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.
  1. ‘I-thought’ is ego, which is a semblance of awareness, an illusory appearance whose underlying reality is pure awareness
  2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 10 to 13: distinguishing intransitive awareness from transitive awareness
  3. As the subject or perceiver of all phenomena, ego is what projects everything, because projection (sṛṣṭi) is nothing other than perception (dṛṣṭi)
  4. Ego is the witness (sākṣi) in the sense that it is the perceiver, whereas pure awareness is the witness in the sense that it is that in the presence of which ego and all phenomena appear and disappear
  5. When ego merges back into pure awareness, everything perceived by it will merge along with it
1. ‘I-thought’ is ego, which is a semblance of awareness, an illusory appearance whose underlying reality is pure awareness

In his first email on this subject my friend wrote, ‘I have been doing self-inquiry for a long time now, and just wanted you to clarify the relationship between the I-Thought and Awareness. As per my recent experience, the I-thought arises in Awareness but seeing the “arising” does not remove the I-thought. How does one proceed?’, to which I replied:

What is referred to as the ‘I-thought’ in English books is what Bhagavan referred to as ‘நான் என்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu), the ‘thought called I’, in Nāṉ Ār? (paragraphs five, six and eight) and elsewhere, and as he says in paragraph eight, ’நானென்னும் நினைவே மனத்தின் முதல் நினைவு; அதுவே யகங்காரம்’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē maṉattiṉ mudal niṉaivu; aduvē y-ahaṅkāram), ‘The thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought of the mind; it alone is the ego’, so the ‘I-thought’ is just another name for ego.

So what is ego, this thought called I? It is the false awareness ‘I am this body’, which is neither our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness (cit), nor the body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), but a confused mixture of both, and hence it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi (the knot formed by the entanglement of awareness with an insentient body, binding them together as if they were one), as Bhagavan says in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
சடவுடனா னென்னாது சச்சித் துதியா
துடலளவா நானொன் றுதிக்கு — மிடையிலிது
சிச்சடக்கி ரந்திபந்தஞ் சீவனுட்ப மெய்யகந்தை
யிச்சமு சாரமன மெண்.

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

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

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

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

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

English translation: The insentient body does not say ‘I’; being-awareness does not rise; in between one thing, ‘I’, rises as the extent of the body. Know that this is the awareness-insentience-knot, bondage, 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].
Therefore ego, the thought called I, is neither real awareness (sat-cit) nor is it non-aware (jaḍa), but a confused mixture of both. Real awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, whereas ego is aware of itself and other things.

So what is the relationship between this false awareness called ego or ‘I-thought’ and real awareness? It is similar to the relationship between an illusory snake and the rope that seems to be it. The snake is just a rope, but the rope is not a snake. Likewise ego is nothing other than our real nature, which is pure self-awareness, but our real nature is not ego. It is what seems to be ego, but it is not actually ego, because in its clear view it alone exists, so there is no such thing as ego, there never was and there never will be.

If we look at the illusory snake carefully enough to see what it actually is, we will see it is just a rope, and was always a rope. No such thing as a snake ever existed there, even though it seemed to exist so long as we did not look at it carefully enough.

Likewise, if we, this ego, look at ourself carefully enough to see what we actually are, we will see we are just pure and infinite self-awareness, and were always that. No such thing as ego has ever existed, even though it seems to exist so long as we do not look at ourself carefully enough.

To distinguish ego from real awareness (cit), a term that is often used to describe it is cidābhāsa, which means a likeness or semblance of awareness, and can also mean a reflection of awareness (since a reflection is a likeness of whatever it reflects), so another analogy that illustrates the relationship between this seeming awareness called ego and real awareness is the moon and the sun. The moon seems to emit light, but that light is not its own light but just a reflection of the light of the sun. The light of the moon serves a limited purpose in dimly illumining this world in the absence of sunlight, but unlike the sun it does not give warmth or sustain life on earth. Likewise ego seems to be aware, but its awareness is not its own but just a reflection of the real light of pure self-awareness. Ego’s awareness serves a limited purpose in enabling us to be aware of the appearance of phenomena, but unlike real awareness it cannot enable us to see what we actually are. In fact it obscures our real nature, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we must be willing to surrender this ego by turning it back within to merge in its source, as Bhagavan says in verse 22 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
மதிக்கொளி தந்தம் மதிக்கு ளொளிரு
மதியினை யுள்ளே மடக்கிப் — பதியிற்
பதித்திடுத லன்றிப் பதியை மதியான்
மதித்திடுத லெங்ஙன் மதி.

matikkoḷi tandam matikku ḷoḷiru
matiyiṉai yuḷḷē maḍakkip — patiyiṯ
padittiḍuda laṉḏṟip patiyai matiyāṉ
madittiḍuda leṅṅaṉ madi
.

பதச்சேதம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதியில் பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): matikku oḷi tandu, a-m-matikkuḷ oḷirum matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki patiyil padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl madittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? madi.

அன்வயம்: மதிக்கு ஒளி தந்து, அம் மதிக்குள் ஒளிரும் பதியில் மதியினை உள்ளே மடக்கி பதித்திடுதல் அன்றி, பதியை மதியால் மதித்திடுதல் எங்ஙன்? மதி.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): matikku oḷi tandu, a-m-matikkuḷ oḷirum patiyil matiyiṉai uḷḷē maḍakki padittiḍudal aṉḏṟi, patiyai matiyāl madittiḍudal eṅṅaṉ? madi.

English translation: Consider, except by, turning the mind back within, completely immersing it in God, who shines within that mind giving light to the mind, how to fathom God by the mind?

Explanatory paraphrase: Consider, except by turning [bending or folding] mati [the mind or intellect] back within [and thereby] completely immersing [embedding or fixing] it in pati [the Lord or God], who shines [as pure awareness] within that mind giving light [of awareness] to the mind, how to fathom [or investigate and know] God by the mind?
You say, ‘As per my recent experience, the I-thought arises in Awareness but seeing the “arising” does not remove the I-thought’, but ego or ‘I-thought’ is not an object. It is the subject, that which is aware of itself and all objects. When it rises and stands it is what we seem to be, so that which sees its rising is only itself. In the clear view of pure self-awareness, it does not exist at all, so it never rises.

So long as we rise and stand as this ego we are aware of other things, so to remove ego we must turn our entire attention back to ourself so that we are aware of nothing other than ourself. When we do so, the ego that we seemed to be will dissolve and merge forever in our real nature, pure self-awareness, which is the source from which it arose.

So as you ask, ’How does one proceed?’ The only way to proceed is to repeatedly and persistently try to turn our entire attention back within to see ourself alone, as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 44 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai:
திரும்பி யகந்தனைத் தினமகக் கண்காண்
      டெரியுமென் றனையென் னருணாசலா

tirumbi yahandaṉaid diṉamahak kaṇkāṇ
      ṭeriyumeṉ ḏṟaṉaiyeṉ ṉaruṇācalā


பதச்சேதம்: ‘திரும்பி அகம் தனை தினம் அகக்கண் காண்; தெரியும்’ என்றனை என் அருணாசலா

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ‘tirumbi aham taṉai diṉam aha-k-kaṇ kāṇ; ṭeriyum’ eṉḏṟaṉai eṉ aruṇācalā

அன்வயம்: அருணாசலா, ‘அகம் திரும்பி, தினம் அகக்கண் தனை காண்; தெரியும்’ என்றனை. என்!

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aruṇācalā, ‘aham tirumbi, diṉam aha-k-kaṇ taṉai kāṇ; ṭeriyum’ eṉḏṟaṉai. eṉ!

English translation:: Arunachala, what [a wonder]! You said: ‘Turning back inside, see yourself daily with the inner eye [or an inward look]; it [the reality that always shines as ‘I alone am I’] will be known’.
‘தெரியும்’ (ṭeriyum), ‘It will be known’: this is the great assurance given to us by Bhagavan, so all we need do is to persevere in our practice of turning our mind back within in order to see what we actually are.

2. Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verses 10 to 13: distinguishing intransitive awareness from transitive awareness

After I wrote the above reply my friend wrote another email asking for further clarification, to which I replied:

When we talk about ‘awareness’ we need to be clear about what exactly we mean by the term, which varies according to context. As I explained in my previous reply, we need to distinguish real awareness (cit) from the semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), which is what is called ego, I-thought or mind.

To make this distinction clear, Bhagavan used two very significant terms in Tamil, சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu) and சுட்டற்ற அறிவு (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu). As you probably know, அறிவு (aṟivu) means awareness and சுட்டு (suṭṭu) means to point out or show, so சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu) means ‘showing awareness’, which implies awareness that ‘shows’, displays or cognises phenomena, whereas சுட்டற்ற அறிவு (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu) means ‘awareness devoid of showing’, which implies awareness that does not cognise any phenomena. In other words, சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu) is transitive awareness (awareness that is aware of objects or things other than itself), which is a mere semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), and சுட்டற்ற அறிவு (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu) is intransitive awareness (awareness that is aware of nothing other than itself), which is real awareness (cit or prajñāna) and what is otherwise called pure awareness, in the sense that it is awareness uncontaminated by any phenomena or objects, as we are in sleep.

Intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu) is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), whereas transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) is ego, the thought called ‘I’ (nāṉ eṉṉum niṉaivu), because our real nature is never aware of anything other than itself, whereas ego is always aware of things other than itself. Understanding this distinction is key to understanding what Bhagavan teaches us in verses 10, 11, 12 and 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, because in them he uses the term அறிவு (aṟivu), or in the case of verse 13 the equivalent term ஞானம் (ñāṉam), a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word jñāna, both of which mean awareness, to refer both to சுட்டற்ற அறிவு (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu) and சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), so we need to understand which of these two each occurrence of these words refers to.

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].
In the final clause of this verse, ‘தன்னை அறியும் அறிவே அறிவு’ (taṉṉai aṟiyum aṟivē aṟivu), ‘only the aṟivu that knows itself [the reality of ego, who knows everything else] is [real] aṟivu‘, the அறிவு (aṟivu) he is referring to is pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), whereas all the earlier occurrences of this term அறிவு (aṟivu), which means knowledge or awareness, refer to transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu). That is, the knowledge and ignorance he refers to in the first two and a half sentences is knowledge and ignorance of things other than ourself.

In verse 11 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 here, knowing or being aware of anything other than ourself is not real knowledge or awareness but only ignorance, and when we know ourself all knowledge and ignorance of other things will cease. Other things seem to exist only when we rise as ego, and when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, ego will cease, so all its knowledge and ignorance will cease along with it. Therefore what he clearly implies here is that suṭṭaṟivu or transitive awareness (awareness of anything other than ourself) is not real awareness but only ignorance, so it will cease to exist when we know ourself as we really are, which is suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu or pure intransitive awareness (awareness of nothing other than ourself).

As he explains in verse 12, real awareness is only self-awareness, which is intransitive, because it is devoid of awareness of anything else whatsoever:
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].
In the first sentence, ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்றது அறிவு ஆமே’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟadu aṟivu āmē), ‘What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance is actually knowledge [or awareness]’, Bhagavan clearly implies that that real அறிவு (aṟivu), awareness or knowledge, is only சுட்டற்ற அறிவு (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), intransitive awareness, because intransitive awareness is awareness devoid of knowledge or ignorance of anything else. In the second sentence, ‘அறியும் அது’ (aṟiyum adu), ‘that which is aware’ or ‘that which knows’, implies ‘சுட்டறியும் அது’ (suṭṭaṟiyum adu), ‘that which is transitively aware’ or ‘that which knows transitively’, namely ego, which is what knows or is aware of anything other than itself, so what he implies in this sentence, ‘அறியும் அது உண்மை அறிவு ஆகாது’ (aṟiyum adu uṇmai aṟivu āhādu), ‘That which is aware [or knows] is not real awareness’, is that சுட்டறிவு (suṭṭaṟivu), transitive awareness, or சுட்டறியும் அறிவு (suṭṭaṟiyum aṟivu), awareness that is transitively aware, is not real awareness.

The implication of these first two sentences is further emphasised by him in the third sentence: ‘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] awareness’. Transitive awareness (awareness of anything other than oneself) would be real awareness only if anything other than oneself actually existed, but since ‘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]’, as he says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, nothing other than oneself actually exists, so being aware of anything else is just an illusion. Therefore, since we are aware whether we are aware of the illusory appearance of anything else or not, our real nature is just awareness and not awareness of anything else. Other things seem to exist only in the view of ourself as ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are, so since in the view of our real nature (as in sleep) no other thing exists either to know or to make known, our real nature is pure intransitive awareness, which alone is actual awareness, and hence he ends this sentence by saying ‘தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘oneself is [real] awareness’.

Though real awareness is completely devoid of awareness of anything else, it is not emptiness, nothingness or a void, but is the fullness of pure intransitive awareness. This is why Bhagavan says in the next sentence, ‘பாழ் அன்று’ (pāṙ aṉḏṟu), ‘It [or oneself] is not void [emptiness, desolation, nothingness or non-existence]’.

What Bhagavan teaches us in this verse is expressed by him even more succinctly 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.
Since nothing other than oneself actually exists, being aware of other things is not real awareness, so real awareness is only awareness that is devoid of awareness or ignorance of anything else.

Finally in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says:
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.]
Like the Tamil word அறிவு (aṟivu), the Sanskrit word ज्ञान (jñāna) and its Tamil form ஞானம் (ñāṉam) mean both awareness and knowledge. When Bhagavan says in the first sentence, ‘ஞானமாம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam-ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is jñāna [awareness], alone is real’, he implies that oneself alone is what actually exists. By saying that oneself is awareness and that oneself alone is real, he also implies that oneself alone is real awareness. Awareness of anything else is not real awareness, because anything other than oneself does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, and awareness of what merely seems to exist is not real awareness but only ignorance.

This implication of the first sentence is stated more explicitly in the second sentence: ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Awareness that is manifold is ignorance’. Real awareness is one and indivisible, whereas transitive awareness is manifold, being divided as subject (ego or perceiver) and objects (phenomena or things perceived), or more precisely as the முப்புடி (muppuḍi) or त्रिपुटि (tripuṭi), the triad of perceiver, perceived and perceiving (that is, the perceiver, things perceived and the act, process or state of perceiving). Just as in a dream the perceiver, things perceived and the perceiving are all one awareness (namely the mind) that has divided itself as these three, so too in this waking state, which according to Bhagavan is just another dream. This divided awareness is what Bhagavan refers to here as ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is manifold’, which he says is அஞ்ஞானம் (aññāṉam), ajñāna or ignorance.

Bhagavan composed this verse on 30th July 1928, but earlier that day he had composed it in a slightly different form, which is now verse 12 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ. In this earlier version, instead of the phrase ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is manifold’, he used the phrase ‘நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa ñāṉam), ‘awareness that sees as many’, and said that ajñāna is nothing other than such awareness. The awareness that sees as many is ego, and what it sees as many is the one thing that actually exists, namely ‘ஞானமாம் தான்’ (ñāṉam-ām tāṉ), ‘oneself, who is awareness’, which is its own real nature (ātma-svarūpa). That is, when we rise as ego, we see ourself as many by seemingly dividing ourself as perceiver, perceived and perceiving. Seeing ourself thus is transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu), which is not real awareness but only ignorance.

The awareness that we actually are is pure intransitive awareness, because it alone actually exists, and hence it sees itself as one and not as many. It is awareness that is not divided as perceiver, perceived and perceiving, because it is not aware of anything other than itself, and itself is not an object of its awareness. That is, it is awareness in which what is aware, what it is aware of and its being aware are all one and indivisible.

Since oneself, who is pure intransitive awareness (jñāna), alone is real, awareness that sees the one as many is not only ignorance (ajñāna) but also unreal. That is, it does not actually exist, even though it seems to exist. It is just an illusory appearance, so it is not what it seems to be, because in substance it is nothing other than oneself, who is real awareness, as Bhagavan says in the third sentence of this verse: ‘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’.

To illustrate this, in the final sentences Bhagavan gives a simple analogy: ‘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?’ In other words, what is real is only the substance, which is permanent, and any forms in which the substance appears are just a transitory appearance and hence unreal. Pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu) alone is the substance (vastu or poruḷ), which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), whereas transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu) is just an unreal appearance.

3. As the subject or perceiver of all phenomena, ego is what projects everything, because projection (sṛṣṭi) is nothing other than perception (dṛṣṭi)

Once we have clearly understood this crucial distinction between intransitive awareness and transitive awareness pointed out by Bhagavan, answering all the points you raised in your most recent email becomes easy.

Firstly you say, ‘My understanding based on classical Vedanta was that Awareness was the subject, the ground of being, from which everything arises, including the thought I’, but this requires some clarification. The awareness that is the ground of being, from which ego and everything else arises, is pure intransitive awareness, whereas the awareness that is the subject (the perceiver of everything else) is ego, which is transitive awareness. In this context the term ‘subject’ means the perceiver, and awareness is the subject only when it perceives objects. However, the awareness that perceives objects or phenomena is not real awareness, which is intransitive, but only ego, which is transitively aware.

Then you say, ‘Awareness is always Self-aware’. This is true of both intransitive and transitive awareness. However, whereas intransitive awareness (our real nature) is never aware of anything other than itself, transitive awareness (ego, the thought called I) is aware both of itself and of other things. This is the crucial distinction between them. Moreover, though ego is aware of itself, it is not aware of itself as it actually is, because what it actually is is just pure intransitive awareness, whereas it is aware of itself as transitive awareness (a false awareness that is aware of itself as ‘I am this body’ and that is consequently aware of other things).

Then you say, ‘What you are saying is the Ego/Witness the “I thought” is non-different from Awareness, meaning I-thought is a projection of Awareness but is not real Awareness’. Yes, as Bhagavan implied in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ego, the unreal awareness that sees the one as many, is not other than ourself, the one real awareness, just as a gold ornament is not other than the gold that is its substance, and just as an illusory snake is not other than the rope that seems to be it. However it is not correct to say that ego, the thought called I, is ‘a projection of Awareness’, because real awareness does not project anything, since its nature is not to do anything but just to be.

In the clear view of real awareness (pure intransitive awareness, which is what we actually are) neither ego nor anything exists or even seems to exist, so there is no question of pure awareness projecting anything or doing anything. Both ego and all other things seem to exist only in the view of ego itself, so what projects ego and everything else is only ego, as Bhagavan implies in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
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.
All phenomena are thoughts, in the sense that they are all mental phenomena, even if they seem to be physical, and the mind projects them just by perceiving them. In other words, projection or creation (sṛṣṭi) is nothing other than perception (dṛṣṭi). Just as in dream we project a world merely by perceiving it, so we create all phenomena merely by perceiving them. Therefore what projects all thoughts or phenomena is only the perceiving element of the mind, namely ego, which is the first of all thoughts, the thought called I. This is why Bhagavan says that the mind makes all thoughts appear, but that if we put aside all thoughts and look, we will see that there is no such thing as mind, because the very nature of the mind is only thoughts.

4. Ego is the witness (sākṣi) in the sense that it is the perceiver, whereas pure awareness is the witness in the sense that it is that in the presence of which ego and all phenomena appear and disappear

You then ask, ‘Can you clarify if the Witness (The Seer) is the I-thought or is it Awareness?’, but the exact sense in which the term ‘witness’ (sākṣi) is used varies according to context. When it is used in the sense of the seer or perceiver (that which is aware of phenomena) it refers to ego, the thought called I, which is transitive awareness (suṭṭaṟivu), but in other contexts it can refer to our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), in which case it does not mean that our real nature perceives anything other than itself, but merely that our real nature is that in the presence of which (but not in the view of which) ego and all phenomena appear and disappear, as Bhagavan used to explain.

You then say, ‘Based on my own practice, The Witness/Ego is different from Awareness but is held up/supported by Awareness’. If we mistake a rope to be a snake, what the snake actually is is just a rope, so in this sense the snake is not different from the rope, but as a snake it is different. Likewise, what ego actually is is just pure intransitive awareness, so in this sense ego is not different from pure intransitive awareness, but as ego it is different, because it is transitive awareness. That is, the difference between ego and pure awareness is not a difference in substance but a difference in appearance, but it is nevertheless a very significant difference, because ego is nothing but an appearance. So long as we are aware of phenomena of any kind whatsoever, we are aware of ourself as ego, which is transitive awareness, not as we actually are, which is pure intransitive awareness. Therefore so long as we are aware of phenomena, we need to distinguish ego from pure awareness, but when we turn our attention back to ourself keenly enough, we will see that what we mistook to be ego is actually just pure awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself.

5. When ego merges back into pure awareness, everything perceived by it will merge along with it

Finally you ask, ‘Based on your comments below [in my previous email, which is now the first section of this article], are you saying that the Witness/I thought/Ego collapses into itself in the last stage? Or does the Witness remain in the end? The analogy I was taught was that knowing that it is mirage does not mean that the illusion of water disappears, it just means that you won’t drink the water to quench your thirst’. When we look at the illusory snake keenly enough, we will see that it is just a rope, so we can then say metaphorically that the snake has merged or collapsed back into its source, the rope. Likewise, when we look at ego keenly enough, we will see that it is just pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so we can then say metaphorically that ego has merged or collapsed back into its source, our real nature.

What then remains is only pure awareness, in the clear view of which nothing else ever exists or even seems to exist. This is the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya), which is ajāta, the truth that nothing has ever been born, come into existence or appeared. What exists alone exists, as it has always existed, without ever changing in any way. It is ēkam ēva advitīyam, one only without a second.

Regarding the popular analogy of a mirage not disappearing when it is seen to be a mirage, which is intended to imply that phenomena do not disappear when ego merges back into its source, this is what is said to suit the minds of dull (less keen and earnest) aspirants (mandādhikāris), who are not willing to accept that our entire life is just a dream, and that therefore no phenomena exist except in the view of the dreamer, namely ego. For more keen, intense and earnest aspirants (tīvrādhikāris), who are willing to accept this, the truth is told in an undiluted manner, namely that just as the snake is a misperception of a rope and therefore disappears as soon as the rope is perceived as it is, all phenomena are a misperception of ourself and will therefore disappear as soon as we are aware of ourself as we actually are (which is what Bhagavan implies in the final sentence of verse 11 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை அறிய, அறிவு அறியாமை அறும்’ (aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai aṟiya, aṟivu aṟiyāmai aṟum), ‘When one knows [the reality of] oneself [the ego], the support for knowledge and the other, knowledge and ignorance [about everything else] will cease’).

Bhagavan expressed this undiluted truth clearly and unequivocally in the third and fourth paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār?, the relevant portions of which I cited in my previous article, 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. What Bhagavan teaches us in these two paragraphs is in perfect accord with our own experience, because in waking and dream we rise and stand as ego, and consequently we perceive phenomena, whereas in sleep we do not rise or stand as ego, and consequently we do not perceive any phenomena. Since phenomena do not appear in the temporary absence of ego, as in sleep, why should we suppose that they appear when ego has been eradicated forever?

In the absence of ego, who is there to perceive any phenomena? Our real nature does not perceive them, because it is pure and infinite awareness, in whose clear view nothing other than itself exists. As Bhagavan says in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
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 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 as Bhagavan implies in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, we come into existence as ego only by projecting and grasping the form of a body as ourself. Therefore when he says in the first sentence of this verse, ‘உருவம் தான் ஆயின், உலகு பரம் அற்று ஆம்’ (uruvam tāṉ āyiṉ, ulahu param aṯṟu ām), ‘If oneself is a form, the world and God will be likewise’, what he implies is that whenever we rise as ego we will see the world and God as if they were forms, things separate from the form we then mistake ourself to be.

Therefore if we do not rise as ego, there is no one to see the world or God as forms, and no means to do so, as he implies in the subsequent two sentences by asking rhetorically: ‘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 [to see them]?’ That is, as he implies in the next sentence, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’, the nature of what is perceived cannot be other than the nature of the eye (or awareness) that perceives it. If the eye is a form, it will see only forms, and if it is formless, it will see only formlessness.

Here the term கண் (kaṇ), which literally means ‘eye’, is a metaphor for what is aware, so in the final sentence Bhagavan explains the nature of real awareness: ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’. That is, the awareness that we actually are is infinite awareness, and being infinite it is formless. Therefore in the clear view of our real nature, no forms or phenomena exist at all, so our real nature is pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), awareness that is never aware of anything other than itself.

111 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

The following needs repetition

Michael ends the first section of this article as follows:

Bhagavan teaches us in verse 44 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai:

English translation:: Arunachala, what [a wonder]! You said: ‘Turning back inside, see yourself daily with the inner eye [or an inward look]; it [the reality that always shines as ‘I alone am I’] will be known’.

‘தெரியும்’ (ṭeriyum), ‘It will be known’: this is the great assurance given to us by Bhagavan, so all we need do is to persevere in our practice of turning our mind back within in order to see what we actually are.
(end of the extract)

Yes, as Michael writes, it indeed is a great assurance given to us by Bhagavan. Bhagavan is clearly implying that we cannot fail if we turn within daily – ‘it will be known’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We have cultivated all these vasanas that drag our minds outwards

People say ‘oh, my thoughts come and trouble me’ or ‘my vasanas make me rise as ego’ and so on. But whose vasanas are they? They are our vasanas. It is our likes and dislikes that constitute our vasanas. Vasanas are not something apart from us? Where do vasanas get their strength from? They get their strength from us. It is we who have the liking to think about other things rather than to attend to ourself.

Therefore we have cultivated all these vasanas that drag our minds outwards. So by constant effort to turn within, we have to weaken these vasanas and strengthen the opposite vasana, the sat-vasana – love just to be as we actually are. So love is the key – without bhakti there is no salvation.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-10-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 9

Sanjay Lohia said...

What cannot be explained by science is who is experiencing all this

Science is only investigating what is outside. Science cannot investigate ‘who am I?’ In the view of science, we are this body and our thoughts are just electro-chemical activity in our brain and nervous system. But our experience is quite different. If you go for a brain scan, you will see all sorts of activity going on in your brain, but that is not what we are experiencing. What we are experiencing is thoughts, desires, fears..., and these cannot be explained by science, and above all what cannot be explained by science is who is experiencing all this.

So the ultimate science is para-vidya, the science taught to us be Bhagavan, the science of self-investigation.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-10-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 9 (1:26)

Reflection: So we are all great spiritual-scientists!

Sanjay Lohia said...

The nature of knowledge that is to be conveyed is pure self-awareness, nature of which is silence

Bhagavan’s real teaching is only silence - teaching means conveying knowledge. But the nature of knowledge that is to be conveyed is pure self-awareness, nature of which is silence. How to teach silence except by silence? But then where does Bhagavan’s teachings in words fit into his real teachings? He teaches us in words that if we want to experience silence, we have to turn within – ‘turning back within daily see yourself with your inner eyes, and it will be known’.

So because we are now turned outwards, he has to appear outside to tell us ‘turn within’. Bhagavan, who is the very embodiment of silence, manifested in human form only to tell us ‘turn within’. Silence, our real nature and Bhagavan are one and the same.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-10-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 9 (39:00)

Rob P said...

Sanjay - "So we are all great spiritual-scientists!"

We're not though are we? in fact we very poor spiritual-scientists, who repeatedly find ourselves starting with the same question! Over and over....

Sanjay Lohia said...

So the love affair continues…

In trying to understand Bhagavan’s teachings, we are trying to understand that which beyond our understanding, we are trying to grasp that which is beyond our grasp. However, in spite of this, we cannot give up trying to go deeper and deeper within his teachings because there is nothing better to do. His teachings are so fascinating, so full of wonderful possibilities, that we just can’t leave it now. We have become addicted to Bhagavan and his teachings.

So the love affair continues…

Why do we stick to understanding more and more of these teachings? Why does it interest us so much? It is because we have applied his teachings in practice to some extent, and this has convinced us that Bhagavan’s teachings are the real thing. It is pointing us in the right direction. We can feel our attachments towards outside things waning and our love just to be waxing. We have tasted a few drops of nectar which is within the core of our being. This motives us to stick to his teachings.

So the love affair continues…


Sanjay Lohia said...

Rob P, yes, from one perspective, we indeed are ‘poor spiritual-scientists’ because we are trying to find out that which should be so obvious to us. I am trying to find me, isn’t that an indication that I am a poor scientist? However, at least, we are trying to investigate the only thing which is worth investigating. Scientists investigate what is not, but we are trying to investigate what is.

So in this sense, our investigation is far-far superior to any other investigation could ever be.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The mind is not something within the brain; the brain is something within the mind

Scientists are looking for answers outside themselves, aren’t they? The general view of most scientists and modern philosophers is that mind is something within the brain. But where is the brain? Where is this whole universe? It is in our mind, isn’t it? So long as we take this physical, material world, to be the primary thing, we are looking in the wrong direction. To whom does this material world seem to exist? When does this material world seem to exist? It exists only when we see it.

So what comes first: the material universe or the consciousness that is aware of the material world? According to Bhagavan, they arise and subside simultaneously, but it is only in the view of mind that the world shines. But neither the mind nor the world is real. That from which they appear and that into which they disappear is porul, the reality that Bhagavan wants us to see, and to see that we have to turn within.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-09-16 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 8 (1:14)

Reflection: Scientists and philosophers put the cart before the horse. We naturally feel that our thinking is taking place within our brain, but this is putting the cart before the horse. Who is aware of the brain? It is we who are aware of it, and ‘we’ here means our mind. The mind has to arise first before it can be aware of anything else. The mind is the subject, and the brain, world etc. are objects. Chronologically, the subject has to arise before it can aware of any objects.

Though the subject and object arise simultaneously, it is only by the subject that objects can appear. So subject or ego is the horse and everything else is cart. The horse has to pull the cart.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Through the name and form of Ramana, who used to be Venkataraman, what shone was only Bhagavan, which is the supreme reality. We can call this reality brahman, God, guru or whatever. There was no ego there because that ego, which appeared as Venkataraman, was finished at the age of 16.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-09-16 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 8 (1.35)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Melt me as love in you

Sri Arunachala Aksaramanalai is a gem. It is simply unmatched as a devotional poem. Bhagavan sings in verse 101 of this poem:

O Arunachala! like ice in water, graciously melt me as love in you, the form of love.

Sadhu Om’s Note: The solid form of a piece of ice is merely an unreal adjunct or upadhi, for its reality or substance is nothing but water. Likewise, the mind or individuality of the devotee is merely an unreal adjunct, for his reality is nothing but Arunachala (self) which is the unlimited form of love. When ice melts in water, it loses all individuality or separateness and becomes one with water. Likewise, when the mind merges in self it loses its individuality and becomes one with self. Thus in this verse, the devotee prays directly for the state of non-dual union with self, the reality.

Reflection: Some feel that Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation is a dry path fit only for some intellectuals. They feel they would rather follow a path of love and devotion. They are not able to understand that Bhagavan’s path is a path of pure love. In order to practise self-investigation we need great love for ourself, and eventually, only our all-consuming love will enable us to experience ourself as we actually are.

As ego, we are like ice, which is nothing but water but has nevertheless become solid because of the cold temperature. Likewise, our ego is a solidified self, and what makes it solid are all the adjuncts that it has taken on as itself. Once we start self-investigation, this solidity of ego starts melting – that is, its adjuncts start becoming less prominent. Eventually, ego loses all its adjuncts and becomes one with our real self, but it had no separate existence even in the first place.

This verse 101 is a favourite of Michael. Bhagavan used to say that bhakti is the mother of jnana. This verse shows us why it is so.

Unknown said...

This article of

Wednesday, 20 February 2019
What is the relationship between the ‘I-thought’ and awareness?

Answers many of my questions on the topic I myself asked Mr.James elsewhere. Thanks for the answers made in such detail Mr. James. Much obliged indeed.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we go deep into the path of self-surrender, we cannot avoid coming to the path of self-investigation

A friend: We should leave it all to Bhagavan and be concerned about only our true self. Correct?

Michael: This is the path of self-surrender, but also you are beginning to bring in self-investigation here. If we leave everything to Bhagavan and are concerned only about true self, what are we attending to? We are attending only to ourself. So this expresses very nicely how the path of self-surrender automatically merges in the path of self-investigation.

So if we go deep into the path of self-surrender, we cannot avoid coming to the path of self-investigation because we are leaving all thoughts about everything else to Bhagavan. When we leave all thoughts and concerns, what remains? We are there alone.

Edited extract from the video: 2019-02-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: discussion with Michael James on self-investigation and self-surrender (21:00)


Sanjay Lohia said...

The worst sin is believing that we are sinners. Ego is the sinner, but are we this ego?

Extract from the video: 2019-02-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: discussion with Michael James on self-investigation and self-surrender (1:11)

Sanjay Lohia said...

The sign of true surrender is happiness

A friend: What does surrender mean in daily life?

Michael: Words can only point. We can’t express what self-surrender is in words. The best we can say is letting go of our concerns – being happy whatever happens. The sign of true self-surrender is happiness. If we want to follow Bhagavan’s path, we have to be happy, but our happiness should not depend on external circumstances. We have to find that happiness within us. To the extent that we find happiness within us, to that extent we will be willing to let go of everything else.

So there is only one way to learn the path of surrender: begin surrendering little by little. Let go of those desires, let go of those concerns – let go of any interest in anything other than pure awareness that is shining in our heart as ‘I’. We can learn to surrender only by trying to surrender.

We will fail a hundred times, but it does not matter how many times we fail. We continue trying.

Edited extract from the video - 2019-02-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: discussion with Michael James on self-investigation and self-surrender (1:14)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s ultimate aim is to save each one of us

A friend: My nephew has acquired this bad habit of taking drugs. Sometimes I do not even trust Bhagavan’s teachings because even this cannot help my nephew, so it seems.

Michael: Sometimes when things happen which are very-very upsetting, often we cannot do anything to help. But you can calm your mind by remembering that your nephew is as much a child of Bhagavan as you are. Just like Bhagavan is taking such good care of you – showing you so much kindness – he is likewise taking care of everyone else also. He takes care of each of us in a way that is appropriate to us at that time.

So sometimes he allows us to undergo bad experiences, he allows us to make wrong choices because that is the best way for us to learn. So even if you can do nothing to help your nephew, you can be sure that Bhagavan is taking perfect care of him because Bhagavan is pure love. So his ultimate aim is to save each one of us. Save us from what? Save us from ourself – that is, from this ego.

So each of us has our own weaknesses, but Bhagavan knows how to slowly and gradually root these out. So whatever your nephew is undergoing, whatever made him make that choice to take those drugs, Bhagavan knows how to deal with all these things. He is doing things slowly and gently but in the best way possible. So trust him – trust his love.

Edited extract from the video: 2019-02-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: discussion with Michael James on self-investigation and self-surrender (1:30)

Reflection: ‘So trust Bhagavan – trust his love’. Yes, there is no other way.


Sanjay Lohia said...

A friend emailed to me and wrote as follows:

A devotee messaged me about the condition of the squirrel that had fallen out of its nest in the Shrine. While I assured her that it was alright so far as we can see, it struck me that our concern for the squirrel has arisen because we saw it. There are millions of creatures on this earth which we cannot see and about which we do not know. Who is taking care of all of them? We look at the world with our puny vision. Bhagavan's love is boundless.

My reply to her was as follows:

Yes, Bhagavan’s love is boundless because Bhagavan is boundless, and since his very nature is love, his love has to be boundless. You correctly say that ‘it struck me that our concern for the squirrel has arisen because we saw it’. Yes, not only we are concerned about people and things because we experience them, but, according to Bhagavan, this world exists only when we see it or because we see it. How does our dream world come into existence? It comes into existence only after we project it and see it. Bhagavan teaches us in verse 26 of Ulladu Narpadu:

If the 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 the 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] the 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].

Bhagavan has taught us drsti-srsti-vada – that is, our very sight creates this world.

So when we rise as ego and experience ourself as a person – Sanjay, Sarada or whatever – we can be sure that Bhagavan is taking care of this person. However, why should we rise as this ego in the first place and thereby trouble Bhagavan by compelling him to take care of us? Why not remain always subsided?



Sanjay Lohia said...

'Bhagavan has already decided the husband for your daughter' – Michael

There was a time when we were quite concerned about the marriage of our daughter because we were not able to find a suitable match for her. When I informed this situation to Michael, this is what he wrote to me:

Bhagavan knows what is best, and he has already decided the husband for your daughter, so you just have to wait and see, because your mind, speech and body will be made to do whatever is necessary to bring that about.

Now my daughter is engaged and I can clearly see the truth behind Michael’s words. The match was indeed decided, and Bhagavan is indeed using our mind, speech and body to make whatever arrangements need to be made for this marriage.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan told me: 'Your daughter is my daughter and so her responsibility is my responsibility'

I had the following (imaginary) conversation with Bhagavan recently:

Sanjay: Bhagavan, as you know, my daughter is getting married in April 2019. I seek your protection, blessing and guidance. Indian marriages are quite a complicated affair, and hence not that easy.

Bhagavan: You say ‘my daughter’, but she is my daughter and so her responsibility is mine. In my view, all are my children, and therefore I am as much responsible for your ‘daughter’ and I am for my son, which you would call your daughter’s husband. So leave everything to me and rest in peace.

Sanjay: It is not that easy. I still feel that ‘I have to do this; I have to do that’.

Bhagavan: You think this way because you do not trust me – you do not trust my power, my love and my knowledge.

Sanjay: How to develop this trust?

Bhagavan: By trying to surrender all your burdens to me. I am like a train which is carrying your's and your daughter’s burden. You feel that her responsibility is yours, but that is your delusion.

Sanjay: I will try to surrender all my burdens at your feet.

Bhagavan: Try little by little. You may fail a hundred times but it doesn’t matter, as long as you keep trying.

Sanjay: Yes, Bhagavan, I will keep trying as long as you keep guiding me.

Bhagavan: If you want peace there is no other alternative. You have to surrender to me all your problems and responsibilities. So try practising self-surrender and self-investigation as much as possible. You are sure to succeed sooner or later.

Sanjay: Thank you Bhagavan. I will try my best and leave the rest to your grace.

Bhagavan: Very good!

morrison said...

I found this quote from a comment Aham made on 26 February 2019 at 22:19 and would like some clarification please. This is from the previous article, not the current article.

RM: In the realised man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him.

thank you

Michael James said...

Morrison, there is an obvious contradiction in that statement, ‘In the realised man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him’, because if ‘the Self alone remains’, then there is no mind, no activity and no ‘realised man’.

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]’, so whatever else seems to exist is just an illusory appearance, and illusory appearances seem to exist only in the view of ego, which is itself just an illusory appearance.

The words ‘In the realised man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him’ are probably not a very accurate translation or recording of whatever Bhagavan said in Tamil, but if he did say something to that effect, he would have expected more mature aspirants to understand that the mind of the ātma-jñāni and its activity or inactivity seem to exist only in the self-ignorant view of ego, which sees the ātma-jñāni as if it were a person, and not in the view of the ātma-jñāni, who is nothing other than ātma-svarūpa, which is just pure awareness and alone exists. This is clearly indicated by him in verse 31 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham, in which he compares the ātma-jñāni to a person sleeping in a cart. Just as such a person is not aware of the cart or whether it is moving, standing still or unyoked, the ātma-jñāni is not aware any body or mind or whether they are active or inactive.

The sentence ‘In the realised man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him’ is an extract from the final paragraph of section 97 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, page 95), in which it is recorded that Bhagavan said: ‘There is no mind to control if you realise the Self. The mind vanishing, the Self shines forth. In the realised man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him’. What is called ‘self-realisation’ (ātma-jñāna or self-knowledge) is what remains when the mind is annihilated along with its root, the ego, so as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of this passage, there is no mind in the state of self-realisation. Only when mind vanishes entirely and forever does our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) shine forth.

morrison said...

Michael
Thanks for the clarification.

Unknown said...

There is absolutely no question that Sri Ramana Maharshi was the supreme giant and master of Self-realization (probably the only one in recent times since 1950 to have done so) but even he must have retained his Satvic ego or the pure mind to function in the world in a physical body as long as his body was alive in order to function in the world.

Unknown said...

So the quote ‘In the realized man the mind may be active or inactive, the Self alone remains for him’ end quote,

applies 100% only to a Self-realized supreme master like Sri Ramana Maharshi who remained in sahaja samadhi his entire lifetime after his age 15 or so when he actually experienced his own ego death which perished in his Heart or the Self (as Sri Ramana himself said) unlike the neo-advaitins and other thousands of charlatans of today who have had no such ego death experience and do not remain in sahaja samadhi for their entire lifetime as did the one and only remarkable and par-excellence Sri Ramana Maharshi.

Aham said...

.


"the ātma-jñāni is not aware any body or mind or whether they are active or inactive."


It is curious. Simultaneously Sri Ramana was not aware of body or mind, and yet spent a lifetime expounding these very subjects.

Ramana has also been recorded as saying when referring to himself, "I thought to myself", "thinking to myself", "after thinking" etc (pg 241, Living by the words of Bhagavan).

That said, I feel no need to "figure it out", just sharing observations.


.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our true nature does not produce anything unreal

Question: Is our true self barren – like a barren woman?

Michael: It is barren in the sense that it does not produce anything, but barren isn’t a very complimentary term. Barren is a negative term. A barren field is a field that does not produce any crops. However, our true nature is the fullness of absolute happiness. Would you call infinite happiness barren?

What are we all looking for? We are all looking for happiness. Our true nature is happiness, and it does not produce anything unreal. It does not produce unhappiness. It does not produce anything other than itself. What it is is pure and infinite sat-chit-ananda. What more than that do you want? The whole trouble starts because we want something more than that.

So from one perspective, we can say that our real nature is barren, but that is not a very helpful perspective. Why? It is because that is seeing it from the point of view of ego who is valuing all these things.

Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-02 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26 (50:00)



Sanjay Lohia said...

The paramount importance of verses 25 and 26 of Ulladu Narpadu

If we understand verses 25 and 26 of Ulladu Narpadu, we have understood the whole of Bhagavan’s teachings. We have understood the path of self-investigation; we have understood the path of self-surrender. We have understood the secret of creation. We have understood all that needs to be understood for following the spiritual path

Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-02 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 26 (1:01)

Aham said...

.


Thank you Mr Lohia.

I went and read Sri Ramana's verses and Mr James' commentary on those verses.

"If it (ego) seeks (itself), it will take flight. Investigate." (verse 25, Ulladu Narpadu, Sri Ramana)

"But since the ego has no form of its own, if it tries to attend to itself, the first person or subject, it will lose its strength, subside and disappear, because without any form to attend to, it cannot stand." (Mr James)

"if it tries to attend to itself, the first person or subject".....on reading this it struck me that in the name of sadhana we often mistakenly focus attention upon the second and third person (namely thoughts, the written and spoken word). This may be good for concentration, but if we stay there, we remain on a roundabout. Sadhana becomes one more vasana.

Holding the "I" sense and ignoring its products (thoughts) is the practice.

Asked who wakes up from sleep you say ''I''. Now you are told to hold fast to this ''I''. If it is done the eternal being will reveal itself. (Sri Ramana)

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Sanjay Lohia said...

We do not have to do good; we have to be good

We do not have to do good and to avoid bad; we have to be good and to avoid being bad. How to be good? We are good to the extent we are free of selfishness. And what is the root of all selfishness? It is ego.

There are so many injustices in this world – there is so much suffering. We can’t solve all these problems. People have been trying to do good in this world for millennia, but the world continues to be as it is. It is because there are so many egos in this world. We are all selfish – we all want more for ourself. So this world will never be a perfect place.

The root of all imperfections is ego, and we can root out the ego and thus end all bad only by investigating this ego.

Edited extract from the video 2017-08-05 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 7 (1:02)

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"It is because there are so many egos in this world."
Are we not taught eka jiva jada i.e. that there is only one ego ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are no better than a terminally ill patient

A terminally ill patient may have a few days, weeks, months or maybe a few years to live, but are we any better? No, we may extend our life span to a few decades but still, we are also ill from one perspective because this body can never be 100% healthy. From the moment it is born, it is moving towards its own destruction. Who knows, our next moment could be our last moment.

Bhagavan used to say that ‘the body itself is a disease’. However, he once told Ramaswamy Iyer, ‘Have the confidence that the body’s condition will not affect you. Act with faith in this’. So we may consider our body to be perfectly healthy or may consider it to be terminally ill, but our body’s condition should not affect us in any way. This is because we are the undying, eternal, unborn reality in whose view this body is non-existent. So we should completely ignore the condition of our body and rest peacefully in our true nature.

Sanjay Lohia said...

'I' is special, so when we take this person to be 'I', this person becomes special

Everyone feels that they are special – even an ant feels that it is special in its own way. 'I' is special, so when we take this person to be 'I', this person becomes special. But is this person what we really are? That is what we are here to question and investigate.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-08-05 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 7 (1:29)

Reflection: Yes, we all feel that we are special or unique. Why? It is because what is unique is ourself as we really are, but since we take ourself to be this person – Sanjay, Ram or whatever – we feel that this person is special. I feel that Bhagavan loves me in a special way. I feel that my devotion to Bhagavan is special so he loves me in a special way and so on. However, Bhagavan does not love me in a special way because in his perfect non-dual view there is no difference between me, Ram, a dog, an ant and so on.

So how can Bhagavan love me in some special way? Yes, he does love me – in fact, he loves me as himself, but there is no partiality in his love. His love is equal for all.

Also Unknown said...

Regarding the doctrine of "no thought - no world": Bhagavan distinguished between bodies and gave advice custom tailored to the particular bodies which showed up. "What" distinguished between these bodies but a mind and subsequent thoughts?!

Consequently thoughts (and with that the mind too) do not disappear, just the attachment to them. They can spontaneously arise in a Jnani as needed and then disappear. Did these spontaneous thoughts by Bhagavan create, when appearing, the phenomenal world? No, because there was no iota of attachment left, the rope was bunt.

Unknown said...

comment of 9 March 2019 at 15:30 went abegging. What a shame.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
correction: of course it should be: eka jiva vada

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 1.,
"Real awareness is not aware of anything other than itself, whereas ego is aware of itself and other things."
To the lay mind without much reflection therefore ego could appear as the greater and fuller awareness whereas 'real awareness' with its limited awareness of being aware only of itself (could appear) as a mere restrictedness or restriction.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
"So what is ego, this thought called I? It is the false awareness ‘I am this body’, which is neither our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness (cit), nor the body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), but a confused mixture of both, and hence it is called cit-jaḍa-granthi (the knot formed by the entanglement of awareness with an insentient body, binding them together as if they were one"...

It is said that the body consists of five sheets. Which of its sheets is non-aware (jada) or insentient ?
What exactly means insentience in this context ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 5., verse 4 of UN,
"In the absence of ego, who is there to perceive any phenomena? Our real nature does not perceive them, because it is pure and infinite awareness, in whose clear view nothing other than itself exists. As Bhagavan says in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:

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.

‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’, the nature of what is perceived cannot be other than the nature of the eye (or awareness) that perceives it. If the eye is a form, it will see only forms, and if it is formless, it will see only formlessness.

‘The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’. That is, the awareness that we actually are is infinite awareness, and being infinite it is formless."

One might ask what advantage could be to see only formlessness instead of forms.

Rajat Sancheti said...

I don't understand the difference between being 'self aware' and being 'attentively self aware'. How are we always self aware, even while aware of other things? If I am aware of a table, I am only aware of the table. Even though I say in the last sentence - 'I Am aware of the table', it seems like only a language thing, because I'm not aware both of I (either attentively or unattentively) and the table in being aware of the table, but only of the table. At least that's how it appears to me. To be self aware means to be aware of myself. In being aware of the table, it is true that myself is aware of the table, but it does not seem to me that myself is aware both of the table and of myself or even of myself being aware of the table.
I ask so that I can use this as a clue in my practice if the matter is clear to me which unfortunately it is not currently.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Rajat, self-awareness is our true nature so we are always self-aware. However, though we are always self-aware, we are usually negligently self-aware. So it is only by this negligent self-awareness that we project other things in our awareness. I can be aware of a table only when I am negligently self-aware. So when we practise self-attentiveness, we need to ignore everything else and try to remain attentively self-aware. This is all we need to understand and practice. Other things will become clear as we proceed with our practice.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 3.,
"This is why Bhagavan says that the mind makes all thoughts appear, but that if we put aside all thoughts and look, we will see that there is no such thing as mind, because the very nature of the mind is only thoughts."
Unfortunately, I cannot stop me breaking out in yammering. Because I experience myself most of my time as nothing other than a platform or playground of agitating thoughts, I was almost never able to completely put aside all thoughts and ...see that there is no such thing as mind...

Therefore I am not able to recognize that "all phenomena are thoughts, in the sense that they are all mental phenomena, even if they seem to be physical, and the mind projects them just by perceiving them."
That "in other words, projection or creation (sṛṣṭi) is nothing other than perception (dṛṣṭi)" I cannot really relive or comprehend.
I cannot even confirm that..."in dream we project a world merely by perceiving it, so we create all phenomena merely by perceiving them." Rather in dream I experience myself as mainly reacting to the just perceived scene/setting.
Therefore I consequently cannot acknowledge the statement "...what projects all thoughts or phenomena is only the perceiving element of the mind, namely ego, which is the first of all thoughts, the thought called I."
Owing to lack of the necessary clear view I have no other choice but to crusade against all the unconscious swathes of mist by my own efforts of learning only slowly from own experiences. So I have clearly to understand that I am not one of the "more keen, intense and earnest aspirants (tīvrādhikāris)". But I continue to pin my hopes on the grace of Arunachala-Ramana that my ability to comprehend Bhagavan's teaching in depth will gradually grow.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 4.,
"...what ego actually is is just pure intransitive awareness, so in this sense ego is not different from pure intransitive awareness, but as ego it is different, because it is transitive awareness. That is, the difference between ego and pure awareness is not a difference in substance but a difference in appearance, but it is nevertheless a very significant difference, because ego is nothing but an appearance."

"...but when we turn our attention back to ourself keenly enough, we will see that what we mistook to be ego is actually just pure awareness, which is never aware of anything other than itself."
That ego as a mere transitive awareness and as such only an appearance is actually just pure awareness is indeed a gigantic paradox but it is or seems to be a fact that I am painfully deprived by ego of the ability of being aware of my real nature which is said to be pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu).

Josef Bruckner said...

Our real nature appears as ego which is the false appearance. If we look close and carefully to this ego, according to Bhagavan it will disappear.
But the bad thing is that just ego prevents me to investigate itself keenly enough. Is that not a picture of misery and a crying shame ? :-)
What will be the way out of this hopelessness ?

Michael James said...

Rajat, from what you write in your comment, especially, ‘In being aware of the table, it is true that myself is aware of the table, but it does not seem to me that myself is aware both of the table and of myself or even of myself being aware of the table’, it seems that you believe that you are aware only of objects and not of the subject (namely yourself, the one who is aware of objects), so since you yourself are not an object, it seems to you that you are not aware of yourself. As the subject, of course you are not an object of your awareness, but that does not mean that you are not aware of yourself. Your are aware of yourself, not as an object but as the subject, as the ‘I’ who is aware of objects.

The ‘I’ who is aware of objects is not only aware of objects, such as a table, but is also aware of itself as ‘I am aware of this table’. When you say, ‘I am aware of this table’, you are expressing your experience, so the ‘I’ in this statement is not ‘only a language thing’, as you suggest, but is an essential part of your awareness of that table. You cannot be aware of anything without that awareness including awareness of yourself as the one who is aware of it.

Any experience necessarily includes the ‘I’ who is experiencing it. Any perception includes both a perceiver and something perceived. What is perceived is an object, and what perceives it is the subject, namely oneself, whom we refer to as ‘I’.

Because we mistake ourself to be a body and mind, we generally use the first person pronoun ‘I’ to refer to the body and mind that we mistake to be ourself, but what ‘I’ essentially refers to is only self-awareness. If we were not self-aware, we would not be aware of anything called ‘I’, and hence we could not mistake this body and mind to be ‘I’. Our awareness of them as ‘I’, ourself, is possible only because we are self-aware.

Though body and mind are actually objects, things perceived by us, we are aware of them as if they were ourself, but our awareness of them as ourself is obviously secondary to our awareness of ourself. If we were not aware of ourself, how could we be aware of them as ourself?

Therefore all experience, all awareness of anything, is secondary to self-awareness, which is what the pronoun ‘I’ essentially refers to. Without self-awareness there could not be awareness of anything else, because awareness of anything else entails two things, namely oneself as the subject and that other thing as the object

Self-awareness is therefore the background, the screen on which awareness of anything else appears. Whether awareness of anything else appears, as in waking and dream, or not, as in sleep, we are always present as the one fundamental self-awareness, the only thing that is constant and unchanging.

I have answered your comment to the best of my ability, but it is up to you to recognise in your own experience the truth of what I have tried to point out. Words can only indicate, but we each have to see what is indicated for ourself. Consider the matter carefully and look within yourself to see that you are always present and aware of yourself.

Try your best to be self-attentive, to be attentively aware of the fundamental awareness that is yourself, to attend to the one who is attending, because if you persevere in trying it will gradually become clear to you. It does not matter if you stumble and fumble at first. We all do. Just keep on trying. This is self-investigation, and what can be a more interesting subject to investigate than oneself?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Any activity of mind is mischievous

Michael says in one of his recent videos, ‘Any activity of mind is mischievous’. Our first mischief is when we rise as ego and our every other thought is nothing but an extension of our primary mischief. So it is advisable to avoid all mischief and we can do this only by remaining as we actually are – by remaining attentively self-aware.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Arunachala is the guru of all gurus, the aadi-guru dakshinamurti itself

When we think of Arunachala it subdues our mental activity, our mind. It draws us in to face ourself – our real nature – and thereby makes us motionless like itself. It is because only the outward going mind rises and engages in the activity. The inward facing mind subsides and becomes one with Arunachala. Arunachala accepts such mature souls, who have become motionless, as bali - an offering in sacrifice.

Bhagavan explains here the connection between Arunachala and the path of self-investigation. If we think of Arunachala, it has the unique power to subdue our mischievous mind. It checks the outward flow of our mind and makes it turn within - makes us draw back to face ourself - thereby makes us motionless like itself. This is how Arunachala consumes us.

Bhagavan is explaining here the whole significance of Arunachala – why Bhagavan worships this mountain and prays to it as God and guru? It is because of the unique power possessed by Arunachala. The function of the guru is to destroy ego, which is the root of everything, and this is how Arunachala does that. So Arunachala is the guru of all gurus, the aadi-guru dakshinamurti itself.

Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-09 Hampstead Heath: Michael James discusses verse 10 of Śrī Aruṇācala Padigam (9:00)

Josef Bruckner said...

Sometimes I have the impression that a block of wood is a thousand times more self-aware than I.
Arunachala, you seem to tolerate that entirely unmoved in your silence. What is the reason that you treat me with contempt as a punishment ? Is there anything that I ever understood correctly ? Even a stone is more suitable to be self-attentive or to practise self-investigation than I. Instead of attending to the fundamental awareness which is said to be ourself I stand facing merely an impassable thick haze. Arunachala, would you not like to make looking within myself easier accessible to me ? Or will you continue gloating over my pain ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Why should we set the bar anywhere but the highest?

Why should we set the bar anywhere but the highest? Why should we aspire for anything but the highest – the ultimate?

In the name of spirituality, there are many-many different views, many-many different understandings. Each of us has to decide what our goal is. Do we want something along the way, or do we want what is ultimately true? According to Bhagavan, what is ultimately true is only one thing and that is our true nature, which is pure awareness. If that is what we are seeking then Bhagavan has shown us the direct path – investigate yourself, ego will dissolve, and what will remain is pure awareness.

That does not appeal to all people. If this does not appeal, there are so many other goals. That is fine. What are we seeking? What is our aim? Ultimately, it is a matter of what we want.

~ Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 16 (1:42)


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Rajat Sancheti said...

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the reply, Michael. This is very helpful, especially in the midst of all this confusion and despair. Trying to experience the truth in what you tried to point out often seems like the only hope..

Sanjay Lohia said...

The ego misperceives pure awareness as all this

It is believed by many that this world is a manifestation of brahman. However, this is not true. Michael explains this in his latest video dated 9th March 2019. He says at 1:47 as follows:

Pure awareness is not manifesting. It just is. The ego manifests as all this. The ego misperceives pure awareness as all this. Can we say that a rope manifests as a snake? The rope is as it is. We misperceive it as a snake.

So, as Michael implies, there is no connection between pure awareness and this world. We should clearly understand this, and try to reject the seen (this world) by clinging to the seer (awareness). This is the path of drg-drsya-viveka. We should understand that everything seen is entirely unreal, a misperception of pure awareness.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s path is the real tradition of advaita – the living tradition – rather than a scholarly tradition

The purpose of all advaitic texts, as Bhagavan says, is to make us understand that it is necessary to make the mind subside and come to an end in order to attain mukti. Bhagavan strongly emphasises in Nan Ar? that we cannot get what we are seeking in books. We have to find that within ourself.

There is a belief among certain people that in order to attain mukti we have to study all the Upanishads, all the ancient texts, along with the commentaries on them under the guidance of so-called qualified gurus. These people call themselves traditional vedantins. They consider Bhagavan untraditional because Bhagavan didn’t study all these texts under the guidance of a guru. So they think Bhagavan doesn’t belong to any proper sampradaya.

Such sampradaya is a tradition within advaita, but it is not a correct tradition, according to Bhagavan. In order to know who we really are, we do not have to study all these texts endlessly. We need to understand that what we are seeking is within ourself and that it is to be found by turning our attention within. If we have understood that, there is no need to read all the Upanishads, Brahmasutras, Bhagavad Gita and all the numerous commentaries of them. These may have different views or traditions even within advaita because as soon as we allow our minds to go outwards there are different ways of explaining things. Even the same text is understood differently by different people.

As Adi Sankara says in Vivekachudamani – sabda jaal… forest of sounds. Sankara says that all these texts are nothing but sounds and so do not get lost in this forest. Bhagavan translated this as shastra jaal. They mean the same thing.

So Bhagavan’s path is the real tradition of advaita – the living tradition – rather than just a scholarly tradition. So what Bhagavan taught us is traditional but it should be distinguished from what many people consider to be traditional.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 16 (20:00)




Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
you state "We should clearly understand this, and try to reject the seen (this world) by clinging to the seer (awareness). This is the path of drg-drsya-viveka. We should understand that everything seen is entirely unreal, a misperception of pure awareness."

Of course we should ever abide in the conviction that there is no troublesome mind and that pure everlasting self-awareness is the sole existence. But should not all the world, that is all the thought forms and all the visible objects and herewith all the illusions be regarded as brahman or self or atma-svarupa only ?
Is it not said that everything sensed is brahman-self alone ? Even when there is actually no world (of names and forms), not the least bit of ego - are not all these nothing but the perfect brahman-self which is our real nature ? So when we are brahman alone we are even this illusion of a world.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Only prajna is sthitaprajna – it is always established in prajna

A friend: Why does Krishna use the term sthitaprajna to describe a person who is established in truth?

Michael: Prajna means pure awareness. So sthitaprajna is one who is established in pure awareness. But all explanations in words are addressed to the mind or ego, but ego cannot conceive that state. We are sthitaprajna only when we are established in prajna, but we are established in prajna only when we are not a person. So what is sthitaprajna? Only prajna is sthitaprajna. It is always established in prajna. And what is prajna? Prajnanam brahman. That is the reality. So we are only that.

No words can actually grasp the truth because the truth is beyond mind, beyond thought. Words are merely a tool to express things, and they are always limited. They will always be imperfect. So we have to see beyond the words. What are the words pointing at? Ultimately, the whole of advaita is pointing at only one thing – you.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 16 (1:18)




Sanjay Lohia said...

Josef, what exists is brahman or atma-svarupa, but all these names and forms conceal it. Therefore when we look at these names and forms, we ignore brahman because our entire attention is on these names and forms. How to get rid of these names and forms? We can do so only by removing the root of all these names and forms, and this root is ego. So we need to surrender ego in order to experience ourself as we really are.

How to give up ego? We can do this by clinging to the seer by ignoring the seen. In other words, we need to turn our entire attention within by ignoring all objects. Bhagavan’s entire teaching is focused on the direct means to give up ego.

So everything is ego, and the reality of ego is brahman. So in this sense, everything is brahman, but this is not a practical teaching because ultimately we need to experience brahman as it is and not as it appears to us.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
as you say "everything is brahman".
Why should this be "not a practical teaching" ?
To me it seems to be quite the contrary the best practical teaching because brahman is always as it is - although it may appear (to us) as anything other.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Because the jnani is always established in pure awareness, they have a constant supply of energy

We see Bhagavan, and he seems to be more alive than we are. Why? It is because he is constantly in his source.

When we are too tired we fall asleep, but how the mind regains its energy just by keeping quiet. It must be deriving its energy from some source. It regains its energy because the mind gets back to its source. So the source of all energy is ourself – the pure awareness that we actually are. Because the jnani is always established in that pure awareness, they have a constant supply of energy.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-07-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on the power of silence (58:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

According to Bhagavan, we wake up and project the sound of the alarm

A friend: We are aware (of things other than ourself) in sleep; otherwise, how could we hear the alarm?

Michael: We hear the alarm only after waking up. According to Bhagavan, we wake up and project the sound of the alarm.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-07-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on the power of silence (47:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

When we are drowsy, we are losing our hold on the body

So long as we are feeling drowsy, we are not actually asleep. Our present state is a dream. Every state in which we experience phenomena is a dream. Sometimes the phenomena seem very-very solid – like now everything seems very solid.

Because we are strongly attached to this body, this body seems very real, and therefore everything seems very real. When we are drowsy, we are losing our hold on the body. Whereas this is a fully flourished state of dream, while we are drowsy we are in a semi-flourished state of dream.

Edited extract from the video: 2017-07-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on the power of silence (48:00)

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,

you write "...pure awareness that we actually are. Because the jnani is always established in that pure awareness, they have a constant supply of energy."

If the jnani is (itself) pure awareness how can one say that he - the jnani - is always established in that pure awareness. In a similar manner one could ask in which way is brahman established always in itself ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
Bhagavan says in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
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."

Why in this translated English verse does Bhagavan grammatically use twice the subordinating conjunction 'if' together with subordinate clauses/conditional clauses giving a possible cicumstance/situation (oneself being a form or not) as a condition for the main clauses instead of express his statement directly ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 5.,
Explanatory paraphrase: "...[Therefore forms can be perceived only by an ‘eye’ or awareness that perceives itself as a form, namely 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].
"That is, the awareness that we actually are is infinite awareness, and being infinite it is formless. Therefore in the clear view of our real nature, no forms or phenomena exist at all, so our real nature is pure intransitive awareness (suṭṭaṯṟa aṟivu), awareness that is never aware of anything other than itself."

Only with the grace of Arunachala it will ever happen to me to cease rising as ego by sufficiently keen looking at it.

Michael James said...

Sorry, Josef, I do not understand the question you ask in your comment of 16 March 2019 at 19:44. Whether or not we see the world and God as forms depends on whether or not we see ourself as a form.

Forms do not actually exist, but when we rise as ego we project the form of a body (a form consisting of five sheaths: a physical form, life, mind, intellect and will) and simultaneously experience it as ourself, and consequently we project and perceive other forms, which we call world and God. In sleep we do not rise as ego, so we do not mistake ourself to be a form, and consequently we do not perceive any other forms.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
thank you for your reply which clarified the meaning of the verse.
I only was surprised at the fact that Bhagavan seems to leave it open whether we are a form or not by formulating the conditional clauses 'if oneself is a form or is not a form' meaning whether or not we see ourself as a form.
He obviously formulated these conditional clauses by taking his poetic liberty.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Josef, yes, the jnani is nothing but pure and infinite awareness, but when we see him or her with a body, we say that he is established in pure awareness. But when we say so, we are looking from our limited view.

Even to say someone is a jnani is not correct. It implies that there is a person who has acquired jnana. But jnani is not a person, so in this sense there is no jnani. Bhagavan would say that there is no jnani. There is only jnana.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Why do we visit a temple?

It is my daughter’s marriage next month so I had visited Bhagavan’s shrine with my entire family to place the first copy of the invitation letter at his feet. Obviously, we went there to seek his blessing and protection. So such a visit is beneficial, but beneficial in what way? I did not visit Bhagavan’s shrine to remind Bhagavan to make the wedding go smoothly, but, strictly speaking, I visited to remind myself that Bhagavan is taking care of everything so there is nothing to worry. So we should visit temples with this attitude.

However, Bhagavan’s only real shrine in within ourself – our very heart is his residing place. That is the best place to contact him. So remaining in atma-nishta is the best way to seek his blessing.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Guru means heavy

Michael explained in one of his videos that guru means heavy, and our ego is said to be light. So we need to attach ourselves to this heavy guru in order to sink within and stay there. To borrow from the analogy used by Bhagavan, we need to tie the heavy guru to our back in order to sink within to gain the self-pearl.

If we do not attach ourselves to this heavy guru, we will remain light - without much substance - and so will always remain floating on the surface of this world. If our aim is to give up this world, we have not other option but to attach ourself to a guru like Bhagavan. We need to follow our guru's teachings with our entire heart and soul. This is the only means to acquire heaviness and remain as we actually are.

morrison said...

Sanjay

"Guru means heavy"

If you come up with the article or paragraph where this is found I would like to read it.

If not, don't worry about it, it's not important.

thanks for all the work you do in posting Michaels videos. I really appreciate it.

Love to one and all

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
section 3.,
"All phenomena are thoughts, in the sense that they are all mental phenomena, even if they seem to be physical, and the mind projects them just by perceiving them. In other words, projection or creation (sṛṣṭi) is nothing other than perception (dṛṣṭi). Just as in dream we project a world merely by perceiving it, so we create all phenomena merely by perceiving them."

Creation by perception of thoughts is scarcely conceivable. At least the mind is accustomed that anything (to be) perceived is or must be already there. Even in dream we are reacting to settings which we perceive as being already there.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Morrison, Michael explained that ‘Guru means heavy’ in one of his videos. I am glad you find the transcripts of the videos I regularly post useful.

Michael James said...

Morrison, ‘heavy’ is the primary dictionary meaning of guru, and Bhagavan sometimes used to refer to this meaning, as recorded, for example, in section 78 of Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi (2006 edition, page 81).

Jeremy Lennon said...

After following the link posted by you, Michael, in reply to Morrison on 18 March 2019 at 08:31,I came across the following three sentences:

Bhagavan, "On the devotee surrendering, God shows His mercy by manifesting as the Guru. The Guru, otherwise God, guides the devotee, saying that God is in you and He is the Self. This leads to introversion of the mind and finally to realisation."

The first sentence helps to clarify my experience of coming across a photo of Bhagavan for the first time, the start of a process which eventually led me here. That happy event did indeed follow on from a prolonged and often clumsy effort at surrender. So that was God showing His mercy by manifesting as the Guru.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Question: How long is a Guru necessary for Self-Realisation?

Bhagavan: Guru is necessary so long as there is the laghu. (Pun on Guru = heavy; laghu = light). Laghu is due to the self-imposed but wrong limitation of the Self.

~ extract from Talks (page 81)

Sanjay Lohia said...

As long as we allow our minds to go outwards, it is natural to consider some things more sacred than others

A friend: I am still attracted to idolatry, even though I am trying to follow Bhagavan’s teachings. What should I do?

Michael: Bhagavan had devotees from all sorts of backgrounds. He had Muslim, Christian, Jewish and devotees practising other religions. Some of them used to ask, ‘Is it not wrong to perform idol worship, Bhagavan?’ Bhagavan would answer, ‘there is no one who is not worshipping idols’. Don’t we take care of our bodies in so many ways? This is just like idol worship. Whereas a devotee who worships idols understands that God is much more than the idol, we worship this body as if it were ourself. So we are definitely worse idol worshippers.

Because our mind is going outwards, it is natural to worship God in some form or another. Even in religions where they do not worship idols, they still believe in holy places, holy icons and so on. As long as we allow our minds to go outwards, it is natural to consider some things more sacred than others. So indirectly all these are nothing but idol worship. If we want to give up all idol worship, the only way is to turn our mind within.

But when we are trying to turn our mind within, we are unable to do so all the time. So when our mind comes outwards, we naturally feel devotion for Bhagavan who is telling us to turn within. So there is no contradiction between love for Bhagavan as a person and turning our attention within. Having love for Bhagavan as a person is helping us to turn our attention within. If we really love Bhagavan, we will naturally try to turn within because his whole teaching is focused on this one thing – turning within.

~*~ Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-17 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to increase love for and trust in Bhagavan (25:00)


Sanjay Lohia said...

Why do we now believe that happiness lies within and not outside?

It is partly due to our experience in life but also more importantly, because Bhagavan has told us that happiness does not lie outside and lies only within, and therefore the only way to attain happiness is to turn within.

~*~ Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-17 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to increase love for and trust in Bhagavan (8:00)

Josef Bruckner said...

Can one actually cease rising as ego only by turning the mind within although one has (created) already a body since birth ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

The decision that is to be made has already been made

Because we think we are the doers of actions, we think that we have to decide whether to do this or that. But according to Bhagavan, we do not have to do anything. Those actions which are destined to be done will be done anyway. We should cease to be concerned about external things. We should leave our external life to the care of Bhagavan, the supreme power which is driving all activities. The decision that is to be made has already been made. So we should trust Bhagavan and leave everything in his care. So long as we are concerned about other things, we will not be turning our attention within.

In Christianity, Jesus said, ‘take no thought of morrow’ – tomorrow will take care of itself. He said, ‘see the birds in the sky; see the flowers in the field – without any planning they are living’. They do what they have to do. So we should leave all our cares to Bhagavan.

~#~ Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-17 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to increase love for and trust in Bhagavan (1:14)

Reflection: Tomorrow inevitably takes cares of itself. Our experience clearly demonstrates this fact. So we should completely trust Bhagavan. Bhagavan loves us even more than our mother. We need to keep this in mind.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"In Christianity, Jesus said, ‘take no thought of morrow’ – tomorrow will take care of itself. He said, ‘see the birds in the sky; see the flowers in the field – without any planning they are living’. They do what they have to do. So we should leave all our cares to Bhagavan. "
To considerate the general practical applicability of the birds/flowers way of life (of not planning anything) to human beings is evidently not a wise saying.
"Jesus said,'take no thought of morrow’ – tomorrow will take care of itself."
For instance when the baker does not store enough cereals for the tomorrow's need we will not have any bread.

"We should leave our external life to the care of Bhagavan, the supreme power which is driving all activities. The decision that is to be made has already been made. So we should trust Bhagavan and leave everything in his care."
The supreme power which is driving all activities requires for its implementation our willingness/readiness to translate Bhagavan's care into practice. Even the supreme power seems to generally need our active collaboration/participation.

Josef Bruckner said...

Regarding supreme power:
Can we ever be apart of the supreme power ?

Also Unknown said...

"Can we ever be apart of the supreme power?"

If no - then that supreme power takes care of the storage of cereals and not the phantom mind. If yes - then we have not understood Bhagavan.

Also Unknown said...

"The supreme power which is driving all activities requires for its implementation our willingness/readiness to translate Bhagavan's care into practice."

How can a phantom mind implement "willingness/readiness" but as an imagination? If the power is "supreme", how could a fictitious entity like the mind have any affect on it? The ego is as usual overestimating its capacity or "power" to influence the phenomenal world, it is the reluctance to surrender to that "supreme power".

That "supreme power" is taking care of anything with or without the consent of the phantom mind. To resist to that fact is insisting on the existence and power of the ego.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Josef, Jesus said, ‘take no thought of morrow - see the birds in the sky; see the flowers in the field – they are living without any planning’. It is recorded that Bhagavan also said almost the same thing. He said as recorded in Day by Day something to the effect: ‘Look at the squirrels and monkeys, do they plan for tomorrow? Do they stock things for a rainy day? Are they not alive? So we should live for the day. God was taking care of your yesterday, he is taking care of your today and he will take care of your tomorrow. In other words, live a surrendered life’. So there is no difference between the teaching of Jesus and Bhagavan in this respect.

When the baker processes his raw materials and makes it ready so that he can bake the bread the next day, his pre-preparation is also part of the divine plan. So the baker should understand that his body and mind are being used by Bhagavan so that the bread can be prepared. Why should he assume that it is his effort that is making the bread possible? He should give its credit to Bhagavan because the credit rightfully belongs only to him.

The supreme power does not need our active participation or collaboration to get things done. He will make use of our mind, speech and body just like puppet-master pulls the strings to make the puppets dance. The puppets do not require participating or collaborating with the puppet-master in any way. It will be is foolishness on the part of puppets if they start assuming that they are dancing due to their own efforts. Likewise, it will be foolishness on our part if we assume that whatever is happening in our lives is due to our efforts. Bhagavan is making everything happen.

You ask, ‘Can we ever be apart from the supreme power?’ The answer is ‘no, we are never apart from the supreme power’. We are the supreme in our true nature and since there is only one real power (which emanates from this supreme), the supreme power is only our natural power.

Sanjay Lohia said...

A friend: Thank you, Michael. Your answers give me a lot of happiness.

Michael: My answers don’t give you happiness. The happiness you feel is happiness which is your own self. Only you can give yourself to you.

-^- Edited extract from the video: 2019-03-17 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to increase love for and trust in Bhagavan (1:40)

Reflection: Why does reading, reflecting upon and writing about Bhagavan’s teachings give us happiness? Why are some of us addicted to this blog? Why do we look forward to these activities? It is because these activities make us happy, but where does this happiness come from? Happiness can only come from ourself because, according to Bhagavan, there is no happiness outside. All objects are completely devoid of happiness.

So, knowingly or unknowingly, we tend to practise self-investigation (to some extent) when we read, reflect upon or write about Bhagavan’s teachings. It is this introversion which gives us joy. So all happiness emanates only from ourself. In fact, our true nature is absolute and infinite happiness.

Josef Bruckner said...

Also Unknown,
you say "If no - then that supreme power takes care of the storage of cereals and not the phantom mind."
And how takes that supreme power care of the storage of cereals ?
Correctly, by appointing and bringing into action the mind of the baker for taking precautions/making provisions so that also on the next day sufficient cereals will be there.

Josef Bruckner said...

Also Unknown,
if the phantom mind is in the position to create a whole universe it will also be able to implement "willingness and readiness" too easily. By the way, is it not said that ego is essentially nothing but supreme power ?

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
"Why should he (the baker) assume that it is his effort that is making the bread possible?"

Because he does not consider himself as different from Bhagavan who shines in the depth of his heart.

"Bhagavan is making everything happen."
Yes, not only this. Bhagavan's almighty power includes of course also making us ready to use our active participation or collaboration to get things done. Finally we are acting according our prarabdha by the power of Ishwara or Bhagavan.

Aham said...

.

A lovely reminder from Mr James,

" Self is only I Am....this I Am is mixed up with so many other things ". (click the quote)

Not to mention summarising his entire blog and Sri Ramana's Teachings in just a few words.

.

Josef Bruckner said...

Sanjay,
puppets do not stand comparison with ego whose underlying reality is pure awareness.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael,
it is said that Bhagavan is our real nature which seems to be beyond the mind.
However, the mind is not very fond of becoming quiescent. It puts that off until never before I get anywhere in my attempts at self-enquiry/investigation. It seems that will never happen in a million years. - That is not very pleasing...:-)

Michael James said...

Josef, patience and perseverance are necessary. As Bhagavan says in the tenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:

தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும் அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும். அத்தனை வாசனைகளு மொடுங்கி, சொரூபமாத்திரமா யிருக்க முடியுமா வென்னும் சந்தேக நினைவுக்கு மிடங்கொடாமல், சொரூபத்யானத்தை விடாப்பிடியாய்ப் பிடிக்க வேண்டும். ஒருவன் எவ்வளவு பாபியாயிருந்தாலும், ‘நான் பாபியா யிருக்கிறேனே! எப்படிக் கடைத்தேறப் போகிறே’ னென்றேங்கி யழுதுகொண்டிராமல், தான் பாபி என்னு மெண்ணத்தையு மறவே யொழித்து சொரூபத்யானத்தி லூக்க முள்ளவனாக விருந்தால் அவன் நிச்சயமா யுருப்படுவான்.

toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum. attaṉai vāsaṉaigaḷum oḍuṅgi, sorūpa-māttiram-āy irukka muḍiyumā v-eṉṉum sandēha niṉaivukkum iḍam koḍāmal, sorūpa-dhyāṉattai viḍā-p-piḍiyāy-p piḍikka vēṇḍum. oruvaṉ evvaḷavu pāpiyāy irundālum, ‘nāṉ pāpiyāy irukkiṟēṉē; eppaḍi-k kaḍaittēṟa-p pōkiṟēṉ’ eṉḏṟēṅgi y-aṙudu-koṇḍirāmal, tāṉ pāpi eṉṉum eṇṇattaiyum aṟavē y-oṙittu sorūpa-dhyāṉattil ūkkam uḷḷavaṉāha v-irundāl avaṉ niścayamāy uru-p-paḍuvāṉ.

Even though viṣaya-vāsanās [inclinations or desires to experience things other than oneself], which come from time immemorial, rise [as thoughts or phenomena] in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness, contemplation on one’s ‘own form’ or real nature] increases and increases [in depth and intensity]. Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘So many vāsanās ceasing [or being dissolved], is it possible to be only as svarūpa [my own form or real nature]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to svarūpa-dhyāna. However great a sinner one may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping ‘I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?’ one completely rejects the thought that one is a sinner and is zealous [or steadfast] in self-attentiveness, one will certainly be reformed [transformed into what one actually is].

Josef Bruckner said...

Thank you Michael.
As you say, it is necessary to cling tenaciously to svarūpa-dhyāna. However, even that I do often miss. Yes, ah yes, instead of lamenting one should be zealous and steadfast in self-attentiveness and then certainly will be reformed [transformed into what one actually is]...So I can/should hope so.

Also Unknown said...

Mr. Bruckner, you asked “how takes that supreme power care of the storage of cereals” and you answered with “correctly ….”.

What does correct mean? It assumes that the supreme power takes care as a mind imagines it would or should. However it could very well be that the supreme power “takes care” in the form of not storing cereals at all. Because to expect a certain outcome is an attachment which is an impediment.

You say that the phantom mind is in the position to create a whole universe. That is not entirely correct as you seem to imply it. The phantom mind does not create anything by itself; it is like a lens which just by its mere presence reflects the pure light of Self and that refection is called “world”. Without Self there could be no world, in fact without Self there could be no such appearance called “mind”.

If the ego is nothing but supreme power, why are then egos suffering? Why are egos complaining that they cannot do atma-vichara? With “supreme” power surly nothing like that could transpire.

Josef Bruckner said...

Also Unknown,
you write "You say that the phantom mind is in the position to create a whole universe. That is not entirely correct as you seem to imply it. The phantom mind does not create anything by itself;..."
In T.M.P. Mahadevan's (University of Madras) English translation of the essay version of Nan Yar "Who am I?" it is written in question/answer nr.8:"...Just as the spider emits the thread of the web out of itself and again withdraws it into itself, likewise the mind projects the world out of itself and again resolves it into itself. When the mind comes out of the Self, the world appears...".

"If the ego is nothing but supreme power, why are then egos suffering?"
Ego is said to be only a mixture/knot of chit(self-awareness) and jada(insentient body) which identifies itself wrongly to be any person.
Therefore ego's complaining and suffering is the natural result/consequence of that false awareness.

Josef Bruckner said...

section3.,
"As the subject or perceiver of all phenomena, ego is what projects everything, because projection (sṛṣṭi) is nothing other than perception (dṛṣṭi)"
So projection together with perception seem to be nothing other than creation.
Projecting a world of mental phenomena is said to be done by ego only.

But means having a look in an English dictionary creating that dictionary ? Means watching a video or cinema film creating that film ?
Means flying in an aircraft over London creating all that ?
Means walking in Hampstead Heath Park creating it ?
Means swimming in the Atlantic Ocean creating it ?
Obviously not - or yet actually ?
How to comprehend the real meaning of the statement "Therefore what projects all thoughts or phenomena is only the perceiving element of the mind, namely ego, which is the first of all thoughts, the thought called I. This is why Bhagavan says that the mind makes all thoughts appear..."?
I would like to be able - in waking - putting aside all thoughts and seeing that there is no such thing as mind..."...because the very nature of the mind is only thoughts."


Also Unknown said...

Mr. Bruckner, the “spider emitting the thread” and the “lens/pure light” analogies are saying the same in different words.
And yes, Bhagavan stated that the ego is a mixture of “false” and pure awareness, and that underlines the powerlessness of the ego. The “supreme power” is that what not identifies with a body and mind; however that “false awareness” is the one who complains and is the one with no power in that mix. It just confuses the power of Self as its own power and that is the definition of bondage and delusion. There is nobody, an entity or ego, what could have any power at all.

Therefore to say that the ego is nothing but supreme power can only be false since the ego is by definition, as you stated yourself, "false awareness".

Atma-vichara is nothing else than to move away from the delusional idea of individual power and subsequent attention to it and to be, or as some say, attend to, the pure awareness unspoiled by any thoughts and notions of “power”.


Salazar said...

Mr. Bruckner, actually the ego is not really a mixture of false and pure awareness since the "false" awareness is not real, the pure is. So to give the ego any reality and substance is an illusion. "Mixing" would or could imply that the ego has a reality in its own right in the same fashion than the reality of Self. That is not the case.

Mixing or any similar concepts like "heart-knot" cannot really describe the nature between Self and ego/mind/body. Because as the sages imply, there is no such thing as a mind or ego, and therefore there is really no heart-knot or a "mixture" of consciousnesses. But that is revealed only to mature aspirants who could comprehend that.

Unknown said...

Ah! The return of Salazar and the(im)mature ego with a knot tightly tied around it to perpetuate its perennial ignorance. What a revelation indeed. Mr. James it would be a shame if you did not post this comment.

Josef Bruckner said...

Salazar,
it is really good that the truth of the non-existence of ego or mind is revealed only to mature aspirants who can comprehend that. So spoke the Prince of Darkness: let the immature stew in their own juice of unripeness. Huaaaaaaaaaahuah...

Michael James said...

Salazar, regarding your recent comment, Bhagavan often described ego as cit-jaḍa-granthi (the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of awareness (cit) with a body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), binding them together as if they were one), such as in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, and he did so for a good reason, because it aptly defines the nature of ego.

Saying that ego is a confused mixture of the real and the unreal is not giving it reality, as you seem to assume. A chain is as strong as its weakest link. Likewise, ego is as real as its most unreal element. Since one element of the mixture is unreal, the mixture itself is unreal.

Nevertheless it is important to recognise that ego also contains an element of reality, ‘the essential cit aspect of the ego’, as he describes it in the final chapter of Maharshi’s Gospel (2002 edition, page 89), and as he explains there, this is the reason why investigating ego leads us to pure awareness (cit), which is our real nature. So long as we have risen as this unreal ego, it is the only door we have back to reality.

You say correctly, ‘there is no such thing as a mind or ego’, but do you understand the full implication of this teaching given by Bhagavan? As he says in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, and in verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), ‘If the thought called I [ego] does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist’, so the seeming existence of all other things depends on the seeming existence of ourself as ego. Therefore as long as we perceive any other thing, we who perceive it are ego, so we need to take the seeming existence of ego more seriously than you seem willing to do, and we need to understand its nature clearly in order to investigate it effectively.

This is why Bhagavan taught us all that he taught us about the nature of ego and about how the appearance of all other things depends entirely upon the appearance of ourself as ego, so we should not lightly dismiss anything that he taught us in the regard, because if we do we will end up with a half-baked understanding. If we do not understand the nature of ego clearly and correctly, our self-investigation will be neither deep nor subtle, so we will continue floating on the surface and remain a prey to ego instead of becoming a prey to our real nature.

Unknown said...

Mr. James,

Salazar has posted a reply comment under the name of Paul to a 5 star review by Alan Jacobs of your book THE BEST AND MOST IMPORTANT COMMENTARY ON SRI BHAGAVAN RAMANA MAHARSHI'S TEACHINGS. In it Salazar a k a Paul says,

Quote.

Also Michael stated that a Jnani (or sage) in a living body is worthless (he also of course has an [plausible sounding] explanation for that), however if a living Jnani is worthless, how much more worthless must be a lecturing ajnani? Unquote.

I am curious to know where you said that and under what context you said that and why you said that? Thanks, in case you respond.

Unknown said...

In reg to comment of 23 March 2019 at 08:09. Well said, an apt reply to a quarter baked aspirant.

Salazar said...

Michael, yes - 'I' do not take the ego seriously at all because it is its intrinsic nature which will make it serious just by itself in form of all kind of (grandiose or less grandiose) thoughts. Why deliberately adding to it even "more" serious [considerations]? That is an impediment.

Also, your "mix story" is entirely conceptual, do you have any direct experience to really KNOW, or is it just a repetition of concepts you have read? What makes you think (must be the ego) that you have grasped these concepts without direct experience? It was not an accident that Bhagavans greatest teaching tool was silence and not concepts.

To make it short, I do not concur with quite a few points you are making but it does not make sense to argue here about it. Because arguments have strong limitations and why do we just figure that out by realizing Self instead of blubbering about concepts from Bhagavan?

To the "followers": Thanks for the nice "welcome back" but this was just a little quirk, you guys now carry on as usual with your mantra of "Michael, thank you for that great article" .....

Unknown said...

Regarding comment of 23 March 2019 at 15:13

Okay Salazar and feel free to come back whenever (as you certainly will) and post you neo-advaita concepts or should we say your "neo-nonsense" sprouting from your immature brain of an ajnani. And by the way when are you changing your Amazon moniker from Paul to Michael James?

Anyway you are no match to Michael James and you are not in his league just as none of here are. This is not said to flatter him at all but it just happens to be that way. By the way there seems to be no one to listen to and appreciate your neo-advaita theory (except yourself) which you dish out everywhere.

Unknown said...

Salazar please do realize Self first instead of blubbering about concepts from "neo-advaita" like you always do here and at Amazon.

Unknown said...

Mr. James like the saying goes there is no point in casting pearls ( regarding your comment of 23 March 2019 at 08:09) before a swine. But then that comment from you was filled with pearls and I sincerely thank you for posting it.

Unknown said...

Salazar do feel free to quirk big time as you always do as that is your favorite pastime and your full time occupation.

Josef Bruckner said...

As Michael says "...so the seeming existence of all other things depends on the seeming existence of ourself as ego. Therefore as long as we perceive any other thing, we who perceive it are ego, so we need to take the seeming existence of ego more seriously...".

Indeed there is no other starting point in our practice: Any effort (of self-investigation) can and must be done only by the tool of the seemingly existent ego/mind.

Michael James said...

May I respectfully request Unknown and others to desist from making ad hominem attacks on Salazar or anyone else who chooses to comment here. I am reluctant to not allow any comments, but strictly speaking some of the recent criticism of Salazar has come close to transgressing the Guidelines for Comments on this blog, so if more such comments are written I shall have to stop allowing them.

Attacks on the personality or motives of others does not help anyone and has no place on this blog, which is dedicated to discussing Bhagavan’s teachings. If you disagree with ideas or views expressed by others, by all means explain your reasons for disagreeing them, but please do not allow your criticism of any ideas or views to degenerate into criticism of the personality or motives of those who hold such views or express such ideas.

If Salazar or anyone else disagrees with my views or my understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings, they are welcome to say why they disagree with them and to express their own ideas and understanding, because that can lead to a fruitful discussion and exchange of views. Even if they choose to imply that anyone who does not agree with their views or understanding is immature, as Salazar tends to do, that is also fine, so long as they are not directing such criticism at any particular individuals, because by saying so they are telling us more about their own level of maturity than anyone else’s.

Unknown, regarding the comment in which you claim that it was Salazar who posted a critical reply under the name Paul to a review that Alan Jacobs wrote about my book, what does it matter whether Salazar and Paul are the same person or two different people? We need not be concerned about who wrote that reply, and it is up to each person who reads it to decide for themself whether or not they agree with it.

Regarding Paul’s claim that ‘Michael stated that a Jnani (or sage) in a living body is worthless’, I never stated any such thing, so this claim is presumably a misinterpretation of something else that I wrote. Bhagavan appeared in human form to give us his teachings, so his appearing thus is certainly not worthless. As he used to say, the appearance of guru in human form is like a lion that appears in an elephant’s dream, the shock of which causes the elephant to wake up. The lion itself is unreal, but it brings about a real awakening. Likewise, the human form of guru is unreal, but it wakes us to the real state of pure self-awareness.

Bhagavan often explained that he is not the body or person that he seemed to be, and that it is only in our self-ignorant view that he seems to be that body or person. However he appeared as a person in order to teach us that we should turn within to see what we ourself actually are, and when we see what we actually are we will see that what he actually is is nothing other than that. In other words, he is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure, infinite, indivisible and eternal awareness, other than which nothing exists.

Josef Bruckner said...

Michael, I feel sorry for (the last sentence of) my emotional reply to Salazar. Somehow I did not want then keep back my current idea of expressing.

Salazar said...

I have now the time to reply to Michael’s comment addressed to me on 23 March 2019 at 08:09 where he says and I quote, “If we do not understand the nature of ego clearly and correctly, our self-investigation will be neither deep nor subtle, so we will continue floating on the surface and remain a prey to ego instead of becoming a prey to our real nature.”

I do not agree and that comment doesn’t make sense to me. Atma-vichara is not dependent at all by a conceptual understanding of the ego; I’d say that it could be more of an obstacle than actual help. Concepts can only be in the realm of imagination, atma-vichara is quite the opposite. Once one has grasped what Bhagavan meant with atma-vichara, NO other concepts are necessary and actually quite redundant and are more for the entertainment of the mind.

Atma-vichara is without thoughts and concepts, how could a supposedly better understanding of the concept of ego enhance atma-vichara? To think about that better understanding, to recall what seemingly was understood? That would be not atma-vichara.

Better understanding of the ego, or better the true knowledge of its non-existence, can only come through atma-vichara [alone], not by recalling or thinking about concepts of it, that is an impediment.

So, if atma-vichara, or Self-investigation as Michael likes to call it, goes “deeper” or not is clearly not depended on a better conceptual knowledge but rather how often one ‘does’ atma-vichara. In fact, except to have read Nan Yar, nothing else by Bhagavan is necessary to do properly atma-vichara!

Unknown said...

Salazar feel free to post all your neo-advaita concepts or should we say your "neo-nonsense" sprouting from your immature brain of an ajnani. Thanks for nothing.