Monday, 5 August 2019

The role of grace in all that ego creates

In a comment on one of my recent articles, Is there any such thing as ‘biological awareness’?, an anonymous friend suggested that it is not correct to say that ego has projected or created anything, because though the world appears when ego emerges, it ‘appears by the power of higher power and is also the higher power’, and ‘The higher power enables everything and manifests as everything’. Therefore this article is written in reply to that comment.

Monday, 29 July 2019

Why does ego rise again from manōlaya and not from manōnāśa?

In a comment on my previous article, Is there any such thing as ‘biological awareness’?, a friend called Abhilash wrote: ‘Could you clarify this confusion on deep sleep. We understand that in deep sleep ego is subdued, given this is the case when we wake up, how the memory that I slept well and did not know anything is obtained. If only awareness and ignorance were present during deep-sleep who reports this experience of absence back to ego in the waking state. As awareness transcends time/space/causality how can we say “awareness” possesses memory? Kindly clarify’.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Is there any such thing as ‘biological awareness’?

A friend recently wrote to me: ‘People seem to have a hard time grasping Bhagavan’s teachings. Would it not be easier just to tell them thoughts are an illusion, so pure biological awareness is the true self, especially because biologically changes will happen in the brain that will solidify this learner behavior over time, and once they reach this state, the ugly term of biological awareness will get burned along with the ego in the pyre?’ The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to this:

Friday, 28 June 2019

How can there be any experience without something that is experiencing it?

In four comments on one of my recent articles, In what sense and to what extent do we remember what we were aware of in sleep?, a friend called Lewis asked several questions about awareness, experience, ego and appearance that can be adequately answered only by carefully considering some of the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, so in this article I will try to answer his questions in the clear light of those principles.

Monday, 24 June 2019

How can we be sure that we can wake up from this dream of our present life?

Yesterday in a comment on one of my videos, 2019-01-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 14, a friend called Saroj wrote:
Thank you for this video, Michael. We can think of the dream state only with respect to (what seems to be) the waking state. So when Bhagavan says that waking state also is only a dream, how to understand this statement? Since we know the dream state only with respect to this waking state, if the waking state too is a dream, then there is no longer any standard left against which to place dream and thus to make sense of it. Typing this question, it seems like the standard must be the state of deep sleep. So basically, there is no state that can be called the waking state? Only dream and sleep? Also, it seems like no rational person will deny that this world is quite possibly only a dream or mental imagination. But how can we be sure that we can ‘wake’ up from this dream, and how? Bhagavan has taught that this is possible, should we take this on faith? And try to experience it ourselves through our practice? I ask because previously, I have followed several different people, some whose teachings were very superficial although at that time I may have felt otherwise, but with Bhagavan’s teachings I feel sure that I don’t have to search any further, I don’t have to dig any more wells, as Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa said in an analogy. But this feeling is not sufficiently empowered by a clarity of understanding Bhagavan’s teachings or doing deep self-investigation, but largely just a feeling in my heart, if [I] may put it like that. So I am still very immature and lacking in both bhakti and vairagya.
The following is my reply to this:

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

In what sense and to what extent do we remember what we were aware of in sleep?

In a comment on one of my recent articles, How to practise self-enquiry (ātma-vicāra)?, a friend called Rajat Sancheti wrote:
If I give it some thought, and try to recall last night’s dream, it becomes quite clear that in dream I am aware of myself without being aware of this body. But if I try to see the same thing (that I am aware of myself without being aware of this body) regarding dreamless sleep, it is not very clear. Why is it that the memory of having existed in dream is much clearer than the memory of having existed in dreamless sleep? Or is it that in the case of dream, what is clearer to me is only the memory of having existed as some body, and not the memory of simply existing?

Thursday, 30 May 2019

How can we refine and sharpen our power of attention so that we can discern what we actually are?

In a comment on my previous article, How to practise self-enquiry (ātma-vicāra)?, a friend called Rajat Sancheti wrote:
Desires, fears, etc belong to the ego or to the person? The person is insentient and cannot desire or fear anything, so they must belong to ego, I suppose. But then why do these desires and fears have such a personal nature? For example, the desire for money, lust, status, etc, they are only the body’s desires. Is it that when ego identifies this body as ‘I’, it takes this body’s desires and fears to be its own? Or are desires and fears only the ego’s desires and fears?

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

How to practise self-enquiry (ātma-vicāra)?

A friend recently wrote to me, ‘Please forgive me, as I suppose this question has been asked thousands of times, but can you describe in basic everyday language how YOU practice self-enquiry? Perhaps you have addressed this somewhere else. If so, please be kind enough to direct me to the source’, and in reply I wrote:

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

The ultimate truth is ajāta, but because we seem to have risen as ego and consequently perceive a world, Bhagavan, Gaudapada and Sankara teach us primarily from the perspective of vivarta vāda

In several comments on one of my recent articles, Whatever jñāna we believe we see in anyone else is false, there was a discussion about ajāta vāda, so in this article I will reply to some ideas that a friend called Venkat expressed in the course of that discussion, and in particular I will highlight the distinction between ajāta vāda (the contention that nothing has ever arisen, appeared or come into existence) and vivarta vāda (the contention that whatever has arisen, appeared or come into existence is just an illusion or false appearance), because in some of his comments he seemed to confuse the former with the latter, of which it is actually a denial.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Can there be any viable substitute for patient and persistent practice of self-investigation and self-surrender?

As I wrote in the introduction to my previous but one article, Is it possible to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the disappearance of the I-thought?, in which I adapted a reply that I had written to a friend who had asked about a portion from 13.31 to 18.04 of a video that David Godman made about ‘Papaji’ (H W L Poonja), there was another issue raised in that portion that I did not specifically discuss in that article but that I said I would discuss in a later one. That issue is the idea that Poonja could somehow give people an experience that bypassed the need for ‘a rather intense, vigilant practice that took place over a long period of time’, which David acknowledged (at 13.53) was what Bhagavan used to recommend, so this is the issue that I will discuss in this article.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Whatever jñāna we believe we see in anyone else is false

In the introduction to my previous article, Is it possible to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the disappearance of the I-thought?, I had written that in my next article I would discuss the idea that Poonja could somehow give people an experience that bypassed the need for ‘a rather intense, vigilant practice that took place over a long period of time’, but I have not yet finished writing that article, and in the meanwhile I have written this article in response to one of the comments on my previous article, so I am posting this one now and and will post the other one later.

Friday, 22 March 2019

Is it possible to have a ‘direct but temporary experience of the self’ or to watch the disappearance of the I-thought?

Last year a friend wrote to me saying that it seems distortions and misinterpretations of Bhagavan’s teachings are inevitable, and that nowadays the internet is sadly inundated with misinformation and confused ideas about them, and concluding, ‘I suppose this is the nature of mind’, to which I replied:
Yes, the mind is māyā, so its nature is to distort and confuse, making what is simple seem complicated, what is clear seem clouded, what is plain seem obscure, what is obvious into something mysterious and what is subtle into something gross. The only way for us to overcome this natural tendency of the mind is to persistently turn within to see what we actually are, which is not this mind but just the clear light of pure and infinite self-awareness.

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

What is the relationship between the ‘I-thought’ and awareness?

Recently a friend wrote asking me to ‘clarify the relationship between the I-Thought and Awareness’, and after I replied to him he wrote asking some further questions on the same subject, so this article is adapted from the two replies I wrote to him.

Friday, 15 February 2019

Thoughts and dreams appear only in the self-ignorant view of ourself as ego, not in the clear view of ourself as we actually are

A few months ago a friend wrote to me asking about a passage attributed to Annamalai Swami, but which I later found was a misquoted version of a passage from the book Annamalai Swami: Final Talks (perhaps because it had been translated from English into some other language and then back into English again), so I first replied regarding the wording of the misquoted version, and after finding the original passage I wrote another reply more appropriate to that wording. This article is adapted from these two replies.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

What is the correct meaning of ‘Be in the now’?

A friend recently wrote to me asking whether Bhagavan’s teachings can be compared to those of Zen masters such as ‘Be in the now’, ‘Mindfulness’ and so on, which he said seem to have ‘similar meaning and understanding, because when we’re in the now and here we don’t have thoughts flowing and hence remain in the self’, and he added that he thinks Bhagavan addressed this in verse 15 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to him.

Saturday, 2 February 2019

In a dream there is only one dreamer, and if the one dreamer wakes up the entire dream will come to an end

A friend recently wrote to me:
I understand that there is one ego, which creates the illusion of many people and a world. If one person in this illusion, i.e. you or I, becomes realized, how is that going to destroy the ego as a whole? When Ramana became realized, this didn’t stop the world appearing for me. I know Ramana when asked about others said there are no others and if all is a dream of course he is correct, but others myself including continue to dream we exist despite Ramana becoming enlightened. Is realization a gradual breaking down of the ego individual by individual?

My second question: What is Shakti? I have looked it up and it seems to say it is energy which creates and that it is part of who we naturally are. This seems contradictory to how I now see realization as being. I now see realization as a kind of nothingness, not dissimilar to deep sleep. Can you remind me is this correct? Is shakti the same as ego and the cause of illusion?
The following is adapted from the reply I wrote to her:

Thursday, 31 January 2019

To understand consciousness can we rely upon the observations and theories of neuroscience?

Recently a friend wrote to me saying that he was caring for his mother, who was in the final stages of dying because of a brain tumour, and that for a year he had been watching the effect it had on her: ‘I followed every moment of her conscious disappearance and with all her reports about that till three days ago when she fell into a terminal coma, just breathing. [...] Layer by layer I observed her fading away: abstract reasoning, language, sight, taste, calculation, self-perception, memory, emotions, equilibrium, movement, then faces recognition, space time comprehension, till the sleeping mode during the day, sudden change of mood, personality, then fear, sorrow, and now coma, tomorrow death’.

He also wrote about the connection between the changes that had been taking place in his mother’s perception, behaviour, understanding, character, response to stimuli and so on and the parts of her brain that were progressively affected by cancer cells, and what neuroscience says about such things, including the idea that ‘consciousness is only an emergent property of the brain’. He wrote that therefore ‘I have to surrender to the hard fact of the causal relation between brain and consciousness’, and asked what Bhagavan’s teachings have to say about such matters. The first section of this article is adapted from my reply to this, and the second section is adapted from my reply to what he wrote in response to my first reply.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

What is deluded is not our real nature but only ego

In my previous article, How to be self-attentive even while we are engaged in other activities?, I adapted a reply that I had written to a friend. In another email the same friend asked ‘How did the ego come about?’ and wrote:
Am I correct to say the following? At the beginning, there was only true self. Then, somehow or other, it deluded itself and believed it to be the ego — which is the root of everything. Then, the ego got reborn over and over. What we are trying to do now is to turn what seems to be the ego within and in so doing, the ego dissolves, revealing true self that it always has been — and thus, ending all our sufferings.

My question is: If our true self is always only aware of itself, how did it delude itself at the very beginning? The “I thought” arises only if one looks outside, correct? So, if our true self is only aware of itself, how does it delude itself to begin with?

Tuesday, 29 January 2019

How to be self-attentive even while we are engaged in other activities?

A friend recently wrote to me asking how one can practise self-attentiveness while doing other things, so this article is adapted from the reply that I wrote to her.

The Tamil and Sanskrit terms that Bhagavan used to describe the practice mean or imply not only self-attentiveness but also self-investigation. In any investigation the primary tool is observation, but in self-investigation it is the only tool, so self-investigation and self-attentiveness mean the same and are therefore interchangeable terms. We investigate ourself by observing or attending to ourself.