Monday, 11 September 2017

How to find the source of ‘I’, the ego?

A friend recently wrote to me, ‘I am a Ramana devotee. Bhagavaan asked to watch the “I” and find the source of this. I am watching the “I” whenever my mind is not needed for my work. I am so happy with watching the “I” all the times. [...] How to find the source of this? Should I try to keep my mind in right side of the heart?’, and the following is what I replied to him:

What we now experience as ‘I’ is the ego, which is a limited and distorted form of self-awareness — an awareness of ourself as a finite body, which is not what we actually are. When we rise and stand as this ego (as in waking and dream) countless other phenomena seem to exist, and when we do not rise or stand as this ego (as in sleep) nothing else seems to exist. Therefore in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says:
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 [the ego] is alone is giving up everything.
In other words, the ego is the root from which everything else springs, so nothing else exists independent of the ego. Therefore everything else, including whatever body we mistake ourself to be, is just a mental projection, and what projects and perceives it all is only the ego.

Therefore how can the body or any location in it be the source from which we rise as this ego? Unless and until we rise as this ego there is no body nor any other phenomena, so the source from which the ego rises must be whatever exists prior to and independent of its rising.

What exists in the absence of the ego? The ego exists (or rather seems to exist) only in waking and dream, so since neither the ego nor any phenomena exist in sleep, the source of the ego must be only what exists alone in sleep, namely pure self-awareness.

Since pure self-awareness exists not only in sleep but also in waking and dream, and since nothing else exists without a break in all these three states, it alone is what we actually are. However though it exists in waking and dream, in the view of ourself as this ego it seems to be obscured, because instead of experiencing ourself as pure self-awareness (that is, as ‘I am’ alone), we experience ourself as self-awareness mixed with adjuncts as ‘I am this body’, which is the ego.

Therefore the source of the ego (and hence of everything else) is only ourself as we actually are, which is pure self-awareness. However in the view of ourself as this ego, what we actually are now seems to be this ego, so in order to see what we actually are we (as this ego) need to examine ourself (this ego) very closely.

If we mistake a rope to be a snake, what is the source of that illusory snake? What exists prior to the misperception of the rope as a snake is only the rope, so the rope is the source from which the illusory appearance of the snake has arisen. In the same way pure self-awareness is the source from which the illusory appearance of the ego has arisen.

In order to see the rope as it actually is, the only way is to look at the snake very carefully until we see that it is not a snake but just a rope. Likewise in order to see ourself as we actually are, namely as pure self-awareness, the only way is to look at, watch or attend to this ego very carefully until we see that it is not actually an ego (a finite adjunct-bound form of self-awareness that experiences itself as ‘I am this body, a person called so-and-so (Shreehari, Michael or whatever)’) but just pure self-awareness, which experiences itself only as ‘I am’ (or as ‘I am I, and nothing other than I’).

Therefore the practice of being self-attentive, which is what you describe as ‘watching the I’, is the only way to find the source from which this ‘I’ (the ego) has arisen, just as looking carefully at the illusory snake is the only way to find its source, namely the rope from which it appeared.

Since everything else depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as this ego, and since the ego will cease to exist when we find its source (that is, when we see ourself as pure self-awareness), in order to find its source we must be willing to let go of (give up or surrender) everything. To cultivate such willingness all we need do is just persevere in watching ‘I’ (ourself, the ego) as much as possible, because the more we watch ourself the more our love to be aware of ourself alone will increase, and correspondingly our desire to be aware of anything else will decrease.

Therefore, since you say you are so happy watching ‘I’, all you need do is to continue doing so as keenly and as much as possible. This is the simple, clear and direct road back to our home, the source from which we have arisen.

121 comments:

Simeon said...

Michael James,
you state "To cultivate such willingness all we need do is just persevere in watching ‘I’ (ourself, the ego) as much as possible, because the more we watch ourself the more our love to be aware of ourself alone will increase, and correspondingly our desire to be aware of anything else will decrease."
I live in a Christian background. In the given context of your article the approach "To be aware of ourself alone" does just not mean to be aware as the ego. Nevertheless it sounds to be an egoistical way of thinking. Where is the border between Ramana Maharshi's way and egomaniac behaviour in daily practice ?

Anonymous said...

Michael James,

Most jnani yogis have been self realized within 5 years.

You have been practicing for decades and you are not self realized, how come?

In another post you said

"The person that we now mistake ourself to be can never attain 'self-realisation' or 'enlightenment'. All we as a person can do is to turn our attention within"

The question back then was simple, if you are self realized or not...

A self realized person will be able to tell if he is self realized or not.

"The question whether a certain person has attained 'self-realisation' is truly both meaningless and useless. The idea or belief that a certain person has attained 'self-realisation' is just a thought, "

So with that logic I might as well doubt that ramana is self realized.

"Since we ourself are true self-knowledge, why should we imagine that we see that self-knowledge in any other person? We can experience self-knowledge only in ourself, and we can never find it or truly know it in any other person."

Okay, this brings back ramana, since we can't truly know it, why are we following ramana's teachings?

Nisargatta was self realized, he put an end to sorrow and lived his life in continous happiness and bliss.

I feel that you always repeat yourself to many times that we should put our attention on our self to destroy the ego...

But sir, I just feel that you are following it in the neo-advaita perspective.

In today's timeline, there are practioners that have meditated on the "I am" for a couple of years for many hours a day and eventually became self realized. no more ego, no more sorrow and just infinite bliss... such as Michael Langford.

So are you saying he is not self realized?

Anonymous said...

This is Not the anonymous above...

I think you, MJ, should start moderating comments.

Anonymous said...

So anything you disagree with should not exist correct? Oh boy...

Salazar said...

To the first Anonymous: Michael is not following the neo-advaita perspective that is ridiculous. He is following closely Bhagavan’s teaching and many can learn a lot from his articles if they feel so inclined.

At some point we all like to speculate who is Self-realized or not but it is a waste of time to do so. I don’t believe that Michael Langford is Self-realized, nor anybody else on the spiritual circuit like Adyashanti or all those people who showed up on Batgap.

And regarding the statement, “most Jnanis have self-realized within 5 years” why not you? You are just looking at the last life of these Jnanis, however from the first thought “I want to become Self-realized” until to become actually realized there could be easily thousands of years.

"Time" exists only for the mind. Nothing can be attained, that attainment is just an imagination.


Anonymous said...

Why wouldn't you believe Langford and others such as Ramana yeah?

I am not self realized because i haven't even practiced self inquiry for 1 year.

That attainment is a state of conscious. Not some far away imagination goal.

It's your choice to believe who is self realized or not, but the facts that it takes years and not decades still holds. This goed for ancient jnani Yogi's and some of our current time line.

If it takes decades, then perhaps the practice is practiced wrongly, or not with enough effort

Salazar said...

Dear Anonymous, yes we all have a choice what to believe. Good luck with your beliefs.

Take care.

P.S. Don't be disappointed when after four more years you don't seem to be enlightened. Then don't blame yourself for lack of effort, maybe you just want to review your beliefs.

Anonymous said...

Even if I won't be self realized, i am most of the time in a very blisful state because I am putting effort

Anonymous said...

I think Bhagavan would say that we all are self-realized, but presently there is confusion and we think that we are not. The thinking is the problem, not just 'thinking that we are not realized', all thoughts!

Self is what we are right now, being so, is not to be attained, otherwise it'd mean that it's not eternal, and why strain for what's subject to coming and going?
yes, I'm lazy!

If there is bliss it must come from ourselves and not due to any 'effort' being put.. ain't effort the opposite of just 'being', that is effortless?
maybe that very same effort is obstructing the bliss..


just some thoughts from Nobody..

Anonymous said...

No, it's because I put a lot of effort into my practice that I experience all the good stuff.

No self inquiry = no bliss and no goal towards self realization.

If we were the self right now we would all be in a state of bliss.

"I think Bhagavan would say that we all are self-realized,"

And yet his "mind" is totally transformed than %99 of the world.



Anonymous said...

We are what we are (whether you call it self or whatever name you prefer) no matter what, there's no question of 'becoming' self.

someone says I have a body, I have a mind, therefore there must be some 'I' different from both the body and mind: that is what we are at all times.. problem is in language your(self), my(self), our(self).. etc
the mind can't deny it, so we are the self all the time, even now while mind is operating; it's with the coming of the mind (and language) that comes the confusion that you are not the self..

Instruction was also 'Be still'; that means stop all your efforts at 'doing' and remain quiet.

Dean P said...

Thanks for this post, MJ. It was very helpful, and also concise and to the point. I do have a question though, in that I feel there's a difference in watching the "I" as if looking for an object, versus abiding as the "I" and noticing it as one's self. Would you recommend the second way of self-attending? ie. Abiding as "I" and indirectly observing it, rather than seeking out the "I" as an object? I know this sounds awfully confusing. Apologies.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We have to find satisfaction and contentment only within ourself

The following extract (which is more of a paraphrase of Michael’s ideas) is taken from the video: 2017-09-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on unconditional surrender:

Bhagavan is all knowing, all powerful and all loving. Such a one is taking care of us by ordaining our prarabdha. Therefore, all the events that are happening in our life are for our ultimate spiritual benefit. Since he is all-knowing, nothing is hidden from him; since he is powerful, he can do anything for us; and since he is all-loving, whatever prarabdha he decides for us is out of his love for us..

So however unpleasant experiences we have to undergo, they are all for our good. If we believe this, that makes it much easier for us to accept whatever unpleasant things happen in our life with equanimity.

Whatever good happens will soon go away, likewise whatever bad happens will also go away. So why should be celebrate the good, and mourn the bad? However, such equanimity will not come easily to us. It requires hard word. This is where our spiritual exercises help us.

We should give up to the extent possible all our likes and dislikes, our strong desires and attachments. In fact we should surrender our will to the will of Bhagavan. Our will is nothing but the collection of our likes and dislikes, desires and attachments, fears and aversions. However, we cannot totally give up all these before we fully surrender our ego. But we can try to do so as much as possible.

Fear is also a very-very powerful thing. Fear ultimately comes out of desire, because if we didn’t desire anything, we wouldn’t fear anything. Why do we fear to lose our life, or fear to have an accident? It is because we desire to continue in this body for as long as possible. So basically fear is just the reflection of our own desires.

We can cultivate the habit of contentment or satisfaction – we should try to remain content with whatever Bhagavan gives us. Why do we need to have money in our bank? Why do we need life insurance? We feel we need all these things because we do not trust Bhagavan. When we are looking for security in material things, it’s a false security. It will never satisfy us even if we have got billions. We will still feel insecure. Probably a billionaire feels more insecure than most of us, because they have to constantly worry about how to firstly preserve their immense wealth, and to then to multiply them.

So we can never get satisfaction and contentment from the material things in the world. We have to find that satisfaction and contentment only within. We can only do that by surrendering our will to Bhagavan, by accepting whatever is to happen will happen. We cannot fight with our destiny, and why should we fight it? After all, our destiny reflects Bhagavan’s infinite love for us.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Dean P, you have asked a few questions to Michael. If you permit me, I would like to respond to these. However, I am not replying on behalf of Michael, and therefore Michael may respond in due course.

‘I’ is not an object, and therefore we cannot watch, observe, look or attend to ourself like a subject attending to an object. We have to attend to ourself – that, it is the subject (the ego) attending the subject (the ego). So whatever terms we may use to describe our practice of atma-vichara, whether we call it self-attentiveness, self-investigation, self-remembrance, self-abidance, self-scrutiny, self-examination, looking at ‘I’, observing ourself, self-enquiry, or whatever, the practice remains exactly the same.

However, as Michael often says, the best description of this practice is ‘being attentively self-aware’.

What exactly is the practice of self-investigation? It is just to be attentively aware of ourself, to the exclusion of everything else. How do we look at the sun? We just look up in the direction of the sun, very simple. Likewise, instead of attending to other things, we try and attend only to ourself. This is the simple practice of self-attentiveness.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Simeon, if you permit me, I would like to share my views on the questions you have put to Michael.

‘To be aware of ouself alone’ indeed means to be aware of our ego, the mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’. However, when we try to be aware of ourself, our intention should be to attend to the ‘I am’ aspect (by ignoring the 'body' aspect) of this mixed awareness ‘I am this body’.

There is nothing egoistical about this practice of self-investigation. On the contrary, this practice is the very antithesis of egotism. The more we try and be attentively self-aware, the more our ego will start subsiding in its source – its source being ourself as we really are.

This practice will not push us into ‘egomaniac behaviour’, as you seem to imply, but make our ‘egomaniac behaviour’ normal. One has to practise it to see its efficacy.

Anasuya said...

What is the use of the self which we supposedly have left it some time or other ?
Does the self "feel sorry" for that and does it want that we come back ?
Rather it seems to have or show not much interest to decisively intervene in our fate.
Because we have botched up our "performance" - is it really a pity about us complete idiots ? Now we bear a striking resemblance to astronauts who have lost radio contact/communication to the ground station i.e. the self.
Have we not become completely detached from our source - if there is any ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anusaya, you have asked some interesting questing. May I try to respond to them?

We have not left our true self, even though it may seem that we have left ourself. You ask, ‘What is the use of the Self’. What is the use of the ground on which we stand on? If suppose we are somehow able to fly in the sky like a bird, we have to come to the ground sooner or later, because we can get rest only on the ground. So if we want perfect rest, satisfaction and happiness, we have no option but to return to our source, our real self.

Yes, our self does want us to return to self, and this call is through the power of grace. Bhagavan just is, and he wants us to be as he himself is. Therefore, he ordains our prarabdha (destiny) is such a way that we become ready to return home. Of course, he is ever waiting in our heart awaiting our return to him.

You also say, ‘Now we bear a striking resemblance to astronauts who have lost radio contact/communication to the ground station i.e. the self. Have we not become completely detached from our source - if there is any?’ We could be like astronauts, but we have certainly not ‘lost radio contact/communication to the ground station i.e. the self’. We are always connected to our basic and immutable pure awareness, even though this connection may seem to be slightly week or disturbed at times.

Why do we feel alienated from our true nature? It is because we are more interested in things other than ourself – our desires and attachments keep us bound to this world. The solution is to reverse this, by being attentively self-aware as much as possible, and as intensely as possible.




Simeon said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for sharing your view.
Mother Teresa in large part laid down her life to the human service to the poor in Kolkata.
She served certainly not in a egoistical way but subsided her ego to the Lord.
Do you think that she tried to be "attentively self-aware" ?
So far as I know she was not very fond of the hinduistic belief and behaviour because most of the Bengali people did not care for the poor fellow men/women.

Anasuya said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for your response.
Your reproach humanity/people for being "more interested in things other than themselves" - you name their desires and attachments - is told a bit unthinkly.
Is it not a fact that we do not know our true or real nature at least consciously.
How can one be interested in one's true nature about which one even does not have a presentiment, premonition, idea or clue ?
Therefore it is quite well possible that the in an exemplary fashion mentioned astronauts can never come back to the earth-ground because they are caught in orbiting or revolving around the earth.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Simeon, obviously I cannot say whether or not Mother Teresa tried practicing being attentively self-aware. Yes, she did care for the poor and marginalized people of Calcutta (now called Kolkata), but one cannot be sure if her ego had permanently subsided in Lord.

Bhagavan never went out into the world to help others; however, he did show great compassion towards one and all, and he did whatever was possible to alleviate people’s suffering (when such people came to his presence).

Bhagavan’s main purpose was to give us the path to experience ourself as we really are - which is the path of atma-vichara - and therefore he was not much concerned with any sort of social service.

Thus Bhagavan Ramana and Mother Teresa had different missions to fulfill.

Anonymous said...

Can we really trust his teachings?

Hi got spontenously self realized at the age of 16... He did not have to sit like us and practice self inquiry every day.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, you say, ‘Can we trust his [Bhagavan’s] teachings?’ Only you can answer this question for yourself. I can say that I fully trust his teachings. They are so clear, so direct and so simple. All the principles he has taught us are so coherent and fit together beautifully.

We need to read his teachings again and again, think deeply about them and above all put them into practice. There is no other way to start trusting his teachings.

Simeon said...

Sanjay Lohia,
in Roman Catholic Church it is believed that the Saint Mother Teresa saw in all the needy the face of the Lord Jesus Christ. So the believers are sure that her ego has completely merged with the Lord albeit some professional critics claimed that she had had some flaws or shortcomings or deficiencies. Of course she too had her inner fights.

vale of tears said...

How can we be sure that pure self-awareness exists also in waking and dream ?
If we consider the insane and awful occurrences in the world one might deny/dispute any fundamental pure self-awareness at all. Taking that as one's starting point with a further conclusion one may doubt (the statement) that pure self-awareness alone is what we actually are. In the same way one may doubt that pure self-awareness is the source from which the illusory appearance of the ego has risen. However I must admit this is only the view of my ego which is said to be only a mixture of self-awareness with adjuncts. Needless to say that in waking and dream I experienced myself never as pure-self-awareness alone but only as that problematic mixture of self-awareness mixed with adjuncts as 'I am this body'. Therefore I never saw that this ego is not actually an ego but just pure self-awareness which experiences itself only as 'I am' or as 'I am I, and nothing other than I'.

I do not remember that I have arisen deliberately as this ego. Hence I conclude that this ego came into existence by my prarabdha karma. Nevertheless, I hope that it is too my destiny to become willing to let go of (give up or surrender) everything and thus walk on the direct road back to my home, the source from which I have arisen.

Arunachala, may you help me through weakening my desire to be aware of anything else.

Ravi said...

Friends,
The Source of the 'I' thought is the silence of the being...and it cannot be arrived at by any sort of doing....self-enquiry is to undermine the sense doer,the thinker that is the center of all doing and becoming, through the power of attention.
Attention is not concentration...It is a state of being totally alert and awake and relaxed.
Even in a military Drill when the word 'Attention' is uttered,the soldiers just remain alert and totally receptive to further orders....there is no 'concentration' involved in this...just that all preoccupations of the mind are dropped and one is in a state of alertness and this is alternated with a 'Stand at Ease' command ...Relaxation and alertness go together and this is to be in a state of attention.
Unlike the military drill,the attention in self enquiry is to be an uninterrupted flow...instead of flowing 'I am this' ,'I have to Do this', 'I should not have done this','He should not have said this','What if this thing happens tomorrow',etc,etc...it flows steadily as 'I' 'I' without the interruption and flux of thoughts....this is the song of silence.
Namaskar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Simeon, one who has merged in the Lord cannot have inner fights, because if one has merger in the Lord, one is one with the Lord, and Lord cannot have any inner conflict or fights. God is what we really are, and our true nature is perfect contentment and happiness.

All conflicts belong only to our ego, so if experience any conflict, our ego is still alive, and therefore we have not surrendered fully to God.

However, the ‘inner fights’ of Mother Teresa could be only in our view. So we cannot comment on her inner state with any degree certainty.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, I agree with almost everything you say in your latest comment, except when you say, ‘Attention is not concentration’. However, I agree when you say, ‘It is a state of being totally alert and awake and relaxed’.

Attention entails concentration and vice versa. At least this is how I understand it. What exactly does the term ‘concentration’ mean? According to Oxford Online Dictionary it means: the action or power of focusing all of one’s attention; dealing with one particular thing above all others; single-mindedness.

So we do try to concentrate on ourself when we practise self-investigation. However, this is not a strained concentration like in some of the yogic practices. It is relaxed but alert concentration. It is self-concentration, in which we try to attend to ourself more and more keenly, by ignoring everything else.

Yes, as you say, our practice of self-investigation is like listening to the ‘song of silence’. True silence is like an exposition, Bhagavan used to say.

Ravi said...

Sanjay,
What is the difference between concentration and attention?
In concentration there is a subject-object relationship....where the subject or the center is excluding all other things to focus on the object (or objective)...In attention,there is no center and no such exclusion...this is how it is possible to carry on whatever activity we may be engaged in without getting preoccupied with it and losing the attention.
We may be struggling with self enquiry if we try to 'concentrate' on the 'i' sense...In attention ,there is the silence.
Namaskar

Simeon said...

Sanjay Lohia,
Mother Teresa's inner fights and conflicts occurred certainly prior to merging of the ego with the Lord. With a clear conscience we can consider quite well as a saint of high calibre.
The same applies to Therese of Lisieux, a French Catholic nun (1873-1897), also known as Saint Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.

Arunamalai said...

Michael,
"Unless and until we rise as this ego there is no body nor any other phenomena, so the source from which the ego rises must be whatever exists prior to and independent of its rising."
Can we correctly derive from that statement that prior the birth of a baby's body the baby has no ego ?
Can we further derive that all the dead do not have no longer an ego ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, I am afraid, I do not see much difference between the terms ‘attention’ and ‘concentration’. According to the Oxford Online Dictionary, ‘concentration’ is one of the synonyms of the term ‘attention’.

To me, self-investigation, self-attentiveness and self-concentration mean the same. Others may come in and comment of this, if they feel inclined to do so.

ever free said...

Michael,
"Therefore the source of the ego (and hence of everything else) is only ourself as we actually are, which is pure self-awareness."
If we compare our pure self-awareness with a pond or lake of crystal clear spring water it is quite scarcely conceivable that this clear water could be the source of the ego which is generally considered as (being) something impure/contaminated, polluted, unrefined, defiled, soiled, dirty, unclean, foul, tainted or sullied.
May I dare to question the correctness/truth/faultlessness/exactness of the above statement ?

R Viswanathan said...

"If we compare our pure self-awareness with a pond or lake of crystal clear spring water it is quite scarcely conceivable that this clear water could be the source of the ego which is generally considered as (being) something impure/contaminated, polluted, unrefined, defiled, soiled, dirty, unclean, foul, tainted or sullied. May I dare to question the correctness/truth/faultlessness/exactness of the above statement ?"

Based on everyone's experience in sleep and the faith on Bhagavan's words about non-existence of ego, I take it that the correctness or truth of the statement needs to be verified by every individual by himself/herself by investigating whether the ego really arose at anytime.

I found the following conversation between Sri David Godman and Papaji very useful to have some good understanding of this subject.

(Given as next comment)

The link is:
http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/05/summa-iru.html

R Viswanathan said...

http://sri-ramana-maharshi.blogspot.com/2008/05/summa-iru.html

David: Papaji, no-mind, dead mind and silent mind, what are the differences?

Papaji: Silent mind means to keep quiet temporarily. It is simply a suppression of the objects in the mind. It can happen many times, but it will not last. Still mind is also temporary. Meditation or concentration can result in still mind. It is like the flame of a candle. When there is no breeze, the flame will be still. When a wind comes, the candle will flicker and go out. Still mind will be blown away as soon as it encounters the wind of a new thought.

As for no-mind, I am hearing this question for the first time. No person from India or the West has ever asked me about this before. I am very happy to deal with this question for the first time.

Before we speak about no-mind, we have to see what mind is. Let us start from consciousness. Sometimes you want to look in a mirror to see what you look like. In the same way, consciousness sometimes wants to look at itself to see what it is. A wave will arise in consciousness. It will ask itself, ‘Who am I?’ This wave that arises in consciousness imagines itself to be separate from the ocean. This wave becomes ‘I’, the individual self. Once it has become separate, this ‘I’ degenerates further and starts to create. First there will be space, the vast, frontierless emptiness of infinite space. And along with space, time will be created, because wherever there is space, there must be time. This time becomes past, present and future, and from these three, attachments arise. All creation rises within the past, the present and the future. This is called samsara. Samsarameans time. Samsara is endless past, present and future. Anything which is born in time, which stays in time, will be finished in time. And all this is mind. The ‘I’ arose and created space, then time, then samsara. This ‘I’ has now become mind, and this mind is ‘I’.

Then at some point, an intense desire for freedom will arise. This desire will arise from consciousness itself. Originally there was a descent from consciousness –from the ‘I’ to space to time to samsara. Now there will be an ascent. As you ascend, attachment to physical objects will go, then vital, then mental, then intellectual. Finally, you return to ‘I’ alone. This ‘I’ is still mind.

This ‘I’ has rejected everything. It exists alone with no attachments. It cannot go back to the world of attachments, to samsara. It has a desire for freedom; it wants to return to its original place. This ‘I’ which rose from consciousness is now returning to consciousness. It takes the decision, ‘Become no-mind now,’ and with that decision the ‘I’ is gone, mind is gone. The ‘I’, which is the mind, has been rejected, but there is still something there which is between the ‘I’ and consciousness. This in-between thing is called no-mind. This in-between entity will merge into consciousness, and then it will become consciousness itself.

Look at this cup [pointing at a tumbler on the table]. There is space, emptiness, both inside and outside the cup. The space inside we call ‘inside space’ and the space outside is called ‘outside space’. Why? Because the name and form of the cup divides the inside from the outside. When the name and form are removed, the space inside and the mahat, the greater space, become one. In fact they were always one. From the point of view of the space itself, there never was an inside or an outside. Name and form made it appear that there was an inside and an outside, but the space was never affected by these artificial divisions. Likewise, freedom is always there, always unaffected by names and forms. Name-and-form is ‘I’. When the ‘I’ goes, the walls which appear to divide consciousness are removed. This becomes This.

When you go from mind back to consciousness, you go through this stage of no-mind. In that state there will be the feeling, the recollection, ‘Now I have no-mind’. Gradually, slowly, this no-mind will merge back into the beyond. But how it happens, I do not know.

Sanjay Lohia said...

When faced with imminent death, Venkataraman went within himself to grasp the thing which was most dear to him: his own existence:

The following extract (in the form of a paraphrase) is taken from the video: 2017-09-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on unconditional surrender.

When death comes we will be forcibly separated from our body. If we have not been cultivating the habit of letting go, if we have not been cultivating the habit of even partial surrender, and if we have not been trying to turn within as much as possible, at death we will be forcibly separated from all that we hold most dear.

What happens when a normal person is faced with death? Their minds goes outwards because they are attached to so many things. It has been reported by the people who nearly drowned (or were facing imminent death) that while they were drowning, they see the images of their whole life, starting from their childhood flashing through their minds – one scene after one scene in quick succession. Some survive and report back such occurrence.

When someone is about to die, his mind goes out and tries to grasp all those memories and the things that they hold dear - that is, they try to grasp their identity, their family, their wealth … That is the natural reaction of the mind, because we don’t want to let go.

However, what did Venkataraman do when he felt that death was at his door-steps? Since Venkataraman was already a very ripe soul, since he was already very-very detached, when the fear of death came what he feared to lose was not all his worldly attachments, but his own very existence. ‘When my body dies, am I also going to die?’ This is how he thought to himself. Of course, it was more of a thoughtless investigation. ‘It is well known that when the body is going to die, it will be taken away and burnt or cremated, but will I also become non-existent on my body’s death?’, this is how Venkataraman tried to investigate.

In other words, it was his very existence that he was concerned about. So when faced with imminent death, Venkataraman went within himself with great force and velocity to grasp and protect the thing that was most dear to him: his own existence. So this way he turned within, and merged within. What remained was only Bhagavan, who is pure sat-chit (pure-awareness). However, we are so preoccupied with other things, so we are concerned only about those things, and not therefore concerned about our own existence.

So it is only by cultivating this habit of surrender, and by practising self-investigation as much as possible, day in and day out, throughout our life that we will be ready to let go at the time of death, if we don’t let go before that moment.

So if we don’t surrender ourself before, the moment of death is actually a very good opportunity for us, but we will be able to avail of that opportunity only to the extent that we have practised self-investigation and self-surrender in this life.



ever free said...

R Viswanathan,
thank you for your comment and the given conversation which illustrates vividly the subject. Nevertheless, as you said every individual has to verify the truth of the mentioned statement by himself/herself.

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
The English dictionary cannot give the intended sense of the word 'Attention'...these things cannot be referred to others as well for their opinions...it is not to determine who /what is right and who/what is wrong ...but what is implied in the use of those words.
In concentration we are preoccupied whereas in attention we are not...concentration has a motive whereas attention does not have a motive...we may use any 'word' for this purpose...the key thing is the silence that is unmistakable and needs no interpretation...thought has a motive but silence has no motive.
This is what Thayumanavar says so wonderfully:
கல்லாலின் நீழல்தனில் ஒருநால் வர்க்குங்
கடவுள்நீ உணர்த்துவதுங் கைகாட் டென்றால்
சொல்லாலே சொலப்படுமோ சொல்லுந் தன்மை
துரும்புபற்றிக் கடல்கடக்குந் துணிபே யன்றோ.

Of The Wild Banyan (1/30)

If under the shade of the wild banyan tree
Oh God, what Thou instructeth the peerless Four
Is but the gesture of Thy hand,
Is it possible to teach then by words?
To do so
Would be to attempt to cross the foaming seas,
Floating on a flimsy straw.

Even the Lord Dakshinamurti could only use a gesture of Chinmudra as no words are adequate.
continued....

Ravi said...

Friends,
An excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:
"seeing is far better than hearing. Then all doubts disappear. It is true that many things are recorded in the scriptures; but all these are useless without the direct realization of God, without devotion to His Lotus Feet, without purity of heart. The almanac forecasts the rainfall of the year. But not a drop of water will you get by squeezing the almanac. No, not even one drop.
How long should one reason about the texts of the scriptures? So long as one does not have direct realization of God. How long does the bee buzz about? As long as it is not sitting on a flower. No sooner does it light on a flower and begin to sip honey than it keeps quiet".

Excessive reliance on scriptural texts is a sort of bondage and sooner or later one has to learn to move past it and find the source of inspiration in oneself...the scriptures only serve this purpose.

Namaskar

ever free said...

Sanjay Lohia,
self-surrender to what exactly ?
When I was as a youngster near death while standing in a rock face of only crumbly rock I was forced by the supremely dangerous circumstances to surrender my life and existence to a higher authority. The most I feared to experience the pain of the impact of my body good 80 meters deeper on the rock-ground. Intuitively I did not expect the total end of my very existence. Somehow my prarabdha did not allow the impending death and made it possible for me to get saved after 14 hours. Due my lack of ripeness then I regrettably missed to explore to what or whom exactly I should have had to surrender.

Salazar said...

Sanjay Lohia, re. the topic of attention and concentration, I concur with what Ravi has said. Papaji, I believe in the book "The Fire of Freedom", made also clear why "concentration" is not necessary at all to be attentive or aware, it is rather an obstacle.

When I'll get back home I'll look up that comment about concentration by Papaji and I'll post it here.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, I thank you for your last two comments. Though I am still not in agreement with you as far the difference in the meaning of the terms ‘attention’ and ‘concentration’ are concerned, I liked the message you tried to convey through your last two comments.

As you mention, even Dakshinamurti had to eventually sink in mouna (silence) in order to teach his ripe disciples. So eventually only mouna can destroy our mind, and thereby release us from all fetters. If we feel that we can cross this bhav-sagar (the ocean of worldly existence) merely by reading scriptures or by listing to spiritual talks, we are fooling ourselves. To attempt to gain liberation by such methods is like, as Thayumanavar says:

To do so
Would be to attempt to cross the foaming seas,
Floating on a flimsy straw

The following saying of Sri Ramakrishna also demands repetition:

• The almanac forecasts the rainfall of the year. But not a drop of water will you get by squeezing the almanac. No, not even one drop

• How long does the bee buzz about? As long as it is not sitting on a flower. No sooner does it light on a flower and begin to sip honey than it keeps quiet

As it is said, ‘Those who speak do not know, and those who know do not speak’. Since we are so fond of speaking and writing, we surely do not know. At least I can say this for myself.


Sanjay Lohia said...

ever free, you ask, ‘self-surrender to what exactly?’ Self-surrender to self. It may sound like a mere play of words, but it is not. We need to surrender our ego to ourself as we really are, and we can do this only by carefully looking at ourself alone.

Salazar said...

Before I post Papaji’s comment about concentration later, a view notes by me:

Concentration implies that there is a doer who has to concentrate to be aware, the classic subject-object relationship. It is impossible to “concentrate” to be aware, that action actually diverts from being aware. Awareness is being and not facilitated by any kind of action.

That is the paradox, even though an ego rises seemingly, that ego cannot annihilate itself with the belief it is doing it. Because as long as an ego is [believing in] something doing it is denying reality. A “doer” can never realize Self. That paradox has to be grasped or one will be stuck in a subject-object relationship.


Salazar said...

Or to be more blunt: If there is the thought or subtle idea, "I, the ego, is looking at myself" before, during or after atma-vichara, then one is maintaining a subject-object relationship. That thought (and all other thoughts) cannot be allowed to come up. If it does, and of course it will, then atma-vichara cannot be successful.

The ego also cannot surrender by its own volition, it never will. From the ego's viewpoint it would be suicide. So any ideas of "cultivating" surrender are a trick by the ego to tell itself, "I am on the way", but in all reality it is just postponing surrender while being on that seemingly "endless path". It is all an elaborate obfuscation of the clever mind.



ever free said...

Salazar,
what according your idea is the genuine and unobjectionable way of surrender ?

ever free said...

Michael,
"[Hence] the ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this [the ego] is alone is giving up everything."
Why shall we give up the ego when simultaneously it is said to be "everything" ? Is that not an act of monumental dim-wittedness ?
Please could you explain that topic in more detail ?

paramarthika satya said...

Michael,
"...instead of experiencing ourself as pure self-awareness (that is, as 'I am' alone), we experience ourself as self-awareness mixed with adjuncts as ‘I am this body’, which is the ego."
What is the cause for our wrong experience of an impure mixture instead of pure self-awareness ? It seems highly mysterious that the pure self-awareness which is said to be almighty did not prevent that wretched and ill-starred mixing or felt not obliged to intervene. Still much more suspicious appears that statement when we consider the Advaita-gospel according to which "nothing ever happened".

Salazar said...

ever free, I answer your question with an adjusted quote from the Buddhist tradition (Huang-Po) to fit it into the world of Bhagavan:

All of Bhagavan’s (Buddha’s) teachings just have this single object –
To carry us beyond the stage of thought.
Now, if we accomplish cessation of our thinking,
What use to us are “Ulladu Narpadu”, “Nan Yar”, and other concepts like surrender, humility, cultivation of something, etc.?


ever free said...

Salazar,thanks for your reply.
As you said "if we accomplish cessation of thinking" - if there were not ifs and buts...
In Grammar "if" introduces a sentence which gives a possible situation as condition that will possibly occur only just in near or distant future.
Do not keep me in suspense; how does it feel beyond the stage of thought ?

Anonymous said...

Everfree, you have a great sense of humor in addition to the points you make and I enjoy your comments very much. Thanks.

Salazar said...

ever free, there is no stage with or beyond thoughts. There are no stages, those are imaginations of mind.

So what do you expect? Why all of these inquisitive questions? What do you think you'll gain by that?

ever free said...

Salazar,
did not you provoke my attention by telling "All of Bhagavan’s (Buddha’s) teachings just have this single object – To carry us beyond the stage of thought" ?
Yes, it is said : There is only atma-svarupa - and nothing else.
In order to communicate with "other fictitious entities" I have pleasure to put "inquisitive questions" only with the best of intentions because I am a seeker of truth or my real nature. In no way I am a devil as you seem to suspect.

ever free said...

Michael,
regarding the statement "[Hence] the ego itself is everything."
I forgot to add the question if it were not more accurate to say "Pure self-awareness is everything".
And logically or consistently one could say further (by replacing the term 'ego' by the term 'pure self-awareness'):
"In other words, pure self-awareness is the root from which everything else springs, so nothing else exists independent of pure self-awareness. Therefore everything else, including whatever body we mistake ourself to be, is just pure self-awareness."

ever free said...

Michael,
"Unless and until we rise as this ego there is no body nor any other phenomena, so the source from which the ego rises must be whatever exists prior to and independent of its rising."
According Advaita the ego has never arisen. If that is true how then can be assumed that the ego has sprung up out of any source ? The answer will be : An ego seems to exist only in its own deluded view. Or shall we be open to still another perspective/version/reason ?
Evidently and admittedly such questions arise only to completely naive creatures like me.

ever free said...

Anonymous,
regarding your enjoyment of my comments do not hesitate to put your own questions even we can expect a direct answer in very few cases. What is more: Michael answers often indirectly in following articles in soundly underpined manner.
Even so-called silly questions bring sometimes the desired result namely a better or clearer understanding of Bhagavan Ramana's teachings.

ever free said...

"What we now experience as 'I' is the ego, which is a limited and distorted form of self-awareness — an awareness of ourself as a finite body, which is not what we actually are. When we rise and stand as this ego (as in waking and dream) countless other phenomena seem to exist, and when we do not rise or stand as this ego (as in sleep) nothing else seems to exist."
Can we derive thereby hope for us that the above occurred even to the unique sage Ramana Maharshi when he was then only a normal boy called Venkataraman ?

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
Yes,indeed the words of the sages carry inherent power to stop us in our tracks and needless meanderings...It may perhaps be helpful to all of us to explore the full implication of the word 'attention' and to differentiate it from 'concentration', setting aside the literal meaning in the dictionary...yes,the literal meaning is valid and has its place in the scheme of things...yet,for the moment we shall go into the state of attention and how it is linked to humility and enquiry(words again!).
What is the state of our mind when we know all there is to know about our self(the ego sense as well as the Real aspect) and yet we realize that this 'knowing' does not seem to bring us recognition and realization of who we truly are...Do we not realize at least that we know nothing whatsoever and all this so called learning and ratiocinations are akin 'to attempt to cross the foaming seas,floating on a flimsy straw'?...It just does not bring us any closer to our self!
If we truly realize this predicament actually and fully grasp that all our knowings are just empty talk,the mind sheds all that it knows and is in a state of 'attention'...it is empty of all preoccupation and is fully available and alert...this is the state of Humility and the beginning of self enquiry...into this the peace and silence can creep in so to say.

Concentration on the other hand knows its target and focuses its mental energies on that target and strives to achieve it...Attention puts an end to all strivings in order to be simply awake and alert.

Humility does not mean knowing nothing...it is the realization that all the vast knowing that one may have means nothing....they are like a string of zeros without a 1 preceding them as Sri Ramakrishna used to say.
Namaskar

Ravi said...

"O Divine Hart, I ran after Thee equipped with the spears of selfish desire. Thou didst fly before me! I raced after Thee, shouting prayers loudly, but my voice drove Thee from me by the gusts of my restlessness; the noise I made only frightened Thee away! Stealthily, then, I crept up to Thee and cast the dart of my concentration. Alas! my hand unsteadily shook, and Thou didst bound away. As Thou didst so, however, Thy hooves echoed: “Without devotion thou art a poor, poor marksman!” With my devotion then, holding fast the dart of meditation, I crept forward. Thy divine hoof-beats came stealing back — but I heard Thee whisper: “I am beyond thy mental dart — far beyond!” At last despairing, I entered the cave of celestial love. And there, at last, lo! Thou, the Divine Hart, camest willingly into my heart."

Whispers from Eternity-Sri Paramahansa Yogananda

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, I fully agree with you when you say, 'the words of the sages carry inherent power to stop us in our tracks and needless meanderings'. Who can deny the great power behind the words of Bhagavan. At times, they are themselves enough to still our rogue minds.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The following extract (which is not verbatim and mixed with my manana) is taken from the video: 2017-09-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on unconditional surrender

We are unnecessarily carrying our luggage on our head – that is, we are unnecessarily carrying all our responsibilities on our head. Aren’t we constantly thinking we need to do this, we need to do that? If we are wise we will give up all our responsibilities, and stay silent or in-drawn. Bhagavan is carrying all our burdens, but we are unnecessarily straining ourselves by thinking that we are making things happen. Bhagavan said in the note to his mother:

According to their-their prārabdha, he who is for that being there-there will cause to dance [that is, according to the destiny (prārabdha) of each person, he who is for that (namely God or guru, who ordains their destiny) being in the heart of each of them will make them act]. What is never to happen will not happen whatever effort one makes [to make it happen]; what is to happen will not stop whatever obstruction [or resistance] one does [to prevent it happening]. This indeed is certain. Therefore silently being [or being silent] is good.

In fact, Bhagavan Ramana was just reiterating his own message which he gave as Bhagavan Krishna to Arjuna. He said in the chapter 16, verse 61 of Sri Bhagavad Gita:

The Lord, O Arjuna dwells in the heat of every being and by His mysterious power spins around all being set on the machine.

Bhagavan had included this verse as verse 41 of his compilation of 42 most important verses from Sri Bhagavad Gita. Doesn’t this Gita verse bear a striking resemblance with the note that Bhagavan wrote for his mother? I think, the messages in both the verses are exactly the time.

Whatever is going to happen will happen, and whatever is not going to happen will not happen. After all who can fight with God’s all-powerful will? Being in our hearts, he is making us act by his mysterious power. Our body, speech and mind are being made to do whatever we are destined to experience. We need not even concern about that. We need not even think about it.

We can devote all our attention to turning within. That is what Bhagavan means by putting our luggage on the train.


xyz said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for giving again a video-extract.

Incidentally: the Lord dwells in the heart of every being, not in the heat...

xyz said...

Sanjay Lohia,
presumably you wanted to write:... the messages in both the verses are exactly the same (not"time").

Anasuya said...

Sanjay Lohia,
however, in daily life it won't do any harm when we in addition to our trust in Bhagavan's "carrying of all our burdens" try to act as far as possible vigilantly and not carelessly.

paramarthika satya said...

Michael,
How can the ego which is a limited and distorted form of self-awareness examine itself so closely and look at, watch or attend to itself so carefully enough that it can see that itself is "not actually an ego (a finite adjunct-bound form of self-awareness that experiences itself as 'I am this body, a person called so-and-so' but just pure self-awareness, which experiences itself only as 'I am' (or as 'I am I, and nothing other than I')" ?
Is the ego from the outset or from beginning to end not really overtaxed with such a task ?

Salazar said...

Anasuya, if you .....'in addition to our trust in Bhagavan's "carrying of all our burdens" try to act as far as possible vigilantly and not carelessly'....

then you really don't trust Bhagavan since you seem to feel that you have to "help" Bhagavan with your so-called "vigilance". That is plain ignorance and based on a confused understanding.



Sanjay Lohia said...

xyz, I thank you for pointing out my typos. Even though I cannot correct these errors now, but I can try to be more careful in future. So Thanks.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anasuya, yes, trusting Bhagavan to carry all our burdens, and at the same time trying to act vigilantly and carefully do not contradict each other or are not mutually exclusive ways. As long as our ego exists, we should try to do both of these together.

However, as long as our ego exists we will not be able to achieve 100% success in both of these objectives – that is, as long as our ego exists we will not trust Bhagavan 100%, and will also at times act carelessly. Why? It is because of the misuse of our free will.

We are not capable of fully trusting Bhagavan because of our various desires and attachments – which is the misuse of our free will. We try to trust Bhagavan, but at the same time try to act in various ways dictated by our desires and attachments. This way we try to go against the will of God – which is our destiny.

Likewise we act carelessly at times, because our desires and attachments make us think of other things whenever we are engaged in any one particular task. We may be driving a car but at the same time talking on our mobile, and this may cause accident. Bhagavan always insisted that whatever we do, we should do with utmost care and with single minded attention. We would recall how carefully Bhagavan worked, whether it was in the kitchen or while correcting proofs.

I recently made two typos in one of my recent comments. Should I not take responsibility of these mistakes? I should because how can I say that I made these mistakes because it was my destiny to do so? Yes, it could be my destiny, but how can I be sure of this?

As Michael said in one of his recent article: ‘So long as we are bound in the web of karma, fate and free will are operating side by side in our life, each in its own domain, as implied by Bhagavan in the note that he wrote for his mother in December 1898’. Likewise, as long as our ego is active, we should consider our faith in Bhagavan and our trying to act responsibly as two different domains. We should allow both these domains to operate side by side, because they do not necessarily clash with each other.

Of course once our ego is destroyed, there will thereafter remain no ego to trust Bhagavan or to act carefully, but till then we should try to take due care of both of these.

Salazar said...

"As long as our ego exists" - LOL

Sure, keep fighting it. Let the ego take responsibility, let the ego act humble, let the ego strive ..............

That is the very definition of samsara.

Sanjay, you (and apparently Michael) are the guy who insists of seeing the snake, see its poison (shortcomings) and then try to improve the snake in pulling its teeth. Don't you see how ridiculous that is? Don't try to "improve" the snake, that keeps you in samsara, just look closer and see the rope. ONLY that can do anything, everything else is delusion and a sad interpretation of Bhagavan's teaching, no actually it is a blatant distortion!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, yes, I would like to correct my statement. I should have written, ‘As long as the ego seems to exist’, instead of writing ‘As long as our ego exists’.

If you say the ego doesn’t even seem to exist, you are clearly contradicting Bhagavan’s teachings. Yes, the illusory snake doesn’t really exist, but if see a huge cobra very near us, won’t we be afraid? I would surely be dead afraid. You may be an exception, and therefore you may step over the cobra and walk past it, but it is highly unlikely. Likewise, as long as our ego seems to exist, it will give us one trouble after another.

Bhagavan’s entire teaching is based on the fact that the ego does seem to exist, although he also repeatedly stressed that it doesn’t actually exist. However, as long as it seems to exist it does appear to be real, and therefore we do have to deal with it by carefully investigating it.

Bhagavan’s entire Ulladu Narpadu is based on the fact that the ego does seem to exist, and it is the root of everything else. So therefore as long as we do not try to remove our ego and everything else, we will not be able to experience ourself as we actually are, because everything else is clouding our innate clarity.

Let us take verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu:

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 [the ego] is alone is giving up everything.

Salazar, may I now ask you a few questions? I hope you will answer them directly without giving a generalized statement in response to these:

1) In the above quoted verse, isn’t Bhagavan talking about the seeming existence of the ego by saying, ‘If the ego comes into existence’?

2) Isn’t Bhagavan giving us a way to give up the ego by saying, ‘know that investigating what this [the ego] is alone giving up everything’? Isn’t Bhagavan here again implying that the ego does seem to exit, because only if it didn't even seem to exist, why would he give us the way to get rid of it?

I suggest you pause a bit and ponder over my questions for a while before you answer, if at all you wish to answer.



Anonymous said...

Bhagavan this and Bhagavan that, but are you guys serious practicing? or are you letting your ego become entertained with what Bhagavan said?

Anasuya said...

Salazar,
in my "plain ignorance and confused understanding" I actually feel that we should give up above all our egotistical behaviour but not keeping our plain mental faculties. Using our brain does not in any way offend against Bhagavan's teaching.
Rather you seem having taken leave of your senses or you must be out of your mind.

xyz said...

Sanjay Lohia,
we look forward to comments written in future with some more care.

Anasuya said...

As often shown Salazar likes to cultivate his own interpretation or "blatant distortions" of Bhagavan's teaching.

vale of tears said...

Anonymous,
you are right. We have great difficulty with correct understanding of Bhagavan's simple teaching because we all are wriggling in maya's net and that makes the matter not easier.
You can make it better. Good luck !

Sanjay Lohia said...

A dhira protects or prevents his intellect from going outwards

The following extracts, which are not verbatim, are taken from the video: 2017-09-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on unconditional surrender:

• Bhagavan’s body had a certain destiny, but Bhagavan didn’t have any destiny as he had left behind his body. Bhagavan’s outward life is the prarabdha of that body. Bhagavan used to say, ‘Because you take yourself to be a body, you also take me to be a body. Like you have your own life story to tell, you seem to make a story for my body also’.

• This path of self-investigation is a fearless path; it is a path for the brave ones. That is why Bhagavan sometimes talked about dhira. Dhira means a very-very courageous person. Bhagavan explained the metaphysical meaning of dhira. Dhi means ‘buddhi’ (intellect) and ra means ‘protecting or preventing’. Thus dhira means protecting or preventing the intellect from going outwards, by remaining turned within. To surrender completely, to put our luggage on the train requires supreme courage, because all our valuables are there in our luggage, so how can we trust the train? So it requires a dhira to completely trust the train (meaning God) to carry their luggage.


• There are preliminary stages of surrender that don’t necessarily involve self-investigation. The normal understanding which people have of surrender is surrendering their will to God. We can surrender our will with small steps. As Bhagavan said to a person in The Maharshi’s Gospel: ‘If you feel complete surrender is impossible in the beginning, start with partial surrender. Partial surrender is possible for all’.

That is, we can begin by giving up our likes and dislikes, our desires and attachments, our fears and aversions and so on, and we do this by turning to God – even if take such God to be other than ourselves. People may think: ‘I will just repeat or sing Lord’s name and will be happy in whatever way he keeps me. I am happy to remain a pauper, if it is his will’. This way we start by giving up our likes and dislikes.

Even when we start practising self-investigation, we do not give up these preliminary stages of self-surrender. We just extent such surrender by adding the practice of self-investigation. So we just add the cannon in our arsenal without giving up our small pistol, as it were. In other words, we just take our war against our ego to a different level altogether.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, you say, ‘Bhagavan this and Bhagavan that, but are you guys serious practicing? or are you letting your ego become entertained with what Bhagavan said?’

This is a blog dedicated to understanding Bhagavan’s teaching with more clarity. Moreover we also love sharing what our sadguru Bhagavan Ramana has taught us. What do you expect on this blog? Do you expect that we talk: ‘President Trump said this’ or 'Prime Minister Modi said that’?

Whether you like it or not, Bhagavan will be frequently quoted on this blog, because it is all about his teachings. How does quoting Bhagavan necessarily go again our practice of self-investigation? Such regular reminders of his direct words are the very fuel that propel our sadhana.

Anonymous said...

No I expect to see people actually talk about their practices and experiences, not about what ramana said all the time .

It's like everyone here worship him like some kind of God.

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia/Friends,
" Bhagavan’s body had a certain destiny, but Bhagavan didn’t have any destiny as he had left behind his body."

It does not seem appropriate to make such statements...When we are referring to Bhagavan ,we certainly are referring to his nama and rupa(name and form)...It is indeed true that Bhagavan is the Self but the manifestation of the Self as the outer guru is Ramana Maharshi...and there is no way that the 'body' of Ramana can be excluded from the manifestation...and there is no way a teaching can come about without the manifestation...If Self is the only Reality,why talk about 'Bhagavan'?...and without 'Body' Bhagavan is hypothetically somewhere in-between the 'Self' and the 'Body'...surely we are not talking about a disembodied 'Bhagavan'...This is the mind doing its analysis and coming up with its inclusions and exclusions and trying to make sense out of its limitations

Warmly recommend the article by David Godman on how Annamalai Swami elicited Bhagavan to write a verse in ulladhu Narpadhu anubandham:
http://davidgodman.org/rteach/unverse39.shtml
Namaskar


Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, Bhagavan is our God, guru, grace, and ourself as we actually are. All of these essentially mean the same thing, but we may attribute different functions to such seemingly different aspects of Bhagavan:

• As God, Bhagavan is ordaining our prarabdha (our destiny)
• As guru he has given us his incomparable teachings
• As grace he has planted the seed of self-love in our heart, which he is unceasing cultivating, protecting and nourishing by more and more doses of his love
• As our true self he is the nearest and dearest - he is our innermost presence which is contently trying to pull us to himself

So he has many roles to play in our live, and we can tune in to him at many different levels.

Yes, you are free to share your spiritual experiences with us. As co-passengers on this path, we should learn from each other’s experiences.

kurnda mati said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say "• Bhagavan’s body had a certain destiny, but Bhagavan didn’t have any destiny as he had left behind his body. Bhagavan’s outward life is the prarabdha of that body."
Is it not more accurate to say that prarabdha affects (primarily) the ego.
How can an inert body itself be affected by prarabdha ?
Is it not more correct to assume that when the boy Venkataraman (later known as Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi) lost his ego in July 1896 the boy's prarabdha has run further to some extent/degree ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, you say, ‘When we are referring to Bhagavan , we certainly are referring to his nama and rupa(name and form)’. This is not necessarily true; however, as long as we experience ourself as this name and form, Ravi or Sanjay, we cannot avoid taking Bhagavan to be a name and form (at least at some level).

However, Bhagavan has repeatedly said that he is not that form. He is what we actually are. If we read Michael’s articles, he constantly reiterates this fact. When we say ‘Bhagavan’, we can certainly refer our internal bodiless, innermost reality – our true self is also called Bhagavan and rightfully so.

Yes, Bhagavan has given us his teachings through that name and form, so that form is extremely dear to us, but that form has himself said that he is not that form. Here, we can consider the following extract from the The Collected Works of Ramana Maharsh by Arthur Osborne (first edition 1979, page 141):

A devotee named Amritanatha Yati wrote on a paper a Malayalam verse imploring Bhagavan to say whether he was Hari (Vishnu) or Sivaguru (Subrahmanya) or Yativara (Siva) or Vararuchi. Bhagavan wrote his reply in the same Malayalam metre on the same paper. A translation of them are given below.

In the recesses of the lotus-shaped hearts of all, beginning with Vishnu, there shines as pure intellect (Absolute Consciousness) the Paramatman who is the same as Arunachala Ramana. When the mind melts with love of Him, and reaches the innermost recess of the Heart wherein he dwells as the Beloved, the subtle eye of pure intellect opens and he reveals Himself as Pure Consciousness.

Bhagavan has himself said that what is is only pure, infinite, unbroken and immutable being, awareness and happiness. Can he be separate from this reality? He obviously cannot be. If not, is he not the bodiless reality? This reality is Bhagavan.

However, at the same time we cannot deny that the body which Bhagavan inhabited is also Bhagavan. How can we express these things clearly? Since we are talking about a very subtle subject, we are bound to be contradicted by other views.

Bhagavan has himself said very clearly that he is pure-consciousness. Though there is no harm in taking him to that body, but as we progress in our practice of self-investigation, it becomes more and more obvious that Bhagavan is what we really are. He exists in and as ourself, ‘I’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Kurnda mati, as you say, ‘prarabdha affects (primarily) the ego’. It would be more accurate to say that prarabdha is only for the ego. As you rightfully imply, when Venkataraman lost his ego in July 1896, all his karmas - agamya, prarabdha and sanchita - ended forever.

However, when we talk about the bodily life of Bhagavan, we may say (as a concession to our understanding) that that body seemed to have a prarabdha (a life story), at least in our view. Bhagavan came to Tiruvannamalai, was absolutely silent for a few years, then slowly started conversing, he lived on the hills for many years, came down after the death of his mother and stayed at Sri Ramanasramam for the rest of his life. This seemed to be the prarabdha of the body of Bhagavan, but all this happened only in our view.

In his view his body and this world did not exist after he experienced himself as he really is, so how can he (the real Bhagavan) have any destiny?

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
If we are referring to Bhagavan as the Self it does not contradict Bhagavan , the person who manifested on terra firma...the personal and impersonal are two aspects of the Self...If we have to realize the pure nature of the Self we have to cease identification with our body and this is very well understood...it does not make sense to differentiate the 'body of Bhagavan' from 'Bhagavan' as Michael or anyone for that matter seems to be maintaining...all bodies end up being buried or cremated or any other form of disposal...the last rites are performed to the body as a mark of respect and gratitude and in the case of a jnani, a samadhi is built and it is worshipped...and in Tirumanthiram of tirumoolar,there is guidance on how to do this and Bhagavan gave specific instructions to follow this guideline in the case of interning the body of Mastan swami...so,the 'body' of a jnani(as well as the so called ajnani) is to be treated as a temple...this is what Tirumoolar says...and it cannot be treated with disdain simply because we lack the sensitivity and sensibility.
I have already shared the article by david Godman on this subject.
Namaskar

kurnda mati said...

Sanjay Lohia,
to speak more precisely: Bhagavan lived on the (one) hill Arunachala - not on the "hills"...

sahaja sthiti said...

Michael,
"What we now experience as 'I' is the ego, which is a limited and distorted form of self-awareness — an awareness of ourself as a finite body, which is not what we actually are."
It seems to be quite natural when we as a "limited and distorted form of self-awareness" can experience ourself only as a "limited and distorted form of self-awareness" - instead of experiencing ourself as pure self-awareness (that is, as ‘I am’ alone). To experience ourself not as self-awareness mixed with adjuncts as 'I am this body', which is the ego, means demanding too much of the ego.
This is at least my experience which is a bitter one.
I would like to overcome that hard lesson soon, no, as soon as possible.

sahaja sthiti said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"When the mind melts with love of Him, and reaches the innermost recess of the Heart wherein he dwells as the Beloved, the subtle eye of pure intellect opens and he reveals Himself as Pure Consciousness."
How to get the mind to melt with love of Arunachala Ramana ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

sahaja sthiti, you ask: ‘How to get the mind to melt with love of Arunachala Ramana?’ Before I try to answer this question we have to consider who Arunachala Ramana is, and why do we want to melt with love in Arunachala Ramana?

If Arunachala Ramana is only that body, then we can develop love for him by singing strotas in praise of him, doing japa of his name or by meditating on his form. We can also regularly read his exemplary life to develop love for that outward manifestation of Bhagavan. This is how many love Bhagavan.

However, if we consider Bhagavan to be what we really are, and if our aim is to experience ourself as we really are, then self-investigation or self-surrender (which means the same) is the only way to develop love for Bhagavan. As Bhagavan teaches us in verse 22 of Ulladu Narpadu:

Except by turning the mind inwards and drowning it in the Lord, who shines within that mind [as its substratum] lending light to the mind, which sees everything, how is it possible for the mind to know [or to meditate upon] the Lord? Consider thus.

Bhagavan is what exists in our heart as pure-consciousness. It may be useful to once again reflect on what Bhagavan said to Amritanatha Yati, when he asked Bhagavan who he was:

In the recesses of the lotus-shaped hearts of all, beginning with Vishnu, there shines as pure intellect (Absolute Consciousness) the Paramatman who is the same as Arunachala Ramana. When the mind melts with love of Him, and reaches the innermost recess of the Heart wherein he dwells as the Beloved, the subtle eye of pure intellect opens and he reveals Himself as Pure Consciousness.

We need to start by small steps, by cultivating the habit of turning within slowly but steadily. It is like a baby learning to walk. He may fall any number of times, but does he ever give up? He keeps persevering until he is able to walk normally, and one day he may even run in a Olympic marathon.

Likewise we will also develop more and more love for Arunachala Ramana as we go on practising turning within, until one day our mind will completely merge in him. Before this happens we should not give up persevering, because Bhagavan used to often say, 'no one succeeds without patience and perseverance'.





Sanjay Lohia said...

In their real nature, love and happiness are one and the same

The following extracts, which are not verbatim, are taken from the video: 2017-09-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on unconditional surrender

• Subconscious is a concept in modern psychology. We can question the existence of our sub-conscious. Does anything exist independent of our perception of it? It’s a supposition.

The sub-conscious mind is what Bhagavan would call vishaya-vasanas - our propensities, liking or inclination to be aware of things other than ourself. It is our own liking to see phenomena that makes us project and see phenomena.

• Though the dream has started now, while we are dreaming we are never aware when the dream started, because the dream starts with all the memories of our past. So while dreaming our dream doesn’t seem to have a beginning.

• Love and happiness are two things in duality. However, in our real nature, love and happiness are one and the same. In duality we love only those things which give us happiness, but if something gives us pain we do not love it. In order to experience pure-love we have to turn within, because love is what we are. We have to surrender by ceasing to cling to things other than ourself.

All forms of likes, dislikes, desires, aversions, hatred, fear, and so on are all distortions of love that we actually are. As soon as there is separation, love becomes imperfect. You have greater love for yourself than others. You may love someone, but it only because they make you happy.

In pure-love there is no room for likes, dislike, desire or fear of any kind, but how much likes and dislikes we have, so we are certainly not experiencing pure-love. In pure-love you have nothing to like or dislike, because you alone are there.

Without supreme love how can we investigate ourself? Why does anyone do any spiritual practice? Whether it is yoga or atma-vichara or whatever, love is the driving force behind all our practices, so all spiritual path is bhakti, and without bhakti there can be no jnana.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

The whole thing is about what we want. We now have so many likes, dislikes, hopes, aspirations, attachments, fears – all these emotions make up our will. We have to be ready to let go. So we have to surrender our will to God.

We start on the path of surrender by using discrimination, and by trying to keep at bay our strong desires. Why do we get angry? When we want something, and what we want is frustrated we get angry. So we try to control anger. So we try not to react in that way. We try not to get too infatuated by things.

Sometimes people have obsession – for example, everything should be neat and tidy. Such obsession is driving our mind outwards. That is a type of moha ( moha is described as infatuation that clouds the mind). So we understand that certain passions are more harmful than others, so we try to control them. We avoid being swayed by these things and thereby weaken them.

sahaja sthiti said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for your reply.
Usually we sing stotras in praise of Ramana. How do sound singing strotas ? Are they also a form of hymns to Bhagavan ?
The Lord who is shining whithin the mind and lending light to it is a good starting point for me to establish love for Arunachala Ramana.
Mostly I love to walk on the slopes of Arunachala Hill and sit there in silence.
However even at my annual visits in Tiruvannamalai when trying to turn the mind within I often encounter fierce and sever resistance of the mind. So still I am far away from reaching the innermost recess of the heart and thus drowning the mind in paramatman (Arunachala Ramana). As you say 'no one succeeds without patience and perseverance'.

Sanjay Lohia said...

sahaja sthiti, I do not know much about stotras, but a stotra according to Wikipedia means: ‘A stotra can be a prayer, a description, or a conversation, but always with a poetic structure. It may be a simple poem expressing praise and personal devotion to a deity for example, or poems with embedded spiritual and philosophical doctrines’.

We can sing or listen to stotras or bhajans to develop love for Bhagavan. At Sri Ramanasramam they chant Bhagavan’s works and other spiritual songs every day, and these are all stotras. As Bhagavan says in Upadesa Undiyar, such prayers if done in niskamya-bhava (without any worldly desire) will purify our mind, and thus show the way to liberation. Bhagavan has made it very clear that the way to liberation is only self-investigation (atma-vichara). Other paths may lead to self-investigation, and to that extent they are useful.

One point which I forgot to mention in my last comment is that our practice of self-investigation, and our other modes of dualistic devotion (like singing praise or doing japa of Bhagavan or Arunachala, meditation on the form of Bhagavan or Arunachala) are not necessarily opposed to each other. In fact, our devotion to the outward form of Bhagavan can aid our inward devotion, and vice versa

However, our inward devotion is sufficient in itself to confer us liberation, but we cannot say the same thing about our outward forms of devotion. We have to sooner or later come to the direct-path of self-investigation in order to experience ourself as we really are, and this can happen only when our mind or ego is destroyed. And our mind or ego can only be destroyed by self-investigation, as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the eighth paragraph of Nan Yar?:

For the mind to subside [permanently], except vicāraṇā [self-investigation] there are no other adequate means. If made to subside by other means, the mind will remain as if subsided, [but] will emerge again.

Bhagavan used to say, ‘Mind-control is not your birth right’. We usually have to keep at our practice for quite a long time. It is because we are fighting against our stubborn and ancient karma-vasanas or vishaya-vasanas. They will give us a very tough fight. However, we will surely overcome all our vasanas, if we keep at our practice.

Ravi said...

Sanjaya Lohia/Friends,
"If Arunachala Ramana is only that body, then we can develop love for him by singing strotas in praise of him, doing japa of his name or by meditating on his form. We can also regularly read his exemplary life to develop love for that outward manifestation of Bhagavan. This is how many love Bhagavan.
However, if we consider Bhagavan to be what we really are, and if our aim is to experience ourself as we really are, then self-investigation or self-surrender (which means the same) is the only way to develop love for Bhagavan.
"

Why say "If Arunachala Ramana is only that body"?...Who thinks of Ramana as 'Body'?...Ramana is the Guru and is dear to oneself...there is no need to dissect how much one loves him for his 'Body' and how much for his 'Character' and how much one loves him for his 'Eyes shining with Love and wisdom' etc...that is a mental analysis that would not lead anywhere.

Actually there is no real difference between the two aspects from a fundamental sense...Why do we love 'another'?...because we consider them 'dear to us'...so it is love of oneself that is fundamental...and why do we love the 'outer guru'?...because we intuitively perceive the 'love in ourselves' and this 'love' is more satisfying and fulfilling than any other form of worldly love(even that 'love' is love of ourselves only).
So the Love that we feel for the outer guru spontaneously deepens and points us to the source of that Love,as the Love of the Self...It is nothing but the pull of the Self,the attraction that pulls our mind within...The Outer guru gives a push and the inner guru pulls from within...and both the push and pull are ONE FORCE ONLY (not two) and it is Love and peace.

This is how Sri Ramakrishna explains this: "The mind is like a needle covered with mud, and God is like a magnet. The needle cannot be united with the magnet unless it is free from mud. Tears wash away the mud, which is nothing but lust, anger, greed, and other evil tendencies, and the inclination to worldly enjoyments as well. As soon as the mud is washed away, the magnet attracts the needle, that is to say, man realizes God. Only the pure in heart see God. "

Namaskar

Ravi said...

Friends,
Here is an excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna that is relevant to our discussion on "the form and formless aspect of the guru'.

God with and without form
MASTER: "Well, do you believe in God with form or without form?"
M., rather surprised, said to himself: "How can one believe in God without form when one believes in God with form? And if one believes in God without form, how can one believe that God has a form? Can these two contradictory ideas be true at the same time? Can a white liquid like milk be black?"
M: "Sir, I like to think of God as formless."
MASTER: "Very good. It is enough to have faith in either aspect. You believe in God without form; that is quite all right. But never for a moment think that this alone is true and all else false. Remember that God with form is just as true as God without form. But hold fast to your own conviction."
The assertion that both are equally true amazed M.; he had never learnt this from his books. Thus his ego received a third blow; but since it was not yet completely crushed, he came forward to argue with the Master a little more.
God and the clay image
M: "Sir, suppose one believes in God with form. Certainly He is not the clay image!"
MASTER (interrupting): "But why clay? It is an image of Spirit."
M. could not quite understand the significance of this "image of Spirit". "But, sir," he said to the Master, "one should explain to those who worship the clay image that it is not God, and that, while worshipping it, they should have God in view and not the clay image. One should not worship clay."
God the only real teacher
MASTER (sharply): "That's the one hobby of you Calcutta people - giving lectures and bringing others to the light! Nobody ever stops to consider how to get the light himself. Who are you to teach others?
"He who is the Lord of the Universe will teach everyone. He alone teaches us, who has created this universe; who has made the sun and moon, men and beasts, and all other beings; who has provided means for their sustenance; who has given children parents and endowed them with love to bring them up. The Lord has done so many things - will He not show people the way to worship Him? If they need teaching, then He will be the Teacher. He is our Inner Guide.
"Suppose there is an error in worshipping the clay image; doesn't God know that through it He alone is being invoked? He will he pleased with that very worship. Why should you get a headache over it? You had better try for knowledge and devotion yourself."
This time M. felt that his ego was completely crushed. He now said to himself: "Yes, he has spoken the truth. What need is there for me to teach others? Have I known God? Do I really love Him? 'I haven't room enough for myself in my bed, and I am inviting my friend to share it with me!' I know nothing about God, yet I am trying to teach others. What a shame! How foolish I am! This is not mathematics or history or literature, that one can teach it to others. No, this is the deep mystery of God. What he says appeals to me."
This was M.'s first argument with the Master, and happily his last.

Ravi said...

Friends,
Here are a couple of excerpts from 'Talks with Sri Ramana maharshi'
Talk 271. Dr. Syed: How is Grace to be obtained?
M.: Similar to obtaining the Self.
D.: Practically, how is it to be for us?
M.: By self-surrender.
D.: Grace was said to be the Self. Should I then surrender to my own Self?
M.: Yes. To the one from whom Grace is sought. God, Guru and Self are only different forms of the same.
D.: Please explain, so that I may understand.
M.: So long as you think you are the individual you believe in God. On worshipping God, God appears to you as Guru. On serving Guru He manifests as the Self. This is the rationale.

Talk 273. Dr. Syed asked: I have been reading the Five Hymns. I find that the hymns are addressed to Arunachala by you. You are an Advaitin. How do you then address God as a separate Being?
M.: The devotee, God and the Hymns are all the Self.
D.: But you are addressing God. You are specifying this Arunachala Hill as God.
M.: You can identify the Self with the body. Should not the devotee identify the Self with Arunachala?
D.: If Arunachala be the Self why should it be specially picked out among so many other hills? God is everywhere. Why do you specify Him as Arunachala?
M.: What has attracted you from Allahabad to this place? What has attracted all these people around?
D.: Sri Bhagavan.
M.: How was I attracted here? By Arunachala. The Power cannot be denied. Again Arunachala is within and not without. The Self is Arunachala.

sahaja sthiti said...

Sanjay Lohia,
please read again what I wrote particularly sentence 2 and 3: "Usually we sing stotras in praise of Ramana. How do sound singing strotas ? Are they also a form of hymns to Bhagavan ?"

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"sahaja sthiti, I do not know much about stotras, but a stotra according to Wikipedia means"

Truly wonder why you have to go to wikipedia for this!...Do we expect to learn this from any encyclopaedia?....You said that Michael also recites the Hymns on Arunachala and with tears welling up and voice choked with emotion.
Namaskar

Sanjay Lohia said...

sahaja stithi, I think you meant that I should have written stotras, but I wrote by mistake strotras. Earlier I was not sure what you were trying to say, but I thank you for pointing out this mistake.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, it is because we consider ourself to be a form (body), we also consider Bhagavan to be a form (body). As Bhagavan says in verse 4 of Ulladu Narpadu:

If oneself is a form of flesh [a body], the world and God will also be likewise [i.e. will also be forms]; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how?

Bhagavan says that if we consider ourself to be a form of flesh [a body], we will also consider God to be a form [a body]. You say, ‘Who thinks of Ramana as 'Body'?...Ramana is the Guru and is dear to oneself...’ Yes, Bhagavan is our guru, but how can we avoid taking him to be in that bodily form a long as we consider ourself to be form. I do not think that calling Bhagavan's body 'a body’ becomes a sacrilege. His body was like any other body.

What we are trying to say is that Bhagavan is ourself as we really are. However, he appeared in a body only to give us his teachings. So his body was a temporarily manifestation of the eternal and infinite reality. I do not think there is anything wrong here.

I agree when you say, ‘The Outer guru gives a push and the inner guru pulls from within...and both the push and pull are ONE FORCE ONLY (not two) [...]’.

What Sri Ramakrishna says merits repetition: ‘The mind is like a needle covered with mud, and God is like a magnet. The needle cannot be united with the magnet unless it is free from mud’. This mud is the collection of all our karma-vasanas and vishaya-vasanas.

What M. says also very true: ‘This is not mathematics or history or literature that one can teach it to others. No, this is the deep mystery of God’.

Bhagavan says, ‘The Power cannot be denied. Again Arunachala is within and not without. The Self is Arunachala’. I have nowhere tried to deny the power of the name and form of Bhagavan or Arunachala, but Bhagavan has himself said that self is Arunachala. I was just trying to emphasize the ‘self’ aspect of Arunachala. If you are more attracted to the name and form aspect of Bhagavan or Arunachala, have I ever said that it is wrong? It is totally your choice, and such devotion is also beneficial.

In this regard, the example of Sri Sadhu Om comes to my mind. Though he was more attracted to the practice of self-attention and was a staunch advocate of it, I think he never gave up devotion to the seemingly outward name and form of Bhagavan. Michael can tell more about this.















xyz said...

Sanjay ,
you erroneously wrote "strotas" instead "stotras".
It is only a minor matter. I do not intend to criticize your frequent typos. The ability to write carefully cannot be everyone's forte. You certainly did not forget what you just yesterday considered - to be more careful in future.

Ravi said...

sanjay Lohia,
"What we are trying to say is that Bhagavan is ourself as we really are. However, he appeared in a body only to give us his teachings. So his body was a temporarily manifestation of the eternal and infinite reality. I do not think there is anything wrong here."

No nothing wrong at all....All that I have been emphasizing is that the Guru is Self and Self alone.
If we think that the 'clay image' is not god,it simply means that we do not have the 'eyes' and 'heart' of the bhakta...likewise if we are discriminating the 'body' of the guru as something apart from the 'guru' ,it means that we have not grown in discipleship...to a disciple,even the shit of the guru is holy and 'Self' only...we know the story of the excellent disciple Guru namasivayah...his devotion to his guru Guhanamasivayah was exemplary...the story goes that once guhanamsivayah had indigestion and vomited...the disciple Guru Namasivayah caught it in his cupped hands and as he did so,his guru asked him to dispose it off carefully in a place where no being would tread on it under his/her feet...The Disciple Guru namasivayah took it to a corner and drank the whole stuff!...He came back and reported to his guru that he had disposed it as per his his advice...when Guhanamasivayah asked him about it he told the guru what he did!...this is an interesting story and how eventually the Guru ordered that he should separate physically from him and go elsewhere ...and how Guru Namasivayah was fed and taken care of by the Divine Mother Apeethakuchambaal is all part of the legend.
This is the 'BhAva' of the devotee and does not brook any 'physical' or 'rational' view of the matter...and the 'bhava' is quite important for the disciple devotee as without it he cannot get very far in enquiry or any practice.
This is what Sri Bhagavan refers to in Verse 9 of upadesa undhiyar:
bhaava balathinaaR bhaavanaateetha SaRbhaavaththiruttalEy undhee paRa,parapaththi tatvam undhee paRa.

Through the strength of bhAva to transcend it and to rest in 'saRbhavam'(Self) is the essence of para bhakti ...and this para bhakti is jnana...it is like a pole-vaulter running on the ground to gather momentum which he then makes use of to clear the high set bar...and without this momentum he will not be able to clear the bar...It is very very important that he has 'anya bhava' in the first place and this would mature into 'ananya bhava' and enable him to transcend the bar of 'i' and 'mine'...and one cannot prematurely and peremptorily decide to go for the 'best' and 'highest'.

In verse 8,Bhagavan says that instead of the bhAva that regards God as apart from oneself (anya bhAva),to regard him as not apart from oneself(ananya bhAva) is Supreme.

So,it is very very important to discover the 'bhAva' and nurture it...and this 'bhAva' is not something that is contrived by the mind ...the mind cannot pick and choose but has to discover it through contagion through satsangha with great ones steeped in it...otherwise it would make a caricature of the whole thing as it has no clarity whatsoever as to what 'bhAva' is...and one would then to say 'my love for the Self is not strong enough' and this is impeding self enquiry!

The mind may think that it is all very clear and understood but this 'knowledge' lacks the perfume of the Self.

Namaskar

Ravi said...

Friends,
We shall see two examples of 'bhAva'-one from the wonderful songs of thAyumAnavar and the other from the life and teachings of Brother Lawrence -The Practice of the presence of God.

Thayumanavar's songs are some of the most wonderful Hymns ever composed and every devotee would benefit by including it in his sadhana...The excerpt that is shared is from the collection 'Rejoicing in Bliss'...this is a Kummi song of girls (like the one on Bhagavan Sri Ramana composed by the great devotee Satyamangalam Venkatrama iyer...'Ramana guru padham paadungadi' in 'Ramana stuti panchakam'...these 5 songs are so wonderful that they rival even bhagavan's hymns on Arunachala! )

Rejoicing in Bliss verses 13,14 and 15
அருளால் எவையும்பார் என்றான் - அத்தை
அறியாதே சுட்டிஎன் அறிவாலே பார்த்தேன்
இருளான பொருள்கண்ட தல்லால்-கண்ட
என்னையுங் கண்டிலன் என்னேடி தோழி - சங்கர 13.

என்னையுந் தன்னையும் வேறா - உள்ளத்
தெண்ணாத வண்ணம் இரண்டற நிற்கச்
சொன்னது மோஒரு சொல்லே-அந்தச்
சொல்லால் விளைந்த சுகத்தைஎன் சொல்வேன் - சங்கர 14.

விளையுஞ் சிவானந்த பூமி - அந்த
வெட்ட வெளிநண்ணித் துட்ட இருளாங்
களையைக் களைந்துபின் பார்த்தேன் - ஐயன்
களையன்றி வேறொன்றுங் கண்டிலன் தோழி - சங்கர 15.

"See thou through the eyes of Grace", He said; Knowing not how to do it
I saw through my knowledge, differentiated;And I saw nothing but darkness then;
Even I, the seer, was not seen to be
;How strange is all this!O, Maid! (Chorus Refrain-sankara sankara sambhO!) 13

"Think not 'I' and 'Thou' as Two;Stand as One in union inextricable" ( verse 9 of upadesa undhiyaar-Ravi)
All these, He said in One Word;But how shall I describe the felicity
That was of that Word born?(Chorus Refrain-Sankara sankara sambhO!) 14

The fertile land of Sivananda Bliss-To that utter Vast space I reached;
uprooting the evil weed of dark ignorance I looked round again;
I saw nothing else but the Lord's beauty Oh Maid!
(Chorus Refrain-sankara sankara sambhO!)

As thayumanavar says that we have to 'see through the eyes of grace' and not through the physical eyes and mind...this is 'bhAva'.

continued....

Ravi said...

Brother Lawrence-The Practice of the presence of God
Brother Lawrence, who was originally named Nicholas Herman, was born in Lorraine, France in the early 1600s. As a youth, he lived through the brutal Thirty Years War fought between the Catholic and Protestant countries of Europe.As a young man, Herman's poverty forced him into joining the army, which guaranteed him meals and a small stipend. During this period, Herman claimed an experience that set him on a unique spiritual journey. He considered it a supernatural clarity into a common sight, more so than as a supernatural vision.

During the winter, Herman looked at a barren tree, stripped of leaves and fruit, and realized it awaited the sure hope of a springtime revival and summer abundance. Gazing at the tree, Herman grasped deeply the extravagance of God's grace and the unfailing sovereignty of divine providence. Like the tree, he felt seemingly dead, but held hope that God had life waiting for him, and the turn of seasons would bring fullness. At that moment, he said, that leafless tree "first flashed in upon my soul the fact of God," and a love for God that never ceased. (This is how 'bhAva' is discovered and not contrived by the mind-Ravi
Shortly after, an injury forced his retirement from the army, and after a stint as a footman, he entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Paris as Brother Lawrence.He was assigned to the monastery kitchen as a cook where, amidst the tedious chores of cooking and cleaning at the constant bidding of his superiors, he manifested his vision of spirituality and work. In his Maxims, Lawrence writes, "Men invent means and methods of coming at God's love, they learn rules and set up devices to remind them of that love, and it seems like a world of trouble to bring oneself into the consciousness of God's presence. Yet it might be so simple. Is it not quicker and easier just to do our common business wholly for the love of him?" (What a perfect expression of bhAva!-Ravi)
For Brother Lawrence, "common business," no matter how mundane or routine, could be a medium of God's love. The sacredness or worldly status of a task mattered less than motivation behind it. "Nor is it needful that we should have great things to do. . . We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God."

continued...

Ravi said...

Brother Lawrence continued...
Brother Lawrence felt having a proper heart about tasks made every detail of his life possess surpassing value(This is bhAvA-Ravi). "I began to live as if there were no one save God and me in the world."(anya bhava...this will spontaneously lead to ananya bhAva-Ravi) Brother Lawrence felt that he cooked meals, ran errands, scrubbed pots, and endured the scorn of the world alongside God. One of his most famous sayings refers to his kitchen:"The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament."

We all pass by trees without even taking a look ...but to look at a barren tree as Brother Lawrence did or was 'made to do' is 'bhAva' or 'seeing through the eyes of Grace'.

'The Practice of the Presence of God' is a wonderful book and has invaluable guidance on bhAva and smarana(practice of the presence)...It beautifully brings out the essence of verse 1 of Akshara mana maalai -'Thou dost root out the ego of those who think 'Arunachalam' in the Heart'...and brother lawrence describes 'smarana' in his own characteristic,simple and untutored way...truly a wonderful book and warmly recommended.

namaskar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, you say that it is not necessary to distinguish the body of the guru with the actual guru. It could be true from certain perspectives or in certain paths, but this is not be necessarily true if we are practising self-investigation.

As a preparation or as a basic intellectual understanding of Bhagavan’s path, we need to understand what is real or true, and what is unreal or illusion. This is called satya asatya vastu viveka: that is, discrimination between what is true and what is false. What is true or real? Bhagavan has stated this unequivocally. He said that the real has to be all of the following:

• Eternal
• Unchanging
• Self-shining

We need to find this out so that we can investigate only what is real, and not waste our time by investigating other things. If we reflect on these three criteria, we will ultimately come to understand that only ourself (‘I’) can be real, because everything else is ephemeral, changing and not self-shining.

Therefore, our body cannot be real, and in the same way guru’s body also cannot be real. Guru has be to eternal and ‘ever-living’, and only ourself as we really are is eternal, so guru must be what we really are.

Thus, there is no harm in separating guru from his body (at least, in Bhagavan’s path), because according to Bhagavan he is not that body. Therefore we should not mistake any ephemeral body to be our real guru. This attitude certainly helps on this path of self-investigation. In other words, Bhagavan has assured us that he is the ever-living, eternal and unchanging reality, and therefore he is always with us. Having come to Bhagavan, we need no other guru. His grace is as powerful and as potent now, as it was when he was in his body.

Yes, prema-bhava towards God or guru helps us in our spiritual path, no one can deny that. But when Bhagavan talks about ananya-bhava being the best of all, he is clearly saying that the practice of self-investigation is the best of all spiritual practices, and therefore he is not talking about some other bhava towards God or guru which we may consider to be outside of ourself.

Ravi said...

Sanjaya Lohia,
I think I have said enough and nothing more needs to be said...Bhagavan's core teaching is to investigate oneself and not the 'Guru' and to discriminate between the Guru and his 'body'...Unless we clearly realize who we are, until then it is paramount that we do not make such divisions and discrimination regarding the 'body' of the Guru and 'the Guru'...It is actually not that complicated or contrived...without the 'Body' there is no 'outer guru' and no 'teaching' in any form be it words or Silence...I have already referred to the article on Ulladhu Narpadhu anubandham ,verse 39 by David Godman...Hope you have seen it.
It is not that the advaitic position is not appreciated but that cannot be applied to the Guru...and the verse 39 is just emphasizing this...and this is the matured view of all great ones.
Namaskar

Ravi said...

Friends,
Posting the link to David Godman's article on Ulladhu NaRpadhu anubandham,verse 39:http://davidgodman.org/rteach/unverse39.shtml

Ravi said...

Friends,
An excerpt from The Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna:

Master:"Once a holy man came to the bank of the Ganges and lived near the bathing-ghat at Ariadaha, not far from Dakshineswar. We thought of paying him a visit. I said to Haladhāri: 'Krishnakishore and I are going to see a holy man. Will you come with us?' Haladhāri replied, '' Haladhāri was a student of the Gita and Vedanta philosophy, and therefore referred to the holy man as a mere 'cage of clay'. I repeated this to Krishnakishore. With great anger he said: 'How impudent of Haladhāri to make such a remark! How can he ridicule as a "cage of clay" the body of a man who constantly thinks of God, who meditates on Rama, and has renounced all for the sake of the Lord? Doesn't he know that such a man is the embodiment of Spirit?' He was so upset by Haladhāri's remarks that he would turn his face away from him whenever he met him in the temple garden, and stopped speaking to him."

Haladhari was a cousin of Sri Ramakrishna...and the master refers to the not so mature attitude of Haladhari in viewing that holy man -"What is the use of seeing a mere human body, which is no better than a cage of clay?".

We also know how Sri Annamalai Swami did not go to the ashramam when Bhagavan's body was interned...but when a person carried the collected water of abhishekam in which Bhagavan's body was washed prior to internment,Swami Drank that water...He embraced the body of the man who carried it as it had the Sacred ash that had stuck to it ...the sacred ash that had covered the body of Bhagavan before it was lowered into the samadhi pit...Did not Annamalai Swami realize that the Guru is the Self?...Why should he embrace the 'Body' of the Person who brought the prasada water?...Is it empty sentimentalism?...This is one of the most moving moments in the 'Living by the words of Bhagavan'...This is a book that all devotees of Bhagavan must read.

Namaskar

Ravi said...

Friends,
Apologies ...In trying to highlight the remark of Haladhari in the above passage,I have 'cut' that line inadvertently in that passage...am posting it again:
Master:"Once a holy man came to the bank of the Ganges and lived near the bathing-ghat at Ariadaha, not far from Dakshineswar. We thought of paying him a visit. I said to Haladhāri: 'Krishnakishore and I are going to see a holy man. Will you come with us?' Haladhāri replied, 'What is the use of seeing a mere human body, which is no better than a cage of clay?' Haladhāri was a student of the Gita and Vedanta philosophy, and therefore referred to the holy man as a mere 'cage of clay'. I repeated this to Krishnakishore. With great anger he said: 'How impudent of Haladhāri to make such a remark! How can he ridicule as a "cage of clay" the body of a man who constantly thinks of God, who meditates on Rama, and has renounced all for the sake of the Lord? Doesn't he know that such a man is the embodiment of Spirit?' He was so upset by Haladhāri's remarks that he would turn his face away from him whenever he met him in the temple garden, and stopped speaking to him. "

This is also to clarify that I am not offended in any way if someone has a different point of view on the Guru...it just does not make sense to me to make such distinctions between the 'Guru' and his 'Body'...and also that the great ones never encourage such a standpoint.

Namaskar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi & Salazar, I would like to share with both of your my exchange of emails with Michael which is self-explanatory. You were right, on second thoughts, after knowing Michael’s views on the matter, I am also convinced that ‘concentration’ and ‘attentiveness’ have different shades of meaning in the context of our practice of sell-investigation:

Revered Sir,

Do the terms ‘attention’ and ‘concentration’ mean the same in the context of our practice of self-investigation? I mean, to me it looks as if ‘self-investigation’, ‘self-attentiveness’ and ‘self-concentration’ are interchangeable terms. However, Ravi and Salazar feel that ‘attention’ and ‘concentration’ mean different things.

Would you mind adjudicating again on this difference of opinion? I will be happy to know your views on this matter.

With regards,

Sanjay
~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Dear Sanjay,

Concentration is focused attention, so all concentration is attention but not all attention is concentration. However, in addition to having certain meanings, words also evoke certain feelings, and somehow self-attentiveness feels appropriate but self-concentration doesn't feel quite right.

Of course keen self-attentiveness is concentration of our attention on ourself, so it is not wrong to describe it as concentration, but the term concentration somehow suggests more objective and also strenuous attention, so it is generally not a term I would use in this context.

With love,

Michael
~ ~ ~ ~ ~



Revered Sir,

I thank you for this clarification. As always, I fully agree with your views. On reflection what you say seems correct. Self-concentration appears to be some sort of a forced practice, whereas the practice of self-attentiveness is propelled by love.

I would share your views on your blog so that Ravi and Salazar know that they were right in our difference of opinion.

With regards,

Sanjay

Yuvaraj said...

Ravi,

Thanks for your last two posts, David Godman essay and Gospel and Haladhari. Some reflections...

Bhagavan's teachings had a deep impact when I first encountered them. After a while I felt stuck and then Michael helped at different points. In response to a problem once he shared an important saying of Bhagavan, Bhakti is the mother of Jnana. Since much of Bhakti literature by Bhagavan seemed to be in Tamil I had little access. Then Sri Ramakrishna's Gospel came my way and I got a good dose of Bhakti. I saw a common thread between both teachings too. Still came a doubt - was I splitting loyalties between two gurus? Found it helpful when Michael shared that he too had found the Gospel useful. Since then have been living between the books of the two gurus. Did not see a room for anyone else? But the world has its ways...

Then recently you shared a conversation with Sringeri Mahaswami..echoed very well and was timely. In the past I have read David Godman. It would have surely helped but beyond a point it stopped echoing and I never went back until today. Find this essay useful! Point I am making...had developed rules but at a certain times they just fall away.

Another experience sharing...Advaita has a strong appeal and seemed very simple and practical. But lately I realised how very very nuanced it can be and hence hard...making me realise that I am less spiritual than what I had been thinking!

This sharing helps me...thought may help others...though what works or does not work is different for us all.

Ravi said...

Sanjay,
Thanks for sharing your interaction with Michael on 'Attention' viz a viz concentration.
It will be helpful to all of us to dwell on this a little further-from a practical perspective.
1.To agree and accept is one thing but realizing the truth of it is an altogether different thing...if we realize the truth of the matter,it need not be referred to anyone else for any sort of validation...nor does it matter whether anyone agrees or disagrees with us.

2.As for attention viz a viz concentration.....concentration presupposes a scattered mind ...the thoughts are scattered on different objects/objectives...and hence the effort to UNIFY the mind and place it on a single object/objective.In other words,concentration has a PURPOSE and a concerted Effort to meet that purpose....and this implies a SUBJECT who has a PURPOSE and who is putting effort to Realize the FRUIT of his purpose.
What happens in attention?...If we have observed an infant of 2 or 3 months,if we make a sound using a rattle,the baby just turns to localize the direction of the sound and takes a look at the rattle...we may readily perceive the ATTENTION of the babe...no concentration is involved in this...there is NO PURPOSE or FRUIT to be gained...just the act of paying attention...there is NO CENTER or SUBJECT either.
Attention presupposes a UNIFIED mind...and a unified mind is in no need of CONCENTRATION...it does not need to concentrate at all.
Concentration is wary of distractions...the least thing can be a distraction to the mind putting in the efforts to concentrate.
Attention has no distractions...it can accommodate every so called 'distraction' and still maintain its character of not being preoccupied with anything.

So,the question would arise -How to gain Attention?...The answer would be to GIVE UP all distractions...the next question may be HOW TO GIVE UP all distractions?...The answer is to SEE(not mere knowing) THAT THEY ARE DISTRACTIONS...that they are REPETITIVE and are USELESS...and this SEEING will set aside distractions...no effort is needed to set them aside.
Now the question would be -HOW TO SEE?....the answer is 'there is no how' if there is EARNESTNESS to do so...the next question would be 'HOW TO COME UPON THIS EARNESTNESS?'...The answer to that would be 'through SATSANGHA'.

Sri Ramakrishna puts satangha in his inimitable a down to earth fashion:

Cultivating holy company
"Whatever may be a householder's profession, It is necessary for him to live in the company of holy men now and then. If a man loves God, he will himself seek the company of holy men. I give the illustration of the hemp-smoker. One hemp-smoker loves the company of another hemp-smoker. At the sight of a person who does not smoke, he goes away with downcast eyes or hides himself in a comer; but his joy is unbounded if he meets a hemp addict. Perhaps they embrace each other. (All laugh.) Again, a vulture loves the company of another vulture."

So,here in this excerpt is the words of 'the Guru'- and it addresses the 'loyalty issue' raised by yuvaraj ...it is quite an understandable and valid doubt that all seekers have to raise or rather it 'arises' ,and has to be resolved...and we shall take a look at it in another post.

Namaskar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, yes, ‘one hemp-smoker loves the company of another hemp-smoker’, or one drunkard loves the company of other drunkard. We (the participants of this blog) love each other because we are like these hemp-smokers or drunkards.

Even focused self-attentiveness (like concentration on any given object) presupposes a scattered mind. When we practise self-attentiveness, we try and gather our scattered mind from other objects and try to focus it on ourself alone. We can understand this by reflecting on verse 16 of Upadesa Undiyar:

The mind knowing its own form of light [its true form of mere consciousness, the real self], having given up [knowing] external objects, alone is true knowledge.

As Bhagavan clearly implies in this verse, when we practise self-attentiveness we try and withdraw our scattered attention from external objects, and try instead to place our sole attention on mind’s own form of light.

You say ‘Attention presupposes a UNIFIED mind’ and also say ‘Attention has no distractions’. According to my understanding, both these statements doesn’t appear to be true, at least it the context of our practice of self-attentiveness. In self-attentiveness our focus is to unify our scattered mind and to make it subside in ourself alone. Therefore self-attentiveness doesn’t presuppose a unified mind.

Likewise when you say, ‘Attention has no distractions’ is definitely not true. While practising vigilant self-attentiveness we are usually distracted quite often. Our desires and attachments will not spare us just because we are trying to practise self-attentiveness. Even amidst our practise they will try to push our mind outwards. Of course, our job is to bring our mind back to ourself every time it tries to run away.

So while we practise self-attentiveness there will always be distractions. We will be free of all distractions only in manolaya (temporary subsidence of mind) or in manonasa (permanent subsidence of mind).

What is the most effective way to give up distractions? It is no doubt our practice of self-investigation. We are distracted because we rise as this ego, and once we have thus arisen, we invariably engage in endless thoughts. Therefore, we need to prevent our ego from rising, and we can do so only by careful self-investigation.

Yes, outward satsanga with our sadguru can prevent or at least control our distractions, but such satsanga cannot be had by our sweet will. It totally depends on our destiny. So by far the best option we have is to have direct satsanga with sat (what exists – that is, atma-svarupa) by practising self-abidance.

We can enjoy this satsanga whenever we want, wherever we want and for whatever duration we want.

Ravi said...

Sanjaya Lohia,
You may take what appeals to you...but the nature of attention is lack of preoccupation...and it is only possible when there is total vairagya...in the absence of this,it is just the struggle to be attentive and this struggle is not Attention.
Namaskar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, you have twice spelled my name as 'Sanjaya'. Sorry, it is not 'Sanjaya' but it is Sanjay. This is how our attachment works. We are not only attached to our form, but also to our name. The sound of our name is very sweet to us, isn't it?

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
Perhaps this may be useful to all...to read and understand the words is one thing and to recognize the full implication and significance of the words is another...and this sort suspension of judgement and the penchant to arrive at conclusions based on the 'words' is an important aspect that a sadhaka has to learn...and this would enable him to delve deeper and deeper into the true significance of the words of sages...so,the 'hemp smoker' example has its significance...It means that by learning about 'Hemp' from books cannot give you an appreciation of what it means to 'smoke' it...and talking about 'hemp' will not yield the 'intoxication'...and one does need the company of 'Hemp smoker' to get the true flavour of it...Just because we have not taken the trouble does not mean that 'Hemp smokers' are not there...nor does it mean that one has to be in the physical company of the 'Hemp smoker' all the time...but certainly the physical contact does help...and our inability to come across one cannot be an excuse to deny what is said by a 'Sage'...it is like a fox saying that grapes are 'sour' simply because it is out of its reach.
So...it makes sense to suspend the penchant for premature conclusions and opinions...and take time to imbibe what is pointed out by the Sages.
Namaskar

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
Apologies for spelling typo...I have never mastered the keyboard...i peck at the keys and if i try to use more keys at a time,I end up repeating the key twice...that explains the 'A's flanking the letter 'Y'.
Namaskar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ravi, you say, ‘but certainly the physical contact does help...and our inability to come across one cannot be an excuse to deny what is said by a 'Sage'...it is like a fox saying that grapes are 'sour' simply because it is out of its reach’.

If the physical contact with a jnani is required in our case, surely grace will arrange for it – we should have no doubt about that. But if such an opportunity is not available to us now, what shall we do? Should we go out searching for him in every corner of this world? Even if we do so, can it be guaranteed that we will find a genuine jnani?

So according my understanding the best option we have is to turn within and to contact jnana within. A jnani is nothing but jnana, and jnana means pure consciousness, and we are pure consciousness. So by merging within, we are in direct touch with the only jnana that exists.

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
" So by far the best option we have is to have direct satsanga with sat (what exists – that is, atma-svarupa) by practising self-abidance. "

Yes...but is it an option?...and if we can do it what need for you to consult Michael for arbitration on 'prarabdha' or 'Attention viz a viz Concentration' ,etc?

Friend...I am not trying to put you down or discourage you in any manner...but it may be helpful to be objective and critical about our beliefs and convictions...in being objective,it may help us move out of our comfort zone and be naked and open...and this would help us dive deeper and discover truth firsthand and only then we may get to understand what the sages have said and recognize the significance.

Namaskar

Ravi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"If the physical contact with a jnani is required in our case, surely grace will arrange for it – we should have no doubt about that. But if such an opportunity is not available to us now, what shall we do? Should we go out searching for him in every corner of this world? Even if we do so, can it be guaranteed that we will find a genuine jnani?"

Don't you think that the first sentence contradicts the second one?
What is Grace?...Surely it is a response for our need...and if we seek true guidance we shall find it somehow or other...but if we think we have got all that we need and there is nothing more to it we foreclose such a possibility.

There are Great souls around and if we are earnest we will definitely find them...and for this we need humility and openness...and we may then learn from a vegetable seller or a toilet cleaner or a watchman or a Beedi seller...and God shall guide us through them as well...If ,on the other hand ,we go around with our yard stick of 'Jnana' and try to size up a 'jnani' to see if he is one...we shall miss him or he may turn out to be a fake!
This fact is borne out in the lives of each and every great soul.
Namaskar

Ravi said...

Yuvaraj,
Very nice post bringing out some of the practical dilemmas that everyone encounters...and you have shared how one has to go beyond the self imposed 'rules' and misplaced sense of 'loyalty to the guru' to delve deeper and understand and live the nuances...and you have rightly dwelt on the humbling aspect that makes one wonder whether he has set foot on the spiritual path at all.
It is interesting to observe things that divide people...It may be the language,Race,social status,Country,Religion...and all these have been going on for ages...but one of the greatest divides that I have observed is how even a 'Guru' becomes a factor of strong division...and this is understandable when the 'Guru' is a cult figure ....but what is surprising is that even among those who are following a denomination-less ,non sectarian and universal teaching...for example,Bhagavan's self-enquiry...even among such people who seem to be firmly convinced that the Guru is the Self and not the 'person' ,there is a strong allegiance to 'Guru,the person'...this allegiance is quite understandable and valid but along with it there is insulation and antagonism towards admitting any sort of reference to other 'Gurus' or Sages...this is something that I have encountered in general...so,despite asserting the impersonal and rational nature of the Truth pursued,there is a tendency to say that 'one's Guru' is supreme and other sages are either not 'jnanis'(the same person also would argue that there are no jnanis and only jnana!) or that they are 'different' or 'incomplete' or 'sadhakas' ,etc,etc....in any case not comparable with 'one's Guru'!'...Our Guru' is incomparable and there is no match for him!
This 'Divide' is a form of herd instinct as JK would call it...and this prevails even if one pursues an impersonal Truth.
It is totally another matter that a Guru would never accept these divisive mentality which is deemed as 'Loyalty'.What is this 'Loyalty'? Loyalty is a mental affiliation and associated sentimentalism that masquerades as Love which it is not...Love brooks no comparisons...Love knows no barriers...Love knows no fear.
The essence of the Guru is Guru Tatva...and if this is grasped in full,there need be no dilemma of switching loyalties...All sages and saints are only manifestations of the Guru Tatva and we are only that much more enriched in being grateful to all...it is another matter that on account of our predilection and maturity a particular 'Guru' and his teaching may appeal to us predominantly...but in no case would that prevent us from benefiting from other founts of Wisdom and Love.
This subject is a 'touchy' one and I certainly would not like to ruffle feathers...I recall the objections of 'Anonymous' who posted his only comment here saying that quotations from other Sages interrupted the flow of 'discussions' here in this Blog dedicated to Bhagavan!...I tend to keep such references to the minimum.

As you have rightly said that Advaita is the summum bonum of all paths and certainly has its subtle nuances that one hardly suspects...this is true of Dharma and spiritual path in general...which is all the more reason why guidance from a guru is needed.

Thanks very much for bringing out these points and they are certainly worthy of consideration by all aspirants.

Namaskar

Ravi said...

yuvaraj/Friends,
Warmly recommend this wonderful conversation with Swami Jnananda Giri...Swamiji was a swiss citizen before he came and settled in India where he met his guru and became a sannyasin(there is an interesting and humorous anecdote as to how he proved carl jung's judgement was premature...may not be in this interview)...swamiji's conversation is full of useful practical tips that will benefit one and all...especially on spiritual practice,the insights on 'Guru'...and with a very humorous anecdote towards the end that clarifies the 'guru' tatva.

http://www.newlives.freeola.net/interviews/6_swami_jnanananda_giri.php

Namaskar