world as if it were real (since it is as real as the body we now take ourself to be), so it would be foolish on our part to tell the doctor that he or she could not have operated on us since the world did not exist when we were anaesthetised. So long as we perceive this world-appearance, we experience ourself as a person, who is a part of it, so it is as real as this person whom we now seem to be, and since the supposed continuity of this world-appearance in our sleep or when we are anaesthetised is itself an integral part of this world- appearance, we should behave in this world as if it existed even when we did not perceive it.

However, though we should act in this world as if we believed in its continued existence in our sleep or in any other state in which we do not perceive it, we should inwardly doubt whether it actually exists whenever we do not perceive it. Since all our actions (that is, the actions of the body and mind that we take ourself to be) are part of this dream, they should be in accordance with its seeming reality, so when Bhagavan taught us that this world is no more real that whatever world we may perceive in any other dream, what he intended was not that we should cease behaving outwardly as if it were real but only that we should inwardly detach ourself from it by turning our mind inwards to investigate what we ourself actually are.

3. Is there any significant difference between our present state and dream?

In my previous reply I wrote that any attempt to prove that our present state is not a dream would entail circular reasoning, because any argument that this is not a dream would entail employing the assumption that it is not a dream as an implicit or explicit premise, and hence it would be begging the question. However, I perhaps did not explain this clearly enough, so I will now try to explain it more clearly.

In order to prove that our present state is not a dream we need to find one or more significant differences between this state and a dream, but whatever difference we may claim to be significant would seem to be significant only if we were to assume that this is not a dream, because if this were a dream, it would just be a difference between one dream and another. For example, if we were to argue that our present state recurs day after day and has been doing so as long as we can remember, whereas dreams do not recur in this way, the premise that dreams do not recur in this way would be based on the assumption that our present state is not a dream, because if this is a dream, then this is an instance of a dream that does recur in this way.

Moreover, whenever we are dreaming we seem to be awake, so we seem to have memories that extend back to our early childhood, and our dream seems to be a state that recurs day after day. Therefore it is only from our perspective in our present state that other dreams seem to be different from this state, because while dreaming our current dream always seems to be real, and all other dreams seem to be unreal.

What do we generally consider to be the fundamental difference between our present state (which always seems to be waking so long as we are experiencing it) and dream? We all generally believe that whatever we experience in a dream is just a creation of our own mind and therefore does not exist independent of our perception of it, whereas the world we perceive in our present state is not just a creation of our own mind and therefore does exist independent of our perception of it. However, how can we know whether anything that we perceive exists independent of our perception of it, and how can we be sure that our present state is not just a creation of our own mind?

Since we know from our experience in dream that our mind is able to project a body, which it simultaneously experiences as itself, and to project and perceive a world through the five senses of that body, why should we suppose that the body that we now experience as ourself and the world that we perceive through the five senses of this body are not likewise a projection of our own mind? So long as we are dreaming the body and world that we project and perceive in that dream seem to be as real as this body and world seem to be so long as we are experiencing this state, so our mind is not only able to project and perceive a body and an entire world but is also able to delude itself into believing that that body is itself and that that world is real. Therefore what evidence do we have to support our deeply engrained belief that this present body and world are not just mental projections like those that we perceive in any other dream?

4. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 4: this world is a mental projection, so it does not exist independent of our perception of it

If our present state is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, then this entire world (including whatever body we now seem to be) is just our own mental projection and hence it does not exist independent of our perception of it. Though it seems to exist so long as we perceive it, it does not actually exist, so its seeming existence is entirely dependent on our perception of it, and hence when we do not perceive it it does not exist. This is why Bhagavan wrote in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது.

niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagam-um illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagam-um uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉṉiḍamirundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉam-um taṉṉiḍattilirundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu.

Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself.
5. What actually exists is perfect, so imperfection lies only in our misperception of it

Regarding what you wrote about īśvara-sṛṣṭi and jīva-sṛṣṭi, Bhagavan did sometimes say (particularly to those who were unwilling to accept that this world is just a mental projection and who therefore believed that it was actually created by God) that īśvara-sṛṣṭi (God’s creation) is perfect and that imperfection lies only in jīva-sṛṣṭi (the ego’s creation), so what we need to rectify is not the world but only ourself, this ego, who see it as imperfect. However, the inner meaning of this is that what is metaphorically called in this context ‘īśvara-sṛṣṭi’ is just what actually exists (which is only ātma-svarūpa, the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself, as he says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?), and that what exists (uḷḷadu) seems to be imperfect only because we have risen as an ego or jīva and consequently misperceive it, the one infinite and indivisible whole, as the countless finite phenomena that constitute what we perceive as the world.

6. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 18: there is no substantive difference between waking and dream

You argue that ‘there are some differences between waking life and dreams’, but though there may seem to be some superficial differences, there are no substantive differences, and even the superficial differences seem to exist only because we assume that our present state is not a dream. However, we make the same assumption in every other dream also, because whenever we are dreaming we seem to be awake, so in practice we cannot distinguish waking from dream, and hence we have no justification for believing that what we now take to be waking is not actually just another dream.

Therefore in the eighteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? Bhagavan says:
ஜாக்ரம் தீர்க்கம், சொப்பனம் க்ஷணிக மென்பது தவிர வேறு பேதமில்லை. ஜாக்ரத்தில் நடக்கும் விவகாரங்க ளெல்லாம் எவ்வளவு உண்மையாகத் தோன்றுகின்றனவோ அவ்வளவு உண்மையாகவே சொப்பனத்தில் நடக்கும் விவகாரங்களும் அக்காலத்திற் றோன்றுகின்றன. சொப்பனத்தில் மனம் வேறொரு தேகத்தை யெடுத்துக்கொள்ளுகிறது. ஜாக்ரம் சொப்பன மிரண்டிலும் நினைவுகளும் நாமரூபங்களும் ஏககாலத்தில் நிகழ்கின்றன.

jāgram dīrgham, soppaṉam kṣaṇikam eṉbadu tavira vēṟu bhēdam-illai. jāgrattil naḍakkum vivahāraṅgaḷ ellām e-vv-aḷavu uṇmai-y-āha-t tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa-v-ō a-vv-aḷavu uṇmai-y-āha-v-ē soppaṉattil naḍakkum vivahāraṅgaḷ-um a-k-kālattil tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa. soppaṉattil maṉam vēṟoru dēhattai y-eḍuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. jāgram soppaṉam iraṇḍil-um niṉaivugaḷ-um nāma-rūpaṅgaḷ-um ēka-kālattil nihaṙgiṉḏṟaṉa.

Except that waking is dīrgha [long lasting] and dream is kṣaṇika [momentary or lasting for only a short while], there is no other difference [between them]. To what extent all the vyavahāras [activities, affairs or transactions] that happen in waking seem to be real, to that extent even the vyavahāras that happen in dream seem at that time to be real. In dream the mind takes another body [to be itself]. In both waking and dream thoughts and names-and-forms [the phenomena that constitute the seemingly external world] occur in one time [or simultaneously].
Though in the first sentence of this paragraph Bhagavan seems to concede that there is just one difference between waking and dream, namely a difference in duration, in verse 560 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai he explains that even this difference is only a seeming one:
வினாவிடுகேள் விக்கு விடையிறுக்கு மாற்றாற்
கனாநொடியாத் தோன்றிக் கழிய — நனாநெடிதா
மன்னலாக் கூறுமறு மாற்ற மனமாயைத்
துன்னலாற் போந்தவினைச் சூது.

viṉāviḍukēḷ vikku viḍaiyiṟukku māṯṟāṟ
kaṉānoḍiyāt tōṉḏṟik kaṙiya — naṉāneḍidā
maṉṉalāk kūṟumaṟu māṯṟa maṉamāyait
tuṉṉalāṯ pōndaviṉaic cūdu
.

பதச்சேதம்: வினாவிடு கேள்விக்கு விடை இறுக்கும் ஆற்றால், கனா நொடியா தோன்றி கழிய, நனா நெடிதா மன்னலா கூறும் மறுமாற்றம். மனமாயை துன்னலால் போந்த வினை சூது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉāviḍu kēḷvikku viḍai iṟukkum āṯṟāl, kaṉā noḍiyā tōṉḏṟi kaṙiya, naṉā neḍidā maṉṉal-ā kūṟum maṟumāṯṟam. maṉa-māyai tuṉṉalāl pōnda viṉai sūdu.

அன்வயம்: கனா நொடியா தோன்றி கழிய, நனா நெடிதா மன்னலா கூறும் மறுமாற்றம் வினாவிடு கேள்விக்கு ஆற்றால் இறுக்கும் விடை. மனமாயை துன்னலால் போந்த வினை சூது.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): kaṉā noḍiyā tōṉḏṟi kaṙiya, naṉā neḍidā maṉṉal-ā kūṟum maṟumāṯṟam viṉāviḍu kēḷvikku āṯṟāl iṟukkum viḍai. maṉa-māyai tuṉṉalāl pōnda viṉai sūdu.

English translation: The answer that said that whereas dream momentarily appears and ceases, waking endures for a long time, was a reply given by acquiescing to the question asked. [This seeming difference in duration is] a deceptive trick [or illusion] that has arisen because of the adhering of mana-māyā [the self-deluding power that is mind].
Therefore it is clear that according to Bhagavan there is absolutely no substantive difference between waking and dream, and that the state that we now take to be waking is actually just another dream.

7. If what we now take to be waking is actually just another dream, nothing that we perceive exists independent of our perception of it

This is one of the fundamental principles of his teachings, and all his other core teachings make sense only if we are ready to accept this principle, because each of the fundamental principles of his teachings is an essential part of a coherent whole, and hence if we are unwilling to accept any of them, our understanding of the rest of them will not be sufficiently coherent, comprehensive or clear.

If this principle is true, whatever we now perceive is just a mental projection, and hence it does not exist independent of our perception of it, just as nothing that we perceive in any other dream exists independent of our perception of it. That is, if what we now take to be waking is actually just another dream, whatever body we now take ourself to be, this world and all the other people in it are all just a creation of our own mind and seem to exist only so long as we perceive them.

8. Since nothing other than ourself is certainly real, we should focus on investigating what we ourself actually are

However, we are each free to choose whether or not we are willing to accept this and all the other fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, but if we are not willing to accept this principle and therefore choose to believe that this world exists independent of our perception of it, we should at least recognise that we do not have any evidence or other adequate reason to justify that belief.

If we sincerely wish to know what is real, we must be willing to critically question all our metaphysical beliefs and assumptions, and to give up clinging to any that we find to be unjustified or insufficiently justified. Since we have no adequate means to justify the belief that anything exists independent of our perception of it, we must be willing to give up this belief, or at least suspend it until we are in a better position to judge whether there is any truth in it.

What we can be absolutely certain is real is only our own existence and awareness, because if we did not exist or were not aware, nothing (neither ourself nor anything else) could seem to exist in our view, and though our own existence and awareness must therefore be real, everything else that we perceive could be (and according to Bhagavan actually is) just an illusory appearance — something that seems to exist but does not actually exist.

However, though only our own existence and awareness are certainly real, what we actually are is not clear to us at present, because we are currently aware of ourself as if we were this body and mind, which we cannot actually be, since we are aware of ourself even when we are not aware of either this body or mind, as in sleep. Therefore if we are wise we will suspend our belief in the reality of everything else and focus all our interest, attention and effort only on the task of investigating what we ourself actually are.

121 comments:

para-bhakti tattva said...

Thank you Michael,
my last comment to your previous article was expressed unknowingly of that recent article.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Thanks, Michael, for this article as it highlights a few important issues, particularly that, based on one dream state we cannot assume that all dreams will be alike in all respects through all may be dreams. Also, I think world not existing when I am in deep sleep entails not only drishti-srishti vada but also eka-jiva vada. But might I propose that srishti-drishti vada is a kind of drishti-srishti vada in that it is Ishvara's dream. The world is thus Ishvara's dream, in which we all jivas participate as dream creatures, and our minds do project the world (drishti-srishti vada) but only such a world as compatible with Ishvara's world. So, our drishti-srishti is an interlocking into Ishvara's drishti-srishti. And when one jiva's mind stops projecting in deep sleep, it withdraws from Ishvara's projection, but other jivas, that is those who are awake, are still locking on to Ishvara's world by their own drishti-srishti. When I wake up, my mind again projects only such a world as is compatible with Ishvara's world, kind of like interlocking dreams. Or, you could say I enter and withdraw from Ishvara's dream as per my mind's drishti-srishti. Such a scenario would make more sense. Also, when my mind resolves into Brahman upon self-realization, then my mind will stop projecting or interlocking into Ishvara's world. My body or the body that I was projecting before self-realization, after self-realization, is projected and sustained by Ishvara and not by my own mind because my mind does not exist. I hope that does not sound too convoluted and makes some sense.

That said, I can very well see that if I give up putting forward theories from the standpoint of a particular body-mind, then I do subscribe to the fact that there is only Self or Brahman, period, and whatever seems to exist is only a projection and non-different from Brahman. So, since what exists is only Brahman or Pure Consciousness, and since even Adavaita concedes that Maya exists as a power in Brahman, the theories of eka-jiva or aneka-jiva belong to the realm of Maya, since not even one jiva exists let alone many jivas, since only Brahman exists. Rest all is imagination. Isn't that what the word Advaita also means? - Not Two. So, not Brahman and Jiva or Jivas, but only Brahman.

In the final analysis, however, I do not think believing in srishti-drishti and aneka-jivas or believing in drishti-srishti and eka-jiva, one's method or practice to arrive at self-realization need differ because, creation theories are at the level of the mind and we have to transcend the mind. Moreover, the purpose of these theories is only to give us such conviction that the world is not real, and just because the world is God's projection and not my projection need not make the world seem real because in both cases it is only a dream, except that we could be dreaming each other into existence, and are part of each otehrs' dreams. That is why perhaps, Bhagavan saud to two different people on one occasion, the same thing that "you are that eka-jiva".

kandavan said...

Michael,
should we not first define what a dream is ?
What our so-called waking state really is is possibly also not completely clear.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I think, what Michael writes in section five of this article needs deeper reflection. He writes here:

Bhagavan did sometimes say (particularly to those who were unwilling to accept that this world is just a mental projection and who therefore believed that it was actually created by God) that īśvara-sṛṣṭi (God’s creation) is perfect and that imperfection lies only in jīva-sṛṣṭi (the ego’s creation), [...] the inner meaning of this is that what is metaphorically called in this context ‘īśvara-sṛṣṭi’ is just what actually exists (which is only ātma-svarūpa, […]), and that what exists (uḷḷadu) seems to be imperfect only because we have risen as an ego or jīva and consequently misperceive it, the one infinite and indivisible whole, as the countless finite phenomena that constitute what we perceive as the world.

My note: What Michael writes here is a unique and fresh interpretation of the word ‘isvara-srsti’. Bhagavan may have sometimes metaphorically used the term isvara-srsti; however, can we really say that there is anything called God’s creation?

If God has not created this world, and if this world is created only by our ego, can we by any stretch of imagination say that ‘God has created himself’? In other words can we say that atma-avarupa has created atma-svarupa? We cannot say so, because God or atma-svarupa is our primal reality – it exists even before this world came into seeming existence. Therefore, we cannot say anything about how or why God came into existence.

God or atma-svarupa just is. Logically we cannot say that it was created, because anything which is created has a beginning and an end. Therefore, if atma-svarupa has created itself, it can also destroy itself. Since anything which can be destroyed cannot be real, we have to conclude that it was never created, and hence it can never be destroyed. I think this is what the Upanishads teach us.

Therefore, literally speaking isvara or God does not create anything, and thus in reality there is no isvara-srsti.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Kandavan, we can describe dream simply as ‘what seems to exist, but does not really exist’. This ego seems to exists, this world seems to exist, but do they really exist? According to Bhagavan they do not really exist, and therefore they are a part of our dream.

This waking state is nothing but another dream. Both ‘dream’ and the so-called ‘waking’ state seem to be real while they last. But once we wake up from any dream we clearly recognize that that dream-world was only our mental-creation; hence, totally unreal.

Michael James said...

Kandavan, regarding your question, ‘should we not first define what a dream is?’, in the third section of this article I wrote, ‘We all generally believe that whatever we experience in a dream is just a creation of our own mind and therefore does not exist independent of our perception of it’, which I think most people will agree with, so this is in effect a definition of what we mean by the term ‘dream’. That is, a dream is a state in which everything that we perceive is just a creation of our own mind and therefore does not exist independent of our perception of it. Do you agree with this definition?

On the other hand, what we generally mean by the term ‘waking’ is a state in which we perceive a world that is not just a creation of our own mind and therefore does exist independent of our perception of it. However, if we want to know what is real, what we need to consider is whether any such state actually exists, or whether every state that we take to be ‘waking’ (in the sense I have just defined) is not actually just another dream.

This is one way of expressing the question that I considered in this article, and according to Bhagavan the answer to it is that no such state actually exists, because every state that we take to be ‘waking’ is actually just another dream, since everything that we perceive other than ourself is just a mental projection and there does not exist independent of our perception of it.

Michael James said...

Samarender, the theory you propose in your comment does indeed sound too convoluted, as you seem to have feared, and it is not what Bhagavan taught us either explicitly or implicitly.

A rule of thumb that is used in both science and philosophy when considering possible explanations or competing theories is the principle of parsimony, which is popularly known as Occam’s razor, according to which it is generally preferable to choose the most parsimonious option — that is, the one that entails the fewest assumptions. If we apply this principle to the question we have been considering, namely whether anything that we perceive exists independent of our perception of it, it will be clear that dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (the contention that perception is what causes creation rather than vice versa) and ēka-jīva-vāda (the contention that there is only one ego, jīva or perceiver), which is implied in dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, is the most parsimonious option, because sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda (the contention that creation causes perception) entails the unverifiable assumption that phenomena exist independent of our perception of them, and nānā-jīva-vāda (the contention that there are many egos, jīvas or perceivers) entails the unverifiable assumption that there are other perceivers.

In a dream we see many other people and animals, and they seem to us to be perceiving the world just as we are, but as soon as we wake up we recognise that like everything else in our dream they were just our own mental projection and therefore did not actually perceive anything. Therefore, though we now perceive many others who seem to us to be perceiving the world just as we are, we cannot actually verify our assumption that they are perceiving anything, because if our present state is just a dream they are just our own mental projection.

You suggest that this world could a dream projected by God (īśvara) and propose a theory based on this idea, but both this idea and the theory you have built upon it entail various unfounded assumptions, such as that God is a dreamer, that the world dreamt by him exists whether we perceive it or not, and that there are others who perceive it whether we perceive it or not. Why should we assume so many things when we can explain the appearance of the world much more simply by proposing that it is just our own mental projection, as is any world that we perceive in a dream, and that it is therefore perceived only by us and does not exist independent of our perception of it?

Of all possible explanations of everything that we perceive this is the most parsimonious one, because it does not entail any assumption other than the few that are entailed in the one simple assumption that whatever we perceive does not exist independent of our perception of it.

kandavan said...

Michael,
the events which are experienced in dream are striking different from happenings in waking. Often dream-events are in waking theoretical impossible or at least improbable. Dreams seem to be subject of control by the mind only partly. Many dreams are symbolic or realistic depictions/expressions of their dreamer's fears and desires. Dreams may be psychically invaded. Cognitive abilities like conceptual or logical/abstract thought and remembering recede into the background. Also consciousness is mostly reduced. Cause and function of the dream is today not discovered/explored extensively. C.G.Jung described dreams as messages to the dreamer and argued that dreamers should pay attention for their own good. He came to believe that dreams present the dreamer with revelations that can uncover and help to resolve emotional or religious problems and fears. Fritz Perls saw dreams as projections of parts of the ego-self that have been ignored, rejected ,or suppressed. Rapid-eye-movement (REM)-dreams are different to Non-REM-dreams. Dreams cannot be observed immediately by dream research. Dreams may have effects or repercussion on waking-life. Effects of the previous waking experiences and external stimuli to dreams. Most dreams only last 5 to 20 minutes. Neurological and psychological theories also play a role in dream rersearch. And so on...
In the view of the above for instance mentioned distinguishing features it may be useful to observe/examine more exactly whether the line between dream and waking is actually blurred.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Hi Michael,

Yes, I admit that the theory I proposed above is a bit convoluted. However, don't you think that we can ignore creation theories because after all they are proposed only to satisfy the mind's curiosity. If you say, they are meant to disprove the reality of the world, isn't it the case that the definition of reality is "that which does not change", and so by that definition even the waking world is seen to be unreal as it is subject to constant change.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

Kandavan: Though your comment is addressed to Michael, allow me to respond one item.

Let us take the very first argument you make:

"Often dream-events are in waking theoretical impossible or at least improbable".

This argument already assumes that the current state is not a dream state. Otherwise one can argue that in the current dream which is going on, theoretically improbable events don't happen. Similarly for other differences.
Regards

kandavan said...

Sanjay Srivastava,
thank you for your comment. Everyone is free to comment here if addressed directly or not.
I clearly started - of course from the/my current so-called waking state - to understand what a dream is or what is called a dream. At least in the Mandukya Upanishad a dream is one of the three states that the soul/ego experiences during its lifetime.
How can we "assume that the current state is not a dream" when (it is) not even clearly elaborated what a dream is. Therefore it seems to be necessary to clear-cut and summarize this term beforehand. After that we can draw a comparison with our experiences in the waking state.
Although we can have complete confidence in Bhagavan we should not blindly rely on Bhagavan's statements because we cannot fall back on the tremendous intensity of his experience.
If we uncritically adopt/take over all statements verbatim although they do not agree with our experiences we run the risk to become confused. Then all our considerations based on empirical reasoning would prove to be useless.
However, we as seeming ajnanis in our flagrant ignorance cannot actually verify that anything that we perceive in dream and waking is just our mental projection and does not exist independent of our perception of it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I once asked Michael why he keeps a long beard. I also wondered why many sadhus do the same. Michael didn’t answer me, but I think I found its answer while searching the web. It may not be very relevant to our practice of self-investigation, but since I found the following answer by one Saurabh Shukla, (Web Developer, Observer, Analyst, FOSS Evangelist) quite revealing. Since his explanation has satisfied my curiosity, I thought of sharing it with others.

What is scientific reason behind the long beard of Hindu saints or Sadhu baba or Guru?

There are two reasons, but none of them are scientific. Although, if you consider the view that getting salvation is a process and hence does have logic and cause-effect built in.

1. One of the first step in salvation is renunciation of the world. Sages are supposed to be ascetics who denounce worldly pleasures and materials. They are not supposed to own anything except their cloth, a begging bowl and/or kamandal for eating and drinking and that's it. Shaving requires a razor and/or money to hire a barber which ascetics are not supposed to have.

2. Maintaining, cutting, oiling and washing hair are all efforts in vanity, working on one's appearance and also can be distractions from the path of siddhi, Samadhi or even nirvana. This can be taken care of in two ways. One is the buddhist way where the monk shaves everything. No hair, no maintenance. The sage, on the other hand, stops caring. Just let it grow and let it flow. To avoid the distractions of maintenance and for hygiene, they often use the sap of the banyan tree and/or wax from honey bees to turn their hair into waterproof dreads that you'd see very commonly in devotees of Shiva.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

Hair is a very important part of our understanding and perception of ourselves and our physical appearance. We buy shampoos and conditioners and hair oils that promise wonders. A big chunk of our everyday life is spent on our hair. Shave, massage, cut, wash, apply, flick, fall in love with, play with it, etc. So, it is but natural that it is an important part of ascetism.

Every stage of life of a worldly person in the varnashram system would be preceded by shaving off all the hair, which kind of symbolises giving up the existing ashram and moving to the next one. You may have heard of mundane [clean shaving] of young children and then the thread ceremony. Did you know that when women become Jain sadhvis, each of their hair is plucked out physically?

As a beard owner for years, I can confirm that it gives negligible protection against cold. There were hardly any harmful chemicals or pollutants in the air in ancient times and ascetics don't care for their skin. Pride in one's physical appearance is part of the maya and they were supposed to get free from it, not get more entwined in it (which may be happening recently).

As far as the correlation between spiritual ascendence, wisdom and beard is concerned, the wiser and older a person gets and more they grow spiritually, the less they'd be concerned with such acts of vanity and with their physical appearance. That's why you'd see that a lot of wise kings, gurus and prophets of both eastern and western philosophies have massive unkempt beards.

Noob said...

We are constantly saying that we are alternating the "dreaming" and "waking" state, however both states may in fact be just one, namely the state of delusion with various "degrees" of intensity and depth.

barn owl said...

Dear Sanjay Lohia,
goodness me, the triviality of the above subject is hardly beatable. Thank God we were pleased already by much more meaningful comments by you. Heaven only knows why one has not always a good day. God bless you.

Noob said...

For fear that the spell maybe broken

atma-anusandhana said...

Noob,
1.) what do you propose regarding "the state of delusion with various degrees ..." ?
2.) which spell do you fear to be broken ?

world-perceiver said...

Michael,
what you express in your reply to Kandavan:
"...and according to Bhagavan the answer to it is that no such state actually exists, because every state that we take to be ‘waking’ is actually just another dream, since everything that we perceive other than ourself is just a mental projection and there does not exist independent of our perception of it."

Thus (sense)- perception and mental projection are declared as the two sides of the same one medal: Percepted is only what is before or simultaneously projected.
If there is only atma-svarupa alone the question arises whether we ever perceive anything other than ourself. Therefore neither the mentioned "mental projection" does actually occur nor perception.
But what help is such a remark for our aim to eliminate our ignorance ?

world-perceiver said...

Michael,
presumably all is just a mental projection inclusive the idea of "ourself" together with our ignorance .
That's a fine prospect !
What shall we do now ?

world-perceiver said...

Michael,
I am reminded of the mysterious traveller/guest who asked me nearly fifty years ago some hundred times in three days only the same question: How can anything exist ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

barn owl, I hope you will find this comment more meaningful, because, as you wrote, my last comment was quite ‘trivial’. However, perhaps we value profundity only when it is placed alongside triviality. In that sense, our trivialities have some value. Now let me some to some serious business. In his recent video filmed on 23rd April 2017 (morning session), Michael said the following (may not be verbatim):

I [Michael] remember when I was in Tiruvannamalai there was a Telugu devotee, and he for several years sat for hours and hours in the old hall meditating. He told me once that he used to wear glasses but he has thrown away his glasses, because he has read Bhagavan’s teachings, and he has understood Bhagavan’s teachings, so that there is no more need for him to read anything more. All that he needs to do is practice.

One day he disappeared. Nobody knew what happened to him, but they said later that apparently he had lost his mental balance. So we should never undervalue the treasure that Bhagavan has given us in works like Ulladu Narpadu. We can leave these aside when we leave the ego aside, which is what happens at the end of our journey. When the ego goes, we no longer need Ulladu Narpadu.

But Ulladu Narpadu is a very-very valuable companion for us on the journey – it’s like a map. We don’t just look at the map and throw it away and start on our journey. We take the map with us. Firstly because we cannot memorize the whole map, and secondly when we see the map it is not so meaningful, but when we actually go to the place and become familiar with the place that map is far more meaningful for us than it was before we had gone there.

So also we see more and more meaning into Ulladu Narpadu and in Bhagavan’s other writings, the deeper we go into practice. Ulladu Narpadu is possibly the most important work of Bhagavan, because there is so much meaning packed into very-very simple verses. As we go on reading we find more and more depth in this. We are not trying to expand our understanding; we are trying to deepen our understanding.

My note: We should be thankful to Michael for bringing Bhagavan’s works Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and Nan Yar? into greater focus. Before, perhaps, I was giving much more importance to books such as Talks, but the importance I attached to such books has now receded in the background.


Noob said...

to atma-anusandhana

regarding the "fear that the spell will be broken", as Michael have said many times, we are reluctant to abandon this dream (ego), even if we understand that this is not what we actually are. We have probably forgot what it is like to be aware only of ourself. So we cling relentlessly to this spell that we cast on ourself.

barn owl said...

Sanjay Lohia,
I am happy having you back to perform a "meaningful" comment. As you say without Michael's explanations of Bhagavan's teaching we would remain quite "mapless".
Therefore we should feel obliged to express our most sincere gratitude to Michael James for his tireless work to shed light on Bhagavan's teaching where we omit to grasp the full depth and comprehensive meaning.

atma-anusandhana said...

Noob,
ah, that is what you mean with "spell". Yes, frequently we prefer to wriggle in the obviously self-woven web of self-forgetfulness. Mere mental understanding of Bhagavan's teaching is evidently not sufficient to just be what we really are.
Our love to remain exclusively in our natural state of just being must burn all our wrong conclusions and choices, misinterpretations, miscalculations, defective vision,incorrect assessments and conduct, errors and failures.

R Viswanathan said...

I find the following passage, taken from Maharshi's Gospels (Books I & II, SRI RAMANASRAMAM, Tiruvannamalai, 2002) pages 71-72, very beneficial and relevant to this article by Sri Michael James.

D: Is then the world nothing better than a dream?

M: What is wrong with the sense of reality you have while you are dreaming? You may be dreaming of something quite impossible, for instance, of having a happy chat with a dead person. Just for a moment you may doubt in the dream saying to yourself, ‘Was he not dead?’, but somehow your mind reconciles itself to the dream vision, and the person is as good as alive for the purposes of the dream. In other words, the dream as a dream does not permit you to doubt its reality. Even so, you are unable to doubt the reality of the world of your wakeful experience. How can the mind which has itself created the world accept it as unreal? That is the significance of the comparison made between the world of wakeful experience and the dream world. Both are but creations of the mind and so long as the mind is engrossed in either, it finds itself unable to deny the reality of the dream world while dreaming and of the waking world while awake. If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream.

R Viswanathan said...

The following passage from p-70 from the same book Maharshi's Gospels is equally beneficial and relevant to the topic discussed here:

D: I cannot say it is all clear to me. Is the world that is seen, felt and sensed by us in so many ways something like a dream, an illusion?

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

D: Why so?

M: For the simple reason that unless you give up the idea that the world is real, your mind will always be after it. If you take the appearance to be real you will never know the Real itself, although it is the Real alone that exists. This point is illustrated by the analogy of the ‘snake in the rope’. As long as you see the snake you cannot see the rope as such. The non-existent snake becomes real to you, while the real rope seems wholly non-existent as such.

kandavan said...

R Viswanathan,
regarding the passage in your first comment: "If, on the contrary, you withdraw your mind completely from the world and turn it within and abide thus, that is, if you keep awake always to the Self, which is the substratum of all experience, you will find the world, of which alone you are now aware, just as unreal as the world in which you lived in your dream."
Withdrawing the mind completely from the world and
turn it within and
abide thus, that is,
keeping awake always to the Self
requires a feat of intellect, concentration or investigation.
At present I do not see which advantage we then could/would derive from finding the world of waking just as unreal as the world of dreaming. Why has to be seen such a discovery a great spiritual progress ? Do we then automatically lose our ignorance ?
Are thus all spiritual hinderances crossed ?

kandavan said...

R Viswanathan,
regarding your second comment:.
Similarly to the first passage:
Giving up the idea that the world is real and taking the world-appearance as unreal has a feat of intellect, concentration or investigation as a pre-condition.
I am not enthusiastic about noticing me doubting whether I will be able to do the required work.
Arunachala, will we together ever manage that task ?

kandavan said...

Michael,
section 3., penultimate paragraph,
"However, how can we know whether anything that we perceive exists independent of our perception of it, and how can we be sure that our present state is not just a creation of our own mind?"
Could/Should we not with justification also examine/analyse:
How can we know whether anything that we perceive does not exist independent of our perception of it, and how can we be sure that our present state is just a creation of our own mind ?

kandavan said...

Michael,
section 3., last paragraph,
"Since we know from our experience in dream that our mind is able to project a body, which it simultaneously experiences as itself, and to project and perceive a world through the five senses of that body, why should we suppose that the body that we now experience as ourself and the world that we perceive through the five senses of this body are not likewise a projection of our own mind?"
How can we know that our mind projects a dream-body and a dream-world ? What evidence does suggest that ? What fact does substantiate that statement/theory ?
Why should we suppose that the body that we now experience as ourself and the world that we perceive through the five senses of this body are likewise a projection of our own mind ?
In which way should such a projection and simultan perception of a world work ?

kandavan said...

Michael,
section 3., last sentence,
"Therefore what evidence do we have to support our deeply engrained belief that this present body and world are not just mental projections like those that we perceive in any other dream?"
What evidence do we have to doubt our deeply engrained belief that this present body and world are just mental projections like those that we perceive in a dream ?

kandavan said...

Michael,
section 4.,
"Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself."
Why do we not notice our mind's spider-like projection of any/the world ?

kandavan said...

Michael,
section 6.,
"...so in practice we cannot distinguish waking from dream, and hence we have no justification for believing that what we now take to be waking is not actually just another dream."
In practice we can quite well distinguish waking from dream, and hence we have much justification for believing that what we now take to be waking is quite different from any dream.

kandavan said...

Michael,
section 7. and 8.,
"This is one of the fundamental principles of his teachings, and all his other core teachings make sense only if we are ready to accept this principle, because each of the fundamental principles of his teachings is an essential part of a coherent whole, and hence if we are unwilling to accept any of them, our understanding of the rest of them will not be sufficiently coherent, comprehensive or clear."
A fundamental principle of any teaching should be expounded clearly.
I am willing to accept such a fundamental principle. But I cannot accept anything what I do not sufficiently comprehend.
"If we sincerely wish to know what is real, we must be willing to critically question all our metaphysical beliefs and assumptions, and to give up clinging to any that we find to be unjustified or insufficiently justified. Since we have no adequate means to justify the belief that anything exists independent of our perception of it, we must be willing to give up this belief, or at least suspend it until we are in a better position to judge whether there is any truth in it."
I wish sincerely to know what is real. Therefore I have to hope for coming soon in the better position to judge...
So I have to focus all my interest, attention and effort only on the task of investigating what I myself actually am.
Thank you for all your endeavours to make us understand Bhagavan's fundamental teachings.

Luiz Alves said...

Michael and other Friends,

What is the correct spiritual action??

If one reads, studies, reflects, meditates (as the best of his efforts) the most diverse themes of spirituality and where will it reach?

try to understand intellectually and profoundly (through thought, reflection and reasoning) the total equality of a supposed physical world of wakefulness as being a dream ( or any other question) is an approach impossible and possibly incorrect, because is ponderable and experienced that the mental sensation of a supposed Physical world of waking state as being real and permanent is gradually ceasing to exist (vanishing, disappearing) as we persistently participate more and more of what we really are, so that supposed world will appearing as simple and mere mental projection ( At this point it does not matter what form it appears and if it appears or not ). And withdraw (remove, take way )our attention every time that something different from what I really are Supposedly appears, And bring our attention back to what we really are (every time that this supposed to happen). Do that is the focus and is what brings the definitive answer to all the questions.

It is a good thing that we are debating about the main issues, but if we know what is the main issue (and what will lead us to what we really are) from the teachings of our beloved bhagavan, we must put all our effort into the focus of the question

Thank you Michael and other friends for making me understand this and clear my mind

With love, Luiz


R Viswanathan said...

"At present I do not see which advantage we then could/would derive from finding the world of waking just as unreal as the world of dreaming. Why has to be seen such a discovery a great spiritual progress ? Do we then automatically lose our ignorance ?
Are thus all spiritual hindrances crossed ?"

I would think that Bhagavan himself clarifies in p-70 of Maharshi's Gospels, which I would reproduce again:

"There is no alternative for you but to accept the world as unreal, if you are seeking the Truth and the Truth alone. For the simple reason that unless you give up the idea that the world is real, your mind will always be after it."

R Viswanathan said...

"I am not enthusiastic about noticing me doubting whether I will be able to do the required work.
Arunachala, will we together ever manage that task ?"

Yes, Bhagavan prays to Arunachala (for us) in Arunachala Akshara Manamalai verse 32. Sri Sadhu Om's Vilakkavurai p-154 admits that without the help of Arunachala's grace, the mind cannot remain in Atma Nishta based on its own strength, the reason being that believing that happiness lies outside, the mind tends to move out towards external things (due to the conspiracy of Avidya Maya). He writes that whenever we find out that we slip out from self-attention due to the grip of Avidya Maya, we need to pray to Arunachala for His grace to help us in redeeming ourselves back towards self.

kandavan said...

R Viswanathan,
Bhagavan's gospel sounds almost like a hidden threat and appears as the wagging finger.
Somehow it just seems to me like someone who is knocking on your door and is asking the (impossible) belief that the result of the addition of 2 and 2 is 5 although we all actually experienced that two and two makes four.
Of course I admit to be in no way free of blindness or without ignorance.
But what use is it when I unanimously concede an arithmetical error and deny my possibly wrong experience only to gain the prospect to find the truth alone.
On the side, thank you for correcting my typo (hinderance is written correctly hindrance).
Wait, let me/us immediately pray to inside Arunachala for his gracious help to rid myself/ourself of the conspiratorial grip of avidya maya in order to redeem ourself from the hell of ignorance and wrong ideas.

Wittgenstein said...

The operational definition to distinguish between dream and waking is ‘dream is imaginary and waking is real’. Although it appears very obvious, it would be worthwhile to probe into why we feel dream is imaginary and waking is real.

It is our experience that a dream-body is not exactly same as the waking-body. Besides, we are immediately aware that we are one, as Bhagavan says in Ulladu Narpadu, verse 33, “அனைவர் அனுபூதி உண்மை ஒன்றாயால்” (anaivar anuboothi unmai ondraayaal | it is everyone’s experience that we are one). When we say we are one, we mean we are one body, as we identify ourself with a body. As we currently identify with the waking-body, the natural choice is to discard the dream body as imagined, in confirmation with our immediate awareness that we are one. This is how we invariably understand our experience of waking and dream, until Bhagavan corrects our understanding and shows the way to liberation (‘கருத்தைத் திருத்தி கதிவழி காட்டுதல்’ | karuththai thiruthi gathi vazhi kaattuthal).

Bhagavan says in Naan Yaar?, “ஜாக்ரத்தில் நடக்கும் விவகாரங்க ளெல்லாம் எவ்வளவு உண்மையாகத் தோன்றுகின்றனவோ அவ்வளவு உண்மையாகவே சொப்பனத்தில் நடக்கும் விவகாரங்களும் அக்காலத்திற் றோன்றுகின்றன” (jagrathil nadakkum vivagaranga lellam evvalavu unmaiyaaga thoondruginranavoo avvalavu unmaiyaagavee soppanathil nadakkum vivagarangalum akkaalathir thoondrugindrana | to the extent the phenomena in waking appear to be real, to the very same extent the phenomena in dream appear real at that time). Most of us would not have considered this before. However, after Bhagavan points this out, it appears obvious to us. If it appears obvious to us, we may realize in accordance with this we cannot distinguish between waking and dreaming, as they appear real in their own time. If we do not realize this, we will not benefit much from whatever Bhagavan says further.

We may further understand this by an analogy from science. When we move at constant speed in a straight track in a closed train with no sight of the outside world, there is no way of knowing our movement. That is to say, rest and motion are interchangeable. What is rest could be motion and vice versa and we will never know it till there is a change in speed. In a similar way, we cannot know we are dreaming as long as we are dreaming and we discover we were dreaming only after we wake up (which is a change from dream). If this is the case, how can we distinguish between waking and dreaming, as it would lead to redundancy?

I will continue in my next comment.

Wittgenstein said...

This is in continuation of my earlier comment.

Now the question arises: if we can use the terms waking and dream interchangeably, why don’t we experience them as one continuous state? It is not experienced as one continuous state because we experience two different bodies in these two different states. Therefore, we correspondingly feel a difference between two different worlds. However, as each world appears real as long as it appears, we cannot be sure which is real and which is imagined. How can we consider a world real as long as we experience it, jump to another world and declare the former as just imaginary and the latter as real? What is the guarantee we will not shift our standards when we jump to another world? If we are honest, we should at least say all worlds are as real as the current world. Therefore, the difference in waking and dream is a difference in the world but not a world of difference.

We can sum it up as follows: we, as this ego, identify with many bodies and experience many worlds and accordingly feel a difference in our experience, as experiences in each world is centered on the corresponding body. However, we mistake this difference for the difference in their existential status, which is wrong, as they all share the same existential status, as they appear real in their own time. Therefore, what exactly is their existential status can be decided by investigating the existential status of the current world. Otherwise it would be too premature to brand one world as real and the other as imaginary. It may be suitable for other purposes but not when we are studying Bhagavan’s teachings.

Principle of parsimony dictates that when two phenomena are essentially same, their mechanisms too should be same. For example, propagation of light waves and waves on a stretched string are essentially same and therefore are explained by laws of same form in science. Another example is the transport of heat and mass, explained by laws of same form. Similarly, waking and dreaming can be explained by same mechanism, as they are not significantly different. Therefore, Bhagavan proposes a single mechanism of creation for both waking (current world) and dream (past world or in fact any world), namely that it is a projection of the ego (which is the essence of mind).

It is a hypothesis, just like the laws of science (which are also hypotheses in a strict sense and cannot be called ‘laws’) and can be tested like any other hypothesis. It needs testing because, in colloquial language, it is just an ‘intelligent guess’ and a guess remains a guess until its verification. Also, this hypothesis needs verification because our attention is not keen enough to observe the projection as it happens (we know it in retrospect, only after the end of the dream). Verification of this hypothesis means the investigation of this ego that projects multiple worlds, which would of course settle the existential status of all worlds at the end of the investigation.

Anonymous said...

If we think that "we" can turn illusion into reality, then we are getting even deeper into illusion than the average people.
Illusion of duality exists ONLY in our longing to attain nondual experience.
We cannot attain anything.
"We", "I" and the object to be attained exist only in the thought.
outside the thought, these things are not known.
If we don't trust thought as a way of knowing, what can we know? and how to know it?
reality already is and cannot be attained.

Michael James said...

Yes, Anonymous, as you say in your comment, what is real is always real, and it cannot be attained, because it alone exists, and hence there is nothing that could ever attain it.

Since it alone exists, it is what we actually are, but now we seem to be something else, namely a person (a body), and since what is real can never experience itself as a person, there is some other seeming thing that is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’, namely the ego. This ego is neither what is real nor is it the body that it now seems to be (as Bhagavan points out in verses 23 and 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), because though in its current state it experiences itself as if it were this body, in other states that it now calls ‘dream’ it experiences itself as various other bodies, so it is not actually any of the bodies that it seems to be, and hence (in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) he calls it ‘உருவற்ற பேய் அகந்தை’ (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy ahandai), the ‘formless phantom-ego’.

Therefore though we are always actually what is real, and though nothing else ever actually exists, from the perspective of ourself as this ego we seem to be not aware of ourself as we actually are, so we seem to have a problem, and hence we are never entirely satisfied with our state as this ego. So what are we to do? How are we to be aware of ourself as we actually are? That is, what can we as this ego do to become aware of ourself as what is real?

As this ego we can never be aware of ourself as we actually are (which means that we can never ‘attain’ or ‘realise’ what is real, as you say), because the ego is nothing but an erroneous form of self-awareness — an illusory awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are. In other words, as this ego we can never know, experience or be aware of what is real, because the obstacle that prevents us being aware of what is real is only ourself, this ego.

Therefore what are we as this ego to do? Is there no hope for us? Are we doomed to be forever unaware of ourself as we actually are? Well, yes, so long as we experience ourself as if we were this ego, we are forever doomed. However, since we are always what is real, and nothing but what is real, we are in fact always aware of ourself as we actually are, so there is nothing that we need attain, and all we need is to cease being aware of ourself as this ego.

Since this ego is just erroneous awareness of ourself, to cease being aware of ourself as this ego all we (this ego) need do is to investigate ourself by trying to see what we actually are, because as soon as we see what we actually are (that is, as soon as we are aware of ourself as we actually are) this ego will be eradicated forever, and it will be eradicated so completely that we will know clearly that there was never any such thing.

Therefore, as Bhagavan often used to say, we do not need to attain anything, but simply to give up everything (which entails giving up the ego, since it alone is the root of everything), or as he also put it, we do not need to realise what is always real but only to unrealise what is always unreal.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

Common sense suggests that when we are in dream world, waking world does not disappear. Otherwise how can we explain wet dreams?

Michael James said...

Sanjay Srivastava, Bhagavan has explained the phenomenon of wet dreams in verse 558 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai, which means:

“If it is asked, ‘[When the dream body and the waking body are thus different,] how does the semen in the waking body drip out when one sees in dream that the dream body has contacted a woman?’, the answer will be that it is due to the speed of attachment with which one springs from the dream body to the waking body.”

Since the ego that projects and experiences both bodies and both dreams (the one in which it was having intercourse and the one in which it woke up ejaculating) is the same ego, the momentum of what it was experiencing in one state is carried on to the next one.

Sanjay Lohia said...

In his recent video filmed on 23rd April 2017 (afternoon session), Michael said the following (may not be verbatim):

We want to stay a bit longer in the dark

Bhagavan has opened the door for us. Do we want to go out? So long as we are happy to remain in the dark-room, we can remain in the dark-room; there is no need for us to go out. Bhagavan is not going to push us out of the door. He says, ‘Here is the door, whenever you are ready you go out’.

We are uncomfortable in our present position. We have begun to understand that going out of the door is the sensible thing to do. But we have been in the dark for so long, we feel uncomfortable going out into the light. So we want to stay a bit longer in the dark. This is our position now. By studying Bhagavan’s teachings, by trying little by little to put it into practice, we are trying to cultivate the liking, the willingness to go out in the sun-light.

We are all in a doctor’s waiting room. The door to the doctor’s surgery room is open. We can go in at any time, but we are all sitting here in the waiting room, because none of us are ready to pluck up the courage to go into the doctor’s surgery.

We are brahman; brahman is infinitely free. So if we want to remain in bondage, we have that prerogative. Nobody can tell you not to remain in bondage.

Noob said...

To cut it short, so long as we see (are aware of a world), self investigation is necessary.

siva-svarupa said...

Noob,
what you say is correct.
How will you finish being aware of a world ?
What will we then see (be aware) when the world-vision has ended ?

Anonymous said...

"Therefore what are we as this ego to do? Is there no hope for us? Are we doomed to be forever unaware of ourself as we actually are?"

Michael, yes. we as this ego have no chance of attaining "awareness of ourself as we actually are".
We, as ego, are doomed in a world of duality, and there is no door out of duality for the ego.
What ever the ego does, or does not, it can never "experience" its true nature.

There is no hope for the ego. But, where is that ego actually? Has anyone see it? Did anyone meet an ego, or experience an ego? Or is it all just thoughts projecting something that is not there in the first place?

Is the ego the producer of thoughts? Or is the ego (and likewise the objects that it grasps) actually a product of thoughts?

Not in theory, but in your experience, do you know anything at all, if you ignore thoughts?

kandavan said...

Wittgenstein,
regarding your first comment of today at 11:49,
in my experience I do notice most of my dreams as such ones immediately after its beginning. Seldom a glimmer of doubt arises to identify a dream started to appear as a dream - although I do experience some kind of waking during dream. Not 10 seconds of dream-time pass till the dream is identified unambiguously and unquestionably as a dream. Therefore I particularly deny the correctness of your remarks "...we cannot distinguish between waking and dreaming, as they appear real in their own time. If we do not realize this, we will not benefit much from whatever Bhagavan says further." at all. Also your further statement: "In a similar way, we cannot know we are dreaming as long as we are dreaming and we discover we were dreaming only after we wake up (which is a change from dream)." is not congruent with my above described "dream-experience".
Besides I consider the maintained importance of the non-distinction between waking and dreaming as highly insignificant. Much more important seems to me to keep the mind in clear and pure condition.
Nevertheless I thank you gratefully for your comment.

Noob said...

We all know we are not going to live forever, even if at the time of death I am not so attentive to uncover the truth, there will be another chance if my ego will rise again. If it does not, and there is nothing after we die, then there is nothing to lose anyway.
Chasing pleasures has already given me lots of headaches before, so this is not an option anyways...

nirvisesa said...

Wittgenstein,
"Therefore, Bhagavan proposes a single mechanism of creation for both waking (current world) and dream (past world or in fact any world), namely that it is a projection of the ego (which is the essence of mind)."
How can be based a proposition on the base of a non-existent phantom ?

nirvisesa said...

Noob,
how can there be (any) death of an eternal being ?

Noob said...

The death is only for the ego, we have to stop pretending that we are eternal so long as we are part of a world. Everything here has its beginning and end.

Noob said...

I firmly believe that the moment of death is of utmost importance, and the fear is the greatest enemy there.

nirvisesa said...

Noob,
we in our essence are never part of any/the world.
Only the pretender may be "part of the world".
So let there be its beginning and end.
How can there be "nothing" in a/the undivided and infinite wholeness ?

Noob said...

Until we experience this first hand, its a mere proposition.

nirvisesa said...

Noob,
do not care about the ego's fear. We in our real nature have nothing to lose.

nirvisesa said...

Noob,
leave the ego's fear confidently to Bhagavan who is the embodiment of fearlessness.

Noob said...

We have to wait until "real nature" becomes our experience.

Noob said...

And by "wait" I mean trying to be as much self attentive as possible. We cannot deny being self aware, this is the scent we must follow.

nirvisesa said...

Noob,
do not cover your ever existing real nature with any imagination.

nirvisesa said...

Noob,
yes we should incessantly self-attentive. That keeps away any fear.

nirvisesa said...

...please read: we should try to be incessantly self-attentive.

Wittgenstein said...

kandavan,

In your comment addressed to me, I gather that you are talking about lucid dreaming, although you have not mentioned this term explicitly. There was some such question in this forum long back and I liked Michael's answer to that and made a note of it. I am so sorry that I have lost the reference. Nevertheless, I quote the part I liked from my notes, which I hope would answer your questions.

"The only difference between a ‘non-lucid dream’ and a ‘lucid dream’ is that whereas in the former we are dreaming that we are awake, in the latter we are dreaming that we are dreaming. In both cases we are dreaming, and so long as we are dreaming we are not experiencing what is actually real, which is only ourself as we really are."

Wittgenstein said...

nirvisesa,

Bhagavan says ego is non-existent and we cannot say that. Besides, the ego that we are talking about is the 'I'. Can we deny it as non-existent? If so, who exactly is denying it?

Wittgenstein said...

kandavan,

I also said the following in my comment on 6 May 2017 at 11:54 which clears up the sense in which we can and cannot talk about the difference between waking and dream:

"[...] we, as this ego, identify with many bodies and experience many worlds and accordingly feel a difference in our experience, as experiences in each world is centered on the corresponding body. However, we mistake this difference for the difference in their existential status, which is wrong, as they all share the same existential status, as they appear real in their own time." [bold emphasis added]

Michael James said...

Samarender, regarding your second comment, in which you wrote, ‘However, don’t you think that we can ignore creation theories because after all they are proposed only to satisfy the mind’s curiosity’, we can ignore most creation theories, because they are based on the dubious assumption or claim that the world exists independent of our perception of it, which is a contention that we have no adequate means to substantiate. However, we cannot afford to ignore any of the core principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, because they form a coherent whole and each of them is entailed in all the others, so (as I explained in the seventh section of this article) if we ignore or refuse to accept any of them our understanding of the rest of them will be incomplete, unclear and confused.

One of the core principles of his teachings is that nothing exists independent of our awareness of it (which is the basic principle of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that creation (sṛṣṭi) is caused only by perception (dṛṣṭi), as in a dream), and he did not teach this ‘only to satisfy the mind’s curiosity’, as you suggest, but to enable us to understand more clearly and comprehensively the rest of his teachings, particularly the need for self-investigation, its efficacy and why it is the only means by which all our problems can be solved, since the root and foundation of all of them is only ourself as this ego, and we can eradicate this ego only by investigating what we actually are.

Regarding your suggestion that dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda is ‘meant to disprove the reality of the world’, when we carefully consider his teaching that nothing exists independent of our perception of it, along with all the other core principles of his teachings, that will prompt us to seriously question and doubt the reality of the world, but it cannot disprove its reality, because so long as we are aware of ourself as if we were a body in this or any other world, that world will always seem to us to be real, because since we are real, whatever body currently seems to be ourself will therefore seem to be real, and since that body is part of a world, that world will also seem to be real. Therefore the seeming reality of the world is caused by our dēhātma-buddhi (our illusory awareness of ourself as a body), which is the ego, so the only means by which we can effectively prove to ourself that neither this nor any other world is real is to investigate what we ourself actually are.

Though Bhagavan defined reality as that which is eternal, unchanging and self-shining, the ephemeral and constantly changing phenomena that constitute this or any other world seem to be real so long as we perceive them, because we perceive them only when we perceive ourself as a body, which is one among them. Therefore the reason why Bhagavan gave us this definition of reality was not to satisfy our curiosity or to disprove the reality of the world, but was only to prompt us to seek that which is eternal, unchanging and self-shining. Since nothing that we perceive is eternal, unchanging or self-shining, we need to investigate ourself to see whether we are actually this ephemeral and constantly changing body or whether we are what is eternal, unchanging and self-shining.

Therefore the sole aim and purpose of all of Bhagavan’s core teachings is to motivate us to investigate ourself and to give us the clarity of understanding that we require in order to investigate ourself keenly and effectively. His teachings are not for those who are satisfied with idle curiosity, but only for those who are seriously intent on eradicating the ego, the root cause of all problems.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, regarding the rhetorical questions you ask in your second comment, ‘But, where is that ego actually? Has anyone seen it? Did anyone meet an ego, or experience an ego? Or is it all just thoughts projecting something that is not there in the first place? Is the ego the producer of thoughts? Or is the ego (and likewise the objects that it grasps) actually a product of thoughts?’, though the ego will be found to be non-existent if we look at it carefully enough (just as an illusory snake would be found to be non-existent if we were to look at it carefully enough), so long as we look elsewhere we seem to be this ego.

Therefore the answer to your question ‘Has anyone seen it?’ is no, because if we try to see it will disappear (‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’, as Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), whereas the answer to your question ‘Did anyone experience an ego?’ is yes, because so long as we experience ourself as a person or perceive any other transient phenomena, the ‘I’ who is thus experiencing or perceiving is the ego, so we are now experiencing both the ego and its effects.

You imply that you believe that the ego does not produce thoughts but is the product of thoughts, but that cannot be the case, because what is aware of all thoughts is only the ego, so no thought could seem to exist if the ego were not aware of it. The ego is itself a thought (and hence Bhagavan often referred to it as ‘the thought called I’), but it is the root of all other thoughts, as he said in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār, because it alone is what projects and perceives all thoughts.

This should be obvious to us, and it was pointed out by Bhagavan in the final sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?: ‘மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa. taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), which means ‘Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first [primal, basic, original or causal] thought. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person [the ego or primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist’.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Anonymous:

This was also implied by him in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

ahandaiyuṇ ḍāyi ṉaṉaittumuṇ ḍāhu
mahandaiyiṉ ḏṟēliṉ ḏṟaṉaittu — mahandaiyē
yāvumā mādalāl yādideṉḏṟu nādalē
yōvudal yāvumeṉa vōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr.

அன்வயம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், அனைத்தும் இன்று. யாவும் அகந்தையே ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே யாவும் ஓவுதல் என ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, aṉaittum iṉḏṟu. yāvum ahandai-y-ē ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē yāvum ōvudal eṉa ōr.

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.

The ego cannot rise or stand without simultaneously projecting and perceiving other thoughts, but it is what produces other thoughts and not vice versa, because whereas all other thoughts are non-aware phenomena, the ego is the only thought that is aware, so it is only in its awareness that other thoughts seem to exist. This is why Bhagavan taught us that the only way to eradicate all thoughts permanently is to eradicate their root, the ego, and since the ego is just an erroneous awareness of ourself — awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are — it can be eradicated only by our investigating ourself and thereby seeing ourself as we actually are.

So long as we are investigating ourself, we seem to be the ego, but when we eventually see what we actually are, the ego will be seen to be non-existent, so we will not be the ego but only what we actually are, which is pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and ever-existing self-awareness.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Michael,

I accept your reply above to my second comment. If drishti-srishti vada is taken on board it does make one seriously doubt the reality of the world because from the waking world perspective we do see and know that dreams are imaginary and not real, so from the awakened perspective waking world will be seen to be equally illusory. Come to think of it, if one is the Self and there is no second entity other than the Self (as is the verbal testimony of jnanis like Bhagavan, along with plausible theories and proofs they advance), then indeed the world and one's psycho-physical entity in it has to be indeed illusory and not real.

It seems to me that most doubts about and difficulties in believing some of the tenets of Advaita stem mostly from talking/seeing from the perspective of the body-mind as "I". If, instead, one takes Consciousness as one's locus and sees things from that perspective then Advaita philosophy becomes clear and plausible.

kandavan said...

Wittgenstein,
being aware of a so-called dream is not a matter of naming/designation/term ('lucid dream').
Only your generalizing statement "...we cannot distinguish between waking and dreaming, as they appear real in their own time...." caused me to say my "dream-experience" in reply to your remark.
Your quotation "..., in the latter we are dreaming that we are dreaming. In both cases we are dreaming, and so long as we are dreaming we are not experiencing what is actually real, which is only ourself as we really are." I consider accurate.
What is more: It is obvious that in waking too we are not experiencing what is actually real.
What you write in your second comment (7 May 2017 at 07:55) I cannot really understand what you want to express without further explanations in more detail-perhaps in German language.

nirvisesa said...

Wittgenstein,
we certainly agree that the ego does not at all actually exist. What I referred to in my question was definitely and only the seeming existence of the ego-phantom.

Anonymous said...

Michael, the ego being just a thought, as you say, cannot investigate its nature and cannot be aware of anything. It is just the content of a thought that suggests that there is an entity "I" with free will that chooses to do so and so.
You seem to suggest that there is an ego which exists prior to thoughts and gives birth to thoughts. If that was true, then this entity should be here when thoughts dissolve.

But that is obviously not the case. There is no ego, or any "thing" here when there are no thoughts. Therefore, ego,or I,or the subject of experience, are only found within the content of thought. The perceiver or witness of experience is a fairytale.

A thought cannot act on other thoughts. It may seem so, but actualy, even the most illusory experience happens spontaneously, uncaused, and without an entity in the backround orchestrating it.

If a thought appears that says " I am not worthy of experiencing the Self, so I have to do this and that to get worthy", then "we" seemingly start a journey of becoming something else,rejecting what already is.

No path leads to what is prior to movement.

nirvisesa said...

Anonymous,
"You seem to suggest that there is an ego which exists prior to thoughts and gives birth to thoughts. If that was true, then this entity should be here when thoughts dissolve."
From where do thoughts and particularly the 'I'-thought which is called also "the ego" arise ?
The source of the ego is the very same place where thoughts and particularly the 'I'-thought dissolve. Which name would you give to that "place" ?

Anonymous said...

nirvisesa,
interest in naming maybe fun, maybe not.
Changes nothing.

nirvisesa said...

Anonymous,
you are right, the unchangeable undivided wholeness is beyond any change.

Wittgenstein said...

kandavan,

You say, "It is obvious that in waking too we are not experiencing what is actually real". Really? I cannot be so sure. I can only doubt if it is actually real.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, regarding your claim (in your third comment) that ‘the ego being just a thought, as you say, cannot investigate its nature and cannot be aware of anything’, if the ego is not aware of anything, what is it that is aware of everything (all thoughts or phenomena)? When we say ‘I am aware of thoughts’ or ‘I perceive phenomena’, who is that ‘I’? Surely it is only the ego, is it not?

You claim ‘The perceiver or witness of experience is a fairytale’, but if there is no perceiver, how can there be any perception? Unless there is something that perceives, how can anything be perceived? Can you not see the obvious absurdity of your claim?

This is not to say that the perceiver (the ego) is real, but we cannot deny that it seems to exist so long as there seems to be any perception or anything perceived. You seem to accept that what is perceived (namely thoughts or phenomena) is real whereas you claim that the perceiver of it is unreal, but the perceiver must be at least as real as perception and as whatever is perceived, because there could not be any perception nor anything perceived if there were not something that perceives it. That something is ‘I’, the ego, which is what we seem to be so long as we perceive or are aware of anything other than ourself.

Though the ego is a thought, it is in one crucial respect quite unlike any other thought, because whereas all other thoughts are not aware, the ego is what is aware both of itself and of everything else (all other thoughts, since everything other than what we actually are is just a thought), because it is a confused mixture of ‘I’, which is awareness (cit), and a body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), and hence it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the seeming entanglement of cit with jaḍa> (as Bhagavan says, for example, in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu)). However, it is also called cidābhāsa, which means a reflection or semblance of awareness, because it is not real awareness (the awareness that we actually are), since real awareness is never aware of anything other than itself (as Bhagavan clearly implies in verses 11, 12 and 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu).

Though the ego is not real, everything else seems to exist only in its view, so the seeming existence of everything else is entirely dependent on the seeming existence of ourself as this ego. That is, nothing other than ourself actually exists, so all other things seem to exist only when we seem to be the ego, and when we do not seem to be this ego, nothing else seems to exist.

In reply to my previous comment you say, ‘You seem to suggest that there is an ego which exists prior to thoughts and gives birth to thoughts. If that was true, then this entity should be here when thoughts dissolve’, but this shows that you did not read my previous comment carefully enough, because in it I wrote: ‘The ego cannot rise or stand without simultaneously projecting and perceiving other thoughts, but it is what produces other thoughts and not vice versa, because whereas all other thoughts are non-aware phenomena, the ego is the only thought that is aware, so it is only in its awareness that other thoughts seem to exist’.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Anonymous:

Because the ego is aware, it can (contrary to what you claim) investigate itself, and as Bhagavan frequently said, it must eventually investigate itself by looking at itself very keenly, because that is the only means by which it can be destroyed (or more precisely, the only means by which its non-existence can be revealed).

Merely claiming dogmatically that the ego does not exist but is just a product of thoughts, and that it therefore cannot investigate itself, will not eradicate it, because what makes such dogmatic claims is only the ego, and by making such claims it is nourishing and sustaining itself. Therefore if we wish to stop deluding ourself, we should investigate ourself, the ‘I’ who is aware of everything else, by trying to see what we actually are.

As this ego we can never see what we actually are, but we can try to see what we actually are, and by trying we will subside and dissolve this ego along with all its other thoughts, which seem to exist only in its self-deluded view. What will then remain is only pure and infinite self-awareness, which is what we actually are, and which is always aware of itself as it actually is.

This is what Bhagavan taught us, and it is in accordance with logic and a critical evaluation of our experience in our three states, waking, dream and sleep, but if you choose to believe something else, you are free to do so.

kandavan said...

Wittgenstein,
let me sum up some statements which are contained in Bhagavan's teaching:
1.) what actually exists is only atma-svarupa.
2.) Therefore we ourself - as we actually are - are constantly aware of our real self.
3.) We are always self-conscious - that is, conscious of our own being, 'I am'- because our essential self-consciousness is the very nature of our being.
3.) The world, the human soul and God - as separate from ourself - are only illusory impositions in it.
4.) The real jnana-waking - our natural state of wakeful sleep (called the fourth state or turiya) - alone is the only existing state and therefore the supreme reality.
5.) If the mind becomes absorbed in the heart, the ego or 'I', which is the center of the multitude of thoughts and mental fabrications, finally vanishes and pure consciousness, which subsists during all the states of the mind, alone remains.
6.) Only pure otherless intransitive awareness is real awareness.
7.) Leaving aside adjuncts is real awareness that is knowing what is real.
8.) Real is eternal, unchanging and self-shining.
9.) Reality is absolute, true, original and fundamental - our essential self.
10.) We are the one real substance, which is our own true self.
11.) Abiding in our true state is knowing and being (in) the oneness of reality.
12.) We should separate ourself from our dehatma-buddhi, our false consciousness 'I am this body and mind' by self-attentiveness.

So let us develop viveka, vairagya and svatma-bhakti, the love for our own self, which is the essence of what we now experience as 'I'. May we merge in Arunachala who shines in our heart as 'I am'.
I hope (y)our doubts are cleared, because I immediately must leave my room and make some housekeeping-works.

Anonymous said...

"but if you choose to believe something else, you are free to do so."

Michael, the real teaching, as he said, is silence. What is gained by any activity, will be lost. But if you choose to believe that there is actually an ego that can destroy itself, you are also free. I 'll leave it here. Thank you.

Mouna said...

"...the real teaching, as he said, is silence."
But... who is saying that now, silence?

"What is gained by any activity, will be lost."
How could something that never happened or was never gained be lost, unless it seems apparently so by an apparent entity?

"...if you choose to believe that there is actually an ego that can destroy itself..."
It does seem to be apparently so, otherwise there is no reason for analogies like the ones of the thorn taking out another thorn and then discarding both or the burning stick of the funeral pyre that serves only to start the fire and once started is thrown into it.

There is no ego that can destroy itself because there is no ego period.
But on the other hand it is only the "apparent" ego that can initiate its own "apparent" destruction.

pristine self-experience said...

Okay Mouna,
so the destruction-match is "subtle apparent ego" against "gross apparent ego".
I too feel at present in acute form involved in an heavy "apparent" war between impure tendencies which insist on satisfying "unhealthy" visaya-vasanas and more pure vasanas.
Even if we hardly can win this war how can we achieve at least an temporary ceasefire let alone a permanent one ?
May Arunachala be on our side just in this war.

jeremy lennon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jeremy lennon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pontius Pilatus said...

Does anybody know what stronger is than outward going desires (vishaya vasanas) ?

Anonymous said...

Michael

A weird question. When one investigates the ego, would the process unveil layers of delusion that is causing world to function in some way? Eg. I feel a desire somewhere rooted in the mind is the cause for someone's intelligence to evolve in a certain way. Similarly the people i live with, circumstances i am in , all are a reflection of my deep rooted desire which i am not aware of. But the problem is to find that desire that is causing my world to function in a way. And i think behind that desire is the i thought. But this thought process has a problem. I feel like i have to unlearn a lot and so the process seems to be like clearing garbage to see the clean surface acting as base for the garbage.

D Samarender Reddy said...

The question of the importance of Samadhi

(from http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/comans.htm)

CONCLUSION
Although the importance of concentration is evident from the early Upanisads (BU 4.4.23), a form of yoga practice leading to the absorptive state of samadhi is only in evidence in the later texts. We have seen that Sankara does speak of a type of concentration upon the Self which is akin to yoga insofar as there is the withdrawal of the mind from sense objects, but he does not advocate more than that and he does not put forward the view that we find in classical Yoga about the necessity of total thought suppression. We have seen that he has used the word samadhi very sparingly, and when he has used it, it was not always in an unambiguously favorable context. It should be clear that Sankara does not set up nirvikalpa samadhi as a spiritual goal. For if he had thought it to be an indispensable requirement for liberation, then he would have said so. But he has not said so. Contemplation on the Self is obviously a part of Sankara's teaching, but his contemplation is directed toward seeing the ever present Self as free from all conditionings rather than toward the attainment of nirvikalpa samadhi. This is in significant contrast to many modem Advaitins for whom all of the Vedanta amounts to "theory" which has its experimental counterpart in yoga "practice." I suggest that their view of Vedanta is a departure from Sankara's own position. The modern Advaitins, however, are not without their forerunners, and I have tried to indicate that there has been a gradual increase in samadhi-oriented practice in the centuries after Sankara, as we can judge from the later Advaita texts.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Creation Theories in Advaita


www.advaita.org.uk/discourses/teachers/theories_vidyasankar.htm

Mouna said...

"Creation Theories in Advaita"

Which creation?...
The one experienced right now?
The one experienced while dreaming?
The one not experienced in deep sleep?
Which creation?...

D Samarender Reddy said...

The one experienced right now - the waking world.

Mouna said...

Limited theories then... and theories nevertheless.

Do we need a theory to realize existence/awareness now?

D Samarender Reddy said...

Agreed, we don't need a theory "to realize existence/awareness now". Creation theories are merely meant to satisfy the curiosity of the mind, and the Truth, as we adherents of Bhagavan's philosophy know, is something that is beyond the remits of the mind - summa iru (be still). And of course, we are that Truth, and we are not the body-mind but Consciousness, so all discussion(s) at the level of the mind are useful only insofar as they convince you enough to be still.

Mouna said...

Couldn't agree more Samarenderji.

D Samarender Reddy said...

:-)

By the way, Mouna, I read your article on that website adavita.org.uk, and even visited your website linked on that article and found your work to be very creative.

Mouna said...

Sooo many years ago... I was still an advaitin at that time! :-)
And thanks for your kind words.

jeremy lennon said...

I have only recently started following Michael´s blog here. I did post something a couple of days ago but then deleted it after realizing that I had not really done my homework. I had wanted to comment on something Michael had said in the recording made in London on 23rd April in the afternoon. Hearing it was an important break-through for me. So now after revising it's probably best to simply quote what Michael said. No guarantee that it's verbatim.
"When we refer to what we actually are as the Self we are objectifying it. In Tamil and Sanskrit there is no such term. There's no definite article and no capital letters. So in Sanskrit the word atman simply means oneself. For example with the term atma vichara people use to some times ask Bagavan: "In atma vichara what is the self we have to investigate? I it the real Self or the ego?" Bagavan said "there aren`t two selves, there`s only one self. You investigate your self". Now, because you seem to be the ego, you have to investigate the ego. When you investigate the ego you see that what seemed to be the ego is actually what you really are. It's like the rope and the snake..."

sat - bhava said...


The ego must investigate itself because it cannot investigate immediately that what we really are ?
How can we investigate anything what we cannot see but only are aware of ?

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,
"...so all discussion(s) at the level of the mind are useful only insofar as they convince you enough to be still."
So when it is managed to convince oneself enough that summa iru (to be still) is the culmination/highest form of philosophy how to start to be still which seems to be free of all unnecessary adjuncts ?
In my experience there I encounter an impenetrable and inscrutable thicket/dense undergrowth of mental or emotional "plants" which make no move to vanish.
My patience is wearing thin. No, my patience is already worn out.
Is there any alternative but to start (later) again and again ?

sat - bhava said...

Mouna,
",,,many years ago... I was still an advaitin at that time!"
And what are you now ?

D Samarender Reddy said...

Sat - bhava,

You ask how to "Be Still". What I found helps me is the conviction that I am not the mind, which creates a certain loosening of identity with thoughts as being one's own and instead they are merely seen as any other objects. How to be convinced one is not the mind? Several prakriyas - Avasthatraya prakriya, Panchakosha prakriya, Drk-Drsya viveka, Karana-Karya prakriya. In addition, the sadhana chatushtaya also helps.

R Viswanathan said...

"So when it is managed to convince oneself enough that summa iru (to be still) is the culmination/highest form of philosophy how to start to be still which seems to be free of all unnecessary adjuncts ?"

Sri Sadhu Om in his Vilakkavurai for Aksharamanamalai (verse 39) gives the following direction (p 195-196): At the end of sadhana, when the doership is in the state of total annihilation, the divine power that emanates from atma attracts and pulls the mind to effect the completion of sadhana by way of completely dissolving the mind in it. However, in the beginning of sadhana, it is necessary for the mind to practise self-attentiveness with love towards atma with the determination to not attend things other than self and without leaving the sole aim of self-attentiveness.

Before suggesting the above direction, he points out that it is only the divine grace of grace of atma that induces one to begin the sadhana; and the love for atma and determination (to not attend to other things) will work to increasingly and eventually annihilate the doership which one starts the sadhana with.

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,
many thanks for your hints.
Obviously "prakriya" means sadhana/exercise or practice.
Could you explain Avasthatraya pr. , Panchakosha pr. and Karana-Karya pr., Drk-Drsya viveka and chatushtaya in more detail ?

Palaniappan Chidambaram said...

Recently I met someone in Ramanasramam and was discussing about the subject.

When Bhagavan spoke of self - enquiry it is about paying complete attention to Iam, vigilantly and attentively. As you had mentioned earlier in most of your commentaries, we are always self aware, but not attentively self aware. So self enquiry is about being attentively aware of Iam or being attentively self aware by which all other objects of awareness are excluded automatically. The reason of paying attention to Iam is, it seems to exist holding to other objects (thoughts, sense perceptions, i'm the body sense, emotions etc). Once we turn the attention to itself and hold it vigilantly for long enough it will start to subside revealing our actual self.

My friend said, this is like concentration. It is like to place our consciousness upon the self and if we are able to continue it persistently only.

He suggested the other way is like we do not give importance to concentration, as in the case of placing our attention upon the I. Instead of creating concentration, we remove the concentration itself. We know the focusing type of torch light. If we put on the torch, the light will be focused in a particular object. If we turn the focus, we will see other objects upon which the focused light touches. This is like the way of concentration. We know the ordinary electrical light. It has no focusing point. So the light of the ordinary electrical light, spreads everywhere equally. Just like the sunlight, the electrical light spreads everywhere without having any focusing aspect. So we do not place our attention upon a particular object, but instead, we spread our awareness everywhere.

Here we are conscious of everything at a time. If we hear somebody talking, it is concentration. If we hear all the sounds around us including the talk, it is this total consciousness without concentration. When we attend all the sound at a time, it is placing our consciousness, upon all the things equally. Here we have no concentration. So that we do not know any particular object. Here, consciousness, alone gets importance. Here, neither the I who is conscious of nor the object upon which I is conscious of gets importance. Neither the subject nor the object gets importance. In case they get importance, both subject and object get equal importance. Here, the totality of our consciousness alone gets importance. If we are able to maintain this kind of consciousness, by way of our constant practice, both the observer and the observed become the part of the total consciousness.When everything becomes one, we can have the experience as I am everything and everything are our I consciousness.

I tried to understand but couldn't get how he mentioned that totality of consciousness is experienced without subject / object. Is it calling just being aware of nothing specific not ever of awareness?

Your thoughts and understanding on this will help me bring more clarity.

sat - bhava said...

R Viswanathan,
thanks for your comment giving Sadhu Om's direction.
So first as a prerequisite I have to win/gain (the) divine grace. But of course I cannot summon it or beckon it over. It will not be enough to long for it.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Sat - bhava,

Space does not permit me to go into great details on the prakriyas (if you want more details, let me know your email ID and I will email you some stuff):

1. Avasthatraya prakriya is imply the analysis of the 3 states of waking-dream-deep sleep to establish that one is not the body-mind. The way that is done is by showing that since you say on waking up, "I slept happily without knowing anything", you must have been present in deep sleep to have experienced happiness, and since in deep sleep you were dissociated from the body-mind, you must not be the body-mind without which you can still exist as in deep sleep.

2. Pancha-kosha prakriya - this prakriya (analysis) established that you cannot be any of the five sheaths (food sheath [annamaya kosha] - gross body, pranamaya kosha [vital sheath], manomaya kosha [mental sheath], vijnanamaya kosha [intellect sheath] - subtle body, and bliss sheath [anandamaya kosha] - causal body) because all the five sheaths are subject to change and are impermanent.

3. Drik-Drsya Viveka - seer and seen are different. So, objects of the world are seen and eye is the seer; going inwards, eyes are the seen and mind is the seer; mind is the seen and consciousness is the seer; and consciousness is not seen seen by any entity other than itself, so consciousness is the true seer (or subject) and you are that.

4. Karana-Karya prakriya - Cause-effect analysis - just as in all the clay pots, clay alone is the reality, brahman or consciousness is alone the reality in the various phenomena of the world, including body-mind.

Sadhana Chatushtaya
1. Viveka (discrimination) - discrimination between the self and not-self
2. Vairagya (dispassion) - disinclination to pleasures here and hereafter
3. Shad-sampatthi (sixfold treasure) - sama (control of mind), dama (control of senses), uparati (withdrawal of mind from sense objects), titiksha (fortitude), shraddha (faith in guru and scripture), and samadhana (mental absorption on the truth revealed by guru and scripture).
4. Mumukshutva - intense yearning for liberation.

Note that sadhana chatushtaya (fourfold qualification) is considered a prerquisite before taking up the study of Vedanta.

Hope the above write-up helps you.

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,
many thanky again.
I will first study your compilation of the mentioned prakriyas.
But now at once I must go out in the city.

Mouna said...

Sat-bhava, greetings

"...many years ago... I was still an advaitin at that time!" And what are you now ?"

In this case the question is not who am I now... the question is who are you? now...

Sanjay Srivastava said...

@Palaniappan:

Michael has elsewhere refuted this second method. He seems to be quite emphatic that the only proper method of self enquiry is focusing attention on I am. At least this is the impression I got from the following:

http://happinessofbeing.blogspot.in/2017/03/rather-than-being-aware-of-being-aware.html

sat - bhava said...

Mouna,greetings too,
indeed you caught me bursting with curiosity.
But your counterquestion "the question is who are you? now..." is possibly put also out of sheer curiosity. Or did you intend to raise your question to make me better questening myself who I am or investigating myself ?
In any case: as you correctly say we should not attend to other things than ourself as we really are.

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,

a) regarding the five sheaths,
In waking I am aware only of the gross body.
In dream I am aware of a subtle body but at most only in rough outlines.
Is anybody aware of all the five koshas ?

b) regarding Sadhana Chatushtaya, Vairagya (dispassion) and Shad-sampatthi
My disinclination to sense-pleasures is not weak enough.
Certainly I do not possess the sixfold treasures namely sama (control of mind), dama (control of senses)and uparati (withdrawal of mind from sense-objects). So I clearly miss the prerequisites for taking up the study of Vedanta.

c) What shall I do now ?


ulladu-unarvu said...

Michael,
section 7.,
1.) I agree completely: we do not have any proof that the statement "nothing that we perceive exists independent of our perception of it" could be wrong.
But what is the proof that it is fully correct ?
2.) "... what we now take to be waking is actually just another dream"
Can you produce proof in support of this stunning statement ?

I am highly interested in clearing that fundamental point of Bhagavan's teaching and would be very grateful for showing that point in the correct light or at least sheding some light on that.


D Samarender Reddy said...

Sat - bhava,

"Is anybody aware of all the five koshas?"
In waking state, when you are experiencing happiness, you are experiencing all the five koshas because happiness belongs to the Anandamaya Kosha, subtle body and gross body anyway being present in the waking state because the mind and body are awake.

Regarding you lacking some of the prerequisites for taking up the study of Vedanta, Bhagavan says in Talk 192 of Talks, "In fact there may not be found any individual in the world who possesses all the qualities in perfection necessary for an aspirant as mentioned in Yoga Sutras etc. Still pursuit of Self-Knowledge should not be abandoned." And, moreover, somewhere else Bhagavan says that pursuit of self-enquiry in and of itself will bring in its train all the auspicious qualities into one's being. So, don't bother about the prerequisites and just stick to self-enquiry to the best of your abilities on a regular basis.

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,
since experience as such is generally not possible without awareness so also the experience of happiness in waking state is primarily an occurrence in awareness. Therefore you are implying that awareness (of happiness) is also included in the five sheaths. But is that not contradictory to your yesterday remark (introducing Pancha-kosha prakriya) that we "cannot be any of the five sheaths" ?
Particularly I thank you gratefully about your agreeable words of encouragement with regard to the missing prerequisites with reference to Bhagavan's saying.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Sat - bhava,

All these are models to explain the inexplicable. So, there are bound to be some seeming contradictions because we are trying to explain the illusory maya, while brahman/consciousness is the sole reality. However, to address your doubt, the best we could say is that when the mind finds an agreeable object/situation, it falls silent and the jiva is in close proximity to brahman with only the anandamaya kosha (or ignorance) separating him from it, and so he experiences the bliss of brahman, which is otherwise hidden from him unlike the sat-chit aspects of brahman. So, you could say that when the mind is temporarily stilled (or is absent as in the case of deep sleep)the only covering between jiva and brahman is ignorance or anandamaya-kosha, so it is said that he experiences happiness (as he also does in deep sleep) in anandamaya kosha.

ulladu-unarvu said...

Michael,
section 4.,
4. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 4: this world is a mental projection, so it does not exist independent of our perception of it
"Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself."
Bhagavan's statement that there is no world separately from thoughts or ideas turns our daily experience upside down. The argument and conclusion that in sleep is no world because it is not perceived give us a nasty shock. Therefore we need an appropriate/matching shock treatment.
At present I do not understand the allegorical statement:
"Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself."
The mentioned projection of the world by the mind is easier comprehensible when we think of the events in dream. But its immediate application to our so-called waking state is for the moment hair-raising. However, we cannot deprive Bhagavan of his unusual, extraordinary quite extraterrestrial experience. Therefore we should bow our head with humility. Of course our mind will never be able to understand/grasp that statement.
Too deep seems to be the rift valley between our daily sensory experience and Bhagavan's knowledge, unless Bhagavan's omnipresence leads us in the depth of our heart to him/his omniscience. On the other hand, are we - in our dense ignorance - able to afford mistrusting Bhagavan's teaching ?.
May Arunachala graciously inspire us !

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,
thank you for explanation.
You describe anandamaya kosha as the mind's ignorance.
But how can it simultaneously experience happiness in that kosha of ignorance ?
With it I assume that ignorance and real happiness of being are mutual exclusive.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Sat - bhava,

Ignorance and happiness are not mutually exclusive because of the very fact that we are "ignorant" of Brahman but we do experience "happiness" from time to time. But of course, you may choose to call such happiness not "real" and only happiness of Brahman is "real", then in that case ignorance and "real" happiness are mutually exclusive in that when we are under the spell of ignorance we cannot experience "real" happiness because ignorance by definition implies that we are "out of contact" or separated as it were (though since only Brahman exists, nothing can be apart from it) from Brahman by the vestures of the bodies or koshas.

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,
yes I mean not any temporary happiness but our real adjunct-free nature.
So can we experience pure happiness "in anandamaya kosha" or only temporary pleasure/delight ?

D Samarender Reddy said...

Sat - bhava,

We can experience only temporary happiness in anandamaya kosha, and only when we realize the Self will there be unbroken, permanent pure happiness.

sat - bhava said...

D Samarender Reddy,
so pure happiness is or has to be experienced beyond the five koshas.
Thanks for all your comments in these discussion. Kind regards.