Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Our existence is self-evident, because we shine by our own light of pure self-awareness

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: Tamil text, transliteration and translation, a friend called Sanjay wrote:
Michael once wrote to me (in reply to one of my emails):

The mind knows that the chair is a chair, an object of wood, etc., but this is not what the chair actually is. If we analyse a little deeper, both the chair and the wood are ideas in our mind, and we have no way of proving to ourself that any chair or wood actually exists independent of our ideas of them. Hence Bhagavan says that the whole world is nothing but ideas or thoughts, as for example in the fourth and fourteenth paragraphs of Nan Yar?:
Except thoughts [or ideas], there is separately no such thing as ‘world’.

What is called the world is only thought.
Referring to this, another friend using the pseudonym ‘ādhāra’ wrote a comment saying:
However, Bhagavan did not say that we as an ego are excluded from the “world”. On the contrary it is said that we are part of the world in waking and dreaming. So we can conclude that we too are only an idea or a thought or a projection.

We definitely do not even have proof/evidence that we exist independent of our idea of that. Therefore we cannot reasonable/well-founded have to presume that we are more than an idea. There is no evidence to support this thesis.

Nevertheless we can put our trust in Bhagavan Ramana because he inspires confidence and looks trustworthy. To follow Bhagavan’s teaching is even urgently necessary.
The following is my reply to this:

Ādhāra, as you say, the ego is only an idea or thought, but of all thoughts it is the first and the root, because it is the one thought that projects and perceives all other thoughts, so it is the only thought that is aware of anything, and hence it is quite different to all other thoughts.

However to say that we as the ego are part of the world in waking and dreaming is not entirely correct, so it is necessary to consider a little more deeply the relationship between the ego and whatever world it perceives. The ego can never rise or stand without projecting and perceiving a world, and when it does so it always experiences itself as a body, which is a part of the world that it perceives. However, though it is always aware of itself as a body, it is not actually that body, because in its present dream (the one that now seems to be its waking state) it is aware of itself as this body, whereas in other dreams it is aware of itself as other bodies.

Therefore the ego is a confused mixture of awareness (cit) and a body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), and hence it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of what is aware and what is not aware. However, though it seems to be both awareness and a body, it is actually neither. That is, it is not the real awareness (sat-cit), nor is it an insentient body, so it is just a spurious entity that rises between them, so to speak, and usurps the properties of both as if they were its own, as Bhagavan points out in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
சடவுடனா னென்னாது சச்சித் துதியா
துடலளவா நானொன் றுதிக்கு — மிடையிலிது
சிச்சடக்கி ரந்திபந்தஞ் சீவனுட்ப மெய்யகந்தை
யிச்சமு சாரமன மெண்.

jaḍavuḍaṉā ṉeṉṉādu saccit tudiyā
duḍalaḷavā nāṉoṉ ḏṟudikku — miḍaiyilitu
ciccaḍakki ranthibandhañ jīvaṉuṭpa meyyahandai
yiccamu sāramaṉa meṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: சட உடல் ‘நான்’ என்னாது; சத்சித் உதியாது; உடல் அளவா ‘நான்’ ஒன்று உதிக்கும் இடையில். இது சித்சடக்கிரந்தி, பந்தம், சீவன், நுட்ப மெய், அகந்தை, இச் சமுசாரம், மனம்; எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): jaḍa uḍal ‘nāṉ’ eṉṉādu; sat-cit udiyādu; uḍal aḷavā ‘nāṉ’ oṉḏṟu udikkum iḍaiyil. idu cit-jaḍa-giranthi, bandham, jīvaṉ, nuṭpa mey, ahandai, i-c-samusāram, maṉam; eṇ.

அன்வயம்: சட உடல் ‘நான்’ என்னாது; சத்சித் உதியாது; இடையில் உடல் அளவா ‘நான்’ ஒன்று உதிக்கும். இது சித்சடக்கிரந்தி, பந்தம், சீவன், நுட்ப மெய், அகந்தை, இச் சமுசாரம், மனம்; எண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): jaḍa uḍal ‘nāṉ’ eṉṉādu; sat-cit udiyādu; iḍaiyil uḍal aḷavā ‘nāṉ’ oṉḏṟu udikkum. idu cit-jaḍa-giranthi, bandham, jīvaṉ, nuṭpa mey, ahandai, i-c-samusāram, maṉam; eṇ.

English translation: The insentient body does not say ‘I’; being-awareness does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body. Know that this is the awareness-insentience-knot, bondage, the soul, the subtle body, the ego, this wandering and the mind.

Explanatory paraphrase: The jaḍa [insentient] body does not say ‘I’; sat-cit [being-awareness] does not rise; [but] in between [these two] one thing [called] ‘I’ rises as the extent of the body. Know that this [the spurious adjunct-mixed self-awareness that rises as ‘I am this body’] is cit-jaḍa-granthi [the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of awareness (cit) with an insentient (jaḍa) body, binding them together as if they were one], bandha [bondage], jīva [life or soul], the subtle body, ahandai [the ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [the mind].
Therefore as he points out in verse 25, the ego is just a formless phantom that seems to exist only when it projects and perceives itself as the form of a body. Hence it is not actually part of the world, though it seems to be a body, which is a part of the world, but is the ādhāra (support, foundation or container) of the world. However, though it is the ādhāra for everything else, it is not the ultimate ādhāra, because it itself could not seem to exist, nor could it support and contain the seeming existence of everything else, if it were not itself supported by and contained within what alone actually exists, namely pure self-awareness, which is what Bhagavan refers to in verse 24 as sat-cit, and which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa).

This is explained by him in verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which what he refers to as ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), which means awareness, is the ego, because it alone is the awareness that is aware of the world and that arises and subsides (appears and disappears) along with it, whereas what he refers to as ‘பூன்றம் ஆம் பொருள்’ (pūṉḏṟam ām poruḷ), ‘the substance, which is the whole’, is pure self-awareness, because pure self-awareness alone is ‘உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் அஃது’ (ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉāy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum aḵdu), ‘that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the iḍaṉ [place, space, expanse, location, site or ground] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and [that] awareness [the ego]’:
உலகறிவு மொன்றா யுதித்தொடுங்கு மேனு
முலகறிவு தன்னா லொளிரு — முலகறிவு
தோன்றிமறை தற்கிடனாய்த் தோன்றிமறை யாதொளிரும்
பூன்றமா மஃதே பொருள்.

ulahaṟivu moṉḏṟā yudittoḍuṅgu mēṉu
mulahaṟivu taṉṉā loḷiru — mulahaṟivu
tōṉḏṟimaṟai daṟkiḍaṉāyt tōṉḏṟimaṟai yādoḷirum
pūṉḏṟamā maḵdē poruḷ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும். உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் பூன்றம் ஆம் அஃதே பொருள்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum. ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum pūṉḏṟam ām aḵdē poruḷ.

அன்வயம்: உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும். உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் அஃதே பூன்றம் ஆம் பொருள்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum. ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum aḵdē pūṉḏṟam ām poruḷ.

English translation: 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.

Explanatory paraphrase: Though the world and awareness [the awareness that perceives the world, namely the ego or mind] arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by [that rising and subsiding] awareness [the ego]. Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place [space, expanse, location, site or ground] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and [that] awareness is poruḷ [the real substance or vastu], which is pūṉḏṟam [the infinite whole or pūrṇa].
The ego, which is the transitory and hence unreal awareness that perceives the world, is what we seem to be, whereas pure self-awareness, which is the permanent and hence real awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself, is what we actually are, and though as this ego we are just a thought, which appears and disappears like every other thought, as we actually are we are not a thought but that which always exists and shines without ever appearing or disappearing. Though we now seem to be this ego, we are aware of our existence even in its absence, as in sleep, so your claim that ‘We definitely do not even have proof/evidence that we exist independent of our idea of that’ is not correct. Our own awareness of our existence in sleep is clear proof of the fact that we exist independent of the ego or any other thought or idea.

Therefore we do not need to have faith or confidence in Bhagavan’s teachings in order to know that we exist independent of the ego, because the ego is something that appears and disappears, whereas we exist and are aware of our existence whether it appears or disappears. The ego is not real, nor is anything else that appears and disappears, because though they seem to exist, they do not actually exist. We, on the other hand, must actually exist, because if we did not actually exist we could not be aware of our existence.

The ego seems to exist and to be aware of its own existence because it usurps our self-awareness and claims it as if it were its own. Therefore it does not shine by its own light, but only by the light that it borrows from ourself, whereas we shine by our own light of pure self-awareness, because we shine even in sleep, in the absence of everything else.

This is why Bhagavan says in the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Yār?: ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’. And as he explains in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
உள்ள துணர வுணர்வுவே றின்மையி
னுள்ள துணர்வாகு முந்தீபற
      வுணர்வேநா மாயுள முந்தீபற.

uḷḷa duṇara vuṇarvuvē ṟiṉmaiyi
ṉuḷḷa duṇarvāhu mundīpaṟa
      vuṇarvēnā māyuḷa mundīpaṟa
.

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

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḷḷadu uṇara uṇarvu vēṟu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam.

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

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

English translation: Because of the non-existence of [any] awareness other [than what exists] to be aware of what exists, what exists (uḷḷadu) is awareness (uṇarvu). Awareness alone exists as we.
Therefore our real nature (which alone is what we experience in sleep) is not only what actually exists but also what is actually aware — that is, it is what is aware of what actually exists (rather than of what merely seems to exist). What distinguishes our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) from our ego is that our real nature is what actually exists (uḷḷadu), which is aware of nothing other than itself, whereas our ego is just a transitory appearance, which is always aware of things that seem to be other than itself.

In order to know that our own existence is real and not mere a thought, we do not need to have confidence in Bhagavan and his teachings, because we know from our own experience that we exist in sleep, even though neither the ego nor any other thought exist in that state. Therefore even if we did not have confidence or trust in Bhagavan, we should be able to understand why we need to try to investigate ourself and thereby find out what we actually are.

However, when we try to investigate ourself we will find that we face a huge amount of resistance, because we instinctively recognise that self-investigation threatens our very existence as this ego, so as this ego we have strong desires and attachments, which impel us to cling to things other than ourself. Therefore to investigate ourself keenly enough to eradicate the ego requires intense love and steadfast perseverance, and for this we do need deep confidence and firm trust in Bhagavan and his teachings.

However such confidence and trust will grow naturally in our hearts the more deeply we study, reflect upon and practise his teachings. Confidence based on mere blind belief will not be strong enough to support us in this path till its very end, so the confidence we require must be born of clear understanding of his teachings and the underlying logic that holds them together as a coherent whole, and must be nurtured and nourished by the inner clarity of mind and heart that can be developed only by persistent practice of looking within ourself in order to see what we actually are.

35 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we try and seek any praise for our individual self, we are doing ourselves a great harm. In any case, we should never take any credit for any clarity in our understanding of spiritual teachings, if at all such clarity seems to be there. Bhagavan says that if we look forward to any praise or appreciation, this is like being infatuated to a whore. It will be very difficult to get over this infatuation.

Michael never takes any credit for all the praise we regularly heap upon him. Though his understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings is extraordinary, he never takes credit for such understating. Invariably, he passes on any appreciation he receives to Bhagavan. He has elaborated on this topic in his book HAB (in the chapter The Practice of the Art of Being). I will try and paraphrase his ideas in my following reflections:

If we are able to reflect in any clarity in our understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings or reflect any clarity about the theoretical knowledge of the practice of self-investigation, we should not consider such clarity to be originating from our limited individual self. We should clearly know that only Bhagavan is the source of all clarity. In other words, the true form of Bhagavan which resides in our heart as pure and infinite consciousness is the source of all clarity.

So if others find any clarity in our understanding, we should give all such credit to the presence of true clarity deep down within ourself. As this ego, we are born in confusion and exist in confusion, but to the extent, we try to merge within by practising self-investigation, to that extent our innate clarity will shine through our mind. However, this clarity doesn’t belong to our mind, and therefore we, as this ego, are not worthy of any praise. If we foolishly seek any praise, we are just strengthening our fetters.

If we believe that we have sufficient clarity about Bhagavan’s teachings, we should use this clarity to fuel our inward journey and definitely not use it for any name and fame for ourselves. If we do not put into practice the clarity which Bhagavan has so lovingly gifted to us, we will be insulting his gift to us.

The more we practise self-investigation, the more clarity we will have; and the more clarity we have, the deeper we can dive within when we practise self-investigation.


Cecil said...

Hi Michael,

This was a very informative article, thank you.

May I ask you a question about Bhagavan's teaching?

My understanding is Bhagavan says that any state where phenomena is experienced is nothing but a dream so waking and dream are just dreams as are previous births / lives. They are all no more real than the other and just the same, just dreams.

The ego rises and takes a different body / person to be itself in all three dreams, (waking, dream and a previous life).

If this is the case please could you explain to me why during waking I can remember my dreams often in great detail but conversely I can't recollect my previous lives during waking which are also just dreams?

I can only conclude that they are not all the same and just dreams but there must be some kind of fundamental difference between waking, dream and previous life?

Thank you very much indeed for helping clear up my misunderstanding.

Anonymous said...

Sanjay said that Michael never takes any credit for all the praise we regularly heap upon him. However he is not discouraging it either. I believe we don't do him any service to heap praise upon him because it will inflate his ego as long as his ego is taken to be existent. In fact Michael ought to ask people to refrain from any praise since that action is not dharmic at all. Who is praising and why? Praise is solely a disease of the ego and should be avoided according to Bhagavan.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, you say, ‘In fact, Michael ought to ask people to refrain from any praise since that action is not dharmic at all’. How can praise be dharmic or not dharmic? Per se, praise or criticism are neither dharmic or not dharmic. Yes, we should not go overboard with our praise or blame, but if we give these in right circumstances and in moderation, I think, there is no harm in it. Yes, we should not solicit praise or appreciation, because this will harm our spiritual progress.

Suppose if we see a car accident happening in front of us, and we can clearly see that this has happened due to the negligence or rash driving, will we not blame its driver? We surely will, and the driver will deserve this blame. And if see some passers-by helping the injured by taking them to the nearby hospital, will we not praise this act? We surely will, and they will deserve this praise.

So praise and criticism are part of our vyavaharic (day-to-day) existence and we cannot avoid these. In fact, if we do not praise people when such praise is appropriate, we may display our ingratitude to them. Don’t we praise our Gods and guru in our stutis (poems sung in praise of them)? Don’t we show our gratitude to our teachers?

So what is the harm if some of us sometimes praise Michael? He deserves all our praise and appreciation. Isn’t he selflessly giving us the most valuable treasure: Bhagavan’s teachings? He is an inspiration to many like me, and I cannot praise him enough. Of course, how he takes such praise is for him to work out? But I don’t see his ego being inflated because of our praising him.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Anonymous:

I would like to share an example of how Michael handles praise and appreciation that he receives. The following extract is taken from the last few minutes of his latest video: 2018-02-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: discussion on the teachings of Bhagavan Ramana with Michael James:

Moderator: We are very thankful again because you gave us your time, your knowledge, your experience.

Michael: I didn’t give you anything; it’s all given by Bhagavan. Nothing is mine.

Moderator: You have clarified and refined some concepts.

Michael: Because I love Bhagavan’s teachings, so it comes naturally to me – nothing special. I enjoy talking about Bhagavan. I am as much benefited as you are.

Moderator: We love to listen to you.

Michael: Because my mind isn’t mature enough to always be turning within, so when it turns outwards I love to think about Bhagavan and his teachings.

Moderator: I hope this is not the end. This is not the last time we see you.

Michael: Yes, whenever you like to. I am always happy to talk about Bhagavan and his teachings.

Moderator: We too are happy to hear you…

Michael: But I must warn you: Bhagavan’s teachings are very-very simple. So I would go on saying the same thing again and again and again and again… until you are bored with me talking about the ego being the root cause of all problems, and how to get rid of the ego. I am happy to continue talking.

My note: I think the above extract is a perfect example of how Michael responds to all the praise and gratitude that comes his way. Do you see any manifestation of his ego here? I don’t see any.

Anonymous said...

Sanjai, I am not sure that I can agree with some of your previous comment and you may have not gotten the point I was making. Yes, I agree, it is alright to praise one's guru and our Gods, but to extend that to people with an ego is wrong, according to Bhagavan. And I recall that you have said yourself that the Gods and gurus don't need our praise and I believe that is correct. So who needs then to give praise and receive praise? The ego according to Bhagavan. And since you keep kind of defending Michael – does he not have an ego, as we do (even if it is only imagined)?
I have visited several spiritual communities and what I noticed is that nobody took credit openly however they all had that system of praising each other. Devotee A praised devotee B, devotee B praised devotee C and devotee C praised devotee A. Nobody took openly credit but everybody got the praise and credit anyway. It seemed that they either consciously or unconsciously have created a system where they can take credit without the appearance of it. But one cannot know since one cannot look into the heart of the devotee. And that is true for Michael, and everybody else who is not realized, too. You say that he does not take credit and you said 'I don’t see his ego being inflated because of our praising him.' But can you really know that? He may fake that, and I have seen these fake presentations quite often by pseudo-gurus. I am not saying that Michael is one of the fakes, but I do not know what is going on in his heart and I believe you cannot know too.

The only thing we know is that as long as somebody is not liberated the ego can corrupt even the most advanced devotee, why aiding a possible corruption with unnecessary praise? According to you Michael doesn't need the praise, then why giving it to him? To make an open display of gratefulness? Again, who needs that open display? The ego (yours or ours). Don't you think that Bhagavan knows your gratefulness, does he need the open display? Then why not being quietly grateful in your heart without raising the ugly ego with open and outward display? Is that self-effacing? Probably not.
I apologize for this long comment, this was sitting in my heart and I had to let it out. I just want to present that as a possible viewpoint, it may be taken or not.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, I agree when you allude that it is best to remain quiet or attentively self-aware as much as possible, so that we don’t rise as this ego and start praising or criticising others.

However, as this ego, we are not able to remain indrawn most of the time, and therefore when we rise as this ego we will inevitably see others and also judge things as good or bad, at least to some extent. So when we make such judgment, we will inevitably praise something or some person and criticise something or some person. This is the normal human nature. This is how I see it.

sundar said...

Praising the felt good nature in another is an attempt to purify our own minds. It has to be done in moderation lest it should look contrived and excessive, or done with a desire that someday some one else will praise us thus.
sundar

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in his book Happiness and The art of Being (in the chapter: The Practice of the art of Being):

Therefore the most important quality that we should strive is the true love to subside and rest in our state of self-conscious being. If we cultivate this one essential quality, all other qualities will flourish effortlessly and naturally in our heart.

My note: Bhagavan once said that if we know ourself as we actually are, all daivic (divine) qualities will automatically flourish in us. These qualities are contentment, calmness, forgiveness, non-possessiveness, fearlessness, desirelessness and so on. On the other hand, our ego is the repository of all aruric (demonic) qualities, which are exactly the opposite of all the divine qualities.

Therefore, the more we try to clarify and purify our consciousness, the more our innate divine qualities will increase in us, and the only effective and sure way of purifying and clarifying our consciousness is by being attentively self-aware. What a simple and direct path for acquiring all the divine qualities!

But our aim is not to acquire all these divine qualities, but is only to experience ourself as we actually are. There are many by-products of trying to experience ourself as we really are, and a very important by-product is that we will start acquiring all these beautiful, divine qualities.

Sanjay Lohia said...

There was a typo in my previous comment. The corrected sentence is:

On the other hand, our ego is the repository of all asuric (demonic) qualities, which are exactly the opposite of all the divine qualities.

Sanjay Lohia said...

It’s a very-very subtle practice. When we are practising self-investigation, we are trying to distinguish pure self-awareness from awareness of all these other things. We are trying to isolate pure awareness that we actually are, from the ego or mind that is aware of other things. So it’s a very-very subtle path we are following, and it requires great discrimination in order to go deep in this path. To a large extent, that discrimination is provided by Bhagavan’s words.

So it’s not a matter that we read Bhagavan’s teachings first, then we think about them and then practise. It’s a cyclical process. We practise and we come back and read, we get more clarity and this clarity will enable us to go deeper into our practice. Then we come back and read and think about it. The whole process is a process of deepening.

It is an intellectual path, but it is intellectual not in the usual sense of thinking and reading a lot. It is intellectual in the real sense. Even the English word intellectual means ‘distinguishing’. That is what the Sanskrit term viveka means – it means distinguishing, discriminating, seeing between, looking between, looking deep inside and so on.

Thus in this path, our intellect is trying to see through things – what actually is the truth of things. In that sense it is an intellectual path.

Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 10th February 2018

Anonymous said...

Cecil, I believe you'll find the answer to your question in one of Michael's recent videos: 2018-02-10 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXaqhs22X9c

I seem to recall him saying the ego is not present in dreamstate, (which is another important clue to assembling the whole picture).

By the way, these videos are tremendously helpful. Thank you beloved.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, our ego is the repository of all asuric (demonic) qualities, which are exactly the opposite of all the divine qualities."


This is the first time I have read this terminology used to describe the ego.

I agree 110#. From my first understanding of Bhagavan's teachings (about 5 years ago) I began referring to the ego as evil and insane.

It was not long that the demonic life I was living almost disappeared overnight once I started reading and trying to understand Bhagavan's teachings.
All the incredible horrible years simply started melting away.

It was not an easy fight but with Bhagavan on one's side other forces have no chance.

The ego is not to be underestimated.

Noob said...

To Cecil,
I know that you asked Michael, but I will take pleasure and try to give my point of view.

In my experience, in both waking and dream the same I exists, therefore both states are the same state of delusion. The knowledge of a previous life belongs to the same dream.

Noob said...

Intellect is the way we think and understand, an ability to make logical links , whatever it tries to understand is a part of this delusion.

Noob said...

Self is beyond that

Anonymous said...

Sanjay, who rises as the ego? I don't believe that Bhagavan would let you go away with that kind of reasoning. He inevitably would ask you, look for the ego and see if you can find it. He'd never allow anybody to take the ego for real or as an actual entity as you seem to do. And if it is not real it cannot cultivate anything what is proven down below.

'We will inevitably judge others'. Yes, however I believe it is delusional to believe that Sanjay or I can 'direct' that judgement into a desired outcome. The mind cannot do that. I like Muruganars take on the mind: 'Human beings, who possess insignificant power, do not even have the power to change their own minds, which are supposedly under their control. This being so, trying to alter the events of the external world, which are under the strong control of the powerful Iswara, can be classified as ignorance.'

Source: Padamalai, page 293.

So Muruganar says, we cannot alter the events of the external world, so if we blame or praise is not 'us' doing but ordained by Iswara. To believe we have the power to decide if we praise or blame somebody can be classified as ignorance.

And that is true for every decision 'we' are supposedly making. More from Padamalai, page 293: 'The truth of that unique ordinance - which conducts all affairs while remaining neutral, without a trace of partiality - cannot be known by jivas who are caught up inside creation.'

My reflection on that: Since it is ignorance to believe that we have the power to decide what we do which is preordained by Iswara, and also to believe one could 'cultivate' something, we should either turn within and be quiet, and if that is not possible to not engage the mind outwardly and instead do japa or anything else which will take us away from being attentive to the mind.
A 'cultivation' is an attempt to alter the events of the external world and that is ignorance according to Muruganar.









Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, yes, we should never underestimate our ego and it will not give up that easily – that is, it is here to give us a very-very tough fight, but it stands no chance if we tenaciously preserve in practising self-investigation.

As you say, ‘Bhagavan [is] on one’s side, [and therefore] other forces have no chance’. Yes, ultimately our atmic shakti or chit-shakti will defeat all the asuric-shaktis (our ego and all its vasanas) that we are fighting against.

Our victory is a foregone conclusion. We should practise with such a clear conviction.

Cecil said...

Dear anonymous friend,
Thank you very much for your feedback about my question before I carry on with my reply to you I must point out this is just my understanding so I am not say I am right or understand fully.

I don't think Michael would say the ego is not present during dream states but that it is instead not present in any form during deep sleep. The ego which is nothing but a false awareness of what we are is always present when multiplicity is experienced as it is the projector or creator of duality and can never exist separate from it as they exist simultaneously and each is dependent on the other. No duality without the ego and no ego without duality.

I agree with you about the helpfulness of Michael's videos I have watched them all.

Thank you again,

Cecil said...

Dear Noob
Thank you for your reply to my question. Very interesting.
Am I understanding you right. Are you saying the waking state and dream state are experienced by the same person / mind the ego has projected and takes to be itself? So waking and dream are one dream, the same dream? Whereas a previous life / birth will have its own waking and dream states linked to that completely new / different person the ego has projected and takes to be itself?

However it must be the same dreamer (ego) who experiences waking , dream and the waking and dreams of a previous life? There is only one dreamer, only one ego which is the experiencer of all the dreams it projects.

So for example I dream I was badly injured in my dream but on waking I have no injury. Therefore I can conclude it was not the same body (Annamaya kosha), in dream and waking? This makes sense and I have evidence first hand . However the fact I remember both dream and waking means the same person or mind was present in both (Manomaya kosha & Vijnanamaya kosha) or I would have no recollection of my dream in waking. I do appear to be the same person in both waking and dream but no the same body. This is my own personal experience.

My understanding is that Bhagavan teaches us the body the ego projects and takes to be itself consist of 5 sheaths:

Annamaya kosha, "foodstuff" sheath (Anna)
Pranamaya kosha, "energy" sheath (Prana/apana)
Manomaya kosha "mind-stuff" sheath (Manas)
Vijnanamaya kosha, "wisdom" sheath (Vijnana)
Anandamaya kosha, "bliss" sheath (Ananda)


And no body can exist if not all 5 sheaths are there. So I cannot remember my previous lives / births for example as the ego projected a completely new body / person consisting of 5 completely new sheaths. A completely new body and a completely new dream with its own waking and dream states as part of that dream. This makes complete sense to me.

However the fact I can remember my dream during waking means it cannot be a completely new body consisting of 5 sheaths like with my previous life or I would have no recollection of my dream during waking. Therefore I can conclude the body the ego projects and takes to be itself during waking and during dream are not a completely different body. So there has to be a similarity? So the sheaths (Manomaya kosha & Vijnanamaya kosha) must be present in both waking and dream but not the Annamaya kosha & Pranamaya kosha)

But Bhagavan teaches us that no sheath can exist independent of the others and no body can exist with out all 5 sheaths?

The fact I can remember my dreams during waking but not my previous lives / births does not seem to resonate with what Bhagavan teaches which has got me flummoxed as Bhagavan is my guru. I can therefore conclude that I must be wrong and misunderstanding Bhagavan who is right and the epitome of complete clarity.

I hope Michael can provide some clarity on this for me God willing.

Thank you again for your reply it was interesting and most helpful.

Cecil.


Cecil said...

Is this any clearer I doubt it but here goes anyway.

The ego has projected a body / person called Cecil who is a car mechanic and Cecil is there during waking and can remember his dreams during waking but does not have the same physical body in both from first hand experience. But he was there mentally and experienced both because the ego was there in both as it is the creator of both including the person Cecil it take itself to be. Cecil has no recollection of deep sleep because the ego which projects and takes itself to be Cecil was not there in any form. The fact deep sleep, waking and dream are remembered as 3 different states means I was aware in all three and this "I" is what I really am. The ego and all its projected ignorance is an illusion which exists only it its own deluded view.

Anyway Cecil (the body / person) dies, game over.

The same ego (one ego) now projects another body / person called Jane who is a nun. Jane is there during her dreams and the waking state but does not have the same physical body in both. Jane dies ...... and so and so on ... the ego is the dreamer of all its dreams.

The ego has experienced itself as both the person Cecil and Jane because it created them both including the different worlds they are part of. It therefore must be able to recall both as it was there, it created them.

Jane can't recollect Cecil or his life so the body / person Jane the ego now takes itself to be could not of been there in any form any of the 5 sheaths. This makes sense as why I can't recall any of my previous lives because Cecil the body / mind / person was not there (none of the 5 sheaths) in any form. The ego has risen and projected a completely new body consisting of 5 sheaths.

But the fact I (Cecil) can recall my dreams in waking seems to suggest that the body / person (Cecil) the five sheaths) is the same in both waking and dream states?

Here is my quandary.

I know for a fact the physical body was not the same in both dream and waking as I would have a scar for example if it was injured in my dream. But Cecil (mind) was there or I would not remember my dream during waking.

But Bhagavan says the body consists of 5 sheaths and no body can exist if all 5 sheaths are not there? and none can exist independent of the other. So how can I remember my dream? The 2 sheaths linked to mind must of been there in both states and the 2 sheaths linked to the physical body where not there during both states.

This is what has me confused.

The ego projects a body called Cecil (sheaths) and experiences waking.
Then it vanishes (deep sleep)
Then it rises again and projects a body called Cecil with some sheaths the same (mental) and some different (physical)?

But this directly opposes Bhagavan's teaching?

Admittedly I am very confused and must be misunderstanding.

Best wishes,

Cecil.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Anonymous, you have quoted Muruganar as saying: 'Human beings, who possess insignificant power, do not even have the power to change their own minds, which are supposedly under their control. This being so, trying to alter the events of the external world, which are under the strong control of the powerful Iswara, can be classified as ignorance’.

Yes, very true, but this quotation needs to be reflected upon in depth. What does Muruganar mean when he says, ‘Human beings, who possess insignificant power, do not even have the power to change their own minds, which are supposedly under their control’? According to me, it means that we do not have the power to change the contents of our mind or ego: that it, we do not have the power to change our vasanas and our memory at will. At least, we cannot change these or erase these all at one go, though we can modify or erase these in the long term by deliberating trying to not act on our vasanas and also by various spiritual practices.

However, though we cannot change the contents of our mind at will, we can change the direction of our ego or mind at will: that is, our ego which is most of the time facing outwards can be made to turn inwards whenever we want to. We have complete freedom to do so whenever we want to.

As long as our mind is facing outward, we will experience ourself as this ego, and we will also experience a world in our mind and in front of us. When we experience any world, we cannot alter the events in that word, because, as Muruganar says, these events are under the control of powerful Ishwara.

So we have a choice: either we face outwards and experience all these wonderful phenomena, and thus be constantly under the sway of all the petty pleasures and pains which are inevitable concomitant of experiencing phenomena, or we can face within and transcend our prarabdha and thus experience ourself as we really are. When we experience ourself as we really are, we will transcend all our petty pleasures and pains and experience only infinite and permanent bliss, which is our true nature. So we have to choose between these two alternatives.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The following extract is taken from Michael’s article: Atma-vicara: stress and other related issues:

The essence of Bhagavan’s teachings is only ātma-vicāra, and ultimately that is all that is necessary, so we can regard whatever he has said about the outward form of Arunachala as an optional extra. If we can see in it a useful support for our practice of ātma-vicāra, we are free to avail of the support, or if we see it as unnecessary, we are free just to focus all our effort and attention on trying to experience what this ‘I’ actually is.

My note: This is an important clarification. Many devotees feel that their devotion to the outward of Arunachala is all that is necessary, and atma-vichara can be practised as a useful supplement to their devotion to the hill, Arunachala. However, Michael has explained here that it should be the other way round.

That is: ‘The essence of Bhagavan’s teachings is only ātma-vicāra, and ultimately that is all that is necessary, so we can regard whatever he has said about the outward form of Arunachala as an optional extra’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in his article: Atma-vicara: stress and other related issues:

When our attention moves away from ‘I’ towards anything else, we create the appearance of multiplicity, and in multiplicity conflict and stress can arise. But when our attention does not move away from ‘I’, we experience no multiplicity and hence there is no scope for any conflict or stress. Therefore any stress that we may experience is a clear sign that we have allowed our attention to move away from ‘I’, so we should try to turn our attention back towards ‘I’ alone.

The practice of self-attentiveness is aptly described as ‘just being’, and in verse 4 of Āṉma-Viddai Bhagavan describes it as: ‘when [one] just is, having settled down without even the least action of mind, speech or body’. If we are able to remain thus, with our entire attention focused only on ‘I’, that is the ultimate state of relaxation, so it is the very antithesis of stress.

My note: Our modern life is replete with stress. We could experience stress due to various kinds: stress due to family matters, social commitments, business or office related issues, medical issues and so on. It is for this reason that many of us are stressed out, and when such stress becomes more than we can handle, we need to visit our physiatrists and they may prescribe us with some anti-depressants or anti-anxiety tablets.

But what is the best and most effective way to counter and keep all our stress and tension in check? Who has stress? It is our mind, so if we can prevent our mind from rising, we will also prevent any stress or similar problems from coming to the surface, and we can prevent our mind from rising only by ‘just being’. So, as Michael says, when our attention is focused on ‘I’, that is the ultimate state of relaxation, so it is the very antithesis of stress.

Should we use the practice of self-investigation to remove our stress? Not really, because when we practise self-investigation, our aim should only be to experience ourself as we really are. However, we should know such practice is a perfect antidote for stress. So we can avoid a lot of our mental issues if we are practising self-investigation: that is, we can avoid our anti-depressants pills just be practising self-investigation.

Sanjay Lohia said...

My following reflections are based on Michael’s article: Does anything exist independent of our perception of it?:

In section 1 of this article, Michael asks: ‘Is the proposition that the world may not exist when we do not perceive it as far-fetched as it may seem?’ Yes, it does seem too far-fetched to believe that this disappears when we fall asleep, and again comes back into existence when we wake up from sleep. However this is what Bhagavan teaches us, and he calls it dsrti-srsti vada, the contention that this world comes into existence only when we perceive it.

To understand this theory it would be useful to look at our dream experience. Bhagavan says that any state in which we experience any phenomena is just a dream, and therefore even our present so-called ‘waking state’ is just a dream. When we wake up from our dream, do we believe that our dream world still continues to exist even though we do not experience it now? Obviously not, because as soon as we wake up we realise that our dream-world was merely our mind’s creation, and therefore it comes into existence when we start dreaming and ceases to exist when we stop dreaming.

Our present state is exactly the same. It comes into existence when we wake up from our sleep and disappears when we again go back to sleep. Our death is also nothing but a kind of sleep. So this world does not exist when are not perceiving it: that is, this or any other world does not exist when we are asleep or dead.


Sanjay Lohia said...

In one his recent videos, Michael said something to the effect:

Our turning within to try to experience ourself as we actually are is the greatest act of compassion.

One can argue: ‘How is it so? If someone is in trouble or is having problems, how can my turning within help that person?’ If we understand Bhagavan’s teachings, we will understand that if we perceive anyone in trouble, and if we try to turn within away from the person who is in trouble, we are in fact directing this compassion towards ourself.

According to Bhagavan, everything else comes into existence when we rise as this ego, and therefore whatever problems we see outside – all the sufferings, wars, crimes, poverty, disease, bereavement and everything – are just our own mental projection. Therefore when we turn within, we are turning away from our own mental projections.

So when we turn within, we are not alleviating the suffering of others because in truth there are no others, but are merely alleviating our own suffering. In this connection, there is a famous story of Abraham Lincoln which Michael often narrates. The following account of this incident is taken from the internet:

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

Abraham Lincoln was riding by a deep slough, in which he saw a pig struggling, and with such faint efforts that it was evident that he could not extricate himself from the mud. Lincoln looked at the pig and the mud which enveloped him, and then looked at some new clothes with which he had worn a short time ago. Deciding against the claims of the pig, he rode on, but he could not get rid of the vision of the poor brute, and, at last, after riding two miles, he turned back, determined to rescue the animal at the expense of his new clothes. Arrived at the spot, he tied his horse and coolly went to the bottom of the hole. Descending, he seized the pig and dragged him out, but not without serious damage to the clothes he wore.

He then fell to examining the motive that sent him back to the release of the pig. At the first thought, it seemed to be pure benevolence, but, at length, he came to the conclusion that it was selfishness, for he certainly went to the pig's relief in order (as he said to a friend) to 'take the pain out of his mind'. This is certainly a new view of the nature of sympathy.

My note: So as Abraham Lincoln concluded, whenever we try to bring relief to others, we are actually doing such acts only to relieve our own suffering or to take the pain out of our own minds. As Bhagavan says in Nan Yar, whatever we give to others, we are in fact giving it only to ourself. Likewise, all our acts of compassion, which are seemingly directed towards others, are only acts of compassion directed towards ourself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in his article: After the annihilation of the ego, no ‘I’ can rise to say ‘I have seen’:

What prompted Muruganar to write so many verses in praise of Bhagavan’s grace was only his grace, which is the infinite love that we as we actually are have for ourself as we actually are. Since the ego in Muruganar had been consumed entirely by that grace, the person that he seemed to be was just an empty shell through which grace sang in praise of itself to itself.

What need did grace have to sing thus? Since such singing seems to exist only in the outward-looking view of ourself as this ego, it did so for our benefit, as part of its strategy to draw us back within to see ourself as we actually are.

My note: Likewise, why did Bhagavan sing so many verses in praise of Arunachala? Like Muruganar, the body of Bhagavan was also just an empty shell through which grace sang in praise of itself to itself. It was, likewise, done for our benefit, as part of Bhagavan’s strategy to draw us back within.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan often used to say, ‘He who has created the world knows how to look after it’. The problems of this world are all caused by greed, envy… but who has this greed? Who has this envy? It’s the ego. So the ego is the root of all our problems we see in this world. This seed is in us as our ego.

We see Putin, we see Trump, we see Assad, but they are no different to us. They just happen to be bigger and stronger egos. However, the nature of their egos is exactly like our egos. Ours is just a little bit more worn out, a little bit more tired from struggling to gain happiness from the outside world. In fact, this entire world is just a dream, so it’s we as this ego which has created this world. We are responsible for Trump, Assad, this North Korean fellow, because they are all our projections.

In fact, the world is perfect as it is with all its famines, its wars, its natural disasters. Why are we not happy with this world? It is because we have desires. We want peace. We want that there should be no disease, we want there to be no old age or death. It’s our likes and dislikes that make us say ‘This is wrong; this is right’. So it’s we who are dissatisfied.

God is allowing all these problems to exist in this world, because God doesn’t just want us to live a happy, comfortable life free of disease, because that’s not real happiness. Bhagavan is not satisfied with anything less than giving us supreme happiness, absolute peace. So the only solution to all our problems is to turn within.

Edited extract from the video dated 22nd April 2017

Noob said...

Just as in the mere presence of the sun, which rose without icchā [wish, desire or liking], saṁkalpa [volition or intention] [or] yatna [effort or exertion], a crystal stone [or magnifying lens] will emit fire, a lotus will blossom, water will evaporate, and people
of the world will engage in [or begin] their respective activities, do [those activities] and subside [or cease being active], and [just as] in front of a magnet a needle will move, [so] jīvas [living beings], who are caught in [the finite state governed by] muttoṙil [the threefold function of God, namely the creation, sustenance and dissolution of the world] or pañcakṛtyas [the five functions of God, namely creation, sustenance, dissolution, concealment and grace], which happen due to nothing but the special nature of the presence of God, move [busy themselves, perform activities, make effort or strive] and subside [cease being active, become still or sleep] in accordance with their respective karmas [that is, in accordance not only with their prārabdha karma or destiny, which impels them to do whatever actions are necessary in order for them to experience all the pleasant and unpleasant things that they are destined to experience, but also with their karma-vāsanās, their inclinations or impulses to desire, think, speak and act in particular ways, which impel them to make effort to experience certain pleasant things that they are not destined to experience, and to avoid experiencing certain unpleasant things that they are destined to experience]. Nevertheless, he [God] is not saṁkalpa sahitar [a person connected with or possessing volition or intention]; even one karma does not adhere to him [that is, he is not bound or affected by any karma or action whatsoever]. That is like world-actions [the actions happening here on earth] not adhering to [or affecting] the sun, and [like] the qualities and defects of the other four elements [earth, water, air and fire] not adhering to the all-pervading space.

Noob said...

So there is no "allowing" and "wanting" from God. There is consciousness, that is why we see the dreams.

Sanjay Lohia said...

People generally think, as we progress on the spiritual path, it will become easier and easier. That is true in one sense because we will be picking up momentum, but it will also seem that we are struggling more and more.

The more our mind is purified, the more our mind’s every small defect will become clearer to us. Now we are talking about the problem of desire and attachment. However, do you think most people consider desire and attachment to be a problem? No, they are very happy multiplying their desires and attachments. We have at least come to understand now that desires and attachments are a problem, our likes and dislikes are a problem. So now at least to that extent, we are able to see the defects in our mind.

In Tamil, there is a lot of very moving devotional poetry, like Bhagavan wrote in Arunachala Stuti Panchakam. There are so many ancient saints like Manikkavacakar, Gnanasambandar, and so many vaishnavite saints, who have written very-very heart melting poetry. Even in our times, Muruganar and Sadhu Om wrote such poetry. For example, Bhagavan says in Aksaramanamalai, ‘By what strength can I, who am worse than a dog, seek you and attain you’.

In these verses, Bhagavan was reflecting the state of a spiritual aspirant in the last stages, when the ego is almost ready to die. So many sages like Manikkavacakar have also said ‘I am worse than a dog – the lowest of the lowest’ and so on. When they say that they really feel that, because they are able to clearly see how strong their desires and attachments still are.

They are able to see that even the smallest desire is standing between them and God, between them and attaining self-knowledge. So they are painfully aware of all their shortcomings. So it will seem that the obstacles we are up against are stronger and stronger, the deeper and deeper we go into this path, but eventually, we will succeed.

Bhagavan said, all the dirt that is inside has to come out, because there is no other way of getting rid of it. The deeper we go, the more we will be churning out the dirt. We have to face this dirt and overcome it, and the only way to overcome it is to turn back within, because the dirt will always try to carry us outwards.

# Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 22nd April 2017


Sanjay Lohia said...

In most cases, we complicate our sadhana or make it difficult due to our wrong ways of thinking. For example, we may either over-analyse certain principles given to us by Bhagavan or not analyse it enough, and both are problems. Another common fallacy is that we think we need to attain something by our spiritual practice. Though this could be true in one sense, but whatever we aim to attain is already attained. Now let me try and expand on these problems:

1) We may either over-analyse certain principles given to us by Bhagavan or not analyse it enough, and both are problems

Most of us do not think deep enough about the core principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, and therefore have a quite shallow understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings. We know Bhagavan’s main teaching is ‘who am I?’, but there is a lot more to understand than this. On the other hand, there are a few (like me) who tend to over-analyse the concepts given to us by Bhagavan, or in other words, instead of keeping things simple we may try to make it complex and complicated.

This is where we need the guidance of senior devotees like Michael. If we remain in touch with him (whatever way possible – through Skype, emails or questions as comments), he will correct the ways in our thinking. We should not undervalue such guidance, because if our erroneous ways of thinking are not nipped in its bud, we may unnecessarily waste our time and effort in the wrong direction. I have gained a lot from his direct guidance.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

2) Another common fallacy is that we think we need to attain something by our spiritual practice

If we think this way, which most us do, we are again not thinking in a correct way. When we start our spiritual practice, we think that one day we will attain atma-jnana. We think ‘I, this person Sanjay, will become self-realised, and it will be my greatest achievement’. We have all sorts of ideas.

However, Bhagavan makes it very clear that whatever we are aiming to achieve or attain is already there within us, and that we just need to uncover all the dirt that has seeming stuck to our true nature. If we can do this, we will experience that which is ever experienced. At present, our true self is obscured because of all our thoughts, though it is never hidden from our view.

What we are is pure-awareness. Atma-jnana is experiencing our pure self-awareness as it is, without the superimposition of any our imaginary adjuncts. So we have nothing to attain, but have everything to lose - that is, to lose whatever we have added to our pure-awareness. This is what we are trying to do when we practise self-investigation.

ādhāra said...

Michael,
many thanks for your comment.
When you say: "In order to know that our own existence is real and not mere a thought, we do not need to have confidence in Bhagavan and his teachings, because we know from our own experience that we exist in sleep, even though neither the ego nor any other thought exist in that state. Therefore even if we did not have confidence or trust in Bhagavan, we should be able to understand why we need to try to investigate ourself and thereby find out what we actually are." there is to be said that "knowing from own experience that we exist in sleep..." alone does not provide/impart simultaneously the knowledge that our existence is real and not mere in the view of the ego. For it I am i.e. my person is proof. Although I remain every night in the egoless/thoughtless state I could not really gain that actual knowledge to be really and eternally existent. So the wanted inner clarity of mind and heart is withhold from me even I have much confidence in Arunachala-Siva. Moreover my practice of looking within myself is most of the year a frustrating failure. Staying in great peace is rather a bit of luck. Even by repeated practising on Arunachala Hill the mind comes seldom/hardly to rest. However, thanks to Arunachala my confidence in the possibility to eliminate the unreal awareness of the ego is not shaken by that current conditions.