Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Māyā is nothing but our own mind, so it seems to exist only when we seem to be this mind

A friend wrote to me today:
Someone wrote this on FB yesterday and I am getting confused again because I thought the idea of becoming realised is to put an end to Maya:

“According to Adi Shankara (7th century father of modern non-dual philosophy), Maya is eternal. At no point does “form” cease to exist. It (maya/form) never had a beginning because it is eternal. It will also never have an end. The difference between enlightened and unenlightened is in the mind only. The universe doesn’t disappear. The mind ceases to be confused about the nature of one’s own Self. Bodies may come and go but the enlightened mind is not attached to them or identified with them. Yet they come and go like clouds in the sky.”

Why do people have different ideas on self-realisation?
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to her:

As Bhagavan once said (regarding a book that misinterpreted his teachings), ‘According to the purity of the mind the same teaching reflects in different ways’. In other words, we each interpret and understand any teachings according to the relative purity of our own mind.

Sankara’s teachings (and advaita philosophy in general) are therefore interpreted in different ways by different minds, even though a large part of his teachings (namely all his commentaries on the upaniṣads, Brahma Sūtra and Bhagavad Gītā) was intended to clarify how these core texts of vēdānta should be interpreted.

The reason why Sankara said that māyā has no beginning and no end is that it does not actually exist. It is just an illusory appearance that seems to exist only in the view of the mind.

As Bhagavan often pointed out, māyā means yā mā, ‘she who is not’ or ‘what is not’, because it does not actually exist. He also said that the mind alone is māyā, so without the mind there is no māyā. We do not experience any māyā in sleep, because our mind is then absent, so how can we experience it when our mind is destroyed by pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna)?

If anyone says that māyā exists even in ātma-jñāna, that just shows how attached they are to māyā — so attached that they are not willing to give it up even for the sake of ātma-jñāna. Such people also say that manōnāśa (annihilation of the mind) does not really mean that the mind will be annihilated, but only that it will cease to be deluded. But delusion is the very nature of the mind, because as Bhagavan often pointed out (such as in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) the mind or ego is just the confused and erroneous form of self-awareness that appears as ‘I am this body’, so when this delusion ‘I am this body’ is destroyed by pure self-awareness (awareness of our self as we actually are) how can any mind remain?

The mind now seems to exist because it is what we seem to be, just as an illusory snake seems to exist because it is what a rope seems to be, so when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, we will find that no such thing as mind ever existed at all, just as when we see the rope as it actually is, we will find that no snake ever existed there at all. When we find that there is no such thing as mind, we will also find that there is no such thing as māyā, because māyā seems to exist only in the view of the mind, which itself does not actually exist.

What then remains is only beginningless, endless, infinite and indivisible being-awareness-happiness, as Bhagavan says in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṟpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தனாது இயல் யாது என தான் தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த சத்து அகண்ட சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa tāṉ terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta sattu akhaṇḍa cit āṉandam.

அன்வயம்: தான் தனாது இயல் யாது என தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த அகண்ட சத்து சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta akhaṇḍa sattu cit āṉandam.

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] anādi [beginningless], ananta [endless, limitless or infinite] and akhaṇḍa [unbroken, undivided or unfragmented] sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].
And regarding the idea that ‘form’ does not cease to exist, it ceases to exist whenever we fall asleep, and it reappears only in waking or dream, because no other forms can seem to exist unless we mistake ourself to be a form, as Bhagavan points out in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருவந்தா னாயி னுலகுபர மற்றா
முருவந்தா னன்றே லுவற்றி — னுருவத்தைக்
கண்ணுறுதல் யாவனெவன் கண்ணலாற் காட்சியுண்டோ
கண்ணதுதா னந்தமிலாக் கண்.

uruvandā ṉāyi ṉulahupara maṯṟā
muruvandā ṉaṉḏṟē luvaṯṟi — ṉuruvattaik
kaṇṇuṟudal yāvaṉevaṉ kaṇṇalāṯ kāṭciyuṇḍō
kaṇṇadutā ṉantamilāk kaṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

அன்வயம்: தான் உருவம் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; தான் உருவம் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை யாவன் கண் உறுதல்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ uruvam āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; tāṉ uruvam aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai yāvaṉ kaṇ uṟudal? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

English translation: If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how [to do so]? Can what is seen be otherwise [in nature] than the eye [that sees it]? The [real] eye is oneself, the infinite eye.
We mistake ourself to be a form (the form of this body and mind) only when we rise and stand as an ego, so when our ego is destroyed by pure self-awareness (ātma-jñāna), we will no longer see any forms, because what we actually are is the ‘அந்தமிலா கண்’ (antam-ilā kaṇ), the ‘infinite eye’, which is a metaphor meaning infinite awareness, so being infinite we are formless, and hence we can perceive only what is infinite and formless, namely ourself.

Therefore all forms appear (come into existence) and disappear (cease to exist) along with the ego, as Bhagavan points out in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. [Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything.
When we appear as this ego (as in waking and dream), forms appear in our view, and when we cease to appear as this ego (as in sleep), forms cease to appear. Therefore forms are all just a projection of our ego or mind, as Bhagavan points out in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?:
நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagam-um illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagam-um uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉṉiḍamirundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉam-um taṉṉiḍattilirundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself], the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
The mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa (as Bhagavan metaphorically describes our appearance as the mind in this passage) only when we mistake ourself to be a body, so whenever the mind appears we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, and when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, the mind cannot appear. Therefore since the world (all forms or phenomena) appears and disappears along with the mind, he says here that when the world appears (in the view of ourself as this mind) our real nature does not appear, and when our real nature shines (that is, when we see what we actually are) the world does not appear. In other words, no forms or phenomena can appear when we are aware of ourself as we actually are.

14 comments:

antam-ilā kaṇ said...

Michael, some questions are unavoidable:
Text 1. "The mind now seems to exist because it is what we seem to be, just as an illusory snake seems to exist because it is what a rope seems to be, so when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, we will find that no such thing as mind ever existed at all, just as when we see the rope as it actually is, we will find that no snake ever existed there at all."

1 a. Reflection: Seeming means/is evidently not real being.
1 b. Question: How can real being seem to be anything other than real being ?
1 aa. Reflection: Seeming is a typical case of sensual perception let us say it is mainly like an optical impression. I can't help suspecting that there must be a big mistake in the seeing eye. Therefore the cause ot the mistake is unambigously a defective eye because a seeming i.e. wrong existence can take place only in a wrong perception which is to be seen as source of the error.
In the same way one might consider: Only in the gloomy/dim light of the twilight hours can a rope ever seem to be a snake.
1 bb. Question: To whom or to which eye can the mind only seem to exist ?
1 bbb. Question: By which measure can we be aware of ourself as we actually are and then find that... ?

Text 2. "When we find that there is no such thing as mind, we will also find that there is no such thing as māyā, because māyā seems to exist only in the view of the mind, which itself does not actually exist."

2 a. Reflection: First we have to find that ...
2 b. Question: How can we find that...?
2 bb. Question: Who or which subject exactly will then discover that there is no mind at all ?
Text 3. " 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. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself], the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.

The mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa (as Bhagavan metaphorically describes our appearance as the mind in this passage) only when we mistake ourself to be a body, so whenever the mind appears we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, and when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, the mind cannot appear."

3 a. Reflection: A not actually existing mind gets the facts entirely wrong.
3 b. Conclusion: It is highly necessary to eliminate that mistake.
3 c. Question: How can we avoid the fundamental error that an actually non-existent mind prevents us from being aware of ourself as we actually are - immediately and at that for ever and ever ?


I am permanent said...

How can we bear to live in a permanent error ?

iduve tinnam said...

I am permanent,
our fundamental error (about reality and awareness) which lasts in waking and dream does not continue during dreamless sleep.

Roger Isaacs said...

Michael quotes: "According to the purity of the mind the same teaching reflects in different ways".

Michael seeks to climb an imagined ladder of philosophical purity. Who is the "I" who seeks to climb? How is this different from the man on one side of the fence who is obsessed with the idea of greener grass on the other side?

Michael says: "When we appear as this ego (as in waking and dream), forms appear in our view, and when we cease to appear as this ego (as in sleep), forms cease to appear. Therefore forms are all just a projection of our ego or mind"

Michael is a form (body in the world) and seeks to be without a form. Who is the "I" who seeks to be formless? There is a never ending tension when form places the idea of formless as superior and seeks escape.

Sri Ramana Maharishi is free, there is no seeking of imagined purity or the formless:
talk 406:
"M.: What does it matter whether body-consciousness is lost or retained? When lost it is internal samadhi: when retained, it is external samadhi. That is all."


Talk 17:
M.: If the eyes are closed, it is nirvikalpa; if open, it is (though differentiated, still in absolute repose) savikalpa. The ever-present state is the natural state sahaja.


Bhagavan is free: the natural states of apparent form and formless do not affect his essence, there is no seeking for an imagined different state.

Michael is constantly engaged with philosophical thinking and writing, intoxicated with the attractiveness of a particular thought system.
Philosophical contemplation about an idea is successful when during the process of contemplation the mind comes to perfect rest, when the mind stops in rapt inner attention, free of thought, still. This is the intersection of philosophy and Atma Vichara.
Otherwise... philosophy is a surface level activity of the mind from which there is no escape, the mind spins entertained with endlessly repeating concepts.

If thought investment in Advaita were sufficient for release... then a significant portion of the Indian & world population would be free. This didn't happen.

Practice the silent inner total attentiveness of "Who am I?" or if that is not easily grasped then actively seek other aids. This blog is mainly about a style of thinking, not actual release.

Solve all your problems through meditation. Exchange unprofitable religious speculations for actual God-contact. Clear your mind of dogmatic theological debris; let in the fresh, healing waters of direct perception. Attune yourself to the active inner Guidance; the Divine Voice has the answer to every dilemma of life.
Lahiri Mahasaya

Salazar said...

Hi Roger, re. the purity of mind, it is from the viewpoint of the jiva and it is said as an aid to the conceptual understanding for the jiva and nothing else. At least that is my take on it. So you are correct to ask, “who is the I who seeks to climb?”

You give Michael little credit that he is not aware of that. Of course he is! A discussion about Advaita concepts can only flip-flop between the viewpoint of the Absolute and the jiva, it can’t be helped. The only alternative is summa iru and that applies only to a handful people (my guess) on this planet, the rest is more or less still utilizing the mind to dabble in concepts due to praradhba karma.

You said, “Michael is constantly engaged with philosophical thinking and writing, intoxicated with the attractiveness of a particular thought system.”

It appears that way; HOWEVER do you know how much he’s identified with that? His praradhba karma lets him do what he does and the jiva has no say-so in that. So what Michael (and we all) does in this life-time is inevitable. Why then judging and complaining about those actions? It is futile and delusional.

So it boils down to how much we all are identified with the actions of our body and mind.

Roger, don’t keep falling into the trap of maya in believing the actions in this phenomenal world. Yours and “others”.

dehatma-buddhi said...

Michael,
"Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world."
According Bhagavan therefore even the atrocities were only thoughts.
Is it not at least out of touch with everyday life if not even somehow pathological to explain for instance fear and horror of Holocaust as only thoughts ?
Heio Bhagavan, we live here on earth and not in heaven ! Your experience in July 1896 must have been extremely devastating. Or do we have to admit that our ignorance is even more disastrous than your extraterrestrial point of view ?

Thangakkai said...

dehatma-buddhi,
perhaps Bhagavan understands all what is not our real nature as thoughts. All our mind-bound perceptions as a separated ego are also mentioned with the term "thoughts".
Therefore even the experience of the horror and terror of the Second World War can be explained as only thoughts. There is not the slightest reason for using such crude explicitness of your way of expressing.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,

Consider one school originating from Bhagavan (although unintentionally) through Papaji and his students: Neo-Advaita also known as the Satsang-movement also known as Nondualism.

Neo-Advaita teaches Advaita concepts but without the need for preparatory practices. Consequently, without any preparation (some type of meditation etc) the concepts of Advaita remain just concepts or ideas (for most people). Neo-Advaita describes a goal but lacks the means to realize it.

For example: consider an Advaita statement from Nisargadatta Maharaj:
You are not the body. You are the immensity and infinity of consciousness.

On hearing these words... do you actually experience with your perception that you are not the body? Or is this just another concept? This is similar to Michael's comments all the time "no ego, no body, no world"... but how to realize this? If it were possible, you could hear these words from Michael every day for hundreds of years... but would this repetition lead to the actual realization of "no ego, no body, no world"? Without serious meditation practice probably not.

As I have quoted recently, Bhagavan says repeatedly in Talks that:
1: Atma Vichara is "impossible" to do without preparatory practices. (of course, he did no prep so it can't be "totally" impossible).
2: people have different temperaments and are in different states of development and so require different approaches: no single instruction works for all people
3: And he endorses all sorts of classical preparation: bhakti, kundalini, jnana, karma, tantra etc..

Shankara emphasized preparatory practices.

Do you agree? Advaita without preparatory practices (various types of meditation) is unlikely to have results other than becoming just the latest adopted new age style of thinking.

Do you see this? If there are people that have difficulty practicing Atma Vichara... I suggest that this is likely the issue: preparatory practices are almost always required.

Although, Salazar, if you say that by deeply contemplating advaita sayings you can maintain an inward state of heightened attention so focused that thought is suspended... then maybe this style is sufficient for you.

If Michael understands the need for preparation... then why does he break with Bhagavan and Shankara and fail to emphasize preparation? It's all about preparation (meditation of some sort). Once the mind is relatively still, then one is largely self sufficient, there is actually very little need for advaita priests.

Unfortunately, because he does not emphasize preparation... Michael's teaching has the similar defect as with Neo-Advaita: Michael describes a goal but is lacking the specific means to realize it.

Mouna said...

Roger, greetings my friend,

"Unfortunately, because he does not emphasize preparation... Michael's teaching has the similar defect as with Neo-Advaita: Michael describes a goal but is lacking the specific means to realize it. "

You are right about the "preparation" idea, but you are not being very fair with Michael here.
All his work, writings and talks emphize what you call "preparation". In Bhagavan's terms is called "atma-vichara". The only difference with other kind of "preparations" is that self-attentiveness (another meaning of atma-vichara) starts and finishes with the goal itself, which is oneself...
Attention is turn inwards towards the source until it dissolves itself in itself, like a match to start a fire which we eventually throw into the fire.

The more we "prepare" ourselves with this kind of "preparation" the more the illusion of being other than what we really are becomes transparent, until eventually the sad-guru takes over (maybe after zillion apparent lifetimes) and reality shines in all its glory, without a second. That is the meaning of "advaita", as taught by the ultimate truth of the Upanishads, Shankara and Bhagavan Sri Ramana.

Be well,
M

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Mouna,
I sense that you have found something of great value from Bhagavan's presentation, and so I can only wonder and respect that.

IF one is able to go directly to self attentiveness without aids, then of course no aids are necessary. But according to Bhagavan in Talks as well as apparently others here (and certainly my experience but I may be denser than most), going directly into self attentiveness and holding it is an advanced practice which is not necessarily attainable without other supplementary practices to quiet the mind & emotions. The phrase "not necessarily attainable" when spoken by Bhagavan in Talks is: "impossible".

Another quote from Nisargadatta Maharaj (I consider myself at an advanced stage now that I can type his name from memory):
"there is only one meditation, the rigorous refusal to harbor thoughts."

I consider this description to be identical to Atma Vichara but from another angle.
So the question is: is the practitioner able to rest in inner attentiveness extensively without the thought process starting up and taking attention away?
If you select a large number of people and tell them to be attentive without thinking (even Atma Vichara practioners?).... nobody will be able to do it because as a species were are totally identified with thought. Therefore the majority are best served by "preparation" in the form of various types meditation.

Advaita is the final stage (as taught by many) but in order to be successful the early stages must be attended to.

Salazar said...

Hi Roger, I see that Mouna already jumped in with a nice response.

I think if preparatory practices might be needed is a personal decision. I do not agree that vichara is impossible (difficult, yes) without preparatory practices. However I believe that everybody who is practicing vichara has done other sadhanas in past lives or even in this life. So there was at some point a preparation for vichara.

Before I started practicing vichara I did other practices but I do not have any interest in them anymore. There is no linearity on a spiritual path, with faith, everything is possible.

Thangakkai said...

Roger Isaacs,
if the attention is taken away you should come back again to attention.
And when the attention is taken away again you should come back again to attention.
And so on and so forth. Persisting in that way is the best "preparation".

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Thangakkai, (and Salazar)
>> if the attention is taken away you should come back again to attention...

Yes, your description is perfect.

Yes, it is simple, the practice can be stated concisely. But "simple" is entirely different than "easy".

If "simple" is sufficient... then why do multiple people here say they are struggling?

When you say "come back to attention"... what is it that you come back to?
If you say the "attention" is a focus which keeps out thought almost as if by an increased "pressure" of attention. Or... if there is a "flow" of attention in time which keeps outward thinking subdued... or choose your own description... then yes I believe you.

You say "persisting in that way is the BEST preparation".
NO!
The BEST preparation is something that one can actually practice & accomplish, whatever that might be.
According to Bhagavan in "Talks"... people have different "temperaments" and are at different stages and so there is no single BEST way for everyone!!!

Why do people struggle here?
It is because no attention is given here to the basic foundation of different meditation techniques for people of different temperaments as Bhagavan describes. The foundation is neglected and so the subtlest practice of Atma Vichara is difficult.

If the practice of Atma Vichara is a "struggle" (quoting Salazar), "struggle" indicates the ego.
Certainly will power must be applied, and outer life can be a struggle, but after the debris of outer life has been released from attention using some type of meditation... then there is the sanctuary of inner stillness, or energy, or devotional feeling, or surrender in selfless service etc..., at least briefly and then "come back again to attention".

This is not a "teaching".... this is just common sense.

Salazar, you say:
"with faith, everything is possible"
Faith is a start.
When the inner experience of clear sustained attention is known repeatedly thru some type of subtle inner effort (meditation)... then faith becomes very powerful because it is coupled with direct experience.

Salazar you also talk about faith in Bhagavan.
Which Bhagavan do you have faith in?
The one presented by Michael?
Or the one in different works? I like the "death experience" link I've sent plus talks. We have multiple Bhagavans! A bit of duality going on.

Salazar said...

Hello Roger, you asked, “ ...what is it that you come back to?”

Well that cannot really be described because one can only describe an object. That's why there can also not be an answer to “how” to find Self. The original “I”-thought is, in its gross form, the sense of 'I am [existing]' with no adjuncts attached to it (I am sure Michael has described that countless times). But the original “I”-thought is not Self. However if we succeed to stay with that sense of 'I am existing', through grace that I-thought will be consumed by Self. And that last step cannot happen through effort but only by grace.
“Focus” and “attention” are only pointers and the ego usually interprets that “I have to try harder, etc.” what is a trap. Only an ego “focuses” and “concentrates” and is “attentive”. And with that it always introduces effort in the way of a subject-object relationship, to go from point A to B.
There is no movement from point A to B, and that is something the ego may intellectually understand, but nevertheless keeps doing it because that's how the ego/mind operates.

You said, “the BEST preparation is something that one can actually [...] accomplish “. But that is a trap for the ego again. There is no accomplishment. If you have the intention to accomplish something you'll never realize Self. Instead to try to accomplish something – just BE! You give your mind way too much credit, you ought to drop it, but from my experience that happens only through grace.

And yes, I struggle occasionally and it is the ego complaining, as it is the ego insisting there is no single best for everyone. But why identifying with it?

Who struggles? Who insists there is no single best for everyone? IT ALWAYS COMES BACK TO THAT!

Willpower is an illusion of the ego, because there is no such thing (for the ego). All power is only by Self and the mind/ego latches on it and confuses it with its “own”. That is maya. Every act of “willpower” the ego imagines to do moves it deeper in delusion.

And faith is the start and the end and then faith is gone............

Roger, I believe you are confused about what Bhagavan meant with direct experience. It is not something which happens through some nice meditation, some peaceful or happy state. Actually it is a trap of the mind again because the mind will give you exactly that what it imagines “bliss”, “peace”, Self to be. To keep you with the familiar subject-object relationship.

Your last paragraph about faith and Bhagavan lets me wonder how much you really have grasped of Bhagavan's teachings. Not much based on that last paragraph.