Thursday, 8 November 2018

Everything depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego

In the comments on one of my recent articles, Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will, there was a discussion about the nature of ego and whether or not it is antecedent to the appearance of all phenomena, so this article is written in an attempt to clarify what Bhagavan taught us in this regard.
  1. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 24: ego is neither the body, which is jaḍa (non-aware), nor sat-cit (real awareness), but just the false awareness ‘I am this body’
  2. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: though all thoughts are included in mind, what mind essentially is is only ego, the root thought called ‘I’
  3. Why does Bhagavan say that ego is the subtle body, saṁsāra and bondage?
  4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: everything is ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’
  5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 4 to 7: the world is perceived only by mind or ego and does not exist without it
  6. According to Bhagavan ego or mind is what projects and perceives all phenomena, so they seem to exist only when we seem to be ego
  7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 10 to 13: real awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, because there is nothing else for it to be aware of
  8. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: since awareness of anything other than ourself is ignorance and unreal, we can be aware of ourself as real awareness only by withdrawing our attention from everything else and turning back towards ourself to know our own ‘form of light’
  9. Bhagavan’s teachings are the pinnacle of advaita, because he has greatly simplified and clarified the essential import of all its more ancient texts
  10. What is aware of ego and all phenomena is only ourself as ego and not ourself as we actually are
  11. Since our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself, the means to achieve it is simply to try to be aware of nothing other than ourself
  12. Ego projects and simultaneously perceives itself as all forms or phenomena
  13. What misperceives brahman as ego and world is not brahman as such but only ego
  14. Whatever comes into existence or ceases to exist does not actually exist but merely seems to exist
  15. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 17 and 18: what the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different
  16. Since ‘advaita’ means non-twoness, it has to explain the seeming existence of all this multiplicity, and the simplest explanation it gives is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda
1. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 24: ego is neither the body, which is jaḍa (non-aware), nor sat-cit (real awareness), but just the false awareness ‘I am this body’

In his comment of 20 September 2018 at 04:26 a friend called Samarender Reddy wrote: ‘the question to ask is what is this “I” that wants to end the ego — that “I” is according to me the Reflected Consciousness or Chidabhasa. […] I would like to state my views on what the ego is: Ego is nothing but the belief on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body and mind. […] Going by my definition/viewpoint of ego, I would have to say that ego cannot want its own destruction because ego is nothing but one of the beliefs of Chidabhasa, so how can a mere belief want its own destruction. Rather, it is the Chidabhasa that wants the destruction of ego, that is, Chidabahasa wants to destroy its erroneous belief that it is the body-mind (which belief is nothing but the ego). I think Bhagavan gave different definitions of ego and mind at different places, so it can be tricky to tease out one unambiguous viewpoint. But, if we concede to Aseem that Bhagavan is meaning that ego is the “I-thought”, I am not sure what an I-thought is? Is the I-thought nothing but Chidabhasa; but, how can Chidabhasa, which is the consciousness portion of the ego, be the ego. Ego is clearly the mixed up notions on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body-mind. So, Bhagavan cannot be meaning that the I-thought is Chidabhasa. He must be meaning by the I-thought the chit-jada granthi […], which is nothing but the belief on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body-mind, which is how I defined ego, so in that interpretation of the I-thought, the I-thought cannot [want] its own destruction because it is nothing but a belief’, in reply to which I wrote the following comment on 30 September 2018 at 10:47:
Samarender, in your comment of 20 September 2018 at 04:26 you have used various terms such as ‘I’, ‘ego’, ‘I-thought’, ‘Chidabhasa’ and ‘chit-jada granthi’, all of which refer to same thing, namely yourself, the subject, perceiver or one who is aware of all this.

You say, ‘I think Bhagavan gave different definitions of ego and mind at different places, so it can be tricky to tease out one unambiguous viewpoint’, but though he used the term ‘mind’ in various different senses in different contexts (usually as a synonym for ego, but sometimes in a more general sense as the totality of all thoughts or mental phenomena), he used the terms ‘ego’ and ‘thought called I’ (or ‘I-thought’, as it is often translated in English) in just one unambiguous and clearly defined sense, which he explained in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: “The jaḍa body does not say ‘I’; sat-cit does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body. Know that this is cit-jaḍa-granthi, bondage, soul, subtle body, ego, this saṁsāra and mind”.

That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit), but just the spurious ‘I’ that rises between them, so to speak, as the false adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’. Since this is a confused mixture of real awareness (cit) and a body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) that seemingly binds cit and jaḍa together as if they were one.

This is what he meant by the terms ‘ego’ and ‘thought called I’, and he never gave any definition of these terms that conflicted with this definition. Since this ego is not real awareness (sat-cit) but just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), he clarified elsewhere that this alone is what the term ‘cidābhāsa’ refers to. That is, other than ego there is no such thing as cidābhāsa.

You say that cidābhāsa is ‘the consciousness portion of the ego’, but this is not correct. The consciousness portion of the ego (the cit portion of the cit-jaḍa-granthi) is just pure awareness, which is our real nature [ātma-svarūpa] and what he refers to in verse 24 as sat-cit (being-awareness or real awareness).

You say, ‘Ego is nothing but the belief on the part of the Chidabhasa that it is the body and mind’, but ego is not a mere belief. It is the believer, the ‘I’ that believes this or that. Moreover, it does not merely believe that it is body and mind; it is actually aware of itself as body and mind, and it itself is nothing but this false awareness ‘I am this body’.

Because ego is a kind of awareness, albeit just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), it has likes and dislikes, desires and attachments, hopes and fears, and so on, so it can want either to perpetuate its seeming existence or to surrender itself entirely so that it subsides and dissolves back into its source, the pure and infinite self-awareness from which it appeared.

Though I referred to it in the previous sentence as ‘it’, it is what we currently experience as ‘I’, so the meaning of that sentence would be clearer if I rephrase it thus: Because I, as this ego, am a kind of awareness, albeit just a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), I have likes and dislikes, desires and attachments, hopes and fears, and so on, so I can want either to perpetuate my seeming existence as this ego or to surrender myself entirely so that I subside and dissolve back into my source, the pure and infinite self-awareness from which I appeared as this ego.
In reply to this Samarender wrote two comments, but I will first reply to the first paragraph of the second of these, namely the one of 30 September 2018 at 18:45, in which he said that what Bhagavan says in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu implies duality, because he ‘seems to be saying there are insentient things like body and sentient thing like sat-chit or being-consciousness, which is clearly a case of duality’.

Samarender, like all spiritual teachings Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is addressed to ego, in whose view duality seems to exist, so Bhagavan had to acknowledge the seeming existence of duality in the view of ego in order to teach us how to free ourself from it. The root of all duality is ego, because it is only in the view of ego that duality and multiplicity seem to exist, so in order to get rid of duality we need to get rid of ego. This is one of the principal implications of all that he wrote in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

What he says in verse 24 is:
சடவுடனா னென்னாது சச்சித் துதியா
துடலளவா நானொன் றுதிக்கு — மிடையிலிது
சிச்சடக்கி ரந்திபந்தஞ் சீவனுட்ப மெய்யகந்தை
யிச்சமு சாரமன மெண்.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: The jaḍa [insentient] body does not say ‘I’; sat-cit [being-awareness] does not rise; [but] in between [these two] one thing [called] ‘I’ rises as the extent of the body. Know that this [the spurious adjunct-mixed self-awareness that rises as ‘I am this body’] is cit-jaḍa-granthi [the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of awareness (cit) with an insentient (jaḍa) body, binding them together as if they were one], bandha [bondage], jīva [life or soul], nuṭpa mey [subtle body], ahandai [ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [mind].
Though he says in the first three sentences of this verse, ‘சட உடல் நான் என்னாது; சத்சித் உதியாது; உடல் அளவா நான் ஒன்று உதிக்கும் இடையில்’ (jaḍa uḍal nāṉ eṉṉādu; sat-cit udiyādu; uḍal aḷavā nāṉ oṉḏṟu udikkum iḍaiyil), ‘The jaḍa body does not say I; sat-cit does not rise; in between one thing, I, rises as the extent of the body’, he does not mean to imply that the body exists prior to ego, which is what he refers to here as ‘நான் ஒன்று’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu), ‘one thing, I’, because he used exactly the same term in the previous verse (verse 23) when he wrote, ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), ‘After one thing, I, rises, everything rises’. That is, the body and everything else seem to exist only when ego, this one thing called ‘I’, seems to exist, because they seem to exist only in its view and not in the view of our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is what he refers in verse 24 as sat-cit.

However, though the body is not antecedent to ego, it is antecedent to Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, because it seems to exist whenever ego arises, and like all other phenomena Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, so when we read Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu the body already seems to exist and to be ‘I’. Therefore it was taking into consideration our present perspective as ego, in which we seem to be a body, that Bhagavan wrote this and all the other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. This is why he began the first verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying ‘நாம் உலகம் காண்டலால்’ (nām ulaham kāṇḍalāl), ‘Because we see the world’, in which the first word, ‘நாம்’ (nām), ‘we’, refers to ourself as this body-bound ego.

We can understand that the body is not antecedent to ego by considering our experience in a dream. As soon as we, this ego, begin to dream, we experience ourself as a body in that dream, so our experience of the dream is made possible only by our projecting and simultaneously experiencing ourself as that dream body. When we wake up from that dream, we know that throughout it we experienced that dream body as if it were ‘I’, but we do not suppose that that dream body (or any other part of the dream world) existed prior to our experiencing it as ‘I’. Just as ego projects and experiences itself as a body as soon as it rises in dream, it likewise projects and experiences itself as this body as soon as it rises in this current state, which we now take to be waking but which Bhagavan tells us is just another dream.

This is what is called ‘simultaneous creation’ (yugapat sṛṣṭi). Ego rises, simultaneously projects a body as itself, and through the five senses of that body it projects the appearance of a world. This is what happens in dream, and according to Bhagavan our present state and any other state in which we perceive phenomena is just a dream. Therefore the rising of ourself as ego is the sole cause for the appearance of all duality.

Therefore in order to unravel duality we need to unravel its root, the ego, and that is what Bhagavan is helping us to do in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. In the view of ourself as ego there now seems to be a body, and it seems to be ‘I’, but since it is jaḍa (non-aware or insentient), it is not actually aware of itself as ‘I’. This is what he means when he says in the first sentence of this verse: ‘சட உடல் நான் என்னாது’ (jaḍa uḍal nāṉ eṉṉādu), ‘The insentient body does not say I’, in which he uses the verb ‘என்னாது’ (eṉṉādu), ‘does not say’, in a metaphorical sense to mean ‘is not aware of itself as’.

Though we are now aware of ourself as if we were this body, we continue to be aware of ourself in both dream and sleep, in which we are not aware of this body, so there is an underlying and enduring awareness of our own existence that exists whether we are aware of this body or not. This permanent awareness of our own existence is what he refers to as ‘சச்சித்’ (saccit), which is a compound of two words, ‘சத்-சித்’ (sat-cit), which means ‘existence-awareness’, ‘being-awareness’ or ‘real awareness’, and hence in the second sentence of this verse he says: ‘சத்சித் உதியாது’ (sat-cit udiyādu), ‘being-awareness does not rise’. That is, real awareness is eternal and unchanging, so it neither rises nor subsides, or in other words, it neither appears nor disappears. It always remains as it is, immutable and indivisible, eternally and blissfully aware of itself as ‘I am’, so it is unaffected by the appearance or disappearance of any body or anything else.

However, there is something that is neither the insentient body nor the immutable real awareness (sat-cit), yet which borrows the properties of both, rising as the false awareness ‘I am this body’. This is what he refers as ‘நான் ஒன்று’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu), ‘one thing, I’, in the third sentence, in which he says: ‘உடல் அளவா நான் ஒன்று உதிக்கும் இடையில்’ (uḍal aḷavā nāṉ oṉḏṟu udikkum iḍaiyil), ‘in between one thing, I, rises as the extent of the body’.

Though he says that this one thing, I, rises in between, implying that it rises in between the insentient body and the immutable real awareness (sat-cit), in this context he is using the term ‘இடையில்’ (iḍaiyil), ‘in between’, in a metaphorical sense, because sat-cit is the one infinite whole, other than which nothing exists, so it is like the rope whereas the body and all other phenomena are like the snake that the rope seems to be. Just as nothing can exist in between the rope and the snake, nothing can arise in between sat-cit and anything else, so what exactly does he mean when he says that this one thing, I, rises in between?

If someone were to say about a story, ‘It is neither true nor false but somewhere in between’, what would we understand that to mean? It implies that the story is not entirely true and not entirely false, but has elements of both truth and fiction. Likewise when Bhagavan says that ego rises in between the body and sat-cit, this is a metaphorical way of saying that it is neither the body nor sat-cit, but has features of both. Like the body, it appears and disappears, and when it rises (appears) it is confined within the limits of time and place (both of which are its own projection), and like sat-cit it is aware of itself as ‘I’.

Because it is a confused mixture of the body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), and sat-cit, it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of what is aware (cit) with what is non-aware (jaḍa), binding them together as if they were one. Therefore in the fourth and final sentence of this verse Bhagavan says that this ‘I’ that rises in between as the extent of the body is what is referred to by various names: ‘இது சித்சடக்கிரந்தி, பந்தம், சீவன், நுட்ப மெய், அகந்தை, இச் சமுசாரம், மனம்; எண்’ (idu cit-jaḍa-giranthi, bandham, jīvaṉ, nuṭpa mey, ahandai, i-c-samusāram, maṉam; eṇ), ‘Know that this is cit-jaḍa-granthi, bandha [bondage], jīva [life or soul], nuṭpa mey [subtle body], ahandai [ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [mind]’.

2. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 18: though all thoughts are included in mind, what mind essentially is is only ego, the root thought called ‘I’

In the first paragraph of your first reply to me, namely your comment of 30 September 2018 at 12:18, you wrote: ‘You write “That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit)”. So, clearly you are implying the ego is NOT the mind because the mind is a part of the five sheaths. But does not Bhagavan equate in many places the mind with ego or I-thought, because what can have thoughts, including the I-thought, except the mind endowed with reflected consciousness. Not only that, even in the verse you quote from Ulladu Narpadu (Verse 24), does he not use the terms subtle body and ego as being synonymous, and what is the subtle body except the mind plus a few other things, so again there is a conflation of the mind and ego’.

As I wrote in reply to you in my comment on 30 September 2018 at 10:47 (which I reproduced at the beginning of the first section): “though he [Bhagavan] used the term ‘mind’ in various different senses in different contexts (usually as a synonym for ego, but sometimes in a more general sense as the totality of all thoughts or mental phenomena), he used the terms ‘ego’ and ‘thought called I’ (or ‘I-thought’, as it is often translated in English) in just one unambiguous and clearly defined sense”. Therefore whenever the term ‘mind’ is used we need to understand from the context in what sense it is being used.

To understand why this term is used in a variety of different senses we need to consider the nature of mind in its broadest sense. All mental phenomena of any kind whatsoever are part of the mind, and since perceptions are also mental phenomena, and since what we normally take to be physical phenomena are just perceptions, even physical phenomena are actually just mental phenomena, so in its broadest sense mind includes all phenomena.

Since mental phenomena of all kinds are what Bhagavan referred to as ‘thoughts’, and since all physical phenomena are actually just mental phenomena, in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he said, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world’, and in the fourteenth paragraph he said, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called the world is only thought’. Therefore, since all phenomena, whether obviously mental or seemingly physical, are just thoughts, and since thoughts constitute the mind, everything that we experience, including whatever world we perceive, is part of the mind.

However, mind consists not only of phenomena, which are objects of perception, second and third persons, but also of the perceiver of them, the subject or first person, ‘I’, which is what is called ego. Like all the objects perceived by it, the subject is also a thought, so Bhagavan often referred to it as the ‘thought called I’. However, though it is just a thought, the subject is quite unlike all other thoughts, because whereas all other thoughts are just objects, which are non-aware (jaḍa), it is what is aware both of itself and of all other thoughts.

You ask rhetorically, ‘what can have thoughts, including the I-thought, except the mind endowed with reflected consciousness[?]’, implying that the mind is something other than ego, the primal thought called ‘I’, and that ego is a thought that the mind has, but this is putting the cart before the horse. Ego is the essence of the mind, its primal thought or root, because it is the subject, the perceiving element of the mind, and all other thoughts are objects perceived by it. Therefore what ‘has’ thoughts (that is, what projects and perceives them) is only ego.

Therefore no other thoughts can exist or appear independent of ego, the subject or perceiver of them, whereas ego itself is not dependent on any particular other thought. That is, though ego cannot rise or stand without projecting and grasping other thoughts, the thoughts it grasps need not always be the same thoughts, so whereas all other thoughts are constantly changing, ego exists without changing so long as it seems to exist. As the witness, the subject or perceiver of all change, the only change ego itself undergoes is its rising (appearing) and subsiding (disappearing).

Therefore though mind in the broadest sense of the term includes all thoughts or phenomena, only one of its thoughts is constant, namely ego, the primal thought called ‘I’, so what mind essentially is is only this ego, the perceiver of all other thoughts, as Bhagavan points out in verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
எண்ணங்க ளேமனம் யாவினு நானெனு
மெண்ணமே மூலமா முந்தீபற
      யானா மனமென லுந்தீபற.

eṇṇaṅga ḷēmaṉam yāviṉu nāṉeṉu
meṇṇamē mūlamā mundīpaṟa
      yāṉā maṉameṉa lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். யான் ஆம் மனம் எனல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. yāṉ ām maṉam eṉal.

அன்வயம்: எண்ணங்களே மனம். யாவினும் நான் எனும் எண்ணமே மூலம் ஆம். மனம் எனல் யான் ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): eṇṇaṅgaḷ-ē maṉam. yāviṉ-um nāṉ eṉum eṇṇam-ē mūlam ām. maṉam eṉal yāṉ ām.

English translation: Thoughts alone are mind. Of all, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the root. What is called mind is ‘I’.

Explanatory paraphrase: Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [the ego or root-thought called ‘I’].
This is also explained by him in various places in Nāṉ Ār?. In the fourth paragraph he says:
மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி. அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது. நினைவுகளை யெல்லாம் நீக்கிப் பார்க்கின்றபோது, தனியாய் மனமென் றோர் பொருளில்லை; ஆகையால் நினைவே மனதின் சொரூபம்.

maṉam eṉbadu ātma-sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti. adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu. niṉaivugaḷai y-ellām nīkki-p pārkkiṉḏṟa-pōdu, taṉi-y-āy maṉam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ illai; āhaiyāl niṉaivē maṉadiṉ sorūpam.

What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. It makes all thoughts appear [or projects all thoughts]. When one looks, excluding [removing or putting aside] all thoughts, solitarily there is not any such thing as mind; therefore thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or very nature] of the mind.
In the fifth paragraph he says:
மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா.

maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa. taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā.

Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person [the ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist.
And in the eighth paragraph he says:
நினைவே மனத்தின் சொரூபம். நானென்னும் நினைவே மனத்தின் முதல் நினைவு; அதுவே யகங்காரம்.

niṉaivē maṉattiṉ sorūpam. nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē maṉattiṉ mudal niṉaivu; adu-v-ē y-ahaṅkāram.

Thought alone is the svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or actual nature] of the mind. The thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought of the mind; it alone is ego.
Therefore though in some contexts the term ‘mind’ is used to refer to the totality of all thoughts, the only constant and indispensable thought of the mind is ego, because it is the perceiving element of the mind, whereas all other thoughts are objects perceived by it, so what the mind essentially is is only ego, and hence Bhagavan often used the term ‘mind’ to refer to ego. Therefore whenever he uses this term ‘mind’ we need to understand from the context in what sense he is using it.

Referring to the sentence in which I wrote, “That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit), but just the spurious ‘I’ that rises between them, so to speak, as the false adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’”, you inferred, ‘So, clearly you are implying the ego is NOT the mind because the mind is a part of the five sheaths’, but this is not a correct inference, because when you say ‘the mind is a part of the five sheaths’ you are referring to manōmaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of mind’, which is ‘mind’ neither in the sense of ego nor in the sense of the totality of all thoughts but in another more specialised sense, namely in the sense of that component of the mind that is distinct not only from ego but also from both its will (cittam), which is what is called ānandamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of happiness’, and its intellect (buddhi), which is what is called vijñānamaya kōśa, the ‘sheath composed of intelligence or comprehension’, the distinguishing, discerning, judging, reasoning and understanding function of the mind.

That is, according to its various functions, the mind or ‘inner instrument’ (antaḥkaraṇa) is sometimes said to consist of four components, namely manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), cittam (will) and ahaṁkāram (ego). This is primarily a functional classification, because in substance these are one and the same thing, namely mind in the broadest sense of the term, but they are distinguished according to the various functions of that one thing. In this functional sense, manas (mind) includes all the grosser functions of mind such as perceiving, remembering, thinking and feeling; buddhi (intellect) is the function of distinguishing, discerning, judging, reasoning and understanding; cittam (will) is the function of liking, disliking, desiring, hoping, fearing, caring and so on; and ahaṁkāram (ego) is the ‘I’ that experiences itself as that which performs each of these three functions. Of these four, each of the first three, namely manas, buddhi and cittam, is one of the subtler three of the five sheaths, namely manōmaya kōśa, vijñānamaya kōśa and ānandamaya kōśa respectively, but the fourth, namely ahaṁkāram or ego, is not a sheath but the ‘I’ that is aware of itself as if it were all five sheaths collectively. In other words, it is the false self-awareness that appears when we cover ourself, so to speak, with these five sheaths by mistaking them to be ourself.

Therefore when I wrote, “That is, ego is neither the body (a term that he used to refer to all the five sheaths collectively) nor real awareness (sat-cit), but just the spurious ‘I’ that rises between them, so to speak, as the false adjunct-mixed self-awareness ‘I am this body’”, I was distinguishing ego from ‘mind’ in the more superficial sense of manōmaya kōśa, the grosser functions of mind, and I was also distinguishing it from vijñānamaya kōśa and ānandamaya kōśa, which are the subtler functions of mind, but I was not distinguishing it from ‘mind’ in its most essential sense, namely as the subject or perceiver, the root-thought called ‘I’, because in this latter sense ‘mind’ is just another name for ego.

3. Why does Bhagavan say that ego is the subtle body, saṁsāra and bondage?

You also say, ‘even in the verse you quote from Ulladu Narpadu (Verse 24), does he not use the terms subtle body and ego as being synonymous, and what is the subtle body except the mind plus a few other things, so again there is a conflation of the mind and ego’. Yes, in the fourth sentence of verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says that the ‘I’ that rises as the extent of the body (in other words, the false awareness ‘I am this body’) is ‘cit-jaḍa-granthi, bandha [bondage], jīva [life or soul], nuṭpa mey [subtle body], ahandai [ego], this saṁsāra [wandering, revolving, perpetual movement, restless activity, worldly existence or the cycle of birth and death] and manam [mind]’, but this is not the usual meaning attributed to all these terms. For example, the term ‘saṁsāra’ is generally used in a much broader sense than ego, so what he implies here is that what saṁsāra essentially is is just ego, because saṁsāra exists only in the view of ego and hence there is no saṁsāra other than ego. In other words, ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, is the seed that sprouts as the entire tree of saṁsāra.

Likewise in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), ‘ego itself is everything’, but this does not mean that there is no distinction between ego and everything else. Ego itself is everything in the sense that it is the seed that expands as everything else. In other words, it projects and perceives itself as all other things, so what it projects and perceives as so many phenomena is nothing but itself. Therefore it is the one substance that appears as all forms.

It is in this sense that ego is everything, and it is also in this sense that everything is consciousness, as you often say, because ego is consciousness, albeit not real consciousness but just a semblance of consciousness (cidābhāsa). Therefore ego is the immediate substance that appears as everything, and since ego is in essence just our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure consciousness (prajñāna), our real nature is the original and ultimate substance of ego, which in turn is the substance of everything else.

Ego is the subject, the perceiver, the primal thought called ‘I’, whereas everything else is just other thoughts, which are objects perceived by it, but those other thoughts are projected by it and therefore have no existence independent of it, just as a dream is just a collection of thoughts projected by the dreamer, who is ego, and therefore has no existence independent of it. The dream appears in, of and by the dreaming mind (the dreamer), so it is manōmaya (consisting only of mind), and mind is in essence only ego. Likewise all phenomena, everything perceived by ego, is manōmaya, so the substance that appears as everything is only ego, the false awareness that appears in waking and dream and disappears in sleep. It is in this sense that Bhagavan says ‘ego itself is everything’, and it is also in this sense that he says ego is saṁsāra.

Likewise he says that ego is bandha (bondage), because by experiencing ourself as a body we seem to be bound within the limitations of time, space, the duality of subject and object, and pairs of opposites such as pleasure and pain, knowledge and ignorance, life and death, and so on. To be free of all this bondage, therefore, the price to be paid is eradication of ego, so in verse 40 he concludes Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying: ‘அகந்தை உரு அழிதல் முத்தி உணர்’ (ahandai-uru aṙidal mutti uṇar), ‘know that the ego-form being destroyed is mukti [liberation]’.

Though he says in verse 24 that ego is ‘நுட்ப மெய்’ (nuṭpa mey), which is a Tamil term that means ‘subtle body’, and though he likewise says in the final sentence of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘மனமே சூக்ஷ்மசரீர மென்றும் ஜீவ னென்றும் சொல்லப்படுகிறது’ (maṉamē sūkṣma śarīram eṉḏṟum jīvaṉ eṉḏṟum sollappaḍugiṟadu), ‘Mind alone is described as sūkṣma śarīra [the subtle body] and as jīva [the soul]’ (in which what he means by ‘mind’ is only ego, because in the next sentence (the first sentence of the fifth paragraph) he says, ‘இந்தத் தேகத்தில் நான் என்று கிளம்புவது எதுவோ அஃதே மனமாம்’ (inda-t dēhattil nāṉ eṉḏṟu kiḷambuvadu edu-v-ō aḵdē maṉam-ām), ‘What rises in this body as I, that alone is mind’), in these contexts he is not using the term ‘subtle body’ in its usual technical sense, in which the subtle body is said to consist of three of the five sheaths, namely prāṇamaya kōśa, manōmaya kōśa and vijñānamaya kōśa, because ego is not any of the five sheaths, which are all jaḍa (non-aware), as he says in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār, but only the false awareness ‘I am this body’, which rises and stands by identifying itself with a body consisting of these five sheaths. Therefore why does he say that ego is nuṭpa mey or sūkṣma śarīra, the subtle body?

Like the Sanskrit term सूक्ष्म (sūkṣma), the Tamil term நுட்பம் (nuṭpam) means what is minute, fine, subtle, sharp, acute, keen, precise or exact, so they are relative terms in the sense that there are differing degrees of minuteness, subtlety or sharpness. Therefore though the term ‘sūkṣma śarīra’ is generally used to refer to a combination of prāṇamaya kōśa, manōmaya kōśa and vijñānamaya kōśa, these are relatively gross in comparison to ego, which is the subtlest of all, so when Bhagavan says that ego is the subtle body, what he means is that it is the most subtle form of the body, subtler than any of the five sheaths, because it is the subtle substance of which they are all made, the minute seed from which they all sprout.

4. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26: everything is ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’

In the second paragraph of your comment of 30 September 2018 at 18:45 you wrote: ‘In my opinion, everything is consciousness and only Consciousness exists, and body-mind is a mere name and form that consciousness assumes, and not an existing thing or substance, much like pot is not an existent thing except as name and form, the substance or thing being clay alone. Hence, it does not make sense to talk of body as jada or insentient because there is no such “thing or substance” called a body except in name and form to which the labels of sentient or insentient can apply. Body “exists” only in as much as a pot “exists”, that is, only in name and form, the substance which has assumed that form being Consciousness and clay, respectively, and going by the name of body and pot, respectively’.

What do you mean when you say ‘everything is consciousness’? Do you mean everything is conscious (in the sense of aware)? Is the chair I am sitting on conscious, and if so what is it conscious of? Is my desire to get up and eat something conscious? Is my memory of what I did yesterday conscious? Are my hopes for the future conscious? Is time conscious? Is space conscious? Is colour conscious? Is weight conscious? Is height conscious? If some or all of these things are not conscious, how can they be consciousness? The term ‘consciousness’ means the quality of being conscious, and by extension in some contexts it can mean what is conscious, but in either of these two senses, how can it be appropriate to say that what is not conscious is consciousness?

I am not saying that there is not any sense in which it is true to say that everything is consciousness, but if we say this, should we not be clear in our mind what we mean by saying so? Obviously there are many things that are not conscious, so how can it be appropriate to say that everything is consciousness? If it is true that everything is consciousness, there must be a deeper meaning in this statement than what it superficially implies.

If everything is consciousness, this does not mean that each thing is conscious, because many things are not conscious, so it must mean that the substance that appears as everything is conscious. Is this the case? To answer this we need to consider what it is that appears as everything.

In a dream we perceive many things, but what is the substance that appears as all those things? It is seen in our mind and by our mind, and it does not exist independent of our mind, so it is only our mind that appears as everything perceived or experienced in any dream. Or to be more precise, it is the thoughts of our mind that appear as everything, but what is the substance of those thoughts? It is only mind or mind-stuff.

But what is mind or mind-stuff? In essence it is only ego, because ego is the only constant thought of the mind. Other thoughts appear and disappear, but they appear and disappear only in the view of ourself as ego, so their substance is only ego’s view, or in other words, ego’s awareness. Since ego and its awareness are one and the same thing, the substance that appears as all thoughts is only ego.

Just as everything we perceive in a dream is just thoughts, the substance of which is ego, according to Bhagavan all phenomena, whether perceived in waking or in dream, are just thoughts, so the substance of all phenomena is only ego, as he implies when he says ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām), ‘ego itself is everything’, in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

ahandaiyuṇ ḍāyi ṉaṉaittumuṇ ḍāhu
mahandaiyiṉ ḏṟēliṉ ḏṟaṉaittu — mahandaiyē
yāvumā mādalāl yādideṉḏṟu nādalē
yōvudal yāvumeṉa vōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandai-y-ē yāvum ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr.

அன்வயம்: அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், அனைத்தும் இன்று. யாவும் அகந்தையே ஆம். ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே யாவும் ஓவுதல் என ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, aṉaittum iṉḏṟu. yāvum ahandai-y-ē ām. ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē yāvum ōvudal eṉa ōr.

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

Explanatory paraphrase: If ego comes into existence, everything [all phenomena, everything that appears and disappears, everything other than our pure, fundamental, unchanging and immutable self-awareness] comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist [because nothing other than pure self-awareness actually exists, so everything else seems to exist only in the view of the ego, and hence it cannot seem to exist unless the ego seems to exist]. [Therefore] ego itself is everything [because it is the original seed or embryo, which alone is what expands as everything else]. Therefore, know that investigating what this [the ego] is alone is giving up everything [because the ego will cease to exist if it investigates itself keenly enough, and when it ceases to exist everything else will cease to exist along with it].
Since ego is a kind of consciousness or awareness, albeit not real awareness but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), and since ego itself is the substance that appears as everything else, in this sense it is true to say that everything is consciousness, but the consciousness that appears as all this is not real consciousness but only ego. However, ego itself is just an appearance, albeit an appearance that appears only in its own view, so what is the substance that appears as ego?

To answer this we need to consider from where or from what ego appears, and into where or what it subsequently disappears. Obviously it appears from and disappears into whatever exists before it appears and whatever remains after it disappears, so what is that? In other words, what exists in the absence of ego? Ego is absent in sleep, so what exists and shines in sleep? Only ourself as pure awareness, that is, as awareness devoid of any adjuncts and of any phenomena or objects of awareness.

Since pure awareness alone remains in the absence of ego, it is the real nature of ourself (ātma-svarūpa), and it exists and shines whether ego appears or disappears, so it is the one eternal, infinite and immutable reality. Therefore it alone is the real substance of ego. What appears as ego is only pure awareness. It is the cit (awareness or consciousness) element of cit-jaḍa-granthi, which is ego, a confused mixture of pure awareness and non-aware (jaḍa) adjuncts.

Therefore since ego is the substance that appears as everything else, and since pure awareness is the substance that appears as ego, the ultimate substance of everything it pure awareness. That is, ego is the immediate source and substance of everything (all phenomena or objects of perception), and pure awareness is the immediate source and substance of ego, so it is the ultimate source and substance of everything else.

However, it is very important to understand the intermediate role played by ego, because pure awareness is never aware of anything other than itself, since it is infinite and immutable, so what is aware of everything else is only ego. Therefore when it is said that everything is consciousness, we should understand this to mean that everything is ego, because so long as we are aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever, we are not aware of ourself as pure awareness but only as ego, the adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’.

Therefore when you say, ‘everything is consciousness and only Consciousness exists’, the first consciousness you refer to is ego, whereas the consciousness that alone exists is not ego but only pure awareness. In your next clause you say, ‘body-mind is a mere name and form that consciousness assumes’, but here again the consciousness you refer to is ego and not pure awareness, because only ego assumes a body and mind as itself. Pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), never assumes anything, because it is immutable and in its clear view nothing other than itself exists, so there is no body or mind and there are no names or forms.

You say, ‘it does not make sense to talk of body as jada or insentient because there is no such “thing or substance” called a body except in name and form to which the labels of sentient or insentient can apply’, but Bhagavan specifically referred to body as jaḍa (non-aware or insentient), not only in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu but also in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār, in which he says that all the five sheaths are jaḍa (non-aware) and asat (non-existence). Obviously Bhagavan knew that the body is not a real substance but just a name and form projected by ego, but all names and forms are jaḍa and asat, so he knew what he was talking about when he said that the body is jaḍa.

Do you believe that the body (or any other phenomenon) is aware, either of itself or anything else? If you agree that it is not aware, then it makes perfect sense to say that it is jaḍa, because whatever is not aware is by definition jaḍa (non-aware), but if you believe it is aware, then you are confusing yourself, the subject or perceiver, with the body, which is an object perceived by you.

5. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 4 to 7: the world is perceived only by mind or ego and does not exist without it

In his comment of 1 October 2018 at 16:55 another friend called Venkat wrote that there is an ‘obvious logical problem’ in my interpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings, namely ‘how the ego can arise from a combination of consciousness and insentient matter, when the ego is required to project / imagine matter in the first place’, and this led to a discussion about which is antecedent, ego or the appearance of a body and all other phenomena.

Venkat, I agree that if I did contend that ego arises from insentient matter, that would mean that matter is antecedent to ego, in which case it would be a logical contradiction to contend that ego is required to project matter in the first place. However it seems that you have misunderstood me in this respect, because I do not contend that ego arises from insentient matter. Rather than being my contention, this seems to be yours, because in the next paragraph of the same comment you wrote: ‘The ego is a result of an erroneous thought patterns identifying consciousness with this particular body-mind, as separate and distinct from everything else that is in awareness’.

That is, if I have understood you correctly, you contend that pure awareness is aware of all phenomena, but that the trouble starts when ego arises by identifying consciousness with a particular body-mind instead of with everything else that appears in awareness. Is this what you believe?

Based on my understanding of what Bhagavan has taught us, which seems to me to be in perfect accord with our own experience, what I contend is not that ego arises from insentient matter but that it arises only from our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness: that is, awareness that is uncontaminated with even the slightest awareness of anything else whatsoever, which is what we experience in sleep. Our experience does not give us any reason to suppose that insentient matter or other phenomena of any kind whatsoever exist except in the view of ourself as ego, because phenomena appear only when we rise as ego, as in waking and dream, and they disappear whenever ego disappears, as in sleep.

Generally we overlook the significance of this invariable conjunction of ego and phenomena, but Bhagavan has pointed out its significance to us. He has also pointed out to us the oneness of existence and awareness, and therefore he maintained that whatever seems to exist seems to exist only when we perceive it, so whenever we do not perceive something it does not exist or even seem to exist. Therefore in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
உலகைம் புலன்க ளுருவேறன் றவ்வைம்
புலனைம் பொறிக்குப் புலனா — முலகைமன
மொன்றைம் பொறிவாயா லோர்ந்திடுத லான்மனத்தை
யன்றியுல குண்டோ வறை.

ulahaim pulaṉga ḷuruvēṟaṉ ḏṟavvaim
pulaṉaim poṟikkup pulaṉā — mulahaimaṉa
moṉḏṟaim poṟivāyā lōrndiḍuda lāṉmaṉattai
yaṉḏṟiyula kuṇḍō vaṟai
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

அன்வயம்: உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று. அவ் ஐம் புலன் ஐம் பொறிக்கு புலன் ஆம். மனம் ஒன்று உலகை ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ? அறை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu. a-vv-aim pulaṉ aim poṟikku pulaṉ ām. maṉam oṉḏṟu ulahai aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō? aṟai.

English translation: The world is a form of five sense-impressions, not anything else. Those five sense-impressions are impressions to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there a world besides the mind?

Explanatory paraphrase: The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else. Those five [kinds of] sense-impressions are impressions [respective] to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?
‘மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ?’ (maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō?), ‘is there a world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?’, is a rhetorical question, so what Bhagavan clearly implies by asking this is that there is no world that exists independent of the mind that perceives it.

He gives two reasons for saying this, the first of which is what he says in the first two clauses of this verse: ‘உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று’ (ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu), ‘The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else’. Generally we believe that the world exists out there, independent of our perception of it, but our experience does not give us any adequate reason to suppose that this is the case, because what we experience as ‘world’ is just an appearance consisting only of sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations, which are perceptions or mental impressions. In dream we perceive a world consisting of these same five kinds of sense-impressions, and though we believe it exists independent of our perception of it so long as we are dreaming, as soon as we wake up we recognise that it was just our own mental projection and therefore seemed to exist only so long as we were perceiving it.

The second and most important reason he gives for asking this rhetorical question, in which he implies that there is no world that exists independent of the mind that perceives it, is the adverbial clause that precedes it, namely ‘உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால்’ (ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl), ‘Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs’. Here the words ‘மனம் ஒன்று’ (maṉam oṉḏṟu) can be taken to mean either ‘the mind alone’ or ‘one thing, the mind’, but in whichever way they are interpreted this clause implies that the mind is the only thing that perceives the world, and this is the principal reason why he says there is no world besides (excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without) the mind.

According to your understanding of the upaniṣads and Sankara you say (in the same comment) that ‘pure consciousness is that which is aware of all that is’, by which you seem to imply that pure consciousness is aware of all phenomena, but though this may be one way in which some people interpret the ancient texts of advaita, this interpretation is not supported by what Bhagavan has written in texts such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and Upadēśa Undiyār. In so many ways he repeatedly emphasised that what is aware of phenomena is only ego or mind and not our real nature, which is pure consciousness.

For example, in verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
உலகறிவு மொன்றா யுதித்தொடுங்கு மேனு
முலகறிவு தன்னா லொளிரு — முலகறிவு
தோன்றிமறை தற்கிடனாய்த் தோன்றிமறை யாதொளிரும்
பூன்றமா மஃதே பொருள்.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: Though the world and awareness [the awareness that perceives the world, namely ego or mind] arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by [that rising and subsiding] awareness [the mind]. Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place [space, expanse, location, site or ground] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and [that] awareness is poruḷ [the real substance or vastu], which is pūṉḏṟam [the infinite whole or pūrṇa].
When he says ‘உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘the world shines by awareness’, he implies that what makes the world appear is awareness, because it is perceived by awareness, but the awareness that perceives the world is not real awareness, which is what he refers to as ‘உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் அஃதே’ (ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum aḵdē), ‘only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place for the appearing and disappearing of the world and awareness’, but is only ego or mind, which is the awareness that rises and subsides or appears and disappears.

Since the world shines (or is made to appear) by ego, the awareness that rises and subsides, how can it shine (appear or seem to exist) in the absence of ego? Since what actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa (as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?), the world does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, so when he says that the world shines by the awareness that rises and subsides, what he implies is that what makes it appear is only ego, which is the awareness that perceives it, so it seems to exist only because of ego.

Since ego or mind rises and stands only by grasping a body, a form composed of five sheaths (namely a physical body, life, mind, intellect and will), as itself, in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says:
உடல்பஞ்ச கோச வுருவதனா லைந்து
முடலென்னுஞ் சொல்லி லொடுங்கு — முடலன்றி
யுண்டோ வுலக முடல்விட் டுலகத்தைக்
கண்டா ருளரோ கழறு.

uḍalpañca kōśa vuruvadaṉā laindu
muḍaleṉṉuñ colli loḍuṅgu — muḍalaṉḏṟi
yuṇḍō vulaha muḍalviṭ ṭulahattaik
kaṇḍā ruḷarō kaṙaṟu
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ஐந்தும் ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, aindum ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

அன்வயம்: உடல் பஞ்ச கோச உரு. அதனால், ‘உடல்’ என்னும் சொல்லில் ஐந்தும் ஒடுங்கும். உடல் அன்றி உலகம் உண்டோ? உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ? கழறு.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḍal pañca kōśa uru. adaṉāl, ‘uḍal’ eṉṉum sollil aindum oḍuṅgum. uḍal aṉḏṟi ulaham uṇḍō? uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō? kaṙaṟu.

English translation: The body is a form of five sheaths. Therefore all five are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body, is there a world? Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?

Explanatory paraphrase: The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and will]. Therefore all five [sheaths] are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body [composed of these five sheaths], is there a world? Say, without [experiencing oneself as such] a body, is there anyone who has seen a world?
The two questions he asks in this verse are both rhetorical, so when he asks ‘உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்?’ (uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham?), ‘Without a body, is there a world?’, he implies that no world exists independent of the body through which it is perceived, and when he asks ‘உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ?’ (uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō?), ‘Say, leaving the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?’, he implies that no one has ever perceived a world except through the medium of a body. Though these two questions seem to be quite similar, in the first he implies that no world exists without a body and in the second he implies that no world is perceived without a body, thereby indicating that the (seeming) existence of the world and our perception of it are one, because it seems to exist only because we perceive it.

When he says that no world exists or is perceived without a body, he implies that only an awareness that is confined to a body can perceive any world. Since pure awareness does not have any body, in this verse Bhagavan implies that it does not perceive any world. He stated this even more explicitly in the previous verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, namely verse 4:
உருவந்தா னாயி னுலகுபர மற்றா
முருவந்தா னன்றே லுவற்றி — னுருவத்தைக்
கண்ணுறுதல் யாவனெவன் கண்ணலாற் காட்சியுண்டோ
கண்ணதுதா னந்தமிலாக் கண்.

uruvandā ṉāyi ṉulahupara maṯṟā
muruvandā ṉaṉḏṟē luvaṯṟi — ṉuruvattaik
kaṇṇuṟudal yāvaṉevaṉ kaṇṇalāṯ kāṭciyuṇḍō
kaṇṇadutā ṉantamilāk kaṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

அன்வயம்: தான் உருவம் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்; தான் உருவம் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை யாவன் கண் உறுதல்? எவன்? கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ? கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ uruvam āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām; tāṉ uruvam aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai yāvaṉ kaṇ uṟudal? evaṉ? kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō? kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ.

English translation: If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How? Can the seen be otherwise than the eye? The eye is oneself, the infinite eye.

Explanatory paraphrase: If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if oneself is not a form, who can see their forms, and how [to do so]? Can what is seen be otherwise [or of a different nature] than the eye [the awareness that sees or perceives it]? [Therefore forms can be perceived only by an ‘eye’ or awareness that perceives itself as a form, namely the ego or mind, which always perceives itself as the form of a body.] The [real] eye is oneself [one’s real nature, which is pure self-awareness], the infinite [and hence formless] eye [so it can never see any forms or phenomena, which are all finite].
Oneself is a form only when one rises as ego, because ego is the false awareness that rises and stands as ‘I am this body’, so in this verse Bhagavan clearly implies that the world and God seem to be forms only because we have risen as ego and are therefore aware of ourself as if we were the form of a body. Therefore when he asks, ‘உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How?’, he clearly implies that if we do not rise as ego we can see neither the world nor God as forms. In other words, forms seem to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, because as ego we are aware of ourself as if we were a body, a form composed of five sheaths.

In the final sentence of this verse, ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’, he uses the word ‘கண்’ (kaṇ), which means ‘eye’, as a metaphor for awareness, so what he implies is that real awareness is only ourself (our real nature, ātma-svarūpa), which is ‘அந்தம் இலா’ (antam-ilā), infinite or without limit. Since every form has limits of one kind or another, ‘அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘the infinite eye’, is formless, and hence it can never see forms of any kind whatsoever.

Therefore here once again Bhagavan clearly implies that pure awareness is not aware of any forms or phenomena, because it is the infinite and hence formless eye, so it cannot see anything other than itself. This is the implication of the rhetorical question ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’. Finite things can be seen only by a finite eye, and the infinite eye can see only what is infinite, namely itself. Being formless, it can never see any forms.

In the same comment you also say, ‘The Upanishads clearly state that Brahman is the Knower from which all this emanates’, and in other comments both recently and previously you have mentioned that they say ‘Brahman is the Knower’, but when they say this they may be implying a deeper and more subtle meaning than you suppose. In Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and elsewhere Bhagavan has taught us very clearly and unequivocally that what perceives, knows or is aware of all phenomena (all names and forms) is only ego and not our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is brahman, so what do the upaniṣads mean when they say that brahman is the knower? In what sense is it the knower?

What brahman knows is only itself, because in its clear and infinite view it alone exists, so there is nothing else for it to know. Only in the self-ignorant and hence deluded view of ego do other things seem to exist, so the knower of all things that do not actually exist but merely seem to exist is only ego. However, even ego does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, so what is it that appears as ego? It is only brahman.

However ego is not brahman as it actually is but only brahman as it seems to be, and it seems to be ego only in the view of ego itself. Therefore brahman is the knower of all that seems to exist only in the sense that what knows all appearances is not brahman as it actually is but only brahman as ego, which is itself just a false appearance.

The principal reason why some upaniṣads and other ancient texts and commentators say that brahman is the knower is that in order to know brahman we must withdraw our attention from everything else (all objects or phenomena that are known or perceived) and investigate only ourself, the knower of them, because when we do so we will cease rising as the knower (the subject or ego) and therefore subside and merge back into and as the source from which we arose, which is brahman. The knower of all phenomena (viṣayas) is only ego, but what seems to be ego is only brahman, so just as if we mistake a rope to be a snake we can see the rope as it is only by looking very carefully at the snake, we can know brahman as it is only by looking very carefully at ourself, who now seem to be this ego, the knower of all other things.

If we want to show a particular star to a child, we may first point out a distant coconut tree and then tell the child to look just above it. Our aim is not to show the child the tree, but because the star is just above the tree, we need to ask the child to look at the tree in order to draw its attention to the star. Likewise, brahman is not actually the knower of anything, but is the reality that lies behind the appearance of the knower, so in order to enable us to see brahman as it is we are asked to look at that which knows everything else.

Another reason why they say that brahman is the knower is that nothing else exists to know anything. However, brahman as brahman does not know anything other than itself, because nothing other than itself exists for it to know (as Bhagavan clearly implies in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār and verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), so it is only as ego that brahman knows anything other than itself, but brahman as ego is not brahman as it actually is, so it is not actually brahman but only ego that knows all other things. .

This is what Bhagavan teaches us very clearly in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which what he refers to as ‘தான்’ (tāṉ), ‘oneself’, is brahman, so if we replace ‘oneself’ with ‘brahman’ in the translation of this verse it would be: ‘If brahman is a form, the world and God will be likewise; if brahman is not a form, who can see their forms? How? Can the seen be otherwise than the eye? The eye is brahman, the infinite eye’.

In this interpretation, ‘If brahman is a form, the world and God will be likewise’ would imply: ‘If brahman seems to have arisen as ego by projecting and grasping a form [a body] as itself, as that form-bound ego it will see the world and God as forms, like itself’. However, since brahman is actually not a form, as it actually is it can never see any forms, as Bhagavan implies in the rhetorical questions he asks in the second and third sentences: ‘உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself [brahman] is not a form, who can see their forms? How [to do so]?’

What brahman actually is is implied by Bhagavan in the final sentence of this verse: ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘The [real] eye is oneself [brahman], the infinite eye’. Since brahman is the real nature of oneself (ātma-svarūpa), which is infinite awareness, Bhagavan says it is ‘அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘the infinite [or endless] eye’, and since it is infinite, it is devoid of form, because every form is by definition finite. Therefore, since brahman is infinite and hence formless awareness, according to the principle that Bhagavan teaches us in this verse, namely ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’, it can never see any forms but only infinite awareness, which is itself.

6. According to Bhagavan ego or mind is what projects and perceives all phenomena, so they seem to exist only when we seem to be ego

In your next comment, 2 October 2018 at 22:50, you rephrased the logical problem you see in my understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings by asking, ‘What non-aware phenomena can there be (to form an ego knot with awareness) that precedes the ego, when Michael’s contention is that the ego projects all phenomena?’

As I pointed out in the first section of this article, we can unravel the problem you see here by considering our experience in dream. As soon as we begin to dream, we experience a dream body as ourself, but we do not suppose that that dream body existed prior to our experiencing it as ourself. Therefore the rising of ego in dream, the appearance of that dream body and our experiencing it as ourself all occur simultaneously. This is what is called ‘simultaneous creation’ (yugapat sṛṣṭi).

Ego rises, simultaneously projects a body and experiences it as ‘I’, and through the five senses of that body it projects a world. This is what happens in every dream, and according to Bhagavan our present state and any other state in which we experience phenomena is just a dream.

Though ego and body both appear simultaneously, ego is causally antecedent to the body, because the body appears only in the view of ego, whereas the body has no view in which either ego or itself could appear, because it is jaḍa (non-aware). In other words, though the perceiver and the perceived appear simultaneously, the perceiver is causally antecedent to the perceived, and though the dreamer and the dream appear simultaneously, the dreamer is causally antecedent to the dream. This is what Bhagavan implied in the first sentence of verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘Though the world and awareness arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by awareness [that is, by the awareness that rises and subsides and perceives the world, namely ego or mind]’.

You say, ‘Michael’s contention is that the ego projects all phenomena’, as if this were only my contention and not Bhagavan’s, but if we read his works carefully we can see that it is very clearly his contention and it was emphasised by him in so many ways. For example, in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he says:
நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagamum uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
Bhagavan could hardly state his contention that mind or ego is what projects all phenomena more explicitly, clearly and unequivocally than this. If you think that this does not mean that ego projects all phenomena, what do you think it does mean?

As I mentioned earlier, in the fifth paragraph he says:
மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா.

maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa. taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā.

Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person [the ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist.
What he makes clear here is that the appearance of ego, the first person or thought called ‘I’, is antecedent to the appearance of everything else, and that without it nothing else exists, so though he does not explicitly state here that ego projects everything, he implies this indirectly, particularly if we read this passage along with the passage from the fourth paragraph that I cited above.

When he says here that everything else appears only after ego appears, he does not mean that ego is chronologically antecedent to all other things, because as he stated elsewhere ego and other things appear simultaneously, so what he means here is that ego is causally antecedent to everything else, because everything else appears only in ego’s view. That is, the appearance of ego and the appearance of other things is a case is simultaneous causation. As soon as the cause arises its effect rises with it, so though they arise simultaneously, in terms of causal sequence the cause (namely ego) is antecedent to its effect (namely everything else).

The fact that the appearance of ego is causally antecedent to the appearance of everything else is clearly implied in many verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. For example, he says in verse 23, ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), ‘After one thing, I, rises, everything rises’, and in verse 26, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’.

Likewise in the first sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam he says, ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), ‘If the thought called I does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist’, and in verse 14 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
தன்மையுண்டேன் முன்னிலைப டர்க்கைக டாமுளவாந்
தன்மையி னுண்மையைத் தானாய்ந்து — தன்மையறின்
முன்னிலைப டர்க்கை முடிவுற்றொன் றாயொளிருந்
தன்மையே தன்னிலைமை தான்.

taṉmaiyuṇḍēṉ muṉṉilaipa ḍarkkaiga ḍāmuḷavān
taṉmaiyi ṉuṇmaiyait tāṉāyndu — taṉmaiyaṟiṉ
muṉṉilaipa ḍarkkai muḍivuṯṟoṉ ḏṟāyoḷirun
taṉmaiyē taṉṉilaimai tāṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்மை உண்டேல், முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தாம் உள ஆம். தன்மையின் உண்மையை தான் ஆய்ந்து தன்மை அறின், முன்னிலை படர்க்கை முடிவு உற்று, ஒன்றாய் ஒளிரும் தன்மையே தன் நிலைமை தான்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉmai uṇḍēl, muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tām uḷa-v-ām. taṉmaiyiṉ uṇmaiyai tāṉ āyndu taṉmai aṟiṉ, muṉṉilai paḍarkkai muḍivu uṯṟu, oṉḏṟāy oḷirum taṉmaiyē taṉ nilaimai tāṉ.

English translation: If the first person exists, second and third persons will exist. If, oneself investigating the reality of the first person, the first person ceases to exist, second and third persons coming to an end, the nature that shines as one alone is oneself, the state of oneself.

Explanatory paraphrase: If the first person [the ego] exists, second and third persons [everything else] will exist. If the first person ceases to exist [by] oneself investigating the reality of the first person, second and third persons will come to an end, and [what then remains alone, namely] the nature [selfness, essence or reality] that shines as one [undivided by the appearance of these three persons or ‘places’] alone is oneself, the [real] state [or nature] of oneself.
Though in this verse he does not explicitly say that second and third persons, which means all phenomena, exist only when the first person exists, he said so explicitly in the final two sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), ‘Only after the first person [the ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist’, and he implies this in this verse when he says, ‘தன்மையின் உண்மையை தான் ஆய்ந்து தன்மை அறின், முன்னிலை படர்க்கை முடிவு உற்று’ (taṉmaiyiṉ uṇmaiyai tāṉ āyndu taṉmai aṟiṉ, muṉṉilai paḍarkkai muḍivu uṯṟu), ‘If, oneself investigating the reality of the first person, the first person ceases to exist, second and third persons coming to an end’. That is, the reason why second and third persons come to an end when ego ceases is that they cannot exist without it, because they seem to exist only in its view.

From all these passages it is clear that according to Bhagavan no phenomena can exist without ego, the first person or thought called ‘I’, because ego is what projects and simultaneously perceives them, just as it projects and simultaneously perceives everything that appears in a dream. These teachings of his are therefore what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) is the sole cause of creation (sṛṣṭi), and that there is therefore no creation or appearance of phenomena independent of our perception of it.

7. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 10 to 13: real awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, because there is nothing else for it to be aware of

From what you have written in various comments, it seems that you are able to believe that phenomena exist prior to, in the absence of and therefore independent of ego because you do not accept that they all appear only in its view, and you do not accept this because you believe pure consciousness, which is brahman, perceives all phenomena. If brahman did actually perceive all phenomena, then it would logically follow that the seeming existence of phenomena is not dependent on the seeming existence of ourself as ego.

Though certain passages in the upaniṣads and other ancient texts may seem to imply that brahman or pure awareness is aware of all phenomena, such passages are perhaps meant for those who are not yet ready to go any deeper into this subject, but if we do want to understand this subject clearly, deeply and coherently, we should not be satisfied with such passages or interpretations, because Bhagavan has made it very clear that awareness of phenomena is not real awareness but only ignorance.

He made this particularly clear in verses 10 to 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār. In verse 10 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
அறியாமை விட்டறிவின் றாமறிவு விட்டவ்
வறியாமை யின்றாகு மந்த — வறிவு
மறியா மையுமார்க்கென் றம்முதலாந் தன்னை
யறியு மறிவே யறிவு.

aṟiyāmai viṭṭaṟiviṉ ḏṟāmaṟivu viṭṭav
vaṟiyāmai yiṉḏṟāhu manda — vaṟivu
maṟiyā maiyumārkkeṉ ḏṟammudalān taṉṉai
yaṟiyu maṟivē yaṟivu
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறியாமை விட்டு, அறிவு இன்று ஆம்; அறிவு விட்டு, அவ் வறியாமை இன்று ஆகும். அந்த அறிவும் அறியாமையும் ஆர்க்கு என்று அம் முதல் ஆம் தன்னை அறியும் அறிவே அறிவு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟiyāmai viṭṭu, aṟivu iṉḏṟu ām; aṟivu viṭṭu, a-vv-aṟiyāmai iṉḏṟu āhum. anda aṟivum aṟiyāmaiyum ārkku eṉḏṟu a-m-mudal ām taṉṉai aṟiyum aṟivē aṟivu.

English translation: Leaving ignorance, knowledge does not exist; leaving knowledge, that ignorance does not exist. Only the knowledge that knows oneself, who is the first, as to whom are that knowledge and ignorance, is knowledge.

Explanatory paraphrase: Without ignorance [of other things], knowledge [of them] does not exist; without knowledge [of them], that ignorance [of them] does not exist. Only the knowledge [or awareness] that knows [the reality of] oneself [the ego], who is the first [to appear], [by investigating] to whom [or for whom] are that knowledge and ignorance [of other things], is [real] knowledge [or awareness].
The noun அறிவு (aṟivu), which he uses repeatedly in this and the next two verses, means both knowledge and awareness, because it derives from the verb அறி (aṟi), which means to know, perceive, experience or be aware, so it can refer either to pure awareness or to awareness of phenomena, depending on the context. அறியாமை (aṟiyāmai) is a negative verbal noun from the same root, so it means to opposite of அறிவு (aṟivu), namely ignorance.

The aṟivu (knowledge or awareness) and aṟiyāmai (ignorance) that he refers to in the first two sentences of this verse are knowledge and ignorance of things other than oneself, and not knowledge and ignorance of oneself, firstly because knowledge or awareness of oneself is not dependent on ignorance of oneself, and second because we are never actually ignorant of ourself, since self-awareness is our real nature, so what is called self-ignorance is not an absence of self-awareness but just awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are. Knowledge and ignorance of other things are a pair of opposites, so neither one of them exists without the other.

That is, since nothing exists independent of our perception of it, it is only when we become aware of something that both our prior ignorance and prospective ignorance of it come into existence, because prior to our being aware of it it did not seem to exist, and we cannot be said to be ignorant of something that does not exist. This is why Bhagavan says in the first two sentences of this verse: ‘அறியாமை விட்டு, அறிவு இன்று ஆம்; அறிவு விட்டு, அவ் வறியாமை இன்று ஆகும்’ (aṟiyāmai viṭṭu, aṟivu iṉḏṟu ām; aṟivu viṭṭu, a-vv-aṟiyāmai iṉḏṟu āhum), ‘Without ignorance, knowledge does not exist; without knowledge, that ignorance does not exist’.

However, knowledge or awareness of things other than ourself is not real knowledge or awareness, as he implies in the main clause of the third and final sentence of this verse, ‘தன்னை அறியும் அறிவே அறிவு’ (taṉṉai aṟiyum aṟivē aṟivu), ‘only the aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] that knows oneself is [real] aṟivu’. In other words, only self-knowledge is real knowledge, and only self-awareness is real awareness. As he says in the next verse, knowing other things instead of knowing oneself is not knowledge but only ignorance.

When he says, ‘தன்னை அறியும் அறிவே அறிவு’ (taṉṉai aṟiyum aṟivē aṟivu), what he implies is ‘Only the knowledge [or awareness] that knows [the reality of] oneself [the ego] is [real] knowledge [or awareness]’, because he qualified ‘தன்னை’ (taṉṉai), ‘oneself’, with a relative clause, ‘அம் முதல் ஆம்’ (a-m-mudal ām), which means ‘who is the first’ and implies ‘who is the first [to arise]’, and prior to this relative clause he wrote an adverbial clause, ‘அந்த அறிவும் அறியாமையும் ஆர்க்கு என்று’ (anda aṟivum aṟiyāmaiyum ārkku eṉḏṟu), which means ‘as to whom are that knowledge and ignorance’ and implies ‘[by investigating] to whom [or for whom] are that knowledge and ignorance [of other things]’.

To whom or for whom are knowledge and ignorance? Obviously only for ego and not for our real nature, so what Bhagavan implies in this sentence by the word ‘தன்னை’ (taṉṉai), ‘oneself’, is ourself as ego, which is the first to arise, and what he means by knowing ego can be taken to mean either knowing its reality, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), or knowing its non-existence, but both of these interpretations amount to the same, because it is only by knowing our real nature that we can know the non-existence of ego.

In verse 11 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he says:
அறிவுறுந் தன்னை யறியா தயலை
யறிவ தறியாமை யன்றி — யறிவோ
வறிவயற் காதாரத் தன்னை யறிய
வறிவறி யாமை யறும்.

aṟivuṟun taṉṉai yaṟiyā dayalai
yaṟiva daṟiyāmai yaṉḏṟi — yaṟivō
vaṟivayaṟ kādhārat taṉṉai yaṟiya
vaṟivaṟi yāmai yaṟum
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு உறும் தன்னை அறியாது அயலை அறிவது அறியாமை; அன்றி அறிவோ? அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை அறிய, அறிவு அறியாமை அறும்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu-uṟum taṉṉai aṟiyādu ayalai aṟivadu aṟiyāmai; aṉḏṟi aṟivō? aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai aṟiya, aṟivu aṟiyāmai aṟum.

English translation: Not knowing oneself, who knows, knowing other things is ignorance; besides, is it knowledge? When one knows oneself, the support for knowledge and the other, knowledge and ignorance will cease.

Explanatory paraphrase: Instead of knowing [the reality of] oneself [the ego], who knows [everything else], knowing other things is ignorance; except [that], is it knowledge? When one knows [the reality of] oneself [the ego], the ādhāra [support, foundation or container] for knowledge and the other [ignorance], knowledge and ignorance [of everything else] will cease [because the reality of the ego is just pure self-awareness, so when one knows oneself as pure self-awareness the ego will no longer seem to exist, and hence all its knowledge and ignorance will cease to exist along with it].
As he says in the first two lines of this verse, knowing or being aware of anything other than oneself is not real knowledge or awareness but only ignorance, so this is logically inconsistent with your claim that pure awareness is aware of all phenomena. The awareness that is aware of all phenomena is only ego or mind, so what Bhagavan implies here is that ego or mind is not real awareness but only ignorance. Real awareness is only self-awareness and not awareness of anything else, so since brahman is real awareness, it is not aware of any phenomena whatsoever.

As we know from our own experience, awareness of phenomena appears in waking and dream, but disappears in sleep, so it is just a transient appearance and hence not real. Therefore awareness of phenomena cannot be the nature of brahman, because brahman is immutable. If it is claimed that brahman is aware of phenomena, that would imply that it is aware of them constantly and without any change, but since changeability is the very nature of phenomena, how could it be aware of them constantly and without any change? Moreover, since change itself is a phenomenon, if brahman were aware of all phenomena, it would have to be aware of change, so it would become aware of each change only when it occurs, and hence it would not be unchanging, because its becoming aware of each change is itself a change.

In the final sentence of this verse, ‘அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை அறிய, அறிவு அறியாமை அறும்’ (aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai aṟiya, aṟivu aṟiyāmai aṟum), ‘When one knows oneself, the support for knowledge and the other, knowledge and ignorance will cease’, what he means by ‘அறிவு அறியாமை’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai), ‘knowledge and ignorance’, is knowledge (or awareness) and ignorance of things other than oneself, as in the previous verse, so he clearly implies here that when one knows oneself, no knowledge or awareness of any other thing will remain.

‘அறிவு அயற்கு’ (aṟivu ayaṟku) means ‘for knowledge and the other’ and implies ‘for knowledge and ignorance’, so ‘அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை’ (aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai) means ‘oneself, the ādhāra [support, foundation or container] for knowledge and the other [ignorance]’. Since the ādhāra for knowledge and the ignorance is only ego, in this context (as in the previous verse) ‘தன்னை’ (taṉṉai), ‘oneself’, refers to ourself as ego. However, as I explained in connection with the previous verse, what Bhagavan means by knowing ego is knowing its reality, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), and thereby knowing the non-existence of ego as such.

That is, in the case of a rope that seems to be a snake, seeing the snake as it actually is means seeing that it is just a rope and thereby seeing that no snake ever existed there at all. Likewise, in the case of what now seems to be ego, the ‘I’ that experiences both knowledge and ignorance about other things, knowing ego as it actually is means knowing oneself as pure self-awareness, which is completely devoid of both knowledge and ignorance about other things, and thereby knowing that no ego has ever existed.

Since knowledge and ignorance about other things exist only for ego, when one knows the non-existence of ego by knowing oneself to be pure self-awareness, both knowledge and ignorance will cease, as Bhagavan says in this final sentence of verse 11. To make the full implication of this perfectly clear, he begins verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying that real awareness is only awareness that is completely devoid of both knowledge and ignorance:
அறிவறி யாமையு மற்றதறி வாமே
யறியும துண்மையறி வாகா — தறிதற்
கறிவித்தற் கன்னியமின் றாயவிர்வ தாற்றா
னறிவாகும் பாழன் றறி.

aṟivaṟi yāmaiyu maṯṟadaṟi vāmē
yaṟiyuma duṇmaiyaṟi vāhā — daṟitaṟ
kaṟivittaṟ kaṉṉiyamiṉ ḏṟāyavirva dāṯṟā
ṉaṟivāhum pāṙaṉ ḏṟaṟi
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே. அறியும் அது உண்மை அறிவு ஆகாது. அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும். பாழ் அன்று. அறி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē. aṟiyum adu uṇmai aṟivu āhādu. aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum. pāṙ aṉḏṟu. aṟi.

English translation: What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance is actually knowledge. That which knows is not real knowledge. Since one shines without another for knowing or for causing to know, oneself is knowledge. One is not void. Know.

Explanatory paraphrase: What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance [about anything other than itself] is actually aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. That which knows [or is aware of anything other than itself, namely the ego] is not real aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. One is not void [emptiness, desolation, nothingness or non-existence]. Know [or be aware].
As in the previous two verses, in the first sentence of this verse what Bhagavan means by ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும்’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um), ‘knowledge and ignorance’, is knowledge (or awareness) and ignorance of things other than oneself, so when he says in this first sentence, ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē), ‘What is devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is actually aṟivu’, he clearly implies that real awareness is completely devoid of awareness of anything other than itself, so this is the real meaning of ‘pure awareness’ or ‘pure consciousness’. It is pure in the sense that it is just awareness and not awareness anything other than itself. In other words, it is awareness that is devoid of any contents or objects of awareness.

To emphasise that what he means by ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது’ ( aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu), ‘what is [or that which is] devoid of knowledge and ignorance’, is awareness that is completely devoid of even the slightest trace of any knowledge or ignorance of other things, in the kaliveṇbā version of this verse he extended this first sentence by adding at the beginning of it the word அறவே (aṟavē), which is an intensified form of the adverb அற (aṟa), which means entirely, completely, wholly, utterly or thoroughly. Therefore with this adverb this first sentence is extended as: ‘அறவே அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே’ (aṟavē aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē), ‘What is completely devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is actually aṟivu’.

As Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’, and ātma-svarūpa is just awareness. Therefore the reason why real awareness is completely devoid of knowledge (or awareness) and ignorance of any other things is that it alone actually exists, so in its clear view there is absolutely nothing else for it be aware of, or for it to know or be ignorant of, as he says unequivocally in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
அறிவறி யாமையு மற்ற வறிவே
யறிவாகு முண்மையீ துந்தீபற
     வறிவதற் கொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற.

aṟivaṟi yāmaiyu maṯṟa vaṟivē
yaṟivāhu muṇmaiyī dundīpaṟa
     vaṟivadaṟ koṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்ற அறிவே அறிவு ஆகும். உண்மை ஈது. அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟa aṟivē aṟivu āhum. uṇmai īdu. aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai.

அன்வயம்: அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்ற அறிவே அறிவு ஆகும். ஈது உண்மை. அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟa aṟivē aṟivu āhum. īdu uṇmai. aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai.

English translation: Only knowledge [or awareness] that is devoid of knowledge and ignorance is [real] knowledge [or awareness]. This is real, [because] there is not anything for knowing.
The first sentence of this verse, ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்ற அறிவே அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟa aṟivē aṟivu āhum), ‘Only aṟivu that is devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is [real] aṟivu’, is almost identical to the first sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmai-y-um aṯṟadu aṟivu ām-ē), ‘What is devoid of aṟivu [knowledge or awareness] and aṟiyāmai [ignorance] is actually aṟivu’, so the fact that Bhagavan devoted a verse in Upadēśa Undiyār and another verse in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu to expressing this principle shows how central it is to his teachings, and hence we should carefully consider what exactly these words mean, the implications of this principle, the reason why it is so, and the reason why it is such an important principle.

The reason why it is so is explained by him in the final sentence of this verse: ‘அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை’ (aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘there is not anything for knowing’. What exactly does he mean by saying this? In this context this sentence implies that for real awareness nothing else exists for it to know or be aware of, because it alone exists.

This fact is also expressed by him in the third sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, but before we consider that sentence in more detail let us first consider what he says and implies in the second sentence: ‘அறியும் அது உண்மை அறிவு ஆகாது’ (aṟiyum adu uṇmai aṟivu āhādu), ‘That which knows is not real aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]’. In this context ‘அறியும் அது’ (aṟiyum adu), ‘that which knows’, implies that which knows or is aware of things other than itself, namely ego or mind, so the import of the sentence is that though ego is aware of other things, it is not உண்மை அறிவு (uṇmai aṟivu), real awareness or true knowledge. In other words, being aware of anything other than oneself is not real awareness, because real awareness is completely devoid of either awareness or ignorance of any other thing, since nothing other than it actually exists for it to be aware of.

Then in the third sentence of verse 12 he says: ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]’. In the main clause, ‘தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘oneself is aṟivu’, ‘தான்’ (tāṉ), ‘oneself’, refers not to ego but to ātma-svarūpa (the real nature of oneself, which is ourself as we actually are), and ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), ‘awareness’ or ‘knowledge’, refers to real awareness, so whereas in the previous sentence he implied that ego, which is what knows or is aware of things other than itself, is not real awareness, in this sentence he implies that ātma-svarūpa alone is real awareness.

In the first clause of this sentence he explains why ātma-svarūpa alone is real awareness, and the explanation he gives here is similar to the one he gave in the final sentence of verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār. That is, in the final sentence of that verse, ‘அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை’ (aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘there is not anything for knowing’, he explained that the reason why real awareness is devoid of both knowledge and ignorance about anything else is that nothing else actually exists for it to know, and likewise in the first clause of this third sentence of verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால்’ (aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl), ‘Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known]’, he explains that the reason why real awareness is only oneself is that as our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) we shine without anya (anything other than ourelf) for us either to know or to cause to be known.

In one of my earlier articles, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 12: other than the real awareness that we actually are, there is nothing to know or make known, I discussed and explained each sentence of this verse in detail, and while discussing this third sentence I explained the meaning and implications of the word அறிவித்தற்கு (aṟivittaṟku), ‘for causing to know’ or ‘for causing to be known’, so I will not explain it again here, but will just point out that the central import of this sentence is that since there is nothing other than ātma-svarūpa, there is nothing for it to know or be aware of, so though it is completely devoid of even the slightest awareness, knowledge or ignorance of anything other than itself, it alone is real awareness.

Therefore in all these verses Bhagavan has very clearly and emphatically repudiated the idea that pure awareness or brahman is in any way aware of phenomena (names and forms), which is what you seem to believe. You are by no means alone in believing this, because it is a belief that is prevalent among scholars and others who have studied the ancient texts of advaita, and there may be many passages in those texts that seem to support this belief, particularly if they are interpreted in such a way, but in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and elsewhere Bhagavan pointed out either directly or indirectly that this and many other popular interpretations of the ancient texts are not correct.

One common misinterpretation that occurs when people are told that real awareness is completely devoid of any awareness of phenomena is that the ultimate reality is therefore just śūnya, empty, void, non-existent or nothing, and this became a major belief in certain prominent schools of Buddhist philosophy, which in turn led to many champions of advaita philosophy going too far in the opposite direction by denying that brahman is devoid of awareness of phenomena. Therefore after asserting in the first sentence that real awareness is completely devoid of any awareness of phenomena, and in the third sentence that there is nothing other than real awareness for it to know or make known, in the fourth sentence, ‘பாழ் அன்று’ (pāṙ aṉḏṟu), ‘It [oneself, who is real awareness] is not pāṙ [void, emptiness, desolation, nothingness or non-existence]’, Bhagavan repudiated the idea that this means that real awareness is śūnya, empty, void or non-existent.

Thus in this verse he repudiated two extremes and pointed out that the truth lies in between them. Though real awareness is completely devoid of awareness or ignorance of anything other than itself, it is not śūnya, because it is full of itself, the infinite fullness of pure sat-cit-ānanda, existence-awareness-happiness. It is devoid of even the slightest awareness of anything else not because it is an empty void or nothingness, but because it is so full of pure awareness, awareness of nothing other than itself, that there is no room in it for any awareness of anything else to appear.

In other words, since it (our real nature) alone exists, pure and immutable, no other thing can ever arise in it or cease to exist in it. If anything else had ever existed or could ever exist in it, when nothing else exists in it we could say it is empty, but since nothing other than itself has ever existed or could ever exist in it, to say it is empty (śūnya) is meaningless.

Therefore in this verse Bhagavan indicates that the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya) is ajāta, because pure awareness alone exists, devoid of anything else, including time, so it is absolutely immutable, and hence nothing else could ever come into existence or cease to exist in it. It just is as it is and as it always has been, so there is neither any room nor any time in it that could allow anything else to appear in it.

Therefore it is beyond the ability of ego or mind to conceive or comprehend it as it actually is, so in order to be aware of it as it is we need to just be as it is, that is, as pure awareness devoid of any awareness of anything other than ourself, as Bhagavan says in the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal), ‘Being in the heart as it is [that is, as pure thought-free self-awareness] alone is thinking [of it, meditating on it, contemplating it, investigating it or revering it]’.

After thus teaching us in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu that as we actually are we alone are real awareness and that since there is nothing other than ourself to know, we are completely devoid of awareness or ignorance of any other thing, he reiterates and further clarifies this in verse 13:
ஞானமாந் தானேமெய் நானாவா ஞானமஞ்
ஞானமாம் பொய்யாமஞ் ஞானமுமே — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

ñāṉamān tāṉēmey nāṉāvā ñāṉamañ
ñāṉamām poyyāmañ ñāṉamumē — ñāṉamān
taṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟaṇiga ḍāmpalavum poymeyyām
poṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yuṇḍō puhal
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய். நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம். பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று. அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey. nāṉā ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām. poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu. aṇigaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal.

English translation: Oneself, who is awareness, alone is real. Awareness that is manifold is ignorance. Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real?

Explanatory paraphrase: Oneself, who is jñāna [knowledge or awareness], alone is real. Awareness that is manifold [namely the mind, whose root, the ego, is the awareness that sees the one as many] is ajñāna [ignorance]. Even [that] ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as [besides, apart from or as other than] oneself, who is [real] awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real? [In other words, though the ego or mind, which is the false awareness that sees itself as numerous phenomena, is ignorance and unreal, the real substance that appears as it is only oneself, who is true knowledge or pure awareness, so what actually exists is not the ego or mind but only oneself.]
In verses 10, 11 and 12 the key word that Bhagavan used was ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), which is a Tamil noun that means ‘awareness’ or ‘knowledge’, but he used it in some cases to refer to pure awareness, which is aware of nothing other than itself, and in other cases to refer to awareness that is aware of other things, whereas in this verse the key word he uses is ‘ஞானம்’ (ñāṉam), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word ‘ज्ञान’ (jñāna), and which like ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu) is a noun that means ‘awareness’ or ‘knowledge’, but which he likewise uses in some cases to refer to pure awareness and in other cases to refer to awareness that is aware of other things.

Just as he concluded the third sentence of verse 12 by saying, ‘தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘oneself is aṟivu [awareness or knowledge]’, in the first sentence of this verse he says, ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness or knowledge], alone is real’, and in both cases he implies not only that we are awareness but that we are the only real awareness — indeed, the only thing that is real, because nothing other than ourself actually exists.

Since nothing other than ourself actually exists, being aware of other things is not real awareness but only ignorance, as he said in the first two lines of verse 11, ‘அறிவு உறும் தன்னை அறியாது அயலை அறிவது அறியாமை; அன்றி அறிவோ?’ (aṟivu-uṟum taṉṉai aṟiyādu ayalai aṟivadu aṟiyāmai; aṉḏṟi aṟivō?), ‘Not knowing oneself, who knows, knowing other things is ignorance; except [that], is it knowledge [or real awareness]?’, and as he says in the second sentence of this verse: ‘நானா ஆம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Awareness that is manifold is ajñāna [ignorance]’.

What exactly does he mean by ‘நானா ஆம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā ām ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that is nānā [manifold, diverse, different, various or many]’? This can be explained in several different ways, but they all amount to the same thing. We can say this phrase refers to any knowledge that is not entirely single, which includes all knowledge of anything other than oneself, the knower, because even knowledge of one other thing is not single, since it entails the tripuṭi (or muppuḍi, as he calls it in verse 9 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), the set of three factors of transitive knowledge or awareness, namely the knower (the subject), the knowing and the known (the object of knowledge). We can also say this phrase refers either to mind, because it is the awareness that has branched out into numerous thoughts (or numerous phenomena, all of which are just thoughts, according to him), or to ego, the root and essence of the mind, because it is the awareness that sees the one thing that actually exists, namely ourself, as many phenomena, which do not actually exist but merely seem to exist.

This latter explanation is supported by verse 12 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ (which Bhagavan composed on 30th July 1928 but later the same day modified its first two lines to form what is now verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu):
ஞானமொன் றேயுண்மை நானாவாய்க் காண்கின்ற
ஞானமன்றி யின்றாமஞ் ஞானந்தான் — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

ñāṉamoṉ ḏṟēyuṇmai nāṉāvāyk kāṇgiṉḏṟa
ñāṉamaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟāmañ ñāṉandāṉ — ñāṉamān
taṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟaṇiga ḍāmpalavum poymeyyām
poṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yuṇḍō puhal
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஞானம் ஒன்றே உண்மை. நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம் அன்றி இன்று ஆம் அஞ்ஞானம் தான் ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று. அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ñāṉam oṉḏṟē uṇmai. nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa ñāṉam aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu ām aññāṉam tāṉ ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu. aṇigaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal.

English translation: Awareness (jñāna) alone is real. Ignorance (ajñāna), which is nothing other than awareness (jñāna) that sees as many, itself does not exist apart from oneself, who is awareness (jñāna). All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist apart from the gold, which is real?
What Bhagavan refers to in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu as ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that is nānā [manifold, diverse, different, various or many]’, is what he refers to in this verse as ‘நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that sees as nānā’, so this confirms that what he refers to in both these phrases is ego, because it is the awareness that see the one real awareness as both itself, the perceiver, and all the many phenomena perceived by it.

However, no matter how it may be explained, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘jñāna [awareness or knowledge] that is manifold’, entails awareness of things other than oneself, because awareness of ourself alone does not entail any multiplicity or manyness, since in pure self-awareness what is aware, what it is aware of and its awareness of it are not three separate things but one and the same. In other words, self-awareness does not entail any tripuṭi or muppuḍi (set of three factors of transitive awareness), whereas awareness of anything else does entail it and hence is manifold. Therefore this second sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Awareness that is manifold is ajñāna [ignorance]’, clearly implies that awareness of anything other than oneself (or awareness of any phenomena) is not real awareness but only ignorance, so by saying this Bhagavan is once again clearly repudiating the belief that brahman or pure awareness is aware of all phenomena, or of any phenomenon whatsoever.

However, though awareness of anything other than oneself is not real awareness but only ignorance, it could not seem to exist without real awareness, because real awareness is the one and only substance, so it alone is what seems to be awareness of other things, as Bhagavan points out in the third sentence: ‘பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று’ (poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu), ‘Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness’.

That is, just as gold ornaments could not exist without gold, because in substance they are nothing other than gold, so awareness of phenomena could not exist without real awareness, because in substance it is nothing other than real awareness, so in the final sentences of this verse Bhagavan says: ‘அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ? புகல்’ (aṇigaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō? puhal), ‘All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real?’

Whether we are aware of other things, as in waking and dream, or aware of no other things, as in sleep, we are always aware, so the underlying awareness that exists whether awareness of other things appears or disappears is alone real awareness. Awareness of other things is not real, because it appears and disappears, and it does not even appear and disappear in the view of real awareness, because in the view of real awareness nothing else exists for it to know (as Bhagavan says in the final sentence of verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār), so it appears and disappears only in its own view. This is why he says in the third sentence, ‘பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே’ (poy ām aññāṉamumē), ‘even ignorance, which is unreal’.

However, though awareness that is aware of other things is both ignorance and unreal, and though it seems to exist only in its own view and not in the view of real awareness, it could not seem to exist at all if it were actually anything other than real awareness, because nothing other than real awareness actually exists. Therefore what seems to be awareness that is aware of other things is nothing other than real awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself.

8. Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: since awareness of anything other than ourself is ignorance and unreal, we can be aware of ourself as real awareness only by withdrawing our attention from everything else and turning back towards ourself to know our own ‘form of light’

Since awareness that is aware of other things is what is generally called ‘ego’ or ‘mind’, in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, as in the previous three verses, Bhagavan explains to us that ego is not real awareness but only ignorance, but what seems to be ego is nothing other than real awareness, because nothing else actually exists. Therefore in order to be aware of ourself as the real awareness that we actually are, we, who now seem to be this ego or mind, need to withdraw our attention entirely from all other things by focusing it only on ourself, the light of awareness that illumines both ourself and everything else.

This is the practical inference that we should draw from these four verses, and it is what Bhagavan teaches us explicitly in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

அன்வயம்: மனம் வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): maṉam veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām.

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
‘வெளி விடயங்கள்’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷ), ‘external viṣayas’ or ‘external phenomena’, means everything other than ourself, and we can leave them aside only by withdrawing our attention from them. However, we withdraw our attention from them whenever we fall asleep, so though withdrawing our attention from them is necessary, it is not by itself sufficient, because it will result only in manōlaya, temporary dissolution of mind, as in sleep, but it cannot bring about manōnāśa, permanent annihilation of mind.

In order to annihilate the mind, we must not only withdraw it from everything else but must also turn it back within to face ourself alone. This turning of our mind or attention back to face ourself is what Bhagavan refers to here as ‘மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தல்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdal), ‘the mind knowing [or investigating] its own form of light’, and he says that this alone is ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci), ‘real awareness’, ‘true knowledge’ or ‘knowledge of reality’. In other words, what he implies here is that real awareness is not awareness of anything else but only awareness of nothing other than ourself, which is the same fundamental principle that he explains in more detail in verses 10 to 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, but here he points out more clearly how we should apply this principle in practice.

What he refers to here as ‘தன் ஒளி உரு’ (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘its own form of light’ (or ‘one’s own form of light’), is the light of pure awareness, which is what we actually are, but when he says ‘மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தல்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdal), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light’, does he mean that mind as mind can know pure awareness? Mind is in essence just ego, which is the adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’, so as such it can never be aware of itself as the pure adjunct-free awareness that it actually is. Therefore what he means by ‘the mind knowing its own form of light’ is that when mind turns back within to know its own form of light, leaving aside all external phenomena, it will cease to be mind and will remain just as its own form of light, which is always aware of itself as it actually is.

As Bhagavan often used to say, mind is mind only when it faces outwards to know anything other than itself, but when it turns back to face itself alone, it is no longer mind but just ātma-svarūpa, our own real nature (two examples of his saying something to this effect are recorded in Day by Day with Bhagavan: ‘The mind turned inwards is the Self; turned outwards, it becomes the ego and all the world’ (11-1-46: 2002 edition, page 106) and ‘The mind, turned outwards, results in thoughts and objects. Turned inwards, it becomes itself the Self’ (8-11-45: 2002 edition, page 37)). That is, so long as we are aware of anything other than ourself, as such we are not real awareness but only mind, but though mind is not real awareness, it is nothing other than real awareness, as Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, so when instead of being aware of anything else we are aware of ourself alone, we cease to be mind and remain as real awareness, which is what we always actually are.

What actually exists is only real awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself, so what is this thing called ‘mind’ or ‘ego’ that we now seem to be? In other words, what is this awareness that now seems to be aware of things other than itself? This is what we need to investigate, and if we investigate it keenly enough, we will find that no such thing actually exists at all, as Bhagavan says in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without neglecting [forgetting, abandoning, giving up or ceasing], anything called ‘mind’ will not exist. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever.
Ego or mind seems to exist only when it is looking elsewhere, that is, at anything other than itself, but when it looks only at itself, there is no such thing but only pure awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself. This is the simple but fundamental principle that Bhagavan teaches us both in verses 10 to 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and in these two verses of Upadēśa Undiyār.

Another closely related principle that we can infer by carefully considering those four verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu along with these two verses is that what is aware of phenomena is not real awareness but only ego, so if we investigate and know the reality of ego, ego as such will cease to exist and along with it awareness of phenomena will also cease (as he says in the final sentence of verse 11 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), and what will then remain is therefore only pure self-awareness.

9. Bhagavan’s teachings are the pinnacle of advaita, because he has greatly simplified and clarified the essential import of all its more ancient texts

Advaita is an extremely deep, subtle and radical philosophy, albeit a very simple one, and it challenges us to question all our most dearly cherished beliefs about ourself and everything else, so it naturally does not appeal to most people. Even among those of us to whom it does appeal to a greater or lesser extent, the majority are not yet willing to accept it in its pure and undiluted form, so each of us understands and interprets it according to the extent to which we are willing to give up all our former beliefs and accept wholeheartedly its deep and radical implications, which call on us to surrender ourself entirely, without any reservation whatsoever, and to accept that surrendering ourself entails giving up everything else, since everything else seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, which is the false ‘self’ we are to surrender.

This is why Bhagavan once said to Lakshmana Sarma, ‘According to the purity of the antaḥkaraṇa [the ‘inner instrument’ or mind] of each person, the same teaching is reflected in different ways. If you think you can expound the teachings more faithfully, you may write your own commentary’ (as recorded in the ‘Preface to the Eighth Edition’ of Maha Yoga: 2002 edition, pages v-vi). So what exactly is the connection between purity of mind and ability to understand the deep, subtle and radical implications of advaita philosophy?

The impurities in the mind are its viṣaya-vāsanās (propensities, inclinations or urges to experience viṣayas, phenomena), which are the seeds that sprout and manifest as likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, cares, concerns, hopes, fears and other such elements of the will, so to the extent that its viṣaya-vāsanās are strong and dense it is impure, and to the extent that its viṣaya-vāsanās are weakened and reduced in density it is pure. Therefore an impure mind will be strongly inclined to rise, go outwards and be affected by external circumstances, whereas a relatively pure mind will have less impetus to rise and go outwards and will therefore be more inclined to subside, surrender, turn back within and be unconcerned about and hence unaffected by external circumstances.

When we rise as ego and go outwards, we are turning our back (so to speak) on our real nature and attending instead to other things, so since our real nature is the original light of awareness (cit) by which the mind is illumined, and since the mind is the reflected light of awareness (cidābhāsa) by which everything else is illumined, the greater the impetus with which the mind goes outwards the more it is turning its back on the natural clarity of self-awareness that is always shining within it, and thereby the more the clarity and sharpness of its vivēka (discernment, discrimination or judgement) is clouded and blunted, whereas the more the mind turns back within to face itself (the subject, perceiver or first person) and thereby subsides, the clearer and sharper its vivēka will become. Therefore the clarity and sharpness of our vivēka is directly proportional to the purity of our mind, or in other words it is inversely proportional to the strength and density of our viṣaya-vāsanās.

What clouds and thereby blunts our natural inner clarity of vivēka is the darkness of our viṣaya-vāsanās or outward-going desires, and a mind in which vivēka is clouded is fertile ground for perpetuating the flourishing of its viṣaya-vāsanās. This is why in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār Bhagavan refers to the will (the ānandamaya kōśa), which is the totality of all vāsanās (the vast majority of which are viṣaya-vāsanās), as ‘இருள்’ (iruḷ), which means ‘darkness’. Therefore the direct and most effective means to reduce and eventually dispel this dense darkness of viṣaya-vāsanās from our heart and thereby to allow our natural inner clarity of vivēka to shine forth unhampered by them is for us to patiently and persistently turn our attention back within to face ourself, the clear light of pure self-awareness.

The more our viṣaya-vāsanās are weakened and reduced in density and intensity, the clearer and sharper our vivēka will become, and thereby the more willing we will be to accept and the more clearly we will be able to understand the extremely deep, subtle and radical yet very simple principles of advaita philosophy. Because they are so simple, the fundamental principles of advaita are not difficult to understand, but because they are so radical and their implications are so profound and extreme, they are not easy to accept for those whose mind are not sufficiently pure and are therefore still strongly attached to external phenomena.

In order to be willing to accept them wholeheartedly and thereby able to understand them clearly in all their raw simplicity, what is required is not vast learning or the kind of intellect that is brilliant in understanding complex matters concerning the (seemingly) external world, but only citta-śuddhi, purity of mind and heart. Even if a person has no learning or formal education, so long as they have the required degree of citta-śuddhi they will be able to understand the fundamental principles of advaita more clearly and correctly than even the most learned people or those who have supposedly the most brilliant intellects yet whose hearts are still clouded by strong and dense viṣaya-vāsanās.

However, neither Bhagavan nor any of the sages who wrote the ancient texts of advaita would exclude anyone just because they are not yet willing to accept all the more radical principles and implications of advaita, so they gave different levels of explanation to make it easier for more people to accept at least the most general and elementary principles of advaita. Good teachers always adapt what they teach to suit the capacity and needs of those whom they are teaching. They would not teach in a primary school all that they had learnt in university, but what they would teach at that level would be a suitable and necessary preparation to enable the children to progress towards university-level study. Likewise what sages teach people is suited to their level of spiritual development and is a necessary preparation to enable them to progress to deeper and subtler levels.

Therefore in both Bhagavan’s teachings and the ancient texts of advaita we can see many different levels of explanation, which they gave to suit the different levels of spiritual development among those they were teaching. We should not assume, therefore, that every explanation given in the upaniṣads and other ancient texts and commentaries is necessarily the ultimate explanation or the deepest and subtlest one. Many preliminary explanations that we find in some places in those texts are contradicted or overruled by more advanced explanations in other places.

Even among the devotees of Bhagavan in his bodily lifetime there were as many different levels of understanding of his teachings as there were different degrees of purity and hence clarity of mind, and the variety of these different levels is reflected both in the books that record his oral teachings and in the various commentaries and other explanations of them. Fortunately for us, however, he expressed the deepest, subtlest and most fundamental principles of his teachings in his own original writings, particularly in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and Upadēśa Undiyār, so if we study and carefully consider all the implications of what he has written in such texts, we can each find our own level of understanding, and can then deepen and clarify it by persistent practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, supported by repeated study of his writings and reflection on their import. In this way we can form our own judgement about other recordings, commentaries and explanations, and also about any related teachings we may come across, such as in more ancient texts of advaita.

Bhagavan’s teachings are the pinnacle of advaita, the amṛta (ambrosia or nectar of immortality) churned from the ocean of its more ancient texts, because he has greatly simplified and clarified their essential import. Therefore rather than trying to understand his teachings through the lens of ancient texts, it is more beneficial to understand ancient texts through the lens of the fundamental principles that he has taught us in texts such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Upadēśa Undiyār and Nāṉ Ār?.

To the extent that we have studied and correctly understood Bhagavan’s teachings, we will thereby and to that extent have understood the essential import of all the ancient texts of advaita, so we do not need to read any of those texts, and even if we do read them they will not enable us to understand any significant principles that we cannot understand from his own writings. On the other hand, even if we had extensively studied the ancient texts of advaita before coming across his teachings, if we were to study his teachings with a sufficiently open and enquiring mind we would be able to understand many deep and subtle principles of advaita with a fresh clarity and coherence that we would not have been able to gain from all our study of older texts.

When Bhagavan answered questions that he was asked, his answers were always adapted and appropriate to the level of understanding of whoever asked the questions, because there would be no benefit in his giving answers that they did not have the willingness or capacity to understand. In the same way the authors of ancient texts adapted what they wrote to suit the level of understanding of those they were addressing, so we should not assume that everything written in those texts is the deepest, subtlest, clearest, most accurate or most radical expression of advaita philosophy or practice.

One reason for the depth, clarity and radical nature of the teachings that Bhagavan has expressed in Nāṉ Ār?, Upadēśa Undiyār and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is that what he taught in these three texts were addressed specifically to Sivaprakasam Pillai and Muruganar, who were both wholeheartedly dedicated to achieving the goal he taught us, namely the eradication of ego, and who were therefore willing not only to give up all their former beliefs and accept all the deep, subtle and radical principles that he taught them, but also to immerse themselves deep and thereby lose themselves entirely in the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender.

Not only do ancient texts contain teachings to suit a variety of different levels of understanding, but over the ages they have been interpreted and explained by people of different levels of understanding, so since the majority of scholars and other exponents of them did not have a sufficiently deep, clear and subtle understanding of them, many superficial interpretations or misinterpretations of them became prevalent, and as a general rule translations of them in English and other languages reflect such prevalent misinterpretations and are coloured by the limited understanding of the translators. Therefore if we do not understand Sanskrit or whichever other languages those texts were written in, we will not be able to judge to what extent the translations of them that we read are correct interpretations of them.

Because so many misunderstandings and wrong interpretations of the ancient texts prevail, Bhagavan often pointed out the errors in such interpretations, or as Sadhu Om used to say it, he gave ‘correction slips’. For example, for hundreds of years before Bhagavan it was widely believed and taught that the correct practice of the teachings of advaita was to meditate on mahāvākyas (great sayings) such as ‘ahaṁ brahmāsmi’ (I am brahman) or to constantly think ‘I am not this body or mind; I am that’, but he pointed out that the correct practice of advaita is only self-investigation (ātma-vicāra) and that meditating ‘I am not this, I am that’ may be an aid but is not vicāra, as he explained in verses 27, 29, 32 and 36 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

Another popular misunderstanding that is prevalent even now is that since it is said that the root cause of all our problems is avidyā (ignorance) and that avidyā can be removed only by vidyā (knowledge), in order to remove avidyā it is sufficient to study the ancient texts under the guidance of a qualified teacher (namely one who has been through the same process) and to meditate on their meaning until one understands them clearly and correctly. This is a misinterpretation of the term ‘vidyā’, which in this context does not mean mere conceptual understanding but only clear awareness of our real nature, which is what remains when ego is completely eradicated, and ego cannot be eradicated by any amount of studying or reasoning but only by self-investigation, as Bhagavan explained in the sixteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
எந்நூலிலும் முக்தி யடைவதற்கு மனத்தை யடக்க வேண்டுமென்று சொல்லப்பட் டுள்ளபடியால், மனோநிக்ரகமே நூல்களின் முடிவான கருத்து என் றறிந்துகொண்ட பின்பு நூல்களை யளவின்றிப் படிப்பதாற் பயனில்லை. மனத்தை யடக்குவதற்குத் தன்னை யாரென்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டுமே யல்லாமல் எப்படி நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது? தன்னைத் தன்னுடைய ஞானக்கண்ணாற்றானே யறிய வேண்டும். ராமன் தன்னை ராமனென்றறியக் கண்ணாடி வேண்டுமா? ‘தான்’ பஞ்ச கோசங்களுக்குள் ளிருப்பது; நூல்களோ அவற்றிற்கு வெளியி லிருப்பவை. ஆகையால், பஞ்ச கோசங்களையும் நீக்கி விசாரிக்க வேண்டிய தன்னை நூல்களில் விசாரிப்பது வீணே. பந்தத்தி லிருக்கும் தான் யாரென்று விசாரித்து தன் யதார்த்த சொரூபத்தைத் தெரிந்துகொள்வதே முக்தி. சதாகாலமும் மனத்தை ஆத்மாவில் வைத்திருப்பதற்குத் தான் ‘ஆத்மவிசார’ மென்று பெயர்; தியானமோ தன்னை ஸச்சிதானந்த பிரம்மமாக பாவிப்பது. கற்றவை யனைத்தையும் ஒருகாலத்தில் மறக்க வேண்டிவரும்.

ennūlilum mukti y-aḍaivadaṟku maṉattai y-aḍakka vēṇḍum-eṉḏṟu solla-p-paṭ ṭuḷḷapaḍiyāl, maṉōnigrahamē nūlgaḷiṉ muḍivāṉa karuttu eṉ ḏṟaṟindu-goṇḍa piṉbu nūlgaḷai y-aḷaviṉḏṟi-p paḍi-p-padāl payaṉ-illai. maṉattai y-aḍakkuvadaṟku-t taṉṉai yār eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum-ē y-allāmal eppaḍi nūlgaḷil vicārippadu? taṉṉai-t taṉṉuḍaiya ñāṉa-k-kaṇṇāl-tāṉ-ē y-aṟiya vēṇḍum. rāmaṉ taṉṉai rāmaṉ-eṉḏṟaṟiya-k kaṇṇāḍi vēṇḍum-ā? ‘tāṉ’ pañca kōśaṅgaḷukkuḷ ḷ-iruppadu; nūlgaḷ-ō avaṯṟiṟku veḷiyil iruppavai. āhaiyāl, pañca kōśaṅgaḷai-y-um nīkki vicārikka vēṇḍiya taṉṉai nūlgaḷil vicārippadu vīṇē. bandhattil irukkum tāṉ yār eṉḏṟu vicārittu taṉ yathārtha sorūpattai-t terindu-koḷvadē mukti. sadā-kālam-um maṉattai ātmāvil vaittiruppadaṟku-t tāṉ ‘ātma-vicāram’ eṉḏṟu peyar; dhiyāṉam-ō taṉṉai saccidāṉanda birahmmamāha bhāvippadu. kaṯṟavai y-aṉaittaiyum oru-kālattil maṟakka vēṇḍi-varum.

Since in every text [of advaita] it is said that for attaining mukti [liberation] it is necessary to make the mind cease, after knowing that manōnigraha [restraint, subjugation or destruction of the mind] alone is the ultimate intention [aim or purpose] of [such] texts, there is no benefit [to be gained] by studying texts without limit. For making the mind cease it is necessary to investigate oneself [to see] who [one actually is], [but] instead [of doing so] how [can one see oneself by] investigating in texts? It is necessary to know oneself only by one’s own eye of jñāna [knowledge or awareness]. Does [a person called] Raman need a mirror to know himself as Raman? ‘Oneself’ is within the pañca-kōśas [the ‘five sheaths’ that seem to cover and obscure what one actually is, namely the physical body, life, mind, intellect and will]; whereas texts are outside them. Therefore investigating in texts [in order to know] oneself, whom it is necessary to investigate [by turning one’s attention within and thereby] setting aside [excluding, removing, giving up or separating from] all the pañca-kōśas, is useless. [By] investigating who is oneself who is in bondage, knowing one’s yathārtha svarūpa [actual own nature] alone is mukti [liberation]. The name ‘ātma-vicāra’ [refers] only to [the practice of] always keeping the mind in [or on] ātmā [oneself]; whereas dhyāna [meditation] is imagining oneself to be sat-cit-ānanda brahman [the absolute reality, which is being-consciousness-bliss]. At one time it will become necessary to forget all that one has learnt.
Like these two examples, Bhagavan has corrected many other prevalent misunderstandings that arose among those who studied the ancient texts, so if we want to understand the meaning of those texts correctly, and to be able to distinguish their core principles from all the various ways in which they were expressed in a diluted manner to suit the needs of people who could not grasp them or would be unwilling to accept them if they were expressed more explicitly, the easiest way to do so is to study and understand Bhagavan’s original writings, in which the same core principles have been expressed in a manner that is much simpler, clearer and therefore more easy to understand.

In order to understand Bhagavan’s teachings correctly and clearly, we need to approach them with a fresh and open mind and willingness to discard any of our former beliefs that we find to be incompatible or inconsistent with them, as Sivaprakasam Pillai and Muruganar did. If instead we try to understand them through the lens of whatever we have understood from our previous study of other texts and books, we are liable to misunderstand them. As Sadhu Om used to say, our mind needs to be like a clean slate when we begin to study his teachings, because then only will they make a fresh and clear impression on us.

If we write Bhagavan’s beautiful name on a well-scribbled slate, it will become just one more scribbling lost among all the previous scribblings, whereas if we first wipe the slate clean and then write his name, its true beauty will stand out clearly. Likewise, if we try to understand his teachings without being willing to set aside all our previous beliefs and concepts, the fresh clarity of them will be lost among all our other confused ideas, whereas if we are willing to discard all our old ideas, his teachings will make a clear and fresh impression on our mind and heart.

In your comments, Venkat, you often cite English translations of ancient texts, but since most of us do not have a sufficiently deep understanding of Sanskrit, we cannot be sure to what extent such translations are a correct interpretation of the original texts. Moreover, just because something is written in an ancient text or by a jñāni such as Gaudapada or Adi Sankara, that does not mean that it is necessarily an undiluted expression of the deepest or subtlest principles of advaita, because just as Bhagavan often had to dilute his teachings to suit the level of understanding of whomever he was addressing, the writers of those texts likewise adapted what they wrote to suit many different levels of understanding.

Therefore as a general rule referring to ancient texts or English translations of them will not help us to understand the deepest, subtlest and most radical principles of advaita that Bhagavan has expressed so clearly and unequivocally in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār?, Upadēśa Undiyār and other such texts, and in most cases trying to understand his teachings through the lens of other texts, no matter how ancient or highly revered they may be, will only add to our confusion rather than clarifying or deepening our understanding.

10. What is aware of ego and all phenomena is only ourself as ego and not ourself as we actually are

In your comment of 17 September 2018 at 20:09 you wrote that ego ‘is a false assumption that separates subject and object’, but ego is more than just a false assumption, because it is that which makes all assumptions. It is the assumer rather than the assumed. Moreover it does more than just separate subject and object, because it alone is the subject, and by coming into existence it brings all objects into existence, so in its absence there is neither subject nor object but only our real nature, which is the one infinite and indivisible whole.

Before ego appears there is nothing to separate, because it is antecedent to all phenomena. What actually exists is only our real nature, which is pure awareness, so it alone is what seems to have been divided or separated into subject (ego) and objects (phenomena), but though it seems to have been divided, it has never actually been divided, because it is indivisible, as Bhagavan 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].
Because our real nature is anādi, beginningless, there is nothing antecedent to it. Because it is ananta, endless, limitless or infinite, there is nothing other than or outside of it. And because it is akhaṇḍa, unbroken, undivided or unfragmented, it cannot be divided or become more than one thing. Therefore nothing else can exist either outside it or as a division within it.

Being beginningless and endless, it is not touched by time, and hence it is immutable, so it can never become aware of anything other than itself. It is always just as it is, and never undergoes modification or alteration of any kind whatsoever.

If, as you seem to believe, it is aware of the appearance and disappearance of ego and phenomena, it would become aware of them when they appear and cease to be aware of them when they disappear. Whatever becomes something or ceases to be something is not unchanging, and according to Bhagavan whatever changes is not real, because whenever it changes it ceases to be what it was previously and becomes something else instead.

Moreover, since phenomena are constantly changing, if our real nature were aware of them it would itself be constantly changing, becoming aware of one thing at one moment and another thing at another moment. Therefore, since it is immutable, it can never become aware of anything or cease to be aware of anything, and hence it cannot be aware of either the appearance or the disappearance of ego and phenomena.

Though it is sometimes described as the ‘witness of all’ (sarva-sākṣi), in its clear view ‘all’ is only itself, because nothing other than itself exists, since it is infinite (ananta), and no parts exist within it, since it is indivisible (akhaṇḍa), so there is no multiplicity or anything other than itself that it could ever witness or be aware of. Therefore as Bhagavan explained, whenever it is said that our real nature or brahman is ‘sākṣi’ or ‘witness’, this term is not used in the sense of what is aware of anything other than itself but only in the sense of that in whose presence everything else seems to exist.

As I explained in a series of two comments that I wrote in reply to you on 23 September 2018:
Venkat, in your comment of 17 September 2018 at 20:09 you quoted a great Sankara scholar who wrote, “Through the practice of this ‘Adhyatma Yoga’ at last one cognises that my true nature of Being is beyond the ‘I’ sense or ego. When one cognises this Truth, then he remains unto himself as of the nature of the Witness of the ego. [...] And he himself has remained as the Witness of the ego or as the Pure Self”, and this prompted Rukmani to ask, ‘How can pure self ever witness the ego?’

This led to a heated discussion, in which several friends expressed their views, but neither you nor anyone else seems to have answered the perfectly reasonable question asked by Rukmani: ‘How can pure self ever witness the ego?’ This question cannot be answered merely by asserting that the pure self does witness the ego, nor by quoting texts that seem to imply this. The question is ‘how?’ If this cannot be answered adequately, it is reasonable for us to question the correctness of any assertion that it does, or of any interpretation that arrives at such a conclusion.

As Bhagavan explained, the sense in which the term ‘witness’ is used depends upon the context, and one of the senses in which it is used traditionally is metaphorical. The sun is said to be the witness of all that happens on earth, but this is obviously a metaphorical use of this term, because the sun is not aware of anything that happens on earth, so in this context ‘witness’ is a metaphor for ‘that in the presence of which’. That is, the sun is that in the presence of which everything happens on earth.

It is in this metaphorical sense that our real nature (ātma-svarūpa or brahman) is said to be the ‘witness’ of ego and everything else. That is, it is only in and by the mere presence of our real nature that ego and everything else seem to arise, function and subside. This is what Bhagavan meant when he wrote in the fifteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? that everything happens ‘ஈசன் சன்னிதான விசேஷ மாத்திரத்தால்’ (īśaṉ saṉṉidhāṉa-viśēṣa-māttirattāl), ‘by just the special nature of the presence of God’.

Like Sankara and others, Bhagavan also sometimes used the term ‘witness’ in this metaphorical sense of presence, but he clarified that this is not intended to imply that our real nature is aware of anything other than itself. For example, in verse 98 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai he explained that since no other thing appears unless one rises as ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, no phenomenon (viṣaya) exists in the clear view of our real nature, and hence it is incorrect to say that ātman (ourself as we actually are) itself is the actual witness.

However, though the term ‘witness’ is often used in the metaphorical sense of presence, people who lack subtle understanding generally misinterpret it to mean that our real nature is actually aware of ego and other phenomena. This misinterpretation occurs because such people do not understand that our real nature is just pure awareness (prajñāna), which means awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself, because nothing other than itself actually exists. Awareness of other things, which is what Bhagavan calls சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu, which literally means ‘pointing’ or ‘showing’ awareness), is not the nature of ourself as we actually are but only of ourself as ego.

To make this clear, in the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? Bhagavan defined our real nature in two sentences: ‘நான் என்னும் நினைவு கிஞ்சித்து மில்லா விடமே சொரூபமாகும். அதுவே ‘மௌன’ மெனப்படும்’ (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu kiñcittum illā v-iḍam-ē sorūpam āhum. adu-v-ē ‘mauṉam’ eṉa-p-paḍum), which means ‘Only the place where the thought called I [the ego] does not exist at all [or even a little] is svarūpa [one’s ‘own form’ or real nature]. That alone is called ‘mauna’ [silence]’. Since not even the slightest trace of ego exists in our real nature, how can it be correct to say that our real nature is aware of ego?

Therefore when it is said that our real nature (svarūpa) is jīva-sākṣi, the witness of the jīva or ego, or sarva-sākṣi, the witness of everything, it does not mean that our real nature is aware either of ego or of anything else, but only that ego and everything else seem to exist only in and by the mere presence of our real nature. In other words, without our real nature, ego and everything else would not even seem to exist.
Though it is only in and by the presence of our real nature that everything else seems to exist, it is not in the view of our real nature that other things seem to exist but only in the view of ourself as ego. This is why he said in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’.

The fact that all phenomena (all multiplicity or things that seem to be other than ourself) seem to exist only in the view of ego and not in the view of our real nature, which is just pure awareness, was made clear by Bhagavan in so many ways, but it was not made so abundantly clear in any of the ancient texts or by any of the commentators on them such as Adi Sankara, and hence many scholars who lack depth and subtlety of understanding wrongly assume that our real nature is what is aware of ego and everything else, and they interpret the ancient texts accordingly.

If we do not understand that what is aware of the appearance of ego and phenomena is not our real nature (ourself as we actually are) but only ourself as ego, we will not be able to understand correctly and clearly either the nature of our goal or more importantly the nature of the means or path to attain it. So long as we are aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever (that is, anything that appears or disappears and is therefore not permanent but just a transitory appearance), we are not aware of ourself as we actually are but only as ego, so both our goal and the path to it are to be aware of nothing other than ourself.

This is why Bhagavan implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār that in order to be aware of our own ‘form of light’ (the pure awareness that we actually are) we need to give up being aware of any phenomena, and why he concludes verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying: ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr), ‘Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’. We cannot have our cake and eat it. In order to be aware of ourself as we actually are, we need to give up being aware of everything else. This is the simple and small price that we must pay for eternal bliss.

This will be clear to us only if we understand and are willing to accept the principle that what is aware of ego and all phenomena is only ourself as ego and not ourself as we actually are, which is one of the fundamental and most essential principles of Bhagavan’s teachings. So long as we cling to the false belief that we can be aware of ourself as we actually are and still be aware of phenomena, we are not yet willing to pay the price that we must pay in order to know and be what we always actually are.

11. Since our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself, the means to achieve it is simply to try to be aware of nothing other than ourself

In many of your comments both recently and in the past you have defended your belief that we will continue to be aware of the world even after the eradication of ego, and when others have challenged this belief you have written something to the effect that it does not matter what we believe about the state of ātma-jñāna, because what is important is that we follow the path of ātma-vicāra, which alone will reveal to us the nature of that state. For example, in your comment of 23 September 2018 at 17:00, in which you replied to my comments of 23 September 2018 (which I reproduced in the previous section), you ended by writing: ‘To be honest, I’m not sure this really matters — and I’m happy to agree that I may well be wrong. We both agree that we need to turn inwards and do self-investigation. There is little purpose in conceptualising and arguing over what remains thereafter’. This would be true if there were no connection between the nature of ātma-vicāra and that of ātma-jñāna, but there is a very important and significant connection between them.

The connection between them lies in the crucial distinction between ego and our real nature. Whereas ego is what Bhagavan called ‘சுட்டறிவு’ (suṭṭaṟivu), which means transitive awareness (that is, awareness that is aware of things other than itself), our real nature is what he called ‘சுட்டற்ற அறிவு’ (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), which means intransitive awareness (that is, awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself), so we rise and stand as ego only by being aware of other things (phenomena of any kind whatsoever), as he implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உருப்பற்றி யுண்டா முருப்பற்றி நிற்கு
முருப்பற்றி யுண்டுமிக வோங்கு — முருவிட்
டுருப்பற்றுந் தேடினா லோட்டம் பிடிக்கு
முருவற்ற பேயகந்தை யோர்.

uruppaṯṟi yuṇḍā muruppaṯṟi niṟku
muruppaṯṟi yuṇḍumiha vōṅgu — muruviṭ
ṭuruppaṯṟun tēḍiṉā lōṭṭam piḍikku
muruvaṯṟa pēyahandai yōr
.

பதச்சேதம்: உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும், உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை. ஓர்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum, uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai. ōr.

அன்வயம்: உரு அற்ற பேய் அகந்தை உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்; உரு பற்றி நிற்கும்; உரு பற்றி உண்டு மிக ஓங்கும்; உரு விட்டு, உரு பற்றும்; தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும். ஓர்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uru aṯṟa pēy ahandai uru paṯṟi uṇḍām; uru paṯṟi niṟkum; uru paṯṟi uṇḍu miha ōṅgum; uru viṭṭu, uru paṯṟum; tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum. ōr.

English translation: Grasping form the formless phantom-ego comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly; leaving form, it grasps form. If it seeks, it will take flight. Investigate.

Explanatory paraphrase: [By] grasping form [that is, by projecting and perceiving the form of a body (composed of five sheaths) as itself] the formless phantom-ego comes into existence [rises into being or is formed]; [by] grasping form [that is, by holding on to that body as itself] it stands [endures, continues or persists]; [by] grasping and feeding on form [that is, by projecting and perceiving other forms or phenomena] it grows [spreads, expands, increases, ascends, rises high or flourishes] abundantly; leaving [one] form [a body that it had projected and perceived as itself in one state], it grasps [another] form [another body that it projects and perceives as itself in its next state]. If it seeks [examines or investigates] [itself], it will take flight [because it has no form of its own, and hence it cannot seem to exist without grasping the forms of other things as itself and as its food or sustenance]. Investigate [this ego] [or know thus].
Since we rise and stand as ego only by being aware of other things, we can subside and cease forever rising or standing as ego only by being aware of nothing other than ourself. Therefore our goal is to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever, which is the state called ātma-jñāna (self-knowledge or pure self-awareness), and the means to achieve this goal is to try to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever, which is the practice called ātma-vicāra (self-investigation).

That is, since our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself, we cannot achieve this goal by any means other than trying to be aware of nothing other than ourself. Therefore the nature of the path is the same as the nature of the goal. Hence if we have not clearly understood that our goal is to be aware of nothing other than ourself (as we are in sleep, but permanently and not just temporarily), our understanding of the practice will not be sufficiently deep or clear.

Bhagavan’s teachings are nothing if not practical. The sole aim of all the fundamental principles that he taught us in texts such as Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and Upadēśa Undiyār is to enable us to understand clearly what the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender actually entails. Though we can practise self-investigation and self-surrender even while we are aware of other things, we can go deep into the practice only to the extent that we cease to be aware of anything else. The closer that we come to the pure awareness that we experience in sleep the closer we are to eradicating ego.

12. Ego projects and simultaneously perceives itself as all forms or phenomena

In your comment of 5 October 2018 at 20:46 you say, ‘In any event, Bhagavan would appear to be inconsistent in UN23 to UN26’, but if we are willing to accept that he knew what he was talking about and how to express it clearly and coherently, then we have to infer that what he wrote in these four verses (and also in all the other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) was actually perfectly consistent, so if it appears in our view to be inconsistent, that indicates that we have not correctly understood what he meant.

Earlier in the same comment you explain what appears to you to be inconsistent in these verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, namely that when he says in verse 23, ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), ‘After one thing, I, rises, everything rises’, and in verse 26, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, he thereby supports the contention that ego is antecedent to everything else, but when he says in verse 24, ‘சட உடல் நான் என்னாது; சத்சித் உதியாது; உடல் அளவா நான் ஒன்று உதிக்கும் இடையில்’ (jaḍa uḍal nāṉ eṉṉādu; sat-cit udiyādu; uḍal aḷavā nāṉ oṉḏṟu udikkum iḍaiyil), ‘The jaḍa body does not say I; sat-cit does not rise; in between one thing, I, rises as the extent of the body’, and in verse 25, ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām), ‘Grasping form it [the formless phantom-ego] comes into existence’, you believe that he thereby implies that the body is antecedent to ego.

If verses 24 and 25 did imply that the body is antecedent to ego, then that would contradict what he says in verses 23 and 26, but is it reasonable to suppose that he would contradict himself in such an obvious manner when giving such important teachings? Is it not more reasonable to suspect that you have perhaps misinterpreted the implication of verses 24 and 25? In verses 23 and 26 his says unequivocally that everything else comes into existence only after ego comes into existence, and they do not exist when ego does not exist, so we need to interpret what he says in verses 24 and 25 accordingly.

How does ego come into existence grasping the form of a body if that form does not already exist prior to its coming into existence? The answer to this is simple: in this context ‘grasping’ implies both projecting and perceiving. In other words, ego comes into existence by simultaneously projecting and perceiving a body as ‘I’.

As I explained in the first section of this article, we can understand that the body is not antecedent to ego by considering our experience in a dream. As soon as we rise as ego in a dream (in other words, as soon as we begin to dream), we become aware of ourself as a body in that dream, and through the senses of that body we perceive a dream world, but after waking up we do not suppose that dream body or dream world existed prior to or independent of our perception of them. What we understand is that as soon as we began to dream we projected and simultaneously perceived both the dream body and the dream world.

This is how we grasp the form of a body as ‘I’ in any dream, and according to Bhagavan our present state, which now seems to us to be a state of waking (just as any dream seems to be so long as we are dreaming), and any other state in which we perceive phenomena is just a dream, so we have grasped the form of this body as ourself by projecting and perceiving it as soon as we rose as ego and began to experience this state. This teaching of his is therefore what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) is causally antecedent to creation (sṛṣṭi), or in other words that we create phenomena only by perceiving them, just as we do in dream.

The philosophy of advaita is interpreted by people in various ways according to the purity of their minds, so there are many people who consider themselves to be advaitins yet who do not accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because for them it seems to be too radical an interpretation of advaita, so they interpret the ancient texts of advaita according to sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention that creation is causally antecedent to perception, and that the world therefore exists prior to and independent of our perception of it. Those who interpret advaita in this way do not accept ēka-jīva-vāda, the contention that there is only one jīva, ego or perceiver (which is one of the basic implications of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda), and since they believe that phenomena exist independent of ego’s perception of them, they do not accept that ego alone is what projects all phenomena, and hence they interpret ancient texts to mean that what projects everything is not ego or mind but only brahman (or brahman as īśvara, God, rather than brahman as ego).

This is a very diluted interpretation of advaita, but it is probably the view espoused by the majority of scholars, saṁnyāsins and others who consider themselves to be advaitins, so most translations of the ancient texts of advaita and commentaries on them have interpreted them according to this view, namely sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda and its corollary, nānā-jīva-vāda (the contention that there are many jīvas, egos or perceivers). However this is not the view that Bhagavan taught us in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and other such texts, in which he very clearly and unequivocally taught dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda.

The view that you seem to espouse is sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, because for example in an earlier comment of 3 October 2018 at 20:46 you wrote, ‘Bhagavan / advaita does not teach that the ego arises and simultaneously causes the appearance of phenomena’, and in another one of 4 October 2018 at 08:33 you wrote, ‘Advaita, and Bhagavan, says to us that the world is a projection by Brahman / Self. That is the Knower’. However in saying this you are misinterpreting Bhagavan (and siding with one particular but contentious interpretation of advaita, albeit perhaps the most popular and prevalent one), because in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Nāṉ Ār? he very clearly and unequivocally taught us that though ego (the mind or perceiver) and phenomena (the world or everything perceived) appear simultaneously, it is ego alone that causes the appearance of phenomena.

For example, in verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu (which I cited earlier in section 5) he says: ‘உலகு அறிவும் ஒன்றாய் உதித்து ஒடுங்கும் ஏனும், உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivum oṉḏṟāy udittu oḍuṅgum ēṉum, ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘Though the world and awareness arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by awareness’. In this context what he refers to as ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), ‘awareness’, is not real awareness (cit), which is brahman, but only ego or mind, which is a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), because he says that it rises and subsides along with the world. Therefore when he says ‘உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘the world shines by awareness’, he implies that what causes the world to appear is only ego or mind.

This is also what he states explicitly in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?. In the first two sentences he says, ‘மன மென்பது ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தி லுள்ள ஓர் அதிசய சக்தி. அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது’ (maṉam eṉbadu ātma-sorūpattil uḷḷa ōr atiśaya śakti. adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu), ‘What is called mind is an atiśaya śakti [an extraordinary power] that exists in ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. It makes all thoughts appear’, and in fifth sentence he says, ‘நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை’ (niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai), ‘Excluding thoughts, there is not separately any such thing as world’, thereby implying that mind is what causes the world to appear.

The verb that he uses in the second sentence is தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது (tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu), the third person singular neuter form of தோற்றுவி (tōṯṟuvi), which is an alternative form of தோற்று (tōṯṟu), a causative verb that means to cause to appear, produce, create or project, and he uses this same verb in later in this paragraph when he says, ‘சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும்’ (silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum), ‘Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears’. Therefore in this paragraph he teaches us very clearly and emphatically that what projects or causes the appearance of the world is only the mind (the ego or perceiver).

13. What misperceives brahman as ego and world is not brahman as such but only ego

According to the interpretation of advaita that you espouse, what projects or creates the world is brahman, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), but if this were the case, that would mean that brahman is a doer and therefore operates in time, whereas it is in fact the fundamental reality in which time and everything else appears and disappears. It is immutable, so it is unaffected by either the appearance or disappearance of anything, and hence it is the cause of everything only in the sense that it is the fundamental substance (mūla-vastu) that appears as everything, just as a rope is the substance that appears as a snake, but it does not itself do anything to cause their appearance, just as the rope does not do anything to appear as a snake.

This is stated explicitly by Bhagavan in verse 85 of Guru Vācaka Kōvai:
நானா விதமான நாமரூ பங்களொடு
தானே யுலகாச் சமைவதலாற் — றானோர்
நிமித்தனா யத்தை நிருமித் தளித்துச்
சமித்தல் புரிவா னலன்.

nāṉā vidamāṉa nāmarū paṅgaḷoḍu
tāṉē yulahāc camaivadalāṯ — ṟāṉōr
nimittaṉā yattai nirumit taḷittuc
camittal purivā ṉalaṉ
.

பதச்சேதம்: நானா விதமான நாம ரூபங்களோடு தானே உலகா சமைவது அலால், தான் ஓர் நிமித்தனா அத்தை நிருமித்து அளித்து சமித்தல் புரிவான் அலன்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): nāṉā vidamāṉa nāma rūpaṅgaḷōḍu tāṉē ulahā samaivadu alāl, tāṉ ōr nimittaṉā attai nirumittu aḷittu samittal purivāṉ alaṉ.

English translation: Oneself is only what is made [to appear] as the world with diverse kinds of names and forms, but oneself is not one who as a nimitta [an efficient cause] does [any actions such as] creating, sustaining and destroying that [the world].
தானே (tāṉē) is an intensified form of தான் (tāṉ), which means oneself, but in this context it refers specifically to ātma-svarūpa, the real nature of oneself, as Muruganar confirms in his explanatory paraphrase of this verse. He also explains that, as implied in this verse, ātma-svarūpa is the ‘material’ or substantial cause of the world-appearance (in the sense that it alone is what appears as all phenomena), but it is not the efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of it, because it plays no active role in making it appear.

A material or substantial cause is the substance of which a thing is made, which is what in Tamil is called முதற்காரணம் (mudaṟ-kāraṇam), ‘primary cause’, and in Sanskrit is called उपादानकारण (upādāna kāraṇa), ‘used cause’. For example, wood is the material cause of a table, and clay is the material cause of a pot, so in this verse Bhagavan implies that ātma-svarūpa is likewise just the material cause of the world of name and forms, but is not its efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa, निमित्तकारण or நிமித்தகாரணம்).

However, when wood is made into a table or clay is made into a pot, it undergoes a change in form, whereas ātma-svarūpa never undergoes any change at all even when it appears as the world, so in this sense it is more like a rope, which is the material cause for the appearance of a snake, but which does not undergo any change when it seems to be a snake. The efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of a table is a carpenter, and of a pot is a potter, but the efficient cause that makes a rope appear as a snake is just the perceiver’s misperception of it. Likewise the efficient cause for the appearance of the world is just ego’s misperception of ātma-svarūpa, its own real nature.

Since ātma-svarūpa alone is what actually exists, everything else is just an illusory appearance, and the efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of any illusory appearance is just misperception. Therefore if anyone claims that ātma-svarūpa (or brahman, which is just another name for ātma-svarūpa) causes the appearance of this world, they thereby imply one or other of two contentions, namely either that it actually undergoes change to become ego and all the phenomena perceived by it, or that it misperceives itself as ego and all phenomena.

The contention that brahman actually becomes the world is called pariṇāma vāda, the ‘contention of transformation (or alteration)’, but if this contention were true, that would mean that brahman is not immutable but is one thing at one time and another thing at another time. How could such a changing thing be the fundamental reality?

The contention that brahman does not actually become the world but merely appears as such is called vivarta vāda, the ‘contention of false appearance (or illusion)’, according to which the efficient cause (nimitta kāraṇa) of the world is only misperception. But what is it that misperceives brahman as ego and world? If we contend that brahman misperceives itself, that would mean that it is subject to illusion and self-ignorance, which would again imply that it is mutable, being self-ignorant whenever it misperceives itself as ego and world and not being self-ignorant whenever it is aware of itself as it actually is.

Therefore according to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and Bhagavan’s teachings what misperceives brahman as ego and world is not brahman as such but only ego. Even when it is misperceived by ego as all this multiplicity, brahman itself never undergoes any change and therefore never sees itself as anything other than what it actually is, namely the one infinite, eternal, immutable, indivisible, nameless and formless whole.

14. Whatever comes into existence or ceases to exist does not actually exist but merely seems to exist

In the same comment in which you wrote that ‘Bhagavan would appear to be inconsistent in UN23 to UN26’, after quoting the first two sentences of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, you remarked, ‘here I would question what Bhagavan means by existence. Does a dream exist — we take it to exist and be real whilst dreaming, but when we awake, we not longer take it to be real, to have existed. In the same way, once we realise the ego is not real, it is a fabrication, then there is no “other” for the ego to fight against’.

According to Bhagavan what actually exists must always exist, so whatever comes into existence or ceases to exist does not actually exist even when it seems to exist. Since the only thing that always exists is pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he says, ‘யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே’ (yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē), ‘What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]’.

Therefore when he says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, what he means by ‘existence’ and ‘exist’ is not actual existence but only seeming existence. Neither ego nor anything else other than our real nature actually exists, so their existence is not actual existence but only seeming existence. When ego and everything else appears, they seem to exist, and when they disappear, they do not even seem to exist.

But even when they seem to exist, in whose view do they seem to exist? You aptly refer to the seeming existence of dream in this context. In whose view does a dream seem to exist? Only in the view of the dreamer, the ‘I’ who is projecting and perceiving it. Not only everything that is perceived in a dream, but even the ‘I’ who perceives it seems to exist only in the view of that ‘I’, the ego. Likewise even in this so-called waking state ego and everything perceived by it seem to exist only in the view of ego, because according to Bhagavan this waking state and any other state in which ego and other things seem to exist is just a dream.

In each dream the phenomena perceived are different, but in every dream the ego who perceives them is the same. You say, ‘we take it [dream] to exist and be real whilst dreaming, but when we awake, we not longer take it to be real, to have existed’, but this is not quite correct, because even after waking from one dream into another dream, such as our present state, we often remember the former dream, so we recognise that everything we perceived in it seemed to exist even though it did not actually exist. The difference that is brought about by the ending of that dream is that whereas everything we perceived in it seemed to be real (that is, actually existing) so long as we were in that state, it no longer seems to be real after we leave it, because we recognise that it was just a mental projection, a figment of our imagination.

In other words, while occurring everything perceived in a dream seems to exist independent of our perception of it, whereas after the dream has ended it becomes clear to us that whatever we perceived in it did not exist independent of our perception of it. Therefore if our present state is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, whatever we perceive in this state does not exist independent of our perception of it, even though it now seems to us that it exists independent of our perception of it. This teaching of his is therefore what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention that whatever seems to have been created or to have come into existence does not exist independent of our perception of it.

You then say, ‘In the same way, once we realise the ego is not real, it is a fabrication, then there is no “other” for the ego to fight against’, but who or what is to realise that ego is not real? Ego is nothing but a misperception of ourself, an awareness of ourself as something other than what we actually are, so it seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are (our real nature, ātma-svarūpa), because as we actually are we are always aware of ourself as we actually are and can therefore never be aware of ourself as anything else.

Therefore, since ego seems to exist only in its own view and not in the view of our real nature, it cannot cease to exist in the view of our real nature, nor can it cease to exist in its own view, since it would have to exist in order to see that it had ceased to exist, which is obviously an absurd proposition. Therefore we can never experience the cessation of ego, which I assume is what you mean when you say ‘once we realise the ego is not real’.

Ego seems to exist only in its own view, and so long as it seems to exist it seems to be real, that is, to be actually existing. Therefore ego can never realise that it is not real. In the view of our real nature, no ego ever seems to exist at all, so even our real nature can never realise that ego is not real. Ego will cease to exist only when it investigates itself keenly enough to see what it actually is, namely ātma-svarūpa, but as soon as it sees that it is ātma-svarūpa it is no longer ego but only ātma-svarūpa, in whose view no such thing as ego has ever existed.

As Bhagavan says in the second sentence of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, so when ego ceases to exist everything else will cease to exist along with it. This is why he says in the fourth and final sentence of this verse: ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr), ‘Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything’.

When ego and everything else ceases to exist what remains is only ātma-svarūpa, in whose clear view neither ego nor anything else has ever existed or even seemed to exist at all. This the state of ajāta (not born, become, arisen, appeared or happened), which is the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya).

However, though dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda is not the ultimate truth, it is closer to the ultimate truth than sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, and hence according to Bhagavan it is the most appropriate view for us to adopt so long as we seem to be ego and therefore seem to be aware of the appearance of phenomena. The difference between dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ajāta is that according to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda neither ego nor anything else other than ātma-svarūpa actually exists, even though they seem to exist, whereas according to ajāta they do not even seem to exist and have therefore never appeared, arisen or been born.

15. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 17 and 18: what the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different

In the same comment in which you wrote that ‘Bhagavan would appear to be inconsistent in UN23 to UN26’ you also referred to verse 17 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and said that in it ‘he seems to be saying that even for the jnani there is still a body, but he does not identify with it because everything is the Self for him. This does not imply that the body ceases to exist, because he says for both those who have known and those who haven’t known the body is I’, but as I explained while discussing verses 17 and 18 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu in the article on which you wrote this comment, what he says in these two verses is expressed by him in a carefully nuanced manner in order to prompt us to think very carefully and deeply about their import.

In verse 17 he says ‘தன் உணர்ந்தார்க்கு எல்லை அற தான் ஒளிரும் நான்’ (taṉ uṇarndārkku ellai aṟa tāṉ oḷirum nāṉ), ‘for those who have known themself, oneself, I, shines without limit’, and in verse 18 he says ‘உரு அற்று ஆரும் உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை’ (uru aṯṟu ārum uṇarndār uṇmai), ‘for those who have known, reality pervades devoid of form’. The key words in verse 17 are ‘எல்லை அற’ (ellai aṟa), ‘without limit’, and in verse 18 are ‘உரு அற்று’ (uru aṯṟu), ‘devoid of form’, because these words clearly indicate the meaning that he actually intends to convey in these verses.

The body is a form, so like any other form it is defined by limits, and hence if ‘I’ is without limit, it is without body or any other form. Likewise, the world is nothing but a collection of forms, so if reality is devoid of form, it is devoid of any world. Why then does Bhagavan say in the first sentence of verse 17 that for both the ajñāni and the ātma-jñāni ‘உடல் நானே’ (uḍal nāṉē), ‘the body is only I [or actually I]’, and in the first sentence of verse 18 that for both of them ‘உலகு உண்மை ஆகும்’ (ulahu uṇmai āhum), ‘the world is real [or reality]’?

In the clear view of the ātma-jñāni, who is nothing other than brahman, nothing else actually exists, so there is no such thing as body or world. However, in the self-ignorant view of the ajñāni body and world seem to exist, so what the ajñāni sees as body and world is what the ātma-jñāni sees as ‘I’, the one infinite and hence formless reality.

What the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different. Whereas the ātma-jñāni sees it as it actually is, which is just ‘I’, the one infinite, indivisible and hence formless reality, the ajñāni sees it as a multitude of forms, and sees ‘I’ as being limited to the extent of one of those forms, namely a particular body. This is the intended meaning (lakṣyārtha) of these two verses.

16. Since ‘advaita’ means non-twoness, it has to explain the seeming existence of all this multiplicity, and the simplest explanation it gives is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda

Venkat, I do not expect you to be convinced by all that I have written or to change your view completely, because we each believe what we want to believe, and we can all find evidence and arguments to support our beliefs, but among all that I have written here you may perhaps find a few ideas that you consider worthy of consideration, even if you do not entirely agree with them.

Advaita is a philosophy that appeals to only a relatively small proportion of people, and even among those to whom it does appeal in very general terms, the majority are not willing to accept its most radical teachings, such as ajāta, dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, so to suit those who are not willing to accept such teachings both Bhagavan and the ancient texts sometimes give other explanations that will appeal to more people, such as certain forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda and nānā-jīva-vāda. An elaborate example of this kind of explanation is described in a passage on pages 27 to 31 of a transcript of some classes that Swami Paramarthananda gave on Dṛgdṛśyavivekaḥ (which can be downloaded here), from which Samarender Reddy recently quoted some extracts in a series of three comments on my previous article.

Any explanation of creation that assumes that anything perceived exists prior to or independent of ego’s perception of it is a form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, so the account of creation given in Genesis, the Big Bang theory and almost all other religious, scientific and philosophical explanations of creation are forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, as also is the explanation described by Swami Paramarthananda in that passage. Though there are no doubt many ancient texts of advaita that give (or imply support for) explanations similar to the one he described, and though such explanations are more sophisticated and closer to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda than most other forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, they nevertheless imply that creation is independent of ego’s (or jīva’s) perception of it.

The difference between dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and even the most sophisticated forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda is fundamental, so they each offer us a radically different understanding of advaita, and hence we each have to choose which view we wish to accept. If we accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, our understanding will be very much simpler than if we accept any other explanation such as the elaborate one described by Swami Paramarthananda.

Since the term ‘advaita’ means non-twoness, it is a denial of the existence of more than one thing, so it is the ultimate in simplicity. However, since we seem to be aware of many things, not just one thing, advaita has to explain the appearance or seeming existence of all this multiplicity, and the simplest explanation it gives is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, as explained beautifully and clearly by Bhagavan in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. No explanation of the appearance of multiplicity can be simpler than this, so this is advaita in the purest form that our mind can grasp. The only purer form of advaita than this is ajāta, but ajāta is a complete denial of even the appearance or seeming existence of any multiplicity whatsoever, so it cannot be an explanation of it, and hence though it is the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya) it is not a practical teaching to be given to us, who perceive the appearance of multiplicity and therefore want to free ourself from its clutches.

Therefore what Bhagavan taught us in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and elsewhere is only dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because this is the most practical teaching to give to anyone who aspires to experience the ultimate truth, the state of pure and absolute non-twoness (advaita). However, the majority of people who came to him were not yet willing to accept the radical view of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, so for their sake he often gave alternative explanations that implied sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, as did the ancient sages and texts of advaita.

Therefore it is up to each one of us to choose whichever level of explanation we want to accept, whether the simpler, deeper and more radical explanation provided by dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or some other more complex, shallower and less radical explanation such as the form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda described by Swami Paramarthananda. If we choose not to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and all that it entails, such as vivarta vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, our understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings will be fragmented, confused and incomplete, and what he says in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and other such texts will seem to us to be inconsistent, as you said about verses 23 to 26.

However if we are willing to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and all that it implies, it will be clear to us that all that he says in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is perfectly consistent and coherent, and that one of the fundamental principles he repeatedly emphasised in it is that everything (all phenomena or things that appear and disappear) depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego. If we rise as ego, phenomena of all kinds seem to exist, whereas if we do not rise as ego, nothing other than pure awareness seems to exist at all.

69 comments:

venkat said...

Thanks for taking the time to write this Michael.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Thanks, Michael. I very much appreciate your untiring efforts to explicate Bhagavan's message.

Agnostic said...

With reference to Section 6, here is Talk 616, one before last paragraph.

------
When I was staying in the Skandasramam I sometimes used to go out and sit on a rock. On one such occasion there were two or three others with me including Rangaswami Iyengar. Suddenly we noticed some small moth-like insect shooting up like a rocket into the air from a crevice in the rock. Within the twinkling of an eye it had multiplied itself into millions of moths which formed a cloud and hid the sky from view. We wondered at it and examined the place from which it
shot up. We found that it was only a pinhole and knew that so many insects could not have issued from it in such a short time.That is how ahankara (ego) shoots up like a rocket and instantaneously spreads out as the Universe.
-------

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ulladu Narpau is Bhagavan’s magnum-opus

According to Michael, among all the spiritual literature, Ulladu Narpadu stands without any parallel because it contains the ultimate spiritual teachings. This text is a highly concentrated form of the essence of all the sastras. Let us reflect of verse 16 of Ulladu Narpadu:

When we investigate, except we, where is time, where is place? If we are a body, we will be ensnared in time and place. Are we a body? Since we are the one, now, then and always, the one in place, here, there and everywhere, there is we, we. Time and place do not exist.

Bhagavan says that what exists is only ‘we’ and that time and space do not exist. How do this past and future come into existence? They come into existence only when we rise as ego. This illusion, ego, branches out into more and more illusions and among these illusions are the concept of time and space. Since ego is unreal, its offshoots, time and space are also unreal.

Therefore, anything that happens in time and anything that exists in space is unreal, a mental fabrication. However, our attention is largely on the past and future. We have our good and bad memories of the past, and we regret many things we did in the past. Likewise, we are concerned about our future. I have this interview tomorrow, will I be selected? What should I eat for lunch this afternoon? So our mind is preoccupied with the thoughts of the past and future.

But why should we be concerned about our past or future? If time itself is unreal, whatever has happened in the past was unreal, and whatever happens in future will also be unreal. These incidents are like the water we see in a mirage. As there is no water there; likewise, nothing has happened in the past and nothing will happen in the future. So why to unnecessarily be bothered about these things? So if we think this way we will develop vairagya, and therefore it will become easier to turn within.

So without thinking about our past or future, we should try to live in the present. Bhagavan used to say that we should take interest in one thing at a time. This is the way to remain calm. However, our aim is to go beyond time, and we can do so only by destroying ego by practising self-investigation.

Also, anything that appears and disappears in space is unreal. Since space itself is unreal, how can anything that appears in it be real? There is a computer screen in front of me. This is unreal because it appears in space. The house I live in is an illusion because it exists in space. So this way we can try and become more and more detached from these things, and such detachment will help us to turn within.

Therefore, all the verses of Ulladu Narpadu have deep implications. We need to dive deep into the meaning of these verses to understand such implications.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Correction: Ulladu Narpadu is Bhagavan’s magnum-opus

Roger Isaacs said...

section 11:
Since we rise and stand as ego only by being aware of other things, we can subside and cease forever rising or standing as ego only by being aware of nothing other than ourself. Therefore our goal is to be aware only of ourself and nothing else whatsoever, which is the state called ātma-jñāna...

section 15
What the ātma-jñāni sees and what the ajñāni sees is exactly the same, but what they each see it as is different. Whereas the ātma-jñāni sees it as it actually is, which is just ‘I’, the one infinite, indivisible and hence formless reality, the ajñāni sees it as a multitude of forms, and sees ‘I’ as being limited to the extent of one of those forms, namely a particular body.


I read the oft repeated instruction from section 11 to mean that the only ultimately successful way of practicing atma-vicara is when the world and body disappear leaving "I" in isolation. In other words only nirvikalpa samadhi where body and world disappear can ever be sufficient.

Does Section 15 now allow a different option?
Now that it is described that the atma-jnani sees the world as "I"...
Is the apparent constraint from section 11 relaxed? While practicing Atma-vicara is it possible to go directly into "aware only of ourself" while also being aware of the body and world as "I"?

In other words... the apparent official position has been that only practice of sitting and excluding the world can lead to realization.
Now... the official position has evolved to include Atma-vicara while aware of the world (as "I") as also potentially leading to realization?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our prarabdha is like a giant, concrete wall

Our prarabdha is like a giant, concrete wall plastered with lime, which is impossible to climb;

By our will we may try to climb this wall, but we will unfailingly fall;

So why not be bold and give up our hold;

Let us simply rest in Bhagavan; why so much abhiman*?

abhiman is a Hindi word which means pride, arrogance, haughtiness or egotism.

Aseem Srivastava said...

Pranam Michael James.

I continue to learn from you, not just the written teachings of Bhagavan, but also the art of effective communication that you demonstrate here in your blogposts and comments.

I also appreciate the efforts you put into hyperlinking numerous Tamil words to their meaning in the Tamil lexicon, which are over and above the extensive hyperlinks to various articles/ section of articles/ verses/ comments that you provide for ready reference in your blogposts and comments.

Unknown said...

Quote from Mr. James

12. Ego projects and simultaneously perceives itself as all forms or phenomena.

In this he said the following:


The philosophy of advaita is interpreted by people in various ways according to the purity of their minds, so there are many people who consider themselves to be advaitins yet who do not accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because for them it seems to be too radical an interpretation of advaita, so they interpret the ancients texts of advaita according to sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention that creation is causally antecedent to perception, and that the world therefore exists prior to and independent of our perception of it. Those who interpret advaita in this way do not accept ēka-jīva-vāda, the contention that there is only one jīva, ego or perceiver (which is one of the basic implications of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda), and since they believe that phenomena exist independent of ego’s perception of them, they do not accept that ego alone is what projects all phenomena, and hence they interpret ancient texts to mean that what projects everything is not ego or mind but only brahman (or brahman as īśvara, God, rather than brahman as ego).

This is a very diluted interpretation of advaita, but it is probably the view espoused by the majority of scholars, saṁnyāsins and others who consider themselves to be advaitins, so most translations of the ancient texts of advaita and commentaries on them have interpreted them according to this view, namely sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda and its corollary, nānā-jīva-vāda (the contention that there are many jīvas, egos or perceivers). However this is not the view that Bhagavan taught us in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and other such texts, in which he very clearly and unequivocally taught dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda.

Unquote.

My next comment is in continuation of this matter at hand.

Unknown said...

In continuation of the prevoius quote from Mr.James.

To anyone reading this. This question is a sincere and serious one and anyone may comment on this in detail and in all seriousness though it is addressed primarily to Mr. Michael James and Mr. Sanjay Lohia (since he has defended it in another blog here).

This question (which is not a trick question but a sincere one considering the incredulous nature for many like me because of the mind-boggling nature of the topic at hand)) is for Mr. Michael James who said the following above:


So does Mr. James in his day to day life really believe the following and what he has also himself said above?

Is this Mr.James's own direct experience regarding drsti-srsti vada and eka jiva vada?

That according to Mr. James's comment above is it Mr. James's own direct experience during his waking state that he is the only "eka jiva" present and the entire world is his own mental creation (just like in dreams) and projected by his one and only eka jiva (and is not a dream creation of Brahman as Isvara as many claim it is) and that all the others he has answered here in the topic like Venkat, Aseem, Samarender, Rukmani and a few others others are all mere mental creations of his own one and only eka jiva and are NOT separate beings and apart from his one and only eka jiva?

How does Mr.James actually feel about these so many other jivas here in this blog and elsewhere in his own day to day experience? Does he really feel they are all actually his own jiva or mental creations of his only jiva ever to even seemingly exist?

Is this also the actual and direct experience of Mr. Sanjay Lohia who elsewhere has spoken in favor of eka jiva vada as really the actual thing and the only truth.

Then according to both of them this comment from me is also a mental creation of their own one and only eka jiva even if they do not happen to read this by any chance.

Then what about so many infinite individual events that are simultaneously happening in the world which both of them are totally unaware of but may read about (a few of them in any case) in the media or other sources? Are they also Mr. James's own mental creation even though he never directly experienced it himself?

There were some other doubts regarding these two vadas which I wanted to post but I cannot remember now. If I remember I will them post later on.

Simply because Sri Ramana Maharshi said what he said regarding these two vadas one should not repeat it here as the one and only truth unless it is also the direct and actual experience of the person whomever it is while awake or occurring in his/her waking state. If it is their own actual and direct experience I will certainly believe the.

Logically and practically drsti-srsti-vada and eka-jiva-vada does not make much sense to an ordinary person like me since it is not my own direct experience in waking state.

I naturally feel all of you are separate individual jivas acting and living independently of me ( as a finite jiva among infinite other jivas) with an arduous, challenging and interesting life of your own just like mine.

Bringing the example of dreams or dream state does not help me resolve the validity of these two vadas.

So is it really "only one eka jiva" pretending to be infinite jivas and living as such in conflict, violence, hatred, disagreements, wars, destruction, compassion, love, competition and other seeming opposites?

Unknown said...

I had to post two separate comments since only so many characters are allowed in one comment. Some errors in the above comment are regretted.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Unknown,

Take the perspective of consciousness and not that of body-mind, then eka-jiva vada becomes clear. From the point of view of consciousness, it alone exists and it alone manifests as all the body-minds, which are mere names and forms.

Regarding not knowing certain things in creation, you are correct because you are trying to know through the mind, but as consciousness nothing is hidden from you because you yourself as consciousness are manifesting as all the things and events in the world.

Unknown said...

Sri Samarender,

Thanks for your reply. I would appreciate if you would elaborate and explain in detail if there is only one (eka) jiva appearing as you me, and all others here in this blog. If I die today all of you will still continue to exist and live tomorrow and post comments here.

How does this theory work? If you can give examples that would be nice to understand eka jiva theory correctly. I am puzzled and confused as to how eka jiva vada works. Thanks in advance.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Unknown,

Part 1 of 2

As per Bhagavan, what projects this world and all the people in it is the ego, which then identifies itself with one particular body-mind as itself, very much like in a dream (in fact, someone said that whenever any doubts arise about the eka-jiva vada they should be washed away with the dream analogy), which is why Bhagavan said that there is no difference between waking and dreaming except that one is long and the other is short.

Now, there are issues that arise with this theory:

(1) You will find it difficult to imagine that I am just your creation, whereas it looks obvious to you that I, too, seem to have a mind and as much a jiva as you. That is why, perhaps, when Bhagavan explained the eka-jiva vada to someone, another person asked, "But Bhagavan, what about me, if he is that eka-jiva?" Then Bhagavan replies, "You also are that eka-jiva." The best way to understand this paradox is with the so-called "problem of other minds" that is well addressed in Western philosophy. You see, you "know" you have a mind or are sentient, but in the case of other people you encounter in this world, you do not "know" that others have a "mind" or are conscious because their mind and consciousness does not appear to you as a datum of experience, and so it is only your "inference" that they must have minds and be conscious because they seem to be like you in almost all respects based on their behaviour and speech. Hence, since it is only an inference, there is a possibility of "doubt" as to whether others have minds or are conscious. Think of how it is in a dream - there, too, you encounter people who seem to behave and talk as if they have minds, including your body in the dream, but in actuality they are all your single mind's creations. The mistake one makes here is that one equates the mind that one is identifying with as one's own but not that of others, whereas what is true is that it is the ego which has projected your body-mind and also all other body-minds as in a dream, so from the ego's point of view (which is like the waker's mind with respect to the dream world) its so-called mind and others' body-minds are its own projections (much like in a dream). The difficulty in understanding this arises if one equates the Dreamer's mind with the mind with which one is identifying with in the dream one has projected, but if that distinction is not lost sight of it becomes clear. So, one has to differentiate between the jiva (ego) who is projecting the world and the mind with which it is identifying with in its own projected world, and hence since it takes on the limitations of that particular mind it does not "know" about all the things in the universe. It is a bit like projecting all the telescopes and people behind them, but adopting the viewpoint of one particular person viewing through a particular telescope.

(2) Although, an anomaly seems to arise that when one wakes up from a dream, all the people in a dream are gone, but when one realises the Self (that is, figuratively speaking, wakes up), others do not disappear. But you see similar difficulties arise with regard to the nana-jiva vada because in that you are told that "you" are identifying with body-mind as yourself but in actuality you are Consciousness (Brahman or Self). Now, if that "you" realises that it is Consciousness it would seem to be a case of Consciousness realising itself. Now, when that happens, how can another jiva "you" (which is also Consciousness) continue to be ignorant because there are not two consciousnesses. Of course, it is explained away with such theories as multiple reflections of the same single sun in different pots of water etc.

(Continued below in Part 2)

D Samarender Reddy said...

Part 2 of 2

(3) Also, the question can be asked "who" is it that realises the Self? - The self? But it is supposed to be ever-realised and not subject to ignorance. So, it has to be the Mind, but since mind is supposed to disappear in self-realisation (manonasa) it also cannot realise the self and moreover, the Self, which is oneself, cannot become an object for the mind for it to "know" or "realise" it. Connected with this is the problem of the locus of ignorance - mind or Brahman.

So, you see, whatever theory one adopts, whether eka-jiva vada or nana-jiva vada, it is difficult to understand with the help of the mind the truth of who is ignorant and who realises the self. Personally speaking, I would tend to subscribe to this view: there is one Consciousness which is appearing as the whole universe, including all body-and-minds in it, that is, the whole world is mere names and forms. If you can meditate or do Nididhyasana on that, which is nothing but Kaarana-Kaarya Prakriya, and come to realise the truth of it then you are home free and will become self-realised. If you try to become too logical about these matters you will land in paradoxes because the mnind cannot understand the Truth. hence the purpose of all these theories is only to bring yoiur mind to a point of stillness by making you aware of the illusoriness of the world as mere names-and-forms. Don't worry too much about the metaphysical side of things. Just aim to reamin still - Summa Iru.

I hope the above makes sense. If you are still not convinced then adopt whatever viewpoint seems most reasonable and acceptable - either eka-jiva vada or nana-jiva vada - because in both cases ultimately you have to bring the mind to a state of stillness, that is, let go of all concepts like eka-jiva vada and nana-jiva vada, so what difference does it make what concept you hold on to when finally you have to let go of all concepts.

Sanjay Lohia said...

In love you want to possess and be possessed; it has got nothing to do with misogyny

The following is an edited extract from Michael’s video: 2018-10-11 Holland Park: Michael James discusses verse 5 of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam

Lord, taking me in secret [by robbery, stealth or deceit], you kept [me] at your feet till this day. Lord, to those who ask what your nature is, you kept [me] head bent like a statue. Lord, so that I may not be like a deer [caught in] a net, seek out [and achieve] the destruction of my weariness [or suffering]. Arunachala, who are the Lord [guru or God], whatever be [your] will, who is [this] lonely [destitute] person to know [or understand] it?

Bhagavan is talking from the perspective of a devotee who has come extremely close to the final merger with God, but still, the union has not taken place. He has been waiting for so long that he is now weary and exhausted. Having been abducted, the girl is very eager to join with her lover in the union. But he is just keeping her there like a deer caught in the net. So she is feeling dejected and let down. All these implications are there in this verse.

Likewise, the devotee has been possessed by Bhagavan, so he has lost interest in the world but Bhagavan is still not finishing him off. So he is just like a deer caught in a net. The deer is going to be killed so it is in agony. Likewise, the devotee is in agony because he is dangling in between his love Bhagavan and for the world. So the devotee pleads ‘take possession of me; become one with me’. That is the bhava.

I have now completely dependent on you, but why are keeping me like this? But who am I to question you? If you are keeping me without union with you, maybe I am not pure enough or I am not willing to surrender enough.

Bhagavan uses the nayaka-nayaki bhava in many of these verses. In love, you want to possess and be possessed. This is not like a man possessing a woman in ownership. It is in the sense of ‘make me one with you’. It has got nothing to do with misogyny. It has got nothing to do with a man controlling woman. Bhagavan is pouring forth his love for Arunachala. He is yearning to be one with Arunachala.

When a boy and a girl, or a man and a woman, love each other, they belong to each other. They own each other, metaphorically. That is what Bhagavan is expressing here. He wants to be wholly possessed by Arunachala. Obviously, it is not a physical union when we are talking in terms of spirituality. We are yearning to merge in Bhagavan like a river merges in the ocean and becomes one.

Note: These are edited extracts from Michael’s videos. However, the word ‘edited’ carries a broad range of meaning in relation to these extracts. Some portions of these extracts are verbatim, whereas some portions may just be a paraphrase. I sometimes add a few words or delete a few words. This is because I have been transcribing these extracts as part of my manana.

Though I try my best to covey Michael’s ideas as accurately as possible, sometimes I may not succeed in doing so. So if anything is not clear or confusing, please watch the relevant video published in his YouTube channel: Sri Ramana Teachings.

Salazar said...

GVK, page 272 and 273, "Laboring hard to attain through your own effort the reality that is yourself, and not different from you, while imagining it to be different from you, is like running to catch hold of your shadow.

Mind is just a shadow. Attempt to catch it and CONTROL it are futile. They are just shadows chasing shadows. You can't control or eliminate a shadow by chasing it or by putting a shadow hand on it. [...] Your mind is an insubstantial shadow that will follow you around wherever you go. Attempts to eliminate or CONTROL it CANNOT SUCCEED while there is still a belief that the mind is real, and that it is something that can be controlled by physical and mental activity."

Capitalization by me.

It is imperative to grasp that the mind cannot control the mind nor is applying effort productive since that effort is a shadow chasing a shadow.

That must be understood.

Salazar said...

That is the joke: We imagine to be something different and then we imagine to become that what we imagined not to be in the first place. These "attempts" or "imaginations" will keep the shadow alive.

The notion that atma-vichara requires the constant effort of the mind is a huge impediment based on imagination. It is only the ego/mind which insists on this ignorance.



Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
you came to the cognition that mind-control is not possible for the mind.
What do you think is actually required for carrying out effectively atma-vichara ?

Salazar said...

You sound like that I just came to that cognition. No, that is clear for me for quite awhile. I just posted that comment because a few here seem to believe that they could control the mind via 'whatever they have in mind' and that atma-vichara would require effort.

That's it.

Sanjay Lohia said...

A conversation between a jaundice patient and his doctors and relatives:

This patient is suffering from acute jaundice and also has a high fever. Due to these, he has lost his past memory. However, his current mental faculties are OK. He is in an ICU of a hospital.

Doctor to the patient: How are you today?

Patient: Not Ok. And I see everything is yellow all around me. Is this how things are in reality?

Doctor: No, this world is made of hundreds of colours. Everything seems yellow to you because of your jaundiced eyes.

Patient: It is difficult to believe this world is full of colours.

Relatives of the patient: What the doctor is saying is true. This world is indeed made up of an infinite variety of colours.

Patient: If you all say so I have to start believing it, even though it is not my direct experience now.

Doctor: Ok, see you tomorrow. You will be fine soon.

I have used this as an analogy to understand our current experience. We are also suffering from a jaundiced eye. That is, we see this world through the vision of our ego, and ego distorts the true nature of things. Bhagavan has explained this in verse 37 of Guru Vachaka Kovai: ‘Like the illusory yellow seen by a jaundiced eye, the whole world that you see before you is the product of your mind, […]’

We are like this jaundice patient, and Bhagavan is like this doctor, and the patient’s relatives are like the sastras. We come and tell Bhagavan about all our unending troubles and want to know a way out of this mess. Bhagavan gives us his principle texts, such as Ulladu Narpadu, Nan Ar? and Upadesa Undiyar and asks us to read these. He tells us, ‘if you read these texts and practise what they teach, you will soon get over all your troubles’. These texts and the practice they prescribe are like the doctor’s medicines. If we take these medicines prescribed by Bhagavan Ramana, we will soon see things as they really are.

(I will continue this in my next comment)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In continuation of my previous comment:

It is because we experience this world via ego that we see this world with so many jeevas, and we imagine that God is taking care of this world. But Bhagavan teaches us that we are the infinite, eternal and immutable being-awareness-bliss. However, since we have limited ourselves to his body, we have cut ourself away from our true infinite nature. And all our misery and unhappiness is due to this limitation.

So we now start believing in and practising Bhagavan's teachings. A friend comes to meet us and we tell him about Bhagavan’s teachings. We tell him that, according to Bhagavan, what exists is only atma-svarupa (pure self-awareness) and this world, soul and God are mere imaginations of our ego. We tell him that there is only eka-jiva, and when this one ego comes into existence everything else comes into existence along with it. If this ego is destroyed by atma-vichara, everything else will be destroyed along with ego.

However, this friend ridicules me. He says ‘how can you believe all this nonsense, when this is not your direct experience?’ I tell him, ‘Yes, this is not my direct experience, but Bhagavan has explained all these things, and since he is my guru I have no reason to doubt him. Moreover, the sastras corroborate these teachings, so why should I not believe these things. Yes, I have not experienced myself as I really am but once I do so, either Bhagavan’s teachings will turn out to be true or turn out to false. Till then I do believe in his teachings’.

My friend says, ‘You are a fool to believe all this’. I reply back, ‘We all have a choice to believe whatever we want. You believe whatever your mind and senses tell you. However, I believe whatever Bhagavan’s tells me. My mind and senses could be cheating me as they do so in my dream. Bhagavan’s teachings all seem so logical, coherent and consistent with the advaitic texts’. My friend and I agree to disagree and go our own ways.






Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
so according GVK (Edition and annotation by David Godman) we are or at least could be effortlessly happy. But is this true ?
Now I take the book and see:
At any rate and according page GVK, verse 644 and 645, page 274:
Eliminating the risen ego, the false knowledge that knows the non-self objectively must happen - if you name it effort or atma-vichara.
Without subtle inward attention - if you name it effort or atma-vichara - we will be lost in the play of maya through suttarivu, which is the rising of the ego, the onslaught of extreme delusion.
Why ?
Because one's truth, 'I exist' shines like the sun within everyone.

Salazar said...

The last paragraph of Sanjay Lohia's last comment (I happened to catch it scrolling down :) : "My friend says, ‘You are a fool to believe all this’. I reply back, ‘We all have a choice to believe whatever we want. You believe whatever your mind and senses tell you. However, I believe whatever Bhagavan’s tells me. [...]"


Believing in what Bhagavan has told us is ALSO what our mind and senses is telling us and therefore not different from that friend.

If we believe that we are better off because we have chosen to believe somebodies word (even Bhagavan's) then we are duping ourselves. The mind/ego has just replaced one "belief" or "goal" for another seemingly more elated one.

So either one has the luck to be in the presence of a Jnani who actually can tell what is needed to do OR one is stuck with the interpretations of scholars and mediocre teachers who are plenty around. Then it is imperative that one trusts only one's direct experience and the silence that speaks from within. Otherwise one will get haughty and arrogant and talks about the "truth" (as you Sanjay like to do).

If one likes to adopt the belief (since it is certainly not a direct experience) that a Jnani is a projection then that one has to concede that Bhagavan's teaching and the sastras are projections as well. So we are back that the only viable measure is our direct experience what actually is in consensus with all of the sages.

P.S. I follow of course Bhagavan's teachings especially his atma-vichara also only believing on faith that this 'the path and the goal'. But only the practical application can give Jnana converting faith into true knowledge.
However besides that to turn around and proclaim concepts like "eka-jiva" is rather foolish and food for the arrogant mind to argue about concepts. Nobody "knows" but a sage.

Two parrots meet and they throw at each other lines from their favorite teaching of two sages, both feverishly convinced to have the "truth". What fools indeed.

True "progress" is only made when all concepts have been dropped, effort/no effort, ajnani/Jnani, and all these other concepts. There is no "eka-jiva" in Jnana. So why even talk about it? It is a distraction.








Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Michael,
Above, you say "Therefore it is up to each one of us to choose whichever level of explanation we want to accept,"
If we choose not to accept...
if we are willing to accept..."


We are all after choiceless awareness.
Why then do you insist that we make a choice?
Don't you see that taking sides in the philosophical argument about the nature of reality is egoic?
WHO is it that is making a choice?

It's absolutely impossible to reduce reality to a concept. That is why there are multiple viewpoints. To get invested to a single viewpoint is to be attached to the intellectual body.

Bhagavan says "If you accept one philosophic system then you are forced to condemn the others"
but Michael you teach the EXACT opposite: ego identification with your viewpoint competing against others. (quote from Conscious Immortality" page 108 and in Talks).

Michael, above you say the Buddhists are wrong, there are many "superficial interpretations and misinterpretations and limited understanding and wrong interpretations..."

Michael you are an interpreter who is egoically attached and identified with his interpretations.
Only a realized person is able to actually teach about and from realization.
You are teaching from ego.
Stop teaching delusion now! Get thee to a cave and become realized.

Salazar said...

Josef, as so often I do not get what you are trying to say.

I made it clear countless times that I "practice" atma-vichara. So your last comment directed at me is quite redundant. I suppose "effort" needs to be described in more detail, maybe I'll do that later if I feel so inclined.

I like the concept of "effortless effort" because it denotes exactly how effort must be understood in relation to vichara.

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
even the concept of "effortless effort" indicates and holds "effort". For vichara subtle inward attention is required and that means effort even when it goes off effortlessly.:-)

Salazar said...

Josef, who is doing that subtle inward attention? And if you have found that "who" what apparently is for you the ego/mind, how is that "who" implementing that attention? In repeatedly thinking, "I have to keep attention" or how do "you" do that?

I am not asking for your advice, I am just wondering where for "you" the "effort" comes into play. How does the notion of "effort" manifest for you? It must be thought, actually it can only be a thought otherwise the notion of effort could not come up. However as soon as that thought "effort" is coming up you are not "doing" vichara but you are thinking instead and with that you are back with your thought stories.

Before you shoot back some quotes you have read somewhere, reflect about it and then please answer in your own words and referring solely to this comment. Thank you.



Josef Bruckner said...

---now there is just attention...effortlessly vibrating---Thank you.

Salazar said...

Josef, come on - you are chicken out. It seems you have no experience of atma-vichara whatsoever and resort to empty phrases .... "there is just attention"...."vibrating". [What on earth is vibrating???]

YOU DID NOT ANSWER MY QUESTION. WHERE OR HOW IS FOR YOU THE NOTION OF EFFORT COMING INTO PLAY???

Now it seems that my original assessment of you was justified but I'd love to change it, however you've got to help me out here. Also, I'd rather have you say "I have little or no experience", because I very much can respect that, but to resort to your standard parrot phrases with the implication that you actually know what you are talking about and you really don't.



Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar, your presumption that I "have no experience of atma-vichara whatsoever" is possibly correct. However, I did never claim to have such an experience.
This time some kind of attention accompanied by a subtle pulsating swinging arrived spontaneously and indeed with ease. Perhaps that vibration originates merely from the physical body. To anwer your question: at present the notion of effort did not at all come into place; like a piece of luck.

Salazar said...

Okay Josef, yes - you never claimed to have experience with atma-vichara, however you were arguing with me several times about several topics which one can only truly argue about with at least some extended practice.

And that's why I was ridiculing you because it was pretty obvious by your arguments (or better lack of and instead you were resorting to phrases) that you have not that experience.

And yet you felt compelled to object to my notions while you in all reality were not in the position to do so.

I'd say with your lack of experience you should rather stop discussing these concepts with your rational mind on this blog and do some practice instead. Otherwise you must appear foolish and I am not saying that to make you look bad or anything, it is just what it is.

Since we have some clarity about your lack of actual experience any further dialog would be redundant until you have had actually any practice for a year or two.

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


Since we have weeded out one fan of "effort" I'd like to extend my question to anybody who believes that "effort" is required: How does the notion of "effort" manifest for you in your practice of vichara?

Maybe for once there is actually some progress made instead to pile up ever more concepts and quotes .....

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
I assess me as a very inexpert and unorthodox seeker, acting sometimes more from the stomach region and now and then contrary to all dictates of common sense, but driven by spontaneity. Therefore I seldom do comply at once with somebody's recommendations or instructions. So you cannot expect me to "rather stop discussing these concepts with ... rational mind on this blog and do some practice instead."
My practice will certainly keep pace with my needs.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
Regarding "effort":
See the Mandukya Karika verse 3.44:
If the mind becomes inactive in a state of oblivion awaken it again. If it is distracted,, bring it back to the state of tranquillity. (In the intermediary state) know the mind containing within it desires in potential form. If the mind has attained to the state of equilibrium, then do not disturb it again.
https://www.wisdomlib.org/hinduism/book/mandukya-upanishad-karika-bhashya/d/doc143712.html

For all types of meditation (someone have an exception?) when or if attention is distracted (such as attention getting lost in thinking) there must be intent (subtle effort) to return to the object of meditation which might be "I" or "I AM" or "Who am i?" or mantra or japa or kundalini or your thumb or whatever.

But... if there is no distraction then no effort is required.
And... the process should advance so that eventually the attention is kept inward spontaneously for increasing periods of time even despite potential outward distractions.... a successful practice becomes increasingly effortless.
Be Still with the subtlest of intent and vigilantly rest there.
If there is any significant struggle... the struggle is just more distraction.

One might first find inward stillness sitting with eyes closed, then with eyes open, then while walking, then during more intense activity.

You might call this a subtle effort of will or intent. From the kundalini yoga perspective the "will" is emphasized.
Or you might call it an act of discrimination: "discrimination" or "not this" is when you notice that attention has been diverted away from Self and is from the Jnana Yoga tradition.
Or you might emphasize the "surrender" aspect from the Bhakti tradition.

But once the "will" or "discrimination" has lead to inward attentiveness... "do not disturb that attentiveness".

This is a challenge to describe because intent is required using some sort of practice... but when successful any effort must fall away (at least briefly) leaving pure inward attentiveness.

This is one of my favorite topics enough so to risk you now ripping my comments to shreds. :-)
OK, I am seated and holding onto my chair, go for it. :-)

Salazar said...

Josef, you are fine - it was a suggestion. As you know, for me it's prarabdha anyway, you do not decide if you post here or not, it just seems that way.

Salazar said...

Roger, I am not interested in the Mandukya Karika or any other texts about "effort", I am interested how "effort" manifests while doing vichara.

I am not interested in the Jnana Yoga or Bhakti Yoga or Kundalini Yoga traditions or any other traditions re. "effort" but just how it manifests with you in your own simple words.

What exactly IS the effort????

Roger Isaacs said...

Salazar,
Oh sheese, I am sorry that I did not hit your interest precisely.

For me, the "effort" or intent is just noticing that attention has drifted (if it does) and then bring it back.
Is there something to bring the attention back to?
Perhaps, or perhaps there is just Being which might be temporarily forgotten.

Salazar said...

Thanks for playing along ...

How does that "noticing" manifest and why is that an effort? And who is bringing whose intention to what by the way? And how do you do that?

Roger Isaacs said...

1: How does that noticing manifest and why is that an effort?

Imagine that you are driving your car down the road and you notice that the car is drifting off the road. In response you correct using the steering wheel. This may take "effort" when you are first learning how to steer... and then may become largely automatic IF you are paying attention. Perhaps the "effort" is simply attention.

I have experience of a few different styles of meditation and have studied various works. Just as my car may drift out of the lane, my mind has a tendency to drift off of inner attention... and on noticing this... I am back to inward attentiveness.
So I am saying that "noticing" is the mental activity of comparing current circumstances with an intent based on education and experience.
This certainly took more effort years ago. For example, faced with a challenge in life at one time it was difficult or impossible to keep the attention inward & not obsessed with the challenge.

You might say "effort" in that bringing the attention back has to be repeated endlessly and there has to be the intent for this. You have to know why you are doing it.

You might say "effort" in that various things in life might require adjustment in order to improve conditions for success: avoiding excessive dessert, engaging in healthy activities, arranging life to minimize inner distractions, leaving jobs and relationships etc.

Of course, this "effort" might also be called self created and an illusion. Or it could be called simply "attention".

With enough practice effort tends to fall away.

And... this could be compared with simply relaxing: when you relax... have you really done anything? It is more like just undoing what is false.

2: And who is bringing whose intention to what by the way?

Ah, the usual advaita bull shit question. :-)
"Who" initially is the personal being Roger, although as the practice deepens the personal being is transcended, there is no person there or doing it and nothing to be done... there is simply Being. "Intention" is only necessary or only has meaning when attention strays.

"What?": you are apparently referring to the whole practice of repeatedly placing attention "within"... until at such point there is no "without" and hence any process has evaporated.

3: And how do you do that?

See above.
This is a paradoxical process.
The process of meditation to still the mind and focus attentiveness is essential (for me at least, although not for Bhagavan?).
Although, at some point it is agreed that it was all just an appearance: there is no doer, never was, nothing to achieve as I am That and always have been. While there is the appearance of a doer.... doing may be essential.

Salazar said...

Roger, you are mixing up stuff here.

We have to establish a basic ontology:

1. Awareness exists prior to anything else.
2. Since awareness exists prior to anything else we ARE (or we must be) that awareness. And therefore we have to reference everything what transpires to that what we are, awareness and not to habitually ideas like a "personal being".
3. "Who is bringing whose intention to what by the way?" That is not an advaita BS question but refers to point 1. "Awareness exists prior to anything else". If awareness is prior to anything what actually needs to "bring" attention to anywhere? That attention [as awareness] IS ALREADY THERE, THE THOUGHT OF 'NEEDING TO BRING ATTENTION' IS ACTUALLY OBSTRUCTING IT!
4. The "personal being Roger" is a thought manifesting onto awareness and that thought "creates" its own identity, however it is just thought(s) manifesting onto awareness. Nothing else.
5. So instead of just "being" awareness there are these thoughts coming up.
6. Now instead to just BE that awareness, the thoughts "I am this personal being Roger" are followed by more thoughts who want to "place" attention "within" but THERE IS NOTHING TO PLACE BECAUSE AWARENESS HAS NEVER LEFT. It is the thought itself that "attention has to be placed" (or other thoughts) which obstruct awareness in the first place and the REMEMBRANCE of awareness CANNOT be the thought "I need to place my attention" but is just the simple recognition of awareness which cannot be "done" because it never has left but by belief in thoughts.
7. The "personal being Roger" is not doing anything since it is only ephemeral thoughts.
8. Since only thoughts obstruct awareness they also manifest the notion of "effort" since these thoughts are habitually believed to be "me" and that that "me" needs to do something.

That can never work!

So our "times" in awareness are not due to "our efforts" but to not give interest into anything including notions of effort or meditation! And that happens automatically and nobody can take credit for that!

That's the paradox, in order to simply BE [awareness] effort has to be given up. It is the obstacle {besides other thoughts).

Summa iru.






Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan is not special

Bhagavan is very-very special, who can deny this? His teachings are unique in so many ways: it is direct, simple, logical and coherent. At the same time, it is most radical – some of the core principles of his teachings are almost unbelievable at first. Can one easily accept that this world is our projection? Can we accept that no world exists when we do not perceive it?

Not only Bhagavan’s teachings, but his life is also unique. His vairagya is unmatched. His love and compassion have no parallel. These are universal and completely impartial. For example, he loved Murugunar and a poisonous snake in equal measure, because he saw himself in both of them. He will not eat something if it was not shared with all. So Bhagavan’s life itself is a great teaching.

However, some people believe that Bhagavan has some special grace stacked in his backyard which he gives only to his devotees. Some believe that Bhagavan’s loves only those who have earned his love. In short, some people believe that Bhagavan has some special power which other gurus or Gods do not have. However, this is not true. So from this perspective, Bhagavan is not special.

It is all a question of love or bhakti? If we worship even a shivalinga with love and devotion, it is as beneficial as worshipping Bhagavan. So whether we love Bhagavan or Ramakrishna or Jesus or Buddha or a shivalinga or whatever, it is all the same. Our mind will be purified – its vishaya vasanas removed - to the extent we love any of them with love.


Michael James said...

In a comment on one of my recent videos, 2018-11-04 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 22, a friend wrote, “Perception and creation occur simultaneously. In time does this happen at the point when we wake up, and also when we start dreaming? Then throughout the day or the dream we may perceive different things in the world we created at the point we woke up or started dreaming? Is that right? Is that one singular moment in time, the moment when we wake up and this creation happens? It seems like that moment is very important to understand. It surely happens before we open our eyes because I can see that I already started thinking some time back. But that seems as far back as memory goes and beyond that it's like there's a gap, that of deep sleep?”, to which I replied:

For those who are willing to accept it, in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, Nāṉ Ār? and elsewhere Bhagavan taught what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) is the sole cause of creation (sṛṣṭi), so according to this teaching nothing exists independent of our perception of it.

This is illustrated by our experience in dream. While dreaming the body and world we perceive seem to exist independent of our perception of them (or at least this is what we assume), but when we wake up we recognise that it was all just our own mental creation or projection, so nothing we experienced in dream actually existed independent of our perception of it. According to Bhagavan our present state and any other state in which we perceive phenomena (anything that appears or disappears) is just a dream, so whatever phenomena we may perceive in any state does not exist except in our perception.

Therefore not only do perception and creation occur simultaneously, but they are one and the same thing, because it is only in our perception that any creation seems to exist. Hence what we perceive throughout any day or any dream was not created at the point we woke up or started dreaming but only at the moment we perceive it.

Therefore the only moment that is important is the present moment, and in this present moment what is important is not whatever we may perceive but only ourself, the perceiver of it. Who am I, the one who perceives all this? This is what we need to investigate.

Michael James said...

A friend called George wrote to me asking:

“I have a doubt. According to ēka-jīva-vāda there is only one ego, but if a person as Venkataraman has destroyed ego and become Bhagavan, why are the rest of us trying to destroy ego too? If ego is destroyed once, why we keep on trying to destroy it again and again and are not in the state of ātma-svarūpa for ever?

“I suppose the answer is: in the dream I am dreaming now, it appears as Venkataraman becoming Bhagavan to help me to wake up (the lion in the elephant’s dream). Is it right?

“The teachings of Bhagavan are so clear! Now it all fits perfectly. But sometimes I feel puzzled thinking that Michael or Bhagavan are just characters in my dream. In the same way, I am just a character in the dream of others? Or rather you and me are characters in ego’s dream? How thousands of characters, with free will, share the same dream of one ego?

“Again an answer comes to my mind: investigate yourself, who am I?”

In reply I wrote:

If there is just one ego, that means that there is just one perceiver and one dreamer, so all other egos (whether surviving or eradicated) seem to exist only in the view of that one ego, the one who perceives all this. Therefore the answer you suggest for your main question, namely ‘in the dream I am dreaming now, it appears as Venkataraman becoming Bhagavan to help me to wake up (the lion in the elephant’s dream)’, is the correct one.

However the answer to your next question, ‘In the same way, I am just a character in the dream of others?’, is no, there are no other dreamers in whose dream you could appear. George is the central character in the current dream of the one and only ego, because among all the characters in this dream he is the one that ego perceives as ‘I’. However, though he is the central character, he is no more real that any of the other characters.

All characters in any dream are jaḍa (non-aware), but because ego perceives George as itself, he seems to be aware. However, what is aware of all this is not George but only ego.

Because ego perceives itself as a person, in its view each other person seems to be an ego, so it seems to ego that each other person is perceiving the world just as it is and has a will just as it has.

This is what Bhagavan has taught us (this one ego), so what are we to infer from all this? Everything perceived (including whatever person we currently seem to be) exists only in the view of ourself, this one and only perceiver, so their seeming existence depends on the seeming existence of ourself as this ego. Therefore to discover the truth behind all this, what we need to investigate is only ourself, this perceiving ego.

Therefore the conclusion of your email is correct: investigate yourself, who am I?

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
may we correctly infer from dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, the contention (vāda) that perception (dṛṣṭi) is the sole cause of creation (sṛṣṭi), that our sense/perception organs are to be considered likewise and in the same way as creation organs ?

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
Your ontology is interesting, but you obviously know more about my process that I do.... so you don't need my interaction anymore! bye!

jacques franck said...

Michael and George I am sure that from yours point of you when George has written his question he was not in the dream of Michael and Michael was in the dream of George and when Michael has made an answer to George from the point of view of Michael George is in the dream of Michael. And when I read your 2 comments you are both of you in my dream... If I seem to exist everybody else may also seem to exist ... and when someone else will read my answer he will think that all three we are in his or her dream and so on and so on. I agreed that the answer will come by self investigation.... but until that my mind make me a little crazy because he cannot understand that....
The power of Maya is very strong...

Namaste j.f.

jacques franck said...

Point of view I mean...

Salazar said...

Roger, your process is your process, so I am not sure what that comment of yours is supposed to mean.

When I used the term "personal being Roger" I was not implying to know your specific experiences but used that as a generic for every mind/ego which is just based on an ephemeral thought.

I deliberately left out all theses many terms and concepts people like to use, drishti-shrishti, vasanas and what not. Of course thoughts are seemingly coming from vasanas but that is not necessary to know for practical purposes.

The only thing what we need to know PRACTICALLY is what we really are in form of holding to "I am". Everything else becomes a diversion for the mind.

So I gave a blue print solely based on my experience, nothing is from conceptual knowledge, we have that in abundance on the rest of this blog. And as it looks like that will be discussed here for the next 10,000 kalpas not the wiser after that :)
I can see that by the many comments of some participants.


It is very clear for me and it must be for anybody who had some prolonged experience with vichara that "effort" is but a thought and does not exist. Anyway, if your mind/ego NEEDS effort it will automatically deal with it, so you'll have what your mind desires based on wrong understanding.

If you need your kundalini rising then your mind eventually will rise the kundalini. Every desire will be granted eventually. Not necessarily in this life time though.

Too bad that you seem to be pouting, but heck, let's blame it on your ego :)

Thanks for at least trying but, frankly, I am not surprised how it turned out.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,

In your post you say about my comments "that can never work" etc....
You appear to be saying that you have reached a conclusion, a judgement about what I said and you are not open for further input. So what is the use of further conversation?

Your ontology is interesting. But all such descriptions are conceptual... including mine. There are innumerable entry points.

In your last post you use the phrase "wrong understanding".

You seem to have the same approach as Michael: YOUR conceptual understanding is the correct view and all others are wrong. So what is the use of conversing with you when anyone can predict that the theme of the conversation is that Salazar is correct and the other person is wrong? Isn't this pattern getting old?

Salazar said...

Roger, the last two comments reflect my personal experience and is NOT conceptual understanding. As such I feel confident to make statements like "that can never work" and subsequently it is certainly correct for me.

If your conceptual understanding does not align with that is perfectly fine, then apparently we cannot agree and go separate ways. I do not need anybodies confirmation nor agreement what is on a conceptual level anyway and as such worthless.

I do not insist that "I am correct" because I am not a sage and as such am influenced by ignorance as anybody else on this blog. However I feel confident enough to not entertain any other notions which seem of interest for others.

I am also not a teacher, I just share my first hand experiences and subsequent conceptual conclusions. As I said before, IMO only a sage is qualified to publicly teach and anybody else would be wise to refrain doing that because it can only inflate the ego.

Roger Isaacs said...

Hi Salazar,
You are not actually hearing what I am saying.
We could go into the details.

But the bottom line is that your experience, and your evaluation of that experience, your opinion... is the ONLY correct opinion. Right? Do you deny that?

You already know what you think and what is right for all of us... so all that the rest of us can learn is that we are wrong and you are right.

And this just happens to be the same opinion as Michael James: he has the only way, the only final way, the most direct way for all people. All the other spiritual traditions of the world are secondary to Michael James.

So you are in good company!
This is the place for you!


Sanjay Lohia said...

Ken Jones wrote the following comment on Michael’s latest video: Everything appears on the Self.

I replied: Yes, as you say, ‘Everything appears on the Self’. However, not only everything appears on self, but everything appears within self, of self or by self. Everything originates from ourself and merges back into ourself. In fact, what exists is only ourself. Everything else is merely our imagination.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Guru is like a tame deer

A tame deer is used to decoy a wild deer. Guru is like this tame deer. Because we take ourself to be a body, guru appears as a body in order to attract us to him, in order to tell us to turn within.

So what appears to us to be a person who lived in Tiruvannamalai for 54 years is actually none other than God himself. There is absolutely no difference between God and guru.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-11-10 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 12 (11:00)

Reflections: Guru may act like a tame deer, but if we are attracted to him, he transforms himself into a ferocious tiger. This tiger is ever hungry for our egos. If we go too close to this tiger - Bhagavan Ramana - he will mercilessly devour us. However, Bhagavan will save us by devouring us. What a wonderful play of grace!

Sanjay Lohia said...

The simplest of all things is the state of perfect oneness

We are very simple. The simplest of all things is the state of perfect oneness. So long as you have got more than one thing, you will get into complexity. So advaita, non-twoness, is the state of perfect simplicity. So the state of absolute simplicity is only the state of pure self-awareness.

Simple also means easy. According to Bhagavan, knowing ourself is the easiest of all things. It seems to be difficult because we are not ready to let go.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-11-10 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 12 (1:08)

Reflections: Bhagavan has given us such a direct, simple and easy path, but we make a heavy weather of it because of our complex minds. I often hear talks by so-called ‘experts’ on Bhagavan’s teachings and many of them make Bhagavan’s teachings seem to be something very complex. They clearly reveal their inner confusion.

We need to shun all complexity and move towards utter simplicity if we want to understand and practise Bhagavan’s teachings.



Salazar said...

Roger, frankly I do not get you. What is your point? Everything posted here are opinions, the truth cannot be conceptualized or expressed in words.

You are obsessed with "correct opinions" or the "correct only one". Well, is that not the point of opinions? If the holder of an opinion would not be convinced of its correctness he'd not hold that opinion but another one. So it seems more that you are bellyaching because your opinions are not as well received as you'd like to and therefore you want from others what you seemingly not willing to give too, 'a change of opinion'.

My friend, you are sitting in a glass house and are throwing rocks or are you ready to give up your "opinion" (correct for you) and adopt i.e. Michael's?

No, you want people like Michael agree with your opinion. And until that happens you keep bellyaching on this blog.

What was f.en waste of time!

For some reason I have the hunch that you are so blind that you'll not even get my point above.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Do we need a life insurance or a medical insurance?

Recently, we were in a dilemma as to whether or not should we renew our medical insurance? My wife and I debated the pros and cons of this and ultimately decided not to renew our health policy. I think this option is not there in many other countries due to different scenarios there.

Do we need any kind of insurance? If we feel we need these, we are showing our distrust in Bhagavan. I believe, in many cases, we are tempted to insure a lot of things – like health, property and so on – because of our fear. What is to happen will happen, why we should even think about these things? After all, our health, life, death, finance etc. in is Bhagavan’s hands, so we should forget about these things.

Mahatma Gandhi had interesting views on the topic of insurance. Gandhi once persuaded himself to take out a life insurance of Rs 10000/- in spite of not being fully convinced about it. However, soon he deplored his decision and felt bad. He later wrote the following in his autobiography:

And what reason had I to assume that death would claim me earlier than the others? After all, the real protector was neither I nor my brother, but the Almighty. In getting my life insured I had robbed my wife and children of their self-reliance. Why should they not be expected to take care of themselves? What happened to the families of the numberless poor in the world? Why should I not count myself as one of them? A multitude of such thoughts passed through my mind, […]

Our insurance is Bhagavan. He will provide to us whatever we need and whenever we need it. Why should we doubt this? It will be useful to reflect on what Bhagavan teaches us in the 13th paragraph of Nan Ar?:

Being completely absorbed in ātma-niṣṭhā [self-abidance], giving not even the slightest room to the rising of any thought other than ātma-cintanā [thought of oneself or self-attentiveness], alone is giving oneself to God. Even though we place whatever amount of burden upon God, that entire amount he will bear. Since one paramēśvara śakti [supreme ruling power or power of God] is driving all activities [everything that happens in this world], instead of yielding to it why should we always think, ‘it is necessary to act in this way; it is necessary to act in that way’?

We should give up all thoughts about our or our family’s insurance. We should leave this for God to take care, which he is, in any case, doing it. Our task is to remain absorbed in atma-nistha and not give any room to the rising of any thought. Bhagavan will even think for us and do the needful as and when required. If we need any insurance, Bhagavan will ensure that we take one. If he has not done in my case, I can be sure that I do not need it.

Unknown said...

Sri Samarender,

Thanks for taking your time to explain on

10 November 2018 at 04:34.

Salazar said...

Yes, Bhagavan takes care of us, however often not the way we'd expect or even like.

There are many retired Americans who have lost their homes and live on the streets because their medical bills bankrupted them, with or without health insurance. So Bhagavan took care of these unfortunate ones as he takes care of all of the starving children in third world countries or the many female and male rape victims, every 10 minutes a woman gets raped in the US.

He took care of the many drowned refugees who tried to cross the Mediterranean Sea. And so on.

He even took care of every murderer, rapist and their victims, all within the Divine "plan".

Of course, looking at eka jiva, all this is just a projection and if I get raped I am actually raping myself. There is no other .......... let the night mares end ....

Unknown said...

Sri Sanjay use your common sense and please renew your health insurance for you and your family. Bhagavan won't hold a grudge against you since he is not testing your faith and devotion towards him.

All these have nothing to do with rediscovering Jnana by whatever means possible. You can still be devoted to Bhagavan even with health insurance and all of your wealth that someone else here said you have in abundance.

D Samarender Reddy said...

Sanjay,

Also, make sure you do not bolt the front door of your house nor lock the almirahs in your house. With your faith in Bhagavan, everything would be safe, wouldn't it? Moreover, what is supposed to happen will happen no matter how hard you try to prevent it, right? So, why lock your front door. :-)

Agnostic said...

I have noticed that even those who assert that everything is predestined and that we can change nothing about it still look both ways before they cross the street

- Stephen W. Hawking in
Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays

Sanjay Lohia said...

Samarender and Unknown, I wish to inform both of you that I have indeed renewed my health insurance today. I had done this before receiving the comment by Samarender. However, the comment by ‘Unknown’ did prompt me to think more deeply about this topic.

Why should we try to behave like a mahatma before we become one? Bhagavan wants us to behave naturally and humbly in all circumstances. We should not pretend to be great sadhakas who are above the needs of this worldly existence. As it is taught in Yoga Vasishta, we should play our role in this world as appropriate in any given circumstance. I agree with both of you, things like medical insurance may not be a luxury any more. So I thank both of you for your valuable advice and concern.

However, we shouldn’t be too much concerned about these things.

Salazar said...

"Who thinks deeply about a topic"? [The ego]

It is imperative to realize that any "thinking" is the deep morass of delusion and samsara. Why not taking Bhagavan's advice and not think at all and leave everything to him?

However one can only leave everything to Bhagavan WITHOUT any thoughts or concerns.

So it is as simply as that, to look what others did or not is a waste of time even if it was Gandhiji or some other illustrious idol.

Sanjay Lohia said...

How is manomaya kosa different from the term ‘mind’?

Bhagavan teaches us in verse 18 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [the ego or root-thought called ‘I’].

However, a question may naturally arise is 'how is this mind (the ego of root-thought called ‘I’) different from the manomaya kosa?' Michael has explained the difference between the meanings of these two terms in section two of this article. I will try and reproduce his ideas in a slightly paraphrased version.

Manomaya kosa is used neither in the sense of ego nor in the sense of the totality of all thoughts. Manomaya kosa is that component of ego which is distinct from its will (chittam), which is the anandamaya kosa (the sheath composed of happiness) and from the intellect (buddhi), which is what is called vijnanamaya kosa (the sheath composed of intelligence or comprehension). Manomaya kosa is the mind functioning in a more superficial sense, and vijnamaya kosa and anandamaya kosa are the mind functioning in a more subtle sense.

According to its various functions, the mind or ‘inner instrument’ (antakarana) is sometimes said to consist of four components, namely manas (mind), buddhi (intellect), cittam (will) and ahamkaram (ego). This is mainly functional classification because in substance these are one and the same.

The mind in its broadest sense includes all these functions. In this functional sense, manas (mind) includes the grosser functions of mind such as perceiving, remembering, thinking and feeling. Buddhi (intellect) includes the functions of distinguishing, discerning, judging, reasoning and understanding. Chittam (will) is the function of liking, disliking, desiring, hoping, caring and so on. And amamkaram (ego) is the ‘I’ that experiences itself as that which performs each of these three functions.

Salazar said...

Agnostic, that they look both ways is predetermined too.

We are all under the spell that what happens to us (aka the body, not the the real "I") could be influenced by our (aka the "egos") decisions but these decisions are just thoughts and they do not in any way direct the actions of the body. It just seems that way, it is the minds inner rehearsal of what transpires at that cinema play of the body.

That's why it is imperative to stop giving these upcoming thoughts any attention or belief, even if one should look both ways or not etc. If an accident in crossing a road is pre-ordained then that will happen no matter what, that person can be seemingly very cautious and "look" or not "look" at all, it doesn't matter.

The only solution to all of this is to not to identify with that person/ego/mind in form of thoughts but to disregard any thoughts altogether.

Unknown said...

Sri Sanjay,

You are welcome and all the best to you healthwise.

Agnostic said...

Nov/Dec 1994 issue of 'The Maharshi' newsletter

Sri Ramana Bestows His Grace

-----
In 1937, T.S.Anantha Murthy visited Sri Ramanasramam for ten days. He gave a detailed account of this visit in his book the Life and Teachings of Sree Ramana Maharshi. With this issue we conclude his story related in chapter sixteen, titled "Sree Ramana Bestows His Grace on the Present Biographer in 1937."
-----
"I stayed for ten days at Ramanasramam, even though I had gone there with the idea of staying only for three days. My wife could not stay for so long a period because our children had to be looked after in Bangalore. They were all young boys in 1937. So, she returned to Bangalore after three days. The Sarvadhikari generously permitted me to be the guest of the ashram during that period. One morning I was sitting in the hall and meditating in the presence of the sage, just like other devotees. One verse of Kenopanishad had long been baffling my understanding. That verse runs thus:

Pratibodha viditam matam amrutatvam hi vindate,
atmana vindate veeryam vidyaya vindate amrtam.

"It is really known when it is known in and through every modification of the mind, for by such knowledge one attains immortality. By Atman one attains real strength, and by Knowledge, Immortality." - - - - - Kenopanishad (2-4)

I stood up and walked towards the sofa and drew the attention of the sage, who was sitting in the normal waking condition at that time. When he was pleased to look at me, I told him in English that I had difficulty in comprehending this verse of Kenopanishad and that I needed his help understanding it. Since I knew the verse by heart, I recited it. Sri Ramana heard the verse with attention when I recited it slowly. Then he desired to read the verse in the book itself. I did not have that book with me at that time. He asked his attendant to go to the library of the ashram and get a copy of the book. The attendant, who knew Sanskrit, went to the library and brought a copy of the said Upanishad. Sri Ramana took it in his own hands and then gave it to me and directed me to show the page on which it was found printed. I looked into the book and found the verse and showed it to him. The great sage read the verse silently and looked at me. I said that I had two difficulties in relation to that verse. The first question was if every vritti of the mind was Brahman, as indicated in the first half of the verse. The second question was if physical strength was attainable by a person who realizes the Atman, as indicated in the second half of the verse. I expressed these two doubts to him in simple English.

Sri Ramana then replied as follows: "Yes, everything is Brahman. Every vritti of the mind including grief or sorrow is Brahman. Every kind of strength, including physical strength, will be obtained by a person when he realizes his Atman." In this clear-cut manner, the merciful sage set at rest my doubts and answered my two questions.

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

Sanjay Lohia said...

Agnostic, T. S. Anantha Murthy said, ‘Sri Ramana then replied as follows: "Yes, everything is Brahman. Every vritti of the mind including grief or sorrow is Brahman. Every kind of strength, including physical strength, will be obtained by a person when he realizes his Atman." In this clear-cut manner, the merciful sage set at rest my doubts and answered my two questions’.

Bhagavan explains to Anantha Murthy that everything is brahman. Bhagavan has also explained in Nan Ar? that what exists is only atma-svarupa. Brahman and atma-svarupa mean the same thing. However, in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu Bhagavan says that everything is ego. So is Bhagavan contradicting himself? No, because we can reconcile these two teachings.

Advaita teaches that what exists is only brahman but since we experience many things, advaita has to explain the appearance of these other things. So when Bhagavan tells us that everything comes into seeming existence when ego comes into seeming existence, he is explaining the reason for the appearance of this world. Bhagavan has made it clear that this world is nothing but an expansion of ego. So if we want to experience the truth of advaita, we need to experience perfect oneness, and we can do so only by experiencing ourself in complete isolation.

So Bhagavan has given us a practical teaching. Since the root of everything is ego, if we can uproot the ego, we will destroy everything else and we will thus experience advaita, which is ajata. Therefore Bhagavan teaches us the simplest but the most radical form of advaita. Ego, which is chit-jada-granthi, is the source and substance of everything we perceive, and the root and substance of ego is only atma-svarupa. So in this sense everything is brahman or atma-svarupa.

When we rise as ego, which is chit-jada-granthi, we project this world, and this world is nothing but an expansion of this chit-jada-granthi. Whatever objects we perceive have as its base the underlying self-awareness, so nothing jada can exist if it is not supported by chit. So in this sense everything is an expansion of the original granthi. However, whereas the root granth is aware both of itself and of others, other granthis are not aware of either itself or of others.

So understanding that everything is brahman can be an aid, but this cannot take us far. We need to experience brahman as it really is, and to do so we need to turn within and lose ourself in brahman. There is no other way. So ego is the gateway to brahman. Metaphorically speaking, we cannot cross over to the side of brahman without passing through ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan to Arunachala: If I leave [this] life [after constantly remaining like a frog] at the flower of your divine feet, it will be a standing column of shame for you

If in this state I leave this life, it will be a standing pillar of shame for you (Bhagavan or Arunachala). This is pure-pure love poetry – love of the highest kind. Love is not about what we can get from the person we love. Love is all about what we can give to that person. If we can give ourself entirely to Bhagavan, that is the ultimate, the supreme love. And what is Bhagavan? Bhagavan is nothing but our own self, shining in our heart as ‘I’.

Edited extract from the video: 2018-11-10 Hampstead Heath: Michael James discusses verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam (27:00)

Reflections: It will be a greater shame for us than for Bhagavan if we are not able to surrender fully. It seems that we have taken leave of this world, as it were, but still do not have the courage to plunge within and become one with Bhagavan. So we are like a coward, and I speak for myself. So we should try to surrender ourself fully and avoid shame both to ourself and to Bhagavan.

The reputation of our guru is at stake. People will blame Bhagavan if we are able to reach our goal following his path. They may feel that his path his not so efficacious. So if not for our sake, we should redouble our efforts for the sake of our guru. Bhagavan is not able to finish his task because we have still not finished our task.

It seems that we have plateaued in our sadhana. However, as the saying goes, God helps those who help themselves. This is true in our sadhana also.