Tuesday, 25 July 2017

What is aware of the absence of the ego and mind in sleep?

A friend wrote to me today asking:
If pure awareness simply is and is not aware of anything else because only it exists, and the ego is not there during deep sleep, what knows the absence of the ego and mind during deep sleep?

After waking up, I know for a fact that the ego-mind wasn’t there (in deep sleep). I also know that (due to not having investigated keenly enough) it appears to be here now (in waking).

So my question is, what is aware of both the presence of the ego-mind in waking/dream and its absence in deep sleep? It can’t be pure awareness nor the ego-mind itself.
The following is what I replied to him:

Pure self-awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, but in some way that our mind cannot adequately conceive it is clearly aware that it alone exists. This is why Bhagavan was confidently able to make statements such as the following:
யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே.

yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē.

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. (Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 7, first sentence)

ஆத்மசுகம் ஒன்றே யுள்ளது; அதுவே ஸத்யம்.

ātmasukham oṉḏṟē y-uḷḷadu; aduvē satyam.

Ātma-sukha [the happiness that is oneself] alone exists; that alone is real. (Nāṉ Yār? paragraph 14)

ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்.

ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey.

Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness], alone is real. (Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 13)

தனது ஒளியால் எப்போதும் உள்ளது அவ் ஏகான்ம வத்துவே.

taṉadu oḷiyāl eppōdum uḷḷadu a-vv-ēkāṉma vattuvē.

What always exists by its own light is only that ēkātma-vastu [one self-substance]. (Ēkāṉma Pañcakam, kaliveṇbā version, verse 5)
Since pure self-awareness is clearly aware that it alone exists, it is in that sense always aware of the absence or non-existence of the ego or of anything else. Therefore for it there is only one state and not three (as Bhagavan points out in verse 32 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham).

However, since it alone is real, from the perspective of the ego we have to say that it exists in all three states, underlying and supporting each of them, and that nothing other than it exists in sleep, whereas in waking and dream the ego and all phenomena appear from it.

As this ego, we are aware of our presence in waking and dream, and not aware of our presence in sleep, so in retrospect we infer in waking and dream that though we (this ego) are present in these two states, we are absent in sleep. In sleep we obviously do not think that the ego is absent, but we are not aware of its presence, and since it is just an erroneous awareness of ourself (an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are) it obviously does not exist when we are not aware of it.

However, as this ego we can comprehend waking and dream (at least to a certain extent), but we cannot adequately comprehend sleep, because it is a state in which we (this ego) do not exist. Therefore if we want to grasp all this with perfect clarity, we need to grasp ourself with perfect clarity, and when we do so we will see that we alone exist and that there is therefore nothing else for us to grasp or comprehend.

You may think this is an inadequate answer, and it is, but no answer in words can be adequate, because the truth lies beyond the grasping power of our mind, since our mind is māyā, which does not exist and therefore cannot be explained. This is why Bhagavan taught us that no teaching in words can be adequate, and that ultimately the truth can be revealed only by silence, as he implied in verse 5 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam:
எப்போது முள்ளதவ் வேகான்ம வத்துவே
யப்போதவ் வத்துவை யாதிகுரு — செப்பாது
செப்பித் தெரியுமா செய்தன ரேலெவர்
செப்பித் தெரிவிப்பர் செப்பு.

eppōdu muḷḷadav vēkāṉma vattuvē
yappōdav vattuvai yādiguru — seppādu
seppit teriyumā seydaṉa rēlevar
seppit terivippar ceppu
.

பதச்சேதம்: எப்போதும் உள்ளது அவ் ஏகான்ம வத்துவே. அப்போது அவ் வத்துவை ஆதி குரு செப்பாது செப்பி தெரியுமா செய்தனரேல், எவர் செப்பி தெரிவிப்பர்? செப்பு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): eppōdum uḷḷadu a-vv-ēkāṉma vattuvē. appōdu a-v-vattuvai ādi-guru seppādu seppi teriyumā seydaṉarēl, evar seppi terivippar? seppu.

அன்வயம்: எப்போதும் உள்ளது அவ் ஏகான்ம வத்துவே. அப்போது ஆதி குரு அவ் வத்துவை செப்பாது செப்பி தெரியுமா செய்தனரேல், எவர் செப்பி தெரிவிப்பர்? செப்பு.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): eppōdum uḷḷadu a-vv-ēkāṉma vattuvē. appōdu ādi-guru a-v-vattuvai seppādu seppi teriyumā seydaṉarēl, evar seppi terivippar? seppu.

English translation: What always exists is only that ēkātma-vastu [one self-substance]. If at that time the ādi-guru [the original guru, Dakshinamurti] made that vastu known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?
What Bhagavan taught us in words is useful only to point out to us where we can find the silence in which everything (namely ourself, which is the only thing) will become clear, namely deep within ourself, in the very core of our being, where pure self-awareness shines all on its own.

40 comments:

Michael James said...

In reply to the email that I reproduced in this article, the friend to whom I had addressed it wrote:

{Reply begins}

Thanks so much for the quick answer.

To be honest, I don’t feel this answer was, as you say, truly adequate, I don’t feel it’s an answer at all.

Pure awareness is self-aware and saying that is “in a certain sense always aware of the absence of ego” means sort of duality because it doesn’t even know ‘its absence’ for it to be aware of the lack of presence of “anything else”.

If I am so keenly self-aware that only I exist, I’m not aware of the absence of everything else. I am just aware of myself.

Only afterwards can I say I was aware of the absence of thoughts for example. Not during.

I guess it means the only true way to get an answer to such difficult question is to end the illusion of an ego. There probably are no satisfactory verbal answers to this question.

I know this is the reason many people believe that Self is a witness. They say it knows the presence and absence of the ego-mind-world. Therefore it is a witness.

But I know better, my direct experience and insight goes hand in hand with what Bhagavan said. Self doesn’t witness anything, it alone is.

When people ask me this question, it’s tough to verbally answer. It’s a question from the ego perspective therefore maybe I should give an ego-based answer, such as the hypothesis of the causal body.

When in deep sleep, you are in your causal body, which is devoid of mind-ego-world and there is simply the darkness of ignorance.

Yet you, not as mind, but as maya(?), are aware of that darkness and therefore when you wake up the mind ‘downloads’ the memory of that timeless darkness and can say it was absent during deep sleep.

Not a very good answer, and I know it’s made up to help less mature minds understand but what can I do.

{Reply ends}

In reply to this I wrote:

Yes, answers can be given only from the perspective of the ego, and from the perspective of the ego we have to say that pure self-awareness is aware of the non-existence of the ego, in the sense that it is aware of itself as what alone exists.

Anyway, for what it is worth, I have posted a copy of my reply to you as an article on my blog: What is aware of the absence of the ego and mind in sleep?

Regarding the concept of the causal body remaining in sleep, we are there getting into very dodgy territory, because the causal body exists only for the ego (after all, whose causal body is it if not the ego’s?), so if we postulate the existence of the causal body in sleep, we thereby imply that the ego also exists in some form in sleep, which is clearly not the case, because what we are aware of in sleep is nothing other than ourself.

In another article that I began to write back in June and hope to complete sometime soon I will discuss the subject of the causal body in more detail.

bhāvaṉātīta said...

Michael,
"...where we can find the silence in which everything (namely ourself, which is the only thing) will become clear, namely deep within ourself, in the very core of our being, where pure self-awareness shines all on its own."
Because I never was in that very core of my being I would like urgently to remain there. My previous attempts of self-attention did not unite me with that only estimable silence. So what shall I do now ?.
Presumably I have to improve my practice repeatedly and persistently.

Sanjay Lohia said...

So what will happen to my near and dear ones?

The following extract, which is not verbatim, is taken from the video: 2015-07-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on the path of bhakti:

Michael: Experiencing ourself as we really are is quite easy, but why don’t we experience it? It is because we don’t want to. Because if we experience ourself as we really are, we have to give up everything dear to us, including Barry, Michael …

However, there is no need to give up Barry’s near and dear ones as long as you consider yourself to be Barry, but when you give up Barry you give up everything. So therefore there is no use going and sitting in the Himalayas thinking that we can give up all our desires and attachments by doing so. As long as we are attached to Barry, we are taking our attachments along with us.

What we need to do is not to separate ourself from all our near and dear ones, but all we need to do is to separate ourself from the one whom we take to be ourself (Barry). If you can separate yourself from Barry that is sufficient, because by separating yourself from Barry you are separating yourself from everything, because everything comes into existence only you experience yourself as Barry.

Barry: So what will happen to your nearest and dearest?

Michael: Nothing will happen. The first happening is the ego. What happens in sleep? Nothing happens … When the ego rises either in waking or sleep that is the first happening, and all other happen after that.

So when we experience ourself as we really are, it will be clear that the rising of the ego never happened, and therefore nothing has ever happened. That is called ajata. Ajata means non-birth, non-origination: nothing has ever happened.

However, as long as Barry seems to exist, Barry’s near and dear ones are as real as Barry, so Barry should behave with them accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Michael

"in the sense that it is aware of itself as what alone exists."

Even the above statement doesn't seem right. That awareness constitutes duality. Awareness of self - why should self know itself as 'it alone exists' . Self is always engrossed in beingness and happiness, so the awareness self gains is the consequence of happiness and beingness. Or in other words, awareness is just a product of happiness and beingness and doesn't constitute any new property.. right?

Michael James said...

Anonymous, beingness (in the sense of what actually is), awareness (in the sense of what is aware of what actually is as it actually is) and happiness (in the sense of infinite happiness) are not properties of some other thing, nor are they three separate things, but are just three descriptions of the one thing that actually exists, namely ourself, which is sat-cit-ānanda (being-awareness-happiness).

bhāvaṉātīta said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for your video-extract.
"Michael: Nothing will happen. The first happening is the ego. What happens in sleep? Nothing happens … When the ego rises either in waking or sleep that is the first happening, and all other happen after that."
In sleep the ego does not rise. Presumably you wanted to write "dream" instead of "sleep".

ekatma-vastu said...

"What is aware of the absence of the ego and mind in sleep ?"
That question is itself wrongly put, because how can one or what can be aware of an actually non-existent phantom ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

bhavanatita, yes, as you say ‘In sleep the ego does not rise’, and therefore ‘sleep’ should have been ‘dream’. However, from other perspective our ego can arise only in sleep, but this sleep is the sleep of self-ignorance.

atma-sukha said...

Michael,
"If at that time the ādi-guru [the original guru, Dakshinamurti] made that vastu known [only by] speaking without speaking, say, who can make it known [by] speaking?"

Silly question: Is there any historical evidence that Dakshinamurti actually existed on earth as a human being (in person) or as a real live rishi ?

venkat said...

"bhavanatita, yes, as you say ‘In sleep the ego does not rise’, and therefore ‘sleep’ should have been ‘dream’. However, from other perspective our ego can arise only in sleep, but this sleep is the sleep of self-ignorance."

How do you know this? Is this your experience? Or are you just parroting what Michael or Bhagavan have said? If the latter, at least attribute it to them, rather than talking as if this is your knowledge.

bhāvaṉātīta said...

venkat,
to whom did you address your above comment, to Sanjay Lohia or to me ?

Sanjay Srivastava said...

"Silly question: Is there any historical evidence that Dakshinamurti actually existed on earth as a human being (in person) or as a real live rishi ?"
I do not think there is any historical evidence for this.
However, in the long chain of realised beings someone must have been the first link to get the knowledge of non duality without being told by anyone. For him this knowledge is said to be revealed in silence.

atma-sukha said...

Sanjay Srivastava, thank you for your explanation.
Yes, my starting point for my question was refering to the words "if at that time...".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our life is like a pendulum-clock

Our life is very much like a pendulum-clock. This pendulum – that is, our worldly existence - unceasingly swings between happiness and sadness; hope and despair; excitement and depression; pleasant and unpleasant experiences and so on. Such swing starts at our birth (that is, with starting of every dream) and stops only at our death (that is, with ending of every dream).

At our death the battery of this clock runs out, and therefore we replace its batteries (by resting in laya for a while), and again the swing starts. This is our common story, birth after birth; birth after birth; birth after birth. How monotonous and predictable is our worldly life, but still we do not want to give it up. How fleeting is our life, but still we want to enjoy it. Aren’t we foolish?

However, our sadhana starts slowing down the speed and distance of the swings. That is, our spiritual efforts start reducing the intensity of our dvandvas (happiness and sadness; hope and despair etc.), until at last this swing stops forever. This happens only when we experience ourself as we really are.

Friends, isn’t this how we live our life?

Mouna said...

Thank you Sanjayji, all is there, poetry, depth and wisdom.

m

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, thanks for your encouraging comment.

Sanjay Lohia said...

venkat, this is in response to your two comments addressed to me. I wrote: ‘I didn’t say Michael’s teachings are second to none. What I meant was that his understanding of Bhagavan’s life and his understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings is second to none. This is my opinion’. You quote this and ask me: ‘You have no idea whether Michael's understanding is second to none, or not. It is simply a belief: […]’.

I wrote, ‘This is my opinion’, but you counter this by saying, ‘It is simply a belief’. How is there much difference between the meaning of the words ‘opinion’ and ‘belief’? I don’t see much difference. Therefore, I said the exact thing which you accuse me of not saying.

Yes, my thoughts are strongly influenced by Michael, and therefore I do at times ‘parrot’ whatever he has written or spoken. I don’t see any wrong in this. Michael goes round and round Bhagavan’s teachings, and I also keep rambling on similar lines. Therefore, directly or indirectly, I also keep my attention on Bhagavan’s teachings. I see no harm in this.

Though whatever I write is strongly influenced by Michael, but my ideas are also mixed in it. Therefore, until and unless there is a direct quote from Bhagavan or Michael, how can I attribute all my writings to them? Moreover, it will look odd if I start writing before or after every sentence, ‘Michael says’ or 'as explained by Michael'.




venkat said...

Sanjay

Let me try again with 2 questions.

(1) How have you come to the strong opinion that Michael's understanding of Bhagavan's teaching is second to none? What evidence do you have?

(2) When you write that ". . . until at last this swing stops forever. This happens only when we experience ourself as we really are". How do you know this, to write it so authoritatively? Is it in your experience, that you experience yourself as you really are? If it is not, then are you not just speculating / parroting, however poetic your speculation may be?

Salazar said...

venkat, we are all "parroting", including Michael. But I don't see that in a negative sense and I do enjoy Michael's articles, I like very much his last one on July 27.

As we know, these articles and also the comments here can be only a pointer (at best) and instead to conceptualize, imagine, analyze, elaborate about the nature of awareness until the topic has been beaten down to pulp mercilessly, we could just BE.

venkat said...

Salazar, there is a significant difference between Michael articulating his understanding of Bhagavan's teaching, and his explanations to those who ask him clarification on Bhagavan's teachings (based on his understanding, and which are always supported by direct references to Bhagavan's words), to the two questions that I have asked Sanjay.

scramble said...

Now we apparently are witnessing an amusing match/clash between Tamil Nadu (Venkat) against Karnataka(Sanjay Lohia); and Salazar (perhaps from Australia or USA) is the referee. :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

venkat, you ask me: ‘How have you come to the strong opinion that Michael's understanding of Bhagavan's teaching is second to none? What evidence do you have?’

When we give our opinion on something, we cannot always support it with evidence. Our opinion is generally based on our likes and dislikes, and we can even come to such an opinion based on others’ recommendation, whose opinion we value. Therefore, we cannot always give evidence in support of our opinion. In other words, our opinion is our subjective judgment. According to Oxford online dictionary the word ‘opinion’ means: A view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

Therefore, you question should have been: ‘How do you form such an opinion?’ So I will try to answer this, assuming this is what you meant.

Yes, I believe that Michael’s understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings is second to none. I have been in touch with him since 2012, and have exchanged more than 300-400 emails with him. I have watched all his YouTube videos again and again, and have read all his articles. His explanations of Bhagavan’s teachings are always very clear, and he explains things in detail, often explaining the meaning of each and every word used by Bhagavan. Thus I have no doubt that he has understood Bhagavan’s teachings quite clearly.

Moreover, I have read almost all the English books on Bhagavan published by Sri Ramanasramam and others. I have been listening to the talks by many speakers on Bhagavan since last over 30 years (at our local Ramana Centre), and have listened or interacted with other famous teachers or compilers of Bhagavan’s life and teachings, like Nochur Venkataraman, David Godman and others. In my assessment Michael is most clear among all of them. Moreover he sticks to Bhagavan’s core teachings – that is, most of the time he sticks to Bhagavan’s direct texts: Nan Yar?, Upadesa Undiyar and Ulladu Narpadu. Others are not so focused. In short, his whole life is centred around Bhagavan and his teachings.

However, we all have to form our own opinion. Not all may have such high opinion about Michael, and so it is a matter of personal attunement with the writer or speaker. For example, some are more attracted to Nochur’s explanation of Bhagavan’s teachings. It is understandable.

I will reply to your next question in my next comment.



Sanjay Lohia said...

venkat, since I still experience dvandvas (dualities like happiness and unhappiness, pleasure and pain and so on), I do not write with direct experience when I say, ‘until at last this swing stops forever. This happens only when we experience ourself as we really are’. However, we can clearly come to this conclusion once we read Bhagavan’s core texts.

Who experiences these mental states? It is only our ego or mind which can experience such mental swings. And when this ego or mind is annihilated by our practice of self-investigation, how can the mental swings survive? For example, Bhagavan says in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar:

When [we] scrutinise the form of [our] mind without forgetfulness [that is, without pramada or slackness of attention], [we will discover that] there is no such thing as ‘mind’ [separate from or other than our real self]. For everyone, this is the direct path [the direct means to experience true self-knowledge].

When our mind is found to be not separate from or other than our real self, all our mental activities will cease forever, because thereafter no such thing as ‘mind’ will remain to indulge in such activities. And because all our emotions like happiness, misery, dissatisfaction and so on are just mental thoughts, all these will cease forever.

I can feel some reduction in my mental swings, as a result of whatever little practice I have done. However, these are very much still there, and these will completely disappear only when my ego disappears.

atma-sukha said...

Sanjay Lohia,
referring to your recent comment,
"When our mind is found to be not separate from or other than our real self, all our mental activities ..."
Should you not say more accurately " When our mind is found to exist not at all... ?

Anonymous said...

I agree Sanjay.

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends

GVK, pg 152-153
Vs 522-526

Anonymous said...

Dear Friends

We are all familiar with this quote from Bhagavan...........

The Ordainer controls the fate of souls in accordance with their past deeds.
Whatever is destined not to happen will not happen, try how hard you may.
Whatever is destined to happen will happen, do what you may to stop it.
This is certain. The best course, therefore, is to remain silent.

Does this imply that It is all Siva's Work?

Some examples are in order.......

A friend of mine in California was born without any arms, is this ordained?
YES or NO

The life span of babies born in Sub Saharan Africa is about 5 years of age. Is this ordained.
YES or NO

I suffered a debilitating back injury in Vietnam in 1968. Is this ordained?
YES or NO

A man writes and publishes books and has a blog. Is this ordained?
YES or NO

Circle the correct answer for each question.

If everything is ordained by God how can anyone find fault with what God has ordained?

Finding fault with what God has ordained is akin to walking up to God and slapping him
across the face and telling God he screwed up and needs to clean up his act and stop making bad decisions.


ekatma-vastu said...

Anonymous,
shall we doubt Bhagavan's statement of 1898 ?
Certainly no.
Therefore the correct answer to all the four questions is : YES
Because the ordainer is never in error.

ekatma-vastu said...

Anonymous,
regarding GVK, Part Two, The Practice of the Truth,
chapter 6. The Delusion of Arguments, verses 522-526,
Do you agree with them or do you have any objections to them ?

venkat said...

Sanjay,

Michael sticks to Bhagavan's written works and takes a very literal interpretation of those few terse verses that he has written, and explains away GVK, Talks, and what others have expressed, where these seemingly contradict a literal interpretation of his written words. He may be right to do so - I do not know.

Michael also takes a liberal interpretation of advaita vedanta's teachings and those of Shankara - much of which can be challenged.

None of us know whether Michael is right or wrong in his interpretation of Bhagavan's written material - none of us were present with Bhagavan, or had the opportunity to question him to seek clarification. Words, Vedanta tells us, are just pointers: we need to go beyond words to understand truth.

Therefore why indulge in shows of pro-Michael or pro-Bhagavan chauvinism, clothed as bhakti, that elevates them over a David Godman or a Krishnamurti or a Papaji. How can one definitively conclude that other respected people are misguided or erroneous? It may be so, but you can never know for certain. The only thing which we can know for certain is that we are; what we are, or what the world is, who knows.

The world is already full enough of nationalism, racism, and every other form of "-ism". These are just the games that our minds play to feel special, to feel right, to feel secure. It is the same tendency, albeit less extreme, that one sees in the Christian right in America, or in ISIS, or in the Hindu nationalists in India, or the Buddhist fundamentalists in Sri Lanka and Burma. My religion, my beliefs, first.

Liberation must mean, by definition and at a minimum, freedom . . . freedom from all bondage . . . freedom from all the limitations that society, family and one's own predilections / beliefs, have imposed upon us. Freedom may also mean more than that as Bhagavan suggests, but surely one has to start with the basics.

It is one thing to seek to understand Bhagavan's teachings, and to try to apply them for oneself. It is entirely another to become evangelical about one's belief in them before their veracity has been realised for oneself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, contrary to what you write, Michael has not written any verses of his own, and he has merely translated whatever Bhagavan wrote. Again contrary to what you claim, Michael has very high opinion about Guru Vachaka Kovai. This was almost a joint work by Muruganar and Bhagavan, and therefore the recordings in GVK is valuable. Yes, this may not be as crisp, concise and direct as Bhagavan’s other works: Nan Yar?, Upadesa Undiyar and Ulladu Narpadu, but it is useful. Sadhu Om and Michael have jointly translated this work from original Tamil into English.

Michael had learnt Tamil while he was in India for 20 years, and therefore he is quite proficient in Tamil. He is also well conversant with Sanskrit (especially the Sanskrit used in spiritual literature). Thus we should not have doubts about the correctness of his translations. He takes a lot of care to explain the meaning of each and every word used by Bhagavan.

I agree when you say, ‘Liberation must mean, by definition and at a minimum, freedom . . . freedom from all bondage’. But what is in bondage? It is only our ego: it is bound in time and space within this body. How to destroy the ego? It can be destroyed only by vigilant and sustained self-investigation. Bhagavan clearly says in verse 24 of Ulladu Narpadu that ‘bondage’ (bandha) is another name for the ego.

You seem to imply that some of us are evangelical about promoting our own beliefs and ideas in the name Bhagavan’s teachings. Evangelical according to Oxford online dictionary means: Zealous in advocating or supporting a particular cause. But we don’t go out into the world to promote Bhagavan’s teachings. We share it among those who are interested to discuss these. Bhagavan never went out into the word to promote his teachings, and he merely answered peoples questions, and Michael does the same. He answers our questions through his e-mails, articles, videos and so on. How is this evangelism?

Bhagavan has given us the most simple, direct and efficacious way to know who we really are. However, the choice is clearly ours: we can try to follow his advice and see if his path works for us, or we can go on doing whatever we are doing. He doesn’t force his teachings on us. If we do not need his guidance, he is content to remain silent.


venkat said...

Sanjay

I think you have misunderstood the gist of my comment.

When I wrote: "Michael sticks to Bhagavan's written works and takes a very literal interpretation of those few terse verses that HE HAS WRITTEN", by HE I meant Bhagavan. I am also aware that Michael translated GVK with Sadhu Om. But GVK, and Murugunar's comments on it, sometimes SEEMINGLY contradict Bhagavan's own written works, or Michael's interpretation of them. Hence my observation (which may be erroneous) that Michael does not refer to GVK that often.

When I wrote about being evangelical, it was not a comment about Michael.

I agree that Michael takes great care and effort in translation, and that is why we are at this website. However, Bhagavan's relatively few written verses, translated carefully into English by Michael, still generates so many questions and requests for clarification, and as you point out, 300-400 emails between you and Michael. Therefore we can conclude that INTERPRETATION of Bhagavan's intended meaning is still required. But can our minds discriminate which INTERPRETATION (not translation) is best?

This, no doubt, is why there were so many clarification questions in Bhagavan's own time, which have been captured in the various Talks that have been recorded; inevitably through the subjective interpretation of those who recorded them.

Going further, given that Bhagavan, and all the gurus, tell us that our minds are deceptive, not to be trusted and the root of our problems, we need to appreciate that our minds / thoughts can only take us so far. In advaita the emphasis is on, through discrimination (viveka), negating (detachment from, vairagya) what is false. This is Bhagavan's atma vichara as well, which focuses on the root falsehood: I / ego / mind.

Saying this in a different way . . . we can only take words as initial pointers to truth, which we then have to investigate for ourselves. And the most basic truth is that the ego is not real, the idea of I separate from the rest of the world is clearly not true, and any and every thought we have is just an outcome of our conditioning, our past. Therefore all we can do is to understand that 'we' can never know truth; we can watch for falsehood (the 'I') whenever it arises; and presumably silence will eventually preside as our natural state.

Consequently, in the context that our minds can never know truth, indulging in mental concepts about one jnani is better than another, or Michael's understanding is greater than another's, is missing the point entirely of Bhagavan's teaching.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, you claim that ‘But GVK, and Murugunar's comments on it, sometimes SEEMINGLY contradict Bhagavan's own written works, or Michael's interpretation of them’. Could you give us some examples of these contradictions? As far as my understanding goes, Bhagavan’s, Muruganar’s, Sadhu Om’s and Michael’s writings and explanations are always in sync.

Yes, Michael refers more often to Ulladu Narpadu, Nan Yar? and Upadesa Undiyar, and refers less frequently to the verses from Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam and GVK; however, these works also contain Bhagavan's teachings in its pure form.

Yes, Bhagavan’s words needs explanations, because what he wrote was sometimes like sutras (aphorisms). He has given us many profound ideas in their seed form, and this where the roles of the like of Sri Muruganar, Sri Sadhu Om and Sri Michael James are so useful. They have clarified, expanded and explained these ideas, and without such explanations it would have been difficult to understand Bhagavan’s teachings.

Yes, our mind can never know the truth, because it has to permanently subside before the truth is revealed.

venkat said...

Sanjay, I have made the references to GVK in previous months. However this is irrelevant. You are missing the primary point of my comments, so let's not continue this.

Anonymous said...

So is 'I am that I am' is the right description of 'Self' ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, yes, ‘I am that I am’ or ‘I am I’ is the perfect description of ourself as we really are. It means: ‘I am I and nothing but I’.

Bhagavan said this statement ‘I am that that I am’ from Bible is the greatest mahavakya, even greater than the Upanishadic mahavakyas like ‘I am Bhahman’. Why is it so? It is because when we say ‘I am I’ our attention is not split between ‘I’ and the concept of Brahman, which we may take to something other than ourself. Though Brahman is what we really are, it itself is ‘I am’

ekatma-vastu said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"Yes, our mind can never know the truth, because it has ...".
Nevertheless, if the mind is sharpened enough it can give us - although only to a certain degree - a rather reliable conceptual framework of decent guidelines with which we can be safe from become bewildered.

Sanjay Lohia said...

ekatma-vastu, I wrote: ‘our mind can never know the truth, because it has to permanently subside before the truth is revealed’. However, as you imply, a reliable conceptual framework is of great help on this path. That is why Michael constantly stresses the need for regular sravana and manana of Bhagavan’s teachings. However, without nidhidyasana, our sravana and manana will not be of much help.

We need a reasonable intellectual understanding to practise atma-vichara correctly, and our intellectual understanding will also help us to understand why atma-vichara is the only path which can enable us to experience ourself as we really are.

Our ego is born in bewilderment, and as long as it exists it will remain bewildered. Our ego is so confused that it sometimes takes itself to be a body, and at other times it takes itself to be a mind. See how confused it is! Therefore it is only when we are able to experience ourself as we really are, will all our confusion and bewilderment end forever.

ekatma-vastu said...

Sanjay Lohia,
as you say to be what we actually are not only in sleep but also in waking and dream is the best remedy to stop our confusion. But firstly we have to shake off that objectionable burden from our shoulders.

ekatma-vastu said...

"Pure self-awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, but in some way that our mind cannot adequately conceive it is clearly aware that it alone exists. This is why Bhagavan was confidently able to make statements such as the following..."
In other words: sleep as our natural state of pure self-awareness is - quite well only seemingly - superimposed by waking and dream. Therefore sleep is not different from atma-jnana.