Thursday, 4 January 2018

In what sense does Bhagavan generally use the terms பொருள் (poruḷ) and வஸ்து (vastu)?

In my previous article, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu first maṅgalam verse: what exists is only thought-free awareness, which is called ‘heart’, so being as it is is alone meditating on it, I translated the term ‘உள்ளபொருள்’ (uḷḷa-poruḷ), which Bhagavan uses in the first and third lines of the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, as ‘the existing substance’, ‘actual substance’ or ‘real substance’, and I explained that உள்ள (uḷḷa) is a relative or adjectival participle that means ‘existing’, ‘actual’ or ‘real’, and பொருள் (poruḷ) is a noun that has a range of meanings, including thing (any thing, but particularly a thing that really exists or a thing of value), meaning, subject-matter, substance, essence, reality or wealth, but in this context means ‘substance’ or ‘reality’.

In a comment on that article a friend called Mouna asked me why I chose to translate பொருள் (poruḷ) as ‘substance’ rather than ‘reality’:
I have a question. Why did you choose to use “existing substance” instead of “reality”? None of the translations available to this day used this term, nor Lakshmana Sharma’s, T. P. Mahadevan, Sadhu Om’s (and yourself with him!) or Robert Butler’s.

I am not arguing it is an invalid translation (I am completely and utterly ignorant when it comes to Tamil Language) but when I read “existing substance” in your last posting something didn’t sound right (although again, it is a valid literal translation). I researched and came to know that “porul” means substance (among other meanings).

Mr Robert Butler writes about this word in his grammatical commentary of verse 7: “பொருள் – porul – truth, reality. The word has a number of important meanings in Tamil among which are 1. meaning of a word, sense, significance, signification; 2. a thing, substance; 3. truth, reality; 4. stores, provisions; 5. wealth, riches.”

And in his grammatical commentary on the first Mangalam, specifically commenting on உள்ளபொருள், he writes: “உள்ளபொருள் – ulla porul – reality. The word பொருள் (porul) is used with this meaning in verse 7. Here the adjectival participle from the root உள் is again used to qualify a following noun, as உணர்வு in line one. As noted previously, the word பொருள் (porul) has a wide range of meanings, including meaning, wealth, property and simply thing, as well as the meaning truth, reality. Its combination with உள்ள therefore emphasises that here it has the meaning of Reality.” (Pages 50 and 200 of “Ulladu Narpadu, a translation and grammatical commentary with Lexicon and Concordance and Index of Tamil Grammar by Subject - Following the commentaries of Sri Lakshmana Sharma and Sri Sadhu Om, 1st Edition”)

Coming back to my point, and besides grammatical explanations (which I am not qualified at all to discuss in any sense), the term “substance” immediately create a visual and tactile impression in the sensorial mind which could lead the uninstructed reader to some confusion, because objectifies, in a very specific way, that which cannot be objectified. (It makes me think of “ether” or some similar substance)

On the contrary, the term “reality” keeps its abstract and undefined characteristic that to my understanding is more suitable for understanding the whole Mangalam. Sri Mahadevan, in his translation used the linked terms Existence-Reality in this verse, which I consider the most appropriate for understanding the message Bhagavan was transmitting since it refers directly to “sat”, even if it doesn’t correctly and literally translate the Tamil “ulla-porul”.
Therefore this article is my reply to this comment.

Mouna, as far as I know the closest term to பொருள் (poruḷ) in any other language is the Sanskrit term वस्तु (vastu), which is also used in Tamil in two forms, வஸ்து (vastu) and வத்து (vattu), but unfortunately in English there is no one word that captures the range and depth of meaning of either பொருள் (poruḷ) or वस्तु (vastu). However I feel that the metaphysical sense in which Bhagavan uses the term பொருள் (poruḷ) in this and many other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (namely verses 7, 8, 30, 34 and 35, and the kaliveṇbā extension of verse 16) is best captured by the English term ‘substance’.

Though in all these cases we could translate பொருள் (poruḷ) as ‘reality’, it actually has a richer connotation (more substance!) than the English word ‘reality’, and it seems to me that that richer connotation is best conveyed by ‘substance’, particularly as it is used in the context of philosophy or metaphysics, because ‘substance’ implies not only what actually exists but also what actually exists behind all outward appearances. One example that clearly illustrates Bhagavan’s use of பொருள் (poruḷ) in this sense of ‘substance’ is verse 24 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இருக்கு மியற்கையா லீசசீ வர்க
ளொருபொரு ளேயாவ ருந்தீபற
      வுபாதி யுணர்வேவே றுந்தீபற.

irukku miyaṟkaiyā līśajī varga
ḷoruporu ḷēyāva rundīpaṟa
      vupādhi yuṇarvēvē ṟundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: இருக்கும் இயற்கையால் ஈச சீவர்கள் ஒரு பொருளே ஆவர். உபாதி உணர்வே வேறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): irukkum iyaṟkaiyāl īśa jīvargaḷ oru poruḷē āvar. upādhi-uṇarvē vēṟu.

English translation: By [their] existing nature, God and souls are only one substance. Only [their] awareness of adjuncts is different.
In this case we could translate பொருள் (poruḷ) as ‘reality’, just as we could say that gold is the one reality of several gold ornaments, but it is more natural, clear and meaningful to translate it as ‘substance’, just as it is more natural, clear and meaningful to say that gold is the one substance of several gold ornaments. As this example illustrates, in this context substance does mean reality, but it means more than just reality, because it denotes the reality that lies behind all outward appearances.

That is, like பொருள் (poruḷ) and வஸ்து (vastu), ‘substance’ means ‘reality’ (not in the sense of the quality of being real but in the sense of what is real), but it means this particularly in the sense of the underlying reality as opposed to what superficially seems to be real, because as you probably know it is derived from the Latin noun substantia, which in turn is derived from substāns, which is a present participle that means standing (or firmly existing) under, behind or within, so it implies what is fundamentally and permanently real — that is, what underlies and supports the appearance of all that seems to be real but is not actually real.

Moreover ‘substance’ has a range of other meanings that are not only similar to some of the meanings of poruḷ but can also be applied metaphorically to the metaphysical meaning of this term. That is, like poruḷ and vastu it also means ‘meaning’ or ‘import’ (of a word or passage of text), ‘truth’ (as for example in the question ‘is there any substance in this story?’), ‘essence’ and what is fundamental, and it implies something of importance or value (so like poruḷ and vastu it is sometimes used to mean wealth or property, as in the term ‘a man of substance’ used to mean a wealthy person). Furthermore, when considering the suitability of ‘substance’ as a translation of poruḷ or vastu, it is also worth bearing in mind the meanings of some of its cognate words, such as the adjectives ‘substantive’ and ‘substantial’ and the verb ‘substantiate’, because these throw more light on the richness of its original meaning.

Though ‘substance’ is used in everyday language with a range of meanings, it is primarily a term of philosophical origin and significance, so though you imply that it denotes something concrete or objective and therefore has a less abstract connotation than ‘reality’, as one of the key terms of ontology and metaphysics it actually has a much deeper and more abstract meaning than the sense in which it is commonly used in everyday language. Generally speaking in a metaphysical sense ‘substance’ means what is most fundamental, so one of the central and most basic questions of ontology and metaphysics is: what is substance? Unsurprisingly there are numerous different views on the nature of substance, and each system of philosophy has its own answer or answers to this question, so much so that there is no generally agreed definition of this term, but this question nevertheless goes to the very heart of metaphysics.

If you are interested in knowing more about the range of meanings of ‘substance’ as it is used in philosophy and some of the various views about it, there is a detailed article on the subject in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, but most of what is written there need not concern us, because we are only concerned with the sense in which Bhagavan used the terms பொருள் (poruḷ) and வஸ்து (vastu), which corresponds more or less to the first set of criteria that typify the philosophical concept of substance as enumerated in the list given in the first section of that article, namely ‘being ontologically basic’ in the sense of being that ‘from which everything else is made or by which it is metaphysically sustained’, and less so to the second set of criteria, in that he uses these terms to denote that which is absolutely ‘independent and durable’. No philosophy can accept all the criteria listed there, and most of those criteria are applicable to more outward-looking and therefore superficial varieties of philosophy but are irrelevant to the inward-looking and therefore extremely deep philosophy taught by Bhagavan, but this does not mean that ‘substance’ is not a suitable translation of the terms poruḷ and vastu as used by him and in advaita more generally, because each metaphysical system of philosophy is defined to a large extent by the answer or answers it gives to the question: what is substance?

Bhagavan’s answer to this question is essentially very simple but extremely subtle, and in one sense it is very abstract, in that it is absolutely non-objective, while in another sense it is very concrete, in that it is what we always experience most immediately and intimately as ‘I’, whether subject and objects appear (as in waking and dream) or disappear (as in sleep). However, since we now experience ‘I’ mixed with adjuncts, we are not aware of the real substance (uḷḷa-poruḷ) as it is, so as he teaches us in the third sentence of the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal), ‘Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking [of it]’, the only way to be aware of it as it is is to turn within and just be as it is.

In teaching us that the real substance (that which is fundamentally real) is only what exists within us without thought, Bhagavan is providing his own answer to the age-old metaphysical question ‘what is substance?’, but he does not merely provide a conceptual answer but also teaches us how we can verify the truth of this answer by our own experience. However, even from a purely conceptual point of view, the answer he gives us is a very powerful one and provides an effective and satisfactory means to cut through or bypass most of the complexity that weighs down other systems of philosophy and makes them so confused and lacking in clarity. Though the metaphysical view he taught us is essentially very simple, his analysis of all that seems to be and his identification of that which actually is (uḷḷadu) go far deeper than any form of western philosophy, so unsurprisingly his view of ‘substance’ is much more radical and profound than any found either in western philosophy or in almost any other system of philosophy.

His view of ‘substance’ is perhaps best expressed in the second sentence of verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் பூன்றம் ஆம் அஃதே பொருள்’ (ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum pūṉḏṟam ām aḵdē poruḷ), ‘Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place [space, site or ground] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and awareness [the subject, the awareness that perceives the world] is poruḷ [the real substance or vastu], which is pūṉḏṟam [the infinite whole or pūrṇa]’. Can any concept of ‘substance’ be more abstract or sublime than the one he expresses here? Elsewhere he identifies this one real substance (poruḷ) as being just pure awareness — that is, awareness that is completely devoid of the appearance of any thought, which includes both subject (the ego) and all objects (phenomena) — as he does in the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, so this is once again as abstract a concept of ‘substance’ as any that one could conceive.

Your objection to using this term ‘substance’ as a translation of poruḷ or vastu seems to be that it is often used to refer to a material substance, but the same objection could be raised against using the term ‘reality’, which is likewise often used, not only in everyday usage but also in contemporary academic philosophy (which is generally based on metaphysical materialism or physicalism and therefore biased toward such a view), to refer to the physical or objectively observable world. Though materialists may consider material substances to be the only real ones and physical phenomena to be the sole reality, we would be losing the argument against their questionable views if we were to allow them to claim exclusive ownership of words such as ‘substance’ or ‘reality’.

Though Bhagavan sometimes uses physical analogies to distinguish substance from form, such as the analogy of gold and ornaments made of it, when he uses the terms poruḷ or vastu in the sense of ‘substance’, he is not referring to any kind of physical substance but only to metaphysical substance (the one real substance), which is pure awareness. For example, when he says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ?’ (aṇikaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō?), ‘All the many ornaments are unreal; do they exist except as gold, which is real?’, he is using gold as an analogy for ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தான்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉ), ‘oneself, who is jñāna [awareness]’, which alone is real (mey), and ornaments as an analogy for ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is manifold’ (namely the mind), which is ignorance (ajñāna) and unreal (poy). Though he does not use either the term poruḷ or vastu in this verse, he used the same analogy in the first sentence of verse 4 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam, ‘பொன்னுக்கு வேறாக பூடணம் உள்ளதோ?’ (poṉṉukku vēṟāha pūḍaṇam uḷḷadō?), ‘Can an ornament exist as different to gold?’, and in the kaliveṇbā version of this verse he extended this sentence by adding a relative clause referring to பொன் (poṉ), gold, namely ‘வத்துவாம்’ (vattu-v-ām), ‘which is vastu [the substance]’.

From a physical perspective it could be argued that though gold is the substance and therefore more enduring than any ornament into which it may be formed, an ornament (the form) is as real as gold (the substance), and this is the argument that Kapali Sastri used (but with reference to the corresponding analogy of a pot made of mud instead of an ornament made of gold) in the first section of his introduction to Sat-Darshana Bhashya (6th edition, 1975, pages 4-7) to support his fallacious contention that God, world and soul are real as such, being the ‘formal aspect of Brahman’, and it led him to conclude, ‘It is evident then that it is both futile and false to affirm that the substantial truth alone of the world-being, Brahman, is real and that the formal aspect of Brahman as the world is unreal’ (ibid. p. 6), thereby implying that what Bhagavan taught us about the unreality of God, world and soul (as in the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?, for example) was ‘both futile and false’. In order to pre-empt any such argument, in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan specifically stated that all the many ornaments are unreal (aṇikaḷ tām palavum poy) and gold is real (mey ām poṉ), but though he used the word ‘பொய்’ (poy), which means ‘unreal’ or ‘false’, twice in this verse, firstly with reference to ignorance (ajñāna) and secondly with reference of ornaments, in his translation of this verse in Sat-Darshana Kavyakantha conveniently omitted it altogether, thereby removing Bhagavan’s unequivocal repudiation of their erroneous beliefs.

That is, in the context in which Bhagavan uses this analogy of gold and ornaments, what he expects us to understand from it is that the substance (namely ‘ñāṉam ām tāṉ’, oneself, who is awareness) alone is real and whatever forms it may seem to assume (namely ‘nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam’, awareness that is manifold) are entirely unreal. In the case of another analogy that he often used in such contexts, the rope, which represents what alone is real, is the substance (in the sense that it is what ‘stands under’ and supports the appearance of a snake), while the snake that it seems to be, which represents all that is unreal, is just an illusory appearance.

Coming back once again to your question about my choice of the word ‘substance’ rather than ‘reality’ to translate பொருள் (poruḷ) or வஸ்து (vastu), apart from the fact that Bhagavan often used the analogy of gold to illustrate what he meant by these terms, another reason is that he often uses them in compounds along with words that mean ‘real’, so ‘real substance’ seems to be a more appropriate translation of such compounds than ‘real reality’. For example, in the compound உள்ளபொருள் (uḷḷa-poruḷ) உள்ள (uḷḷa) means ‘existing’, ‘actual’ or ‘real’, and another term that he often used (as in verse 8 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, for example) is மெய்ப்பொருள் (mey-p-poruḷ), in which மெய் (mey) is a noun that means ‘reality’ in the sense of what is real (as opposed to the sense of the quality of being real, which in Tamil would be மெய்ம்மை (meymmai) or ‘realness’), but when used as an adjective or the first element in a compound such as this மெய் (mey) means real, so though மெய்ப்பொருள் (mey-p-poruḷ) means what is real, a more precise translation of it is either ‘real thing’ or ‘real substance’, but obviously ‘substance’ is a more appropriate term to use in this context than ‘thing’, because it has a much deeper and more abstract meaning. The Sanskrit equivalent of மெய்ப்பொருள் (mey-p-poruḷ) is सद्वस्तु (sadvastu or sat-vastu), in which सत् (sat) is a present participle that means ‘being’ or ‘existing’, but is also used as an adjective that means ‘existing’, ‘actual’, ‘real’, ‘true’, ‘essential’ or ‘good’, and as a noun that means ‘what actually exists’ or ‘what is real’, and वस्तु (vastu) is a noun that means ‘thing’, ‘substance’, ‘what actually exists’ or ‘what is real’, so like மெய்ப்பொருள் (mey-p-poruḷ) सद्वस्तु (sadvastu) means the ‘real thing’ or ‘real substance’, which of course implies ‘reality’ in the sense of what is real.

Therefore though I can understand the perspective from which you question my use of the term ‘substance’ to translate பொருள் (poruḷ) or வஸ்து (vastu), I think that perspective is due to a very limited understanding of the deep and rich sense in which this word ‘substance’ is used in the context of ontology and metaphysics. Moreover, if we understand Bhagavan’s use of these Tamil and Sanskrit terms in the sense of the one ultimate substance, I think it is fair to say that he has breathed fresh life into the meaning of ‘substance’, restoring it fully to its original sense of substantia, which literally means ‘that which stands [stays or remains] under [behind or within]’.

87 comments:

Mouna said...

Michael,
Thank you again for this admirable substantial article. A lot to unpack from many sides which I’ll do very intentionally in coming days.
But at first and slow glance reading it I literally felt like someone standing on the beach of understanding looking a tsunami of knowledge ready to hit the coast with two hundred feet tall waves of meaning.
Really appreciate.

Michael James said...

Mouna, what we need is not a tsunami of knowledge but a tsunami of understanding. Bhagavan’s teachings are so simple that they require very little knowledge to be understood clearly, but they are so deep and subtle that they require a correspondingly deep and subtle understanding, which cannot come from knowledge in the sense of information but only from deep inner clarity, the source of which lies within each one of us, so to find it we only need to look within ourself.

In other words, real understanding of his teachings will arise within us to the extent to which we practise them by being persistently self-attentive. However, our practice of them can be helped to a considerable extent by our repeatedly studying and thinking deeply about the inner import of his words (their poruḷ or substance) until such time as we are ready to be swallowed and dissolved entirely by the great tsunami of clear understanding that will arise when we see ourself as we actually are.

Mouna said...

Thanks again Michael.

Michael James said...

Mouna, when I first wrote this reply to you I forgot to mention what is perhaps the best example to illustrate the fact that Bhagavan did use பொருள் (poruḷ) to mean ‘substance’, namely verse 24 of Upadēśa Undiyār, so I have now added it in a suitable place in this article.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are having our cake and eating it too...

As householders we are enjoying the luxuries of our home - our bodily needs are being met. So now we can devote all our time (or at least free time) in sadhana.

It seems that a sanyasi's life is quite troublesome. Their bodily needs like food etc must be quite uncertain. So I think we householders are in an advantageous position.

So in a way we are having our cake and eating it too.

Of course, Bhagavan says that out outward life is fully controlled by prarabdha. So if we are meant to be a sanyasi we will be one. But I feel we are lucky being householders. We can conceal our spiritual leaning in the garb of a householder, and quietly do our sadhana.

Sanjay Lohia said...

I was listening to a recorded talk by Nochur Venkataraman. He says in one portion that somebody asked Bhagavan, something to the effect: ‘If Arunachala appears before you, what will you ask him?’ Bhagavan replied, ‘I will ask him not to appear and disappear before me. We want a God which doesn’t appear and disappear, but is always with us’.

What is real? I believe Sri Sankaracharya had said that only that substance is real which doesn’t undergo any change. In other words, only that substance is real which is eternal and unchanging. Bhagavan also said the same thing, but he also added a third criterion: a thing can be called real only if it is also self-shining – that is, it exists by its own light.

What is this real substance? Bhagavan has answered this in verse 7 of Ulladu Narpadu:

Though the world and awareness arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by awareness. Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place for the appearing and disappearing of the world and awareness is the substance, which is the whole.

So only the underlying and unchanging base of our mind and world is real. As Bhagavan further explains in verse 13 of Ulladu Narpadu, this underlying substratum is like Gold, and all the forms that appear and disappear on this permanent substance are like various ornaments made of Gold. According to Bhagavan, only Gold is real, whereas all the ornaments made out of it are unreal. If we take a similar analogy of mud and various things made out of mud, only mud is real and all the pots etc. made from it are totally unreal.

As Michael has explained in his recent articles, this eternal substance is the most subtle substance – it is subtler than ever the space. At the same time it is the most concrete thing, because this is what we actually are. We can never not experience it. Whatever we perceive or think, who is perceiving or thinking it? It is ‘I’. We are aware of our real substance even in our sleep.

This eternal substance is the very core of our mind. It is the awareness aspect of our mind, and only this aspect is real. All its adjuncts are utterly unreal. They appear and disappear leaving our real substance totally untouched.

crafty as a fox said...

Sanjay Lohia,
regarding Sri Sankaracharya's statement about the only real substance you say "In other words, only that substance is real which is eternal and unchanging."
One who likes making fun of that remark would retort that therefore
ignorance is the only real substance because it is eternal and unchanging - or at least seems to be.
Even when ignorance seems to appear and disappear, for the purposes of its appearance and disappearance it requires "our real substance totally untouched".
When you further "take a similar analogy" saying "only mud is real and all the pots etc. made from it are totally unreal." you must also take into account that the cook in the citchen can hardly cook some soup or coffee/tea without using any pots.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Crafty as a fox, according to Bhagavan, ignorance is neither eternal not unchanging. In fact, ignorance, in the sense of mind or maya, simply does not exist. What exists is only atma svarupa. The mind does seem to exist in our waking and dream states, but it is not there in sleep, and if we investigate it it will be found to be totally non-existent. Yes, without the underlying real substance even this unreal ignorance cannot exist. It is like no film can exist without its underlying screen.

Yes, if we are fond of tea or coffee, we will require cup, saucer, pots, fire or heat to cook, and so on. However, who is fond of tea or coffee? It is ‘I’. If we investigate this ‘I’, we will find that this ‘I’ or ego doesn’t exist, and thereafter there will remain no one to be fond of tea or coffee. Thus we will no more require any kitchen, pots, pans and so on. So if we experience ourself as a body, we definitely require many things to function in this dream-world, but if we are not this body but pure self-awareness (which we are according to Bhagavan), we require nothing to exist or live.

crafty as a fox said...

Sanjay Lohia,
we can only assume that the mind is not there in sleep because only when we wake up from sleep we state that in sleep we did not experience it. Like its seeming presence is experienced only in waking and dream its obvious absence in sleep can possibly only be a seeming one. We do not know for certain whether it is actually so.

Of course we can for the present believe what Bhagavan taught us namely that we are not this body-mind-complex but nothing than atma svarupa. However, through own experience we can discover with certainty that the ego does not actually exist only in the future by and after keen investigation. Until then we need have no qualms to use our kitchen pots and pans as relatively real even when we want to be or experience us as only pure self-awareness. Even Bhagavan Ramana's body could not have been fed without pots and pans in the kitchen then there in Tiruvannamalai.
Admittedly and evidently my comment is given from the limited viewpoint of an ajnani.

substantia said...

Michael,
regarding "English translation: By [their] existing nature, God and souls are only one substance. Only [their] awareness of adjuncts is different."

Pure awareness is obviously awareness only of the own one real substance - completely devoid of any adjuncts.
Because I now experience myself only mixed with adjuncts i.e. body-mind-consciousness I am not aware of the real substance as it is.
Therefore what I miss most in my life is 'Just being in the heart as it is'...
Regrettably having a strong craving for it is still not enough in order to just be as it is.

sundar said...

"Therefore what I miss most in my life is 'Just being in the heart as it is'...
Regrettably having a strong craving for it is still not enough in order to just be as it is."

substantia,
Have you found what you need to 'just being in the heart as it is'?

sundar

substantia said...

sundar,
yes, I have found that I should be free from all sorts of obstacles which cast a shadow on my self-awareness. Sometimes I seem to be ruled by feelings of desires and passions. In such periods my power of decision is so weak that I cannot practise self-investigation. So I need a clear mind to be able to reach some silence. Without a certain degree of silent clarity I cannot intensify/deepen my attempts of close examination/scrutiny.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael: Bhagavan knows what we need, and he can give it, and he does give it.

~ Extract from Michael's video dated 6th January 2017

My note: So we should totally give up all our worldly or outward concerns, and devote all our time and energy in our inward pursuit. That is, we should pursuit our goal of atma-jnana with complete single-mindedness. That is all that matters.

crafty as a fox said...

Sanjay Lohia,
perhaps your extract relates to Michael's video of 6th January 2018 (not 2017).

Sanjay Lohia said...

crafty as a fox, yes, the extract does relate to Michael's video of 6th January 2018 (not 2017). Thanks.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Devotee: When Bhagavan was in his physical body, many people got a glimpse of their true nature through Bhagavan’s presence, through his glance … they were able to directly taste a bit of it, so they knew they could do it … but now …

Michael: Yes, Bhagavan did swallow many of the egos, but he continues to do so even now. He need not be in a physical body to do this. When Bhagavan was about to leave his body, many around him were weeping telling him not to leave. Bhagavan would say would infinite compassion, ‘Where can I go? I am here!’ So Bhagavan is always with us.

Sadhu Om used to say that many people told him after Bhagavan passed away, ‘You were very fortunate. You got an opportunity to be with Bhagavan’. Sadhu Om used to say, ‘those who didn’t see Bhagavan were perhaps better off, because Bhagavan’s name and form was a subtle maya. They took that name and form to be Bhagavan’.

For example, Sadhu Om used to compose songs, and he used to come to Bhagavan’s presence and sing those songs, and was happy thinking that Bhagavan had heard those songs. But then he will reflect within himself: ‘How foolish am I to think that Bhagavan can hear that song only when I sing it in front of him. Bhagavan is shining in us as ‘I’. Where did this song come from if not from him?’

I [Michael] came to the ashram in the mid 70’s. At that time there were so many people who had been with Bhagavan, some of them for 30, 40, 50 years, but many of them had very-very big egos. Like, Sadhu Om was with Bhagavan for the last four years, so many of the old devotees used to say, ‘Oh! Who is Sadhu Om? He is only a late comer’. As if the number of years we are with Bhagavan is what matters.

In one verse Muruganar sang: Because the ever unborn has taken birth, countless of the never dyings have died.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

We don’t know how many egos have been swallowed by Bhagavan, but his work of swallowing us didn’t stop on April 14, 1950. People who think that the physical presence of the guru is necessary haven’t understood what guru is. Bhagavan gave a very-very refined understanding of what is guru – guru is your own self.

The guru is always within you. You don’t have to go out looking for an enlightened master. So long as we are looking for it outside ourself, we have missed the point of Bhagavan’s teachings. The guru is only within.

But of course for the would-be gurus, it is necessary for them to say, ‘the physical presence of a guru is necessary’, because if they tell you the truth that Bhagavan is always present in your heart, they will lose their followers, and their revenue and everything.

~^~ Slightly modified extract from Michael’s video dated 6th January, 2018

My note: There is this very popular speaker in South India who gives stalks of Bhagavan’s life and teachings, and also on other spiritual texts. Though he knows quite a bit about Bhagavan’s life and teachings, he sometimes says things which seem quite illogical and opposed to Bhagavan’s teachings.

For example, I was recently listening to one of his recorded talks. While introducing the talk he said something to the effect: ‘simply listen to what I say like a sravana-yagya (spiritual austerities performed by mere listening). You need not even understand what I say. You mere listening may be enough to establish you in that highest state. You need not do anything else’.

Does all this make sense? To me it doesn’t it, because how can our mere listening establish us in that highest state? I think even Bhagavan never made such a claim. What in effect this speaker was saying is that ‘you come to my talks so that I can get the pleasure of seeing a large audience before me. My mere presence will enable you to reach the highest state’.

Bhagavan has repeatedly said that without turning within and finding the source of ourself, how can one become established in that highest state? But our learned speaker didn't let us know this most crucial teaching of Bhagavan, at least not when he spoke the above.

sundar said...

Substantia,
You have said it very well when referring to what is lacking in sadhana. It rhymes with my situation also.

Perhaps, we should also say there needs to be a complete relaxation as 'I am that' and even a mind that has understood advaita clearly can not be THAT.

sundar

substantia said...

sundar,
I agree: if you understand "THAT" by our pure thought-free self-awareness our mind is not "THAT". However, the necessary total "relaxation" from the wrong awareness of the ego-mind can happen only by the means of the mind as our instrument. What do you think that means or how do you consider that subject ?

inba-tanam said...

Sanjay Lohia,
to avoid any possibility of confusion: to which "very popular speaker in South India" did you recently listen ?
By the way we should read that this speaker gives "talks" about Bhagavan's life ... not "stalks".

inba-tanam said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you quote Muruganar singing "Because the ever unborn has taken birth, countless of the never dyings have died."
Who are the 'never dyings' in this verse ?

pramada said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say "guru is your own self." and
"The guru is (always) only within (you)."

So the guru is an other name of atma svarupa.
In which way can I as the seeming ego touch with it ?
It appears as if the (my) real substance tolerates my present illusory state of awareness in which I do not experience myself as atma svarupa but only as deceptive ego together with all adjuncts. To all appearances my pure self-awareness does not intervene in my wrong conclusion but is resigned to the ego's awkward situation or adopts only an attitude of 'wait and see'. It contents itself with being aware of only itself and therefore does not feel responsible for the seeming bewilderment of any person or ego. At best one feels/gets referred to one's own personal responsibility for the anyway self-subjected burden of ignorance.

Sundar said...

Substantia,
I do not think the mind has the capacity to remove the wrong awareness. Mind can at best help to understand the theory and logic of advaita.

See excerpt from Michael’s recent blog:

”Therefore, since we cannot adequately grasp uḷḷa-poruḷ as it is through thought, how can we grasp it? The answer to this question is provided by Bhagavan in the third sentence of this verse (the second sentence of the original kuṟaḷ veṇbā form of it): ‘உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal), ‘Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking [of the existing substance] [or meditating on it]’.”

With respect to your question on relaxation,
To know that I exist, I do not need the mind. That existence is the ulla porul or existing substance. So, I try to relax till I am THAT. Again, not by thinking or analysing i.e. not by using the mind.

Perhaps, if my craving is super strong, this mind free relaxation might happen.
Sundar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Inba-Tanam, I was referring to Nochur Venkataraman in my previous comment. He had said that almost at the beginning of a MP3 titled Voice of Rishis, Talk by Nochur Sri Venkataraman, Atma Vidya Bangalore – 2010. Thanks for pointing out my typo. Yes, it should have been ‘talks’.

When Muruganar sang: ‘Because the ever unborn has taken birth, countless of the never dyings have died’, he was referring to the countless egos we see all around us. These egos cannot be annihilated accept by following the teachings of a genuine sadguru, so these egos can be referred to as ‘never dyings’. However, it will surely die sooner rather than later if we start practising self-investigation with sufficient love.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Pramada, yes, guru is another name for atma-svarupa, and if we want to get in touch with our real guru, we need to turn our entire attention towards ourself. There is no other way.

Yes, presently we do experience ourself as this ego – this mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’. However, we are never out of touch with our atma-svarupa. We are always aware of ‘I am’, but this awareness is mixed up with the awareness of all its adjuncts – this body, mind and all their attributes. The more we attend to the ‘I am’ portion of the ego, the more all its adjuncts with drop off by themselves. Eventually we will remain naked - in the sense that we will become bereft of all our imaginary adjuncts.

Yes, only we are responsible for giving up our self-ignorance, because, as you say, ourself as we actually are is not even aware of any ignorance. The ego has created itself, and therefore this very ego has to destroy itself, and it can do so only by looking very-very closely at itself.

inba-tanam said...

Sanjay Lohia,
however, Nochur Venkataraman is highly esteemed as a speaker in Sri Ramanasramam and as a book author.
By the way you mean ..."except by following the teachings of a genuine ..." not "accept".

pramada said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for your reply.
You mean "...the more all its adjuncts will drop off by themselves." ("will" instead of "with".

Sanjay Lohia said...

Inba-Tanam, yes, it should have been ‘except’. Thanks.

Yes, as I wrote in my previous comment, Nochur Venkataraman is a very popular speaker and has a huge following, but that doesn’t mean that we should blindly believe whatever he says.

Is it proper to say, ‘just listen to me and it can take you to your ultimate goal’? Do you think Bhagavan would have ever made such a statement? Bhagavan would always say, ‘Guru is giving you more than enough help you need, but even he would be powerless beyond a point if you don’t follow the path shown by the guru’. For example, Bhagavan teaches us in paragraph 12 of Nan Yar?:

God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the glance of guru’s grace will surely be saved by him and will never instead be forsaken; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly along the path that guru has shown.

We can ‘walk unfailing along the path that guru has shown us’ only by practising self-investigation. Can mere listening about all the theories about the correct practice of self-investigation lead us to our goal? Obviously it cannot, but Nochur seems to be implying just that. So we should definitely not believe anyone who goes against simple logic, or more important teaches us anything which contradicts Bhagavan’s teachings.

In India we give too much importance to reputation – ‘if XYZ has said so it must be right, because he is an esteemed person’. Such an attitude can be detrimental to our spiritual progress. Bhagavan has also said that we should not believe anything if it is not our direct experience.

There is no doubt that Nochur is a knowledgeable person and knows a lot about Bhagavan’s life and teachings, besides knowing about other spiritual texts. So we should imbibe the things he says which appeal to our heart and mind. In fact, he had written a beautiful letter to me when I was going through a rough patch, and his advice helped me to fine tune my sadhana. So I am thankful to him.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Pramada, yes, it should be: 'The more we attend to the ‘I am’ portion of the ego, the more all its adjuncts will drop off by themselves'. Thanks.

substantia said...

Sundar,
yes, I agree:'Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking [of the existing substance] [or meditating on it]'.
But the effort to eliminate all obstacles for 'being in the heart as it is' is to be made/undertaken by the mind. How else could one overcome the ego's violent resistance to die ?
Contrary to your opinion your preferential method of "I try to relax till I am THAT." is quite well completely using the very mind.

inba-tanam said...

Sanjay Lohia,
okay.

Mouna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mouna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mouna said...

(the previous deleted postings didn't have the right links, hope I'll get them right this time!!!)

Hello friends,

Very inspiring talks from Sri Nochur Venkataraman are going on these days at Bhagavan's ashram in Tiruvanamalai. Although the subject is Aksharamanamalai, he covers many aspects of Bhagavan's teachings with fresh insights and also many stories from Bhagavan and also his earlier devotees.

The videos of the talks can be watched by clicking here


or to those that want to use as MP3s for commuting or just listen only, they can be download by clicking here (they cover all the talks with this subject from 2014 until today's talks)

Yours,
mouna

sundar said...

Substantia,
"'Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking [of the existing substance] [or meditating on it]'.
But the effort to eliminate all obstacles for 'being in the heart as it is' is to be made/undertaken by the mind. How else could one overcome the ego's violent resistance to die ?"

Elimination of obstacles using the mind is a never ending process.

So, rather than putting all eggs in this basket, I would also side by side taste my already done state. Just Be.

I would say still that this has to be done without thinking, analyzing i.e. without using the mind. Obviously I am still working on this.

Mind is the problem and I would like to not struggle with it beyond a certain point and give it oxygen.

My understanding of the ashta vakra Gita is that we function with the acceptance that we are THAT and not THIS. Most of us are convinced of our identity as awareness anyway.

sundar

substantia said...

sundar,
of course "just being" is our aim and real nature.
As long as there seems to be an ego along with its concepts of duality we must direct our attention to try to annihilate and root out this arch- enemy. Till this "certain point" we have to struggle against it.
Even self-attention or self-investigation is the mind's struggle - at least from my viewpoint which is at present (for some weeks !) shaped by a havy fight with the sense-bound experience of "I am this male body-mind-structure".
On the other hand I do well understand your objection "Mind is the problem and I would like to not struggle with it beyond a certain point and give it oxygen."
I too should like it best if this ego could be eradicated without any effort or battle, best by the very presence of the inner flame of Arunachala. Whatever power or occurence removes the tyranny of the ego should we give a warm welcome. Ultimately our all yearning is to remain only as atma-svarupa (or THAT) free of all mind-bound adjuncts.

Sanjay Lohia said...

When people used to sometimes ask Sadhu Om ‘please come and guide us’, he used to say ‘who am I to guide anyone? When Bhagavan is there, if I rise and say that I will guide you’… If we want to guide others, the proper way to guide is to subside in our own heart.

If we rise up and say ‘I will guide others’, we are just casting our shadow upon those people. The real guidance comes from Bhagavan, who is shining in the heart of each of us. We don’t need any intermediaries to come and tell us, ‘I will guide you’.

In other words, the subsidence of the ego is the real spiritual teaching and the real spiritual practice.

*-* Slightly modified extract from Michael’s video dated 6th January 2018

My note: In continuation to the above, Michael also implied that if we want to guide others, we should follow the example of Bhagavan. Bhagavan never went out into the world assuming the he needs to guide others. He just remained silent and gave guidance only when he was asked questions. Otherwise he was quite content to let things be as they are.

In other words, Bhagavan’s non-rising as an ego is itself the most perfect type of spiritual guidance. All his works like Ulladu Narpadu, Nan Yar?, Upadesa Undiyar and others were written because he was prompted to do so by others.

He didn’t give pravachans (public discourses). In other words, he responded to specific needs and aspirations of the devotees, but of course in in this process he gave us many universal and timeless principles, and these principles are true in all situations and are true for all. So as Michael says, we don’t any intermediaries between Bhagavan and ourself.

Mouna said...

Sanjay, greetings
you wrote:

"So as Michael says, we don’t any intermediaries between Bhagavan and ourself."
(I assume you wanted to say "...we don't need any...")

Does Michael falls in this category of intermediaries with his public lectures (pravachans)? or this blog, or your postings, or Adi Shankaracharya? or Buddha (if he ever existed)? Or Sri Nochur?

Not everybody is like Bhagavan (or Sadhu Om) in this dream, there are many characters that play different roles. Some go out, some don't. Some speak, some don't. Some find your contributions useful, some don't. It's all a play of characters (lila).

When we start addressing behavior as a norm for everybody (no matter how sacred it sounds) we are stepping into a slippery slope of control and misunderstanding.

Bhagavan is for many of us the cornerstone of our means to evaporate ego's tyranny, but He is just another piece of the puzzle within the ego's dream, albeit an important or the most important one, but only a piece nevertheless (thetiger in the elephant's dream?).

As for myself, I came to Bhagavan because of vedantins that traveled and gave lectures, because of deluded teachers that created more confusion than understanding... and in the end I realized that all those characters were guided by His Grace, His invisible hand, which defies all intellectual musings we might have about how Grace really works.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, greetings! Thanks, yes, the corrected sentence should read: So as Michael says, we don’t need any intermediaries between Bhagavan and ourself.

As far as I am concerned, Sadhu Om, Muruganar and Michael are pure channels of Bhagavan’s grace. They never give me an impression that they are posing as gurus in anyway. This is not to criticise or demean others. As you say, all have a role to play and can be useful in our journey. Of course, all this can only be our subjective opinion, and our views need not necessary match with each other in this regard.

As you righty imply, grace is guiding us at every step. Our main job is to follow unfailingly the path shown to us by Bhagavan. As and when needed his grace will guide us through various names and forms. Such a name and form can be that of Shankarachrya or Buddha or Nochur or Michael or somebody else.

Guru is only one, and it is our own self. However, it can and does use many channels to guide us. We may choose the channel/s which appeals to us at any particular time.

Narasimha said...

Mouna,
greetings, you should refer correctly to the lion in the elephant's dream instead of the tiger. To my knowledge elephants do usually have terrible fear of lions but in contrast they do not fear a tiger.

Mouna said...

Narasimha, thank you my friend to point that out.
Lion yes lion!
I wonder why tigers don’t scare elephants while dreaming! Mmmm...
:-)

venkat said...

Mouna, referring to the earlier discussion, Sankara has said that just sravana (listening) to the words of a guru can be sufficient to give one jnana. And no path necessarily needs to be followed; it all depends on the maturity of understanding of the listener; and atman's grace.

And you make a good point that all play their role in bringing us to where we are today. Dattatreya said that he learnt from 24 gurus, including purity from water, patience & support from earth, choicelessness from the wind, concentration from the arrow-maker, etc.

Narasimha said...

Mouna,
because you wonder why tigers ...:
like humans elephants bring their memory of waking state in dream.
What they don't fear in waking does not give them a scare in dream state.
Mmmm...:-)
(Some years ago I saw an exiting film about tigers in an Indian national park. Some zoologists rode on 3 elephants through the jungle and fixed a film camera which was placed in a stump near a hidden pool where a tiger family has its place of life. They came very close to tigers but neither the zoologist nor the elephants were attacked by them.)

substantia said...

venkat,
good point, all in life can and does actually teach us...

Mouna said...

Narasimha,
”They came very close to tigers but neither the zoologist nor the elephants were attacked by them”
Very interesting... thank you.
I assume they wouldn’t dare doing the same thing with lions!!!!

Anyhow, now to serious matters, I have a riddle for you: which side of a tiger has more stripes?

Mouna said...

Venkat and Substantia , greetings
”Dattatreya said that he learnt from 24 gurus, including...”
”all in life can and does actually teach us...”

Fully agree of course and I would add that many times, within the transactional “reality”, we also learn from some so called gurus and other human specimens of a certain kind how not to behave, how not to do things and how not to be...

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, I agree with Sankara when he said that just sravana (listening) to the words (or rather even a word) can be sufficient to give one jnana. However, it will be still interesting to know where and in what context he said this.

However, when Sankara or anyone else says so, they are clearly talking about exceptions and not a rule. Bhagavan said just one word – ‘iru’ (just be) – to Tinnai Swami, and this one word was enough to establish him in jnana. However, Tinnai Swami was obviously an extremely ripe soul when Bhagavan told him ‘Iru’ (be), and because of such ripeness he must have immediately turned within to just be and remain as his actual svarupa.

So whatever anyone may teach us, until and unless we put the words into practice we cannot become established in jnanan. We may put the words into practice then and there, as soon as it is said, like Tinnai Swami did, or we may gradually do the same. It all depends on our maturity and willingness to follow the advice.

The general rule is that our sravana (listening, reading) has to be followed by prolonged and dogged manana (reflection) and nididhyasana (practice, which is self-investigation in our context), before we can arrive at our goal of experiencing pure self-awareness. However, as I said earlier, without practice (whether instant or prolonged) we cannot reach our goal.

venkat said...

"The general rule is that our sravana (listening, reading) has to be followed by prolonged and dogged manana (reflection) and nididhyasana (practice, which is self-investigation in our context), before we can arrive at our goal of experiencing pure self-awareness. However, as I said earlier, without practice (whether instant or prolonged) we cannot reach our goal."

Sanjay you make generalisations and state "general rules" which you seem to assume applies to the majority of others. Have you carried out a scientific study to be confident of such a general rule? That is your maya. Rather than confidently stating general rules that apply to others, which is rather amusing given you subscribe to eka jiva vada, why not keep quiet?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, yes, we should all keep quiet, but as long as we rise as this ego, we will create noise of one sort or another – in fact, our each and every thought is nothing but a noise. So as long as we are prone to making noises, we should make correct or useful noise and the only useful noise we can indulge in is reading and reflecting on Bhagavan’s teachings.

So in a way this blog is helping us to make some useful noise. However, our aim is to stop all noise, and we can do as only be remaining as we actually are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Venkat, there are a few typos in my previous comment. Its last paragraph should read:

So in a way this blog is helping us to make some useful noise. However, our aim is to stop all noise, and we can do so only by remaining as we actually are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Though we all sometimes experience the fear of death, most of the time the fear of death is far out of our mind. We plan for the future as if we will never die. Every day when we get up, we expect not only that we are going to live today, but that we are going to live many days hence. So death seems to be something remote and far away most of the time. It seems so far away that we need not even think about it. This is how we live our life.

But this is because our minds are outward going, and we are distracting ourself with thoughts of other things. So the thought of death doesn’t play a large part in our life.

+ Slightly modified extract from Michael’s video dated January 7, 2017

Narasimha said...

Mouna,
as you correctly assume the ride of the zoologists on the back of lions would be much more risky. :-)
Regarding the serious riddle... my answer to the mystery is: neither of them. Or are you ready with a surprising turn ?
(The question reminds me of a similar kind of riddle: which one of both the sons of a barren woman is more...?)

Mouna said...

Narasimha,

As for the serious riddle: “which side of the tiger’s skin has more stripes?”
You came very close (and I like your riddle)!
But the correct and scientifically proved answer is:
The outside!!!

“Humor is the one thing that humans need to take very seriously!”

Be well friend,
m

(I’m still wondering why elephants fear that specific kind of cat (lions) instead of another (tigers)!... )

Narasimha said...

Mouna,
ah, your answer of the riddle is just humorous and surprising. Good.
The selective behaviour of the elephants about lions is really astonishing. Perhaps it can be derived/explained from the fact that old and weak elephants (which are) unable to follow their herd are actually attacked and broken up into small pieces by lions.
By the way I am not sure if you read exactly the first sentence of my last comment.
As you say in reply to me (as substantia): we are taught a lot and valuable lessons from the negative example of "so called gurus and other human specimens of a certain kind how not to behave, how not to do things and how not to be."
Be well friend, hope you are well again in your home town.
J.B.

ulla porul said...

Modified extract from the Mountain Path, Volume 55, NO.1 January-March 2018 The Paramount Importance of Self Attentione:
"In the present moment I exist. That means that I am aware that I exist.
I do not know anything else for certain but my own existence.
But what exactly am I ? The ego is aware only of the ego."

speaking without speaking said...

Since the ego is not what we really are but only what we appear I should try to investigate myself who now seems to be an adjunct with which this one ego has associated. Why, for Heaven's sake, did I not already grasp that ?

upadhi said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"So the thought of death doesn’t play a large part in our life."
What would be the gain if the thought of death plays a large part in our life ?

jnana and bhakti said...

Sadhu Om - as recorded by Michael James in The Paramount Importance of Self Attention, Part Twenty Three, Mountain Path October-December 2017

"All that is required of the ego is just to die, that is to subside and disappear forever".
"How then are we to die without dying ? ...we can forever cease rising only by attending to ourself alone, and for that we must have all-consuming love to surrender ourself completely to him" (Bhagavan).
"Therefore the only means to achieve our natural state of just being (sat-bhava) is to follow the twin paths of cit and ananda: jnana and bhakti, self-enquiry and self-surrender."
According to Bhagavan attending to nothing other than oneself (ananya-bhava) is the best of all practices of bhakti and by the intensity of such self-attention we will be established in the state of real being (sat-bhava), which is beyond all mental activity.
"...being in sat-bhava [one's 'state of being' or 'real being'] alone is parabhakti tattva [the real essence or true state of supreme devotion].
...but it is only through silence that it can effectively be taught just to be."
May Arunachala - our real nature manifested outwardly in the motionless form as a hill - reveal itself through silence and hereby make me knowing that ever existing own light [ekatma-vastu], the one self-substance.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Upadhi, you have asked a good question: What would be the gain if the thought of death plays a large part in our life? We need to deeply think about this question. The following questions may come to our mind:

If this body is surely going to die one day, why am I so attached to my body and everything else that I consider being mine? Will anything be carried forward once this life comes to the end? If yes, what are they? What is it that dies? Is there any difference between our sleep and our death? However, the most urgent and important question should be:

How can I transcend this inevitable problem called ‘death’? Have I been born just to die, or is there a way out of both birth and death?

Now let us reflect on the answers to my above questions:

Q: If this body is surely going to die one day, why am I so attached to my body and everything else that I consider being mine? Such a question should motivate us to be more detached from things. We foolishly spend our entire life accumulating things, when all these will surely go away one day. Are we not extremely foolish?

Q: Will anything be carried forward once this life comes to the end? Yes, if we reflect on Bhagavan’s teachings and its explanations given to us by Michael, we will understand that the following three things definitely get carried forward to our next life and they are: sanchita-karmas (store of the unexhausted fruits of our actions), vishaya-vasanas (tendencies or inclinations to be aware of things other than ourself) and sat-vasana (our love to be aware of ourself alone).

Out of these three only our sat-vasana is good or beneficial to us in our next life, because this will enable us to continue with our practice of self-investigation from where we will leave it in this current life. So we should try and garner as much of sat-vasana or svatma-bhakti as possible, here and now? Who knows the next moment could be our last moment.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Upadhi:

Q: Is there any difference between our sleep and our death? No, according to Bhagavan, there is absolutely no difference between our sleep and our death. Both are states of manolaya (temporary subsidence of our mind), from which we will rise again sooner or later. Both sleep and death do not destroy our ego. However, as long as our sleep and death last, we are free of all our problems. So we should try to be in a eternal sleep like state.

Q: What is it that dies? Only our body dies, but if our ego is not annihilated before our death, it will surely project another body, and thus this cycle of birth and death will repeat itself endlessly. So our body's death is not our real death; our ego's death will be our real death.

Q: How can I transcend this inevitable problem called ‘death’? Have I been born just to die, or is there a way out of both birth and death? We can give up this so called ‘birth’ and ‘death’ only by giving up our ego, and we can give up or destroy our ego only by vigilant self-investigation. We will eventually know that anything called 'birth' or 'death' never took place, because we were never this ego in the first place.

So ultimately if we try to keep the thought of death alive, it should motivate us to practise self-investigation will greater urgency and intensity. Venkataraman become Bhagavan when he faced and conquered the fear of death at the age of 16. So, yes, we should keep in mind that this body is going to die one day, and therefore we should try to solve this problem of birth and death before this body dies.




bhoktrtva said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"Q: What is it that dies? Only our body dies, but if our ego is not annihilated before our death, it will surely project another body, and thus this cycle of birth and death will repeat itself endlessly. So our body's death is not our real death; our ego's death will be our real death."
Do you include in the above term "our body" all of the five sheaths of it ?

ahandai said...

It is said that the sun (of consciousness) is always shining.
Instead of experiencing that by my own awareness I run after sense objects.
What a fool I am. As an easy prey of maya I was almost completely consumed by it. Only with the help of Arunachala I will be able to pull the steering wheel over hard. I am praying to Bhagavan Siva-Arunachala that I will not become rejected as an unfit idiot or owing to my unworthiness.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhoktrtva, I had written, ‘So our body's death is not our real death; our ego's death will be our real death’. In response to this you ask, ‘Do you include in the above term "our body" all of the five sheaths of it?’ In response to your question I would like to quote Michael. He wrote in one of his comments dated 15 June 2017 at 15:52:

Sanjay, in answer to your question, ‘Are the terms ‘body’ and ‘person’ synonymous?’, what we call a person is a body composed of five sheaths: namely a physical body along with the life, mind and intellect functioning in it, all of which collectively seem to be oneself because of one’s underlying self-ignorance, which is therefore the fundamental sheath that gives rise to and supports the appearance of the other four.

As explained by Bhagavan in the first two sentences of verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ஐந்தும் ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஒடுங்கும்’ (uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, aindum ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil oḍuṅgum), ‘The body is a form of five sheaths. Therefore all five are included in the term body’, when he uses the term ‘body’ he is referring collectively to all these five sheaths (body, life, mind, intellect and self-ignorance), because whenever we experience ourself as a body, that body is always one that is living and functioning with a mind and intellect, and it seems to be ourself because we (as this ego) are self-ignorant

Therefore if we understand the term ‘body’ in the sense in which Bhagavan uses it, then yes, it is synonymous with the term ‘person’. However, the term ‘body’ is often used in more limited sense to refer only the physical form, such as when we say that after death it is customary to bury or cremate the body, so when it is used in that sense it is not synonymous with the term ‘person’. Therefore we have to understand from the context in which sense the term ‘body’ is being used and whether or not is it therefore synonymous with the term ‘person’

Does this answer your question?



bhoktrtva said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thank you for your response. We may as a rule suppose that with the death of the physical body the ego is still alive. If I understand correctly we can assume that through the death of the "body" with the exception of the fundamental fifth sheath i.e. the self-ignorance all other four sheaths too come to an end/go down.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhoktrtva, yes, usually the death of a physical body doesn’t signify the death of the ego. However, this cannot be a rule, because our ego can be annihilated while we are still in our body. In such a case we will not be aware of our body, because without the ego we have no connection with any body. However, though the atma-jnani is not aware of his body or any other body for that matter, others may still see his or her body. For example, though Bhagavan was not aware of his body, others saw him in a body.

I will again let Michael answer the last part of your question. He wrote to me in an email sometime in December 2016:

The entire person that we seem to be is a projection of our ego, and when one person that we take to be ‘I’ dies we project another person as ‘I’, just as we do in dream, but though each consecutive person is an entirely different physical body, the inner sheath, particularly the anandamaya kosa and also some elements of the vijnanamaya and manomaya kosas remain the same. However, none of these sheaths are the ego itself, because the ego is the formless phantom who projects and grasps them as if they were itself.

In reply to this email I further questioned Michael as follows: […] Here, I think, the anandmaya kosa means the darkness of self-forgetfulness or self-negligence, and ‘some elements of the vijnanamaya and manomaya kosasa’ mean the vasanas - that is, vishaya, karma and other type of vasanas [for example, sat-vasana], and also our sanchita-karmas. Is it correct?

To this Michael replied: Yes, that is more or less what I meant. But it is not possible to be very precise when talking in terms of the five sheaths, firstly because they are so closely interwoven that it is not possible to clearly demarcate one from the other, and secondly because they are therefore general concepts rather than precise ones. For example, the vasanas are sometimes said to reside in the anandamaya kosa, but they obviously operate through the other four kosas, particularly the vijnanamaya and anandamaya kosas.

As Sadhu Om used to say, the term kosa (covering or sheath) tends to suggest one kosa inside another, like layers of clothing, whereas each kosa is intermingled with each other one, like a mixture of five liquids. However, is not necessary for us to analyse and distinguish them too precisely, because like the hair on the floor of a barber’s shop, they all have to be swept away and discarded, since they are not ‘I’.

Are things clearer?

bhoktrtva said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks again for your explanation. Finally I tend to endorse the remarks of Sadhu Om.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhoktrtva, there was a typo in my previous comment. It needs to be be corrected:

To this Michael replied: Yes, that is more or less what I meant. But it is not possible to be very precise when talking in terms of the five sheaths, firstly because they are so closely interwoven that it is not possible to clearly demarcate one from the other, and secondly because they are therefore general concepts rather than precise ones. For example, the vasanas are sometimes said to reside in the anandamaya kosa, but they obviously operate through the other four kosas, particularly the vijnanamaya and manomaya kosas.

I had by mistake typed 'anandamaya' instead of 'manomaya'.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We practise self-attention in order to learn what pure self-attention is. We want to know what pure self-awareness is. The only way to know it is to try to be aware of ourself alone – to attend to ourself alone. This is an infallible path.

We are turning towards the light which illumines the whole world. Though physical light is enabling our eyes to see, but there is a subtler light than this physical light, and this is the light of pure self-awareness. Even when the physical lights are off, we can still hear things, we can touch things and so on. So there is some inner light – the light of awareness – that enables us to be aware of all these things. So we are turning our attention towards that light.

So whereas in any other path we can be misled, we can go in the wrong direction, but if we turn towards our inner light (or awareness), we will be unfailingly guided by that inner light. That’s why Bhagavan said that real guru is our own self.

How to contact the inner guru? You are the inner guru, so by facing yourself, by turning towards yourself, you can contact the inner guru. The inner guru teaches through silence, and the only way to understand the teachings of that inner guru is to be silent, and we can be silent only by facing within.

~ Slightly modified extract from Michael’s video dated 13th January 2018

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

My note: What a reassuring message: self-investigation is an infallible path. Infallible means, ‘never failing’ or ‘always effective’. So we are treading a path in which we can never fail. Bhagavan says that if we are once attracted to this path, we are inside the jaws of a tiger. Here ‘tiger’ means our sadguru. We are sure to be consumed by this tiger.

Self-investigation is a path of love. How can the lovers fail to unite if both the partners are madly in love with each other, and if there is no power outside of them that can stop their union? Our love for inner Bhagavan is something like these two lovers. No one can stop our union with Bhagavan, because we are madly in love with him, and there is no power outside of us which can stall our union. So we should joyously and confidently walk on this path, because Bhagavan’s love can never fail. We just have to let his love consume us by being as near to him as possible.

Why this union has not yet happened? It is because though Bhagavan’s love for us is total and perfect, but our love for him is still partial and imperfect. Though we are in love with Bhagavan, but we also desire many things in this world. However, the more we practise being attentively self-aware, the more our imperfections will start dropping off, and eventually we will become fit for complete union with Bhagavan.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan just is. He is not doing anything, but by his mere presence everything is being done.

Extract from Michael’s video dated 13th January 2018

My note: Recently, my young niece (about 31 years old) asked me, ‘If there is God and if he is doing everything, why do we see this world as it is today. There is so much of terrorism and other massive problems. How can we understand all this?’

I replied something to the effect: The fact that there is so much terrorism and other massive problems in this world proves that God is not doing all this, because how can an all-loving and all-powerful God allow all this to happen? So who is making all these things happen?

Yes, in a way God is letting all these things happen, because he knows nothing is real. Then I gave her the examples of a film in a cinema hall, a drama on the stage, our dream experience and water seen in a mirage. As long as we are experiencing these: a film, a drama, a dream or a mirage, everything seems to be real. Why do we get so emotional while watching a film? It is because we take everything in it to real (at least while watching it). Likewise, the water seen in a mirage seems to be water, but if we go near it we find that there is no water there.

Likewise, this world is but a dream or a like a mirage. Everything is an illusion. That is the only way to explain these things. Otherwise why would God let all these injustices prevail in this world? He knows that all this is just a false appearance, so he lets things be as they are – that is, he is not bothered about any good or bad happenings in this world.

Of course, my niece was not fully satisfied, but at least she was taking interest in what I was saying.

bhoktrtva said...

Sanjay Lohia,
oddly enough I read actually "manomaya kosa" instead of your incorrect "anandamaya kosa". Obviously and astonishingly my mind corrected the mistake by own projection.

Sanjay Lohia said...

1) The ego is the seed that expands as all this. The ego is the perceiving element of the mind. The ego is the root and essence of the mind. So the substance with which this whole world is made is the ego, but the ultimate substance is the pure self-awareness, which is what we actually are.

2) According to Bhagavan, if atma-jnana was something to be attained in future, whatever comes will have to go. So such atma-jnana or liberation will be of no use. Atma-jnana is here and now. So what we are seeking is not some new experience, but what is always present, what we are always aware of. It is not an addition; it is a subtraction.

Remove the ego and what remains is clarity. So as Bhagavan often emphasises, there is nothing to be gained, just everything has to be lost. When everything is lost along with its root, the ego, what remains is what is always there, what we always are,

So actually we are not excluding everything, but in a sense we are embracing everything. By rejecting everything we are embracing everything. We are rejecting the outward appearance, and embracing the inward substance.

3) Being quiet is the greatest thing of all.

4) If we behave selfishly, it is because we take this person to be ‘I’. This person is more important than that person, because this person is me. So we need to dissolve this feeling of separation between ourself and others.

5) Self-enquiry is the practical application of bhakti and vairagya.

(*) Slightly modified extracts from Michael’s video dated 13th January 2018

gargoyle said...

Sanjay
I appreciate very much your video transcriptions. I can listen to Michaels videos over and over but when I read instead of listen I get so much more from what is being said.

Best regards

Bob

Sanjay Lohia said...

Gargoyle, thanks for giving me this bonus. I mean when I transcribe Michael’s videos, such transcriptions themselves are my reward or that itself is my salary, and when others appreciate it I feel I have received some bonus over and above my salary. Though we work for our salary, but any extra bonus is always welcome.

Sanjay Lohia said...

(1) The outward facing mind becomes all this. In DBD in a couple of places Bhagavan says, ‘when one’s awareness is outward facing it is called the mind, when the same awareness is facing towards itself it is called pure self-awareness or atman or self or whatever’.

It’s so-so-so simple, but the choice is ours: do we choose to face outwards, or do we choose to face inwards? Unfortunately the reason why we are all here is because we are still making the wrong choice, we are still facing outwards. There is only one. Now that one seems to be the ego, but if this one investigates itself, it will find that it was never the ego. It was always the infinite and pure self-awareness.

(2) Bhagavan taught eka-jiva-vada (the contention that there is only one ego). The one ego knows who that one ego is. The one who is seeing or perceiving or experiencing all this, that is the one ego.

The other egos are an inference of this one ego. You who experience yourself as this person is the ego, and because this ego experiences itself as a person, when it sees other persons, it assumes that there is an ego in every other person. But that is only an assumption. You can see the world only from the point of view of your own ego.

I am aware of only one awareness, my own awareness. Bhagavan says, ‘don’t believe what you don’t directly experience’. So why should we believe that other egos (other awareness) exist?

~ Slightly modified extract from Michael’s video dated 13th January 2018

Sanjay Lohia said...

All grief, all sadness is a thought. It’s a product of thought. In sleep when there is no ego, there is no sadness. According to Bhagavan, when the ego rises and attends to anything else, that is dukha. Dukha can be translated as ‘suffering’ or ‘misery’, but it has a broader meaning then that.

It also means ‘dissatisfaction’. We are never satisfied. There is always a niggling dissatisfaction. If we get all that we want, the moment we get it we are happy, but the next moment we are still not satisfied. That dissatisfaction is the nature of the ego. So long as the ego is there, there will be that background dissatisfaction.

The more we investigate the ego, the more we will be aware that that the nature of the ego is dissatisfaction or dhukha. We are always dissatisfied, because our real nature is brahman, and we cannot be satisfied with anything less than our real nature.

X Slightly modified extract from Michael’s video dated 13th January 2018

sat-vastu said...

Sanjay Lohia,
you say "Otherwise why would God let all these injustices prevail in this world? He knows that all this is just a false appearance, so he lets things be as they are – that is, he is not bothered about any good or bad happenings in this world."
To me it appears that God is not even aware of "good or bad happenings in this world" so that he does not even know "that all this is just a false appearance".
But I do not assert that this view is a very auspicious prospect for the mankind.

mula avidya said...

Sanjay Lohia,
many thanks for your video transcriptions.
You appeal us to remove the ego - but how can the ego remove itself ?
You would answer certainly : by persevere in practising self-investigation. However I often am suffering from the ego's "niggling dissatisfaction" (dukha). In such periods I am/my person is driven by strong sensual desires in front of them so that I hardly can resist them.
Therefore I feel myself left in the lurch.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sat-Vastu, as you rightly imply, God is not even aware of this world or any other world for that matter. He knows only himself. So, yes, God, as he actually is, cannot be aware of any good or bad happenings in this world, and God also does not know about any illusory or dream-like world. However, things do happen in this world by the mere power of God’s presence.

I had to dilute Bhagavan’s teachings when I was talking to my young niece. In may have been too much for her to digest, if I had told her that all the terrorism and other problems she saw around her were only her mental creations and so forth. So I thought it best to tell her that in God’s view everything is just an illusory appearance, and therefore God lets everything be as they are.

Of course, if she had questioned me further, I would have tried to explain to her the pure and undiluted teachings of Bhagavan – that is, the world we see around us is only our ego’s creation, and the very same ego is the only experiencer of all its creation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mula Avidya, Bhagavan can never leave us in the lurch, even if he wants. So Bhagavan has always been with us, and he will always be with us.

Bhagavan once told one of his devotees that even if the devotee goes to hell, he will come after him to hell in order to save him.

In fact, we are nothing but Bhagavan – that is, we are nothing but pure self-awareness. Can we ever leave ourself and go somewhere? It is an impossibility.

sat-vastu said...

Sanjay Lohia,
You say "...the pure and undiluted teachings of Bhagavan – that is, the world we see around us is only our ego’s creation, and the very same ego is the only experiencer of all its creation."
I do easily understand that the ego as such a wrong perception is a total illusion and that we therefore are under a delusion.
It is much more difficult to understand that the whole world or universe is or could be only our ego's creation. For example when I board an aircraft in London and 11 hours later I get out in Chennai how could I create the vast airport Heathrow with its several hundred people and aeroplanes, the flight in 11000 meter in the presence of 400 passengers and so on ?

mula avidya said...

Sanjay Lohia,
if we are "nothing but Bhagavan" how then can we encounter difficulties in life ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mula Avidya, yes, if we are Bhagavan, we should not encounter any difficulties in life, but we do encounter innumerable difficulties and problems. It means that though we are Bhagavan, we currently do not experience ourself as Bhagavan. We experience ourself as this erroneous self-awareness, this ego, and it is as this erroneous self-awareness that we encounter all these difficulties.

Therefore, we should investigate: who encounters these difficulties? If we investigate this ‘I’, we will find that this ‘I’ never existed in the first place, and therefore all its imagined difficulties also never ever existed.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sat-Vastu, yes, it is relatively easier for us to understand that we cannot be this body, because this body was not there is our sleep. Therefore, if ‘I’ and my body are same, one cannot exist without another, but since this ‘I’ can exist without any body, ‘I’ cannot be any body.

William Shakespeare said, ‘All the world’s a stage; And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances …’. We can imagine to some extent that all the men and women are merely players, because they come and go, but the stage on which they come and go – this world – seems much more enduring and solid.

However, what gives this sense of solidity to this world? Since we are real and since we take ourself to be this body, we consider this body to be real, and since this body is part of this world, we inevitably take this world also to be real. However, if we investigate ourself and find that we are not this body, but are only pure self-awareness, we will also find that this so called ‘solid’ world never existed in the first place.


sat-vastu said...

Sanjay Lohia,
when you refer to "any body" you imply both gross bodies and subtle bodies.
Regarding the given statement of William Shakespeare: can we assume that he has seen the truth ?
Your conclusion "However, what gives this sense of solidity to this world? Since we are real and since we take ourself to be this body, we consider this body to be real, and since this body is part of this world, we inevitably take this world also to be real."
is an interesting and original intellectual approach.

mula avidya said...

Sanjay Lohia,
to correct this "erroneous self-awareness" needs a superweapon.
Obviously you seem to consider the mentioned "investigating this 'I' " as that required superweapon. What is your experience with it ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sat-Vastu, when we see any body in our dream, was that body a gross body or a subtle body? While we perceive that body we consider it to be a gross body, but after we wake up from this dream we come to know that nothing was gross there – everything was subtle or made of mind-stuff. So also, according to Bhagavan, everything we consider to be physical is nothing but mental. If this world is nothing but a dream, which Bhagavan says is the case, then this entire world-picture is nothing but a mental picture created and perceived only in our mind. Bhagavan teaches us this in paragraph 4 of Nan Yar?:

Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as ‘world’. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind projects the world from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears.

Regarding William Shakespeare, according to Wikipedia he was ‘an English poet, playwright and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist’. We do not know whether or not he had seen the truth, and we need not speculate on his inner state.

When I wrote, ‘However, what gives this sense of solidity to this world? Since we are real and since we take ourself to be this body, we consider this body to be real, and since this body is part of this world, we inevitably take this world also to be real’, I was merely reiterating what Michael often tell us. But this seems so logical. If we do not experience ourself as a body, who can we see this world and how? So what Michael says has to be true. So all credit for this ‘interesting and original intellectual approach’ should go to Michael.