Thursday, 6 July 2017

What we actually are is just pure self-awareness: awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself

A friend recently wrote to me:
You say that the Self is always self-aware. What about then the concept of Parabrahman (where awareness isn’t aware that it is aware). Isn’t this a contradiction? Ramesh Balsekar used this phrase a lot in his teaching for instance.

Can you comment on this please.
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him:

How can we be aware without being aware that we are aware? Can you not see the obvious absurdity in such an idea?

Parabrahman’ is just another name for brahman, because if parabrahman were anything other than brahman that would entail duality, and it would mean that both brahman and parabrahman are limited.

And what is brahman? According to one mahāvākya (‘prajñānaṁ brahma’) it is prajñāna, pure awareness, and according to another mahāvākya (‘tat tvam asi’) you are that. So brahman is what we actually are, which is just pure awareness: that is, awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself.

It is not aware of any objects or phenomena, but it is aware that it is (‘I am’), and since it is awareness (in the sense of being what is aware), its being aware that it is entails it being aware that it is aware, as Bhagavan implies in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
உள்ள துணர வுணர்வுவே றின்மையி
னுள்ள துணர்வாகு முந்தீபற
      வுணர்வேநா மாயுள முந்தீபற.

uḷḷa duṇara vuṇarvuvē ṟiṉmaiyi
ṉuḷḷa duṇarvāhu mundīpaṟa
      vuṇarvēnā māyuḷa mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: உள்ளது உணர உணர்வு வேறு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḷḷadu uṇara uṇarvu vēṟu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarv[u]-ē nām-āy uḷam.

அன்வயம்: உள்ளது உணர வேறு உணர்வு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḷḷadu uṇara vēṟu uṇarvu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam.

English translation: Because of the non-existence of [any] awareness other [than what exists] to be aware of what exists, what exists (uḷḷadu) is awareness (uṇarvu). Awareness alone exists as we.
Likewise in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (the meaning of which I discussed in detail in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 12: other than the real awareness that we actually are, there is nothing to know or make known) he says what knows or is aware of anything other than itself (namely the ego or mind) is not real awareness, but that since one shines without another to know or to cause to know, oneself is real awareness, implying that what we actually are is only awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself:
அறிவறி யாமையு மற்றதறி வாமே
யறியும துண்மையறி வாகா — தறிதற்
கறிவித்தற் கன்னியமின் றாயவிர்வ தாற்றா
னறிவாகும் பாழன் றறி.

aṟivaṟi yāmaiyu maṯṟadaṟi vāmē
yaṟiyuma duṇmaiyaṟi vāhā — daṟitaṟ
kaṟivittaṟ kaṉṉiyamiṉ ḏṟāyavirva dāṯṟā
ṉaṟivāhum pāṙaṉ ṟaṟi
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே. அறியும் அது உண்மை அறிவு ஆகாது. அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும். பாழ் அன்று. அறி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē. aṟiyum adu uṇmai aṟivu āhādu. aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum. pāṙ aṉḏṟu. aṟi.

English translation: What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance [about anything other than itself] is actually aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. That which knows [or is aware of anything other than itself] is not real aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. Since it shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. It is not a void. Know [or be aware].
What we actually are is what is called brahman or parabrahman, and obviously it doesn’t think ‘I am aware’, nor is it aware of itself in the same way that we are aware of objects or phenomena, but it is aware, and therefore it is aware of itself being aware.

There are so many gurus who teach so many confusing and inconsistent ideas, but what Bhagavan has taught us is clear, simple and coherent, so I believe it is best for us to stick to his teachings and thereby avoid being confused by others. He has taught us all that we need to understand, which amounts to the simple fact that all we need do is investigate what we ourself actually are, because that is the only way to eradicate the ego or mind (the false awareness that is aware of things other than itself) and thereby achieve perfect clarity: clarity of pure self-awareness.

16 comments:

D Samarender Reddy said...

Nisargadatta Maharaj and his disciple Ramesh Balsekar use words differently than the way they are used in Traditional Advaita, as in the following:

Traditional Advaita = Nisargadatta Maharaj/Ramesh Balsekar
Awareness / Consciousness = Awareness
Chidabhasa = Consciousness / "I Am"
Nirguna Brahman / Brahman = Parabrahman / Absolute
Saguna Brahman / Ishwara = Brahman

Sanjay Lohia said...

The following extract is taken from the video: 2017-06-10 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on ‘God is love’: This extract contains Michael's ideas, but I have taken the liberty to paraphrase it:

The idea that God is love occurs probably in most religions. If God is infinite, and if he is love, there cannot be any other love, and therefore God alone is love. Therefore our real nature is love, because it its essential nature God is what we actually are.

We all have the feeling of love, although this love is mostly directed towards other people and objects. This is not love in its pure form but is just a reflection of pure love. This is a limited expression of the infinite love that we really are. So such love is impure expression of love, and therefore are definitely not God.

We are actually love, but when we rise and experience ourself as this ego, we feel that ‘I am this body’. Since we love ourself, when we experience ourself as this body we transfer our love to this body. It is this wrongly directed love that makes us love our body more than anything else. As Bhagavan used to say something to the effect: ‘who is the one who is not an idol worshipper? Don’t you worship your body like an idol?’

Even those who commit suicide do so because they love themselves. They feel that their body is the cause of all problems and hence all unhappiness, and hence by getting rid of their body they will become happy. Even the seemingly unselfish things or the seemingly altruistic things are done by us for our own satisfaction.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

In reality we are infinite brahman, and brahman loves only itself. But we now seem to be separated from brahman. We don’t experience ourself as infinite whole or infinite pure-awareness. We seem to be a person, limited by time and space, so obviously we feel incomplete and therefore are always looking for something or other.

God is love, and this infinite self-love is itself grace. And what God loves is to be himself, and since he sees us as himself, he loves us to be himself. So the power of grace is constantly drawing our mind to return to our source, and this power is the only real force behind our practice of self-attentiveness. Without such power we would have no interest in attending to ourself. However, the power of maya is unceasingly pulling us outwards, towards objects.

So our sadhana is a tug of war between grace and maya. These powers are one in essence but seem to be working is different directions. Since both are very powerful, this war is never going to be easily won. So we should be prepared for a long-haul, fierce battle. So God or grace is always pulling us within, but our ego or maya is constantly taking us in outward direction. But who gives power to this outward force? It is only our interest in things other than ourself.

The more we resist the outward going tendencies (vishaya-vasanas) of our mind and cultivate the love to know ourself, the more our mind will be purified of these vishaya-vasanas, and thus as a result we would try to attend more and more to ourself.

Bhagavan expresses this beautifully in verse 101 of Aksaramanamalai: ‘Like ice in water, melt me as love in you, the form of love, Arunachala!’ So Bhagavan is saying is that we are like ice in water. We are also made of water, but our love has become cold and frozen like ice, by desiring things other than ourself. This frozen love has to melt and merge back in pure love – Arunachala. Our frozen name and form has to dissolve in the nameless and formless love – our true nature. So finally we have to merge in love.

It is because of this reason that our true nature is also called: asti-bhati-priyam (being-shining-love).

Sanjay Srivastava said...

"How can we be aware without being aware that we are aware? Can you not see the obvious absurdity in such an idea?"
My experience is that most of the time I am aware without being aware that I am aware. It is only an inference in hindsight that tells me that I must have been aware of myself also. So I don't see any absurdity here.

The quoted mail from Michael's friend mentions "where awareness isn’t aware that it is aware". Though Michael's friend has used it as a synonyms of Brahman, the description more fits ordinary everyday awareness. Going one step down, I can imagine that animals do have awareness. But quite likely, awareness there is not aware that it is aware. In any case "where awareness isn’t aware that it is aware" doesn't seem like an absurdity.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sanjay Srivastava, sorry, it seems very clear to me, and I fully agree with Michael when he writes: ‘How can we be aware without being aware that we are aware? Can you not see the obvious absurdity in such an idea?’ The term ‘awareness’ itself conveys the idea of an entity which exists and is aware: aware of itself and possibly aware of things other than itself.

As Michael once explained, suppose if one is watching a film in a movie-hall, one may be completely engrossed in the film, and therefore may feel at a later time that he was not even aware of himself when he was lost in the film. However, how can he deny this existence and the awareness of his existence then? He must have existed at a particular spot in the hall, and he could not have existed without being aware that he existed in that location while he was watching the film. Thus ulladu (what is) entails unarvu (what is aware). Bhagavan has clearly explained this in his original writings.

When you say, ‘animals do have awareness. But quite likely, awareness there is not aware that it is aware’, this is again a misplaced idea. Our animal friends are not at all different from us. In fact, it is well known that their senses are much sharper and receptive than us, so in that sense they are more ‘aware’ than us humans. Yes, they do not speak our language, but they exist, and they know that they exist. Don’t they guard their existence when their life is in danger? Don’t they run away from predators when they are attacked? So definitely they are aware: aware of themselves and aware of others.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

"suppose if one is watching a film in a movie-hall, one may be completely engrossed in the film, and therefore may feel at a later time that he was not even aware of himself when he was lost in the film. However, how can he deny this existence and the awareness of his existence then? He must have existed at a particular spot in the hall, and he could not have existed without being aware that he existed in that location while he was watching the film."

Two things are being mixed up here.

Yes. He cannot deny his existence at the time of watching the movie.
However, I do not see see how it follows from the above that he cannot deny the awareness of his existence at that time.

Similarly, he must have existed at a particular spot in the hall. Agreed.
How does it follow from it that he could not have existed without being aware that he existed?

I do not see any logical necessity in existing and being aware of existing.

Let me put it in this way. Why do you think that one cannot exist without being aware of one's existence?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sanjay Srivastva, yes, one can exist without being aware of one’s existence, however this ‘one’ can be only a jada (insentient) object. All sentient beings have to be necessarily aware of their existence, otherwise how we can call them ‘sentient beings’?

Sanjay, do you exist or not? I am sure you do exist, at least in you view? But how do you know that you exist? You have to necessarily admit: ‘because I am aware of my existence’. How can anything actually exist without being aware of its existence? If anything can exist without being aware of its own existence, the thing will not exist in its own view. This should not be difficult to understand.

Sanjay Srivastava said...

"yes, one can exist without being aware of one’s existence, however this ‘one’ can be only a jada (insentient) object. All sentient beings have to be necessarily aware of their existence, otherwise how we can call them ‘sentient beings’? "

All sentient beings have to be necessarily aware of their existence. True. No doubt about that.
But my doubt is -do they have to be necessarily aware of their existence all the time? I don't see why it has to be so.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sanjay Srivastava, Bhagavan says in paragraph two of Nan Yar?:

[…] the arivu [knowledge, awareness or consciousness] that stands isolated alone is ‘I’. The nature of [this] knowledge [‘I am’] is sat-cit-ananda [being-consciousness-bliss].

Therefore, awareness or consciousness is our nature; it is what we actually are. In fact, we are nothing but pure-awareness. As Michael says through the title of this article: What we actually are is just pure self-awareness: awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself. How can we not be ourself at times - that is, how can we not be pure-awareness at times? It is just impossible and also illogical.

Bhagavan once said something to the effect: ‘Consciousness plus waking is called ‘waking’; consciousness plus dream is called ‘dream’; and consciousness plus ‘sleep’ is called ‘sleep’’. So we are always awareness or consciousness. The transitory states of waking, dream and sleep pass over our ever-present and unchanging awareness, but we never cease to be or cease to experience ourself as arivu (awareness).

Once our ego is destroyed, all these transitory states will disappear forever, and we will thereafter experience only pure-awareness. At present our pure-awareness is mixed up with all its adjuncts – that is, mixed up with this body and its other adjuncts. It is for this reason that we are confused about our real identity. All this confusion will vanish when our ego is destroyed, and it can be destroyed only by looking at it very-very closely.





pūrṇatva said...

"..., but what Bhagavan has taught us is clear, simple and coherent, so I believe it is best for us to stick to his teachings and thereby avoid being confused by others. He has taught us all that we need to understand, which amounts to the simple fact that all we need do is investigate what we ourself actually are, because that is the only way to eradicate the ego or mind (the false awareness that is aware of things other than itself) and thereby achieve perfect clarity: clarity of pure self-awareness."
It is said that we need an one-pointed mind for reaching perfection in the method of self-enquiry and therefore we should acquire the mind's strength and power of endurance.
At present my mind is far from having achieved the required one-pointedness.
Is there any help to get that quality of mind ?

Is the ego real ? said...

"Because of the non-existence of [any] awareness other [than what exists] to be aware of what exists, what exists (uḷḷadu) is awareness (uṇarvu). Awareness alone exists as we."
So how can the ego even seem to exist ? Due to our dense ignorance maya got the facts completely wrong. Unfortunately we fell an easy prey to the veiling power of maya.
Off with you, maya. Get away from there !

real aṟivu said...

Michael,
"What we actually are is what is called brahman or parabrahman, and obviously it doesn’t think ‘I am aware’, nor is it aware of itself in the same way that we are aware of objects or phenomena, but it is aware, and therefore it is aware of itself being aware."
When (para)brahman is aware of itself being aware - it seems to be aware of itself being aware of itself being aware of itself being aware and so on and so forth...
So what is or could be the contents of pure self-awareness or such an orgy of awareness ?

Baby_steps said...

2 points:

1- What about a 2-year old baby?

He is definitely aware, and definitely exists, but he isn't aware that he exists nor that he is aware.


2- Isn't "being aware of being aware" or "being aware of existing" just a human concept?
Can't Pure Awareness just be Pure Awareness and exist without knowing that it "exists" ?
Isn't existence just a concept that needs non-existence to know what existence is?
So that would "put" Awareness just existing, simply being «, without knowing that it exists. Existing without needing to know it. Like a 2-year old?


Would love your inputs, including yours Sri Michael James.

bhāvaṉātīta said...

Baby_ steps,
awareness is the very knowing of its existence. The fact that the mind of a 2 year old child is not completely developed does not mean that he/she is not aware of his existence. On the contrary he/she is quite vividly aware of his/her awareness.
Awareness is the very nature of (concept-free) being.
You may read also Michael's article of Friday, 1 August 2014
"Self-awareness is the very nature of 'I' "
For instance there is written:
" Unlike the awareness that we have of anything else, which is temporary and therefore not ‘I’, our awareness of ourself is ‘I’, ourself, because it is permanent and because self-awareness is perfectly non-dual — that is, it is devoid of even the least duality, division or otherness. Hence the ‘I’ that is aware of itself, itself of which it is aware, and the awareness that it has of itself are all one and indivisible. Its self-awareness is not just awareness of ‘I’, but is awareness that actually is ‘I’. Its awareness of itself is itself, because its very nature is self-awareness.

Therefore, though ‘I’ is always self-aware, it is not aware of itself as an object (as it is aware of any other thing), nor is it aware of itself by any act of cognition or coming to know (as it is aware of any other thing), because it is aware of itself just by being itself, since self-awareness is its very nature. This is why Sri Ramana says in verse 26 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

தானா யிருத்தலே தன்னை யறிதலாந்
தானிரண் டற்றதா லுந்தீபற
தன்மய நிட்டையீ துந்தீபற.

tāṉā yiruttalē taṉṉai yaṟidalān
tāṉiraṇ ḍaṯṟadā lundīpaṟa
taṉmaya niṭṭhaiyī dundīpaṟa.

பதச்சேதம்: தானாய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம், தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால். தன்மய நிட்டை ஈது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām, tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl. taṉmaya niṭṭhai īdu.

English translation: Being oneself alone is knowing oneself, because oneself is devoid of two. This is tanmaya-niṣṭha [the state of being firmly established as tat, ‘it’ or ‘that’, the one absolute reality called brahman]."

baby_steps said...

Hi bhāvaṉātīta27. Thank you for replying.

I understand what you commented, but see, the mind of a 2 year old exists is is aware but it doesn't know it exists.. Existence is a concept created by the intellect. It is only after the child is like 15 years old that says 'oh sure I am aware of existing as a 2 year old'. Yes but when you were 2, you were not. You simply existed. You simply were aware. You simply were.

As you posted Bhagavan says 'Being oneself is knowing oneself'

Awareness simply being, IS awareness knowing itself.

This means Awareness IS.
It doesn't mean awareness is aware of itself, because there is no itself!
Awareness simply IS (Being-ness).

When we say awareness is only aware of itself, that is to help our ignorant minds understand that there is nothing else besides awareness;
and that it is not aware of the absence of everything (like the state of being aware of nothingness that the egomind postulates after-sleep).
It simply Is.

bhāvaṉātīta said...

baby_steps,
what you say seems to be not correct.
How can the boy be aware and simultaneously thus not know his own existence ?
Of course his mind does not already know the content/significance of the word/term "exist". But there is no need to know such a term in order to be aware of his existence. Knowing his existence includes awareness of his simply being.
Why making the subject more complicated than necessary ?
Simply existing is not different from simply being aware or simply being.
You say "Awareness simply is being-ness". You seem to postulate an awareness without any contents. Can there be awareness of nothing ?
How do you know that there is "no itself" ?
Because we do not speak of awareness of other things than itself we may state that (only) pure self-awareness is only aware of itself alone.
What you call "Being aware of nothingness" seems to characterize our awareness in deep sleep in which it is aware of neither the mind and nor its perceived objects but of ourself as we actually are, our pure self-awareness which is incessantly aware of itself.