Thursday, 7 September 2017

To be aware of ourself as we actually are, what we need to investigate is only ourself and not anything else

A friend recently wrote three emails to me asking various questions about the practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), so in this article I will reproduce his questions and the two replies I wrote to him.

First reply

In his first email he wrote:
I have been practicing self inquiry by 2 methods of attention

One as described at http://www.albigen.com/uarelove/

“Being aware of being aware”

And one as described by you and Ramana as the feeling “I”, “being aware of yourself, turning attention towards yourself”

I know they say they are the same but different wording...

However when I practice being aware of being aware, the sense feeling of “I”, of feeling myself, isn’t there, yet I am aware of being aware.

But when I am being self attentive, attention towards myself, I can feel the sense feeling of “I” in high and low degrees, depends on the way I am placing the attention in myself.

My question is, which method is supposed to be superior? Is the point to feel the sense of “I” as strong as possible? Or just being aware of awareness without the sense of “I” will “kill” the ego as well?

Then in a subsequent email he added:
I can pretty much stay 1 hour on the “I feeling”, but still I am always aware of the breath going in and out... this doesn’t necessarily make me lose the “I feeling” but still I am aware of the breathing.

I am not even thinking about the breathing progress or obsessed with it in any way, but still when being self attentive I am almost always aware of the breath going in and out no matter [how] inwardly I am.

I don’t know what to do about this...
In reply to these two emails I wrote:

Our aim is to be aware of ourself as we actually are, so what we need to investigate is only ourself and not anything else. That is why Bhagavan called this practice ātma-vicāra, which means self-investigation.

The term ‘being aware of being aware’ is ambiguous, firstly because we are always aware of being aware (since we could not be aware without being aware that we are aware), and secondly because though we are now aware of many things, awareness of things other than ourself comes and goes, so it is not real awareness (cit) but just a seeming awareness (cidābhāsa). What we are always aware of is only ourself, so self-awareness alone is real awareness.

Therefore the awareness we should try to be aware of is only self-awareness and not awareness of anything else. Since self-awareness alone is our real nature, being aware only of self-awareness is the same as being self-attentive, so it is just another way of describing the simple practice of self-investigation that Bhagavan taught us.

Since the ego is just a false awareness of ourself — an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are — we can kill or eradicate it only by being aware of ourself as we actually are, and since what we actually are is just pure self-awareness (awareness of nothing other than ourself), we can be aware of ourself as we actually are only by being aware of ourself alone. This is why Bhagavan taught us that self-investigation, which is the simple practice of trying to be so keenly self-attentive that we are not aware of anything else, is the only means to eradicate the ego.

Because we do not yet have sufficient love to be always aware of nothing other than ourself, we are not immediately able to wean our mind away from being aware of other things, so even when we try to be keenly self-attentive our mind tends to cling to awareness of other things, as in the case of your experience that you tend to be aware of your breathing when you try to be self-attentive.

This could in part be because in the past (either in this life or in previous lives) you have practised meditating on your breathing, but if that is the case, just as you cultivated the tendency (vāsanā) to be aware of your breathing by practice, you can likewise by practice destroy that tendency and instead cultivate sat-vāsanā, the tendency or inclination to be aware of yourself alone.

Therefore the only solution to the problem of being aware of your breathing when you are trying to be aware of yourself alone is just to persevere patiently and tenaciously in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible. As Bhagavan often said, no one has ever succeeded on this path without perseverance.

Second reply

In reply to this he wrote:
I have been practicing self inquiry for a couple of months now and have had my share of “blissful experiences” here and there.

If you don’t mind I would like to ask you just 2 more questions:

There are certain degrees I can feel the “I feeling”, however, always when I am self attentive to myself, an impression/image/mental image of myself popups, I will still feel the “I feeling sense” but there is also an impression/image/mental image of myself, perhaps an image of my expression/face (I am not deliberately imagining my form in anyway) but still when “feeling the I” I also feel like I am “looking” at an image of myself...

Do you know what this is about? I feel that because I am self attentive to myself that the ego tries to make “sense” of it by giving me a mental image of myself... should anything be done about that?

About Ramana...

If I am not wrong Ramana didn’t really instruct one to sit formally for like a few hours a day and apply self inquiry, but on spare time whenever one is eating, showering, walking, resting etc... to be self attentive during those times during the day....

Did Ramana believe one can get self realized that way? because when being self attentive during activities, one is not 100% blocking external sensations, so no full continuous strong attention will be on oneself...
To which I replied:

Firstly, regarding blissful experiences, any experience that comes and goes is not ourself, so no matter how blissful or sublime it may seem to be, it is not real, and hence we should try to turn our attention back to ourself, the one who is aware of its appearance and subsequent disappearance.

I assume that what you mean by ‘the I feeling’ or ‘the I feeling sense’ is not any kind of object but just your own ever-present self-awareness, so when you say that there are certain degrees of it that you can feel, you are referring to various degrees of clarity of self-awareness. If that is what you mean, the degree of clarity of self-awareness that we experience varies according to how keenly self-attentive we are, because the more self-attentive we are the more clearly we will be aware of ourself in isolation from all the phenomena that appear in our awareness.

Regarding the mental image of your face or expression that you say pops up whenever you try to be self-attentive, as I said above, anything that appears is not yourself, because what you actually are is what you are always aware of. Therefore whatever image, form, phenomenon or experience may appear, you just have to try to turn your attention back to yourself, the fundamental self-awareness that always shines in you as ‘I’.

The ego or mind survives and nourishes itself by clinging to things other than itself, which means anything that appears and disappears (that is, anything that we are not constantly aware of, not only in waking and dream but also in sleep), so it will be annihilated if it manages to be attentively aware of itself alone, and hence when we try to attend to nothing other than ourself, the very existence of our ego is thereby threatened. Therefore it will do all that it can to survive, which is why it projects thoughts of one kind or another, such as the images or impressions of your face or physical form that you say pop up when you try to be self-attentive.

This is all part of the natural response of the mind to our attempts to be self-attentive, and the only way to overcome this problem is just to patiently persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible. As I mentioned in my previous reply, Bhagavan often said that no one can succeed in this endeavour without patient perseverance.

Regarding your final question, as you say Bhagavan advised us to try to be self-attentive not just when formally sitting for meditation but whenever possible in the midst of our daily activities, even if it is only for a few moments at a time. He explained that we do not have to sit with closed eyes in order to be self-attentive, because whatever else we may be doing or not doing we are always self-aware, so we can try to be attentively self-aware at any time or in any circumstances.

As you imply, our ultimate aim is to be attentively aware of nothing other than ourself, because then only will we be aware of ourself as we actually are and thereby dissolve our ego in the infinite clarity of pure self-awareness, but in order to achieve such all-exclusive self-attentiveness we need to refine and sharpen our power of attention by trying to be self-attentive as much as possible.

Until we achieve complete and perfect self-attentiveness, whatever degree of self-attentiveness we achieve will only be partial, but even a small degree of self-attentiveness is a step in the right direction, and the more time we spend being self-attentive, even if only partially and intermittently, the more our mind will be purified (cleansed of its viṣaya-vāsanās or outward-going inclinations) and thereby our power of attention will be refined and sharpened, which will in turn enable us to be more keenly self-attentive whenever our mind is not engaged in any other activity.

The degree to which we are able to be keenly self-attentive will vary according to circumstances, but we should always try to be as keenly self-attentive as circumstances permit. We may often fail to do so, because we do not yet have enough love to be aware of ourself alone, so we frequently allow our likings or inclinations to be aware of other things (which are what is called viṣaya-vāsanās) to drag our attention outwards, but no matter how often we fail, we should persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible, because there is no other way to succeed in this endeavour.

104 comments:

Anonymous said...

Michael

'I' feeling that everyone is referring to: is that not Same as 'I am the body' feeling? The real I should not even feel right? should it be a subtle beingness?

keenly enough said...

Michael,
what you write "... and since what we actually are is just pure self-awareness (awareness of nothing other than ourself), we can be aware of ourself as we actually are only by being aware of ourself alone. This is why Bhagavan taught us that self-investigation, which is the simple practice of trying to be so keenly self-attentive that we are not aware of anything else, is the only means to eradicate the ego."
sounds clear.
To what shall I be keenly self-attentive ?
It is hair-raising: Even when I try to be aware of nothing other than myself by trying to be not aware of anything else I actually do not have any clue to "myself alone".
Is there a glimmer of hope for me or am I now exposed to eternal damnation ?
Next point:
Is it really a wrong tendency to be aware of one's breathing ?
Is not the awareness of breathing anyhow an element or [hall]mark of one's real consciousness which could support my practice of self-investigation ?
Is it not said somewhere in a Ramana-book that breath and thoughts have the same source ?
If that statement is not totally false then could the awareness of one's breath which is as an uninterrupted continuum permanently and constantly present at least to some degree accompany my attempt to be exclusively self-attentive in my stage of a beginner albeit breath may be considered as a mere bodily adjunct ?
On the other hand I do well understand that the awareness which is aware of breath is itself just the awareness which I am trying to be aware of.

antarmukham said...

Michael,
amy I ask you if the following assumptions are correct ?
The meaning of being self-attentive seems to be attentive of the ego.
But how can in this way the ego be eradicated ?
Presumably "To be self-attentive" of the ego cannot be the same as being self-aware of ourself as we actually are what is said to be infinite clarity of pure self-awareness.
Because (probably) being directly and immediately aware of our pure self-awareness is not possible we seem to need to pursue the alternative of being self-attentive only of the ego which is present in waking (and dreaming).

Aseem Srivastava said...

'Antarmukham', the analogy of the rope appearing as a snake is provided to answer the questions you addressed to Michael James.


The meaning of being self-attentive seems to be attentive of the ego. But how can in this way the ego be eradicated ?

When we look keenly at what seems to us to be a snake in a dimly-lit area and see that it is only a rope, the mistaken awareness of the snake is eradicated, although the substratum of the snake (ie, the rope) is neither eradicated nor changed in any way.


Presumably "To be self-attentive" of the ego cannot be the same as being self-aware of ourself as we actually are what is said to be infinite clarity of pure self-awareness.

Attending to the snake is identical to attending to the rope, as the former is just a mistaken awareness of the latter. Nonetheless, 'attention to the snake' can happen only so long as the rope seems to be a snake. Further, this attention is relative and subject to variability - sometimes hazy, other times intensely focussed. Gradually, by squinting our eyes and thereby focussing whatever light is available, we will see the rope as it is. Analogously, when self-attention becomes unwaveringly focussed, only then it is identical to self-awareness.


Because (probably) being directly and immediately aware of our pure self-awareness is not possible we seem to need to pursue the alternative of being self-attentive only of the ego which is present in waking (and dreaming).

We are always 'directly and immediately aware of our pure self-awareness' in all three states of waking, dream, and sleep. The reason we need to 'pursue the alternative of being self-attentive only of the ego which is present in waking (and dreaming)' is that in these states we seem to be aware of phenomena in addition to our ever present self-awareness. We take some of these phenomena as being identical to ourself, but since we are not aware of any phenomena in sleep, none of them can be ourself. Thus arises the necessity of experiencing self-awareness in isolation in waking or dream.

antarmukham said...

Aseem Srivastava,
thank you for your comment.
Against what you wrote I say:
When I am just look out of the window of my room and see the house next door I am certainly not conscious of (my) pure self-awareness. So we seem to be just not always directly and immediately aware of our pure self-awareness. However, existing at all and perceiving anything like looking out of the window is not possible without a fundamental pure consciousness.

Surely I do not take this phenomenon (for instance the house of my neighbour) "as being identical to myself". If you probably mean the awareness of seeing any phenomenon then I do agree that such awareness I do verily identify with - because I regrettably in waking and dream do not really and consciously know my real nature of pure consciousness which is said to be our real nature.
But my regret alone does not bring me further.

keenly enough said...

Michael,
you say in second reply:
"...our ultimate aim is to be attentively aware of nothing other than ourself, because then only will we be aware of ourself as we actually are and thereby dissolve our ego in the infinite clarity of pure self-awareness...".
Therefore to be aware of ourself as we actually are requires as a prerequisite to be attentively aware of nothing other than ourself. But what exactly means the term "ourself" ?
I certainly do not know what I actually am because most of my time I am at best aware of the heaviness of the matter and the cumbersomeness of my mind's viṣaya-vāsanās or outward-going inclinations. That we are always self-aware seems to be of no great help.
From where shall I take the required "enough love" to be aware of myself alone ?
So I am not able even to start being self-attentive and thus being aware of myself in isolation from all the phenomena that appear in my awareness.

Sanjay Lohia said...

keenly enough, may I try to answer the questions you have addressed to Michael? Since Bhagavan has given me relatively less worldly duties, I love to write on this blog in my free time as part of my manana (reflection on Bhagavan’s teachings). So please forgive me such trespasses. I don’t claim that I can answer your questions on behalf of Michael. That will be too presumptuous.

You say, ‘But what exactly means the term "ourself"?’ When we say ‘ourself’ we are referring to ‘I’. Don’t we say ‘I’ all the time – I am doing this, I am doing that. This ‘ourself’ is the same ‘I’. Michael uses ‘ourself’ as an inclusive form of the pronoun ‘I’ – that is, it includes the ‘I’ of all of us.

You say, ‘I certainly do not know what I actually am […]’. Who is this ‘I’ who certainly doesn’t know? You should be attending to this ‘I’ who doesn’t know. How can ‘I’ not know ‘I’? Without your self-awareness, how can you experience yourself as an entity? It is impossible.

We certainly know that we are, but we generally do not know what we actually are. Our practice of self-investigation is to find out what we actually are.

You also say, ‘From where shall I take the required "enough love" to be aware of myself alone?’ This is a million-dollar question. The simple answer to this is ‘grace’. Bhagavan or grace plants the seed of such love in the hearts of one and all. Don’t we love ourself more than anything else? We do. However, we love the wrong ‘I’ – that is, we love ourself as this person ‘keenly enough’ or ‘Sanjay’.

We should to shift this love from this person and try to love our real self. We now experience ourself as ‘I am keenly enough’ or ‘I am Sanjay’. You should try and attend as much as possible to the ‘I am’ aspect of this mixture ‘I am keenly enough’. This is the simple practice of self-investigation.

Of course, we need to cultivate such self-love by trying to practice self-investigation, a little here, a little there. Our small steps in this direction will eventually make us run towards our goal of atma-jnana.




keenly enough said...

Sanjay Lohia,
replying or commenting on this forum you are not a trespasser.

To know only our self-deluded ego or attend to this wrong selfish 'I' does not satisfy me.
You recommend to love our real self. But who can love something which is hidden in the background ? The so-called real self regrettably hides its face in its hands and draws a veil over our view. So we can see only (its) maya and I remain a total mystery to me.

sahaja sthiti said...

I am not aware of myself alone.
Therefore I am not aware of myself as I actually am.
I humbly remain in the hope of having soon an intuitive grasp of the simple practice of trying to be so keenly self-attentive that I am not aware of anything else.

Sanjay Lohia said...

keenly enough, our real self is not hidden from our view, because we are that real self. How can ourself be hidden from ourself? As I wrote earlier, it is impossible.

Are you not aware that you exist? Are you not aware of your existence? This awareness-existence is what we really are. The more we try to attend to our awareness which is aware of everything else, the more whatever maya seems to cover us will disappear.

We should start with small steps, but we have to surely practise, day in, day out. There is no short cut. Maya does not actually existent, although it seems to exist. So it will start disappearing when we proceed on our practice of self-investigation.

keenly enough said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you evidently have the good fortune that your real self is not hidden from you.
Congratulations.
Unfortunately the rest of humanity has to strive to overcome this ego by practising atma-vichara.
Good friend , you seem to get mixed up between seeming awareness (cidābhāsa) and real awareness( cit).
To be aware of one's existence is not real awareness. Even a dog is aware of its existence but it does not know who or what it is.
If maya does not seem to veil our real self - as you seem to imply - for what reason do you think that philosophy tries to explain the power of maya ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

keenly enough, I didn’t mean that maya doesn’t veil our real self. It does veil, but still in spite of the veil our real self is never totally hidden from our view. It is like looking at the bright sun through a thick white coloured curtain – though the sunlight which will be filtered through this white curtain will look diffused, but we can very much see the sunlight.

Likewise, we are always aware of ourself, because without being aware of ourself, how can we experience ourself and other things? However, this self-awareness is now mixed up with our awareness of our body and mind. Thus our self-awareness now is clouded over by all these superimposition.

If we manage to investigate ourself ‘keenly enough’ (pun intended), all the maya which now seems to cover our pure-awareness will disappear, and we will experience ourself as we really are – with absolute clarity.

keenly enough said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks and let's leave it at that.
My initial question to Michael was whether our now predominate mixed and clouded awareness i.e. our ego ever would be able to cultivate the required sufficient/enough love to be aware of myself alone i.e. my real nature or natural self-awareness.

paramarthika satya said...

Michael,
"Because we do not yet have sufficient love to be always aware of nothing other than ourself, we are not immediately able to wean our mind away from being aware of other things, so even when we try to be keenly self-attentive our mind tends to cling to awareness of other things, as in the case of your experience that you tend to be aware of your breathing when you try to be self-attentive."
Sufficient love is the prerequisite to be aware of ourself as we actually are.
How can we get and cultivate it ?

paramarthika satya said...

Not to have the prerequisite to be aware of ourself as we actually are is not a minor flaw but a serious defect. What is the best way to remedy it ?
The answer will be : persevering in self-investigation albeit sometimes difficulties may crop up.
Further questions ? No, no.

paramarthika satya said...

Michael,
when you finally write " The degree to which we are able to be keenly self-attentive will vary according to circumstances, but we should always try to be as keenly self-attentive as circumstances permit. We may often fail to do so, because we do not yet have enough love to be aware of ourself alone, so we frequently allow our likings or inclinations to be aware of other things (which are what is called viṣaya-vāsanās) to drag our attention outwards, but no matter how often we fail, we should persevere in trying to be self-attentive as much as possible, because there is no other way to succeed in this endeavour."
should we for instance liking (sometimes) to hear/ play music or enjoying the natural beauty of an intact landscape or harmonious architecture and other personal (artistic) interests also put last ?

Anonymous said...

Book review of
Two Saints:Sri Ramakrishna and Sri Ramana by Arun Shourie.

https://swarajyamag.com/books/shouries-two-saints-is-an-important-book-but-neither-original-nor-thorough


Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
You say: The term ‘being aware of being aware’ is ambiguous..

Yes, it is difficult or impossible to describe that which is subtler than conceptual thought. Understanding this dilemma is incentive to respect and contemplate descriptions which are different than what we prefer.

Michael, you are quick to criticize others (such as Krishnamurti, Nisargadatta) for not being logical & clear ... but you suffer from a more serious case of the disease.

You say: [the ego is] "anything that appears and disappears...that is, anything that we are not constantly aware of"
But then you say self attentiveness is "intermittent"!

Your description is ambiguous. By your own definition "self attentiveness" is "the ego" just as everything else because you describe self attention as intermittent.

Your follower describes "bliss" and your website motto is "happiness of being".
Could these be one the same?
But you say this "bliss" is the "ego" because it comes and goes, it is intermittent.
Yet, you recommend "self attention" while admitting that it is "intermittent".
What is the difference between intermittent self attention and intermittent bliss?
Who is to say that the "bliss" experienced by your follower, although intermittent, is not a glimpse of "the happiness of being"?

The problem here seems to be the intellectual expectation that "happiness of being" can ONLY be arrived at by first excluding everything from awareness. The teaching of Michael James says the trance state of Nirvikalpa Samadhi (excluding the world and body from awareness) is the ONLY way. Ha! Even Bhagavan says that the trance state is not the only way.

You say:
"... in the past (either in this life or in previous lives) you have practised meditating on your breathing, but if that is the case, just as you cultivated the tendency (vāsanā) to be aware of your breathing by practice..."


The teaching of Michael James is consistent on this point: breathing exercises or pranayama is never mentioned as useful. You say here that pranayama practice is cultivating a vasana.

But the actual teaching of Sri Ramana is entirely different.
https://selfdefinition.org/ramana/Talks-with-Sri-Ramana-Maharshi--complete.pdf
"breath" is mentioned 85 times! I wonder if the pdf search mechanism stops at "85" matches as "prana" is also found 85 times.
"pranayama" is mentioned 39 times.

You would be closer to realizing the claim of your site "the teachings of Sri Ramana" if you would read, understand and incorporate this material. Certainly, "Talks" is not organized, it is replies given to people at different levels of practice and different temperaments (aren't we the same?). And there are potential translation errors to be used for contemplation. But with hundreds of comments on the subject the following is clear:

Pranayama or attention on the breath may be (depending on the person) essential to stilling the mind sufficiently so that Atma Vichara can then be successfully practiced. Properly practiced pranayama leads directly to the still mind of self attention.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you write, ‘Pranayama or attention on the breath may be (depending on the person) essential to stilling the mind sufficiently so that Atma Vichara can then be successfully practiced. Properly practiced pranayama leads directly to the still mind of self attention’.

According to Bhagavan, pranayama is not essential, and therefore we need not practise it as a precursor to self-investigation. Bhagavan explained that pranayama could be an aid to self-investigation, but it is not an essential aid. Pranayama can make our mind subside in laya (temporary subsidence of mind) but will not bring about nasa (permanent destruction of mind). Let us consider what Bhagavan says in 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. Even by prāṇāyāma [breath-restraint], the mind will subside; however, [though] the mind remains subsided so long as the breath remains subsided, when the breath emerges [or becomes manifest] it will also emerge and wander under the sway of [its] vāsanās [propensities, inclinations, impulses or desires]
.
Now let us consider verse 14 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Only when [we] send [our] mind, which subsides [only temporarily] when [we] restrain [our] breath, on the one path [of knowing and becoming one with our real self], will its form cease [to exist].

Therefore, if we want to experience ourself as we really are we, do not need to practise pranayama, but if at all one is used to practicing it, one can practise it to some extent, but before the mind subsides in laya, one should switch over to the practice of self-investigation, because only vigilant self-investigation can destroy our mind.

Michael said the following in his notes while explaining verse 14 of Upadesa Undiyar:

In order to practise atma-vichara successfully we require not merely a temporary calmness of mind brought about by an artificial aid such as pranayama, but a deep and enduring love to abide peacefully in the state of clear self-conscious being. With persistent practice this love increases and we will be able to send our mind ever deeper along this ‘one path’ into the innermost core of our own being.

Thus Bhagavan never recommended or taught pranayama. If we are not already practising it, we need not start to practise it, and can directly start with atma-vichara and stick only to atma-vichara, because as Bhagavan said that alone is sufficient.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,

What Bhagavan is really saying, or saying directly and specifically, is that only Self Attention can reveal the ultimate truth. And that the many various "aids" (such as pranayama) are just that: aids but not the final tool.

An aside: I take "Self Attention" to vary considerably according to the persons temperament, it's not just "Atma Vichara as taught by Michael James". All the enlightened people over thousands of years have followed Self Attention but obviously their styles vary considerably.

Michael "one way" James takes these quotes from Bhagavan and interprets them as meaning that "aids" are not necessary at all, only the "one way" of atma-vichara is required. But this conclusion is NOT present in the quotes from Bhagavan above. In fact Bhagavan in "Talks" says that it's impossible without using "aids". I think he means for most people. He endorses all sorts of "aids". Read it. I'll bet that the amount of comments from Bhagavan in Talks is many many times larger than the 3 works that MJ relies on.

You are trying to find a doctrinal truth about "aids", a final word in the dogma about whether or not aids are required. You are looking for an intellectual determination, how to think and believe.

This is the wrong approach. The real question is: can I benefit from using pranayama or some other aids? You see, the answer varies according the the person, their current level of inward stillness and temperament, even current circumstances and the current level of ease or balance. The question is: how can I most effectively still my mind? Or perhaps I am already still, there are NO distracting thoughts, No distracting emotions at all ever. (ha!)

I have heard a number of people here express frustration with Atma Vichara. "Frustration" is the ego. In such cases various aids should be used to still the mind... then atma vichara can be practiced effortlessly.

Sanjay, you say: "Thus Bhagavan never recommended ... pranayama..."

That is simply not true. That is a lie.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you quote me: ‘Sanjay, you say: Thus Bhagavan never recommended pranayama… That is simply not true. That is a lie’. It would be interesting to note where and in what context did Bhagavan recommend pranayama? Could you please give us some specific instances?

Of his own he never recommended any practice other than self-investigation, but if people came and told him, ‘Bhagavan, I am doing pranayama, can I continue with it?’ He would say, ‘Yes, continue with it. It is good’. Such people just came to Bhagavan to get confirmation about the efficacy of their paths, and were not interested to receive what Bhagavan wanted to give them. So we cannot say by such examples that Bhagavan recommended pranayama. We can at best say that Bhagavan didn’t object to such practices.

You say, ‘All the enlightened people over thousands of years have followed Self Attention but obviously their styles vary considerably’. How can one practise self-attentiveness in different styles? How can one look at the sun in different styles? If we want to look at the sun, we just have to look up at the sun. Likewise there is only way to look at ourself.

You say, ‘In fact Bhagavan in "Talks" says that it's impossible without using aids’. Where and in what context did he say so? We would appreciate if you can give us specific instances. We do not need external aids to practise self-investigation, and in fact many so called ‘aids’ could be more of a distraction than ‘aids’.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my reply to Roger:

People can benefit from practising pranayama, who denies that? But if our aim is to experience ourself as we really are, then self-investigation or self-surrender is the only way. Bhagavan has made this very clear. For example in verse 22 of Ulladu Narpadu he says:

Consider, except by turning the mind back within [and thereby] completely immersing it in God, who shines within that mind giving light to the mind, how to fathom [or investigate and know] God by the mind?

As Bhagavan teaches us, we can experience God (namely ourself as we really are), only by ‘turning the mind back within’. How much clearer can Bhagavan become?

You ask, ‘The question is: how can I most effectively still my mind?’ Practices like pranayama can help to still our mind, however our aim is not to still the mind, but to destroy the mind. It would be useful to refer to verse 13 of Upadesa Undiyar at this point:

Subsidence [of mind] is [of] two [kinds]: laya and nāśa. What is lying down [or dissolved in laya] will rise. If [its] form dies [in nāśa], it will not rise.

Our aim is not laya but nasa: that is, our aim is to permanently destroy our mind or ego, and only self-investigation can help us to achieve this aim. However, if someone’s aim is mere laya (a sleep like temporary subsidence of mind), then perhaps pranayama will be perfect for them.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
>> It would be interesting to note where and in what context did Bhagavan recommend pranayama? Could you please give us some specific instances?

Search for "breath" and "prana", "pranayama" in:
https://selfdefinition.org/ramana/Talks-with-Sri-Ramana-Maharshi--complete.pdf

There are dozens of examples. The basic idea is that pranayama MAY be useful (as well as other aids) to still the mind sufficiently for more advanced practice. If one's mind is distracted by thought and emotion... then vicara is impossible. In this very common situation various "aids" are essential.

>> if our aim is to experience ourself as we really are, then self-investigation or self-surrender is the only way.

You've got it wrong. The mind and emotions are generally not easy to still at first ("at first" meaning possibly decades at least in my case). Therefore, "aids" can be appropriately employed to provide a basis for more advanced practice. The teaching here is strange: you take "atma vichara is the only way" and use this against preliminary practices. The result is that most people are unable to realize the advanced practice. Then... your "atma vichara" becomes just an intellectual idea without actual experience.

It's as if you say the ONLY way is a PhD degree, and so preliminary education is unnecessary. Then of course nobody has a basis for PhD study and it is never realized.

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

All people cannot be expected to do the same kind of action. Each one acts according to his temperament and past lives. Wisdom, Devotion, Action (jnana, bhakti, karma) are all interlocked. Meditation on forms is according to one’s own mind. It is meant for ridding oneself of other forms and confining oneself to one form. It leads to the goal. It is impossible to fix the mind in the Heart to start with. So these aids are necessary.


This is what has happened with the teaching of Michael "only way" James. "Only way" is emphasized and then all other approached are "condemned". Even essential preliminary practices are condemned. Thus the "goal" becomes just an intellectual idea since essential preliminary practices are "condemned".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, I had asked you, ‘It would be interesting to note where and in what context did Bhagavan recommend pranayama? Could you please give us some specific instances?’ This was in response to your claim that Bhagavan did recommend pranayama. In response you wrote: ‘Search for "breath" and "prana", "pranayama" in: https://selfdefinition.org/ramana/Talks-with-Sri-Ramana-Maharshi--complete.pdf There are dozens of examples’.

What you say here is quite illogical. You claimed that Bhagavan recommended pranayama, but when I asked you where did he say so, you ask me to do my own research to find this out. As Michael recently wrote, ‘the burden of proof lies on one who asserts, not on one who denies’. You have asserted something, so please provide proof in support of your claim. Why should I research Talks? Please let us know specific instances where Bhagavan recommended pranayama, because this is what you have asserted?

You also say: ‘This is what has happened with the teaching of Michael "only way" James. "Only way" is emphasized and then all other approached are condemned’. If our aim is to destroy our ego and to experience ourself as we really are, then it can be done only by self-investigation. Other practices may help us to come to atma-vichara, but we can destroy our ego only by self-investigation. Bhagavan has made this very clear. For example, he says in 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. Even by prāṇāyāma [breath-restraint], the mind will subside; however, [though] the mind remains subsided so long as the breath remains subsided, when the breath emerges [or becomes manifest] it will also emerge and wander under the sway of [its] vāsanās [propensities, inclinations, impulses or desires].

So Bhagavan has himself written: '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'. Therefore isn’t Bhagavan clearly saying here that the 'only way’ to destroy the mind is atma-vichara? Do you infer some other meaning here? If yes, what do you infer?

So Michael (only way) James is not the only one claiming that atma-vichara is the only way to make the ego or mind subside permanently. Our leader in this regards is Bhagavan (only way) Ramana. You are free to stick to your beliefs and ideas, whatever they may be.



Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
Pranayama is only an example of the larger issue of "aids" to practice. What was Bhagavan's real teaching on "aids" and how does Michael James differ about it?

Above I quoted Talk #40 and put Sri Ramana's comment in bold "So these aids are necessary."
Did you not see it?

I could quote massive amounts of text but Talk #40 says it precisely:
Michael James and you say "aids are not necessary" and Bhagavan says "aids are necessary". Why the difference? Aren't you curious about Bhagavan's actual teaching?

You say:
"As Michael recently wrote, ‘the burden of proof lies on one who asserts, not on one who denies’."

Yes, exactly. You here claim to have the ONLY WAY to enlightenment / Self Realization. That is an indefensible supremely arrogant assertion. All other spiritual teachers and schools are wrong and only you are right. Therefore, because of your assertion "the only way" the burden of proof will always be on you.

You say: "How can one practise self-attentiveness in different styles? "
Read the quote from Sri Ramana above, Talk #40.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you claim, ‘Above I quoted Talk #40 and put Sri Ramana's comment in bold “So these aids are necessary”. Did you not see it?’

So you continue to insist that in order to successfully practise self-investigation we need some aids like pranayama, and in support of your claim you say that Bhagavan has himself said so in various places in Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. However, Bhagavan says in the eleventh paragraph of Nan Yar?:

If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own actual self], that alone [will be] sufficient.

Therefore, svarupa-smarana (self-remembrance) itself is sufficient to take us to our goal, and we need no other spiritual practice or aids.

Obviously we should give much more weightage to what Bhagavan has himself written in Nan Yar/?. Talks contain recordings of Bhagavan’s teachings, and every recording has its shortcomings, and Talks is no exception. Michael has often pointed out the shortcomings in the recordings of Talks, which are namely:

1) Bhagavan spoke in Tamil, whereas Talks was recorded in English.

2) These were not recorded as Bhagavan spoke, but were noted down later, may be after a few hours. So it was recorded by memory, and memory can often fail us.

3) Recordings are coloured by the preconceived ideas and beliefs of the one who records these, thus they cannot be fully accurate.

4) Munagala S. Venkataramiah who was the recorder of Talks was in the habit of elaborating and adding his own notes to whatever he recorded. Such elaborations makes Talks quite confusing at places.

5) Bhagavan answered according to the needs, aspirations and understanding capacity of the questioners, and therefore at times he had to dilute his teachings when answering people’s questions.

So we can see, as Michael has pointed out, there are many defects in Talks, and therefore it is nowhere as reliable as Bhagavan’s own writings like Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and Nan Yar?.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment)










Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Roger:

We do require aids if we practise other methods. For example, if we like mediating on the form of Bhagavan, we would obviously require his picture (either physical or mental) in front of us. So this picture is our aid. If we practice pranayama, we will require the aid of a correct posture, correct breathing technique and so on. So we do require aids if we practise other paths, but no such is aid is necessarily required if are practising self-investigation.

There is no gap between ourself and our goal, so we do not need any aids to remain as we actually are. We do not have to travel anywhere to reach our goal. Suppose if I want to fly from India to the USA, I will need the aid of an aircraft to enable me to reach the USA, but if I want to remain where I am now, do I require any aids to do so?

However, we have to admit of some almost indispensable support on the path of self-investigation. They are:

1) We do need unceasing sravana (reading, listening) and manana (reflection) of Bhagavan’s teachings. We will need this support until our ego is destroyed. I consider our discussions on this blog as a powerful form of manana. It is because of this reason that I am so fond of posting comments. Of course our sravana and manana cannot be a substitute of our nididhyasana (self-investigation), but these can a big support.

2) We do need to try to consume mita sattvika ahara. Bhagavan was very categorical about this. He teaches us in the ninth paragraph of Nan Yar?:

By mita sāttvika āhāra-niyama [the restraint of consuming only a moderate quantity of sattva-conducive food], which is the best among all restrictions, the sattva-guṇa [the quality of ‘being-ness’, calmness and clarity] of the mind will increase and [thereby] help will arise for self-investigation.

So consuming a vegetarian or a vegan diet will keep our mind relatively calm and clear, and such calmness and clarity will help us to turn within.

So other than sravana and mamana of Bhagavan’s teachings and mita sattvika ahara-niyama, we need no any other support on his path. At least this is how I feel.

Sir (Sri Michael James), do you agree? If not, could you please share your views on the topic of aids? I will glad to know them so that we can clarify our understanding.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, in continuation of our discussion on whether or not we need any aids to support our practice of self-investigation, I have just remembered a few more points:

If we practise self-investigation but still look for some outside aids, we are giving reality to things outside of ourself. Bhagavan has clearly said that what exists is only atma-svarupa, so while practising we should try and attend only to ourself.
However, if we try and pay attention to things other than ourself thinking that those things are our aids, we are taking our attention away from ourself. This way our so called aids become a distraction.

However, we cannot be attending to ourself all the time, and therefore whenever we turn our attention away from ourself, the best thing we can do is to read and reflect on Bhagavan’s teachings, because these are very powerful support to our self-investigation.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
I will comment on the quotes you have selected from Sri Ramana and your conclusions:

>> If one clings fast to uninterrupted svarūpa-smaraṇa [self-remembrance] until one attains svarūpa [one’s own actual self], that alone [will be] sufficient.

Your conclusion is "we need no other spiritual practice or aids" but Bhagavan's statement says "IF one clings fast to UNINTERRUPTED" self attention....
The truth is that until "uninterrupted self attention" is attainable... then other aids may be useful to achieve that state.
Test your own practice. Can you sit for an hour generally without distracting thoughts and emotions carrying away the attention?
If not... then you have not attained "uninterrupted self attention". Therefore aids may be useful.

So you are erroneously concluding that "we need no other spiritual aids"... but that is not what Bhagavan said. Sure, if one is able to hold uninterrupted Self Attention then that is sufficient. But if you are unable to achieve uninterruped Self Attention... consider "aids"... and I suspect most people fall into this category.

Earlier, you quoted Bhaghavan:
...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. Even by prāṇāyāma[breath-restraint], the mind will subside; however, [though] the mind remains subsided so long as the breath remains subsided, when the breath emerges [or becomes manifest] it will also emerge and wander under the sway of [its] vāsanās [propensities, inclinations, impulses or desires]."

So Bhagavan has himself written: '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'. Therefore isn’t Bhagavan clearly saying here that the 'only way’ to destroy the mind is atma-vichara? Do you infer some other meaning here? If yes, what do you infer?


Your conclusion seems to be: "if our aim is to experience ourself as we really are, then self-investigation or self-surrender is the only way."

But this is not exactly what Bhagavan is saying. Bhagavan is noting that self attention is the only adequate means to make the mind subside permanently. He is noting a difference between aids like pranayama which result in temporary subsidence and permanent subsidence. In these quotes he makes no comments about when one should practice "aids" or pranayama. He is only noting that pranayama is not a final means. This does not eliminate the "aids" as a potentially essential preliminary practice.
.continued.

Roger Isaacs said...

Consider your practice: IF you are unable to still the mind and emotions and rest in "uninterrupted self attention" then first use something ("aids" including pranayama) to achieve TEMPORARY subsidence... then move ahead with uninterrupted Self Attention.

You see, Bhagavan says one thing and you conclude something else.

As always, you guys denounce "Talks with Ramana".
The site here is called "the teaching of Ramana"... but the single largest body of his work "Talks" is denounced. How can you claim this site as "the teaching of Ramana" when his single largest work is denounced? Who has compared the size of your 3 main works against "Talks"? Is Talks 10 times larger?

I agree that Talks has potentially some minor translation issues. But I don't see these as a problem. IF this were a scholarly environment, then all the statements in Talks would be analyzed and potential issues noted. Every word from Bhagavan is nectar. But this not a scholarly environment. You guys need to denounce Talks and really prevent people from looking at it because it challenges the narrow message here. See my quote of talk 40 above: "when you adhere to one philosophical system (ie 'the only way') you are obligated to condemn the others". That is the case here. The 3 main works are wrongly interpreted to be "the only way" and then all other teacher INCLUDING other works of Bhagavan are condemned: shame!

A couple comments on your denouncements of Talks:

>> 1) Bhagavan spoke in Tamil, whereas Talks was recorded in English.

Doesn't MJ speak to us in English? You assume that MJ's translations and interpretations are entirely superior to Munagala. MJ is hardly perfect.

>> 3) Recordings are coloured by the preconceived ideas and beliefs of the one who records these...

The other works are also colored by the questions supplied and the preconceptions of Michael James and his forebears doing the interpretations.

>> 5) Bhagavan answered according to the needs, aspirations and understanding capacity of the questioners, and therefore at times he had to dilute his teachings when answering people’s questions.

This is an important point: WE all have different temperaments and are at different levels of practice. Therefore, the message of Talks which meets these different needs is essential. The 3 works which MJ relies on are important, but they are more theoretical, they are best complemented by the practical teaching in Talks.

You don't understand the situation:
There can be aids which if practiced properly will assist in quieting the mind and emotions which then goes directly into Self Attention. Once the mind is quiet... then there is no need to invoke the aid. It is a progressive dive into inner stillness. You have some strange idea that "aids" are in competition with Self Attention. Ridiculous. They go hand in hand. Once the "aid" has done it's job.... stillness is left.

As we see, the emphasis here is on the meaning of the dogma, the holy texts. Actual Self Attention is given a back seat and defending Michael James' teaching as "the only way" the the main task.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, I thank you for your two comments.

1) You say, ‘The truth is that until "uninterrupted self attention" is attainable...then other aids may be useful to achieve that state’. I agree, but only partially. Although our practice of self-investigation is itself its best aid and support, and from that perspective we need no other practice to support it. However, since we are not able to be self-attentive all our waking hours, others practices – like listening to Ramana bhajans, doing giri-pradakshina, doing japa of Bhagavan’s name, and similar supports - can help us to some extent.

However, these aids are not indispensible, but we can use these to keep our attention focused on Bhagavan. However, if we are practicing self-attentiveness, we should not consider pranayama to be an aid. Self-attentiveness gives us all the benefits of pranayama much more quickly and effectively, so why practise pranayama thinking that it will aid self-investigation?

2) You say, ‘The site here is called "the teaching of Ramana"... but the single largest body of his work "Talks" is denounced […] Every word from Bhagavan is nectar […] The 3 main works are wrongly interpreted to be "the only way" […] shame!’

Yes, it will be shame if we denounce even a single word from Bhagavan, because as you rightly say ‘they are nectar’. However, Talks and other such recordings seem to have many extraneous things mixed with this ‘nectar’. It becomes difficult to believe everything that is written in Talks, because they appear to be clearly un-Bhagavan like utterances. Bhagavan is the epitome of simplicity and clarity, and some of things said in Talks are anything but simple and clear.

This is not to say that Talks does not have useful things. We certainly find many useful teachings of Bhagavan in Talks, DBD and other such works, but they are mixed with a lot things which directly contradict with what he says in his written works. So we obviously choose to believe his direct written texts much more than such recordings.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Roger:

3) You quote me as saying, ‘Bhagavan spoke in Tamil, whereas Talks was recorded in English’, and then ask, ‘Doesn't MJ speak to us in English? You assume that MJ's translations and interpretations are entirely superior to Munagala’.

Munagala interpreted and translated whatever Bhagavan spoke in Tamil into English, whereas Michael translates whatever Bhagavan has himself written. He usually gives us the English meaning of each of the Tamil (or other language) words written by Bhagavan. We should remember that he is proficient in both English and Tamil, and therefore is fully qualified to undertake these translations.

Munagala translated Bhagavan’s words as he remembered them, so obviously he could have made errors, but since Michael is directly translating Bhagavan’s own words, they are more likely to be accurate.

4) You end by saying: ‘The 3 works which MJ relies on are important, but they are more theoretical, they are best complemented by the practical teaching in Talks. […] Actual Self Attention is given a back seat and defending Michael James' teaching as "the only way" the main task’.

According to me, it is the other way round. The three works - Ulladu Narpadu, Nan Yar and Upadesa Undiyar - are nothing but theoretical. They are all meant for practice and practice alone. Although much of the recordings in Talks also guide us in our practice, but its recordings are more towards the theory side – at least, relative to his three main texts.

Michael clearly gives prime importance to the practice of self-investigation, which is Bhagavan's most important teaching, in all his articles and other writings. For example, Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 of Ulladu Narpadu: ‘if the ego seeks [itself], it will take flight’. Michael referred to this teaching and wrote in one of his recent comments:

This is the most important and fundamental of all the principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, because all the other principles are just the supporting frame or temple in which this most valuable principle is enshrined.

Therefore, Michael invariably brings our attention back to Bhagavan’s core teachings. We do not defend him for nothing. I defend him because I am convinced that he has been diligently trying to explain Bhagavan’s teachings, as clearly and as accurately as possible. Why do I only defend Michael but do not defend other famous writers and compilers of Bhagavan’s teachings? It should be obvious: I trust his interpretations.


Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
You say >>> "Talks [has] clearly un-Bhagavan like utterances..... a lot things which directly contradict with what he says in his written works"

There are no contradictions in Bhagavan's works, only inaccurate translations and lack of comprehensive understanding.

Your statement really gets us to the core of the errors in Michael James teaching.

The largest single book of Bhagavan's work "Talks" is denied here because you don't like the message. The message in Talks destroys many key points of Michael James corrupt teaching. Your issue with Talks is not really that there are occasional minor translation errors. These arguments about translation errors are just excuses to cover up the fact that the message is in your opinion "un-Bhagavan like".

The message of Michael James is that God and the way to God can be reduced to a rule. And ... that Michael James is the one who just happens to have "the only way". Michael James just happens to be pretty much the only expert on "the only way", despite the fact that he have not arrived at the destination.
Arguments about "I have the only way" are ridiculous. "The only way" can not possibly be true. This is easy to see: conceptual language can never accurately convey a subjective state. Can you convey the sensory experience of eating a mango to another person conceptually? No Way. Neither can any single set of concepts be used to represent "the only way" to God, or to represent God. There will always be different perspectives. Concepts and teachings are very limited.

You argue that the transcriber of Talks made errors and his own additions and this is responsible for Talks being "un-Bhagavan like". There are certainly minor errors. But... the brilliance of Talks could not be created by the transcriber. If you want to know about pranayama... then the words "breath, prana" are used hundreds of times in Talks. Are you asking me to believe that the transcriber expertly modified Bhagavan's message uniformly in hundreds of different places over years and did so in a consistent brilliant way? Ha!

"Talks" has a lot of the highest and most brilliant teachings that I have heard anywhere.
For example: (as noted above in Talk 40): people have different temperaments and are at different developmental stages, therefore no single teaching can be effectively used for everyone. In Talks, Bhagavan repeatedly over and over emphasizes that all the various systems Kundalini, Bhakti, Jnana, Karma Yoga etc... exist because they are required for people of different temperaments. Do you really expect J.R. Krishnamurti (discrimination) to respond to the same advice as Amma (devotion)? People have different temperaments.

Roger Isaacs said...

Sanjay you say: >> Self-attentiveness gives us all the benefits of pranayama much more quickly and effectively, so why practise pranayama thinking that it will aid self-investigation?

You don't seem to be able to hear what I'm saying:
IF one can sustain Self Attention... then that is good, perhaps nothing else is required.
But Self Attention is an advanced state, quieting the turbulent mind and emotions is not easy.
Can you really sit for an hour in sustained continuous Self Attention without constantly being distracted by thoughts and emotions?
So various "aids" exist simply to assist in stilling the mind & emotions so that Self Attention can then be successful.
"Aids" are NOT competition to Self Attention, they assist.. .until they are no longer required.

You say ">>>>> Michael translates whatever Bhagavan has himself written. He usually gives us the English meaning of each of the Tamil (or other language) words written by Bhagavan. We should remember that he is proficient in both English and Tamil, and therefore is fully qualified to undertake these translations.

The subject matter is about enlightenment. Michael is not qualified to discuss it because he has no experience of it. He does not speak from that state. It is the blind leading the blind.

You say "I trust his interpretations..."

An excellent spiritual teacher will have the gift of awakening the truth within you and then once you know the truth within the dogma will no longer be necessary, you will have surpassed it.
Michael James makes everyone dependent on his dogma "you should believe....".
Saravana and manana have nothing to do with blind faith belief.

The errors start right with Nan Yar paragraph one:
"vicara alone is the principle means".
Yes, but "Self Attention" can never be trademarked by any school or teacher, it is a human potential realized by many.
All the enlightened Masters speak of Self Attention, only it sounds different because their culture, background and temperaments are different.
"vicara alone is the principle means" does not means that Michael James is the only (or one of the only) viable spiritual teacher in the world ever. How silly.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, I thank you for both your comments. It is always a joy to reflect on Bhagavan’s teachings.

You say, ‘This is easy to see: conceptual language can never accurately convey a subjective state’. I fully agree. When Bhagavan was asked how to practise self-investigation, he replied: ‘The way is subjective and not objective. Do you need to be shown the way inside your own house? It cannot and need not be shown by others'. So yes, we cannot convey our subjective state through the use of any language.

You further say, ‘But Self Attention is an advanced state'. You are in effect saying that being yourself in an advanced state. We are already ourself, and therefore we can attend to ourself whenever we want to. We are always self-aware, but are usually negligently self-aware. We need to be attentively self-aware. Bhagavan teaches us in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar:

When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without neglecting [forgetting, abandoning, giving up or ceasing], anything called ‘mind’ will not exist. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever.

Bhagavan says that the practice of self-attentiveness ‘is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever’. It is only our confused mind which says that it is only for the advanced aspirants.

Here comes the icing on the cake: You in some sort of a delusion have not even spared Bhagavan. You assert: ‘The errors start right with Nan Yar paragraph one: "vicara alone is the principle means". You have not spared most of us, and we don’t mind. After all you criticise our ego and it deserved to be condemned, because this fellow just refuses to leave.

However, please spare Bhagavan. He has given us the teachings, which if followed wholeheartedly, will surely lead us out from this mess: our ego and all its concomitant problems. Anyway Bhagavan is too generous. He would not mind your critising him. He would be happy that at least he is in your mind, because even to criticise his teachings you need to remember his teachings.






Anonymous said...

Sanjay Lohia, very well put...

"However, please spare Bhagavan. He has given us the teachings, which if followed wholeheartedly, will surely lead us out from this mess: our ego and all its concomitant problems. Anyway Bhagavan is too generous. He would not mind your critising him. He would be happy that at least he is in your mind, because even to criticise his teachings you need to remember his teachings."

I am no blind follower of Maharshi Ramana but I think it is too much to assert that he made a mistake with his very first sentence in Naan Yaar...

Anonymous said...

Sorry, meant to say...

I am no blind follower of Maharshi Ramana but I think it is too much to assert that he made a mistake with his very first paragraph in Naan Yaar...

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, we have made a basic or primal mistake by rising as this ego, and this mistake is making us commit further mistakes: our each and every outward directed attention is our mistake.

Instead of blaming ourself, if someone blames Bhagavan for making a mistake in the very first paragraph of Nan Yar, it is a tad too much to digest. Bhagavan has come to destroy the root of all our mistakes, namely our ego, but we tell Bhagavan to stop making silly errors!

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay, Anonymous,
Sanjay, you are clever. If you read the context you see that I was referring to errors in translation, not errors from Bhaghavan.

I see no errors in Bhagavan's words.
There could be errors in the translation to English, but I don't know.
There are definitely errors by Michael James in the interpretation of the translations.

Nan Yar paragraph 1 says : ....jñāna-vicāra alone is the principal means.

This is often interpreted to mean:
Atma Vicara as taught by Bhagavan and his follow-on teachers is the ONLY way to God.
So effectively, there is no other way to God other than what is taught by Michael James.
You guys here just happen to have the only effective spiritual teaching ever in the history of the world.

If Atma Vichara is the ONLY way to God, how do we explain other enlightened beings who described the way somewhat differently: Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Shankara, Mahavira, Patangali on and on....
Where they not really enlightened?

But another possible interpretation:
Michael says that "atma vichara" can be interpreted to mean "Self Attention".

Yes, in general "Self Attention" could be said to be the "only way".
But Self Attention is a human potential, it can never be claimed or trademarked by any school or teacher. Furthermore, "Self Attention" may come in different flavors, jnana, bhakti etc... as Bhagavan says in Talks.

It is as Bhagavan said in Talk 40: "when you adhere to one philosophical system you are obliged to condemn the others". Here you cling to your interpretations of "only way" and you condemn all other teachings INCLUDING the largest single work of Bhagavan "Talks with Ramana" because it sounds "un-Bhagavan".

We can probably agree that it is the ego arising when an individual says things like:
my country/nation is the best, better than all others,
my racial identity is the best,
my college is the best,
my sports team, my car... is the best.

It is apparently difficult for many to see that claiming "my religion or my spiritual teacher is the best and the only way" is also the ego rising and grasping.

When you claim your way as the "only way" you put yourself in competition with all other teachers and schools. Such religious competition is the ego. Surely it was not what Bhagavan was referring to.

It is not necessary to condemn other approaches in order to have confidence in your own.


Mouna said...

Roger, greetings,
"It is not necessary to condemn other approaches in order to have confidence in your own."

This statement, does it apply to you also?...

Be well
m

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, I am glad you admit, ‘I see no errors in Bhagavan's words’. Yes, we will remain imperfect as long as our egos seem to exist, because the ego is the very antithesis of perfection.

You ask, ‘If Atma Vichara is the ONLY way to God, how do we explain other enlightened beings who described the way somewhat differently: Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Shankara, Mahavira, Patangali on and on....Where they not really enlightened’.

If Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Shankara and Mahavira were enlightened (which we believe they were), in the sense that they experienced themselves as they actually are, then surely they would have eventually followed the path of self-investigation. They may have started off with different practices, but eventually they would have necessarily come to practise self-attentiveness, because without attending to themselves how could they have known what they really are?

Shankara has clearly said that for vastu jnana (experiencing one’s true nature), self-investigation is the only way. For example, if we want to read what is written in a book, we have to open it and read it. There can be no other way to read a book. Likewise, if we want to know who we actually are, we have to, metaphorically speaking, open ourself and look inside. How can there be any another way?

Bhagavan said...

Roger my pal:

I henceforth relinquish my non-existent copyright/trademark on the teachings of 'self-attention'.

Do you agree with me when I say that the only way to look at the sun with naked eyes is to look at the sun with naked eyes?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,

If there have been multiple enlightened beings... then how can Bhagavan's teaching be the ONLY way?

You are saying that somehow there is a flaw with the teachings of all other enlightened beings?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Mouna,
You (or at least the teaching here) claim to have "the only way" for all.
You are surprised when "the all" point out that you are imposing?

Religious supremacy is the same ego disease as nationalism, racism... only the subject matter is different.

There is regular criticism of other teachers here (teachers acknowledged by many as jnanis), such as:
blog: "Why the teachings of J. Krishnamurti are diametrically opposed to those of Sri Ramana",
and 'Nisargadatta uses "I AM" to refer to the ego' (blog 2 oct 2016),
and "Nisargadatta lacked thinking skills due to not being formally educated..."
and 'Nisargadatta's teaching... is not spiritual".

If you'd like an environment free of negativity and criticism... look in the mirror and start there.
You seem to propose a double standard: you (Michael) freely deliver negative comments about virtually all other spiritual teachers... but then you don't accept any criticisms yourself?

Ha!



Anonymous said...

Roger, two points.

1. I am the anonymous who agreed with Sanjay Lohia's comment about your comment on Naan Yaar! After your explanation I am persuaded you meant to take issue with MJ and not with Sri Ramana though you phrased it very badly.

2. I read this blog to learn about MJ's interpretation of Maharshi Ramana's teaching. I am not interested in his comments on other teachers even in relation to Sri Ramana. Below is an extract from Aldous Huxley's foreword to The First and Last Freedom by J. Krishnamurti.

Overall, MJ is the best source of information about Ramana Maharishi’s teachings I have come across.

-----------
Aldous Huxley
-----------
Even the best cookery book is no substitute for even the worst dinner. The fact seems sufficiently
obvious. And yet, throughout the ages, the most profound philosophers, the most learned and acute
theologians have constantly fallen into the error of identifying their purely verbal constructions with
facts, or into the yet more enormous error of imagining that symbols are somehow more real than
what they stand for. Their word-worship did not go without protest. ”Only the spirit,” said St. Paul,
”gives life; the letter kills.” ”And why,” asks Eckhart, ”why do you prate of God? Whatever you say
of God is untrue.” At the other end of the world the author of one of the Mahayana sutras affirmed
that ”the truth was never preached by the Buddha, seeing that you have to realize it within yourself”.
Such utterances were felt to be profoundly subversive, and respectable people ignored them. The
strange idolatrous over-estimation of words and emblems continued unchecked. Religions declined;
but the old habit of formulating creeds and imposing belief in dogmas persisted even among the
atheists.
In recent years logicians and semanticists have carried out a very thorough analysis of the symbols,
in terms of which men do their thinking. Linguistics has become a science, and one may even study
a subject to which the late Benjamin Whorf gave the name of meta-linguistics. All this is greatly
to the good; but it is not enough. Logic and semantics, linguistics and meta-linguistics - these are
purely intellectual disciplines. They analyse the various ways, correct and incorrect, meaningful
and meaningless, in which words can be related to things, processes and events. But they offer
no guidance, in regard to the much more fundamental problem of the relationship of man in his
psychophysical totality, on the one hand, and his two worlds, of data and of symbols, on the other.
In every region and at every period of history, the problem has been repeatedly solved by individual
men and women. Even when they spoke or wrote, these individuals created no systems - for they
knew that every system is a standing temptation to take symbols too seriously, to pay more attention
to words than to the realities for which the words are supposed to stand. Their aim was never to
offer ready-made explanations and panaceas; it was to induce people to diagnose and cure their
own ills, to get them to go to the place where man’s problem and its solution present themselves
directly to experience.

------------

Anonymous said...

Bhagavan, both Devaraja Mudaliar and TMP Mahadevan remarked about your failing eyesight and Alan Chadwick noted that you were not physically very strong after the age of about 30. Your diet was deficient but you were not in the world so you did not notice.

Anyway, to get to the point, please Do Not Look directly at the sun with naked eyes.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Roger, you blame me by stating, ‘You are saying that somehow there is a flaw with the teachings of all other enlightened beings?’ If they are enlightened beings, how can there be any flaw in their teachings?

Others may be giving us the same message as Bhagavan Ramana, but their message may at times be camouflaged in some other expression. For example, Jesus appeared in a very different time, when people were much more conservative than they are now. However, he also said in a language suitable to his time: ‘Look and see, the kingdom of heaven is within you’. He was also recommending the practice of self-investigation when he said this. Of course this message may not have been properly understood.

Likewise Sri Ramakrishna also said that one can know God only by investigating and finding out what this ‘I’ is.

Anyway if we are sincerely following Bhagavan’s teachings, we should not be concerned about what other spiritual teachers say or not say. Bhagavan’s teachings are a complete package. If we try to follow his teachings, we would be following the teachings of all ’jnanis’, because he has given us the essence of all spiritual instructions.

Incidentally, one of the main works of Bhagavan is Upadēśa Sāram, and it means ‘The Essence of Spiritual Teachings’.





Mouna said...

Roger Isaac,
as the sound of the spoken words of Bhagavan, Buddha, Shankara, Jesus and many more passed, and their writings passed, and their breath and thoughts passed, we too will pass... and faster than we think, but inevitably so.

This blog, these words, these thoughts, us in fact, are already dust, and even maybe, in some sense never came to be... who knows...

The key to unlock the mystery, the one that opens "that" door is right in front of our noses, but we prefer to fight and argue about its shape, color and function...

Silence, as space, has no shape, or color, and it can't be seen or heard...
It is rather an absence... but an available one.

Be well friend because all is well, and we too, as all this, will pass... and return to the place we never left, from where we never came into being.

This too shall pass

power of grace said...

Mouna,
greetings to California,
you say... "we... will ... return to the place we never left, from where we never came into being."
How can one return to the place one has never left and from where one never came into being ?
So what is really your message ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, you say, ‘we too will pass... and faster than we think, but inevitably so’. Yes, our body will pass, but can the real ‘we’ ever pass? Can we ever imagine our non-existence? Don’t we live our life as if we are going to live forever? By such an attitude we are knowing or unknowing asserting our true state - which is pure, infinite, unbroken and immutable self-awareness.

However, we also need to impress upon ourself that our body and everything relating to our body - that is, ‘me’ and ‘mine’ - shall pass sooner than we can imagine. Therefore, why all this attachment? Why to hoard anything for the morrow, when the morrow may never come?

‘Power of grace’ asks, ‘How can one return to the place one has never left and from where one never came into being?’ Yes, what he says is true from the absolute view point. Ourself as we really are never undergoes any change, and therefore we never leave our true state, and therefore there is no question of our returning to it. But this is only from the absolute standpoint.

However, as this ego we seem to leave our true state, by rising and imagining ourself to be a body. Therefore, this ego has to return back to its source, and it can do so only by carefully looking at itself.

Mouna said...

power of grace (nice name by the way), greetings also

"How can one return to the place one has never left and from where one never came into being ?
So what is really your message?“


existence, awareness

It’s been warm in our common locus, isn’t it?
b well,
m

Mouna said...

Sanjay,

yes.

power of grace said...

Mouna,
as you say : pure and infinite self-awareness (of oneself alone as eternal reality)
is true self-knowledge which prevents growing cold of our heart ("common locus").
Be well.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Anonymous,

I've heard that K's "The First and Last Freedom" is perhaps his best book. I have it here but did not finish it.. yet. Thanks for posting Huxley as I do not recall the intro or did not read it. Huxley is amazing, wow, what a gifted and insightful writer.

So you find MJ's interpretations to be very useful. That's good. And you see the drawbacks but they don't bother you. Thanks for your perspective.

In the spirit of Huxley, here are comments about Mahavira from wikipedia:
According to Mahavira, truth and reality are complex and always have multiple aspects. Reality can be experienced, but it is not possible to totally express it with language. Human attempts to communicate are Naya, or "partial expression of the truth". Language is not Truth, but a means and attempt to express Truth. From Truth, according to Mahavira, language returns and not the other way around. One can experience the truth of a taste, but cannot fully express that taste through language. Any attempt to express the experience is syāt, or valid "in some respect" but still remains a "perhaps, just one perspective, incomplete". In the same way, spiritual truths are complex, they have multiple aspects, language cannot express their plurality, yet through effort and appropriate karma they can be experienced.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Sanjay,
You say that I was "blaming" you.
Well, ideally I would like to reach a deep understanding with you where we have mutual respect for our different perspectives and get that "to grow with mutual help" thing happening.

I rejoice in the feeling that you have for Bhagavan. BUT: you beat me other the head with your passion. And sure as hell MJ does the same over and over.

As the recent quotes from Huxley and Mahavira point out,
Any doctrine or dogma can never be the truth, perhaps a better gauge of "truth" is if people can drop the stupid dogma and have that mutual feeling of agape (brotherly love) despite differences. "Stupid" seems appropriate as the words are not the truth.

Paraphrasing Pirsig again: "zen is about nothingness, therefore anything that is said about it is a lie, but.... we must try speak about it nonetheless."

As Mahavira was pointing out: "spiritual truths are complex, they have multiple aspects, language cannot express their plurality..."

THIS is what we see with the "un-Bhagavan like utterances" in "Talks with Ramana...."
We see this with many masters: they say one thing one day and the opposite the next day. This is because reality is multisided and can be described from different perspectives. The apparent contradictions in Talks must be embraced as simply another valid perspective and we benefit greatly by becoming more flexible, less stuck in a single mental pattern.

MJ's frantic obsession is to reduce God and the path to God to a rule: this is not possible.

"Talks with Ramana..." speaks to me and enkindles my passion, as does Mahavira, and Sankara on and on....

Can we at least consider that these other masters might be given deepest respect even when they say things different than your "Bhagavan of the 3 works"? After all, even Bhagavan in Talks is different than "Bhagavan of the 3 works". For me, the deep respect for all perspectives and teachers pays enormous dividends because when I simply "hear" and "reflect" on teachings that appear different (such as yours).... I learn much more about my own perspective.

Salazar said...

Hello Roger old chap, you said “[let’s] have that mutual feeling of agape (brotherly love) despite differences”.

Getting chills reading that (sorry, not really) :-), what a nice appeal, however it cannot work as long as there is seemingly an ego. In fact it is a trap. What is “brotherly love”? The conditional affection between two or more jivas ..... a portion of the script we call samsara.

Re. the quote by Pirsig: Do we really must speak about it nonetheless? No, not really. But that’s irrelevant - as if anybody had a choice in that matter. If it is your destiny to spend your time on a spiritual blog arguing about tit and tat then you’ll do that. There is no greater delusion than the belief of a jiva it really could change or direct its outward actions.

antarmukham said...

Salazar,
you state "There is no greater delusion than the belief of a jiva it really could change or direct its outward actions."
Independent of the accuracy and truth of your statement what do you recommend to jivas in general and in the particular ?

Salazar said...

antarmukham, to go inward. To let do the body and mind its predetermined actions without being identified with it. There is no thought necessary for any actions of the body.

Again, there is NO thought necessary for any upcoming actions. Things still will be done as they were destined.

antarmukham said...

Salazar,
thanks for your answer.
Predestination of actions may truly have its effect.
But can thoughts be prevented from rising ? By which practice could this be possible ?

Salazar said...

Antarmukham, thoughts will be rising due to desires and attachments and that can’t be helped, the antidote is atma-vichara. There are other techniques which can prevent thoughts too (like pranayama) but those work only temporary and thoughts will come up as soon as these techniques are abandoned.

The good news is that eventually atma-vichara will stop the thoughts; the bad news is that it seems difficult for the mind in the beginning and it may seem it could take life times to accomplish that. It is advised by Bhagavan to not let the thought of difficulty arise nor the idea that it could take a long time. Instead one should expect mouna at any moment.

In the very beginning it will take time before one even remembers to do atma-vichara since the tendency to get lost in the train of thoughts is strong, but one remembers over time more often until it becomes a habit.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
I see it a little differently.
The issue is not thought, it is being identified with thought.
When are you identified with thought?
When you are under the influence of strong emotion for example: angry people are possessed which is a sort of unconsciousness. Also perhaps you've noticed: suddenly you may be aware that you are thinking something... but you are not aware of the whole stream of thoughts that lead up to the current point. So actually you were relatively unconscious during thinking, digressive unconscious thought.

If you see a thought as it arises, and you hold it keeping other thoughts out, then in vigilant attention let it go and you are back to Self Attention... where is delusion? where is attachment? There was only vigilant awareness that saw a thought arise and then fall away. In this sense, there is not thinking... only seeing, seeing a thought arise. Self Attention was not lost.

It's true, from the perspective of the "trance state" or "no body, no world in awareness" aka nirvikalpa samadhi that MJ teaches... no thoughts can be arising, no world is arising.
But this is only half of the reality.
What about when you are in waking state?
MJ does not teach about that.

There is this strange teaching: the body of Bhagavan did not exist in the world, only in the eyes of the one seeing him.
The way I understand this: Bhagavan was established in the subtler reality (ie casual body for example...) and so he did not identify with the physical layer. But certainly the physical layer existed for him if only as a dream.
So did Bhagavan think?
Did Bhagavan have fingers or a tongue?
The teaching here apparently says that Bhagavan did not have fingers... but he wrote, that he did not have a tongue... but he ate and spoke only he was not attached or identified with the gross physical layer.

Nan Yar is a sequence of concepts. How is it that concepts can be put down in speech or paper without thought? concepts are thought. So at some level, even if very subtle, Bhagavan must have thought... but he was never identified with it, if a thought arose... it was seen, there was never loss of Self Attention. Yes, you could call this the manifestation of Grace, but when Grace is put down in words or paper as concept... how can thought not be involved at least at some subtle level?


Salazar said...

Hello Roger, I do not disagree with your statements, a few things I would phrase differently like “trance-state”. The natural state or sahaja samadhi (the “goal” of atma-vichara and that's what MJ is referring to) is not a “trance state”. It is something the mind cannot comprehend and as such any attempts to describe or grasp it can only fail. So I have to admit my total ignorance about sahaja samadhi and simultaneously dismiss any attempts of explanation by anybody. Nobody can explain it.

You said that Bhagavan was established in a subtler reality like the casual body. I suppose you meant the causal body. Not to my understanding. I don't think that Bhagavan was established in any reality, because it takes an object to be established in something. There is no entity Bhagavan, never was. As there is no entity Roger.

Bhagavan: “There is no greater mystery than that Self is looking for Self.”

Bhagavan did not really acknowledge the mind/ego/thoughts, he only used these terms or concepts to explain apparent actions within the phenomenal world. Alas people take that as a sign that the ego has some sort of [temporary] reality what is false. It never existed. The paradox why Self is forgetting itself and then apparently looks for itself won't be accepted my many and therefore there are other stories or “explanations” like “the ego rises ...” to be more accommodating to a broader crowd.

Anyway Roger, do WE have a finger or tongue? We have as much or as little as Bhagavan or any other Jnani.

The very good news is, anybody is Self and will be Self again if they believe they are not Self. That is part of the game and through apparent suffering and other seeming experiences the jiva will eventually stop believing to be a jiva. The so-called mind will collapse into itself.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
As I read it, you are advised to achieve a state of Self Attention so profound that the world and body are no longer in awareness. Correct? This is a temporary state with effort... but might become permanent in Sahaja. Wouldn't it be reasonable to call this temporary state of Self Attention totally withdrawn from the world as the "trance state"? That is what it is.

When Bhagavan was sitting withdrawn from the world unresponsive totally within... he was in the equivalent permanent state.

Ha, good catch regarding casual-causal body. I submit that I do have fingers typing making errors.

The causal body is subtler than objects. Saying "causal body" doesn't amount to much. But you can experience it: put your attention on your physical body with persistence, eventually you will feel the subtle/vital/pranamaya kosha perhaps as a tingling energy. And with persistent attention on the vital body... it too will wink out and you are the causal body or nothing. I'm trying provide a practical description. Then the discovery is real, not just imagination.

You say "there is no entity Roger". That is not entirely true. There is at least a temporary appearance so your claim is not entirely sufficient. Descartes says "I think therefore I am"... I say "I have an IP address and email address... therefore I exist" at least as some sort of appearance.

You say "do WE have a finger or a tongue?"

Perhaps not but then that means you are typing with your toes? If you don't exist, then who is typing? One of the other multiple personalities?

You say: The very good news is, anybody is Self and will be Self again if they believe they are not Self.

"belief" was never advocated strongly by Bhagavan (that I see), it's an addition of Sadhu Om. "Belief" is a mental projection of some concept that you've been taught. It really doesn't matter if you have beliefs advocated by MJ or beliefs enforced by the Pope. They're just mental baggage. What you need to do is actual Self Investigation then you will KNOW.

Salazar said...

Roger, you seem to be confused about the term "object". An object is not just something sturdy or physical, it is anything that appears as an entity including a causal body or whatever the mind can come up with. Whatever the mind can imagine is an object!

You also seem to be confused about the term "belief". It is not per se a belief like a religion or anything like that but thoughts like, "I am this body". Or, "my hands are typing these words". That is a belief too seemingly verified by the senses but still not real and totally made up by the mind, hence a "belief".

"Reality" as conceived, perceived and verified by the senses and mind is a belief. Enlightenment is beyond that.

Roger Isaacs said...

>> Whatever the mind can imagine is an object!

The mind imagines enlightenment... that does not mean that the reality of enlightenment is an object.

>> "Reality" as conceived, perceived and verified by the senses and mind is a belief.

If as you say everything perceived is a mere belief... then Self is also a mere belief because Self is perceived and verified by attention. If Self is only a belief and nothing is real... then Self Attention is not possible, it would be just another diversion.


Salazar said...

Roger, if the mind imagines enlightenment, then that "enlightenment" is an object and not real.

Self cannot be perceived by the mind nor the senses.
And the term "Self" is of course a belief and therefore not real. Terms like Self, sat-chit-ananda etc. are pointers, they can never define reality.

antarmukham said...

Salazar,
thanks again for replying.
When you state "To let do the body and mind its predetermined actions without being identified with it. There is no thought necessary for any actions of the body."
are you saying thus that even the mind's thoughts are predetermined ?
For carrying out any bodily action we need at least some attention. Whether the needed amount of attention is provided seem to be also predestined.
What about dreams ? Are they also predetermined ?
What do you mean with your advice "Instead one should expect mouna at any moment."
Shall we set us/ourself in the mood of expectation of the mind's stillness ?

Advik said...

Salazar,

[Anyway Roger, do WE have a finger or tongue? We have as much or as little as Bhagavan or any other Jnani.]

How many Jnani's do you think there are?

[The paradox why Self is forgetting itself and then apparently looks for itself won't be accepted my many and therefore there are other stories or “explanations” like “the ego rises ...” to be more accommodating to a broader crowd.]

Do you honestly believe self is looking for itself Salazar?
Interesting.

Salazar said...

antarmukham, yes thoughts and dreams are predetermined too.
To expect mouna at any moment is a pointer. It means to not succumb or believe the upcoming thoughts of difficulties regarding atma-vichara. It also points to that “time” only exists for the mind, there is no progress or path, that is part of the dream too. One is always at the destination; one was never away from it.

Thoughts are to be ignored. When they are needed they will be there for conversation at that time, otherwise they can be ignored.
Let’s not forget that the jiva is a dream character and everything involved with that dream character is literally a dream.
A very good pointer is to live in the “present”, with no attention to the past and no concern for the future. With that attitude one can only win ;-)

Salazar said...

Advik, I suppose you mean how many Jnanis are there in a body and publicly known. I concur with David Godman that there is none currently. I have like him high standards and no current spiritual figure that is public known fits that standard.

Do I honestly believe that Self is looking for Self? Yes. That is a quote by Bhagavan. Now I could look where I found it but it doesn’t matter because if a mind doesn’t like that it will find excuses why it is wrong like a bad translation or some other explanation.
People are free to follow their own beliefs but keep in mind that even “Ulladu Narpadu” or “Nan Yar” etc. is not the “truth”; they are just pointers as everything else.

To cling at these pointers is wrecking their original purpose.

What really only does matter is the question “do I see myself apart from any objects”? If yes, atma-vichara is required and there won’t be a no to that question because then there is no mind to answer that question.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar, Antarmukham, Advik,

I like the description from a Barry Long tape.
An architect is saying "but I must think to do my job".
BL responds: NO! a person comes to you with an engineering problem. you SEE the problem. In response, a solution may arise in mind and you SEE the solution. If further refinement is required, you SEE the need and then you may SEE a refined solution arise.

For me, this is a good description of the natural utility of thought AND freedom at the same time.

Thoughts are there for a purpose. If the thought is from the past, it is some vasana which has no practical application is arising... then just SEEing it clearly will over time if not instantly destroy the vasana, the "thought/vasana" will be completed never to arise again. This tends toward pure Self Attention, nothing arising.

"ignoring" or cutting off thoughts instantly and refusing to entertain them may also be a useful approach. But even then, you SEE the mental & emotional activity and there is a certain jnana or wisdom from the observation and hence freedom: thoughts may arise... but you are not that.

There is potential danger in "ignoring" thoughts as this could tend toward unconsciousness. If you don't want to see any arising thoughts... this maybe manolaya. If you don't want to SEE anything... then you want to be asleep?

Living in the present requires clear vigilent attention which simple sees all.

Whether or not thoughts and dreams are predetermined.... what is the use of this distinction? It seems more like a dogma, acceptance of some belief. The key is our response to what arises.

Whether or not all this is a dream... this sounds like more dogma & belief. What practical use is it to have the "belief" that all this is a dream? The practical angle is to investigate inwardly.

Roger Isaacs said...

Salazar,
you speculate about "how many jnanis are there in a body and publicly known..."

who cares, it's all useless speculation. The only useful approach is to step toward the jnani within you with Self Attention.

Salazar said...

Roger, that what "sees" mental and emotional activity is not affected by it. If it is affected it is the mind/jiva, if it is not it is Self.

Salazar said...

What practical use is it to have the belief that this is all a dream?

In the first place to not take this all too seriously.

So Roger, what is the practical use to argue about these concepts? The practical angle is atma-vichara ;-)

Just don’t forget, if there is an “investigator” who investigates inwardly you are stuck in delusion because you keep enforcing a subject-object relationship. Atma-vichara is BEING ……… NOT DOING!

Salazar said...

Let me add to the paradox of "Self is looking for Self" another paradox:

If we "practice" with the goal to "attain" Self we'll never realize Self.

If there is a strong desire for Self we'll never realize Self.

Only total surrender with no expectations whatsoever will reveal Self.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
To tell the truth, I don't relate to "self investigation" or "who am I?"
Although this innate style seems excellent if one resonates with it.

My style is "not this!", neti - neti.
When I first came here, MJ arrogantly told me that "not this!" was just preparation for "who am I?"
Or in other words that all my prior practice was just preparation to now adopt his superior teaching.
But... MJ has unknowingly incorporated "not this!" into his teaching.
"Not This!" is when one notices that attention has drifted off "Self"... and then on noticing the drift... back to Self.
"Not This!" breaks any false association with the subject-object delusion.

Is "who am I?" superior?
Is it required to seek "who am I?" in order to find "I"?

Consider Bhagavan's comment:
"The question 'who am I?' is not really meant to get an answer, the question 'Who am I?' is meant to dissolve the questioner"

"not this!" is just another angle to dissolve the false.

"Not this!" is rather negative, a contraction. But IMO some are endowed with the skill at the positive, an expansion, for example Bhakti.

anubhuti said...

Salazar,
"self is looking for self" is to understand as a figure of speech means the same what the sage of Arunachala said namely that self is aware only of itself.
Regarding the two last sentences I am inclined to fuse parts of them together thus saying:
only a strong desire for self will make us ready for total surrender.

anubhuti said...

Salazar,
with reference to your monitory finger "Just don’t forget, if there is an “investigator” who investigates inwardly you are stuck in delusion because you keep enforcing a subject-object relationship. Atma-vichara is BEING ……… NOT DOING!"
do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. As long there is the seeming ego alive we need to investigate from which source it has seemingly arisen. Your warning of delusion in that subject-object relationship seems to be a bit excessive.

Salazar said...

Roger, if neti neti rocks your boat I say go for it. It is important that a practice resonates with you, that's why I suppose Bhagavan never tried to convince anybody to do atma-vichara.

"Superior" is what works best for oneself now. I went through a few different practices myself and it was at that time exactly what I needed.

Salazar said...

anubhuti, a strong desire for Self will not make you ready for surrender. But you are of course entitled to your opinion.

A subject-object relationship will keep you in delusion. That is a fact and to judge that as excessive can only be the result of confusion.



antarmukham said...

Salazar,
"to live in the “present”, with no attention to the past and no concern for the future." is indeed a wise maxim.
However, only a lucky beggar will be able to make endeavours to live in that blissfully happy way.

Salazar said...

antarmukham, no that is not true. Anybody can do that, from a CEO of a multi-national company to the head of a huge household with many responsibilities.....

The seeming obstacle is the desire of the ego to be in control, or better the illusion of control. It hates to surrender, to trust Bhagavan that he'll take care of things (better than the ego ever could do it) according to prarabdha.

What will happen will happen independently if the ego seems to be concerned about the future and seems to plan for it or if it just rejoices in the presence. The result will be the SAME!!!

The main obstacle of course is the fear of the ego to let go. So it rather deludes itself with the illusion it could direct anything - what a joke indeed.

anubhuti said...

Salazar,
regarding "result of confusion",
oh yes, I regrettably cannot claim to be free of delusion because I do not experience the state of eternal peace.

antarmukham said...

Salazar,
only grace can drive away the darkness in my heart.

Salazar said...

antarmukham, we have all darkness in the heart and many use certain tools like prayer to alleviate sorrow and despair in difficult times. May Bhagavan shower you with grace as I am sure he's doing already.

antarmukham said...

Salazar,
let us all be devoid of dark delusion. Thank you for regarding me benevolently. Hope you have a "direct line" to Bhagavan who may bestow his grace on you too.
May Bhagavan's grace destroy our mind's restlessness and remove our ajnana.

Advik said...

Salazar
After reading your previous comments on this blog I am surprised by your reply.

Is not everything a projection of your mind including all the so called Jnani's in the world? Whether they do or do not meet your expectations and high standards?

How can self look for itself? Looking is an action confined in duality?
Self is nondual self awareness, it does not do anything.
It is.
You believe it is looking for itself?
Maybe it has forgotten what it is?
Perhaps it is lonely, bored and wants to play hide and seek for its own entertainment!!

I think you are confused and I do not share your understanding.

Yes I agree that Narpadu” or “Nan Yar” are not the “truth”; they are just pointers as everything else.

What else could they be, they are transient?

Then you say:

[What really only does matter is the question “do I see myself apart from any objects”? If yes, atma-vichara is required and there won’t be a no to that question because then there is no mind to answer that question.]

Yes very good, this makes sense unlike your other ramblings.

Salazar said...

Advik, since Bhagavan said that Self is looking for Self I guess he must then be confused too :-)

And then David Godman must be also a member of the "confused" crowd since he also said that no current spiritual figure "meets his high standard" of being a Jnani. You can verify that on his first Batgap interview.

Advik, I really don't give a damn if you agree with my "ramblings" or not so take a hike :-)

Salazar said...

By the way, here is the original quote by Bhagavan which I paraphrased with "Self is looking for Self":

There is no greater mystery than this: being Reality ourselves, we seek to gain Reality.

*******************************

I concur that "The Talks" has it flaws, however even Ulladu Narpadu or the other "true or accepted" works by Bhagavan should not be quoted as the "Bible" too because true understanding depends on the mind and even if one accepts the hypothesis that there are different "maturities" of the mind {which I don't concur with since differences only exist with mind [which doesn't exist] and with that we have arrived at full circle of self-perpetuating samsara [the non-existing mind makes itself to be existing and then declares fake realities like "differences" and other nonsense and "explains" the reality it seems to believe to have perceived :-)]} a mind can never truly understand.

So instead of palavering about what work by Bhaqavan is more correct - why not get the real truth from silence? That truth comes with intuition and not from intellectual reasoning.

Mouna said...

"...why not get the real truth from silence? That truth comes with intuition and not from intellectual reasoning."

Will you be willing to be the first after all you wrote?

Mouna said...

I always have a great laugh when someone criticizes "intellectualism" with intellectual arguments!

Salazar said...

To get the truth from silence doesn't mean that one has to be quiet. My point is that this bickering here about the "true meaning" of Bhagavan's word has become quite excessive like with all "religions" before. In a hundred years or so we'll have several factions of Bhagavan's teachings who all insist to have the "correct" interpretation, like it is with the Christians and its countless "sects" or the Buddhists or Muslims, etc.

Mouna, don't be a smart ass :-)

Salazar said...

Mouna, how else would you 'criticize' intellectual arguments?

Again, don't be a smart ass.

howling wolf said...

Salazar,
if the mind does not really exist then it does not matter that it "can never truly understand."
Hence my suggestion to a first class palaverer:
So instead of palavering about "full circle of self-perpetuating samsara" or the mind's shortcomings "why not get the real truth from silence? That truth comes with intuition and not from intellectual reasoning."

Mouna said...

Hahaha my friend!

"Again, don't be a smart ass."

Your points were well taken, just wanted to see how far your patience goes...
I cannot not be a smart ass at times, sorry, it seems to be in my nature! (so be ready for more in the future!!)

pls don't take it "personally", coz I don't.


Roger Isaacs said...

>> get the real truth from silence?

Shravana, (hearing)
manana, (reflection - re-hearing)
nididhyasana. (insight in silence)

This process is one of silence.
The process is very similar to how Patangali describes the siddhis: an impulse into silence, then insight is seen in silence.

What is taught here is memorization, belief, investment and defense of a particular translation and interpretation. The interpretation here is defended against other words of Bhagavan and defended against other teachers.

As Salazar says just like the religions before which put emphasis on the words rather than the inner experience because the real way to the inner experience is being lost.

(sound of donkey braying)

Salazar said...

Mouna, no harm done - keep it coming my friend :-)

Salazar said...

howling wolf, keep howling - you do it quite well :-)

Salazar said...

Hello Roger, it seems we are in agreement again....

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
Rather than defend a particular interpretation... it seems useful to hold everything without judgment, without any mental position. Then... insight may close the gaps or reveal what is hidden.

I've always felt that a person's intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting points of view he can entertain simultaneously on the same topic.
Abigail Adams, wife of U.S. president John Adams and mother of President John Quincy Adams

omen said...

Salazar and Roger Isaacs,
ohh, you both as a couple ...I have a sense of foreboding:-)

Roger Isaacs said...

ha, ha, ha: a "bad" omen.

Salazar said...

Now hold on to your horses, neither Roger nor I have formally proposed :-)

Since anything [in the phenomenal world] is fleeting anyway, that "union" may last only briefly, at least in the Western world the chances for a divorce are higher than to stick together ...

howling wolf said...

Sometimes even a loner is more dangerous than the twin pack. Give a big friendly smile.