Monday, 30 April 2018

The ego seems to exist only because we have not looked at it carefully enough to see that there is no such thing

For a few days last week I was in a place where I did not have any internet connection except on my phone, but on and off during that time I had a conversation via WhatsApp with a friend called Frank about Bhagavan’s teachings, philosophy, ego and other related matters. The first fifteen sections of this article are compiled from edited extracts of our conversation, and the final section is a reply that I subsequently wrote to him by email (as also are the five paragraphs in earlier sections that I have enclosed in square brackets).

Since our conversation was conducted via text messages, some of our replies to each other were written while the other was offline, whereas others were written while we were both writing, so in the latter case several threads of our conversation often overlapped, because he would be replying to one point while I was replying to another. Therefore while editing these extracts I had to separate crisscrossing threads for the sake of clarity and continuity, so while most of the replies below are reproduced in chronological sequence, they are not all entirely chronological, which means that they sometimes seem to be disjointed, but not as disjointed as they would have been if I had not separated the crisscrossing threads.
  1. Cartesian dualism and Bhagavan’s radical non-dualism
  2. The view that all views are one is due to lack of vivēka
  3. Does anything exist independent of our perception of it?
  4. If we look at ourself alone, we see nothing else, and if we look at anything else, we do not see ourself as we really are
  5. We must look within to see Bhagavan seeing us as we actually are
  6. Ajāta is the ultimate truth, but it being so is of no use to the ego, so Bhagavan’s teachings are focused mainly on the ego and the means to eradicate it
  7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 27: the state in which ‘I’ does not rise is the state in which we are that, and unless one investigates where ‘I’ rises, how to abide in that state in which it does not rise?
  8. The ego will not cease except by self-investigation (ātma-vicāra)
  9. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 33: the ego is ridiculous whatever it may think or say, whether ‘I do not know myself’ or ‘I do know myself’
  10. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 12 and Upadēśa Undiyār verse 27: real knowledge or awareness is that which is completely devoid of both knowing and not knowing
  11. Bhagavan focused his teachings on the ego more than on that, because we need to investigate the ego in order to know that
  12. Bhagavan saves without saving, because in his view there is no one to be saved
  13. The I who says I can’t find the ego is itself the ego whom it says it can’t find
  14. The ego will go only when we are willing to let go of it
  15. We cannot surrender ourself without investigating ourself
  16. The ‘I’ that says ‘I look but cannot find myself’ is what we should be looking at
1. Cartesian dualism and Bhagavan’s radical non-dualism

Frank: I was talking a friend of mine who is a Cartesian and this came up:
Shankara/Bhagavan: Universe is false, Brahman alone is real, Brahman is the universe.

Descartes: World is unreal/dream, I know ‘I am’ & God exists, God not a deceiver, therefore world exists.
What do you think? Similar? Analogous?

Michael: Descartes started with an excellent method, not to assume anything that one can reasonably doubt, but he didn’t apply it as effectively as he could have, and when he reached the conclusion ‘I am’, he began to rapidly backtrack, undoing all the progress he had made, so he ended up with some very questionable conclusions. Some of the problems with the way he applied his method of doubt are:

He considered whether everything could be a dream, but he dismissed the idea on the grounds that dreams are formed from impressions remaining from the waking state, which is begging the question [that is, it is an argument that uses the conclusion it is trying to establish as a premise, because saying that dreams are formed from impressions left by the waking state implies that the waking state is not a dream]. Why did he not discard the idea that dreams are formed from impressions remaining from the waking state when this is surely an assumption that one can reasonably doubt?

[I was writing about Descartes from memory, so later my friend questioned whether I was correct to write that ‘he dismissed the idea [that everything could be a dream] on the grounds that dreams are formed from impressions remaining from the waking state’, so I checked his First Meditation and found that what he actually wrote in the sixth paragraph was something that (according to the translation by John Veitch, 1901) means ‘Let us suppose, then, that we are dreaming, and that all these particulars — namely, the opening of the eyes, the motion of the head, the forth-putting of the hands — are merely illusions; and even that we really possess neither an entire body nor hands such as we see. Nevertheless it must be admitted at least that the objects which appear to us in sleep are, as it were, painted representations which could not have been formed unless in the likeness of realities; and, therefore, that those general objects, at all events, namely, eyes, a head, hands, and an entire body, are not simply imaginary, but really existent’, which implies that he was in effect arguing that dreams are formed from impressions remaining from the waking state.]

Later he considered whether everything could be an illusion created by an evil demon, but such a possibility could be the case only if we assume that something, in this case an evil demon, exists independent of our perception of it. Since a dream does not exist independent of our perception of it, suggesting that everything could be a dream is a much more radical proposition than suggesting that it is all an illusion created by an evil demon.

His evil demon hypothesis gave him a ‘get out of jail free’ card, which he used when he faced the scary possibility that ‘I am’ is the only thing we know for certain and hence perhaps the only thing that is real. He argued something to the effect that God is the creator, and that being all-good he would not deceive, and hence the world is real. All hugely questionable assumptions.

What does ‘real’ mean in this context? What actually exists is real, whereas what does not actually exist but merely seems to exist is unreal. So is the world real or unreal? Does it actually exist or does it merely seem to exist?

According to Descartes and most other people, including all physicalists [those who believe that only physical things exist, which is the prevailing view among contemporary academic philosophers] and dualists [those like Descartes who believe that mind and matter exist independent of one another], and even many idealists [those who believe that only ideas or mental things exist] (including Berkeley, who believed everything is an idea in the mind of God), the world actually exists, whereas according to Bhagavan it merely seems to exist, and it seems to exist only in the view of the ego, but if the ego investigates itself keenly enough it is found to be non-existent, because what actually exists is only pure (intransitive) self-awareness.

[My friend later suggested that the ‘I am’ that Descartes referred to when he concluded ‘cogito ergo sum‘, ‘I think therefore I am’, is what I referred to as ‘pure (intransitive) self-awareness’ when I wrote that ‘according to Bhagavan […] what actually exists is only pure (intransitive) self-awareness’, to which I replied: The ‘I am’ of Descartes is, as you say, what he identified as a res cogitans, a thinking thing, which is the mind or ego, not the pure intransitive self-awareness that Bhagavan referred to as ‘I am’. The ego or res cogitans is transitive awareness, not intransitive, because it is always aware of phenomena of one kind or another.]

So [Bhagavan’s teachings and Cartesian philosophy are] neither similar (except in the method of not taking for granted anything that one does not know for certain) nor analogous.

2. The view that all views are one is due to lack of vivēka

F: I think my outlook is fundamentally Zen, but I still worship Bhagavan. I’m more open to a perennial philosophy, so I see it basically everywhere, despite the (apparently) diverse iterations. I think it’s everywhere.

M: Perennial philosophy of the type that Aldous Huxley wrote about is a huge generalisation, in which most non-materialist metaphysics can find a place, particularly (but not only) the more monistic or non-dualistic ones. Viewed superficially, there are many similarities [between the religious, spiritual and philosophical traditions of various cultures], as found by Huxley, but if one goes deeper there are also many significant differences.

Take vēdānta, for example, which Huxley considered to be the archetype of perennial philosophy. It is considered to be one view (darśana), but there are so many interpretations of it, dvaita, viśiṣṭādvaita and advaita, among which there are so many fundamental points of disagreement.

Even advaita is not a single view, because there are so many interpretations of it. Many professed advaitins, for example, do not accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda [the contention that perception is causally antecedent to creation (in other words, that creation is a consequence of perception), though they actually occur simultaneously, as in a dream], which according to what Bhagavan taught us is the cornerstone of advaita philosophy.

[My friend later suggested I was mistaken in writing this, because ‘Bhagavan’s teaching is ajata’, to which I replied: Though Bhagavan said that the ultimate truth is ajāta, he clarified that his actual teaching is only dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda (also known as vivarta vāda, the contention that everything [both the perceiver and the perceived] is just a false appearance), as you can see from verses 83 and 100 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai. Ajāta is not suitable for teaching, because in the state of ajāta there is no one in need of any teaching or to put any teaching into practice. Teaching is necessary only because we have risen as this ego (the perceiver) and consequently perceive the world (the phenomena perceived), so the most beneficial teaching is to say that all this is just a false appearance, which appears only in the view of the ego, so we should investigate the ego in order to see that it does not actually exist. Only by applying dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi vāda in practice can we arrive at ajāta.]

Even among Bhagavan’s followers there are so many interpretations of his teachings.

If we want to see uniformity we cannot go deep into anything. If we want to go deep, we have to give up the idea that all views are one. In order to go deep in any spiritual path, particularly the path of jñāna [knowledge or awareness], vivēka (distinguishing differences and judging what is true or real) is absolutely essential.

When you say your outlook is fundamentally Zen, what do you mean by ‘Zen’? I do not know much about Zen, but I expect there are many different interpretations or understandings of it, as there are of advaita.

Therefore rather than just giving our view a label, we need to consider each point of difference and judge for ourself what is correct in each case. And we each have to consider whether our views on various points are consistent and coherent, which is something that is lacking in most people’s views, because they haven’t considered their views deeply or critically enough.

3. Does anything exist independent of our perception of it?

M: Take a fundamental point of difference to start with: are you a dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi or a sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi vādin [one who contends that creation is a consequence of perception or one who contends that perception is a consequence of creation]? That is, do you believe anything exists independent of your perception of it or not?

So much hangs on this fundamental question. If you believe anything exists independent of your perception of it, then the world is your oyster: you can believe almost anything. However, if you seriously doubt whether anything exists independent of your perception of it, then what you can reasonably and consistently believe becomes extremely limited.

F: Nothing exists independently.

M: Ok, that is a good starting point, then what else can you reasonably believe?

F: I am.

M: Yes, and not much else.

4. If we look at ourself alone, we see nothing else, and if we look at anything else, we do not see ourself as we really are

F: When we look at philosophies, they don’t fit, but when we see ‘I am’, they all fit, because their source is I — no more contradiction.

M: If we look at ‘I am’ keenly and deeply enough, we see nothing else, so there are then no philosophies, no worlds, no differences.

F: Best to just attend to ‘I’.

M: Yes. If we see anything other than ourself, we are not seeing ourself as we really are.

F: I disagree. I only see myself and I see everything else — it is all ‘I’, all one.

M: We cannot see ourself and see anything else, because other things appear only when we look away from ourself.

F: I see — you are right. I’m still getting this. At best, when I see only ‘I’ nothing else is separate yet it is still somehow ‘I’ — look from Heart, all I; look from head, others.

M: I am one and indivisible, whereas other things are many and different. How can I be many and different?

F: Exactly — and yet, all is I, not separate, not other: just I, nothing else.

M: Everything is I, but I am neither anything nor everything. The snake is a rope, but the rope is not a snake. If we see one, we do not see the other.

5. We must look within to see Bhagavan seeing us as we actually are

F: You once said that the glance of Bhagavan comes from within.

M: The glance of Bhagavan is always within, so we have to look within to see it seeing us, because it sees us as we actually are, not as we seem to be while looking outwards.

F: Yes.

M: As you said earlier: Best to just attend to ‘I’. Attending to anything else is turning our back on Bhagavan and his glance of grace.

[My friend later referred to my use of the terms ‘look within’ and ‘looking outwards’ and remarked that this is dualistic and refers to the body, to which I replied: Of course it is dualistic, because inside and outside are a pair of opposites, but the ego is only aware of duality and never of non-duality. However when we truly look within, there is no duality, because we are then attending to and aware of nothing other than ourself. When Bhagavan spoke about looking or facing within (antarmukham or ahamukham) and looking or facing outwards (bahirmukham) he was not referring to inside or outside the body. According to him what is inside is only ourself, and everything else (including the body and all other phenomena, whether physical or mental) is outside, so being keenly self-attentive is looking within, whereas attending to anything other than ourself, including our own thoughts or feelings, is looking outwards.]

6. Ajāta is the ultimate truth, but it being so is of no use to the ego, so Bhagavan’s teachings are focused mainly on the ego and the means to eradicate it

F: “There is no becoming [creation], and there is also no destruction, the opposite [of creation]; there are no people in bondage, and there are also no people at all doing sadhana; there are no people who seek the highest [i.e. liberation], and there are also no people who have attained liberation. Know that this alone is the supreme truth [paramartha]!” ~ GVK [Guru Vācaka Kōvai verses 1227 and B28; Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ verse 24]. This is very reminiscent of the Diamond Sutra.

It is sort of how my soul speaks (so to speak), i.e. how words come out of this mouth, which itself is non-existent. We agree about ajata. Thank you, sir. I appreciate your time. Talk with you later.

M: Ajāta is the ultimate truth, but it is seemingly negated by the appearance of the perceiver (the ego) and the perceived (all phenomena). To make ajāta our actual experience we need to investigate our ego keenly enough to see that there is no such thing and hence no phenomena.

F: Exactly. Already so.

M: It is always so, even when it seems to be not so.

F: Exactly so.

M: But it being so is of no use to the ego, so Bhagavan’s teachings are focused mainly on this non-existent phantom called ego and the means to eradicate it.

7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 27: the state in which ‘I’ does not rise is the state in which we are that, and unless one investigates where ‘I’ rises, how to abide in that state in which it does not rise?

F: I disagree. In his spoken teachings he emphasizes “I am That” more than anything else. Ego is false, reality is real. So, you are That, no worries, just be.

M: For the ego ‘I am that’ is a mere thought, so dwelling on it sustains the ego. As he says in verse 27 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, the state in which one exists without ‘I’ [the ego] rising is the state in which we exist as that [brahman, the fundamental substance, which is the one infinite whole], and unless one investigates the place from which ‘I’ rises, how to abide in the real state in which it does not rise — the state in which it is annihilated and we are therefore that?

The non-rising of ‘I’ is what is called just being (summā iruppadu), and in that state there is no one to think or say ‘I am that’.

F: Nothing there to eradicate, obviously, and you already know this, right?

M: The ‘you’ or ‘I’ who believes it already knows that there is nothing to be eradicated is itself what needs to be eradicated.

8. The ego will not cease except by self-investigation (ātma-vicāra)

F: I disagree. Hahaha. I would never be so arrogant. The ego being that is the greatest absurdity. I would be humiliated to say it before you. No, We are That — I amness. We both know That, because is it not us?

M: The ego will not cease by sophistry, by repetition of what it has heard or by claiming to know anything, but only by vicāra [self-investigation]. This is the core message of Nāṉ Ār? (Who am I?), which is the crest-jewel of his spoken teachings.

F: I agree. But what is to do vicara?

M: The ego, of course. Who else needs to do vicāra or could do it?

9. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 33: the ego is ridiculous whatever it may think or say, whether ‘I do not know myself’ or ‘I do know myself’

F: Saying I have not known myself is equal grounds for ridicule [referring to what Bhagavan wrote in verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: “Saying ‘I do not know myself’, ‘I have known myself’, is ground for ridicule. Why? To make oneself an object, are there two selves? Because being one is the truth, the experience of everyone”].

M: Yes, the ego is ridiculous, whatever it may think or say, so we need to eradicate it by looking at it to see whether it actually exists.

F: Nothing has been spoken, so there is no ground for ridicule — it would require a ‘speaker’, a ‘thinker’, a ‘doer’ — and there is no such thing, as you know deeply.

M: Whether it speaks or not, the ego is ridiculous, because it is a false self-awareness: an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are. Since it cannot rise or stand without grasping forms or phenomena, which are all thoughts projected by it, thinking is its very nature, and thinking entails doing (mental activity) and is the basis of all doing (all other actions).

We can say that there is no such thing as ego, but that is not our experience, because the one who says that is itself the ego. To experience that there is no ego, we must look at ourself keenly enough to see that what exists is only infinite, indivisible and immutable self-awareness.

10. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 12 and Upadēśa Undiyār verse 27: real knowledge or awareness is that which is completely devoid of both knowing and not knowing

F: Not-knowing is ‘higher’ than the type of ‘knowing’ (ajnana) you are attributing to me.

M: As Bhagavan says in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār, true knowledge or awareness is that which is completely devoid of both knowing and not knowing, because in our real state there is nothing to know.

F: Obviously.

M: Is it obvious? I wish it were.

11. Bhagavan focused his teachings on the ego more than on that, because we need to investigate the ego in order to know that

F: Well, I am ignorant of those works you are proficient in. But the Bhagavan I know mentions That more than ego. It doesn’t exist.

Obviously I know them, but you’ve read them more than anyone probably.

But if we are that, there is no one to do vicāra.

M: Are we that? Not so long as we rise as ‘I’, or at least we seem not to be that as long as we rise as ‘I’.

F: We are always that — you put more emphasis on illusion than reality, why?

M: That is always that, so it is not a problem, and has no problem. The problem is the ego, the one who has all problems, and it can get rid of itself only by focusing on itself.

F: I agree, but who has the problems?

M: The ego, of course, only the ego.

Bhagavan focused his teachings on the ego more than on that, for the reason he explained in verse 27 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (cited above).

F: Yes, but I’m thinking of his spoken teachings.

M: Bhagavan’s core teachings are the same, whether written or spoken.

But many of his replies are not his core teachings, because they were said in answer to the questions of ‘others’ (as he says in verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham, cited in my latest article).

F: Yes, but his answers are still his answers. Beneath them is the Truth, the Presence that allows all to be: Being, the stillness from which his ‘answers’ arise.

M: Many of his ‘answers’ contradict his core teachings, because they were meant for ‘others’.

F: I agree, but what is that core? Being, not thinking, writing, speaking.

The base of ego is self, we are to focus on self, not fluctuating phantom.

M: We mistake ourself to be ego, so we must focus only on ego. Ego cannot know its real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so it must focus on itself in order to dissolve in its real nature. When we see a snake, we don’t see any rope, so we must focus on the snake in order to see the rope.

12. Bhagavan saves without saving, because in his view there is no one to be saved

F: I don’t mistake myself to be anything. I am that, and so are you.

M: So am I having a conversation with that? Sorry, I thought I was conversing with Frank. In front of that I am at a loss for words.

F: No, I don’t exist, and that can’t converse with itself because that would be dualistic — it just is.

Yea!!! “a loss for words” — so I’ve found you!!!

M: You have puzzled me, not found me. How can something that does not exist say ‘I don’t exist’?

F: I don’t know, but it did.

M: Bhagavan says all is ego, but you say all is that. Whom am I to believe?

F: Bhagavan alone.

M: But poor Bhagavan does not seem to be alone so long as this ego seems to be around, along with all else.

F: Yes, but He is.

M: We trouble him by rising as ‘I’, so let’s follow his advice by investigating this ‘I’ instead of pretending that we know anything.

F: I disagree. Bhagavan has no problems or troubles — all is that, and you know this. Why not abide as what is real instead of pretending not to know?

M: Unless we investigate the ego, how to abide as that?

[Referring to this rhetorical question, my friend subsequently asked me, ‘Why should we investigate the ego? Didn’t Bhagavan say that we should just be still?’, to which I replied: Bhagavan in effect asked the same rhetorical question in verse 27 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: “The state in which one exists without ‘I’ rising is the state in which we exist as that. Without investigating the place where ‘I’ rises, how to reach the annihilation of oneself, in which ‘I’ does not rise? Without reaching, say, how to stand in the state of oneself, in which oneself is that?” How can we just be (or be still) unless we refrain from rising as ‘I’? As I explained earlier, what Bhagavan called ‘just being’ (summā iruppadu) is the state in which we do not rise as ‘I’ and are consequently not aware of anything other than ourself. As he says in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: “சும்மா விருப்பதாவது மனத்தை ஆன்மசொரூபத்தில் லயிக்கச் செய்வதே” (summā-v-iruppadāvadu maṉattai āṉma-sorūpattil layikka-c ceyvadē), “What ‘just being’ (summā-v-iruppadu) is is only making the mind dissolve [disappear or die] in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]”. We can make the mind (the ego) dissolve in ātma-svarūpa and thereby avoid rising as ‘I’ only by investigating it, because its nature is to rise, stand and flourish by attending to other things (as Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) but to dissolve back into its source (ātma-svarūpa, which is the ‘place’ from which it rises) when it attends only to itself.]

Of course Bhagavan has no problems or troubles, but we think he must save us, which is surely a big problem, because he does not see us as anything other than himself, and he certainly doesn’t need to save himself.

F: But troubles are ephemeral, what is real remains. Bhagavan does save, so the problems disappear. They are not fixed, only self is.

M: Bhagavan saves without saving, because in his view there is no one to be saved.

Good night, sleep overpowers this poor ego, whom you do not see.

F: Hahaha thank you, sir, sleep well. (one more text to come...) Thank you for your time, it helps me clarify my issues.

M: Do I detect a slight hint of ego, or does that [brahman] need help clarifying its issues?

F: EGO, hahaha, thank you.

You once said: “See what you actually are. That is the real sleep, from which there is no return”.

13. The I who says I can’t find the ego is itself the ego whom it says it can’t find

F: Did Bhagavan see egos?

M: Bhagavan sees no egos, because he looked at himself carefully and saw that there is no such thing, and hence no other problems. However, since we come to him complaining of problems, he advised us to look carefully at ourself to see whether there is any ego.

F: I couldn’t find it.

M: The ego seems to exist (even if we mentally or verbally deny its existence) only because we do not look at it carefully enough.

F: I see. But I can’t find the ego. Mentally is ego, verbally is ego — so none of it exists, right?

M: You say you cannot find it because you haven’t looked carefully enough. If you look carefully enough no one will remain to say I couldn’t find it.

F: I agree. But I can’t find it. What to do?

M: Look harder until nothing remains to say I can’t find it.

F: I can’t find it. It is gone. I can’t even ‘look’ anymore.

M: The I who says I can’t find it or I can’t even look is itself the ego whom it says it can’t find.

F: I agree. So, I am an ego. Bummer.

M: Yes, a real bummer, but a bummer only because we are not yet truly willing to let go of it.

F: Oh well, next time.

M: So long as we say ‘next time’ we cannot get rid of it. Only when we recognise that we have to look and see its non-existence here and now, not at any other place or time, will we get rid of it.

14. The ego will go only when we are willing to let go of it

F: I can’t see its non-existence because I am it. That has gone. What to do? Rest in being? Or what?

It is fixed. It will not go. Whose is it? Will it disappear if I try hard enough? Have I not done enough yet? How many more lifetimes? 1? 1,000? 10,000?

M: However many it takes till we are willing to let go. Perhaps this moment, perhaps after many lifetimes, the choice is ours.

F: But how am I to will it when it is Bhagavan’s will that anything happen whatsoever? Whose will? I am That, you are That, we are One. What is that to you? Pure self-awareness. How could that ever not be?

M: His will is just to be, not that anything happen.

F: I have no choice — that requires ego, which has gone.

M: Then surrender your will to his.

Which you can do only by surrendering yourself.

Which you can do only by investigating yourself.

15. We cannot surrender ourself without investigating ourself

F: I don’t like investigating myself, I prefer surrender: kitten more than monkey [referring to a traditional pair of analogies: a baby monkey, who clings firmly to its mother, and a kitten, who cannot cling and must therefore wait for its mother to pick it up, signifying respectively a devotee who clings firmly to God (in the context of Bhagavan’s teachings, by self-investigation, which is clinging firmly to ‘I’, the real form of God) and a devotee who surrenders to God].

M: How to surrender yourself if you do not investigate and know the self you want to surrender? How can you surrender what needs to be surrendered if you do not know what it is?

Self-surrender cannot be completed without self-investigation.

F: I can’t find it, I just trust Him — that is all, nothing special, nothing happening.

M: Trust him, and trust his advice that we should persevere in looking at ourself until we see that what exists is only pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and eternal self-awareness.

F: I agree. But we are that. So, now what? What then?

M: If you are that [brahman], just look at yourself. Then all questions, complaints and dissatisfaction will cease.

F: I agree. Thank you.

16. The ‘I’ that says ‘I look but cannot find myself’ is what we should be looking at

In an email that he wrote to me after this conversation Frank referred to my penultimate reply, in which I suggested that we should trust not only Bhagavan but also his advice that ‘we should persevere in looking at ourself until we see that what exists is only pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and eternal self-awareness’, and commented:
This is actually a point of disagreement among us. I am like Hume, I look and I cannot find, which I believe is a statement of self-awareness, rather than ignorance. You have misread me, as you have misread Hume, and this is also the Zen/Buddhist (as well as contemporary) strand of thinking. What do you think? Hume can’t find anything because he is that — philosophers hit on this all the time, throughout the millennia. Bhagavan is not special, though he is to us, in this regard, right?
To this I replied:

What exactly in my statement do you disagree with? When you say ‘I look and I cannot find’, what do you look for that you cannot find? Are you not always self-aware? That is, are you not always aware that you exist and are aware? Since you are always aware of yourself, anything that you cannot find must be something other than yourself, in which case you are looking for the wrong thing. The ‘I’ that says ‘I cannot find’ is what we should be looking at, so you are already aware of what you should be looking at.

What Hume wrote in A Treatise of Human Nature (Book 1, Part 4, Section 6, third paragraph) is:
For my part, when I enter most intimately into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions are removed for any time, as by sound sleep; so long am I insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions removed by death, and coued I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor love, nor hate after the dissolution of my body, I should be entirely annihilated, nor do I conceive what is farther requisite to make me a perfect non-entity. If any one, upon serious and unprejudiced reflection thinks he has a different notion of himself, I must confess I call reason no longer with him. All I can allow him is, that he may be in the right as well as I, and that we are essentially different in this particular. He may, perhaps, perceive something simple and continued, which he calls himself; though I am certain there is no such principle in me.
When he wrote, ‘I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and never can observe any thing but the perception’, is it not clear that he is overlooking the perceiver or observer, which is the ‘I’ who says ‘ ‘I never can catch myself’ and ‘[I] never can observe any thing but the perception’? He cannot catch himself simply because he is looking in the wrong direction, at what is perceived or observed rather than at the one who is perceiving or observing it.

In order to perceive or observe anything, we must be aware, and being aware entails being aware that one is aware, so what is aware is always self-aware. Would Hume deny the fact that he is aware? Or can you deny that you are aware? So you are clearly aware of yourself as that which is aware. You are (and he was) that which is aware, so you are aware of yourself. What then do you mean when you say you cannot find yourself?

When you say, ‘Hume can’t find anything because he is that’, what do you mean by ‘that’? I assume you mean what he was looking for, namely himself. To what then was he referring as ‘I’ if not to himself? Therefore he was clearly aware of himself, so why does he say that he cannot find himself? He is himself, and he is aware of himself, so saying that he cannot find himself makes no sense at all, at least as far as I can see.

You say, ‘Bhagavan is not special [...] in this regard, right?’, but what Bhagavan discovered when he looked at himself is quite different to what Hume and most other philosophers have concluded. When Bhagavan looked at himself, the perceiver (the ego) disappeared, and along with it all perceptions (all phenomena or objects perceived) also disappeared, because he saw that what actually exists is only pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and eternal self-awareness, as he says in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṟpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தனாது இயல் யாது என தான் தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த சத்து அகண்ட சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa tāṉ terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta sattu akhaṇḍa cit āṉandam.

அன்வயம்: தான் தனாது இயல் யாது என தெரிகில், பின் அனாதி அனந்த அகண்ட சத்து சித் ஆனந்தம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ taṉādu iyal yādu eṉa terihil, piṉ aṉādi aṉanta akhaṇḍa sattu cit āṉandam.

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] anādi [beginningless], ananta [endless, limitless or infinite] and akhaṇḍa [unbroken, undivided or unfragmented] sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].
Do you still disagree with what I wrote, namely that Bhagavan advised us that ‘we should persevere in looking at ourself until we see that what exists is only pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and eternal self-awareness’? Looking at ourself (that is, being self-attentive) keenly and persistently in order to see that what we actually are is just such pure and immutable self-awareness, other than which nothing exists, is the sole purpose and aim of self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) as taught by Bhagavan, and it is also the only means by which we can surrender ourself (our ego), as he says in the thirteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
ஆன்மசிந்தனையைத் தவிர வேறு சிந்தனை கிளம்புவதற்குச் சற்று மிடங்கொடாமல் ஆத்மநிஷ்டாபரனா யிருப்பதே தன்னை ஈசனுக் களிப்பதாம்.

āṉma-cintaṉaiyai-t tavira vēṟu cintaṉai kiḷambuvadaṟku-c caṯṟum iḍam-koḍāmal ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ-āy iruppadē taṉṉai īśaṉukku aḷippadām.

Being ātma-niṣṭhāparaṉ [one who is steadily fixed in and as oneself], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any cintana [thought] other than ātma-cintana [‘thought of oneself’, self-contemplation or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God.

80 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan has explained that whatever we experience in any life is predestined. He has also given us enough indications to suggest that although whatever we experience is predestined, we can try changing these predestined experiences by using our body, speech and mind. However, we will not be able to change whatever we are to experience, and this is certain’, says Bhagavan.

A question came to my mind, if everything is predestined, are our spiritual practices also predestined. Michael clarified that our practice of self-investigation cannot be predestined, because it is not an action. However what about other spiritual or religious practices such as puja, japa and dhyana? Michael explained (through an email) to me that because these practices are actions, these actions could be predestined. However, what is not predestined is the love with which we do these practices.

In other words, if there is no love behind these practices, these practices will have no spiritual benefit. Therefore the more love we inject into our practices, the more we will benefit – that is, the more our mind will be purified. This purification of mind is the only real benefit of our practices.

Can we increase this love? Yes, we can cultivate this love by doing our practices with an attitude of surrender, by focussing more and more on our practices and by doing it without expecting anything from God. So the real power behind whatever spiritual practice we undertake is love and not the practice per se. However, though we can do puja, japa and dhyana without much love, the practice self-investigation cannot be done without love to do it.

However, even the love with which we do self-investigation can be increased by our attitude towards our practice. We should try to practise self-investigation as much as possible and with our entire mind and heart, because this is the sure way to increase our love for the practice. We cannot reach our goal without such all-consuming love.

Anonymous said...

Hello Michael. When can we expect the new, consolidated edition of The Path of Sri Ramana?

Michael James said...

Anonymous, later this year, hopefully, but I can’t say exactly when.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Michael!

Salazar said...

Yes I agree, love is important for vichara, however some may misunderstand what kind of love and where it is coming from. Does is come from the mind or [physical] heart? I don’t believe so.

Can love be cultivated? Well who would do the cultivating? Can an ego really love? An ego can only “love” an object in the form of attachment. So it “loves” a loved one, an item like a car or a piece of jewelry, or a specific place, etc.
However that is not the love Bhagavan and the sages are talking about, that “love” of objects is a trap and not really love and that may be hard to accept for some. The love the sages talk about is impersonal love, something an ego cannot really comprehend nor do or have.

Many, many years ago when I was in the mode to “cultivate” and improve my ego [:)] I also wanted to “create” that love the sages were talking about and it did not work at all. No matter what, there was only that fake love for objects but no impersonal love. My ego felt frustrated until much later I figured out why and that, of course, has something to do with our prarabdha karma and the erroneous notion that the ego could gain or create anything.

It is said that devotion, prayer, and what not is going to “increase” that love but since that prayer and devotion and all “cultivating” is the [outward] activity of the mind, that can only come into fruition in a later life. As everything else what is done by the mind in form of a thought or outward intention.

So it is a rather a confused understanding to believe one could “enhance” vichara with the outward actions of the mind. That is not so and clear for all who actually have practically looked into that.

All outward actions of the mind can only manifest in a later life and therefore all attempts in that regard are redundant unless one cannot do vichara or any other more advanced practice (than outward actions of the mind like japa (what is an activity of the mind too but prevents thought activity and makes the mind one-pointed)). Only then one should follow that specific advice of the sages since there is no other way.

In my experience an attitude of surrender (and not by the mind, the mind cannot intentionally surrender) will trigger the necessary grace for that impersonal love and nothing else in this life. The continuous practice of vichara/surrender itself triggers the impersonal love without any involvement of the mind.

The notion that the mind could do that is ignorance.

Salazar said...

By the way, that often used term of "purification" of the ego might be misunderstood by some. Because the ego is not really getting purified, that is nonsense, an ego cannot be improved or purified.

When Bhagavan talked about the purification of the ego/mind he was using that as an allegory to denote the [seemingly gradually, what is an illusion too] dissolution of the mind. And since the mind cannot dissolve itself any attempts of the mind to do (outwardly) is redundant.

Don Quichotte said...

Salazar, if you wanted to reply to Sanjay then you are sailing on the wrong article.

pappadam said...

Since the mind is essentially the self it quite well can merge with its substance.

Salazar said...

Actually my two comments were inspired by his comment on this article. In a way it all belongs together anyway. We cannot dissect Bhagavan's teaching as much as we cannot dissect the ego. It has to be seen in its entirety. The ego may have risen but foremost we should have it's non-existence in mind and not enlarge the script of that imagination in dissecting it with all of this imaginary concepts. We should only carefully use that as a pointer and possible incentive to do vichara.

But many here got lost in believing that they rally could do something with the ego. That is a gross misunderstanding.

Salazar said...

The mind cannot merge with anything, it does not exist.

There also cannot be a union with God. Because that would be still duality. Guys, that must and should be clear for a devotee of Bhagavan.

The tendency of many on this blog to be stuck in the subject-object relationship is very strong. That must go.

pappadam said...

Salazar,
when the mind does not (really) exist, why then anxiously trying to avoid moving in duality ?
Of course the idea of non-duality does in priciple not use the term "union with God".
But do you seriously imply that reading and writing comments is done by the self/God (itself) alone ?

Salazar said...

pappadam, there is nobody who is anxiously avoiding duality - that is the whole point of Bhagavan's teaching and the main misunderstanding of many on this blog. But I am afraid looking at all these past comments people just cannot completely get that conceptually.

That is a justification of your ego, see - the ego justifies its own existence with all kinds of thoughts and imaginations and even triumphantly declares, see "I am looking for non-duality" therefore I am. LOL

That's why Bhagavan did cut through the crap of the ego and its thought activity (that what only gives it its seeming existence) and said "be still". Or ignore the ego in doing vichara. "Thinking" and "doing" is the ego's seeming lifeline. That has to go.

Salazar said...

pappadam, do not worry about "who" is making comments, that is just another distraction by the ego and irrelevant. Why indulging into all of these concepts? Sure way to keep the idea of your ego alive.

All of your questions really do only one thing, affirming the ego and giving it existence.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Salazar writes: Yes I agree, love is important for vichara, however some may misunderstand what kind of love and where it is coming from. Does is come from the mind or [physical] heart? I don’t believe so.

Can love be cultivated? Well who would do the cultivating? Can an ego really love? An ego can only “love” an object in the form of attachment. So it “loves” a loved one, an item like a car or a piece of jewelry, or a specific place, etc.

Reflections: Bhagavan sings in Verse 101 Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai:

Arunachala, like ice in water, lovingly melt me as love in you, the form of love.

Who is this ‘me’ who aspires to be merged as love in Arunachala? It is obviously the ego. So the ego can love itself be attending to itself. Salazar asks, ‘where it is coming from. Does it come from the mind or [physical] heart? I don’t believe so’. There is only one real existence which we can call by various names. Let us call it Arunachala here. As Bhagavan says, Arunachala is the form of love and as only Arunachala really exists, there is no love apart from or other than Arunachala.

What is this ego? It is chit-jada-granthi. That means it is a combination of Arunachala, which is pure love, and various jada adjuncts. This ego therefore already contains love, because part of it is pure love. However, this love is defiled or has lost its purity, so to speak, when it is mixed with various jada adjuncts. So it makes all efforts to regain its original purity, because pure love is also pure happiness. As we know, all our actions are in search of perfect happiness.

However, instead of turning within, the ego turns outside in an erroneous belief that it can thereby regain its pure love or happiness. This outward movement of mind is called 'desire', but when it turns within to look at itself, this inward moment is called love. In a way, this ego borrows some love from Arunachala and misuses it to play with outside things. In contrast, when it turns within, it returns this borrowed love back to Arunachala, the rightful owner of love.

'Can this love be cultivated', asks Salazar. Yes, surely it can be. Why do we practise self-investigation? It is because we love to practise it, so we have slowly and gradually cultivated this love by our previous practice of self-investigation. Only this ego needs to cultivate love, because Arunachala is already pure and perfect love, and therefore it doesn’t need more love.

Yes, when the ego loves objects this love is called 'desire' or 'attachment', but by turning its attention towards itself it reduces these desires and attachments and cultivates the love just to be.

Salazar said...

Good grief Sanjay, Bhagavan never ever acknowledged the existence of the ego and therefore that verse "Arunachala, like ice in water, lovingly melt me as love in you, the form of love" is absolutely not referring to the ego.

And the ego is NOT part or a combination with/of Arunachala. That is a gross misunderstanding and now I know why you keep spouting nonsense. Sorry to be so blunt but especially your last comment is an abomination of Bhagavan's teaching and I am sad to see that you really believe that.

I have no desire to convince you and at this point it really doesn't make any sense to go on like that.

Sorry Mouna to be that blunt but I am flabbergasted to observe how easily Bhagavan's teaching get distorted.

I can only say, wow!



Don Quichotte said...

Salazar is firmly convinced by his own imaginations which he has worked out for himself.
What shall we do with a drunken saylor early in the morning ?
Is not his field of view somehow restricted by his homespun interpretations and narrow concepts ?

Pythia, oracle of Delphi said...

On the one hand Salazar is a good fighter with clear understanding, on the other hand he becomes entangled in the net of the cobweb of his arbitrary conjectures.
Do not hunt or tease him but let him take the bisquit when his confusion once will have gone.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Michael writes in section 5 of this article:

When Bhagavan spoke about looking or facing within (antarmukham or ahamukham) and looking or facing outwards (bahirmukham) he was not referring to inside or outside the body. According to him what is inside is only ourself, and everything else (including the body and all other phenomena, whether physical or mental) is outside, so being keenly self-attentive is looking within, where attending to anything other than ourself, including our own thoughts or feelings, is looking outwards.]

Reflections: General conception is that ‘looking or facing within’ means looking or facing within the body, and likewise ‘looking or facing outwards’ means looking or facing outside the body. However, Michael has clarified what Bhagavan means by these terms. According to Bhagavan, ‘Looking within’ means being keenly self-attentive, whereas, ‘looking outside’ means attending to anything other than ourself.

Bhagavan has clarified so many things, such as the real meaning of ‘within’ and ‘without’. As Sadhu Om would say, Bhagavan has given us many correction slips. So Bhagavan is a spiritual revolutionary. He asks us to jettison all our old ideas and beliefs and look at things afresh.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The following extract is taken from section 12 of this article:

Frank: But troubles are ephemeral, what is real remains. Bhagavan does save, so the problems disappear. They are not fixed, only self is.

Michael: Bhagavan saves without saving, because in his view there is no one to be saved.

Reflection: Michael says, ‘Bhagavan saves without saving, because in his view there is no one to be saved’. We experience ourself as this ego, but Bhagavan does not see us as this ego. By his not seeing us as this ego, he saves us. We do not need to be saved, because there is no one there to be saved.

Frank says, ‘Bhagavan does save, so the problems disappear’. Yes, Bhagavan does save, but he will not come from somewhere up there in order to save us. He saves by teaching us that there is no one to be saved – because the ego is just a false appearance which has no real existence, and therefore all its problems exist only in its own ignorant view.

However, Bhagavan can actually save us only when we lose ourself in him – in other words, we can save ourself only when we experience ourself as we really are. As long as we experience duality, we are in danger. In order to bypass all danger, we need to experience perfect non-duality.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Extract from section 13 of this article:

Michael: The ego seems to exist (even if we mentally or verbally deny its existence) only because we do not look at it carefully enough.

Frank: I see. But I can’t find the ego. Mentally is ego, verbally is ego — so none of it exists, right?

M: You say you cannot find it because you haven’t looked carefully enough. If you look carefully enough no one will remain to say I couldn’t find it.

F: I agree. But I can’t find it. What to do?

M: Look harder until nothing remains to say I can’t find it.

F: I can’t find it. It is gone. I can’t even ‘look’ anymore.

M: The I who says I can’t find it or I can’t even look is itself the ego whom it says it can’t find.

Reflections: Yes, we do not look at our ego hard enough, and this is the only reason our ego is still there, and it is still giving us all these problems. So we have to look harder until there is no one to look any further. As long as there is an ‘I’ to claim this or that, to do this or that, to plan this or that, we are still experiencing ourself as this ego.

tanmaya-appalam said...

That is the whole art, to look constantly and deeply enough within - until there is no one to look any further - as Michael says; isn't it ?
In the midst of all our problems the urging wish remains to go deeper...and nearer to the inner flame of pure self-awareness.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Extract from section 3 of this article:

So much hangs on this fundamental question. If you believe anything exists independent of your perception of it, then the world is your oyster: you can believe almost anything. However, if you seriously doubt whether anything exists independent of your perception of it, then what you can reasonably and consistently believe becomes extremely limited.
The phrase ‘the world is your oyster’, according to Oxford Online Dictionary means ‘you are in a position to take the opportunities that life has to offer’. So, as Michael says, we can believe almost anything if we believe anything exists independent of our perception of it.

If we believe anything exists independent of our perception of it, we can believe any of the theories about the creation of this world. We can believe everything the scientists tell us, we can believe in history, geography and everything. In short, we can believe whatever we want to believe and reject the things which we do not want to believe.

However, if we believe what Bhagavan teaches us, namely that this world exists only when we perceive it, then, as Michael says, our range of beliefs become extremely limited. If we believe Bhagavan, we have to doubt everything about ourself and this world. If we believe Bhagavan, we have to at least tentatively believe that this world could be just another dream – that is, whatever we experience is just our mental creation, and therefore there is no such thing as a physical world.

In short, Bhagavan helps us move away from many beliefs towards belief is only one thing. We need a mind which is unifocussed in order to successfully practise self-investigation. A scattered mind will make our practice not so easy.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Extract from section 15 of this article:

Michael: Trust him, and trust his advice that we should persevere in looking at ourself until we see that what exists is only pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and eternal self-awareness.

Reflection: If we do not trust Bhagavan’s advice, how do we progress on this path? His advice and guidance is our only real support. So, as Michael says, trust him. We should keep on marching until we reach our destination, which is pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and eternal self-awareness.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Dr Nandita Shah (Auroville, India): Today, with all the stress of daily life, high blood pressure is extremely common. It’s a precursor of heart disease, so doctors tell us to take medications all our lives.

Dean Ornish, a Harvard based physician, and Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, from the Cleveland Clinic, have both written books on how hypertension and heart disease can be prevented and reversed. It’s indeed unfortunate that most of our doctors don’t read these books and therefore cannot tell us how we could be healthier.

Statins and cholesterol-lowering drugs are prescribed generously. Since only animal products contain cholesterol, one can easily avoid these harmful drugs with a plant-based diet. Blood thinners are prescribed, but the root cause of blood thickening, the fat, is never addressed. Blood tests for inflammatory markers are routinely done, but no one tells you that acidic foods, processed foods and chemicals are the causes of these frightfully high levels.

It’s time we stop outsourcing our heart health to doctors and take our heart health into our own hands!

My note: Yes, doctors do not try to find out the root of our diseases, and therefore end up treating just our symptoms. Likewise, when most people visit their gurus with their worldly problems, these gurus end up treating just the symptoms of their root problem. These gurus may try to prescribe them with some puja or japa or something similar. However, this is like treating the symptoms of our disease.

We need to tackle and destroy the root cause of all our worldly problems, and this root cause is our ego. Fortunately, we have come to the only doctor who can detect and remove this root cause, and this doctor is Bhagavan Ramana. However, we are afraid to take his treatment, because we fear our annihilation if we do so.

Therefore, when we try to practise self-investigation, a little here, a little there, we are preparing ourself to fully surrender to Bhagavan's treatment.



Noob said...

We have to be looking forward to our death, not postponing it.

Noob said...

When we treat ego as an enemy that has to be done with we are making a fundamental mistake, we are the ego, we must turn against the subject and not the numerous objects.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yes, Noob, we should look forward to our death, but 'our' should mean here 'the ego', because the body's death is inconsequential.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Many or perhaps most of the verses of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam can be interpreted in two ways: Arunachala in these verses can be taken to mean the hill in Tiruvannamalai, or it can be taken to mean ourself as we actually are. Both these interpretations can be correct. However, in my reflections on these verses, I will take Arunachala to be ourself as we actually are, because ultimately this is the real Arunachala. The hill can be taken to be a manifestation of this real Arunachala.

Sri Arunachala Ashtakam verse one:

Ah (what a wonder)! It stands quietly as if an insentient Hill, (yet) its action is mysterious - difficult for anyone to understand! (Listen to my experience) From (my) knowledgeless early childhood (that is, from my early childhood when I knew no other thing), Arunachala was shining in my mind as that which is most great. (However) even when I came to know through someone that it was Tiruvannamalai, I did not realize the truth of It (that is, I did not realize what Arunachala really is). (But later) when having enchanted (my) mind, It drew me near, then I came near and saw It to be a Hill (achala).

Reflections: God or Arunachala exists in our heart as ourself, and its actions are mysterious beyond human understanding. This power residing in the very core of our heart makes us dance to its tunes – that is, it makes our body, speech and mind act in innumerable ways according to our destiny. However, we cannot understand its workings.

‘Arunachala was shining in my mind as that which is most great’, claims Bhagavan. This could mean that Bhagavan had accumulated a lot of sat-vasana in his previous lives, and thus he was aware of his pure-consciousness in a much more solid way. Though this consciousness was obviously not absolutely pure, it was much clearer to him even in his childhood than it is to us now.

Therefore, when grace made him turn towards this huge pile of sat-vasana, he once again became enchanted with the real Arunachala within. As he started attending to his real nature, he realised that he is motionless - achala.

Mouna said...

A moment of clarity

Reading a recent article in The Maharshi Newsletter I had a moment where tears started rolling. The voice of an intense desire grew inside saying: “Please allow me to visit Arunachala one more time...”
A second or two after having this impulse, I realized that I wasn’t being fair to Bhagavan’s teachings. We carry Arunachala within and as ourselves as awareness and as existence and as the peace that surpasses all understanding.
If within the script is written that I will be visiting Bhagavan’s guru, it will be done, as is in the strict order of things. That shouldn’t prevent me to access that Ocean of Grace right here right now.
Blessed Guru, thank You again for this moment of clarity...

John C said...

Beautifully said Mouna.
By the way apologies for the ridiculous time it is taking me to reply to your previous reply, trust me it won't be worth the wait (lol)!
I don't seem to have 5 minutes at present hence my lack of comments and this very short one!
Best,
John :)

Mouna said...

John, greetings

“Good Things, When Short, Are Twice As Good”
(Spanish philosopher Baltasar Gracián, 1601-1658)

Sanjay Lohia said...

It is said that if one takes one step towards God, God takes ten steps towards us. However, this saying even more true if we are following Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation. Bhagavan used to say that it is foolishness to carry our burdens (our worldly responsibilities) on our head. He further used to say that if one is sincerely practising self-investigation, it is a hundred times more foolishness if we do so.

It is because if we are practising self-investigation with our heart and soul, we have already taken a hundred steps towards God, and therefore God has to take ten thousand steps towards us in response to our bhakti towards him. Thus, for those of us who are sincerely practising self-investigation, Bhagavan’s takes special care of us. I think we all can vouch for this fact.

Bhagavan used to say that if one is travelling on a train, it is foolishness if one carries one’s luggage on one’s head. Likewise, it is foolishness to imagine that we are shaping our lives by our efforts. Moreover, if one is practising self-investigation, one is travelling in a jet aircraft towards God, so to speak. If one is travelling on a train, one has an option of getting down at one of the stations en route. However, if one travelling in an aircraft this option is not there – that is, we cannot get down midway during our flight.

That is, we have no chance of abandoning our practice before we take it to its logical conclusion. If we are not very enthusiastic about our practice, we can delay reaching our goal. But even if we practise it a little here, a little there, its momentum will go on increasing. It is like a snowballing process. As the snowball starts to roll down the hill, it will gain more and more momentum as it approaches the bottom of the hill.

Likewise, as we go along with our practice, it will gain more and more momentum – we cannot stop it even if we want it. This momentum itself will carry us to our goal.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Ashtakam verse 2:

When I, scrutinized within the mind who is the seer (who saw thus)?, the seer became non-existent and I saw that which remained (namely the real Self). The mind (the ego or I thought) does not (now) rise to say, "I saw (the Self)"; (therefore) how can the mind rise to say, ‘I did not see (the Self)’? Who has the power to reveal this (the state of Self-experience) by speaking, when in ancient times (even) You (as Dakshinamurthi) revealed it only without speaking (that is, only through silence)? Only to reveal Your state (the true state of Self experience) without speaking (that is, through Silence), You stood shining as a Hill (rising from) earth (to) sky.

Reflections: Bhagavan sings, ‘When I, scrutinized within the mind who is the seer (who saw thus)?, the seer became non-existent and I saw that which remained (namely the real Self)’. This is a parallel to what Bhagavan teaches us in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar:

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

So Bhagavan is consistent – he teaches us the same thing, whether it is Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam or Nan Yar? or Ulladu Narpadu or Upadesa Undiyar or through his conversations.

Bhagavan further sings, ‘The mind (the ego or I thought) does not (now) rise to say, "I saw (the Self)"; (therefore) how can the mind rise to say, ‘I did not see (the Self)’? This is again similar to what he teaches us in verse 33 of Ulladu Narpadu:

Saying ‘I do not know myself’, ‘I have known myself’, is ground for ridicule. Why? To make oneself an object, are there two selves? Because being one is the truth, the experience of everyone.

Our true nature is silence, and silence can be known only in silence. How can words or thoughts convey that which is beyond any words or thoughts? Bhagavan has explained that even though Dakshinamurti tried imparting self-knowledge to his four elderly but ripe disciples for whole one year, they were not able to fully grasp the teachings. Therefore Dakshinamurti had to finally resort to silence, and only silence worked. As soon as he sunk in silence, his disciples also got established in silence.

This silence is Bhagavan’s only teaching. Bhagavan had to give us his teachings in works because we are able to understand his silence. However, his entire teachings motivate us to turn within so that we experience absolute silence. We should persevere until we reach this state of complete silence, in which not a single thought can ever arise.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Ashtakam verse 3:

When I approach thinking of You (the Supreme Reality) as a form, You stand as a Hill on earth. If one thinks of (or meditates upon) Your form (Your real nature) as formless, one is like someone who wanders about the world in order to see the sky. Therefore, instead of trying to meditate upon You thus), when without thinking one, thinks of Your (Real) form (the existence-consciousness ‘I am’) (one’s) form (or separate individuality) will cease to exist like a sugar-form placed in the ocean. When I know myself, what else is my form (but you)? You, who were existing as the great Aruna Hill, (alone) are (and I, the separate individual, am not).

Reflections: ‘If oneself is a form (the body), the world and God will be likewise …’, says Bhagavan in verse 4 of Ulladu Narpadu. As long as we experience ourself as a form, we will also consider God to be a form. However, the real God is ourself as we really are and hence formless. Therefore if we meditate on God taking him to be a form, we are ignoring his most immediate presence – within ourself.

Even if we try to think that God is formless, this thought itself is a form. Therefore we have to give up experiencing ourself as this form in order to experience God as it is. If we meditate on ourself, our separate individuality will cease to exist, like a sugar-form placed in the ocean, and if we cease to exist, even God as a separate form will cease to exist.

Brahman-killer said...

Sanjay Lohia,
what did you want to express with your saying "Bhagavan had to give us his teachings in works because we are able to understand his silence." ?

kurnda matiyal said...

Sanjay Lohia,
when you say "...and if we cease to exist, even God as a separate form will cease to exist." you seem to forget that pure consciousness can never cease to exist.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Brahman-Killer, sorry, the word ‘works’ was a typo; it should have been ‘words’. So the correct sentence should have been:

Bhagavan had to give us his teachings in words because we are able to understand his silence.

However, the word ‘works’ can also be used here, because Bhagavan wrote his works such as Nan Yar?, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar and others only because we are not able to listen to his silent upadesa.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Kurnda-Matiyal, yes, pure consciousness can never cease to exist, but the ego can and will cease to exist one day. Therefore, when I wrote ‘if we cease to exist’, by ‘we’ I meant the ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Brahman-Killer, sorry, the sentence should read:

Bhagavan had to give us his teachings in words because we are unable to understand his silence.

Brahman-killer said...

Sanjay Lohia,
if in any case "we are able to understand his silence" why should we need teachings in words or works ?

Brahman-killer said...

Sanjay Lohia,
thanks for correcting the mentioned sentence in the meantime.

Mouna said...

Dear Sanjay (and Michael),

"When I approach thinking of You (the Supreme Reality) as a form, You stand as a Hill on earth. If one thinks of (or meditates upon) Your form (Your real nature) as formless, one is like someone who wanders about the world in order to see the sky. Therefore, instead of trying to meditate upon You thus), when without thinking one, thinks of Your (Real) form (the existence-consciousness ‘I am’) (one’s) form (or separate individuality) will cease to exist like a sugar-form placed in the ocean. When I know myself, what else is my form (but you)? You, who were existing as the great Aruna Hill, (alone) are (and I, the separate individual, am not).”
(bold type my emphasis)

I know how difficult is to decrypt Bhagavan’s teaching poetry, even being a tamil ignoramus myself I can feel it is not an easy task to do so.
I am told that even for the common tamilian speaker is not an easy task..
But I wonder, in a near or distant future, if there was any possibility of having a “simpler” translation for the common intellect like many of us here.
For example when I read something like this, although no doubt might be a very accurate translation, I feel completely confused (specially the bold part) as a reader. Even in english it doesn’t seem to make sense at first read… Fortunately there are comments sections of all these verses from some authors to unravel not just the original tamil verse, but also the translation!

I tried to look for a different translation (besides the one in Complete Works”) and found this version:
”When I approach You, considering You as having form, You stand in this universe as Arunachala in the form of a Hill. To contemplate on You with the mind, and look for Your essential form as formless, is like one who travels all over the earth to see the ever-present, all-pervading space. While dwelling without thought upon Your Real boundless nature, the mind loses its separate form (identity), like a sugar dollthat wants to see the depth of the ocean, but melts when it comes in contact with the ocean. And when I enquire within and come to realize my Real Self, where is a separate form (identity) for me, Oh You who stands as the towering Arunachala Hill!”

Besides all the inaccuracies it might have, I think that something like this transmits the message in a more direct form as the one quoted from Sanjay.
I am not complaining, as you know, simply stating that sometimes the desire for accuracy “dissects” a powerful message, makes it more dry, more academic, scholarly... to the risk of losing its power…

Just an observation.
thank you
Be well,
Mouna

John C said...

Hi Mouna.
Sorry for the huge delay in replying to you my friend.

You said:

Last but not least, you asked:
"Is it a core and foundational part of his teachings?“
If that was the case he wouldn’t have bothered writing in Ulladu Narpadu verse 19:
"The dispute as to which will triumph, fate or free will, is only for those who are without understanding as to the root of fate and free will. Those who have known the [ego] self, which is the single source of fate and free will, are free from those things. Say, will they resort to them thereafter?”

Good point.

But taking Nan Yar? as an example Mouna we know that Bhagavan kept some of Sri Sivaprakasam Pillai's writings in paragraph 2 as he thought it may help others understanding. So those parts of the paragraph could be considered more diluted. Now I fully appreciate that Ulladu Narpadu as far as I know is all 100% Bhagavan's exact own words so it is a bit different admitted. But I think if Bhagavan was asked to condense Ulladu Narpadu to say 20 verses the more diluted verses would be removed and the verses that focus on and reinforce his core fundamental teachings would stay. For example I am pretty sure verse 26 would stay.

Now if he did condense it I have no idea if verse 19 would go or stay in all honesty but I think it possibly could be removed as I personally find the whole karma theory complicated and a bit of a grey area.

By the way I appreciate his most condensed teaching is silence and if it was one word it could be "attention", If just two words then maybe "turn with". The more words he says the more diluted his teaching becomes and the further from the absolute truth we go.

Personally I find it helpful to believe I have no free will at all in terms of the body's actions. So if I decide to become a vegan for example and take the train to help me travel to a specific book store and ponder on whether to buy a book by one author or another on veganism it is all just a happening. It is a happening and within that happening is a body that I am presently identifying with and believe I can control its actions and make choices.

I think I am just along for the ride on a pre ordained movie but I wrongly think I make choices and influence the movies story. So I believe the only free will we have is to turn within and move attention from the perceived (body/world) to the perceiver or to turn attention away from the perceiver to the perceived.

The body and the world it appears to be within is just an expansion of the ego and I can't control the bird song or when it rains so I don't think I can control the body which is just a part of the whole happening. The key point is identification. I don't identify with the black bird so I have no control over how it sings. But I do presently identify with the body so I believe I can control it's actions including what I decide to sing.

However an important point to make is unlike my friend Salazar I am not 100% certain about this being absolutely undenaibly true. For example I appreciate Bhagavan's letter to his mother, which does in some ways appear to contradict my thinking.

My understanding could be wrong and I could be misunderstanding Bhagavan's teaching here. But like mentioned before I do find the belief that everything is pre ordained personally helpful with regards vichara. If I think everything is pre written or pre ordained it becomes less interesting to attend to and motivates or encourages me to investigate the perceiver.

So I take it you do believe we do have free will outside of turning attention within or outward? If you do and it helps you power to you my friend.

I think any belief that encourages us to loose interest in the world and investigate our self is priceless.

All the very best and apologies for not getting back to you sooner but I didn't have a choice (lol)!

:)

John.

John C said...

By the way Mouna there's no rush to get back to me (lol)
I will expect your reply some time next month!!
Warmest regards
John :)

Salazar said...

Hello John, it may sound like it but I am not 100% certain of predetermination and actually of anything but that I exist. So in regards to predetermination we might sail in the same boat.

We cannot trust our senses and perceptions nor the thought processes of the mind. The sages suggest to ignore or at least to take thoughts as unimportant and irrelevant. They have no power whatsoever.

Have a good one!

John C said...

Hi Salazar,
Yes I agree with you here 100% all I can be certain of is I exist everything else is just a concept. I am happy to be on the same boat as you :)

What a blessing Bhagavan has appeared within this loud and confusing happening.

Hope you have a good one too.
Best.
John

Sanjay Lohia said...

Mouna, the jnani’s words have raw power, and therefore when we transcribe or translate their words, we should try to be as accurate to their words as possible – that is, we should not try to simplify or put it in a direct manner and so on. However, while explaining their words, we can simply or paraphrase them to make it easier to understand.

The translation of verse 3 of Sri Arunachala Ashtakam which I had quoted was taken from the book Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam Commentary: Sri Sadhu Om. There can be different ways of interpreting these verses, and Bhagavan has written these verses keeping a wide range of devotees in mind. These verses will appeal to those with a more devotional bent of mind, and even to many with a more philosophical bent of mind.

However, to understand the inner meaning of these verses, one needs to understand his philosophical texts, namely Ulladu Narpadu, Nan Yar?, Upadesa Undiyar and other such works. If we assimilate the teachings contained in these works, it would be easy to understand the inner meaning of Bhagavan’s devotional verses to Arunachala. Basically, even in these seemingly devotional verses Bhagavan is giving us his core teachings, and therefore we need to read between the lines to decipher their intended meaning.

Yes, we would definitely welcome a fresh and crisper translation of these verses by Michael. This does not mean that Sadhu Om’s translations are not accurate. In fact, Michael once wrote that Sadhu Om sometimes used to tell those around him that a new meaning for a certain verse had suddenly struck his mind, so his translations do not contain all the meanings he ever saw in any particular verse.

I think much more people are drawn to the name and form of Arunachala, compared to the people drawn to his more direct philosophical works. This can be seen when we meet for our regular satsangs, and also by an increasing number of people who flock to Tiruvannamalai.

Therefore on behalf of all us, I would request Michael to consider giving us a fresh translation of the verses of Arunachala Stuti Panchakam. His fresh translations of Ulladu Narpadu and Upadesa Undiyar are quite useful, and therefore new translations of Arunachala Stuti Panchakam will also be useful. In fact, if he decides to translate these verses, it may appeal to a wider variety of devotees.



Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Ashtakam verse 4:

See, leaving You (the real Self), who (always and everywhere) exist (as existence or Sat) and shine (as consciousness or chit), and seeking God, is only (like) taking a light, seeking darkness. Only to reveal (the truth about) Yourself, who exist and shine (as the existence-consciousness "I am"), You exist as various forms in each and every religion. If people do not know You, who (thus) exist and shine (as 'I am'), they are only (like) the blind who do not have knowledge of (the existence of) the Sun. O Gem (of self-shining consciousness) called the peerless great Aruna Hill, (graciously) exist and shine in my heart as one without a second!

Reflections: Our real nature is non-dual sat-chit (being-awareness), and this non-dual sat-chit is also the real nature of God. Therefore we are one with God in our essential nature. Bhagavan clarifies this in verses 24 and 25 of Upadesa Undiyar:

24: By [their] existing nature, God and souls are only one substance. Only [their] awareness of adjuncts is different.

25: Knowing [or being aware of] oneself leaving aside adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [he] shines as oneself.

Therefore if we try to see God as one of the objects, we are using, so to speak, the light of God (pure awareness) to see darkness, because all jada objects are nothing but darkness. That is, these objects are other than pure light, and therefore these objects can be equated with darkness.

God seems to exist in various forms in different religions, because their followers are still not able to understand that God exists only in our heart. Those who do not know God as it really is are like the blind who cannot see the existence of the sun. No one with normal eyesight doubts the existence of the sun. Likewise, no one can doubt the existence of God if they understand that God is nothing but ourself. We do no doubt our existence, and if we are one with God, how can we doubt God’s existence?

God is peerless and it shines within our heart as one without the second. To see God as it really is, all we need to do is to turn within and look at ourself.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Ashtakam verse 5:

Like the string in (a garland of) gems, You alone exist as the one in each and every soul and in each and every one of the diverse religions (that is, You exist as the one self in every soul and as the one God in every religion). Just as a gem is polished (on a grinding stone), if the mind is polished on the stone called mind (that is, if the mind attends to itself, the first person) so as to remove (its) flaws (the adjuncts or upadhis such as this or that), the light of your grace will shine forth (that is, the mind will shine devoid of adjuncts as the light of your grace, the mere consciousness 'I am'). (Then) just, as (the colour of any other object cannot affect) the light of a (coloured) gem, the attachment towards any other object will not approach (such a mind, which has been transformed into Self). When the light of the sun falls on a photographic plate, can an image (thereafter) be impressed (upon it)? When the light of Arunachala, (similarly the sun of Self knowledge) falls upon the mind, no image can thereafter be impressed upon it. Other than you, the intensely lustrous Aruna Hill, is there (any) thing (whose light can thus destroy the mind) or whose light can thereafter make an impression upon it)?

Reflections: Bhagavan teaches us that the mind needs to be polished on the stone called mind. That is, the mind needs to constantly or repeatedly attend to itself, and this self-attentiveness will slowly but gradually remove all its defects. These defects are its vishaya-vasanas, which are seeds of all our likes and dislikes, fears and aversions, attachments and desires and so on. In this path, we need to be ever vigilant and we have to be ever on the guard.

Who has these likes and dislikes? Who has this fear? Who has this attachment? Who desires this or that? This is the way to polish the mind on the stone called the mind, and this polishing should go on until all our vishaya-vasanas are destroyed. All our vishaya-vasanas can be destroyed only when we experience ourself as we really are.

All this may seem easy to understand, but we should be fully aware of the dangers at every twist and turn. That is, within us almost endless vishaya-vasanas are hiding at places known or unknown to us, and these vasanas can sprout at any given moment – so we need to be extra vigilant.

Mouna said...

Hello John C. greetings

I think there is a little misunderstanding of your reading my comment.
I am a staunch defender in the absence of free will for ego or the person.
What I tried to say is that one needs to take life as if we had free will, even if er really understand that is a fallacy and an illusion.

Bhagavan, in Ulladu Narpadu Verse 19, actually emphasizes that all these discussions about wich one prevails over the other is a sort of dead end for those who don’t know the source of free will or fate.
"UN Verse 19. The dispute as to which will triumph, fate or free will, is only for those who are without understanding as to the root of fate and free will. Those who have known the [ego] self, which is the single source of fate and free will, are free from those things. Say, will they resort to them thereafter?"

Simple, I don’t have free will but I play the role as if I had it, knowing quite well the script for Mouna is already written.
Sounds like a paradox, granted, but for whom?

Be well,
M

pappadam said...

Sanjay Lohia,
"Other than you, the intensely lustrous Aruna Hill, is there (any) thing (whose light can thus destroy the mind) or whose light can thereafter make an impression upon it)?"

Indeed I have confidence that the intense light of Arunachala/Aruna Hill/Siva/self will destroy the mind at its birthplace.

pappadam said...

Yes, yes let us pray: "O Gem (of self-shining consciousness) called the peerless great Aruna Hill, (graciously) exist and shine in my heart as one without a second!"

John C said...

Hi Mouna,
My reply was well worth the wait!! Especially as I stupidly misunderstood your comment. Sorry about that.

I seem to have been granted some free time which is why this reply is rather fast. I'm not sure of your own situation with regards time so I understand if you don't get back to me or if it takes a while.

I think I heard Robert Adams say even though everything is pre ordained when we turn our attention outward we should act is if we do have free will.

Mouna what are your thoughts on Bhagavan's letter to his mother by the way with regards the belief we share that everything is pre ordained ?

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

It does seem to give the impression that there is pre determined actions but also actions performed of free will?.

But I may lack a deep understanding of this letter in all fairness, which is probably the case.

All the very best.

John.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Ashtakam verse 6:

You, the Heart, the light of consciousness (or Self knowledge), the One Reality, alone exist! A wonderful power sakti exists in You as not other (than You). From (that sakti) series of subtle shadowy thoughts (rise and) by means of (the reflected light of) consciousness in (and due to) the whirl of destiny (prarabdha) - are (simultaneously) seen (as) shadowy world-pictures, both inside (on) the mirror of the thought-light (or mind-light) and outside through the (five) senses such as the eyes, just like a cinema-picture which exists (by being projected) through a lens. O Hill of Grace, whether they (the world-picture) stop (appearing) or whether they continue (appearing), they do not exist apart from You.

Reflections: Bhagavan repeatedly emphasises that what exists is only atma-svarupa or jnana. In this verse, Bhagavan further explains the fact that prarabdha is what determines which phenomena are to appear in our mind. As Bhagavan explains in this verse, ‘in the whirl [meaning: a frantic activity of a specified kind] of destiny, series of subtle shadowy thoughts are seen on the mirror of the mind-light as a shadowy world-picture both inside and outside’.

Michael expanded on this in of his comments addressed to me. He wrote:

Therefore what is it that determines which visaya-vasanas are projected as phenomena at each moment? It is our prarabdha, which has been ordained by Bhagavan and is therefore what is most favourable for our spiritual development. However, though our prarabdha determines which phenomena are to appear in our awareness, we are always free to choose whether to attend to those phenomena or to try to turn our attention back within to see what we actually are.

As Bhagavan explains, these subtle shadowy thoughts which appear in our awareness are like a cinema-picture. This cinema-picture is projected by our mind but what determines which picture is to be projected at any given moment is decided by our destiny.

However, we should not pay attention to what appears or disappears in our awareness, because whatever appears and disappears is not apart from our true self. We are the base and the only real substance behind these shadowy appearances; just like the screen is the base and the only real substance behind the cinema-picture. Therefore we should try to completely ignore this world-picture, which Bhagavan says in nothing but a dream, and focus all our interest and attention on ourself - everything else is utterly unreal and therefore not worth our attention.

Salazar said...

Hello John, I believe we can discuss this topic for all eternity and still wondering what's going on. Robert may have said that but he also said something what totally contradicts that. He said that the actions we are going to perform on a particular day will happen no matter what and we don't have to think, worry, or intend that these actions are coming into fruition.

That means, in my understanding, that there is no need of planning, that action, like a trip to the coast, will unfold if there is a thought about it or not. So we do not have to "plan" like 'I have to fill up the tank of my car', or, 'I better make hotel reservations', etc. It will be happening without the involvement of the ego/mind.

I could quote quite a few supporting comments from his satsangs but I believe that should suffice.

Robert was quite adamant in his satsangs about the things we do that they do NOT need any involvement of our mind, it will happen anyway, much better though if the mind doesn't get involved at all.

Hope you are doing well.

Mouna said...

John,

I think the letter Bhagavan wrote to his mother it’s an amazing teaching tool (I have it as a picture frame hanging on my wall). If one reflects about it and navigates life according to its meaning everything will be easier, illusory suffering and real pain will be processed very differently.

As for the free will/fate conundrum, let’s keep it simple and minimize the mind-noise:

’Having investigated various states of being but seizing firmly that state of Supreme Reality, play your part, O hero, in the world. You have known the truth which is at the Heart of all appearances. Without ever turning away from that Reality, play in the world, O hero, as if in love with it.' [Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 18, verses 20-23.]

‘Seeming to have enthusiasm and delight, seeming to have excitement and aversion, seeming to exercise initiative and perseverance, and yet without attachment, play, O hero, in the world. Released from all the bonds of attachment and with equanimity of mind, acting outwardly in all situations in accordance with the part you have assumed, play as you please, O hero, in the world.' [Yoga Vasishta, 5 – 18, verses 24-26.]


Be well my friend
M

Salazar said...

John, a clarification, when I said "It will be happening without the involvement of the ego/mind." it meant without the intentional thought process of a do-er/creator/initiator of actions. Of course when the body picks up a phone to make a reservation, the mind is involved at that time. But that is then a spontaneous action which is never prompted by the ego/mind.

So back to Robert, that was his way of saying, be in the moment, do not worry about the future even if that future is 10 minutes away. Accepting predetermination according to Robert is aiding, IMO, not only surrender but also, and that goes actually along with surrender, living in the moment.

John C said...

Hi Mouna,
Thanks very much for your reply and thanks for the quotes too. I have never seen those before. They are very powerful and beautifully reinforce and support what you said:

" I don’t have free will but I play the role as if I had it, knowing quite well the script for Mouna is already written."

With regards helping minimise mind-noise. It should but as you will see by reading my next nonsensical comment to our good friend Salazar my mind is far from quiet :)

Your feedback about it is most welcome if you have time along with anyone else's.

What a great blog this is.

Thank you Michael.

John.

John C said...

Hello Salazar,
Huge thanks for your helpful contribution my friend.
I find Robert Adams very helpful indeed and thank you for your insights on him and his teaching.

I would very much like your feedback about the below if possible Salazar in case I have misunderstood your comment, this is very helpful to me thank you.

My understanding is all duality is contained within the single field of awareness. This includes all thoughts from subtle thoughts like all mental thoughts, feelings and emotions etc to more gross thoughts like the body and the world. Nothing exists outside this screen so to speak there is only one container in which everything happens. The container never ever changes, change only happens within it.

My understanding rightly or wrongly is absolutely everything that happens within this window or on this screen of awareness is pre ordained which would include all thoughts including all bodily actions and all the mental chatter about those actions.

From what I understand you say Robert Adams says the bodily actions and all worldly actions are pre written but the mental thoughts about them or the pre and post emotional reactions to them are not pre ordained. So the mental thoughts about the actions can be classed as free will. However regardless of the thoughts about the actions the actions will happen as they are destined to.

So for example I am destined to travel to India nothing can be done to prevent it but the mental thoughts linked to that trip whether excitement, or trepidation are not preordained. These thoughts (likes and dislikes) (feelings and emotions) are what creates karma? It is not the pre ordained actions that creates karma it is the mental reaction to the pre ordained happenings that creates karma.

I am understanding you right or lost the plot :)

Thanks Salazar.
John.

Salazar said...

John, I concur with you 100%. Let's say it is preordained that you'll hit your neighbor (doesn't matter why or how) then that action by itself will not create any karma. However it will create karma when there is even the slightest identification with that act. Because that means that one identifies with that body through the mind and not with consciousness [the screen]. That identification of being the "bad" guy and feeling guilty and remorseful creates new karma which will be added to the boatload of karma we already have.

That's why I said in the past that feeling remorse or any other emotional response just keep the eternal karma cycle going. We get raised to be "responsible" and be remorseful and these are good ethical qualities. However they create karma because instead of identifying with the screen, we participate in the movie and that participation will create the script for new movies to come up.

That includes intention "to better" oneself, these intentions will just create more karma because these intentions want to improve the dream character in that movie. So in order to prevent that we have to ignore what that dream character does, hitting somebody or not, and turn to the screen and stay there.

We can only "improve" the ego in getting rid of it, in realizing it has never existed in the first place.

Sadhu Om mentioned several levels of aspirants and the lower ones need to be ethical first and use "aids", worship idols, etc. before they ending up to drop that all and only focus on the screen and nothing else. That's the problem when certain comments by Bhagavan are taken out of context, or those advises given by him to lower level aspirants are taken as valid for everyone what is plain wrong.

It is also very wrong to adhere to the belief that there is a gradual change or improvement from ego to Self or something like that. No, according to Sadhu Om, at one moment there is the ego and in the next it's gone, for good.
All these seemingly improvements of "feeling" better, "understanding more clearly" and what not are just imaginations of the mind and, I guess, part of the process for most.

Salazar said...

John, Robert liked to say, "do not try to be still" and "do not try to not be still" because both keep us in duality and bound. That is a good example how duality, something we are so used and addicted to, keeps us in delusion.

No "trying", just being - huge difference. The former is samsara, the latter freedom.

Arjuna said...

"It is also very wrong to adhere to the belief that there is a gradual change or improvement from ego to Self or something like that. No, according to Sadhu Om, at one moment there is the ego and in the next it's gone, for good.
All these seemingly improvements of "feeling" better, "understanding more clearly" and what not are just imaginations of the mind and, I guess, part of the process for most."

Of course we have to undertake gradual improvement in practising and in understanding Bhagavan's teaching more clearly.
Other imaginations are only delusion.

Salazar said...

The might be very well from your viewpoint. I, however, do not agree. Your last sentence is nonsense.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The only worthwhile endeavour is to know what we really are; everything else we can leave for after that. But after that we will find that there is nothing else to worry about. Bhagavan says that when the atom bomb of jnana falls on the world the entire world disappears, because it is built on such a flimsy foundation – the ego.

Everything of value in this world is fleeting. So we should seek what is behind all these things that give them value. That is the reality. That is what we should be seeking; otherwise, we will be disappointed. The world is guaranteed to disappoint us.

Edited extract from Michael’s video dated 8th June, 2013

Note: ‘The world is guaranteed to disappoint us’, says Michael. We need to pay heed to this caution – that is, we need to try and go beyond this world. How? We can do this only by destroying our ego, because it is this flimsy ego which not only projects this world but is also the only thing which is aware of this world.

As we know, only self-investigation can destroy our ego. As Michael says, this is the only worthwhile task. Everything else is ultimately a waste of time and energy. Bhagavan would repeatedly emphasise this in so many ways.

Arjuna said...

Salazar,
one must of course bear in mind that for the highly gifted ones who are descended directly from heaven -(such as you)- special ruling is in force.

John C said...

Salazar very helpful thank you :)
I will get back to you this evening. (I am in the U.K by the way)
I was running around like a headless chicken the last few weeks which is why I took so long to get back to our friend Mouna. But things seem to be slowing down and I appear to have more free time so I am pretty sure I will get back to you tonight.
Best wishes.
John.

ashamed.ego said...

All talks about improving the ego will fall away for an individual who happens to be on the brink of suicide (because of their life situation, etc.) (This is not to suggest that people /become/ suicidal in order to achieve realization.)

If that person attends to thoughts, the unbearable pain they feel can cause an escalation. Their attention /must/ only be on itself. Attending to other things might not free the individual from the forces of the self-destructive thoughts.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam - verse 7

If the thought 'I' (the ego or mind, the feeling 'I am this' or 'I am that') does not exist, no other thing will exist. Until that (that is, until the thought 'I' is found to be nonexistent), if other thoughts rise, (one should enquire) To whom (do they rise)? To me (then by scrutinizing) what is the rising-place of 'I'?, merge (within). Diving within (in this manner), if one reaches the Heart-Throne, (one will become) verily the Soverign under the shade of one umbrella. (that is, one will become the One non-dual Supreme Reality itself). (Since the thought 'I' will then not exist) the dream (of dyads or dvandvas) known as inside and outside, the two karmas (good karmas and bad karmas), death and birth, pleasure and pain, and darkness and light, will not exist, and the limitless ocean of the light of Grace called Aruna Hill, which dances motionlessly in the court of the heart (in the form of the sphurana'I-I'), alone (will exist).

Reflections: Bhagavan says, ‘If the thought 'I' (the ego or mind, the feeling 'I am this' or 'I am that') does not exist, no other thing will exist’. He says the same thing in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu:

If the ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if the ego does not exist, everything does not exist. The ego itself is everything. Therefore, know that investigating what this is alone is giving up everything.

However, as long as we experience any phenomena – anything that appears and disappears – we should investigate ‘to whom do they appear?’ As Bhagavan implies in one of earlier verses of Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam, we need to unceasingly polish the mind on the stone called the mind, and we should continue doing this until even a little vestige of any phenomena is left.

If we are able to remove all the phenomena from our view, that will be the end of all dvandvas (dyads) such as inside and outside, the two karmas (good karmas and bad karmas), death and birth, pleasure and pain, darkness and light and so on. The irreducible residue that will remain after all these goes is the peerless one, the limitless one, which is one without any second. This is what we actually are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Ashtakam - verse 8

The water showered by the clouds, which rose from the ocean, will not stop, even if obstructed, until it reaches (its) abode, the ocean, (similarly) the embodied soul (the soul which rises as 'I am this body') rises from You (O Arunachala) and will not stop, though it wanders (or suffers) on the many paths which it encounters, until it reaches (or unites with) You. Though it wanders about the vast sky, (in that sky), there is no abode (or place of rest) for the bird; the place (for the bird to rest) is not other than the earth; (therefore) what it is bound to do is to go back the way it came. O Aruna Hill, when the soul goes back the way it came it will unite with You, the ocean of Bliss.

Reflections: Bhagavan sings, ‘O Aruna hill, when the soul goes back the way it came it will unite with you, the ocean of bliss’. Once someone came into Bhagavan’s hall and started asking a lot of questions, Bhagavan patiently went on answering these questions. However, this person was not satisfied and it seemed that he was in a mood to argue for the sake of argument. Therefore Bhagavan ultimately told him, ‘go the way you came’, and saying this Bhagavan went out for his walk.

The person was confused and somewhat angry. He told those around him, ‘what is this, I have come from so far, and Bhagavan wants me to return the way I came. Is this a proper thing to say?’ Obviously, this person had misunderstood Bhagavan. What Bhagavan meant was that the person should return to his source – because he (the ego) has risen from its source and it needs to merge back in its source, and only if he does so will all his questions end.

Likewise, since by rising as this ego, we have been separated from our source, so we need to return back to our source. It is because until we do so we cannot get the final and complete rest. We are seeking undiluted happiness, and we can experience this only when we return to our source. So somehow we need to get back to our original state.

The quickest and surest way of merging back within is to investigate the source from where we have risen. If we undertake any other sadhana, these will eventually take us to the practice of self-investigation, because without self-investigation we cannot merge back within. Bhagavan has made this clear. So why not try to stick to self-investigation right from the beginning?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Arunachala Padigam - verse 1

If You, who by (Your) grace have taken me as Your own, do not (now) graciously bestow upon me Your (true) vision (the vision of Self or Atma-Darsana) what will be my condition if this body leaves (me) after (my) suffering intensely (like this) in the miserable world of darkness (ignorance or mental delusion) longing (for Your true vision) ? Can a lotus blossom without seeing the sun? O (Embodiment of) love called Arunamamalai (the great Aruna Hill), where grace springs forth in abundance and gushes out as a torrent, (You) being the Sun to the sun (the consciousness which illumines everything), can my mind-lotus blossom without seeing Your True Vision?

Reflections: Bhagavan is posing here as the one who is close to experiencing svarupa-darshana, but has not yet attained it. So close yet so far! He is describing the inner turmoil of an sadhaka who is trying extremely hard to reach his goal, but somehow his or her vishaya-vasanas are coming in their way. He is pulled in two opposite directions, and this is driving him mad. His heart is torn apart. Though he wants to merge in God, he is not able to surrender fully – so it is a miserable state.

What is the medicine for such a miserable condition? It is only more and more effort to merge back within. All our misery will go only when we see the ‘sun of the sun’ which is Bhagavan, because only such seeing can destroy all our misery. No half-hearted effort will do – we need to put our entire heart and soul into our effort to surrender within completely.

Salazar said...

"Arjuna", there is no need for sarcasm. You also imply something what is entirely in your mind and not true.
What I said is valid for everyone with no exceptions, you simply did not get what I was saying. So you jumped to that what could only make sense to you and then responded accordingly.

Funny, everybody seems to be so sure of the teachings that they simply assume they know instead maybe to ask why I'd say something like that. But that requires humility which I cannot find especially with our Indian friends here on this forum :)

So they rather point a finger and put that what they cannot comprehend in the "boast" compartment and the world looks alright again.

Frankly, the only Indians I like to communicate on this blog with is venkat, Sanjay Lohia, and in addition one or two where I liked their comments but never had an exchange with. The rest is an odd crowd and I cannot relate at all with their way of reasoning or how they apply Bjhagavan's teachings.

Salazar said...

Hello John, if you don't mind, from which area do you hail from? Greater London maybe, or are you possibly Welsh?

I've been a number of times to Britain, Scotland, and Ireland which is a lovely island, but Britain is quite a lovely island too :)

My nephew is currently going to the University of Bristol.

Cheers old chap :)

John C said...

Hi Salazar,
I have never been to Bristol myself but I know some one who went there to study and really liked it. I hope your nephew gets on alright down there. I am from Southport a small seaside town in the north west of england.

Maybe I will travel to America one day? It is a BIG country !!! I hope so :)


Apologies if there any mistakes or typos it's a bit late here.


I agree, I think the problem is identifying with things that appear or happen on the screen and thinking I am doing this. If you hit your neighbour the problem is you think it was my hand which is part of my body that hit him. I did this. Then maybe a picture may appear, it might be a replay of what happened then a mental thought may materialise like "I shouldn't of lost my temper I'm out of order. Next a painful feeling may manifest on the screen because I have broken my hand. I identify with the mental chatter as being my thoughts which I am thinking because they are in my head. When it seems to me they are not in my head but out there amongst the scenery. The thoughts just appear on the screen like everything else they just happen and are nothing to do with me but I think they are, I think they are my thoughts and I am thinking them. I am responsible for them. Like wise the painful feeling I identify with as my pain which is located in my hand which is part of my body.

Like you said I think it is the identification with things that happen that creates karma no the actions them self.

You also said "We can only "improve" the ego in getting rid of it, in realizing it has never existed in the first place."

Makes sense, the ego is nothing but a wrong knowledge of what we are, it is the thought I am the body. What we really are is the unchanging screen the ego rises by identifying with some of the things on the screen (the five sheaths) and not other things which it sees as other than itself (duality). The unchanging screen is unaware of all this because it is only aware of itself because nothing else actually exists. The ego is nothing but an ignorant illusory misperception of what we are. Rather than experiencing our self as we are we experience our self as a body in a world ruled by a god and at the mercy of time. We limit our self.

You said:
"It is also very wrong to adhere to the belief that there is a gradual change or improvement from ego to Self or something like that. No, according to Sadhu Om, at one moment there is the ego and in the next it's gone, for good.
All these seemingly improvements of "feeling" better, "understanding more clearly" and what not are just imaginations of the mind and, I guess, part of the process for most."

I agree if we try to jump across a pit we either reach the other side or not. If we end up 6 inches away from the other side or 6 feet we still fall down and don't get to the other side. The ego will vanish in an instant when we turn within with enough focus to experience our self alone. Job done so to speak even though in reality nothing needed to be done.

"John, Robert liked to say, "do not try to be still" and "do not try to not be still" because both keep us in duality and bound. That is a good example how duality, something we are so used and addicted to, keeps us in delusion.

No "trying", just being - huge difference. The former is samsara, the latter freedom"

I like that :)

All the best and nice talking to you.

John.

Salazar said...

Hello John, it is refreshing to read your comments. I have found two quotes by Bhagavan to underline the previous points we talked about. They are from Padamalai, pages 293/294. I don't know if you are familiar with Padamalai, it consists of many quotes from GVK and other scriptures by/about Bhagavan and it has many statements and ideas by Bhagavan that have not appeared in any other book about him.

From an unpublished poem by Sivaprakasam Pillai: “We have somehow become embodied. Whatever good and bad has been ordained to come, it will certainly come. There is only ONE way to be free from suffering. That is to turn the mind within. So said Ramana.”

Question: In the early stages would it not be a help to a man to seek solitude and give up his outer duties in life?
Bhagavan: […] The main thing is to see that the mind does not turn outward but inward. It does not really rest with a man whether he goes to this place or whether he gives up his duties or not. ALL that happens according to destiny. [Salazar: How could “free will” possibly change that but just to be expressed as in either liking or disliking it?]
ALL the activities that the body is to go through are determined when it first comes into existence. IT DOES NOT REST WITH YOU TO ACCEPT OR REJECT THEM. The ONLY freedom you have is to turn your mind inward and renounce activities there. […]

NOTHING happens except that which is divinely ordained. Consequently, it is pointless for people (who want the world to be different) to experience anxiety and to be debilitated by distress.

[All capitalization by me]

Salazar's manana: It is important to note that even though Bhagavan discusses about the virtues of seeking solitude and he gave even advice to certain devotees if they should seclude or not, HOWEVER, nevertheless it will ONLY happen according to one's destiny and Bhagavan talking about it if there would be actually a choice does not make it so according to Bhagavan's very own statement above.
So nothing happens except that which is divinely ordained. That makes the ego/mind totally powerless (in terms of outward action/intention) since it cannot do ANYTHING what has an affect to one's destiny BUT to turn within. ANY outward action is preordained, including if one sits down quietly or not or of one goes into a market place instead or of one uses a cell phone or not. The point of Bhagavan's upadesa is not about what the body is doing or in which environment it is but to turn within NO matter where the body is or what it does. To worry about certain habits is forgetting that these are preordained too. I.e. it is best to be oblivious about if I look too much on a cellphone or not.

It is utterly irrelevant what the body does and to be concerned about it shows the ignorance about divine ordination.

That's it for now, my best to you old friend. Bye now.

John C said...

Hi Salazar,
Thanks very much for the quotes from Padamalai I haven't read it and they were very helpful and relevant to what we were previously talking about.

I like the poem by Sivaprakasam Pillai :)

I agree with your reflections on free will and fate, It does make sense to me and I do find it help in helping me turn within.

Yes the most effective way to improve the world is to end the dream. We don't worry about a dream world and all the beings in it once we wake up from the nightmare. Bhagavan says the waking state is just a dream so the best remedy is to look carefully at the perceiver of the dream, the dreamer. If we look closely and with enough focus we will see the perceiver was a wrong knowledge of what we really are and like wise the world will also be seen to be nothing but an illusion. Neither of them ever existed it was nothing but a ignorant misperception. What we really are just is, pure being and not aware of anything but itself. Unlimited, eternal self aware happiness.

I seem to be rushing around again and time seems to be scarce once more so I will leave it there my friend and wish you nothing but the best until we talk again :)

John.

Anonymous said...

Another very articulate post by Sanjay Lohia which was ridiculed by a mere "ahankar" proudly posing as the all knowing and only knowledgeable Jnani of this website.

Sanjy lohia said:

Salazar writes: Yes I agree, love is important for vichara, however some may misunderstand what kind of love and where it is coming from. Does is come from the mind or [physical] heart? I don’t believe so.

Can love be cultivated? Well who would do the cultivating? Can an ego really love? An ego can only “love” an object in the form of attachment. So it “loves” a loved one, an item like a car or a piece of jewelry, or a specific place, etc.

Reflections: Bhagavan sings in Verse 101 Sri Arunachala Aksharamanamalai:

Arunachala, like ice in water, lovingly melt me as love in you, the form of love.

Who is this ‘me’ who aspires to be merged as love in Arunachala? It is obviously the ego. So the ego can love itself be attending to itself. Salazar asks, ‘where it is coming from. Does it come from the mind or [physical] heart? I don’t believe so’. There is only one real existence which we can call by various names. Let us call it Arunachala here. As Bhagavan says, Arunachala is the form of love and as only Arunachala really exists, there is no love apart from or other than Arunachala.

What is this ego? It is chit-jada-granthi. That means it is a combination of Arunachala, which is pure love, and various jada adjuncts. This ego therefore already contains love, because part of it is pure love. However, this love is defiled or has lost its purity, so to speak, when it is mixed with various jada adjuncts. So it makes all efforts to regain its original purity, because pure love is also pure happiness. As we know, all our actions are in search of perfect happiness.

However, instead of turning within, the ego turns outside in an erroneous belief that it can thereby regain its pure love or happiness. This outward movement of mind is called 'desire', but when it turns within to look at itself, this inward moment is called love. In a way, this ego borrows some love from Arunachala and misuses it to play with outside things. In contrast, when it turns within, it returns this borrowed love back to Arunachala, the rightful owner of love.

'Can this love be cultivated', asks Salazar. Yes, surely it can be. Why do we practise self-investigation? It is because we love to practise it, so we have slowly and gradually cultivated this love by our previous practice of self-investigation. Only this ego needs to cultivate love, because Arunachala is already pure and perfect love, and therefore it doesn’t need more love.

Yes, when the ego loves objects this love is called 'desire' or 'attachment', but by turning its attention towards itself it reduces these desires and attachments and cultivates the love just to be.

30 April 2018 at 19:06

Anonymous said...

Typical neo-advaitin (Frank) (western non-dualism) Michael James had to encounter:

7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 27: the state in which ‘I’ does not rise is the state in which we are that, and unless one investigates where ‘I’ rises, how to abide in that state in which it does not rise?

F: I disagree. In his spoken teachings he emphasizes “I am That” more than anything else. Ego is false, reality is real. So, you are That, no worries, just be.

M: For the ego ‘I am that’ is a mere thought, so dwelling on it sustains the ego. As he says in verse 27 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, the state in which one exists without ‘I’ [the ego] rising is the state in which we exist as that [brahman, the fundamental substance, which is the one infinite whole], and unless one investigates the place from which ‘I’ rises, how to abide in the real state in which it does not rise — the state in which it is annihilated and we are therefore that?

The non-rising of ‘I’ is what is called just being (summā iruppadu), and in that state there is no one to think or say ‘I am that’.

F: Nothing there to eradicate, obviously, and you already know this, right?

M: The ‘you’ or ‘I’ who believes it already knows that there is nothing to be eradicated is itself what needs to be eradicated.

8. The ego will not cease except by self-investigation (ātma-vicāra)

F: I disagree. Hahaha. I would never be so arrogant. The ego being that is the greatest absurdity. I would be humiliated to say it before you. No, We are That — I amness. We both know That, because is it not us?

M: The ego will not cease by sophistry, by repetition of what it has heard or by claiming to know anything, but only by vicāra [self-investigation]. This is the core message of Nāṉ Ār? (Who am I?), which is the crest-jewel of his spoken teachings.

F: I agree. But what is to do vicara?

M: The ego, of course. Who else needs to do vicāra or could do it?

Monday, 30 April 2018

Anonymous said...

More examples of the typical neo-advaitin talks( by Frank) (western non-dualism) Michael James had to encounter:

11. Bhagavan focused his teachings on the ego more than on That, because we need to investigate the ego in order to know That.

F: Well, I am ignorant of those works you are proficient in. But the Bhagavan I know mentions That more than ego. It doesn’t exist.

Obviously I know them, but you’ve read them more than anyone probably.

But if we are that, there is no one to do vicāra.

M: Are we that? Not so long as we rise as ‘I’, or at least we seem not to be that as long as we rise as ‘I’.

F: We are always that — you put more emphasis on illusion than reality, why?

M: That is always that, so it is not a problem, and has no problem. The problem is the ego, the one who has all problems, and it can get rid of itself only by focusing on itself.

F: I agree, but who has the problems?

M: The ego, of course, only the ego.

Bhagavan focused his teachings on the ego more than on that, for the reason he explained in verse 27 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (cited above).

F: Yes, but I’m thinking of his spoken teachings.

M: Bhagavan’s core teachings are the same, whether written or spoken.

But many of his replies are not his core teachings, because they were said in answer to the questions of ‘others’ (as he says in verse 33 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham, cited in my latest article).

F: Yes, but his answers are still his answers. Beneath them is the Truth, the Presence that allows all to be: Being, the stillness from which his ‘answers’ arise.

M: Many of his ‘answers’ contradict his core teachings, because they were meant for ‘others’.

F: I agree, but what is that core? Being, not thinking, writing, speaking.

The base of ego is self, we are to focus on Self, not fluctuating phantom.

M: We mistake ourself to be ego, so we must focus only on ego. Ego cannot know its real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so it must focus on itself in order to dissolve in its real nature. When we see a snake, we don’t see any rope, so we must focus on the snake in order to see the rope.

Anonymous said...

More "bummer neo-advaita nonsense from Frank" Michael James had to deal with:

13. The I who says I can’t find the ego is itself the ego whom it says it can’t find

F: Did Bhagavan see egos?

M: Bhagavan sees no egos, because he looked at himself carefully and saw that there is no such thing, and hence no other problems. However, since we come to him complaining of problems, he advised us to look carefully at ourself to see whether there is any ego.

F: I couldn’t find it.

M: The ego seems to exist (even if we mentally or verbally deny its existence) only because we do not look at it carefully enough.

F: I see. But I can’t find the ego. Mentally is ego, verbally is ego — so none of it exists, right?

M: You say you cannot find it because you haven’t looked carefully enough. If you look carefully enough no one will remain to say I couldn’t find it.

F: I agree. But I can’t find it. What to do?

M: Look harder until nothing remains to say I can’t find it.

F: I can’t find it. It is gone. I can’t even ‘look’ anymore.

M: The I who says I can’t find it or I can’t even look is itself the ego whom it says it can’t find.

F: I agree. So, I am an ego. Bummer.

M: Yes, a real bummer, but a bummer only because we are not yet truly willing to let go of it.

F: Oh well, next time.

M: So long as we say ‘next time’ we cannot get rid of it. Only when we recognise that we have to look and see its non-existence here and now, not at any other place or time, will we get rid of it.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Anonymous said...

When Michael James told the neo-advaitin Frank thus:

I suggested that we should trust not only Bhagavan but also his advice that ‘we should persevere in looking at ourself until we see that what exists is only pure, infinite, indivisible, immutable and eternal self-awareness’,

Neo-advaitin Frank's typical "neo-advaitish" reply to Michael James:

This is actually a point of disagreement among us. I am like Hume, I look and I cannot find, which I believe is a statement of self-awareness, rather than ignorance. You have misread me, as you have misread Hume, and this is also the Zen/Buddhist (as well as contemporary) strand of thinking. What do you think? Hume can’t find anything because he is that — philosophers hit on this all the time, throughout the millennia. Bhagavan is not special, though he is to us, in this regard, right?

Monday, 30 April 2018