Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Concern about fate and free will arises only when our mind is turned away from ourself

What I wrote in one of my recent articles, Do we need to do anything at all?, triggered a discussion about the roles of destiny (prārabdha) and the ego’s own volition or free will (though free will was referred to only implicitly, not explicitly) and how we can determine whether any particular thought arises due to destiny or due to free will. This discussion started from the first comment, in which a friend called Samarender Reddy wrote:
There seems to a problem with what you say. If whatever is to happen is decided by my prarabdha, then whatever motions the body is to go through and whatever the mind has to “think” to get the body to do actions as per prarabdha are also predetermined and “I, the ego” have no say in it. But you also say, “therefore we need not think”. And yet the mind will necessarily think some thoughts as per prarabdha. How do I distinguish thinking or thoughts associated with prarabdha and the other non-prarabdha associated thinking I seem to indulge in? Whenever any thought occurs, how do I know if it is prarabdha or the ego thinking? If I say, ok, whatever thoughts have to occur will occur to make the body do whatever it has to do, then it would seem that one has to be totally silent and not thinking and whenever any thought arises involuntarily I have to consider that as prarabdha thought and act accordingly? Is that what you are saying? Also, in that case will only such prarabdha thoughts then occur which require the body to do something or will such thoughts also occur which do not require the body to do something? I would really appreciate if you can clarify these doubts of mine.
This article is my reply to this comment, and also less directly to some of the ideas expressed in subsequent comments on the same subject.
  1. Any state in which we experience ourself as a body and consequently perceive phenomena is just a dream
  2. The fundamental choice we have is between pravṛtti (going outwards) and nivṛtti (withdrawing back within)
  3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: we embark on the path of pravṛtti by rising as an ego, which we do by grasping forms
  4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 5: the body we grasp as ourself is a form composed of five sheaths
  5. None of these sheaths, not even the ānandamaya kōśa, exist or envelop us in sleep
  6. Experiencing oneself as this body of five sheaths cannot but give rise to the sense of doership, which is therefore the very nature of the ego
  7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 19: the ego is the root and foundation of fate and free will, because it alone has free will and experiences fate
  8. The actions of our mind, speech and body are driven by two forces, fate and free will
  9. Bhagavan’s note for his mother: we cannot alter whatever is destined to happen, but we are free to want and to try to do so
  10. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 13: to be silent, we must be so keenly self-attentive that we do not give even the slightest room to the rising of any thought about anything other than ourself
  11. Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam verse 6: let any thoughts appear or disappear, we should be so keenly self-attentive that we are completely indifferent to them
  12. Distinguishing thoughts or actions driven by our fate from those driven by our free will is neither necessary nor possible
  13. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 38: only by using our free will to investigate ourself can we free ourself from the ego and all its three karmas
  14. Unless our attention is turned outwards, away from ourself, prārabdha cannot bind us or make us think anything
  15. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 2: being the fruit of our past actions, prārabdha cannot make our mind turn within and hence can never give us liberation
  16. Upadēśa Undiyār verses 8 and 9: by the intensity of self-attentiveness we will be in our real state of being, which is beyond thinking
  17. Prārabdha determines what we must experience only so long as we are facing outwards, so it can never prevent us turning back within to face ourself
1. Any state in which we experience ourself as a body and consequently perceive phenomena is just a dream

When we dream we project a body and simultaneously experience it as if it were ourself, and then through the five senses of that dream body we project and perceive a dream world. Since we are real, the dream body seems to us to be real so long as we mistake it to be ourself, and since it seems to be part of the dream world, that also seems to us to be real. However when we wake up our identification with that dream body is broken, so it no longer seems real, and hence we are immediately able to recognise that it was just a mental projection.

Since the dream body and world seem to be real so long as we are dreaming, whatever dream we are currently experiencing always seems to us to be the waking state. Only when we wake up from a dream are we able to recognise that it was just a dream. Therefore how can we be sure that our present state is not just another dream, even though it seems to us to be the waking state so long as we are experiencing it?

According to Bhagavan any state in which we experience ourself as a body and consequently perceive phenomena is just a dream, and hence there is no substantive difference between a dream and what we now take to be the waking state. As in any other dream, in our present state we have projected a body, which now seems to be ourself, and through the five senses of this body we have projected and are now perceiving a world.

2. The fundamental choice we have is between pravṛtti (going outwards) and nivṛtti (withdrawing back within)

Therefore though we seem to experience three alternating states every day, namely waking, dream and sleep, what we now take to be waking and dream are both only dreams, so what we experience is only two kinds of states and not three. Any state in which we perceive phenomena of any kind whatsoever is a dream, and any state in which we do not experience any phenomena is sleep. The former is called pravṛtti (which means moving forwards, onwards or outwards, rising, going forth, appearing, manifesting, exerting or being active) and the latter is called nivṛtti (which means coming back, returning, withdrawing, ceasing, abstaining from doing, resting or being inactive).

Therefore at any moment we have a fundamental choice of just two directions: either we can go outwards following the path of pravṛtti by attending to anything other than ourself, or we can return within following the path of nivṛtti by attending to nothing other than ourself. The path Bhagavan has taught us is the path of nivṛtti, and that is the subject I was writing about in the article on which Samarender wrote the above comment, namely Do we need to do anything at all?.

3. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 25: we embark on the path of pravṛtti by rising as an ego, which we do by grasping forms

If we choose to go outwards following the path of pravṛtti, as we generally do most of the time, we experience ourself as a person consisting of a body and mind, who interact with whatever world we perceive around us, and thus we are caught up in doing actions (karmas), which forces us to consider whether we should act in this way or that. All this happens because we allow ourself to rise as this ego, the ‘I’ that experiences itself as ‘I am this body’, so if we want to avoid getting caught up in any activities we must avoid rising as this ego, which we can do only by being so keenly self-attentive that we cease being aware of anything else at all.

As Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

uruppaṯṟi yuṇḍā muruppaṯṟi niṟku
muruppaṯṟi yuṇḍumiha vōṅgu — muruviṭ
ṭuruppaṯṟun tēḍiṉā lōṭṭam piḍikku
muruvaṯṟa pēyahandai yōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும், உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை. ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum, uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai. ōr.

அன்வயம்: உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும். ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum. ōr.

English translation: Grasping form, the formless phantom-ego rises into being; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows [spreads, expands, increases, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form, it grasps [another] form. If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight. Investigate [or know thus].
Since the ego is a formless phantom, whatever forms it grasps are other than itself, but in order to be aware of forms it must experience itself as a form (as Bhagavan explains in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), so the first form it grasps is a body, which it mistakes to be itself. Therefore grasping form is the very nature of the ego, and without grasping form it cannot rise, stand or flourish.

But what exactly does Bhagavan mean by ‘grasping form’ (உரு பற்றி: uru paṯṟi)? How can this formless phantom-ego (உருவற்ற பேய் அகந்தை: uru-v-aṯṟa pēy ahandai) grasp anything? Since it is formless, it can grasp forms (phenomena of any kind whatsoever) only by being aware of them, and since no forms exist independent of it (as he explains in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), it must project them from within itself in order to be aware of them.

Therefore the one fundamental problem we face is simply the fact that we have risen as this ego, because every other problem arises only from this, and so long as this root problem remains, other problems of one sort or another will continue arising. This is why Bhagavan advised us to ignore all other problems and focus all our concern, effort and attention only on eradicating their foundation, this ego, which we can do only by investigating ourself: that is, by looking at ourself very keenly in order to see what we actually are, whether this ego or something that underlies its appearance, just as a rope underlies the false appearance of an illusory snake.

4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 5: the body we grasp as ourself is a form composed of five sheaths

We rise as this ego by projecting and grasping the form of a body as ourself, and as Bhagavan points out in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, the body we grasp as ourself is a form composed of five sheaths (pañca kōśa):
உடல்பஞ்ச கோச வுருவதனா லைந்து
முடலென்னுஞ் சொல்லி லொடுங்கு — முடலன்றி
யுண்டோ வுலக முடல்விட் டுலகத்தைக்
கண்டா ருளரோ கழறு.

uḍalpañca kōśa vuruvadaṉā laindu
muḍaleṉṉuñ colli loḍuṅgu — muḍalaṉḏṟi
yuṇḍō vulaha muḍalviṭ ṭulahattaik
kaṇḍā ruḷarō kaṙaṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ஐந்தும் ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, aindum ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

அன்வயம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஐந்தும் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உலகம் உண்டோ? உடல் விட்டு உலகத்தைக் கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil aindum oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi ulaham uṇḍō? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

English translation: The body is a form of five sheaths. Therefore all five are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body, is there a world? Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?
The five ‘sheaths’ or ‘coverings’ (pañca kōśa) that he refers to here are the physical body (annamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of food’), the life that animates it (prāṇamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of life [or breath]’), the thoughts or mental activity that we experience going on within it (manōmaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of mind’), the intellect or power of reasoning and discernment that we experience functioning within it (vijñānamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of discernment [or understanding]’) and the darkness of self-ignorance that underlies and gives rise to the appearance of the other four sheaths (ānandamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of happiness’), which is also called the ‘causal body’ (kāraṇa śarīra).

Whenever we experience ourself as a body, we are experiencing ourself as all these five sheaths, because whatever body we experience as ourself is a living body, so it consists of both the annamaya and prāṇamaya kōśas, and it is not a sleeping or comatose body, so it also consists of the manōmaya and vijñānamaya kōśas, and it seems to be ourself only because of our fundamental self-ignorance, so it is suffused with and held together by the ānandamaya kōśa.

5. None of these sheaths, not even the ānandamaya kōśa, exist or envelop us in sleep

The reason why the fundamental sheath or ‘causal body’ is called ānandamaya kōśa is that it is generally said to be the only sheath that remains enveloping us in sleep, so since sleep is a peaceful and therefore happy state, this sheath of self-ignorance is said to be ‘composed of happiness’ (ānandamaya). However, what is enveloped in these five sheaths is only the ego and not ourself as we actually are, so in the absence of the ego there is nothing that could be enveloped by any of these sheaths, and since the ego is the false self-awareness that appears as ‘I am this body’, it does not exist at all in sleep. Therefore according to Bhagavan in sleep we are not self-ignorant or enveloped by any sheath at all, as he implied for example in an answer recorded in the first chapter of Maharshi’s Gospel (2002 edition, page 9):
Sleep is not ignorance, it is one’s pure state; wakefulness is not knowledge, it is ignorance. There is full awareness in sleep and total ignorance in waking.
It is only from the perspective of our mind in waking or dream that sleep seems to be a state of ignorance, so it was in concession to this perspective that in ancient texts it was said that in sleep we are enveloped by the ānandamaya kōśa, and that this envelopment is the ‘causal body’ (kāraṇa śarīra), the cause for the appearance of the other four sheaths in waking and dream. One of the reasons for this concession to our ignorant perspective is that it provides an answer to satisfy the superficial curiosity of those who ask how or why the ego rises from sleep, but according to Bhagavan the most useful answer to such questions is that we should investigate this ego to see whether it actually exists even now, because if we investigate it keenly enough, we will find that it does not actually exist (just as we would find that an illusory snake does not actually exist if we were to look at it keenly enough to see that it is not a snake but only a rope), and since it does not actually exist, it has never actually risen from sleep. Therefore asking how or why it has risen is like asking how or why the son of a barren woman was born.

The rising of the ego alone causes the appearance of everything else (as Bhagavan implies in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), so the ego is the first cause, and hence there can be no cause antecedent to it. Therefore trying to find what caused the appearance of the ego is futile. Instead we should just investigate it as keenly as we can and should persevere in doing so until we see the one reality that underlies its false appearance, namely the pure self-awareness that we always actually are.

6. Experiencing oneself as this body of five sheaths cannot but give rise to the sense of doership, which is therefore the very nature of the ego

These five sheaths are what envelop us, so to speak, and conceal our real nature when we rise as this ego, thereby experiencing ourself as ‘I am this body’, because whatever body we experience as ourself is composed of these five sheaths, and since we (as this ego) experience it as ourself, in our view it obscures what we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness. Therefore as this ego we always experience ourself as an inseparable mixture of these five sheaths, which together form the three instruments of action, namely mind, speech and body, and hence whatever actions are done by any of these instruments are experienced by us as actions done by us.

This experience that the actions of the mind, speech and body are done by oneself is what is called the sense of doership (kartṛtva buddhi), and it is the very nature of the ego, because we cannot rise or stand as this ego without experiencing a body consisting of five sheaths as ourself, and we cannot experience it as ourself without experiencing ourself as the doer of whatever actions are done by it. Therefore we cannot free ourself forever from this sense of doership without permanently ceasing to rise as this ego, and we cannot permanently cease without investigating ourself keenly enough to see ourself as we actually are.

7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 19: the ego is the root and foundation of fate and free will, because it alone has free will and experiences fate

Therefore rather than concerning ourself with any questions about fate or free will, we should focus all our interest, attention and effort on investigating what we ourself actually are. So long as we seem to be this ego, fate and free will will both seem to exist and to be functioning in our life as whatever person (body consisting of five sheaths) we currently seem to be, but if we investigate this ego and thereby experience ourself as we actually are, we will find that we have never been touched or influenced even to the slightest extent by either fate or free will, as Bhagavan implies in verse 19 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
விதிமதி மூல விவேக மிலார்க்கே
விதிமதி வெல்லும் விவாதம் — விதிமதிகட்
கோர்முதலாந் தன்னை யுணர்ந்தா ரவைதணந்தார்
சார்வரோ பின்னுமவை சாற்று.

vidhimati mūla vivēka milārkkē
vidhimati vellum vivādam — vidhimatigaṭ
kōrmudalān taṉṉai yuṇarndā ravaitaṇandār
sārvarō piṉṉumavai sāṯṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: விதி மதி மூல விவேகம் இலார்க்கே விதி மதி வெல்லும் விவாதம். விதிமதிகட்கு ஓர் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை உணர்ந்தார் அவை தணந்தார்; சார்வரோ பின்னும் அவை? சாற்று.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): vidhi mati mūla vivēkam ilārkkē vidhi mati vellum vivādam. vidhi-matigaṭku ōr mudal ām taṉṉai uṇarndār avai taṇandār; sārvarō piṉṉum avai? sāṯṟu.

அன்வயம்: விதி மதி மூல விவேகம் இலார்க்கே விதி மதி வெல்லும் விவாதம். விதிமதிகட்கு ஓர் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை உணர்ந்தார் அவை தணந்தார்; பின்னும் அவை சார்வரோ? சாற்று.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): vidhi mati mūla vivēkam ilārkkē vidhi mati vellum vivādam. vidhi-matigaṭku ōr mudal ām taṉṉai uṇarndār avai taṇandār; piṉṉum avai sārvarō? sāṯṟu.

English translation: Only for those who do not have discernment of the root of fate and free will [namely the ego] is there dispute about which prevails, fate or free will. Those who have known themself [the ego], who is the one origin [cause or foundation] for fate and free will, have [thereby] discarded them. Say, will they thereafter be connected with them?
விதி (vidhi) means the same as prārabdha, namely fate or destiny, and in this context மதி (mati) means will or volition, by which we do āgāmya (fresh actions), the fruit of which are added to our sañcita (the store of accumulated fruit of past actions that are yet to be experienced), from which God or guru selects which fruits are to be experienced by us as prārabdha in each of our lives (which are just extended dreams). The terms ‘விதி மதி மூலம்’ (vidhi mati mūlam), which means ‘the root [base, origin or source] of fate and free will’, and ‘விதிமதிகட்கு ஓர் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை’ (vidhi-matigaṭku ōr mudal ām taṉṉai), which means ‘oneself, who is the one origin [cause, root, foundation or base] for fate and free will’, both refer to our ego, because fate and free will exist only for this ego, so it is their source and foundation, since it is what uses its free will to do āgāmya and consequently experiences fate or prārabdha.

‘விதி மதி மூல விவேகம்’ (vidhi mati mūla vivēkam) literally means ‘discernment of the root [base, origin or source] of fate and free will’, so since the root of fate and free will (vidhi mati mūlam) is the ego, it means the ability to discern, distinguish or find out what the ego actually is, and since the ego as such is non-existent, what Bhagavan implies by this term is the clarity to see what is the real nature of ourself, who are what now seem to be this ego. Only for those who do not have the clarity to see what the ego actually is can any dispute or even concern about fate and free will occur, as he implies in the first sentence of this verse: ‘விதி மதி மூல விவேகம் இலார்க்கே விதி மதி வெல்லும் விவாதம்’ (vidhi mati mūla vivēkam ilārkkē vidhi mati vellum vivādam), ‘Only for those who do not have discernment of the root of fate and free will [namely the ego] is there dispute about which prevails, fate or free will’.

And as he implies in the second sentence, ‘விதிமதிகட்கு ஓர் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை உணர்ந்தார் அவை தணந்தார்’ (vidhi-matigaṭku ōr mudal ām taṉṉai uṇarndār avai taṇandār), ‘Those who have known themself [the ego], who is the one origin [cause or foundation] for fate and free will, have [thereby] discarded them’, if we keenly investigate ourself and thereby see what this ego actually is, we will thereby have discarded, removed or separated ourself from fate and free will, because we will have eradicated their root, the ego. Then by asking rhetorically in the final sentence, ‘சார்வரோ பின்னும் அவை?’ (sārvarō piṉṉum avai?), ‘will they thereafter be connected [or associated] with them?’, he emphasises that we will then have absolutely no connection with either fate or free will.

8. The actions of our mind, speech and body are driven by two forces, fate and free will

When we rise and stand as this ego we always experience ourself as a body, and as that body we have certain needs, such as for air, water, food, clothing, shelter, health and freedom from danger. When these needs are satisfied we feel pleasure, and when they are not satisfied we feel pain or unhappiness, and since such feelings of pleasure and pain seem to be caused by what we experience, they give rise to numerous desires and fears. Therefore as this ego we have a will, which manifests as likes and dislikes, desires and aversions, hopes and fears, and other conative drives such as love, affection, attachment, ambition, greed, jealousy and anger, and since we are free, at least to a certain extent, to choose what we want to like or dislike and how strongly we want to like or dislike anything, our ego’s will is often described as ‘free will’.

Our will drives us to try to achieve or preserve whatever we like or desire and to avoid or escape from whatever we dislike or fear, so our will is one of the major forces driving us to do whatever we do. However, it is not the only driving force, because we each have a destiny to experience, and in order to experience it we need to do certain actions. For example, if I am destined to be awarded a PhD, I will be driven to study, research, write a thesis and do whatever else is required to achieve such an award.

Therefore fate and free will are both driving us to make effort, act and react through mind, speech and body. Sometimes they may be working in synchronisation, such as if I not only want to be awarded a PhD but am also destined to be awarded one, but at other times they are not synchronised, such as if I want and make effort to be awarded a PhD but am not destined to be awarded one, or if I am destined to be awarded one even though I do not really care for such an achievement.

Sadhu Om used to say that our mind, speech and body are like a pen that is used by two clerks, fate and free will, but that fate is the senior clerk and therefore always has the final say on what is written by the pen. Being the junior clerk, free will may want and try to use the pen according to its own wishes, but it will succeed only if fate agrees.

Another analogy we could give is that our mind, speech and body are like a car with dual controls (two steering wheels, accelerators, brakes and clutches), one set of which is used by a driving instructor, and the other of which is used by a learner. Fate is the driving instructor, whose set of controls can always override to learner’s set, and free will is the learner, who can control the car so long as he or she is following the instructions given by the instructor, but at any moment the instructor can take control in order to avert any danger or deviation from the instructions.

9. Bhagavan’s note for his mother: we cannot alter whatever is destined to happen, but we are free to want and to try to do so

This is clearly implied by Bhagavan in the note that he wrote for his mother in December 1898:
அவரவர் பிராரப்தப் பிரகாரம் அதற்கானவன் ஆங்காங்கிருந் தாட்டுவிப்பன். என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது; நடப்ப தென்றடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது. இதுவே திண்ணம். ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று.

avar-avar prārabdha-p prakāram adaṟkāṉavaṉ āṅgāṅgu irundu āṭṭuvippaṉ. eṉḏṟum naḍavādadu eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum naḍavādu; naḍappadu eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum nillādu. iduvē tiṇṇam. āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu.

According to their-their prārabdha, he who is for that being there-there will cause to dance [that is, according to the destiny (prārabdha) of each person, he who is for that (namely God or guru, who ordains their destiny) being in the heart of each of them will make them act]. What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [to make it happen]; what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]. This indeed is certain. Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good.
In the first sentence of this note Bhagavan affirms that like a puppet controlled by a puppet-master, our mind, speech and body will be made to act in accordance with our fate (prārabdha), and in the second and third sentences he asserts that whatever is not destined to happen will not happen, and whatever is destined to happen will happen without fail. However, though these three sentences may superficially seem to exclude any scope for free will, a closer look at the second and third sentences reveals that in them he acknowledges the role of free will but asserts that it cannot in any way change, add to or subtract from whatever is destined to happen.

The words he uses to acknowledge the role of free will are ‘என் முயற்சிக்கினும்’ (eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum), ‘whatever effort one makes’ or ‘whatever [or however much] one tries’, in the second sentence and ‘என் தடை செய்யினும்’ (eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum), ‘whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does’, in the third sentence. In the second sentence he says, ‘என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது’ (eṉḏṟum naḍavādadu eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum naḍavādu), which means ‘What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [that is, however much one tries to make it happen]’, and in the third sentence he says, ‘நடப்ப தென்றடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது’ (naḍappadu eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum nillādu), which means ‘What is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]’.

That is, though we cannot make anything happen that is not destined to happen, and though we cannot prevent anything that is destined to happen, we are free to want and try to make things happen that are not destined to happen, and to want and try to prevent what is destined to happen. Fate (prārabdha) only determines what will happen, and what we have to do to make it happen, so whatever it does not determine will not happen. However it does not prevent us from wanting and trying to bring about what is not destined to happen or to prevent or avoid what is destined to happen, so we are free to want and to try as much as we like, but we cannot thereby change, add to or subtract from whatever is destined to happen.

‘இதுவே திண்ணம்’ (iduvē tiṇṇam), ‘This indeed is certain’, asserts Bhagavan in the fourth sentence of this note, and therefore in the fifth and final sentence he concludes: ‘ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று’ (āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good’. That is, since we cannot prevent or alter even to the slightest extent what is destined to happen, and since we cannot make anything happen that is not destined to happen, the best course is not to want or to try to do so.

10. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 13: to be silent, we must be so keenly self-attentive that we do not give even the slightest room to the rising of any thought about anything other than ourself

So long as we rise and stand as this ego, we have a free will, and though we can to some extent avoid using our will to try or even to want either to bring about anything that is not destined to happen or to prevent anything that is destined to happen, we cannot entirely avoid using our will in this way. Therefore the only way to surrender our will entirely to God is to surrender ourself (this ego) entirely to him.

So long as we experience ourself as this ego, we cannot entirely avoid having likes, dislikes, desires, aversions, hopes and fears, and these inevitably drive us to try through mind, speech and body to achieve whatever we like, desire or hope for and to avoid whatever we dislike, feel averse to or fear. Therefore as this ego we can never be entirely silent. Our very rising as an ego is metaphorically speaking a noise, and of all noises it is the root and foundation.

Therefore the ego is the very antithesis of silence (mauna), and hence when Bhagavan concluded his note for his mother by saying, ‘ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று’ (āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘Therefore being silent is good’, what he implied is that we should refrain from rising as this ego, which we can do only by being so keenly self-attentive that we do not give even the slightest room to the rising of any thought about anything else whatsoever, as he explained in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (particularly in the first sentence):
ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம். ஈசன்பேரில் எவ்வளவு பாரத்தைப் போட்டாலும், அவ்வளவையும் அவர் வகித்துக்கொள்ளுகிறார். சகல காரியங்களையும் ஒரு பரமேச்வர சக்தி நடத்திக்கொண்டிருகிறபடியால், நாமு மதற் கடங்கியிராமல், ‘இப்படிச் செய்யவேண்டும்; அப்படிச் செய்யவேண்டு’ மென்று ஸதா சிந்திப்பதேன்? புகை வண்டி சகல பாரங்களையும் தாங்கிக்கொண்டு போவது தெரிந்திருந்தும், அதி லேறிக்கொண்டு போகும் நாம் நம்முடைய சிறிய மூட்டையையு மதிற் போட்டுவிட்டு சுகமா யிராமல், அதை நமது தலையிற் றாங்கிக்கொண்டு ஏன் கஷ்டப்படவேண்டும்?

āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṟku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ-āy iruppadē taṉṉai īśaṉukku aḷippadām. īśaṉpēril e-vv-aḷavu bhārattai-p pōṭṭālum, a-vv-aḷavai-y-um avar vahittu-k-koḷḷugiṟār. sakala kāriyaṅgaḷai-y-um oru paramēśvara śakti naḍatti-k-koṇḍirugiṟapaḍiyāl, nāmum adaṟku aḍaṅgi-y-irāmal, ‘ippaḍi-c ceyya-vēṇḍum; appaḍi-c ceyya-vēṇḍum’ eṉḏṟu sadā cintippadēṉ? puhai vaṇḍi sakala bhāraṅgaḷaiyum tāṅgi-k-koṇḍu pōvadu terindirundum, adil ēṟi-k-koṇḍu pōhum nām nammuḍaiya siṟiya mūṭṭaiyaiyum adil pōṭṭu-viṭṭu sukhamāy irāmal, adai namadu talaiyil tāṅgi-k-koṇḍu ēṉ kaṣṭa-p-paḍa-vēṇḍum?

Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ [one who is steadily fixed in and as oneself], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any cintana [thought] other than ātma-cintana [thought of oneself or self-contemplation], alone is giving oneself to God. Even though one places whatever amount of burden upon God, that entire amount he will bear. Since one paramēśvara śakti [supreme ruling power or power of God] is driving all activities [everything that happens in our life], instead of yielding to it why should we be always thinking, ‘it is necessary to do like this; it is necessary to do like that’? Though we know that the train is going bearing all the burdens, why should we who go travelling in it suffer bearing our small luggage on our head instead of remaining happily leaving it placed on that [train]?
The only thing we ever need be concerned about, think about or attend to is ourself, because so long as we think about or attend to anything else whatsoever we are thereby feeding and nourishing our ego, since we seem to be this ego only when we attend to anything other than ourself.

If we attend even to the slightest extent to anything other than ourself, we experience ourself as a small person living for a short time in a vast universe, and it seems to us that in order to survive we need to do this or that. However according to Bhagavan we do not need to do anything other than to be so keenly self-attentive that we do not give room to the rising of any thought or awareness of anything other than ourself, because as he explains elsewhere, everything other than ourself, including this ego, is just a thought, and therefore it seems to exist only when we do not attend exclusively to ourself.

Moreover, by thinking about or attending to anything other than ourself we cannot achieve anything, because so long as we attend to anything else whatever is destined to happen will be made to happen, and whatever our mind, speech and body need to do in order to make it happen they will be made to do. Therefore, as Bhagavan asks in this paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, instead of surrendering ourself by being so keenly and firmly self-attentive that we give absolutely no room to the rising of any thought about anything else, why should we burden ourself by endlessly thinking ‘I need to do this’ or ‘I need to do that’?

11. Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam verse 6: let any thoughts appear or disappear, we should be so keenly self-attentive that we are completely indifferent to them

In his comment that I quoted at the beginning of this article Samarender asked, ‘How do I distinguish thinking or thoughts associated with prarabdha and the other non-prarabdha associated thinking I seem to indulge in?’, but this is missing the point of what Bhagavan teaches us in this thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? and his note for his mother. We do not need to distinguish between thoughts or actions driven by fate (prārabdha) and those driven by our free will, because as he explained in the first sentence of the thirteenth paragraph we should be so keenly self-attentive that we do not give even the slightest room to the rising of any thoughts about anything else whatsoever.

If we attend to nothing other than ourself, there will be no need — nor any room — for us to be concerned about whether prārabdha is continuing or not or whether it is driving our mind, speech and body to do whatever they are destined to do. As Bhagavan sang in the last line of verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘அருள் குன்றே, நின்றிட சென்றிட; நினை விட இன்றே’ (aruḷ-kuṉḏṟē, niṉḏṟiḍa seṉḏṟiḍa; niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē), ‘Hill of grace, let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’, in which ‘them’ and ‘they’ (which are words that do not actually occur in the Tamil original but are nevertheless implied in the verbs ‘niṉḏṟiḍa’, ‘seṉḏṟiḍa’ and ‘iṉḏṟē’) refer to what he described in the previous sentence as ‘அணு நிழல் நிரை நினைவு’ (aṇu niṙal nirai niṉaivu), the ‘series of subtle [minute or atom-like] shadowy thoughts’, which he said are seen in the whirl of destiny on the luminous mirror of the mind as a world-picture both inside and outside, like a moving picture formed of shadows projected from a reel of film whirling in a cinema projector and seen on a screen.

According to Bhagavan all the phenomena that we perceive whether in the seemingly external world or in our own mind are all just thoughts, which are projected by the ego whenever it looks away from itself. Therefore any world that we perceive and everything that we perceive in it is nothing but thoughts or ideas projected by and in our own mind, as he says briefly but emphatically in the fourteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called the world is only thought’, and in more detail in the fourth paragraph:
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 aṉṉiyamāy 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, 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.
However, thoughts can seem to exist only when we attend to them, so if we attend only to ourself no thoughts can appear. Therefore if any thought of any kind whatsoever appears, it does so only because of our pramāda: our self-negligence or failure to attend exclusively to ourself. When our self-attentiveness wavers or slackens, thoughts appear, so if we attend to ourself keenly and steadily enough, there is will no room for any thoughts to arise.

Therefore we should not try to distinguish which thoughts appear due to our fate (prārabdha) and which appear due to our free will, because our sole aim should be to be so keenly and steadily self-attentive that we give absolutely no room to the appearance of any thoughts whatsoever. This does not mean that we should try to prevent the appearance of thoughts (or ‘arrest’ them, as Samarender suggests in a later comment), but simply that we should be so intent on just being self-attentive that we are completely indifferent to their appearance or disappearance, as Bhagavan implied in verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam when he sang: ‘நின்றிட சென்றிட; நினை விட இன்றே’ (niṉḏṟiḍa ceṉḏṟiḍa; niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē), ‘Let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’.

In this context ‘நினை’ (niṉai), ‘you’, refers to Arunachala, which he described in the first sentence of this verse as ‘ஒரு பொருள் அறிவு ஒளி உளமே’ (oru poruḷ aṟivu oḷi uḷamē), ‘only the heart, the light of awareness, the one substance’, thereby implying that it is our true self, which is pure self-awareness, the original light and one real substance, so when he sang ‘நினை விட இன்றே’ (niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē), ‘they do not exist at all apart from you’, what he implied is that since thoughts do not exist independent of or as other than ourself, we should not be concerned about them but only about ourself, their one real substance, which is pure self-awareness.

If we are concerned about thoughts in any way — about whether they appear or disappear, or whether they appear due to either fate or free will — we are thereby neglecting to be self-attentive as keenly and steadily as we should aim to be. This is why Bhagavan wrote in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
பிற வெண்ணங்க ளெழுந்தா லவற்றைப் பூர்த்தி பண்ணுவதற்கு எத்தனியாமல் அவை யாருக் குண்டாயின என்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டும். எத்தனை எண்ணங்க ளெழினு மென்ன? ஜாக்கிரதையாய் ஒவ்வோ ரெண்ணமும் கிளம்பும்போதே இது யாருக்குண்டாயிற்று என்று விசாரித்தால் எனக்கென்று தோன்றும். நானார் என்று விசாரித்தால் மனம் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற்குத் திரும்பிவிடும்; எழுந்த வெண்ணமு மடங்கிவிடும். இப்படிப் பழகப் பழக மனத்திற்குத் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற் றங்கி நிற்கும் சக்தி யதிகரிக்கின்றது.

piṟa v-eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙundāl avaṯṟai-p pūrtti paṇṇuvadaṟku ettaṉiyāmal avai yārukku uṇḍāyiṉa eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum. ettaṉai eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙiṉum eṉṉa? jāggiratai-y-āy ovvōr eṇṇamum kiḷambum-pōdē idu yārukkuṇḍāyiṯṟu eṉḏṟu vicārittāl eṉakkeṉḏṟu tōṉḏṟum. nāṉ-ār eṉḏṟu vicārittāl maṉam taṉ piṟappiḍattiṟku-t tirumbi-viḍum; eṙunda v-eṇṇamum aḍaṅgi-viḍum. ippaḍi-p paṙaga-p paṙaga maṉattiṟku-t taṉ piṟappiḍattil taṅgi niṟgum śakti y-adhikarikkiṉḏṟadu.

If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate to whom they have occurred. However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? As soon as each thought appears, if one vigilantly investigates to whom it has occurred, it will be clear: to me. If one [thus] investigates who am I, the mind will return to its birthplace [oneself, the source from which it arose]; the thought which had risen will also cease. When one practises and practises in this manner, for the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace will increase. [...]
Since thoughts can appear and flourish only if we attend to them, if we turn our attention back to ourself whenever they appear we will effectively be annihilating them in their source, namely ourself, the very place from which they arise, as he instructed us to do in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?: ‘நினைவுகள் தோன்றத் தோன்ற அப்போதைக்கப்போதே அவைகளையெல்லாம் உற்பத்திஸ்தானத்திலேயே விசாரணையால் நசிப்பிக்க வேண்டும்’ (niṉaivugaḷ tōṉḏṟa-t tōṉḏṟa appōdaikkappōdē avaigaḷai-y-ellām uṯpatti-sthāṉattilēyē vicāraṇaiyāl naśippikka vēṇḍum), ‘As and when thoughts appear, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or keen self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise’.

12. Distinguishing thoughts or actions driven by our fate from those driven by our free will is neither necessary nor possible

Not only is it not necessary or even beneficial in any way for us to distinguish between thoughts or actions driven by our fate (prārabdha) and those driven by our free will, but it is also not possible for us to do so, because as this ego we always experience ourself as a body composed of five sheaths (which include both the physical body and the thinking mind), so whatever actions are done by the mind, speech or body that we mistake to be ourself necessarily seem to us to be actions done by ourself. Therefore whether any particular thought, effort or action is driven by our fate or by our free will, or (as in many cases) by both, it seems to us that we are doing it, so our sense of doership (kartṛtva buddhi) prevents us from being able to distinguish thoughts or actions driven by our fate from those driven by our free will.

Moreover, so long as our intellect is turned outwards — that is, towards anything other than ourself — it is a relatively crude, blunt and dull instrument, so it is not possible for it to adequately comprehend how everything is happening according to prārabdha, yet our mind, speech and body are being driven not only by our prārabdha but also by our free will. To us it seems paradoxical that though prārabdha determines everything that happens, we are nevertheless free to use our will to want and to try through mind, speech and body to bring about what is not destined to happen and to prevent what is destined to happen.

How this is possible and how it actually happens is beyond our comprehension, but we have no need to comprehend it, because all we need be concerned about is only trying to see what we ourself actually are. Trying to comprehend karma is anātma-vicāra (investigating what is not ourself), whereas the only vicāra (investigation) worth engaging in is ātma-vicāra (self-investigation), because what is real is only ourself and not anything else whatsoever.

However, though we cannot adequately comprehend how the actions of our mind, speech and body are simultaneously being driven both by our prārabdha and by our free will, and though we need not comprehend this or even try to do so, an analogy can help us to understand how intricately interwoven and enmeshed these two driving forces are in our outward life as a person. Fate (prārabdha) is like the warp (the lengthwise threads) in a tightly woven cloth, whereas free will is like the weft (the crosswise threads). Just as our eyesight is not keen enough to distinguish the individual threads in a fine and tightly woven cloth, our intellect is not keen enough to distinguish the relative influences of fate and free will in each of our thoughts or other actions.

Moreover, though the weft weaves in, out and around the warp, it is closely bound to it and therefore cannot depart from it. Wherever the warp goes, the weft must follow, whether it likes it or not. Likewise, free will can act, going this way and that, but its freedom of movement (that is, its ability to achieve whatever it wants and tries to achieve) is severely restricted by its being so closely bound within the confines of the course of events dictated by prārabdha, so no matter how much it may try to wriggle away, wherever prārabdha goes it must follow, whether it likes it or not.

This of course is a crude analogy, as is any analogy that is used to illustrate an extremely subtle subject, but it is intended only to give a rough idea of how closely and intimately the workings of fate and free will are bound together, even though they are two distinct forces that are often pulling in opposite directions. We can also use it to illustrate another point: Just as the strands of warp are held close together by the interweaving strands of weft, prārabdha functions only so long as we continue to use our free will to attend to anything other than ourself. If we use it to attend only to ourself, prārabdha will cease, because no one will then remain to experience it.

13. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 38: only by using our free will to investigate ourself can we free ourself from the ego and all its three karmas

According to Bhagavan, using our free will to attend to anything other than ourself is misusing it, and it is only by misusing it in this way that we do āgāmya (fresh actions), without which there would be no fruit for us to experience as prārabdha. Therefore all karma originates from our misuse of our free will, and hence it can be destroyed only by our using our free will correctly to attend only to ourself.

That is, if instead of attending to anything else we attend to ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, our ego will be annihilated along with its sense of doership (kartṛtva) and sense of experiencership (bhōktṛtva), and hence all its three karmas (āgāmya, sañcita and prārabdha) will cease to exist, as Bhagavan says in verse 38 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
வினைமுதனா மாயின் விளைபயன் றுய்ப்போம்
வினைமுதலா ரென்று வினவித் — தனையறியக்
கர்த்தத் துவம்போய்க் கருமமூன் றுங்கழலு
நித்தமா முத்தி நிலை.

viṉaimudaṉā māyiṉ viḷaipayaṉ ḏṟuyppōm
viṉaimudalā reṉḏṟu viṉavit — taṉaiyaṟiyak
karttat tuvampōyk karumamūṉ ḏṟuṅkaṙalu
nittamā mutti nilai
.

பதச்சேதம்: வினைமுதல் நாம் ஆயின், விளை பயன் துய்ப்போம். வினைமுதல் ஆர் என்று வினவி தனை அறிய, கர்த்தத்துவம் போய், கருமம் மூன்றும் கழலும். நித்தமாம் முத்தி நிலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉaimudal nām āyiṉ, viḷai payaṉ tuyppōm. viṉaimudal ār eṉḏṟu viṉavi taṉai aṟiya, karttattuvam pōy, karumam mūṉḏṟum kaṙalum. nittam-ām mutti nilai.

English translation: If we are the doer of action, we will experience the resulting fruit. [However] when one knows oneself by investigating who is the doer of action, doership will depart and all the three karmas will slip off. [This is] the state of liberation, which is eternal.
Like everything else, karma seems to exist only when we look away from ourself, because whenever we look elsewhere we seem to be this ego, and the nature of the ego is to mistake itself to be a body and mind, whose nature is to be active. Therefore the only way to free ourself forever from all kinds of karma is to investigate what we ourself actually are.

When we attend to anything other than ourself, we seem to be this ego, so in order to see what we actually are we must attend only to ourself and thereby be what we actually are, which is just pure self-awareness, ever uncontaminated by even the slightest awareness of anything else whatsoever. Therefore our immediate aim should be to cultivate the liking and habit to be self-attentive as much as we can, and in order to cultivate this liking and habit we need to give up being interested in or concerned about any other subject, including the subtle but complex subject of fate and free will.

14. Unless our attention is turned outwards, away from ourself, prārabdha cannot bind us or make us think anything

Other than ourself, everything that we perceive or experience is just a series of phenomena appearing in a dream projected by ourself as this ego, and what we experience in each dream is determined by the prārabdha of that dream. Therefore though we are free to like or dislike whatever we experience, and also to try accordingly to alter it, add to it or subtract from it, we are not free to actually alter it, add to it or subtract from it in any way at all, as Bhagavan emphasised in the second, third and fourth sentences of his note for his mother:
என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது; நடப்ப தென்றடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது. இதுவே திண்ணம்.

eṉḏṟum naḍavādadu eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum naḍavādu; naḍappadu eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum nillādu. iduvē tiṇṇam.

What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [to make it happen]; what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]. This indeed is certain.
Therefore so long as we attend to anything other than ourself whatever we perceive or experience is determined by our prārabdha, but as Bhagavan often said, prārabdha affects only the outward-turned mind, not the inward-turned mind. This has many important implications.

Firstly it undermines an assumption that is implicit in the comment by Samarender that I quoted at the beginning of this article, namely the assumption that we have to experience whatever thoughts our mind is destined to think. So long as our attention is turned away from ourself, we cannot avoid experiencing such thoughts, and whenever we experience them we will always experience ourself as ‘I am thinking this’. However, we can avoid experiencing them, and consequently avoid experiencing ourself as ‘I am thinking this’, simply by turning our attention back within to face ourself alone. Whatever our prārabdha may be, it can never prevent us turning our attention back to ourself, and so long as we are keenly self-attentive we will not be aware of any thoughts (that is, any phenomena of any kind whatsoever) that our prārabdha may throw at us.

Generally we are not able to be self-attentive keenly enough to prevent ourself being aware of anything else at all, so if our self-attentiveness is only partial, we will continue to be aware of thoughts to some extent, but the more keenly self-attentive we are, the less we will be aware of other thoughts, and if we are self-attentive keenly enough, we will thereby give no room in our awareness to the appearance of any thought whatsoever, including the ego, the thought that thinks ‘I am thinking’. (And we should remember here that in this context ‘thought’ does not mean just mental chatter, memories or internal images, but means anything that we perceive other than ourself, because according to Bhagavan (as I mentioned above in section 11) all the phenomena that constitute the seemingly external world are just thoughts projected by our mind, and even we as this ego are just a thought, so ‘thinking’ means being aware of anything whatsoever other than ourself — that is, other than the pure self-awareness that we actually are.) Therefore being self-attentive is the only means by which we can avoid experiencing whatever we as this ego are destined to experience.

In his first comment Samarender wrote: ‘If whatever is to happen is decided by my prarabdha, then whatever motions the body is to go through and whatever the mind has to “think” to get the body to do actions as per prarabdha are also predetermined and “I, the ego” have no say in it. But you also say, “therefore we need not think”. And yet the mind will necessarily think some thoughts as per prarabdha’. Yes, according to Bhagavan the mind will have to think whatever it is destined to think, but are we the mind? If we are the mind, we need to think, because thinking is the very nature of the mind, but if we are not the mind, we do not need to think at all.

So long as we experience ourself as this mind, we will seem to be thinking whatever it is destined to think, but we do not need to experience ourself as this mind. We seem to be this mind only when we direct our attention away from ourself, so if we direct all our attention back towards ourself, we will no longer seem to be thinking whatever the mind may be destined to think.

Attending to ourself is like turning the arc lamp in a cinema projector back on itself. Even if a film reel is rolling in a projector, no pictures will be projected unless the light of the arc lamp is shining through the film. Likewise even if the film reel of our prārabdha is rolling on, so to speak, nothing will be projected in our awareness unless the light of our attention is directed outwards, away from ourself. Therefore if our entire attention is directed back to ourself alone, whatever we as this ego are destined to experience will not appear in our awareness, because we will be aware of nothing other than ourself, and hence our ego will have subsided.

As Bhagavan says in two passages recorded in Day by Day with Bhagavan, ‘The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world’ (11-1-46: 2002 edition, page 106), and ‘The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self’ (8-11-45: 2002 edition, page 37). What he means by ‘mind’ in this context is attention or awareness. Turned inwards, our attention is pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are, but turned outwards, it becomes the adjunct-mixed self-awareness called ego, which immediately projects the entire world and all other thoughts. For pure self-awareness there is no prārabdha, so there is no prārabdha for us when our attention is turned within to face ourself alone. Only when we allow our attention to go outwards, away from ourself towards anything else whatsoever, do we seem to become this ego, for whom prārabdha always exists.

15. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 2: being the fruit of our past actions, prārabdha cannot make our mind turn within and hence can never give us liberation

Two other important implications of Bhagavan’s teaching that prārabdha affects only the outward-turned mind, not the inward-turned mind, are firstly that it can never make us turn our mind inwards, and secondly that it can never prevent us turning our mind inwards. Let us first consider the first of these two implications.

Prārabdha is a karma, in the sense that it is the fruit of actions that we have done in the past, and no karma can ever give liberation, as Bhagavan states unequivocally in verse 2 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வினையின் விளைவு விளிவுற்று வித்தாய்
வினைக்கடல் வீழ்த்திடு முந்தீபற
      வீடு தரலிலை யுந்தீபற.

viṉaiyiṉ viḷaivu viḷivuṯṟu vittāy
viṉaikkaḍal vīṙttiḍu mundīpaṟa
      vīḍu taralilai yundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வினையின் விளைவு விளிவு உற்று வித்தாய் வினை கடல் வீழ்த்திடும். வீடு தரல் இலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): viṉaiyiṉ viḷaivu viḷivu uṯṟu vittāy viṉai-kaḍal vīṙttiḍum. vīḍu taral ilai.

English translation: The fruit of action having perished, as seed causes to fall in the ocean of action. Giving liberation is not.

Paraphrased translation: The fruit of action having perished [remains] as seed [and thereby] causes [one] to fall in the ocean of action. [Therefore action] does not give liberation.
All actions are finite, so they can give only finite fruit, whereas liberation is our natural state, which is beginningless, endless, immutable and indivisible, so it is eternal and infinite, and hence it can never be the fruit of any action.

Since the fruits of actions are finite, each of them comes to an end when it is experienced as part of our prārabdha, but just as the seeds of a fruit remain after it is eaten, the seeds of each action remains even after its fruit has been consumed. The seeds of our actions are what are called karma-vāsanās, the propensity, inclination or liking to do the same kind of action again and again, and each time we willingly do a particular kind of action, our vāsanā or inclination to do such an action again is strengthened. Therefore willingly doing any action, whether by mind, speech or body, perpetuates a vicious circle, and hence Bhagavan says that action ‘causes [one] to fall in the ocean of action’ (வினை கடல் வீழ்த்திடும்: viṉai-kaḍal vīṙttiḍum).

However, in order for us to do any action, whether by mind, speech or body, our attention must be turned outwards, because if it were not turned outwards, we would not be aware of the mind, speech or body, and hence (even if they could do any action without our being aware of them) we would not experience any action done by them as ‘I am doing this’. Therefore all problems arise only when we allow our attention to go outwards, away from ourself.

No action can begin without our attention moving away from ourself, and all actions cease as soon as our entire attention returns to ourself. Since we rise, stand and flourish as this ego only by ‘grasping form’, as Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (which I cited and discussed above in section 3), so long as we experience ourself as this ego our attention is always directed away from ourself towards whatever forms we are currently grasping, and hence we are as such perpetually engaged in action. Indeed the very movement of our attention away from ourself towards anything else is an action, so we cannot refrain from doing action except by turning our entire attention back towards ourself.

Neither action (karma) nor the fruit of any action (karma-phala) nor any propensity to do any action (karma-vāsanā) can give us liberation, because the very nature of liberation is freedom from doership and hence from all action. Since liberation is a state that is completely devoid of all activity, it cannot be attained by any action whatsoever. Therefore, since prārabdha is just a set of fruits (phala) of our past actions (karma), it can never give us liberation.

Fate or destiny (prārabdha) is the set of experiences that we are destined to undergo in each dream, of which our present life is just one among many, and since those experiences are the fruit of our past actions, they are all other than ourself. Therefore experiencing prārabdha entails directing our attention away from ourself, so it will never by itself make us turn our attention back towards ourself, and left to its own devices it will always tend to draw our attention outwards. Turning our attention back to ourself is therefore not a matter of destiny but only a matter of free will.

If we discriminate wisely, the experiences that make up our destiny may help us to understand why we should turn our attention inwards, but they can never make us turn our attention within, because they are merely the fruit of our past actions, which can never give liberation. Turning our attention inwards is an act of love, so it entails us making a correct use of our free will, which is never bound by destiny.

Since action can never give liberation, the only means to attain liberation must be something that is not an action. Attending to anything other than ourself is an action, because it entails a movement of our attention away from ourself, so we cannot attain liberation by attending to anything other than ourself. However, attending to ourself is not an action, because it does not entail any movement of our attention away from ourself, so it is only by attending exclusively to ourself that we can attain liberation.

Though the term ‘turning attention back to oneself’ may seem to imply an action, what it describes is not actually an action but a cessation of all activity, because we rise and stand as the ego by attending to other things, so when we attend only to ourself this ego will subside and disappear, and what will then remain is only the pure self-awareness that we actually are, whose nature is not doing but just being. Therefore attending to anything else entails rising into a state of activity (pravṛtti), whereas attending only to ourself entails subsiding into our real state of just being (nivṛtti), which is liberation. This is why Bhagavan taught us that liberation cannot be attained by doing anything, but only by just being as we actually are.

16. Upadēśa Undiyār verses 8 and 9: by the intensity of self-attentiveness we will be in our real state of being, which is beyond thinking

Being self-attentive is not an action (karma) or doing (kriya) but is simply a state of just being (summā iruppadu), because to the extent that we are being self-attentive we are just being the pure self-awareness that we always actually are. This is why Bhagavan says in verses 8 and 9 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
அனியபா வத்தி னவனக மாகு
மனனிய பாவமே யுந்தீபற
     வனைத்தினு முத்தம முந்தீபற.

aṉiyabhā vatti ṉavaṉaha māhu
maṉaṉiya bhāvamē yundīpaṟa
     vaṉaittiṉu muttama mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: அனிய பாவத்தின் அவன் அகம் ஆகும் அனனிய பாவமே அனைத்தினும் உத்தமம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṉiya-bhāvattiṉ avaṉ aham āhum aṉaṉiya-bhāvam-ē aṉaittiṉ-um uttamam.

English translation: Rather than anya-bhāva [meditation on God as if he were something other than oneself], ananya-bhāva [meditation on him as nothing other than oneself], in which he is I, is certainly the best among all.

பாவ பலத்தினாற் பாவனா தீதசற்
பாவத் திருத்தலே யுந்தீபற
     பரபத்தி தத்துவ முந்தீபற.

bhāva balattiṉāṯ bhāvaṉā tītasaṯ
bhāvat tiruttalē yundīpaṟa
     parabhatti tattuva mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: பாவ பலத்தினால் பாவனாதீத சத் பாவத்து இருத்தலே பரபத்தி தத்துவம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): bhāva balattiṉāl bhāvaṉātīta sat-bhāvattu iruttal-ē para-bhatti tattuvam.

English translation: By the strength of meditation, being in sat-bhāva, which transcends bhāvana, is certainly para-bhakti tattva.

Elaborated translation: By the strength [intensity, firmness or stability] of [such] meditation [ananya-bhāva or self-attentiveness], being in sat-bhāva [one’s ‘state of being’ or ‘real being’], which transcends [all] bhāvana [thinking, imagination or meditation], certainly [or alone] is para-bhakti tattva [the real essence or true state of supreme devotion].
The term ‘அனனிய பாவம்’ (aṉaṉiya-bhāvam), which Bhagavan uses in verse 8, is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit term अनन्य भाव (ananya-bhāva), which means ‘meditating on what is not other’, so in this context it implies being self-attentive, since we alone are what is not other (ananya) than ourself, as confirmed by him in the relative clause that he prefixed to this term, namely ‘அவன் அகம் ஆகும்’ (avaṉ aham āhum), which means ‘in which he [God] is I’. Since God is I (ourself), meditating on nothing other than I is the correct and most effective way to meditate on God, as he emphasised by saying that it is ‘அனைத்தினும் உத்தமம்’ (aṉaittiṉ-um uttamam), ‘the best among all’.

Therefore what he implied in verse 9 by the term ‘பாவ பலத்தினால்’ (bhāva balattiṉāl), which means ‘by the strength [intensity, firmness or stability] of meditation’, is ‘by the intensity of such self-attentiveness’. That is, the more intensely, keenly and steadily we are self-attentive, the more firmly we will be fixed in our natural state of being (sat-bhāva), which is bhāvaṉātīta: beyond all thought or mental activity. Being firmly established thus in our real state of being without even the slightest mental activity is para-bhakti tattva: the true state of supreme devotion.

Therefore being keenly and steadily self-attentive, without giving even the slightest room to the appearance of any thought, is the supreme good, whereas attending to anything other than oneself is the source, cause and foundation of all that is bad.

17. Prārabdha determines what we must experience only so long as we are facing outwards, so it can never prevent us turning back within to face ourself

Let us now finally consider the second of the two other important implications of Bhagavan’s teaching that prārabdha affects only the outward-turned mind, not the inward-turned mind, namely that prārabdha can never prevent us turning our mind inwards.

Prārabdha determines what experiences we are to undergo at each moment in each of our dreams, of which our present life is just one, so since all such experiences come and go, they are other than ourself. Therefore we can undergo them only when we are facing outwards, away from ourself. This is why Bhagavan said that prārabdha affects or binds us only when our mind or attention is turned outwards.

However, though prārabdha determines everything that we are to experience so long as we are facing outwards, it cannot compel us to face outwards. Whether we face outwards and thereby experience whatever we are destined to experience or face inwards and thereby avoid experiencing whatever we are destined to experience is entirely a matter of our own choice or free will. At each moment we are free to choose either to face outwards or to face inwards.

In this context ‘facing outwards’ means attending to anything other than ourself, whereas ‘facing inwards’ means attending only to ourself. If we want to face inwards, nothing can prevent us doing so, so if we face outwards and thereby experience whatever we are destined to experience, we do so because that it what we want to do. Therefore if we find it difficult to turn our attention back to ourself or to remain steadily facing ourself, that is not because of prārabdha but only because our love to be attentively self-aware is not yet strong enough to overcome our desire to rise as this ego and thereby to be aware of other things.

What uses its free will to desire to experience things other than itself and therefore to make effort through mind, speech and body to experience whatever it wants to experience is not ourself as we actually are but only ourself as this ego. In other words, it is only when we rise and stand as this ego that we use our free will to engage in action (karma). Therefore, since the doer of action is only the ego, it alone has to experience the fruit of whatever actions it has done, and hence since prārabdha is just a selection of the fruits of actions that we as this ego have done in the past, it has to be experienced only by ourself as this ego that we now seem to be and not by ourself as the pure self-awareness that we actually are.

Therefore we are bound to experience prārabdha only so long as we rise and stand as this ego, and in order to rise and stand as this ego we must face outwards. If we turn back to face inwards, our ego will subside, because it can rise and stand only by ‘grasping form’, which entails being aware of things other than itself, and to the extent that it thus subsides it is no longer available to experience its prārabdha.

We rise as this ego not because of prārabdha but only because we have chosen to do so, so as this ego we are free to choose whether to continue standing or to subside. In order to continue standing, we must continue facing outwards, thereby experiencing whatever prārabdha we as this ego are destined to experience, and in order to subside, we must simply turn back to face ourself alone.

Since we can experience our prārabdha only when we face outwards, if we choose to face inwards no prārabdha can touch us. Therefore the choice is ours: either we can choose to face outwards and thereby experience prārabdha, or we can choose to face inwards and thereby be aware of ourself alone.

Therefore there is absolutely no need for us to consider whether any particular thought appears because of our prārabdha or because of our free will, because no thought can appear unless we look outwards, away from ourself, and hence if we turn back within to look at ourself alone, no thoughts of any kind whatsoever will appear. Therefore the only thing we need be concerned about is trying persistently to turn back within to see what we ourself actually are.

Let any number and any kind of thoughts appear or disappear: they should be no concern of ours, as Bhagavan implied in the final line of verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam when he sang: ‘நின்றிட சென்றிட; நினை விட இன்றே’ (niṉḏṟiḍa ceṉḏṟiḍa; niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē), ‘Let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’. Since ‘நினை’ (niṉai) or ‘you’ refers here to the light of pure self-awareness that we actually are, which is the one real substance, it is the only thing that we need be concerned about or attend to. Nothing else matters, so long as we are persistently and steadfastly intent only on being ever more keenly and steadily self-attentive.

38 comments:

D Samarender Reddy said...

Thanks, Michael. Your point is well taken. As I see it from your article, what is of paramount importance and only one of real consequence is to be engaged in unceasing self-attention, paying no heed to the body-mind complex. We have before us the shining example of Bhagavan himself when he remained absorbed in the Self, that is, himself, when he first came to Tiruvanamalai (and of course, ever after), oblivious of his body and the world, though to be sure, Bhagavan had already realized the Self by that time through his death experience in his home town.

arive nan said...

D Samarender Reddy,
let us read Tiruvannamalai not ...anam...

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael.

Anonymous said...

This is very good, thanks.

10. Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 13: to be silent, we must be so keenly self-attentive that we do not give even the slightest room to the rising of any thought about anything other than ourself

So long as we rise and stand as this ego, we have a free will, and though we can to some extent avoid using our will to try or even to want either to bring about anything that is not destined to happen or to prevent anything that is destined to happen, we cannot entirely avoid using our will in this way. Therefore the only way to surrender our will entirely to God is to surrender ourself (this ego) entirely to him.

So long as we experience ourself as this ego, we cannot entirely avoid having likes, dislikes, desires, aversions, hopes and fears, and these inevitably drive us to try through mind, speech and body to achieve whatever we like, desire or hope for and to avoid whatever we dislike, feel averse to or fear. Therefore as this ego we can never be entirely silent. Our very rising as an ego is metaphorically speaking a noise, and of all noises it is the root and foundation.

Therefore the ego is the very antithesis of silence (mauna), and hence when Bhagavan concluded his note for his mother by saying, ‘ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று’ (āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu), ‘Therefore being silent is good’, what he implied is that we should refrain from rising as this ego, which we can do only by being so keenly self-attentive that we do not give even the slightest room to the rising of any thought about anything else whatsoever, as he explained in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār? (particularly in the first sentence):

arive nan said...

Anonymous,
"...we should refrain from rising as this ego, which we can do only by being so keenly self-attentive that we do not give even the slightest room to the rising of any thought about anything else whatsoever,..."
According to my little experience of meditation such a practice seems to be/me nearly impossible. It seems more difficult than dancing on the high wire stretched between London's Westminster Cathedral and the Eiffeltower of Paris.

futile said...

"According to my little experience of meditation such a practice seems to be/me nearly impossible. "

Such a practice requires the active presence of the one who seeks to not let thoughts arise, by the force of his focused attention. Regardless of whether there is success or not in producing the desired state of mind, where there is hope and fear, the point is missed. The Self is not controlling the traffic, a "spiritual" ego does. And because the ego, in gross or subtle forms, is by nature the arising of movement, it can never transform itself to stillness. So basically, it is not impossible, it is futile.

moksha deepam said...

futile,
"And because the ego, in gross or subtle forms, is by nature the arising of movement, it can never transform itself to stillness. So basically, it is not impossible, it is futile."
What you say is not convincing words because if the ego subsides in its source then it quite well "transforms itself to stillness". So rather your statement seems to be somehow futile/pointless/empty.

futile said...

moksha deepam,
So what you say is that when the wave subsides it is transformed to ocean.
Or that in order to sleep, one has to push the waking state away.
The experience of being, though, is not a passing state, not an object to be perceived, and never absent.
The futility lies in trying to grasp it as an object or state, that will give "you" something.

moksha deepam said...

futile,
your words which you now reply are much more convincing so I consider them as correct. You refer clearly to the experience of true/pure being whereas "futility" characterizes only untrue/mind-born transitory phenomena.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

"When we dream we project a body and simultaneously experience it as if it were ourself, and then through the five senses of that dream body we project and perceive a dream world."

Earlier I also thought so. But now I have doubts.

I have recently started jotting down my dreams, as soon as I wake up in the morning. I have noticed that in some of the dreams I do not attach my self to any of the bodies. A dream world is there. Dream characters are there. But there is no character with which 'I' is identified. It is witnessing of a dream where my character is absent. In other words I do not project a body which I experience as myself.

moksha deepam said...

Sanjay Srivastava,
may I give my opinion about the described dream experience ?
When you notice "dream characters are there" you are already identified with the dreamer. It makes no difference if you name the dreamer "the dreaming 'I'. The dreamer is nothing other than the present "dreaming character". Therefore you do quite well a body which you experience as yourself namely the dreamer even when you are not aware of or do not see a complete subtle body. The person who is jotting down his dreams and the dreamer are the same person, first in a gross body then in a subtle one.

John S said...

Michael
Great article!
I have question please if you don't mind or are not too busy.

I am John the person / body consisting of five sheaths that the ego presently identifies with and takes as itself. When I wake up from a dream I can remember it as I never dream I am a different person. When I dream I am always John. If the ego projected a completely new body (five sheaths) / person during dream I would have no recollection of it during waking (which I accept is just another dream).

Bhagavan often mentioned previous lives / rebirth which he said are just other dreams. Therefore waking state, dreams and past lives / re-births all just dreams and equally unreal. The one constant through out all these different dreams is the dreamer, the ego that experiences them, the witness.

My question is if when the ego rises from it's source (myself) it projects a completely new body (five sheaths) / person why can I the person John remember my dreams but can't remember my previous lives?

It's got me stuck Michael?

Personally I can therefore conclude from personal experience that the ego mustn't project a completely new body (five sheaths) / person during my waking and dream. There must be a similarity between the body it projects in the waking state and during dream. Unlike the completely new body (five sheaths) / person it projects to experience a whole new life whether previous of future birth etc.

Please help clarify my understanding of Bhagavan's teaching.

Thank you.

John.

Michael James said...

Sanjay Srivastava, in your comment you say that ‘in some of the dreams I do not attach my self to any of the bodies’, yet you say that you are witnessing ‘a dream where my character is absent’. However, in order to witness a dream, you must be witnessing it from some standpoint or viewpoint within it, and in order to witness it from that standpoint you must be located there.

How could you be located at any place in your dream world if you were not experiencing yourself as some kind of form? That form may be invisible and intangible, but it is nevertheless physical in the sense that it is located at a particular place in the seemingly physical world of your dream.

Moreover, as Bhagavan points out in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, whatever body we experience as ourself is not just a physical form but a ‘form of five sheaths’, because it is a living, thinking and reasoning body, and it seems to be ourself only because we have first enveloped ourself in self-ignorance, so the five sheaths of which it is composed are its physical form (annamaya kōśa), its life or state of being alive (prāṇamaya kōśa), its thoughts or mental activity (manōmaya kōśa), its intellect or power of reasoning and discernment (vijñānamaya kōśa) and its underlying darkness of self-ignorance (ānandamaya kōśa).

Can you deny experiencing yourself as any of these five ‘sheaths’ or ‘coverings’ when you experience yourself witnessing a dream? Can you deny experiencing yourself as being in a particular physical location within your dream world, which entails being a physical form? Can you deny experiencing yourself as being alive? Can you deny experiencing yourself as a thinking mind? Can you deny experiencing yourself as a reasoning and discerning intellect? Can you deny experiencing yourself as self-ignorant?

Urubamba said...

John S,
if you allow to jump in,
Your conclusions
1. "If the ego projected a completely new body (five sheaths) / person during dream I would have no recollection of it during waking (which I accept is just another dream)." and
2. "Personally I can therefore conclude from personal experience that the ego mustn't project a completely new body (five sheaths) / person during my waking and dream. There must be a similarity between the body it projects in the waking state and during dream." actually suggest themselves.
I assume that the subtle body in waking is not substantial different from that in waking. That could also be the reason why we are able to call some dream experienes to the mind again in waking.
Fortune smiled upon us that we usually cannot remember our past lives. That fact may be ordained by the ordainer.

moksha deepam said...

Michael,
your reply to Sanjay Srivastava is magnificent because it contains all decisive points of view. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Can you deny experiencing yourself as any of these five ‘sheaths’ or ‘coverings’ when you experience yourself witnessing a dream? Can you deny experiencing yourself as being in a particular physical location within your dream world, which entails being a physical form? Can you deny experiencing yourself as being alive? Can you deny experiencing yourself as a thinking mind? Can you deny experiencing yourself as a reasoning and discerning intellect? Can you deny experiencing yourself as self-ignorant?


I have a question on the above lines. When I die, one of my sheath is removed. Does that mean 'ego' also dies?

John S said...

Hi Urubamba

Thanks for your input and please feel free to jump in!!

You said:

[I assume that the subtle body in waking is not substantial different from that in waking. That could also be the reason why we are able to call some dream experiences to the mind again in waking.]

Good point my thinking (maybe wrong of course) is the only difference between the body / person the ego projects during waking and dream is the 5th sheath (i.e.) A different physical body of some kind as the other sheaths like self ignorance, intellect, mind etc must be in both or I would have no recollection of my dream during waking.

Whereas a new life / rebirth the ego projects a whole new body consisting of new 5 sheaths so completely different person and that person will have no recollection of previous births because they are completely different people.

You said:

[Fortune smiled upon us that we usually cannot remember our past lives. That fact may be ordained by the ordainer]

Yes I agree with you on that, thank god!

Hopefully Michael will help and remove our confusion.

John.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Thank you Sri Michael James for this article. It covers the entirety of the teachings in a succinct yet comprehensive manner. Will study this repeatedly until I assimilate every insight.

Ravi said...

"Sadhu Om used to say that our mind, speech and body are like a pen that is used by two clerks, fate and free will, but that fate is the senior clerk and therefore always has the final say on what is written by the pen. Being the junior clerk, free will may want and try to use the pen according to its own wishes, but it will succeed only if fate agrees"

This is fatalism and not true.As Swami Vivekananda says:"We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act."...The 'If' needs to be noted and this simply means that as long as we are the 'doer' we need to exercise the will intelligently...and it is certainly possible to do so...for the one who has got rid of the delusion of doership,i.e 'I am the doer',there is neither fate or freewill to be exercised...and such a one would say that whatever happens is due to 'prarabda'...and Bhagavan's statement concerning 'prarabda' has to be understood from this standpoint..and we cannot be stradling the two viewpoints at the sametime and pitch one against the other...that is invalid.
I would refer this brilliant conversation between Sri Chandrasekara Bharati swamiji(Sringeri Sankaracharya) and his disciple that lucidly explains and clears the topic of 'Fate vs Free-will'...Please refer: http://www.advaita-vedanta.org/articles/The_Riddle_of_Fate_and_Free.htm

Namaskar

Salazar said...

Ravi, I don't agree at all with your notion.

But I do not want to go into a futile argument about free will/destiny which will lead to nothing. Let's realize the Self and know directly first hand instead to rely on Vedanta pundits :-)

Ravi said...

Salazar,
Truth has nothing to do with our agreeing or disagreeing with it...No punditry is involved...only plain common sense...you are of course entitled to your belief...but in case you are willing to explore,that link would help...understanding the law of karma and acting in deference to it is part of the wisdom to realize the Self.
Namaskar

Salazar said...

Ravi, let me ask you this: Who has common sense? Or, who is understanding the law of karma?

There is nobody who has common sense and is understanding anything. I don't believe that you really grasp Bhagavan, nor Sadhu Om. There never was, is, and will be a do-er. The belief to be an entity who makes decisions is the reason to be bound in the first place.

Since you are so far off the teachings by Bhagavan, permit me to ask what you are doing here?

Ravi said...

Salazar,
Friend,If there is no 'doer' in the first place and only Self alone is...there is no Bhagavan or sadhu om...there is no such a thing as 'their teachings' and more importantly no such a definitive thing called 'Prarabda'....and no michael James or Salazar as well discussing it...this is common sense.
If we admit a 'past',we have to admit a 'present' and 'future' as well...this is common sense.
If we admit that Prarabda is a result of our doings in the past that is visiting us in this present life...it is common sense to admit that it can be changed or modified or overcome by our present actions...and this is what Swami Vivekananda had said...and this is what the discussion in that link posted by me brings out simply and clearly.
Whether I am near or far-off from the teachings of Bhagavan or sadhu om is irrelevant to the topic...whether what I am saying makes sense...whether there is any grain of validity to that is what matters ...that is what can pave the way for a meaningful dialogue between us..or else it would only be a 'I know better than you' type of a thing ...and since you mentioned that you do not want to enter into a 'Futile' arguement regarding what I have stated in the first post,I take it that both of us are in agreement.

You have asked 'What are you doing here?'...that depends on the individual perception of the one who is posing the question but all the same I would respond from my perspective...I had watched Michael James interview by Rick Archer in 'Buddha at the gas pump' sometime back...and it occured to me to see his blog...so searched for it and landed here...and came across this recent entry...and that particular passage that I quoted in my post and had commented on...so that is my 'doing' here.

From your perspective I can only hazard a guess...may be an upstart trying to run down Ramana and Sadhu om without understanding 'their teachings' and eating up your time and energy...or it may simply be 'your prarabda' visiting you through me without my being conscious of it...do not really know...I can assure you that I will not be here to 'stay put' and engage you or anyone else here...just take me as a bird of passage...wishing you the very best.
Namaskar.

Ravi said...

Friends,
Wish to share this excerpt from Annamalai Swami's 'Final talks'...this may not be the appropriate place to share it...yet am doing so here...kindly excuse...it may help those who are practising atma vichara and are encountering difficulty in doing so:

ANNAMALAI SWAMI - FINAL TALKS
Annamalai Swami: Bhagavan watched me very closely in the years that I served him in the ashram. One time I went to the Mother's temple where many people were talking about worldly matters.
Bhagavan called me back, saying, 'Why should you go to that crowd? Don't go to crowded places. If you move with the crowd, their vasanas will infect you.'
Bhagavan always encouraged me to live a solitary life and not mix with other people. That was the path he picked for me. Other people got different advice that was equally good for them.
But while he actively discouraged me from socializing, he also discouraged me from sitting quietly and meditating during the years that I was working in the ashram. In this period of my life, if Bhagavan saw me sitting with my eyes closed he would call out to me and give me some work to do.
On one of these occasions he told me,'Don't sit and meditate. It will be enough if you don't forget that you are the Self. Keep this in your mind all the time while you are working. This sadhana will be enough for you.
The real sadhana is not to forget the Self. It is not sitting quietly with one's eyes closed. You are always the Self. Just don't forget it.'
Bhagavan's way does not create a war between the mind and the body. He does not make people sit down and fight the mind with closed eyes. Usually, when you sit in meditation, you are struggling to achieve something, fighting to gain control over the mind. Bhagavan did not advise us to engage in this kind of fight. He told us that there is no need to engage in a war against the mind, because mind does not have any real, fundamental existence. This mind, he said, is nothing but a shadow. He advised me to be continuously aware of the Self while I did the ordinary things of everyday life, and in my case, this was enough".
p. 67

self-enquiry should not become another obsession or preoccupation as a practice but one has to come to it as a 'fresher' and with all openness and earnestness....Warmly recommend Annamalai Swami's talks as also his wonderful biography 'Living by the words of Bhagavan' by David Godman.

Salazar said...

Ravi, I am pretty sure that most on this blog have read Annamalai Swami's book and I personally own it and like it very much.

Re. the first paragraph of your comment at 11:18, if your mind wants to go that route that is fine with me. But again, who is admitting a past?

Because I used the concept of time in a conversation doesn't make it real nor is it some sort of proof that it is. Language happens in the realm of duality and therefore it is confined to it. That what is real is beyond duality and non-duality and therefore many people misunderstand comments by devotees because their minds want to be "logical", alas it will fail since it cannot grasp Self with the mind. Language will always be insufficient in terms of Self-realization.

Also there is no "truth". What is the truth? Who grasps truth?

Good luck my friend.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

@Ravi: I do not see much of a difference in what swami Vivekananda says and what is being said here. As long as we have sense of doership, we have to use it intelligently. Vivekananda's guru, paramahamsa Ramakrishna puts it even more clearly:

From the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna-

Vaidyanath: “Sir, I have a doubt. People speak of free will. They say that a man can do either good or evil according to his free will. Is it true? Are we really free to do whatever we like?”

Master: “Everything depends on the will of God. The world is His play. He has created all these different things—great and small, strong and weak, good and bad, virtuous and vicious. This is all His maya, His sport. You must have observed that all the trees in a garden are not of the same kind.

“As long as a man has not realized God, he thinks he is free. It is God Himself who keeps this error in man. Otherwise sin would have multiplied. Man would not have been afraid of sin, and there would have been no punishment for it.

“But do you know the attitude of one who has realized God? He feels: ‘I am the machine, and Thou, O Lord, art the Operator. I am the house and Thou art the Indweller. I am the chariot and Thou art the Driver. I move as Thou movest me; I speak as Thou makest me speak.’

daisilui said...

Ravi and Salazar
It seems to me that you both agree on what Ravi was saying:
"Friend,If there is no 'doer' in the first place and only Self alone is...there is no Bhagavan or sadhu om...there is no such a thing as 'their teachings' and more importantly no such a definitive thing called 'Prarabda'....and no michael James or Salazar as well discussing it...this is common sense." and on what Salazar is saying: "Also there is no "truth". What is the truth? Who grasps truth?" and yet it looks like you ignore these 'common sense/truths' by talking your chat seriously.

Salazar also asked in a rhetorical way, i think 'what are we doing here [writing on blogs, entering in dialogues/disputes about the truth- my addition].' Good question that i also ask myself every time i make an entry and the only possible answer i can come up with is, to put it in a blunt way: entertaining/give satisfaction to the ego/mind. The mind likes analysis and logic; alright, but then comes the next step where the ego feels the need to correct what it sees as a wrong thinking, or to find further clarifications to the subject of analysis, or to express an understanding, or... and hence the posting of those thoughts. So why post and, before that, why think? and even before that- who does and what has the Self to do with it. The intellectual knowledge we have about reality, expressed by logic/common sense must say- nothing at all! These discussions aim to enlighten the mind to provide for a better quality of life but, let's be clear- they are nothing more than entertainment which has nothing to do with reality as 'who seeks a better life?!' So why do we keep doing this? i asked Salazar some time ago- why was Ramana reading the newspapers and he replied- it was his 'prarabda.' Well, i'm going back to Ravi's sentence i've quoted here and ask 'who is Ramana/what is prarabda/...?' And i get nowhere, therefore it comes to me that- it is time to shut up and just be...

Salazar said...

daisilui, it is my strong conviction that Bhagavan lets us discuss all of these concepts until, through his grace, we finally - as you have put it - shut up and just be.

What also is very clear to me is that I really do not know anything, if there is some clarity or insight it is solely by the grace of Bhagavan and certainly not my doing.

Salazar said...

One more thing, Sanjay Srivastava quoted, "As long as we have sense of doership, we have to use it intelligently."

Sounds good but there is no do-er, and it doesn't matter if there is a sense of doership or not. To imply that the ego could make any decisions intelligently is delusional.

The sense of doership is not real and to ride on it is perpetuating maya. The body does what it does and it does it WITHOUT the will or directions of the mind/ego! That is extremely important! The actions of the body are animated by Self and determined by karma.

The only REAL choice is if we identify with the actions of the body and/or the thoughts and emotions of the mind or not. There is nothings else "we" can do to escape samsara.

Salazar said...

The last sentence ought to say, "the only REAL choice we have is either to identify with the actions of the body and/or the thoughts and emotions of the mind or not. There is nothings else "we" can do to escape samsara.

Salazar said...

Sorry, one more thing......

Not only are the actions of the body predetermined but also EVERY thought, emotion, decision etc. of the mind. If we identify with it then we are seemingly the ego/jiva, if we don't we are Self.

So to give the actions and thoughts/emotions of the body/mind in unison with the happenings in the phenomenal world any validity is a total waste of time. That is called samsara. Self-Inquiry is the antidote because it is breaking through the habit of giving anything but Self reality.

Anonymous said...

{i asked Salazar some time ago- why was Ramana reading the newspapers and he replied- it was his 'prarabda.'}

My understanding is Bhagavan was beyond karma, He is not the body we take him to be. His so called actions including reading newspapers is only in our ignorant dualistic view.

Ravi said...

@sanjay Srivastava,
Yes...What Bhagavan calls as 'Prarabda' and What Sri Ramakrishna calls as 'will of god' are the same thing...i am happy that you got it...but what Sadhu Om/Michael james have made of it is an altogether different thing...and this is indeed fatalism...and this is what prompted me to post my first comment.
The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna is indeed a wonderful book...and I invariably recommend it to all aspirants.
Good that you quoted that passage and specifically this part which the master points out:
“As long as a man has not realized God, he thinks he is free. It is God Himself who keeps this error in man. Otherwise sin would have multiplied. Man would not have been afraid of sin, and there would have been no punishment for it"

This means that as long as man has not realized god he is accountable for his actions...he is responsible for it...and he can respond...He cannot say that the Divine is responsible for his actions and get away.

Here are some more excerpts from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:
"Responsibility for sins
BRAHMO: "If it is God that makes me do everything, then I am not responsible for my sins."
MASTER (with a smile): "Yes, Duryodhana also said that. 'O Krishna, I do what Thou, seated in my heart, makest me do.' If a man has the firm conviction that God alone is the Doer and he is His instrument, then he cannot do anything sinful. He who has learnt to dance correctly never makes a false step. One cannot even believe in the existence of God until one's heart becomes pure."

"MUSICIAN: "It is God alone who is both the 'instrument' and the 'cause'. Duryodhana said to Krishna: 'O Lord, Thou art seated in my heart. I act as Thou makest me act.'"
MASTER (with a smile): "Yes, that is true. It is God alone who acts through us. He is the Doer, undoubtedly, and man is His instrument. But it is also true that an action cannot fail to produce its result. Your stomach will certainly burn if you eat hot chilli. It is God who has ordained that chilli will burn your stomach. If you commit a sin, you must bear its fruit. But one who has attained perfection, realized God, cannot commit sin. An expert singer cannot sing a false note. A man with a trained voice sings the notes correctly: sa, re, ga, ma, pa, dha, ni."

continued...

Ravi said...

@sanjay Srivastava,

The Master says: "God gives to different people what they can digest. The mother does not give fish pilau to all her children. All cannot digest it; so she prepares simple fish soup for some. Everyone cherishes his own special ideal and follows his own nature."

The "servant I"
MASTER: "It is true that one or two can get rid of the 'I' through samadhi; but these cases are very rare. You may indulge in thousands of reasonings, but still the 'I' comes back. You may cut the peepal-tree to the very root today, but you will notice a sprout springing up tomorrow. Therefore if the 'I'must remain, let the rascal remain as the 'servant I'. As long as you live, you should say, 'O God, Thou art the Master and I am Thy servant.' The 'I' that feels, 'I am the servant of God, I am His devotee' does not injure one. Sweet things cause acidity of the stomach, no doubt, but sugar candy is an exception."

My experience in having interacted with what i call 'enthusiasts'(of 'advaita') is this....i have hardly found anyone fit for the advaitic vision...mostly it is all undigested ideas and imaginations and wishful thinking only.

Most people would rather benefit by 'playing football' as Swami Vivekananda recommended to a youth who wished to learn the bhagavad gita...it is good to be well grounded in the waking state than be spinning yarns on the dream state and deep sleep state...and last of all on the Self...better to admit that 'egoistic thinking and doing' is what is...take it for a fact and deal with it,and grow out of it.

I have responded to you since you are exposed to The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna...and this is one book that the more you dive in the more you would get out of it...truly an inexhaustible treasure.

Wishing you the very best...Namaskar

Ravi said...

@sanjay Srivastava,

Sorry...This excerpt got left out...from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:

God alone is the agent
(To the doctor) "Look here. If a man truly believes that God alone does everything, that He is the Operator and man the machine, then such a man is verily liberated in life. 'Thou workest Thine own work; men only call it theirs.' Do you know what it is like? Vedanta philosophy gives an illustration. Suppose you are cooking rice in a pot, with potato, eggplant, and other vegetables. After a while the potatoes, eggplant, rice, and the rest begin to jump about in the pot. They seem to say with pride: 'We are moving! We are jumping!' The children see it and think the potatoes, egg-plant, and rice are alive and so they jump that way. But the elders, who know, explain to the children that the vegetables and the rice are not alive; they jump not of themselves, but because of the fire under the pot; if you remove the burning wood from the hearth, then they will move no more. Likewise the pride of man, that he is the doer, springs from ignorance. Men are powerful because of the power of God. All becomes quiet when that burning wood is taken away. The puppets dance well on the stage when pulled by a wire, but they cannot move when the wire snaps. "A man will cherish the illusion that he is the doer as long as he has not seen God, as long as he has not touched the Philosopher's Stone. So long will he know the distinction between his good and bad actions. This awareness of distinction is due to God's maya; and it is necessary for the purpose of running His illusory world. But a man can realize God if he takes shelter under His vidyamaya and follows the path of righteousness. He who knows God and realizes Him is able to go beyond maya. He who firmly believes that God alone is the Doer and he himself a mere instrument is a jivanmukta, a free soul though living in a body."
So,everything is 'Will of God' only but that cannot be used as a cop out for saying 'Prarabda' will take its course...and no free-will can be exercised...The 'intellect' in a human being is given exactly for this purpose only..and this is what distinguishes him from all the other living species...and exercising this intellect is part of the Viveka-vairagya combine without which no serious sadhana can be attempted.

I can go on endlessly on the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna... suffice it to say that the 'Mahut' Narayana story wonderfully resolves the subject matter if we can only grasp its subtlety even though as a story it is entertaining.

Namaskar

daisilui said...

Anonymous
"My understanding is Bhagavan was beyond karma, He is not the body we take him to be. His so called actions including reading newspapers is only in our ignorant dualistic view."
Well, there are pictures showing the body of Ramana reading the newspapers [btw. why do you say that is a 'so called action'?] If you accept being bound by 'your dualistic view' how can you see something that is not dualistic, i.e. real? Even if you perceive him as 'superior' in any way, that would still be a false view, would it not?

You took the matter of newspaper reading out of a context, the gist of which was "...there is no 'doer' in the first place and only Self alone is...there is no Bhagavan or sadhu om...there is no such a thing as 'their teachings' and more importantly no such a definitive thing called 'Prarabda'....and no michael James or Salazar..."

As a concession to the idea of ego, at best we should be talking about one mind/ego which projects the world 'here and now', i.e. at the location and time of the subject experimenting the 'so called' life 'here and now'. For example, you reading these lines are the projection of the mind [your mind, the only mind], in addition to all the other complex projections of your immediate environment field of perception and mind speculations about [nonexistent] far away people and places [e.g. daisilui responding to your comment, or the historical figure of a man called Bhagavan that was reading or not reading newspapers...]. i mean, there is no 'our dualistic view', at best you could say 'my', from this perspective. But of course, these words [or any other for that matter, regardless where they seem to come from- daisilui, Ravi, Ramana...] have nothing to do with reality.

Anonymous said...

Daisilui I think you misunderstood my comment and took it out of context.
But thanks for your interesting reply.

moksha deepam said...

daisilui,
"But of course, these words [or any other for that matter, regardless where they seem to come from- daisilui, Ravi, Ramana...] have nothing to do with reality."
Of course these words have quite well something to do with reality because they appear in consciousness. Would you seriously assume that words could be expressed/manifested by anything other than ever-present awareness ?