Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Why should we believe that dream is anything other than a fabrication of our dreaming mind?

A friend wrote to me last night saying that his father and brother believe that when one dreams ‘the dream is really you leaving the physical body and going to some other realm and interacting with other souls’, and that he always had trouble believing this idea, but asked me: ‘What is the best argument philosophically to counter such an assertion?’ The following is what I replied to him:

People will believe whatever they want to believe, and as far as metaphysical beliefs are concerned, such as the one you refer to, we cannot conclusively prove that any of them are wrong (though all of them obviously cannot be right) until we experience ourself as we actually are, because as this ego we are metaphysically ignorant. Indeed metaphysical ignorance is the very nature of the ego, because the ego is nothing but an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are.

We can logically prove that we are metaphysically ignorant, because we experience ourself as one thing (this body) in waking and another thing (a different body) in dream, and we do not experience either of these things (or any other phenomena) in sleep. Since we are aware of ourself in all these three states, we cannot be anything that appears in one or two of them but not in the other one. Therefore since we are ignorant of what we ourself actually are, we should be sceptical about everything else that we as this self-ignorant person believe or seem to know. This is why Bhagavan taught us that the first thing we should doubt is the doubter itself, namely ourself as what we now seem to be.

As far as the belief that you refer to is concerned, why should we believe anything in the absence of any evidence or good reason to believe it? As Sadhu Om often told me, Bhagavan used to say ‘Do not believe what you do not know’, and this principle was implicit in all his most fundamental teachings.

To claim that in dream we leave our body and go to some other realm and interact with other souls is a mere supposition, so why should we believe it? Why should we believe that that other realm or those other souls exist anywhere other than in our own mind?

Suppose you dream of meeting your Dad and brother and having a conversation with them, if you ask them the next day whether they remember that conversation they will laugh at you. Then who were those ‘other souls’ who were impersonating your Dad and brother in you dream? The most plausible explanation, and one that most of us instinctively believe as soon as we wake up from a dream, is that they were a fabrication of your dreaming mind, so why should we believe anything else on the basis of mere supposition or wishful thinking?


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Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
I agree with most everything you are saying.

I disagree with Michael's teaching that "the world and body are manifestations of the ego" and that this is the sole explanation. That is ONE very important perspective, but the complement to it is the how the ego is transcended in waking state with world and body present. This is all in Bhagavan's work, but not in what Michael translates. Certainly it must be possible to transcend the ego in waking state as Bhagavan was enlightened and in waking state.

The problem is not precisely that a concept or thought arises in the mind. If you are driving down the road and a single thought arises once "turn right at the next street"... is this delusion? Is this the ego? Can any action be taking to suppress this thought? This is just the normal functioning of the mind & brain.

Now... in Michael's system, the way he speaks of it, apparently meditation should ONLY be performed while sitting. Otherwise, if while meditating you are successful and the body and world disappear... this might have a disastrous effect on activities.

I'm suggesting that "the ego" present in waking state is known by qualities such as:
- the attention is overwhelmed and lost in discursive, meandering digressive thought. You may notice that you're thinking something, one thought has lead to another, but you can't remember the whole sequence.
- the attention is really lost when strong emotion comes up: if you're angry... you are under the control of strong emotion, attention is lost.
- there are many such situations when we are "attached" or "identified" with mental / emotional activity.... and attention is lost.

These are the same distractions that happen while doing Atma Vicara sitting.

All of these have a common theme of inward attention getting lost in mental & emotional distractions.

This style is all about only one thing: constant vigilant inner attention. Attention becomes stronger with practice and is less likely to be distracted. "I" is there in vigilant attention.

Many teachings point to this... but attention can also become enamoured with and distracted by the teachings.

Salazar, you obviously know all of this right? I prefer to state it linearly and you prefer stating it using Advaita terminology?

So... when you complain that you are having some difficulty with Atma Vicara maybe your claim of difficulty is not entirely correct?

One more thing: as Bhagavan explains elsewhere: people have different temperaments. Different styles work for different people. We've only described one way here. There are a number of others. But of course this is heresy in Michael's teaching.

Salazar said...

Roger, you don't give up, do you? You keep talking about Michael's teachings, there are no teachings by Michael, as a fellow devotee I can only see him to be of service to Bhagavan.

I have the impression that you don't completely grasp where Michael is coming from and I cannot see at all any “misinterpretations” of Bhagavan's teaching. Now I do not want to be so presumptuous that I could judge Michael, as a person and as a scholar. I am grateful that he does what he does.

It is my understanding that the mind projects/creates the phenomenal world, but that doesn't mean that the world is literally vanishing experiencing Self or being in the Sahaja Samadhi state. It is also my understanding that eventually Self-Inquiry has to be practiced at any waking moment. That is a statement by Annamalai Swami.
Now what exactly will happen will only be known by direct experience, therefore speculating or arguing about it is a waste of time.

I am sure that Michael did not mention that one can only practice Self-Inquiry in a sitting position, you must certainly have misunderstood him.

Re. my personal experience with atma-vichara, I prefer to not share, publicly nor privately, my experiences with it. I like a lot what Annamalai Swami has contributed to that topic.

My best to you.

ulladu-unarvu said...

when I may offer my opinion:
what you are teaching in the comment nr.200 about concepts in general seems to go over the top. You are drawing so to speak a terrible picture of concepts. Let the mind pursue its concepts. Is it not enough not to identify with the mind ?
Of course not identifying with the mind is carried out in the very beginning also by thinking of avoiding thoughts. When we go deeper in our investigation we reach the realm of sharp wakefulness with which we come much deeper. Thus all thoughts lose their relevance and strength when our practice of self-investigation is done well.
Your interpretation of the wording of my question put seems to be too far-reaching.
Because the ego as such does not really exist at all your statement "The ego imagines something which doesn't exist and therefore keeps being deluded" does not expound some terrible desaster.
What I expressed by the phrase "overcome this ego" is only metaphorically speaking . In other words we could say " being aware of nothing other than what we actually are". You generally make use of a downright unconditional absolute direct schoolmasterly categorical choice of words (for instance "absolutely wrong" or "wasting time"). Do you want to pretend to know the truth ? You expose yourself in danger to fall victim to just your own concepts. Besides I did not say that the ego has to overcome something but that the ego as such has to be overcome.
"To always affirm that we are the Self" is like repeating always "I am Brahman" which does obviously not contrive the annihilation of the ego.

Roger Isaacs said...

Often the discussion and teaching here is intellectual, philosophical and concerns thought. There are challenges because thought (ego) is very subtle and can easily work against it's dissolution.

An approach which avoids the pitfalls of thought is to use sensation. There is no thinking in sensation.

See Bhagavan's death experience and search for "current". I will quote Bhagavan from this article:

I felt that there was a force or current, a centre of energy playing on the body...
It was that current, force or centre that constituted my Self...
From that time on, I was spending my time absorbed in contemplation of that current.
It had no place in my thoughts. ‘I’, being a subtle current...
I had no idea at that time of the identity of that current with the personal God, or Iswara as I used to call him.

I was only feeling that everything was being done by the current and not by me, a feeling I had had ever since I wrote my parting note and left home. I had ceased to regard the current as my narrow ‘I’. This current, or avesam, now felt as if it was my Self, not a superimposition.

While, on the one hand, the awakening gave me a continuous idea or feeling that my Self was a current or force in which I was perpetually absorbed whatever I did...

A number of different Masters speak of the sensation of the "current". And some even show you how to go directly into it.

Bhagavan says that the current is "I", the same as "I", it is Iswara, it is his Self.

Salazar said...

ulladu-unarvu, it IS absolutely wrong to approach Self-realization from the viewpoint of the ego. That is Bhagavan's teaching. Because as soon as you start anything from the viewpoint of the ego you have entered a subject-object relationship.

And I have no problems with concepts, that is your misconception. I am not condemning concepts I simply stated that they are irrelevant. You said, “let the mind pursue its concepts, is it not enough to not identify with them”. LOL

Sir, you want to have the cake and eat it too. Yes, it is enough to not identify with them, but then what is the importance of concepts in the first place? That is all what I said, “if one gives importance to any arising concept one already has succumbed to delusion”.

BECAUSE if you give them any importance you identify with them. Is that so hard to understand?

So what excuse do you have now for your previous comment, was it a metaphor this time again or were you talking rhetorical? ;-)

You said, “you expose yourself in danger to fall victim to just your own concepts.” Huh? I keep saying concepts are irrelevant and here your ego makes a smart aleck comment. How can I fall victim to something I consider as irrelevant? Of course the argumentative ego can say, it is also a concept that concepts are irrelevant and I agree with that and it is in fact supporting my initial point.

Also I am not teaching nor am I a teacher, I am sharing my understanding of Bhagavan's teaching (as everybody else). Too bad that your mind has a hard time to digest these “school-masterly” and categorically choice of words, however I am not Michael where I look for a Tamil quote by Bhagavan, translate it to English and then make my point based on that.

Nonetheless I'd not say it if you could not find it in Bhagavan's teachings.

You seriously ask me if I pretend to know the truth? Good golly, I won't give you an answer to this, let me guess, it was a “rhetorical” question. ;-)

Finally to “I am Brahman”. That was just an example what a MIND could do instead of wallowing in concepts. In no way did I say that that could lead to Self-realization. In all of my comments I emphasized the importance of Self-Inquiry. And proper Self-Inquiry is not an activity of the mind, if that is believed you are (absolutely :-) wrong again.

ulladu-unarvu, my interest in having a dialog with you has come to an end. I don't see any benefit from it (anymore). So please argue with the next guy in line. Farewell.

ulladu-unarvu said...

thank you for your reply.
The mind as such is not bad. Even when we say that the mind has no real existence we must admit that its function is provided by the power of awareness.
If correctly used as a tool it would work in the right direction.
If the mind is directed inwards we are walking on the path of self.
When you say "ulladu-unarvu, it IS absolutely wrong to approach Self-realization from the viewpoint of the ego. That is Bhagavan's teaching. Because as soon as you start anything from the viewpoint of the ego you have entered a subject-object relationship." and in your previous comment
"Why can the concept of “one has the chance to overcome this ego in every moment” be deceptive? Because with that sentence one has already confirmed that we are not Self but that ego what needs to overcome something. And so with attending to that concept (instead to “I”) we already have shot ourselves in the foot. The ego imagines something which doesn’t exist and therefore keeps being deluded."
you seem to overlook that self-investigation is started by the very mind. You surely agree that the self itself does not have any need for self-investigation. In other words : the ego has quite well to overcome and dissolve itself.
Good golly, verily we all are always and permanent exposed to acute danger to get caught in the dense thicket of homespun ideas and concepts.
Nevertheless thank you for having that dialog with you. Farewell.

Ravi said...
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Anonymous said...

Ravi Sir,

It was nice reading your experience about your meeting with Swami Annamalai. I am just curious. Did you see any difference in your life after you did puja to the rock? Like, did it help eradicate your ego? Or did it help get more clarity in life? I am definitely not asking this question sarcastically. I did Girivalam once and all I prayed was for one event to happen in my life. It happened within a year.

Ravi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Ravi,
Thanks for your post and interesting story. Do you remember where in Nan Yar Bhagavan recommends supplementary practices? Also, I will order books by Sri Annamalai, he sounds great, and thanks to Salazar for this recommendation too.

I am doing research into "Talks with Ramana Maharshi". "Talks" can be downloaded for free from here AND as a pdf can be searched by word. This has the latest most mature teachings for 5 years to 1935-1939, 500+ pages.

Michael teaches that the works Bhagavan wrote or spoke and then reviewed are the ones we should read, these happen to be the works that Michael translates.

The theoretical works ARE important. But as we are mainly interested in our personal situation, the records of Bhagavan's actual teaching process are essential.

"Talks with Ramana" has several extraordinary themes that Bhagavan repeats over and over.

#1) Atma Vicara requires serious long term preparatory work.
Talk 39:
M:All people cannot be expected to do the same kind of action. Each one acts according to his temperament and past lives. Wisdom, Devotion, Action (jnana, bhakti, karma) are all interlocked. Meditation on forms is according to one’s own mind. It is meant for ridding oneself of other forms and confining oneself to one form. It leads to the goal. It is impossible to fix the mind in the Heart to start with. So these aids are necessary. ... Whichever method one follows, that method is encouraged by the Sages. For it leads to the goal like any other method."

#2) People are of different "temperaments" and thus require different preparatory practices. Jnana, Bhakti, Karma, Kundalini, Tantra, Ashtanga, Mantra & Japa, attention on Prana-sakti.... are all confirmed as having value or being the SAME as Atma Vicara and leading directly to the goal.

Talk 107.
Later the Yogi asked: How is the spiritual uplift of the people to be effected? What are the instructions to be given them?

M.: They differ according to the temperaments of the individuals and according to the spiritual ripeness of their minds. There cannot be any instruction en masse.

Talk 580:
D.: Which method is the best?
M.: It depends upon the temperament of the individual. Every person is born with the samskaras of past lives. One of the methods will be found easy for one person and another method for another. There is no definiteness about it.

Bhagavan says:
Talk 40:
Maharshi then made certain remarks: “When you adhere to one philosophical system (siddhanta) you are obliged to condemn the others. That is the case with the heads of monasteries (matadhipatis)”.

That is the case here. The teaching here has become somewhat narrow, all people are treated the same. And other systems are considered to be lesser so that while Atma Vichara is not exactly working for someone they are discouraged from trying other preparation.

As people are innocently and honestly saying that they can't get a handle on Atma Vichara.... then it is appropriate to be open to alternatives which would act as preparation for Atma Vichara.

If what goes on here is truly "scholarly"... then we can openly consider topics from different perspectives, we can consider all documents, actually benefit from investigation and discussion of different perspectives and specific issues?

"...spiritual instructions that treat all people alike rarely awaken the spiritual giant sleeping within us. E.T.

Ravi said...

@Roger Isaacs,

Interesting to know that you are doing research on 'Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi'...This is a wonderful book and for all practical purposes of sadhana,the nAn yAr and Talks would do...Absolutely no need for any other work of Bhagavan ...ofcourse people interested in such works and find it useful may resort to it...In recent times there has been a drive to classify works by Bhagavan into 'Primary' and 'Secondary'....authentic or not so accurate,etc,etc...I would ignore these classifications for they go against the very reason Bhagavan manifested and showed the path that should be accessible to all aspirants ...more so to the layman than to the scholarly.
I would say that the Hymns on Arunachala by bhagavan provide all the inspiration to pursue the path of vichara...without it,it would be like having a plane but no fuel to devotee of bhagavan can afford to ignore these wonderful hymns.
You have asked about auxiliary practices in nAn yAr that Bhagavan has recommended...please find them in paragraph 9 of nAn yAr regarding murti dhyana and the rest:

Coming to talks of Sri Ramana Maharshi...I have found some inaccuracies but they are few and far in between...and do not detract from the immense usefulness of this treasure...most devotees read only this and none of those scholarly works...Interestingly these inaccuracies are corrected in the Tamil Translation of this work called Bhagavath vachanamritam(published by Sri Ramanasramam)...the translator from English to tamil is Viswanatha Swami(a close relative and disciple of Bhagavan) and since he happen to be present when the talks were taking place,he could reproduce the very words and tone of Bhagavan...and here is one work where the translation excels the 'original'(in english)!


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