Sunday, 24 September 2017

We should not be concerned with anything happening outside but only with what is happening inside

A friend recently wrote to me asking several questions about practising self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) the midst of family and work life, the role of physical solitude, attachment and detachment, feelings of utter desperation and disillusionment, and about how to live in the world when one feels no connection with or concern for anything other than the practice taught by Bhagavan. The following is what I replied to her:

One thing that Bhagavan was absolutely categorical and clear about is that the entire course of our outward life is already determined by our prārabdha, so we cannot change it in any way, and hence we need not and should not concern ourself with it. What relationships we have with family, friends and others, and what work we do or don’t do are all not in our hands, so we should leave all concern about such matters to Bhagavan, who alone knows what is best for us.

What is in our hands is not any external events but only our own inward response to them. Do we allow our mind to go out to experience whatever prārabdha has been allotted to us, or do we turn it within to be aware of ourself alone; and if we allow it to go out, which vāsanās (viṣaya-vāsanās and karma-vāsanās [propensities, inclinations or urges to be aware of particular phenomena (viṣayas) and consequently to do actions (karmas) by mind, speech and body]) do we allow ourself to be swayed by, to what extent do we allow ourself to be swayed by them, and which do we try to avoid being swayed by – these are choices that we are faced with at each moment in our life.

If we are not vigilant, we tend to allow ourself to be swayed by whatever vāsanās may arise, but if we are following Bhagavan’s path we must try to be constantly vigilant and limit as far as possible the extent to which we allow ourself to be swayed by any of them. The best and most effective way to avoid being swayed by them is to try to turn within to be attentively aware of ourself alone, because the more keenly we attend to ourself the more we restrain and constrict the rising of our ego, which is the root and foundation of all vāsanās.

Trying to be self-attentive as keenly as possible is the practice of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), which is the pinnacle of self-surrender. However surrender need not and should not stop when vicāra stops. That is, even when we are not trying to be self-attentive we should at least try to limit the extent to which we allow ourself to be swayed by our vāsanās, and we should discriminate (using our vivēka) which vāsanās are more harmful and which are less harmful and accordingly try as far as possible to avoid being swayed by the more harmful ones. This is the practice of partial surrender, the surrender of our will, which will strengthen our ability to investigate and thereby surrender ourself completely.

Regarding your question ‘How do I get on in the world like this?’, that is a matter you must leave in the hands of Bhagavan, because he has already allotted your prārabdha, which alone will determine how you get on in the world. Therefore whenever we feel concern about such matters, we should try to surrender that concern by withdrawing our mind from it.

Whom does it concern? That alone is what should concern us.

To the extent that we are seriously following Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation and self-surrender we will feel that we are unfit to live in this world. Even Bhagavan expressed this feeling in verse 8 of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam when he sang that Arunachala had robbed him of the ability to live in this world and that to die is better than to live in such a manner, meaning that it is better for the ego to die than to remain suspended without either attachment to the world or sufficient love to surrender itself completely:
வைத்தனை வாளா வையகத் துய்யும்
      வழியறி மதியழித் திங்ஙன்
வைத்திடி லார்க்கு மின்பிலை துன்பே
      வாழ்விதிற் சாவதே மாண்பாம்
பைத்தியம் பற்றிப் பயனறு மெனக்குன்
      பதமுறு மருமருந் தருள்வாய்
பைத்திய மருந்தாப் பாரொளி ரருண
      பருப்பத வுருப்பெறு பரனே.

vaittaṉai vāḷā vaiyahat tuyyum
      vaṙiyaṟi matiyaṙit tiṅṅgaṉ
vaittiḍi lārkku miṉbilai tuṉbē
      vāṙvidiṟ cāvadē māṇbām
paittiyam paṯṟip payaṉaṟu meṉakkuṉ
      padamuṟu marumarun daruḷvāy
paittiya marundāp pāroḷi raruṇa
      paruppata vuruppeṟu paraṉē
.

பதச்சேதம்: வைத்தனை வாளா, வையகத்து உய்யும் வழி அறி மதி அழித்து. இங்ஙன் வைத்திடில் ஆர்க்கும் இன்பு இலை, துன்பே. வாழ்வு இதில் சாவதே மாண்பு ஆம். பைத்தியம் பற்றி பயன் அறும் எனக்கு உன் பதம் உறும் அரு மருந்து அருள்வாய், பைத்திய மருந்தா பார் ஒளிர் அருண பருப்பத உரு பெறு பரனே.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): vaittaṉai vāḷā, vaiyahattu uyyum vaṙi aṟi mati aṙittu. iṅṅgaṉ vaittiḍil, ārkkum iṉbu ilai, tuṉbē. vāṙvu idil sāvadē māṇbu ām. paittiyam paṯṟi payaṉ aṟum eṉakku uṉ padam uṟum aru marundu aruḷvāy, paittiya marundā pār oḷir aruṇa paruppata uru peṟu paraṉē.

அன்வயம்: வையகத்து உய்யும் வழி அறி மதி அழித்து, வாளா வைத்தனை. இங்ஙன் வைத்திடில், ஆர்க்கும் இன்பு இலை, துன்பே. வாழ்வு இதில் சாவதே மாண்பு ஆம். பைத்திய மருந்தா பார் ஒளிர் அருண பருப்பத உரு பெறு பரனே, பைத்தியம் பற்றி பயன் அறும் எனக்கு உன் பதம் உறும் அரு மருந்து அருள்வாய்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): vaiyahattu uyyum vaṙi aṟi mati aṙittu, vāḷā vaittaṉai. iṅṅgaṉ vaittiḍil ārkkum iṉbu ilai, tuṉbē. vāṙvu idil sāvadē māṇbu ām. paittiya marundā pār oḷir aruṇa paruppata uru peṟu paraṉē, paittiyam paṯṟi payaṉ aṟum eṉakku uṉ padam uṟum aru marundu aruḷvāy.

English translation: Destroying [in me] the mind [intellect, intelligence, inclination or will] to know the way to live [subsist or survive] in this world, you made [me] worthless. If you keep [me] in this condition, it will not be happiness for anyone, only misery. Dying indeed is better than this life. O Supreme, who have assumed the form of Aruna Hill, which shines on earth as the medicine for madness [self-ignorance], to me who being possessed by [such] madness am bereft of gain [the achievement of ātma-jñāna or pure self-awareness] kindly give the rare medicine by which one is established at your feet [or in your state].
So he understood your present state of mind when he sang those words to Arunachala, long before you were even born. Like this, all the help and support that we need on our journey back to him he has already prepared and is keeping ready to give us as and when we need it. So let us give up all our petty cares and concerns and try just to surrender ourself to him by investigating to whom they all occur.

47 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Why are we not able to accept Bhagavan’s teachings wholeheartedly?

It is because we are still attached to many of our old ideas and beliefs. We want to hold on to some of our old beliefs, but are nevertheless also trying to add some new beliefs in the form of Bhagavan’s teachings. Somehow, this mixture of different teachings is not auguring very well for us. In other words, if we want to understand Bhagavan’s teachings, we should try to jettison all our old beliefs and ideas (about this world, God and ourself), and wholeheartedly try to accept what Bhagavan is trying to teach us.

As Michael says, which was in turn told to him by Sri Sadhu Om, that if a slate is already scribbled with a lot of things, and if we also try to write Bhagavan’s name on it, Bhagavan’s beautiful name will not stand our clearly. We need to wipe the slate clean, and then if we write Bhagavan’s name on it, we will see the beauty of his name.

Likewise we have to wipe our slate (our mind) clean of all are old beliefs and ideas, and then take on board wholeheartedly all that Bhagavan has taught us. Only then we will see the real beauty and worth of Bhagavan’s teachings. If we try to pick and choose his teachings by saying, ‘I do not like this part of his teachings so I will keep this out', ‘I like that part so I will accept it', this way we can never understand his teachings as he wants us to understand them.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

Some of the fundamental principles of his teachings are:

1) Nothing exists apart from atma-svarupa - implication: do not be concerned about this world, because this word does not actually exist, though it may seem to exist. That is, this world is exactly like our dream-world.

2) Our ego comes into existence by grasping forms - implication: if we give up grasping or attending to forms, we will subside back into our true nature.

3) If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence - implication: all our troubles and problems exist because the ego seems to exist. If we can destroy our ego all our troubles will also end.

4) drsti-srsti-vada - our seeing or perceiving creates this world, and therefore no world exists if we do not perceive any world.

5) eka-jiva-vada - only one jiva (ego) exists, and you are that.

6) As long as we experience ourself as the ego, we will be experiencing prarabdha (preordained destiny) and also cannot avoid doing agamya (actions done by our free will). However, our agamya can never overrule our prarabdha.

7) Happiness lies only within - our true nature is happiness, and therefore there is no happiness in any of the things of this world.

8) What exists is also what is aware - ulladu is unarvu.

9) We are beginningless, endless [or infinite] and undivided sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].

10) Guru, God, grace and oneself are identical – they are in fact interchangeable terms.

11) Guru is not the body. He is ourself as we really are.

Have I missed out any?

These are the principles embedded in his teachings, and they are all interconnected. However, if we try and pick and choose from these principles - that is, agreeing with some but rejecting others - we will never be able to form a coherent, clear and comprehensive understanding about his teachings.

vivarta said...

Sanjay Lohia,
principle 1)...which "word" does not actually exist ?

Michael James said...

Sanjay, in reply to your question whether you have missed any of the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, it would be very difficult to make a definitive list of all of them, firstly because some principles are more fundamental than others, so to decide which to include and which not to include would entail a more or less arbitrary judgement, and secondly because they are all closely interrelated and form a coherent whole, so most of them are entailed in other ones.

However the list you gave does cover many of the most important principles, but you missed out the most important one of all, namely that the ego will cease to cease if and only if we investigate it.

You may have thought you covered this in the second principle you listed, namely ‘Our ego comes into existence by grasping forms – implication: if we give up grasping or attending to forms, we will subside back into our true nature’, but though this is true, it does not explain how we can destroy the ego, because whenever we fall asleep we give up grasping or attending to forms and thus we subside back into our true nature, but our ego is not thereby destroyed.

Only when we investigate the ego will it forever cease to exist, as Bhagavan explained, for example, in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu when he wrote ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’, and in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: மனத்தின் உருவை மறவாது உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. மார்க்கம் நேர் ஆர்க்கும் இது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): maṉattiṉ uruvai maṟavādu usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. mārggam nēr ārkkum idu.

அன்வயம்: மறவாது மனத்தின் உருவை உசாவ, மனம் என ஒன்று இலை. இது ஆர்க்கும் நேர் மார்க்கம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṟavādu maṉattiṉ uruvai usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai. idu ārkkum nēr mārggam.

English translation: 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.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Sanjay:

Incidentally, though ‘If sought, it will take flight’ is a suitably crisp translation of ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), it is not entirely accurately, because the conditional verb ‘தேடினால்’ (tēḍiṉāl) is not passive but active, so a more accurate translation of this key teaching would be ‘If one seeks [it], it will take flight’, or better still ‘If it seeks [itself], it will take flight’.

Here ‘ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (ōṭṭam piḍikkum), ‘it will take flight’, is a metaphorical way of saying that it will cease to exist, or rather than it will be found to be ever non-existent, as he says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār. The reason why it will take flight in this way can be explained in either of two ways: Firstly, since Bhagavan says in the same verse that it is ‘உருவற்ற பேய்’ (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy), a ‘formless phantom’, that comes into existence, stands, feeds itself and flourishes only by grasping form, if it tries to grasp itself it will find nothing to grasp and hence it will subside and disappear. Secondly, since it does not actually exist, like an illusory snake it seems to exist only because of avicāra, non-investigation, so if we investigate it by looking at it keenly enough we will see that it does not actually exist, because what seemed to be this ego is actually only pure, infinite, indivisible and immutable self-awareness, just as if we were to look keenly enough at what seemed to be a snake we would see that it is not actually a snake but only a rope.

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.

nuṇ mati said...

Michael,
the reason why Sanjay missed out the most important principle is presumably the fact that the ego, although it is said that it is (only) a 'formless phantom', puts up bitter resistance to its investigation[examination or scrutiny].
Therefore - for the sake of avoiding any awkward discomfort - one may feel tempted to refrain from investigating the ego.
Hence the ego will rarely take flight or even be found to be non-existent.

Anonymous said...

Sanjay Loria, your second point

2) Our ego comes into existence by grasping forms - implication: if we give up grasping or attending to forms, we will subside back into our true nature.
----------------
This is, in my opinion, really expresses what it means to "investigate" the ego, it emphasizes "negative" action as the highest of all actions.

Sanjay Lohia said...

vivarta, you say 'Sanjay Lohia, principle 1)...which "word" does not actually exist?'

I thank you for pointing out my typo. Typos and I seem to have become good friends. We enjoy each other's company. However, like the world does not actually exist but just seems to exist, and since our words are part of this non-existent world, they also do not actually exist.

So what I wrote was not wrong!

vivarta said...

Sanjay Lohia,
yes, according to Bhagavan nothing but atma-svarupa does really exist.
All our thoughts and ideas about real and seeming existence together with the thinking ego of all commentators do only seem to exist.
If atma-svarupa alone does actually exist then even Bhagavan does not really exist - however only on condition that Bhagavan is different from atma-svarupa.
Can we be sure that even atma-svarupa does actually exist ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, as you have rightly pointed out, I did forgot to mention the most important principle, namely that the ego will cease to exist if and only if we investigate it. Though after posting my comments I did realise that I had not mentioned this principle, but I somehow didn’t bother much about it. However, it was for good that I did not mention this, because its omission prompted you to write these two comments.

So I thank you for pointing out the immense importance of this ‘most important and fundamental of all principles of Bhagavan’s teachings’. As you say, 'other principles are just the supporting frame or temple in which this most important principle is enshrined'.

As Bhagavan has explained, ‘If it [ego] seeks [itself], it will take flight’, but we need to clearly understand why it will take flight if we seek it. As you have explained, there are two ways of understanding the logic behind this, and both are equally convincing. With regards.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

It's kind of appalling to realise that the things we are experiencing now are "actions we have done before"... judging by my rising vasanas (which I try to ignore and cling to the "I"/what is aware of them) I can shamefully say I've done a lot of miserable things in the past... (not to mention the sexual ones...) .. what a misery....

power of grace said...

Dragos, greetings to Muntenia,
don't cry and instead try to keep on persistenly investigating the ego.
I too know from own experience how difficult "correct" and responsible dealing with a man's sexual desires can be.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, I did write, ‘Our ego comes into existence by grasping forms - implication: if we give up grasping or attending to forms, we will subside back into our true nature’, but as Michael subsequently pointed out, this doesn’t give the whole picture about the practice of self-investigation.

We do need to give up attending to forms, but we need to do this by remaining attentively self-aware. This is the most important and fundamental of all the principles of Bhagavan’s teachings: it is only by remaining attentively self-aware that we can destroy our ego.

If we give up grasping or attending to forms we will subside back into our true nature, but as Michael has explained, ‘it does not explain how we can destroy the ego, because whenever we fall asleep we give up grasping or attending to forms and thus we subside back into our true nature, but our ego is not thereby destroyed’.

Bhagavan has explained this beautifully in verse 16 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].

We do need to give up attending to all external phenomena (and thoughts are also phenomena), but we need to do this by trying to focus our entire attention on our ‘from of light’, namely our innermost consciousness.

So to use your terms, self-investigation entails not only a negative ‘action’, but a positive ‘action’, although self-investigation is not really an action but the subsidence of all actions. While we practise, we need to not only give up all outward direction efforts, but more importantly make one-pointed effort to subside back within.




vivarta said...

Sanjay Lohia,
although we undoubtedly arise "from light" you wanted to appeal to focus our attention on our "form of light".
With regards

Sanjay Lohia said...

vivarta, yes, what exists is only atma-svarupa, and Bhagavan is nothing but atma-svarupa. Bhagavan who appeared in a bodily form was a temporary manifestation of atma-svarupa.

You ask, ‘Can we be sure that even atma-svarupa does actually exist?’ What is atma-svarupa? It is our own real 'form', which is nothing but pure-consciousness.

Are you not sure that you exist? You surely do experience yourself as vivarta (or whatever your real name is), and you also surely experience various phenomena through the form of vivarta. All such experiences would not have been possible, if you were not atma-svarupa, because only consciousness can experience itself and also at times experience others.

We may not be aware what we actually are, but we always aware that we are. This is the direct proof that we exist. Our pure existence bereft of all its imaginary adjuncts is nothing but svarupa (what we actually are).

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

power of grace,

I'm trying my best... sometimes I'm wondering if getting a girlfriend would momentarily solve the problem. Of course, something that would include mutual respect and shared responsibility... I smoke from time to time... I cannot help it. I tried to stop it and it actually made my practice worse (and my life for that matter), the vasana is way to strong... yet if I some a single cigarette every now and then the vasana leaves me alone and I can keep focusing better on what I need to do... sometimes I believe the same approach would be best regarding sex...

Salazar said...

Dragos, the more you struggle the more you feed the problem. It is far better to have occasional sex than to agonize constantly about it how to minimize or avoid it. I was blessed to never have the desire to smoke and after drinking alcohol in my youth, the desire to drink alcohol left me without any intention to do so or to invest any effort into it. How and why? I have no idea. I was still drinking alcohol when I went on the spiritual path, luckily I felt never bad about it and there was only the occasional thought to better give it up, later then it just went away....

I have occasional phases where strong sexual desires arise and I look at women in my vicinity (like in a cafe) and all kind of thoughts come up imagining doing things with them. If I catch them early enough and be very casual and gentle about it the desire loses it strength and the interest fades away. The desire seem to be still there but it is not acted out anymore in imagination. To feel bad or guilty about it is just feeding the problem, again - it is better to act it out than to agonize about it. The problem is not so much the actual action, but the thought processes around it, good or bad, both keep you in samsara.

Now I wonder in how many ways that comment will be misinterpreted by the people here ;-)

vivarta said...

Sanjay Lohia,
I suppose that only then when we remain as pure existence (as you say "bereft of all its imaginary adjuncts") can we be sure that we actually are nothing but atma-svarupa alone. As this ego which is usually facing outwards and seems to be a person we will never be able to see ourself as the eternal, unlimited and undivided atma-svarupa.

Papanasana said...

Salazar,
hopefully you don't end up like Tom Dooley.;-)
Do you know the old song of the fifties ?

Salazar said...

I am not familiar with Tom Dooley, so you have to enlighten me what you are implying.

Sanjay Lohia said...

vivarta, yes, only atma-svarupa can experience atma-svarupa as it is, but even when we experience ourself as this ego, we still do experience atma-svarupa, but not with full clarity. We may experience ourself as this ego, this mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’, but its ‘I am’ portion is still our atma-svarupa. But since ‘I am’ portion is mixed up with all our imaginary adjuncts – all centred around our body – we are not able to experience ourself as we really are.

In order to experience ourself as we really are, we need to go deeper and deeper within ourself, and the more deep we go the more our adjuncts are shred, and eventually we will experience ourself as we really are – without a trace of any adjuncts.

Anonymous said...

Sanjay Lohia, Thanks for your response.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar, I agree with what you wrote in your comment addressed to Dragos, in which you talk about sexual desires and so on. In fact Michael has written a few articles on the topic of sex and spirituality:

1) Self-investigation and sexual restrain
2) Ahimsa and sexual morality

The following extract is taken from the article: Self-investigation and sexual restrain:

Question: Do you approve of sexual continence?

Ramana Maharshi: A true brahmachari [celibate] is one who dwells in Brahman. Then there is no question of desires any more.

Question: At Sri Aurobindo’s ashram there is a rigid rule that married couples are permitted to live there on condition that they have no sexual intercourse.

Ramana Maharshi: What is the use of that? If it exists in the mind, what use is it to force people to abstain?

Question: Is marriage a bar to spiritual progress?

Ramana Maharshi: The householder’s life is not a bar, but the householder must do his utmost to practise self-control. If a man has a strong desire for the higher life then the sex tendency will subside. When the mind is destroyed, the other desires are destroyed also.

Question: How to root out our sexual impulse?

Ramana Maharshi: By rooting out the false idea of the body being the Self. There is no sex in the Self.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my comment addressed to Salazar:

However, though there is no harm in indulging in occasional sex (with a consenting adult partner and without betraying the commitment to another partner), we do need to control our sexual urges, like our other more harmful urges.

Michael writes in his article: We should not be concerned with anything happening outside but only with what is happening inside:

What is in our hands is not any external events but only our own inward response to them. Do we allow our mind to go out to experience whatever prārabdha has been allotted to us, or do we turn it within to be aware of ourself alone; and if we allow it to go out, which vāsanās [...] do we allow ourself to be swayed by, to what extent do we allow ourself to be swayed by them, and which do we try to avoid being swayed by – these are choices that we are faced with at each moment in our life.

So our sexual desires are always there (to more or less extent) in the form of vishaya-vasana and karma-vasana for sex. We need to decide, like in case of all our other vasanas, do we allow ourself to be swayed by them, and to what extent do we allow ourself to be swayed by them.

The stronger our vasanas for sex, the more will be the chance that we will be swayed by them. However, as Bhagavan says, ‘the householder must do his utmost to practise self-control. If a man has a strong desire for the higher life then the sex tendency will subside’.





Salazar said...

Thank you Sanjay Lohia, that is exactly how I approach the subject too. Of course the "not be swayed by the vasanas" part can only work inwardly, that means your pararabdha may let have you sex with a partner but you inwardly feel less and less attached to it.

If one carries that effort from past lives it could culminate into refraining from sex altogether.

Papanasana said...

Salazar,
hope you are not unable to take a joke.
But it is only the half joke if you don't know this song of my childhood which was first recorded in the US 1958:
On youtube you can hear the song:
https://genius.com/Kingston-trio-tom-dooley-lyrics

The lyrics of the song start as follows:

"Throughout history, there have been many songs written about the eternal triangle. This next one tells the story of Mister Grayson, a beautiful woman and a condemned man named Tom Dooley. When the sun rises tomorrow, Tom Dooley must hang

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die"

and so on ...

Salazar said...

Papanasana, no not at all. Tom Dooley was before my time, I am old but not that old ;-)

I enjoy humor very much, a hearty laughter is great medicine.

Dragos Nicolae Dragomirescu said...

I have read that interview, very useful : http://www.nondualitymagazine.org/nonduality_magazine.celibavyproject.michaeljames.htm

power of grace said...

Dragos,
this interview is given also here on Michael's website Happiness of Being in 5 parts as 5 articles beginning on 15 March 2014 and ending on 11 April 2014.

Salazar said...

I am not a big fan of the Non-Duality Magazine for a number of reasons.

What they say about Papaji is undigested, i.e. that he said that nobody was holy enough to receive what he knew. Yes, he said that according to his biography; however David Godman asked him some questions what he exactly meant and that was of course left out. So that’s pretty sloppy journalism and to confront someone with incomplete info is unprofessional.

Also the question if Papaji was celibate as Bhagavan. Who cares? A Jnani is beyond the rules and conduct of this world. Papaji, as a Jnani, had sex with a young European woman and fathered a child with her while being married to an Indian woman with whom he had also children. Oh my god! Papaji seemingly violated ahimsa, at least from the viewpoint of the immature ajnani. How can that be reconciled by all the do-gooders and moral apostles? ;-)

And what about that inane question if Bhagavan gave permission to teach atma-vichara? Bhagavan did not own anything so there was no reason to give permission; Bhagavan would be the last “individual” who would believe that he needed to give permission.

This all comes from the petty understanding of the ego, as if teachings are owned by anybody. They are not. That’s why anybody who is charging for classes or “intensives” etc. is a charlatan or a low-rank teacher at best.

Anonymous said...

Maharshi Ramana on Atma Vichara
---------
The way is subjective, not objective; so it cannot and need not be shown by another. Is it necessary to show anyone the way inside his own house? If the seeker keeps his mind still, that will be enough.
---------------
From Maha Yoga by Lakshmana Sarma, 10th edition

"Achieving" stillness of mind is the main thing.

Of course, Sri Ramana also said that Atma Vichara is the only way.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, Bhagavan says, ‘The way is subjective, not objective; so it cannot and need not be shown by another. Is it necessary to show anyone the way inside his own house?’ Thus we don’t need any ‘guided meditation’, because who can guide us inside our own house? Others can help us in our manana (reflections) part. They can help us by clarifying Bhagavan's teachings, but nobody can help us in our actual practice. This is the journey we have to travel alone.

In fact, we do not have to travel anywhere, but be as we really are. As you say achieving stillness of mind is the main thing. The practice of atma-vichara and trying to achieve stillness of mind means are just two ways of saying the same thing.

ātma-vyavahāra said...

As Michael wrote somewhere in an article of February 2015:

Perfect stillness (mauna/silence) is our natural state, and it is (seemingly) disturbed by the (seeming) rising of ourself as an ego (which is the first of all movements) and our consequent projection of everything else (which is in a constant state of movement or change).

Re-establishment of the stillness of the mind is therefore our aim and goal.

Atma-vichara is the means to achieve it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

atma-vyavahara, yes, re-establishment of the stillness of mind is our goal, but when our mind becomes absolutely still it is no more a mind. It itself is seen as atma-svarupa. In other words, the mind cannot be called a mind if it fully and permanently gets dissolved in ourself.

ātma-vyavahāra said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say "It itself is seen as atma-svarupa. In other words, the mind cannot be called a mind if it fully and permanently gets dissolved in ourself."

Who will be there then to see the mind itself as atma-svarupa ?

Certainly not the mind.

Who will be there to call the mind as anything else ?

Of course not the mind.

Only we as atma-svarupa will then be left/remain. Don't we ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

atma-vyavahara, when our ego or mind dissolves permanently in ourself, no one will remain to say that our ex mind has now itself become atma-svarupa. When our ego or mind is destroyed, we will not feel that there was once a mind which has now been destroyed, but we will directly come to know that there never was anything called the ego or mind in the first place. When we see the rope as rope, we will directly come to know that was never any snake there.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are truly free only to the extent to which we are free from our desires and consequently from our ego, which is their root cause

Introduction: Many of us believe that whatever wrong or harm we do to others, we cannot avoid doing so, because such actions were in our destiny. Should we as spiritual aspirants take this view? Michael was interviewed for the Non-Duality-Magazine, and this interview was published in it as an article titled The Celibacy Question. The following extract from this interview should be a useful sharing:

Michael: So long as we experience the existence of other people and other sentient beings, we are morally obliged to avoid as far as possible causing them any harm in any way whatsoever, and as spiritual aspirants we should feel this moral obligation even more strongly than others. We should not feel this moral obligation restricts our freedom in any way, because it should actually help us to curb our desires, and we are truly free only to the extent to which we are free from our desires and consequently from our ego, which is their root cause.

If we truly wish to be free of all moral obligations, we must free ourself from the delusion that we are a person, because this delusion is the sole cause for the appearance of this world, in which so many other people and sentient beings seem to exist along with this person we take to be ‘I’. In order to free ourself from this delusion we must experience ourself as we really are, and in order to experience ourself thus we must investigate what this ‘I’ actually is.

My note: Our ego survives only because of the strength and quantity of its desires. It is similar to our body, which survives because of the quality and quantity of its blood. If we lose a lot of blood in any accident, we will die. Likewise, the more we reduce our desires and attachments, the more our ego will be weakened.

Our desires not only keeps our ego into play by more and more desire induced actions, but each such action leaves in its wake a vishaya vasana, and such vasanas will not let our ego die. Therefore, we should employ all means to keep our desires in check.

Therefore, if we curb our desire or urge to harm other sentient being, we would thereby be weakening our vasanas, and this will in turn help us to weaken our ego. Thus, trying to curb our desires will definitely help us in our fight against our ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our aim is to experience ourself as we really are, and not to experience nirvikalpa samadhi

The following are the last four paragraphs of Michael’s interview, which was published in the Non-Duality Magazine:

Michael: Though kāṣṭha nirvikalpa samādhi is also a state that is devoid of any action of mind, speech or body, it is not a sādhana or practice, but is a state in which the mind subsides as a result of some practice that entails attending to something other than ‘I’. Because it results in this way, it is a state devoid of clear self-awareness, so it cannot help one to experience ‘I’ as it really is.

In order for us to experience ourself as we really are, we must focus our entire attention upon this ‘I’. As Sri Ramana repeatedly made clear, there is no other means by which we can experience what we actually are and thereby liberate ourself not only from all karmas and their fruits (actions and their consequences) but also from the instruments that do karmas (namely the mind, speech and body) and from what experiences their fruit or consequences (namely the mind).

Kāṣṭha nirvikalpa samādhi or any other type of samādhi except sahaja samādhi is just a temporary lull (laya) in the activity of the mind, like the lull that we effortlessly enjoy every day in deep sleep, but it will not bring about complete annihilation of mind (manōnāśa), because it is not a state of clear self-awareness. Since absolutely clear self-awareness is our goal, the only means by which we can achieve it is absolutely clear self-awareness, so by practising ātma-vicāra or keenly focused self-attentiveness we must try to experience our natural state of absolutely clear self-awareness.

This is the sum and substance of the simple and clear teachings that Sri Ramana has given us based upon what he discovered from his own experience.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

My note: What does kastha nirvikalpa samadhi mean? As Michael has explained earlier in this interview, kastha means ‘wood’ or ‘timber’, so kastha nirvikalpa samadhi (which is also called kevala nirvikalpa samadhi) means a state reached by some sort of yogic practice in which one remains like a log of wood, unresponsive or unaware of any world. While we are in such a ‘log of wood’ like state, not a single of our vasanas is destroyed, and therefore it is not a state we should aim for.

Whereas sahaja nirvikalpa samadhi or sahaja samadhi is a state in which though one’s ego has been destroyed, one can appear (in our view) to be aware of the world and behaving like any normal person. Bhagavan, when he was in his body, was in this state. This is the state Bhagavan wants us to aim for, and this can only be achieved by vigilant self-investigation. However, while in sahaja samadhi one may be totally unresponsive and oblivious of the world, like in kastha nirvikalpa samadhi, but one may come out of such a ‘wooden’ samadhi and subsequently start acting normally.

Before coming to Bhagavan we may have given importance to attaining nirvikalpa samadhi, which many consider to be the highest form of spiritual attainment. However, Bhagavan has made it clear that we should not aim to experience any samadhi, because the term samadhi is a rather ambiguous term, but should aim to experience ourself as we actually are.

As Michael explains ‘Kāṣṭha nirvikalpa samādhi or any other type of samādhi except sahaja samādhi is just a temporary lull (laya) in the activity of the mind’, and our aim is not to achieve manolaya but is to attain manonasa’.

ātma-vyavahāra said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say in your first comment :"Since absolutely clear self-awareness is our goal, the only means by which we can achieve it is absolutely clear self-awareness, so by practising ātma-vicāra or keenly focused self-attentiveness we must try to experience our natural state of absolutely clear self-awareness."
When you thus equate two things - the goal and the means - one might ask if that is practically possible. At least you indicated also the targeted practice.

Sanjay Lohia said...

atma-vyavahara, I think the following extract from Michael’s article Guru Vāchaka Kōvai – a new translation by TV Venkatasubramanian, Robert Butler and David Godman will adequately answer your question:

An almost literal translation of this verse [579 of Guru Vachaka Kovai] would be:

Because of the non-dual nature of [our] enduring self, [and] because of the fact that excluding self there is no other gati [means or refuge], the upēya [the aim or goal] which [we are to] reach is only self and the upāya [the means or path] is only self. Know them to be non-different.

Since our goal and ultimate refuge is nothing other than our own essential self, and since this real self is absolutely non-dual — that is, entirely devoid of anything other than itself — it is not only the goal that we are to attain but is also the only means by which we can attain that goal. Thus Sri Ramana teaches us that in their essential nature our goal and our path are not even to the slightest extent different.

What exactly does he mean when he says that the only means by which we can reach our real self is that same self? How in practice can self be our path? The nature of self is absolutely non-dual being and consciousness, as he explains in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār:

Because of the non-existence of [any] consciousness other [than being] to know being, being is consciousness. [That] consciousness alone exists as ‘we’ [our essential being or true self].

ātma-vyavahāra said...

Sanjay Lohia,
what you say ("in their essential nature our goal and our path are not even to the slightest extent different.") is correct.
whereas indisputably reaching the goal and walking the path are actually different occurrences.
You also could have quoted verse 579 from the Guru Vāchaka Kōvai-translation of Sadhu Om and Michael James:
579. Since Self is the eternal, non-dual Thing and since
there is no means to reach It other than Self-atten-
tion, know that Self itself is the path, Self itself is the
goal, and that they [the path and the goal] are not
different.
Sadhu Om
: The Sages' saying, "I am the path and I am the goal",
is to be recalled here.
Nevertheless indisputably reaching the goal and walking the path are actually different occurrences/proceedings.

ātma-vyavahāra said...

Sanjay Lohia,
sorry, I forgot to remove the line:
"whereas indisputably reaching the goal and walking the path are actually different occurrences."

Anonymous said...

Questioner P: Yesterday, while you were on a walk, you said the first step is the last step. To understand that statement, I think we should investigate the problem of time and whether there is such a thing as a final state of enlightenment. The confusion arises because our minds are conditioned to think of illumination as the final state. Is understanding or illumination a final state?

Krishnamurti: You know, when we said that the first step is the last step, were we not thinking of time as a horizontal or a vertical movement? Were we not thinking of movement along a plane? We were saying yesterday, when we were walking, if we could put aside height, the vertical and the horizontal altogether, and observe this fact that wherever we are, at whatever level of conditioning, of being, the perceiving of truth, of the fact, is at that moment the last step.

I am a clerk in a little office, with all the misery involved in it; the clerk listens and perceives. The man listens and at that moment really sees. That seeing and that perception is the first and the last step. Because, at that moment he has touched truth and he sees something very clearly.

But what happens afterwards is that he wants to cultivate that state. The perception, the liberation and the very perception bringing about liberation; he wants to perpetuate, to turn it into a process. And therefore he gets caught and loses the quality of perception entirely.

So, what we are saying is that any process involves finality. It is a movement from the horizontal to the vertical; the vertical leading to a finality. And therefore we think that perception, liberation is a finality; a point which has no movement. After all, the methods, the practices, the systems imply a process towards a finality.

If there were no conceptual idea of finality, there would be no process.

Sanjay Lohia said...

atma-vyavahara, our goal and our path are essentially non-different. While we are practising self-investigation we try to remain attentively self-aware, and such attentive self-awareness is maintained by effort. Whereas when we reach our goal we will be perfectly self-aware, and this is an effortless state.

In other words, while we are practising self-investigation we are relatively silent, whereas when we reach our goal we will be absolutely silent. In relative silence our thoughts are silent to lesser or greater degree, whereas we will be absolutely free of all our thoughts (including the ego) when we reach our goal.

atma-vyavahara said...

Sanjay Lohia,
may it be so as you say.

Anonymous said...


It seems to me that the tone of the comments on this blog strongly supports Roger’s observations about “aids” to self-inquiry. The underlying emotion is fervent bhakti, both towards Maharshi Ramana and the mountain Arunachala. While arguing the finer points of self-inquiry and setting it apart – falsely, I think – from all other approaches, most commenters including MJ, reveal a deep devotion, bhakti, that often gives the lie to their intellectual arguments. Using different words like “ourself” for the Self, which, we are told, is Sri Ramana himself, does not change anything.

It is obvious even to a novice like me that Sri Ramana was a great bhakta, and was overcome by emotion over stories of masters and devotees from a thousand years ago. He was also a great karma yogin (works), raja yogin (meditation), jnana yogin (self enquiry).

I know what he said, but I prefer to also look at what he did.