Wednesday, 8 May 2019

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

In several comments on one of my recent articles, Whatever jñāna we believe we see in anyone else is false, there was a discussion about ajāta vāda, so in this article I will reply to some ideas that a friend called Venkat expressed in the course of that discussion, and in particular I will highlight the distinction between ajāta vāda (the contention that nothing has ever arisen, appeared or come into existence) and vivarta vāda (the contention that whatever has arisen, appeared or come into existence is just an illusion or false appearance), because in some of his comments he seemed to confuse the former with the latter, of which it is actually a denial.
  1. Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.32: the ultimate truth is that nothing has ever come into existence or ceased to exist, so there is no ego and hence no dream
  2. Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1: knowing oneself is like waking from a dream, but only from the perspective of vivarta vāda and not from the perspective of ajāta
  3. According to ajāta there is absolutely no utpatti (coming into existence), so no illusion has ever come into existence
  4. Though ajāta is a direct contradiction of vivarta vāda, it is nevertheless the logical conclusion of it
  5. There is not just one but many different and often conflicting traditional interpretations of advaita and the writings of Sankara
  6. In his original writings, particularly in Nāṉ Ār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, Bhagavan explicitly and unequivocally teaches us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda
  7. Bhagavan taught us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda because of all views it is the one that will help us most effectively to free ourself from our desires for and attachment to anything other than ourself
  8. Though there are other interpretations of vivarta vāda, the simplest and purest form of it is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda
1. Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.32: the ultimate truth is that nothing has ever come into existence or ceased to exist, so there is no ego and hence no dream

Venkat, in your reply to Mouna of 16 April 2019 at 20:16 you wrote, “Michael and you seem to believe that ajata vada means that on liberation the ‘dream’ ends — correct me if I’m wrong”, but that is not what I take ajāta vāda to mean, as you would see if you were to carefully read what I wrote in reply to you in an earlier article, What is the correct meaning of ajāta vāda?. A dream could come to an end only if it had come into existence in the first place, but according to ajāta vāda the ultimate truth is that no dream or anything else has ever come into existence and therefore there is nothing to cease or be destroyed, as Gaudapada says unequivocally in Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.32 and Sankara repeats in Vivēkacūḍāmaṇi verse 574:
न निरोधो न चोत्पत्तिर्न बद्धो न च साधकः ।
न मुमुक्षुर्न वै मुक्त इत्येषा परमार्थता ॥

na nirōdhō na cōtpattirna baddhō na ca sādhakaḥ |
na mumukṣurna vai mukta ityēṣā paramārthatā ||

पदच्छेद: न निरोधः, न च उत्पत्तिः; न बद्धः, न च साधकः; न मुमुक्षुः, न वै मुक्तः — इति एषा परमार्थता.

Padacchēda (word-separation): na nirōdhaḥ, na ca utpattiḥ; na baddhaḥ, na ca sādhakaḥ; na mumukṣuḥ, na vai muktaḥ — iti ēṣā paramārthatā.

English translation: There is no destruction, and no utpatti [birth, origination, arising, occurrence, appearance or coming into being], no one bound, and no one who does sādhana, no one seeking liberation, and even no one liberated. This is paramārthatā [the ultimate truth].
In his Tamil prose translation of Vivēkacūḍāmaṇi Bhagavan translated this verse as follows:
உத்பத்தி யில்லை; நாசமில்லை; பத்தனில்லை; சாதகனில்லை; முமுக்ஷுவில்லை; முக்தனுமில்லை; இதுவே பரமார்த்தம்.

utpatti-y-illai; nāśam-illai; baddhaṉ-illai; sādhakaṉ-illai; mumukṣu-v-illai; muktaṉ-um-illai; iduvē paramārttham.

There is no utpatti [arising, birth, origination, appearance or coming into being]; no nāśam [destruction]; no one bound; no one who does sādhana; no one seeking liberation; not even one who is liberated; this indeed is paramārtha [the ultimate truth].
Since Bhagavan often cited this verse and explained its significance, Muruganar composed a Tamil translation of it, which is now included in Guru Vācaka Kōvai as verse 1227, and on seeing that four-line verse Bhagavan condensed its meaning as a two-line verse, which is included in Guru Vācaka Kōvai as verse B28 and in Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ as verse 24:
ஆதலழி வார்ப்பவிழ வாசைமுயல் வார்ந்தாரில்
ஈதுபர மார்த்தமென் றெண்.

ādalaṙi vārppaviṙa vāśaimuyal vārndāril
īdupara mārttameṉ ḏṟeṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: ஆதல், அழிவு, ஆர்ப்பு, அவிழ ஆசை, முயல்வு, ஆர்ந்தார் இல்; ஈது பரமார்த்தம் என்று எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ādal, aṙivu, ārppu, aviṙa āśai, muyalvu, ārndār il. īdu paramārttam eṉḏṟu eṇ.

English translation: There is no becoming [or coming into existence], destruction, bondage, desire to untie [bondage], effort [made for liberation], [or] those who have attained [liberation]. Know that this is paramārtha [the ultimate truth].
This is what is meant by ajāta, so according to ajāta neither any dream nor even any dreamer has ever come into existence or been destroyed, because there is neither any utpatti (coming into existence) nor any nirōdha (destruction). By saying that there is no baddha (one who is bound), no sādhaka (one who does sādhana) and no mumukṣu (one who is seeking liberation), Gaudapada, Sankara and Bhagavan imply that the ultimate truth is that there is no ego, because it is ego alone who is in bondage and who therefore seeks liberation by doing sādhana, so since there is no dreamer other than ego, there is also no dream.

2. Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1: knowing oneself is like waking from a dream, but only from the perspective of vivarta vāda and not from the perspective of ajāta

However, though the ultimate truth is that there is neither any dream nor any dreamer, our present experience seems to contradict this, so Bhagavan, Gaudapada and Sankara all concede that in the view of ourself as ego both ego (the dreamer) and phenomena (the dream) seem to exist, but they teach us that these are both illusory appearances and hence not real. It was from this perspective that Bhagavan wrote in verse 1 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam that knowing oneself is like waking from a dream:
தன்னை மறந்து தனுவேதா னாவெண்ணி
யெண்ணில் பிறவி யெடுத்திறுதி — தன்னை
யுணர்ந்துதா னாத லுலகசஞ் சாரக்
கனவின் விழித்தலே காண்.

taṉṉai maṟandu taṉuvēdā ṉāveṇṇi
yeṇṇil piṟavi yeḍuttiṟudi — taṉṉai
yuṇarndudā ṉāda lulahasañ cārak
kaṉaviṉ viṙittalē kāṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை மறந்து, தனுவே தானா எண்ணி, எண் இல் பிறவி எடுத்து, இறுதி தன்னை உணர்ந்து, தான் ஆதல் உலக சஞ்சார கனவின் விழித்தலே. காண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai maṟandu, taṉuvē tāṉā eṇṇi, eṇ il piṟavi eḍuttu, iṟudi taṉṉai uṇarndu, tāṉ ādal ulaha sañcāra kaṉaviṉ viṙittalē. kāṇ.

English translation: Forgetting oneself, mistaking a body to be oneself, taking innumerable births and finally knowing oneself and being oneself, is [just like] waking up from a dream of wandering about the world. See.
When we wake up from a dream, the dream comes to an end, so in this sense it is true to say that on liberation the dream ends (as Bhagavan also implies in the fourth sentence of verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, which I will discuss in more detail in the sixth section of this article). However, though this is true from the perspective of vivarta vāda (the contention that everything other than pure awareness is vivarta, an illusion or false appearance), it is not true from the perspective of ajāta, because according to ajāta there is no arising (utpatti) or destruction (nirōdha), so no dream has either arisen or ceased to be, and since there is consequently no one either bound or liberated, there is neither bondage nor liberation, and hence there never was anyone to dream any dream or to wake up from it.

Though Bhagavan, Gaudapada and Sankara sometimes remind us that the ultimate truth is ajāta, they generally teach us from the perspective of vivarta vāda, so we should not confuse these two levels of teaching, and we should understand from each context which perspective they are talking from. The reason why they generally teach vivarta vāda is that we now seem to be in bondage and therefore need to be taught the means to escape from it, so the teaching needs to concede that there is bondage, albeit just as an illusory appearance (vivarta).

3. According to ajāta there is absolutely no utpatti (coming into existence), so no illusion has ever come into existence

In the same reply to Mouna you say, ‘an illusion is not logically inconsistent with no birth / death’, but if what you mean by ‘no birth / death’ is ajāta, then any illusion is most certainly logically inconsistent with it, because an illusion has both an utpatti (an arising, birth, origination or appearance) and a nirōdha (destruction or death). I understand your reasoning, namely that if birth and death are an illusion, then there is actually no birth or death, but ajāta is even more radical than this. It is the ultimate truth that there is absolutely no birth or death whatsoever, not even the birth or death of any illusion.

If there is no nirōdha and no utpatti, as Gaudapada emphatically declares in Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.32, then there can be no change of any kind whatsoever, because every change entails the destruction (nirōdha) of something as it was and the arising (utpatti) of what it has changed into. Likewise, there can be no appearance or disappearance of anything, because appearing is the arising (utpatti) of what appears and disappearing is the destruction (nirōdha) of what had formerly appeared, and also because appearance and disappearance are both changes. Therefore ajāta is a state devoid of any change or any appearance or disappearance.

How then can any illusion occur in ajāta? Unless illusion is eternal, it must have appeared, come into existence or been born, so it has an utpatti, and it must likewise cease to exist, so it has a nirōdha. Therefore ajāta is a denial of the very appearance of any illusion.

Let us relate this to our own experience. If all phenomena are just an illusion (vivarta), as vivarta vāda contends, then this illusion appears or comes into existence in waking and dream but disappears in sleep. Its appearance in waking and dream is its utpatti, and its disappearance in sleep is a kind of nirōdha, albeit just a temporary one. Moreover, within this illusion phenomena are constantly appearing, changing and disappearing, so our experience of phenomena is quite contrary to ajāta, which is why it was necessary for Bhagavan, Gaudapada and Sankara to come down to our level, so to speak, by conceding that all these phenomena have appeared, but nevertheless teaching us that they are all just vivarta, an illusion or false appearance. In their view there is no illusion, because their experience is ajāta, but in our view all these phenomena seem to exist, so they teach us that they are just an illusory appearance.

An illusion or false appearance is a misperception, so it seems to exist only in the view of the one who perceives it. What actually exists is only brahman, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), and brahman never misperceives itself. What misperceives brahman as all these phenomena is only ego, the jīva, so the appearance of any illusion is entirely dependent on the appearance of ourself as ego, as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: If ego comes into existence, everything [all phenomena, everything that appears and disappears, everything other than our pure, fundamental, unchanging and immutable self-awareness] comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist [because nothing other than pure self-awareness actually exists, so everything else seems to exist only in the view of ego, and hence it cannot seem to exist unless ego seems to exist]. [Therefore] ego itself is everything [because it is the original seed or embryo, which alone is what expands as everything else]. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything [because 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].
What Bhagavan teaches us in this verse and in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu as a whole is vivarta vāda, because in it he accepts the seeming existence of both ego and phenomena, but by saying in the second sentence, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, he implies that the seeming existence of phenomena (objects or things perceived) is entirely dependent on the seeming existence of ourself as ego (the subject or perceiver). However, according to ajāta there is absolutely no utpatti (coming into existence), so no ego has ever come into existence, and hence nothing else has ever come into existence.

The non-existence of ego is clearly implied by Gaudapada in Māṇḍukya Kārikā 2.32 not only by his saying that there is no utpatti but also by his saying, ‘न बद्धः, न च साधकः; न मुमुक्षुः’ (na baddhaḥ, na ca sādhakaḥ; na mumukṣuḥ), ‘There is no one bound, and no one who does sādhana, no one seeking liberation’. Bondage is the very nature of ego (as Bhagavan implies in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying that ego itself is bandha or bondage), because by rising as ego we bind ourself to all the limitations of whatever body we mistake to be ourself, so if there is no one bound, that means there is no ego, and if there is no ego there can be no illusion, because an illusion cannot exist without a perceiver, and what perceives anything other than itself is only ego.

Therefore whatever way we may consider it, it is clear that ajāta is the state in which no illusion can ever appear or come into existence. What ajāta literally means is ‘not born’, so it is by definition a state that is devoid of and untouched by any kind of utpatti, which means arising, appearing, coming into existence, birth, production or origination, and hence it is a state in which nothing ever happens. In other words, ‘ajāta’ is a description of brahman, the ultimate reality, which is eternal, infinite and immutable. Not only is brahman itself not born (ajāta), but there is nothing in it that is born or has ever come into existence, because it is ēkam ēva advitīyam, ‘one only without a second’, so there is never anything other than it that could have been born.

4. Though ajāta is a direct contradiction of vivarta vāda, it is nevertheless the logical conclusion of it

Though ajāta is therefore a contradiction of vivarta vāda, it is nevertheless the logical conclusion of it, because according to vivarta vāda not only are all phenomena an illusion, but so too is ego, the perceiver of them, as Bhagavan implies, for example, in the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
யதார்த்தமா யுள்ளது ஆத்மசொரூப மொன்றே. ஜக ஜீவ ஈச்வரர்கள், சிப்பியில் வெள்ளிபோல் அதிற் கற்பனைகள். இவை மூன்றும் ஏககாலத்தில் தோன்றி ஏககாலத்தில் மறைகின்றன.

yathārtham-āy uḷḷadu ātma-sorūpam oṉḏṟē. jaga-jīva-īśvarargaḷ, śippiyil veḷḷi pōl adil kaṟpaṉaigaḷ. ivai mūṉḏṟum ēka-kālattil tōṉḏṟi ēka-kālattil maṟaigiṉḏṟaṉa.

What actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa [the ‘own form’ or real nature of oneself]. The world, soul and God are kaṟpaṉaigaḷ [fabrications, imaginations, mental creations, illusions or illusory superimpositions] in it, like the [illusory] silver in a shell. These three appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously.
கற்பனைகள் (kaṟpaṉaigaḷ) is the plural form of கற்பனை (kaṟpaṉai), which is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit word कल्पना (kalpanā) or कल्पन (kalpana), which in this context means a fabrication, imagination, illusion or illusory superimposition, so by saying that the world, soul and God are kaṟpaṉaigaḷ in ātma-svarūpa and that all three of them appear simultaneously and disappear simultaneously, he clearly implies that both the subject and all objects are an illusion. The subject is ego or soul (jīva) and the totality of all objects is the world (both the external world, which consists of physical phenomena, and the internal world, which consists of mental phenomena), so the perceiver of the world is as illusory as the world.

An illusion does not exist except in the view of the perceiver, namely ego, so if the perceiver itself is an illusion, it does not exist except in its own view. Ego seems to exist only when it is attending to or aware of anything other than itself, so if it attends to itself so keenly that it ceases to be aware of anything else, it will be clear that there is no such thing as ego, as Bhagavan implies in verse 17 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
மனத்தி னுருவை மறவா துசாவ
மனமென வொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற
      மார்க்கநே ரார்க்குமி துந்தீபற.

maṉatti ṉuruvai maṟavā dusāva
maṉameṉa voṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
      mārgganē rārkkumi dundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: When one investigates [examines or scrutinises] the form of the mind without neglecting [forgetting, abandoning, giving up or ceasing], [it will be clear that] there is not anything called ‘mind’. This is the direct [straight or appropriate] path for everyone whomsoever.
What he refers to here as ‘மனம்’ (maṉam), ‘mind’, and as ‘மனத்தின் உரு’ (maṉattiṉ uru), ‘the form of the mind’, is ego, which is the perceiving element of the mind and therefore its root and essence (as he implies in verse 18), and what can and needs to investigate ego is only ego itself, so what he implies in the first sentence of this verse is that if ego investigates itself without allowing its attention to be distracted by anything else whatsoever, it will be clear that there is no such thing as ego at all. This is what is generally called the annihilation of mind (manōnāśa) or eradication of ego, but such terms imply that the mind or ego existed and was subsequently annihilated, whereas actually there is not and never was any such thing at all, as Bhagavan indicates here by saying ‘மனம் என ஒன்று இலை’ (maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai), which literally means ‘one called mind does not exist’ or ‘there is not one called mind’, and which therefore implies that there is no such thing as mind at all.

The fact that there is actually no such thing as ego or mind is clearly implied when it is said to be an illusion, because an illusion is something that does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, or something that is not what it seems to be. If a rope is mistaken to be a snake, the snake is an illusion, because it does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, and also because it is not what it seems to be. Though it seems to be a snake, there is no such thing as a snake there, because what seems to be a snake is actually only a rope. Likewise, ego is an illusion, because it does not actually exist but merely seems to exist, and also because it is not what it seems to be. Though it seems to be ego, the subject or perceiver of all phenomena, there is no such thing as ego, because what seems to be ego is actually only pure awareness, which is never aware of any phenomena whatsoever.

As Bhagavan often said, ego or mind seems to exist only because of avicāra, that is, because we have not investigated it keenly enough. If we investigate it keenly enough, we will see that what actually exists is only pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so there is no such thing as ego or mind at all, and there never was any such thing.

Since all phenomena seem to exist only in the view of ego, when ego is found to be ever non-existent, phenomena will likewise be found to be ever non-existent, so the ultimate truth has to be ajāta, the truth that nothing has ever come into existence or ceased to exist. Therefore if everything other than ātma-svarūpa is just an illusion, even the perceiver of that illusion must itself be an illusion, because ātma-svarūpa itself can never perceive any illusion, since it alone exists and is therefore never aware of anything other than itself, so if the perceiver of illusion looks at itself keenly enough by trying to perceive only itself instead of anything else, it will see that what it actually is is only ātma-svarūpa, so it never was the perceiver of anything else, and hence there never was any illusion at all.

This is why I said at the beginning of this section that ajāta is the logical conclusion of vivarta vāda, even though it is a direct contradiction of it. In other words, the very logic of vivarta vāda proves that it is not the ultimate truth (pāramārthika satya) but is only a seeming truth (prātibhāsika satya) or transactional truth (vyāvahārika satya), something that seems to be true only so long as we mistake ourself to be ego, the perceiver of phenomena. If everything other than ātma-svarūpa is just an illusion, what actually exists is only ātma-svarūpa (as Bhagavan says in the first sentence of the seventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?), so nothing else has ever come into existence or ceased to exist, and hence there never was any illusion at all.

Therefore, though vivarta vāda is logically inconsistent with ajāta, ajāta is not logically inconsistent with vivarta vāda, so though you were not correct to write ‘an illusion is not logically inconsistent with no birth / death’, as I explained in the previous section, you would have been correct if you had written ‘no birth / death is not logically inconsistent with an illusion’. The view that everything is an illusion (vivarta) helps us to follow the path of self-investigation and self-surrender, which will lead us to the experience of ajāta, but the experience of ajāta will reveal the truth that there never was any illusion.

Therefore vivarta vāda is a precursor to the ultimate truth but not the ultimate truth itself. For ego it is a necessary precursor, because only when ego is willing to recognise not only that everything it perceives is an illusion but also that even it itself is an illusion will it finally be willing to dedicate itself one-pointedly to investigating itself and thereby letting go of everything else, and only when it thus investigates itself keenly enough will the ultimate truth, namely ajāta, finally reveal itself.

5. There is not just one but many different and often conflicting traditional interpretations of advaita and the writings of Sankara

In the same reply to Mouna you say that you interpret Bhagavan differently to the way I interpret him, and in many other comments you cast doubt on my interpretation of his teachings. For example, in your comment of 15 April 2019 at 19:17 you wrote, ‘Michael’s interpretation of Bhagavan’s teaching is at odds with “traditional” Advaita Vedanta, and that of Gaudapada and Sankara’, but when I discuss and explain his teachings I repeatedly back up what I write or say with evidence from his original writings, particularly Nāṉ Ār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Upadēśa Undiyār, so if you believe my interpretation of any passages from these texts is wrong, you should explain why you think it is wrong and how you think those passages should be interpreted.

What Bhagavan means in these texts seems to me to be extremely clear and in most cases unambiguous, so except in a few cases I cannot see how else they could reasonably be interpreted. However, if you believe that they can or should be interpreted otherwise, you should explain what you consider to be the correct interpretation on the basis of these texts themselves rather than of the basis of how others have interpreted other texts, as you generally do.

You often refer to ‘traditional vedanta’ or ‘traditional Advaita Vedanta’ in support of your interpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings, but this term implies that there is some kind of standard, established or orthodox interpretation of advaita philosophy upon which all advaita vēdāntins since the time of Adi Sankara have been agreed, but that is simply not the case, because soon after his lifetime different interpretations emerged among his followers, and these interpretations differed from each other on fundamental issues. The two main schools of interpretation among the early followers of Sankara were the vivaraṇa-prasthāna, which originated from Padmapada, particularly as interpreted by Prakasatman, and the bhāmatī-prasthāna, which originated from Vacaspati Misra, but among the followers of each of these schools differing interpretations of them developed.

One of the issues that divided these two schools was how the one brahman appears as God (īśvara) and many souls (jīvas). The vivaraṇa school embraced the pratibimba-vāda propounded by Padmapada, the contention (vāda) that īśvara and jīvas are reflections (pratibimba) of brahman, like the reflections of the sun seen in many pools of water, whereas the bhāmatī school embraced the avacchēda-vāda, the contention that īśvara and jīvas are limitations or separated portions (avacchēda) of brahman, just as the one unlimited space appears limited as many separate spaces when contained in many pots.

For many of us the dispute between these two views may seem to be pointless or even meaningless, but it was considered to be a serious issue by many of the early followers of Sankara, and each school gave arguments for or against each of these views. For example, Vacaspati Misra argued that īśvara and jīvas cannot be reflections of brahman because brahman is formless so it cannot be reflected as forms, whereas the followers of the vivaraṇa school argued that īśvara and jīvas cannot be limitations or separated portions of brahman because brahman is indivisible and therefore cannot be separated into different parts like space. However, if īśvara and jīvas are both an illusory appearance (vivarta), they are at best only seeming reflections or seeming limitations, so to argue whether they are actually reflections or limitations is attributing to them more reality than they are due.

Another more serious dispute between these two schools was regarding the āśraya of avidyā, that is, the thing in which the quality of ignorance (avidyā) inheres. In other words, what is it that is under the sway of avidyā? Is it brahman or the jīva? The vivaraṇa school argued that brahman must be the āśraya of avidyā, because jīvas appear as a result of avidyā, whereas the bhāmatī school argued that the jīva must be the āśraya of avidyā, because brahman cannot be affected by ignorance.

Other early followers of Sankara were influenced by Suresvara, who considered many of the disputes between the vivaraṇa and bhāmatī schools to be unnecessary distractions, but who nevertheless agreed with each of them on certain points (for example, like the vivaraṇa school he maintained that brahman is the āśraya of avidyā) and had his own views on other points, so there was never any uniform interpretation of advaita even among the early followers of Sankara. One of the reasons why such conflicting interpretations arose among his early followers was that he had in effect established advaita as the pre-eminent philosophy of India, so after his lifetime the followers of other systems of philosophy came up with many arguments against what they perceived as flaws in advaita philosophy, so his followers had to develop new arguments in defence of advaita, but they disagreed among themselves about which arguments were most appropriate.

Moreover, after Sankara other interpretations of vēdānta arose, most notably viśiṣṭādvaita of Ramanuja and dvaita of Madhvacarya, so they raised their own arguments against advaita, which required yet more counterarguments, and thus in the process of defending advaita against rival views the followers of Sankara developed ever more elaborate arguments, which resulted in making advaita philosophy much more complex than it need or should be. As arguments in support of advaita became more complex, more disagreements arose among the followers of advaita, leading to a proliferation of different interpretations of it.

To cut through all this complexity and to return advaita to the simplicity and clarity of its fundamental principles, in the sixteenth century Prakasananda argued in support of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (the contention that perception alone is creation, just as phenomena in a dream are created merely by the dreamer’s perception of them) and ēka-jīva-vāda (the content that there is only one jīva or perceiver, just as there is only one perceiver of a dream). However, though this was such a neat, clear and simple solution to most of the philosophical objections that were raised against advaita and to many of the issues about which advaitins argued among themselves, and though it therefore appealed to many followers of Sankara, it never became a majority view among his followers, because most of them considered it to be far too radical and austere for their taste.

Therefore when you refer to ‘traditional vedanta’ or ‘traditional Advaita Vedanta’, which of the many traditions within advaita are you referring to? Are you referring to the vivaraṇa tradition, the bhāmatī tradition, the Suresvara tradition, the dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda tradition or to some other permutation or combination of these various traditions? All these traditions are based on the writings of Sankara, but each interpret them in different ways, and find support within them for their own contentions.

Why do the writings of Sankara give room for so many differing interpretations? Like Bhagavan, Sankara gave different explanations to suit people of different levels of spiritual development (as I explained in more detail in sections 12, 14 and 15 of Which is a more reasonable and useful explanation: dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda?). A professor may be qualified to guide PhD students, but if he talks to class of schoolchildren, he will not give them the same deep, precise and subtle explanations that he would give to his PhD students but will give them more superficial and less accurate explanations to suit their level of understanding. Likewise sages like Bhagavan or Sankara adapt their teachings according to the needs of the audience they are addressing.

In the case of Sankara, when he wrote his commentaries on the prasthāna-traya of vēdānta, namely the Upaniṣads, Brahmasūtra and Bhagavad Gītā, and to a lesser extent when he wrote his other works, he was addressing a very broad audience, which included not only spiritual aspirants of various levels but also proponents of other systems of philosophy, so he adapted what he wrote to suit people with different needs and aims. Therefore though he was principally propounding the philosophy of advaita, he gave explanations to suit many different levels of understanding, so most of his writings do not represent his deepest and subtlest teachings, and hence they give room for people to interpret them in different ways.

6. In his original writings, particularly in Nāṉ Ār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, Bhagavan explicitly and unequivocally teaches us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda

Though Bhagavan likewise gave different explanations to suit people of different levels of understanding and spiritual development, in his original writings he made it very clear that his principal teachings are in accordance with dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, so when we interpret his teachings we should do so in the light of these principles, which he expounds particularly clearly in Nāṉ Ār? and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, because we would have to torture these texts in order to interpret them in any other way. There are numerous examples that could be cited from Nāṉ Ār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and other works to show that in them he explicitly and unequivocally teaches us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, but the following are some of the more obvious ones.

In the fourteenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he says, ‘ஜக மென்பது நினைவே’ (jagam eṉbadu niṉaivē), ‘What is called the world is only thought’, thereby implying that the world is just a mental creation, like any world that we perceive in a dream, so it does not exist independent of our perception of it, and in the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he explains this in more detail:
நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

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

Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.
It would be hard to imagine how anyone could interpret this passage as being an expression of any view other than dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda. Most people would probably agree that what he says here about the projection of the world is true in the case of any world that we perceive in a dream, so what he implies here is that just like any such world the world we perceive in our present state, which we now take to be waking, is just our own mental projection. If this world is nothing but thoughts, as he says, then it does not exist when we do not perceive it, as he says unequivocally in the sentence ‘தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை’ (tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai), ‘In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world’.

When he says, ‘சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது’ (silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu), ‘Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself’, he is unmistakably teaching us that whatever world we perceive is just a mental projection, like the world we perceive in a dream. Everything that we perceive in a dream is created only by our perceiving it, because it seems to exist only in our perception, so if this world is likewise a mental projection, it is created only by our perceiving it, which is precisely what dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda maintains.

In the final four sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? he clearly implies that whatever is perceived depends for its seeming existence upon the seeming existence of ourself as the perceiver:
மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா.

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

Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person [ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist.
What he refers to here as ‘நானென்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivu), ‘the thought called I’, and as ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai), ‘the first person’, is ourself as ego, the perceiver of all phenomena, which are what he refers to as ‘ஏனைய நினைவுகள்’ (ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ), ‘other thoughts’, and as ‘முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள்’ (muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ), ‘second and third persons’, so in this passage he very clearly teaches us whatever we perceive depends for its seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego. If we do not rise as ego, nothing else exists, because other things seem to exist only in the view of ourself as ego. Therefore what he teaches us in this passage is clearly and unmistakably dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda.

If all phenomena come into existence only when we rise as ego and thereby perceive them, as he implies in the passages cited above, then this world is no more real than any world we perceive in a dream, so if our aim is to know what is real, we should consider this entire world (prapañca) to be just like a dream, as he says in the final sentence of the seventeenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘பிரபஞ்சத்தை ஒரு சொப்பனத்தைப்போ லெண்ணிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்’ (pirapañcattai oru soppaṉattai-p-pōl eṇṇi-k-koḷḷa vēṇḍum), ‘It is necessary to consider the world like a dream’.

To further emphasise that there is no substantive difference between waking and dream, in the eighteenth paragraph he says:
ஜாக்ரம் தீர்க்கம், சொப்பனம் க்ஷணிக மென்பது தவிர வேறு பேதமில்லை. ஜாக்ரத்தில் நடக்கும் விவகாரங்க ளெல்லாம் எவ்வளவு உண்மையாகத் தோன்றுகின்றனவோ அவ்வளவு உண்மையாகவே சொப்பனத்தில் நடக்கும் விவகாரங்களும் அக்காலத்திற் றோன்றுகின்றன. சொப்பனத்தில் மனம் வேறொரு தேகத்தை யெடுத்துக்கொள்ளுகிறது. ஜாக்ரம் சொப்பன மிரண்டிலும் நினைவுகளும் நாமரூபங்களும் ஏககாலத்தில் நிகழ்கின்றன.

jāgram dīrgham, soppaṉam kṣaṇikam eṉbadu tavira vēṟu bhēdam-illai. jāgrattil naḍakkum vivahāraṅgaḷ ellām e-vv-aḷavu uṇmai-y-āha-t tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa-v-ō a-vv-aḷavu uṇmai-y-āha-v-ē soppaṉattil naḍakkum vivahāraṅgaḷ-um a-k-kālattil tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa. soppaṉattil maṉam vēṟoru dēhattai y-eḍuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. jāgram soppaṉam iraṇḍil-um niṉaivugaḷ-um nāma-rūpaṅgaḷ-um ēka-kālattil nihaṙgiṉḏṟaṉa.

Besides the saying that waking is dīrgha [long lasting] and dream is kṣaṇika [momentary or lasting for only a short while], there is no other difference [between them]. To what extent all the vyavahāras [activities, affairs, transactions or events] that happen in waking seem to be real, to that extent even the vyavahāras that happen in dream seem at that time to be real. In dream the mind takes another body [to be itself]. In both waking and dream thoughts and names-and-forms [the phenomena that constitute the seemingly external world] occur in one time [or simultaneously].
If there is no substantive difference between waking and dream, as he says here, then what we now take to be waking is actually just another dream, in which case this world is created only by our perception of it, just like any world perceived in a dream, so here once again he is implicitly teaching us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda.

In verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he explains that the nature of whatever we perceive is determined by what we perceive ourself to be:
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].
In this context ‘உருவம்’ (uruvam), ‘form’, implies a phenomenon of any kind whatsoever, because all forms are phenomena, and all phenomena are forms of one kind or another. Therefore when he says in the first sentence, ‘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’, he implies that we perceive phenomena only because we mistake ourself to be a phenomenon, namely the form of a body consisting of five sheaths, and as he implies in verse 25, we mistake ourself to be a form whenever we rise as ego. Therefore it is only because we rise as ego and thereby mistake ourself to be a form that the world and God seem to be forms.

When we do not rise as ego, as in sleep, there is no one to see any forms, as he implies in the second and third sentences: ‘உருவம் தான் அன்றேல், உவற்றின் உருவத்தை கண் உறுதல் யாவன்? எவன்?’ (uruvam tāṉ aṉḏṟēl, uvaṯṟiṉ uruvattai kaṇ uṟudal yāvaṉ? evaṉ?), ‘If oneself is not a form, who can see their forms? How?’ The nature of whatever we perceive is determined by the nature of ourself, the ‘eye’ or awareness that perceives it, as he implies in the fourth sentence, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’ Therefore forms seem to exist only when we ourself seem to be a form.

In this context what he means by ‘கண்’ (kaṇ), ‘eye’, is awareness, so what he implies in the final sentence, ‘கண் அது தான் அந்தம் இலா கண்’ (kaṇ adu tāṉ antam-ilā kaṇ), ‘The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’, is that we ourself are real awareness, which is infinite and therefore formless. We seem to be finite only because we mistake ourself to be a form, but if we are actually infinite, we must be formless, because every form is finite. If our real nature is infinite awareness, as he implies here, it cannot be aware of anything other than itself, because if there were anything other than itself, it would thereby be limited and hence not infinite. According to the principle he states in the fourth sentence, ‘கண் அலால் காட்சி உண்டோ?’ (kaṇ alāl kāṭci uṇḍō?), ‘Can the seen [whatever is perceived] be otherwise than the eye [the awareness that perceives it]?’, what can be aware of finite things is only an awareness that is itself finite, namely ego, which is just a formless phantom (as he says in verse 25), because it has no form of its own, but which seems to be finite because it comes into existence only by grasping the finite form of a body as itself.

It could be objected that in this verse Bhagavan is only talking about ‘seeing’ or perception, so he does not actually say that the world of forms does not exist when we do not mistake ourself to be the form of a body, and hence he may not mean that forms are created only by our perception of them, as dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda maintains. However he answers this objection in the next verse, verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, by implying that there is no world except when we mistake ourself to be a body composed of five sheaths:
உடல்பஞ்ச கோச வுருவதனா லைந்து
முடலென்னுஞ் சொல்லி லொடுங்கு — முடலன்றி
யுண்டோ வுலக முடல்விட் டுலகத்தைக்
கண்டா ருளரோ கழறு.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and will]. Therefore all five [sheaths] are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body [composed of these five sheaths], is there a world? Say, without [experiencing oneself as such] a body, is there anyone who has seen a world?
The third and fourth sentences of this verse are both rhetorical questions, and superficially they may both seem to have the same implication, but actually the implication of the first one is ontological whereas that of the second one is epistemic. That is, in the third sentence, ‘உடல் அன்றி உண்டோ உலகம்?’ (uḍal aṉḏṟi uṇḍō ulaham?), ‘Without a body, is there a world?’, what he implies is that no world exists except when we mistake ourself to a body, whereas in the fourth sentence, ‘உடல் விட்டு, உலகத்தை கண்டார் உளரோ?’ (uḍal viṭṭu, ulahattai kaṇḍār uḷarō?), ‘Leaving [or without] the body, is there anyone who has seen a world?’, what he implies is that no one has ever been aware of any world without being aware of themself as a body.

Therefore the sentence that is particularly relevant to our present discussion about dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda is the third one, because if no world exists except when we mistake ourself to a body, that implies that the world is created only by our perception of it, as dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda maintains. According to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, nothing exists except when we perceive it, and as Bhagavan points out in the fourth sentence, we do not perceive any world except when we mistake ourself to be a body, so if we consider the third and fourth sentence together, it is clear that what he implies is that no world exists unless we perceive it.

In other words, the world does not exist unless it shines (that is, unless it appears in our awareness), because existence (sat or asti) and shining (cit or bhāti) are one and the same thing. However, the existence and shining of the world are not real, because the awareness in which it shines is only the mind, which is not real awareness (cit) but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), so though the world seems to exist when we perceive it, it does not actually exist. What actually exists and shines is only our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so the existence and shining of everything else, namely ego (the subject or perceiver) and all phenomena (objects or things perceived), are just an illusory appearance (vivarta). This is what dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda maintains, and it is what Bhagavan teaches us in this and many other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

For example, in verse 6 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he teaches us explicitly that no world exists independent of the one mind that perceives it:
உலகைம் புலன்க ளுருவேறன் றவ்வைம்
புலனைம் பொறிக்குப் புலனா — முலகைமன
மொன்றைம் பொறிவாயா லோர்ந்திடுத லான்மனத்தை
யன்றியுல குண்டோ வறை.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else. Those five [kinds of] sense-impressions are impressions [respective] to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?
The fourth sentence of this verse, ‘உலகை மனம் ஒன்று ஐம் பொறிவாயால் ஓர்ந்திடுதலால், மனத்தை அன்றி உலகு உண்டோ?’ (ulahai maṉam oṉḏṟu aim poṟi-vāyāl ōrndiḍudalāl, maṉattai aṉḏṟi ulahu uṇḍō?), ‘Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there a world besides the mind?’, is a rhetorical question that clearly implies that no world exists independent of the one mind that perceives it. The reason for this is explained by him in the first two sentences: ‘உலகு ஐம் புலன்கள் உரு; வேறு அன்று’ (ulahu aim pulaṉgaḷ uru; vēṟu aṉḏṟu), ‘The world is a form of five sense-impressions; [it is] not anything else’.

In this context he uses ‘புலன்’ (pulaṉ) in the sense of a sense-impression, sensation or sensory perception, so what he means by ‘ஐம் புலன்கள்’ (aim pulaṉgaḷ), ‘five sense-impressions’, is the five kinds of sensory perception, namely sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations. Therefore what he is pointing out in these first two sentences is that what we call the world is actually nothing but a phenomenon (or collection of phenomena) consisting of these five kinds of perception or sensation. Since a perception is a mental phenomenon, what we take to be physical phenomena are actually just mental phenomena, just like all the seemingly physical phenomena that we perceive is a dream.

In other words, what we take to be a world existing out there (the so-called ‘external world’) is actually just a series of perceptions, which are mental phenomena. This is what he implied when he said in the fourth and fourteenth paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār? that what we call the world is nothing but thoughts, because what he means by ‘நினைவுகள்’ (niṉaivugaḷ), ‘thoughts’ or ‘ideas’, is mental phenomena of any kind whatsoever, including perceptions.

Therefore what he teaches us in this verse is unmistakably dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, as also is what he teaches us in the next verse, verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உலகறிவு மொன்றா யுதித்தொடுங்கு மேனு
முலகறிவு தன்னா லொளிரு — முலகறிவு
தோன்றிமறை தற்கிடனாய்த் தோன்றிமறை யாதொளிரும்
பூன்றமா மஃதே பொருள்.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: Though the world and awareness [the awareness that perceives the world, namely ego or mind] arise and subside simultaneously, the world shines by [that rising and subsiding] awareness [the mind]. Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place [space, expanse, location, site or ground] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and [that] awareness is poruḷ [the real substance or vastu], which is pūṉḏṟam [the infinite whole or pūrṇa].
Since real awareness does not rise or subside, appear or disappear, what he refers to here as ‘அறிவு’ (aṟivu), ‘awareness’, is obviously not real awareness, but is only ego or mind, because that is the awareness that appears along with a world in waking and dream and disappears with it in sleep. Therefore when he says in the main clause of the first sentence, ‘உலகு அறிவு தன்னால் ஒளிரும்’ (ulahu aṟivu-taṉṉāl oḷirum), ‘the world shines by awareness’, he implies that it shines only by ego or mind. The reason for this is implied in the previous verse, namely that the world is nothing other than the five kinds of sensory perception, so it is perceived only by the mind and does not exist independent of it. In other words, what he implies by saying that the world shines by awareness is that it seems to exist only in the view of ego, the perceiving element of the mind, and therefore would not seem to exist without it.

In verse 9 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he explains dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda from another angle:
இரட்டைகண் முப்புடிக ளென்றுமொன்று பற்றி
யிருப்பவா மவ்வொன்றே தென்று — கருத்தினுட்
கண்டாற் கழலுமவை கண்டவ ரேயுண்மை
கண்டார் கலங்காரே காண்.

iraṭṭaigaṇ muppuḍiga ḷeṉḏṟumoṉḏṟu paṯṟi
yiruppavā mavvoṉḏṟē teṉḏṟu — karuttiṉuṭ
kaṇḍāṯ kaṙalumavai kaṇḍava rēyuṇmai
kaṇḍār kalaṅgārē kāṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: இரட்டைகள் முப்புடிகள் என்றும் ஒன்று பற்றி இருப்பவாம். அவ் ஒன்று ஏது என்று கருத்தின் உள் கண்டால், கழலும் அவை. கண்டவரே உண்மை கண்டார்; கலங்காரே. காண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): iraṭṭaigaḷ muppuḍigaḷ eṉḏṟum oṉḏṟu paṯṟi iruppavām. a-vv-oṉḏṟu ēdu eṉḏṟu karuttiṉ-uḷ kaṇḍāl, kaṙalum avai. kaṇḍavarē uṇmai kaṇḍār; kalaṅgārē. kāṇ.

அன்வயம்: இரட்டைகள் முப்புடிகள் என்றும் ஒன்று பற்றி இருப்பவாம். அவ் ஒன்று ஏது என்று கருத்தின் உள் கண்டால், அவை கழலும். கண்டவரே உண்மை கண்டார்; கலங்காரே. காண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): iraṭṭaigaḷ muppuḍigaḷ eṉḏṟum oṉḏṟu paṯṟi iruppavām. a-vv-oṉḏṟu ēdu eṉḏṟu karuttiṉ-uḷ kaṇḍāl, avai kaṙalum. kaṇḍavarē uṇmai kaṇḍār; kalaṅgārē. kāṇ.

English translation: Dyads and triads exist always holding one thing. If one sees within the mind what that one thing is, they will cease to exist. Only those who have seen have seen the reality. See, they will not be confused.

Explanatory paraphrase: Dyads [pairs of opposites] and triads [the three factors of transitive knowledge or awareness, namely the perceiver, the perceived and the perceiving] exist [by] always holding [or depending on] one thing [namely ego, in whose view alone they seem to exist]. If [by looking keenly at oneself] one sees within the mind what that one thing is, they will cease to exist [because their support and foundation, ego, will itself cease to exist]. Only those who have seen [what remains when all dyads and triads have thereby ceased to exist along with their root, ego] have seen the reality. See, they will not be confused.
‘இரட்டைகள்’ (iraṭṭaigaḷ) is the plural of ‘இரட்டை’ (iraṭṭai), which means a pair, couple or dyad, and in this context it refers to pairs of opposites such as existence and non-existence, life and death, awareness and non-awareness, knowledge and ignorance, bondage and liberation, happiness and unhappiness, pleasure and pain, good and bad, inside and outside, or darkness and light, and ‘முப்புடிகள்’ (muppuḍigaḷ) is the plural of ‘முப்புடி’ (muppuḍi), which is what is called त्रिपुटि (tripuṭi) in Sanskrit and which means a triad in the sense of a set of three factors of transitive knowledge or awareness, namely the knower, the known and the act, process or means of knowing, the perceiver, the perceived and the perceiving, or the experiencer, the experienced and the experiencing.

Therefore when Bhagavan says in the first sentence of this verse, ‘இரட்டைகள் முப்புடிகள் என்றும் ஒன்று பற்றி இருப்பவாம்’ (iraṭṭaigaḷ muppuḍigaḷ eṉḏṟum oṉḏṟu paṯṟi iruppavām), ‘Dyads and triads exist always holding one thing’, what he implies is that all pairs of opposites and all sets of three factors of transitive awareness depend for their seeming existence on one thing, and as he explained to Lakshmana Sarma, what he meant in this context by ‘ஒன்று’ (oṉḏṟu), ‘one thing’, is ego, which is the root, foundation and essence of the mind (and hence in his Tamil commentary on this verse Lakshmana Sarma paraphrased ‘என்றும் ஒன்று பற்றி இருப்பவாம்’ (eṉḏṟum oṉḏṟu paṯṟi iruppavām), ‘exist always holding one thing’, as ‘எப்போதும் (மனதின் அடிப்படையான அகங்காரம் என்னும்) ஒன்றைப்பற்றி நிற்கின்றன’ (eppōdum (maṉadiṉ aḍippaḍaiyāṉa ahaṅkāram eṉṉum) oṉḏṟai-p-paṯṟi niṟgiṉḏṟaṉa), ‘stand always holding one thing (called ego, which is the foundation of the mind)’). Other than our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), everything that we experience is made up of pairs of opposites and these three factors of transitive awareness, so all these things depend for their seeming existence on this one ego, because they all seem to exist only in its view.

In the second sentence he says, ‘அவ் ஒன்று ஏது என்று கருத்தின் உள் கண்டால், கழலும் அவை’ (a-vv-oṉḏṟu ēdu eṉḏṟu karuttiṉ-uḷ kaṇḍāl, kaṙalum avai), ‘If one sees within the mind what that one thing is, they will cease to exist’, because as he often explained, if ego looks within itself keenly enough to see what it actually is, it will dissolve back into its source, namely pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), and when it thereby ceases to exist, everything else will cease to exist along with it, because everything else seems to exist only in its view and therefore cannot exist without it.

The fact that everything else will cease to exist when ego investigates itself keenly enough and thereby ceases to exist is also explained by him in verse 14 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
தன்மையுண்டேன் முன்னிலைப டர்க்கைக டாமுளவாந்
தன்மையி னுண்மையைத் தானாய்ந்து — தன்மையறின்
முன்னிலைப டர்க்கை முடிவுற்றொன் றாயொளிருந்
தன்மையே தன்னிலைமை தான்.

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: If the first person [ego] exists, second and third persons [everything else] will exist. If the first person ceases to exist [by] oneself investigating the reality of the first person, second and third persons will come to an end, and [what then remains alone, namely] the nature [selfness, essence or reality] that shines as one [undivided by the appearance of these three persons or ‘places’] alone is oneself, the [real] state [or nature] of oneself.
In this verse Bhagavan reiterates what he said in the final two sentences of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, namely: ‘தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), ‘Only after the first person [ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist’. In both cases what he means by ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai), ‘the first person’, is ourself as ego, the subject or perceiver, and what he means by ‘முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள்’ (muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ), ‘second and third persons’, is all other things, which are objects, phenomena perceived by ego.

If we read the first sentence of this verse, ‘தன்மை உண்டேல், முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தாம் உள ஆம்’ (taṉmai uṇḍēl, muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tām uḷa-v-ām), ‘If the first person exists, second and third persons will exist’, along with the final sentence of the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), ‘without the first person second and third persons do not exist’, we have an extremely strong and unequivocal statement of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda: ‘If the first person exists, second and third persons will exist; without the first person second and third persons do not exist’.

That is, Bhagavan teaches us that other things seem to exist only when we rise and stand as ego (as we all know from our own experience, because other things seem to exist only in waking and dream, when we have risen as ego, and not in sleep, when we do not appear as ego), and that they do not exist at all when we do not rise as ego. Therefore all things perceived (all phenomena) seem to exist only because we have risen as ego. In other words, our rising and standing as ego is what creates the illusory appearance of phenomena.

However, though we now seem to be this ego, the perceiver of all these phenomena, this is not what we actually are, because we exist in sleep in spite of the absence of any trace of ego there. Therefore if we investigate ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, ego will cease to exist, and everything else will cease to exist along with it, and what will then remain is only our real nature, which is one and indivisible, as Bhagavan says in the second sentence of this verse: ‘தன்மையின் உண்மையை தான் ஆய்ந்து தன்மை அறின், முன்னிலை படர்க்கை முடிவு உற்று, ஒன்றாய் ஒளிரும் தன்மையே தன் நிலைமை தான்’ (taṉmaiyiṉ uṇmaiyai tāṉ āyndu taṉmai aṟiṉ, muṉṉilai paḍarkkai muḍivu uṯṟu, oṉḏṟāy oḷirum taṉmaiyē taṉ nilaimai tāṉ), ‘If, [by] oneself investigating the reality of the first person, the first person ceases to exist, second and third persons coming to an end, the nature that shines as one alone is oneself, the state of oneself’.

The fact that all other things come into existence only when we rise as ego is stated by him again in verse 23 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘நான் ஒன்று எழுந்த பின், எல்லாம் எழும்’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu eṙunda piṉ, ellām eṙum), ‘After one thing, I, rises, everything rises’, but he states this most strongly and emphatically in verse 26:
அகந்தையுண் டாயி னனைத்துமுண் டாகு
மகந்தையின் றேலின் றனைத்து — மகந்தையே
யாவுமா மாதலால் யாதிதென்று நாடலே
யோவுதல் யாவுமென வோர்.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: If ego comes into existence, everything [all phenomena, everything that appears and disappears, everything other than our pure, fundamental, unchanging and immutable self-awareness] comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist [because nothing other than pure self-awareness actually exists, so everything else seems to exist only in the view of ego, and hence it cannot seem to exist unless ego seems to exist]. [Therefore] ego itself is everything [because it is the original seed or embryo, which alone is what expands as everything else]. Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone is giving up everything [because 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].
What dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda maintains is that there is no creation (sṛṣṭi) independent of perception (dṛṣṭi). That is, perception alone is creation, because everything perceived is just an illusory appearance (vivarta), like everything perceived in a dream, so it is brought into seeming existence only by the perceiver’s perception of it. The perceiver of everything is ourself as ego, so everything comes into existence only when we rise or come into existence as ego, and when we do not exist as ego everything else does not exist, as Bhagavan says in the first two sentences of this verse: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist’.

In this context ‘அனைத்தும்’ (aṉaittum), ‘everything’, means all phenomena or objects of perception, but if phenomena do not exist except when we perceive them, what is it that we perceive as phenomena? The answer to this is given by him in the third sentence of this verse: ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandaiyē yāvum ām), ‘Ego itself is everything’. That is, just like everything we perceive in a dream, everything we perceive in our current state (which according to him is just another dream) is our own thoughts and therefore mental in substance, so since ego is the root, foundation and essence of the mind, mental substance is just ego-substance, and hence what ego is seeing as everything else is only itself.

In other words, as soon as we rise as ego, we expand as all phenomena, so everything that we perceive is just ourself. However, it is not ourself as we actually are but only ourself as ego, because as we actually are we are immutable and therefore never rise as ego or expand as anything else. Of course, the ultimate substance of both ego and everything else is ourself as we actually are, our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), because nothing else actually exists, but the immediate substance that appears as everything else is ourself as ego. That is, we first rise as ego, and instantly we project phenomena, which are all mental and therefore ego in substance.

Therefore without ego there is no everything. Without the perceiver there is nothing perceived. Without the subject there are no objects. In the absence of ego, there is only one thing, namely ourself as we actually are. Everything else seems to exist only when we rise and stand as ego, so when we do not rise as ego nothing else exists at all. Therefore everything else is a tree whose seed and root is ego, so it is all made only of ego-substance, namely thought. This is what Bhagavan teaches us emphatically and unequivocally in the first three sentences of this verse: ‘அகந்தை உண்டாயின், அனைத்தும் உண்டாகும்; அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும். அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandai uṇḍāyiṉ, aṉaittum uṇḍāhum; ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum. ahandaiyē yāvum ām), ‘If ego comes into existence, everything comes into existence; if ego does not exist, everything does not exist. Ego itself is everything’.

So what is this ego? What is this formless phantom that rises as ‘I’, projecting everything else in its awareness and thereby creating it by its mere perception of it? ‘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?, so what appears as ego cannot be anything other than ātma-svarūpa, our own real nature. Therefore if we investigate ego keenly enough, we will see that it is only ātma-svarūpa and was therefore never any such thing as ego, just as if we look at an illusory snake carefully enough, we will see that it is only a rope and was therefore never a snake.

In other words, if we investigate what ego actually is, it will dissolve and disappear, because it does not actually exist, as he implied in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying, ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), ‘If sought, it will take flight’. Therefore, since nothing else can exist in the absence of ego, as he says in the second sentence of this verse, ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego does not exist, everything does not exist’, investigating ego keenly enough entails giving up everything else entirely and forever, as he says in the fourth and final sentence of this verse: ‘ஆதலால், யாது இது என்று நாடலே ஓவுதல் யாவும் என ஓர்’ (ādalāl, yādu idu eṉḏṟu nādal-ē ōvudal yāvum eṉa ōr), ‘Therefore, know that investigating what this [ego] is alone [or certainly] is giving up everything’.

In all the passages of Nāṉ Ār? and verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu that I have cited and discussed in this section what Bhagavan clearly teaches is not only dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda but also ēka-jīva-vāda, because if everything else comes into existence only when ego comes into existence to perceive it (as we all acknowledge to be the case in dream), and if therefore nothing else exists in the absence of ego, there can only be one ego, and all the other egos that seem to exist are just part of the ‘everything else’ that seems to exist only in the view of the one ego who perceives them.

So long as we are dreaming every other person we see in our dream seems to be an ego just like us, perceiving the same world that we are then perceiving, but when we wake up we recognise that the entire dream world and all the other egos in it seemed to exist only in our view, and therefore did not actually exist independent of our perception of them. Therefore if there is no substantive difference between waking and dream, as Bhagavan says, there is only one ego or jīva perceiving all this.

To emphasise that there is only one ego, in Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan often uses the noun ‘ஒன்று’ (oṉḏṟu), which means ‘one thing’ or ‘the one’, to refer to ego. In verse 9 he refers to ego just as ‘ஒன்று’ (oṉḏṟu), ‘the one’, and in verses 23 and 24 he refers to it as ‘நான் ஒன்று’ (nāṉ oṉḏṟu), ‘one thing, I’, ‘the one, I’ or ‘the one [called] I’. Likewise in verse 6 he refers to it as ‘மனம் ஒன்று’ (maṉam oṉḏṟu), which can mean ‘one thing, the mind’, ‘the one, mind’, ‘the one [called] mind’ or ‘the mind alone’, saying that what perceives the world is just this one thing, the mind, so without the mind there is no such thing as a world.

It is not only in Nāṉ Ār? and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu that Bhagavan teaches us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, because these are implicit in many of his other writings, and in verses 6 and 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam he very explicitly explained them. In verse 6 he used probably for the first time the analogy of the projection of a cinema picture, which was one of his favourite analogies to explain how the mind projects the appearance of both an internal world of mental phenomena and an external world consisting of phenomena that seem to be physical but are actually just mental:
உண்டொரு பொருளறி வொளியுள மேநீ
      யுளதுனி லலதிலா வதிசய சத்தி
நின்றணு நிழனிரை நினைவறி வோடே
      நிகழ்வினைச் சுழலிலந் நினைவொளி யாடி
கண்டன நிழற்சக விசித்திர முள்ளுங்
      கண்முதற் பொறிவழி புறத்துமொர் சில்லா
னின்றிடு நிழல்பட நிகரருட் குன்றே
      நின்றிட சென்றிட நினைவிட வின்றே.

uṇḍoru poruḷaṟi voḷiyuḷa mēnī
     yuḷaduṉi laladilā vatiśaya śatti
niṉḏṟaṇu niṙaṉirai niṉaivaṟi vōḍē
     nikaṙviṉaic cuṙalilan niṉaivoḷi yāḍi
kaṇḍaṉa niṙaṯcaga vicittira muḷḷuṅ
     kaṇmudaṯ poṟivaṙi puṟattumor sillā
ṉiṉḏṟiḍu niṙalpaḍa nikararuṭ kuṉḏṟē
     niṉḏṟiḍa ceṉḏṟiḍa niṉaiviḍa viṉḏṟē
.

பதச்சேதம்: உண்டு ஒரு பொருள் அறிவு ஒளி உளமே நீ. உளது உனில் அலது இலா அதிசய சத்தி. நின்று அணு நிழல் நிரை நினைவு அறிவோடே நிகழ்வினை சுழலில் அந் நினைவு ஒளி ஆடி கண்டன நிழல் சக விசித்திரம் உள்ளும் கண் முதல் பொறி வழி புறத்தும் ஒர் சில்லால் நின்றிடும் நிழல்படம் நிகர். அருள் குன்றே, நின்றிட சென்றிட, நினை விட இன்றே.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uṇḍu oru poruḷ aṟivu oḷi uḷamē nī. uḷadu uṉil aladu ilā atiśaya śatti. niṉḏṟu aṇu niṙal nirai niṉaivu aṟivōḍē nikaṙviṉai suṙalil a-n-niṉaivu oḷi āḍi kaṇḍaṉa niṙal jaga-vicittiram uḷḷum kaṇ mudal poṟi vaṙi puṟattum or sillāl niṉḏṟiḍum niṙal-paḍam nikar. aruḷ-kuṉḏṟē, niṉḏṟiḍa seṉḏṟiḍa, niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē.

அன்வயம்: அறிவு ஒளி உளமே நீ ஒரு பொருள் உண்டு. உனில் அலது இலா அதிசய சத்தி உளது. நின்று அணு நிழல் நினைவு நிரை அறிவோடே நிகழ்வினை சுழலில், ஒர் சில்லால் நின்றிடும் நிழல்படம் நிகர், நிழல் சக விசித்திரம் உள்ளும் கண் முதல் பொறி வழி புறத்தும் அந் நினைவு ஒளி ஆடி கண்டன. அருள் குன்றே, நின்றிட சென்றிட, நினை விட இன்றே.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aṟivu oḷi uḷamē nī oru poruḷ uṇḍu. uṉil aladu ilā atiśaya śatti uḷadu. niṉḏṟu aṇu niṙal niṉaivu nirai aṟivōḍē nikaṙviṉai suṙalil, or sillāl niṉḏṟiḍum niṙal-paḍam nikar, niṙal jaga-vicittaram uḷḷum kaṇ mudal poṟi vaṙi puṟattum a-n-niṉaivu oḷi āḍi kaṇḍaṉa. aruḷ-kuṉḏṟē, niṉḏṟiḍa seṉḏṟiḍa, niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē.

English translation: There is only one substance, you, the heart, the light of awareness. In you exists an extraordinary power, which is not other [than you]. [Appearing] from [that] along with awareness, series of subtle shadowy thoughts [spinning] in the whirl of destiny are seen [on] the mirror [that is] the mind-light as a shadowy world-picture both inside and outside via senses such as the eye, like a shadow-picture that stands out [or is projected] by a lens. Hill of grace, let them cease or let them go on, they do not exist at all apart from you.
What he refers to as ‘நீ’ (), ‘you’, in the first sentence is Arunachala, which is the real nature of ourself (ātma-svarūpa) and is therefore called ‘உள்ளம்’ (uḷḷam), ‘the heart’, and which he says is ‘அறிவு ஒளி’ (aṟivu oḷi), ‘the light of awareness’, and ‘ஒரு பொருள்’ (oru poruḷ), ‘the one [real] substance’. That alone is what actually exists, as he implies by saying, ‘உண்டு ஒரு பொருள் அறிவு ஒளி உளமே நீ’ (uṇḍu oru poruḷ aṟivu oḷi uḷamē nī), ‘There is one substance, [which is] only you, the heart, the light of awareness’.

In this one real substance there is an extraordinary power (atiśaya śakti), which in substance is nothing other than it, as he says in the second sentence: ‘உளது உனில் அலது இலா அதிசய சத்தி’ (uḷadu uṉil aladu ilā atiśaya śatti), ‘In you exists an extraordinary power, which is not other [than you]’. ‘அதிசய சத்தி’ (atiśaya śatti) is a Tamil form of the Sanskrit term ‘अतिशय शक्ति’ (atiśaya śakti), which means a pre-eminent, excellent or extraordinary power, and which in this context refers to māyā, the ego or mind, about which Bhagavan says in the first five sentences of 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. நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை.

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. niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam eṉḏṟu ōr poruḷ aṉṉiyam-āy illai.

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. Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world.
In the third sentence of this verse Bhagavan describes how this extraordinary power (atiśaya śakti), the mind, projects both the internal and external worlds, which are composed only of thoughts: ‘நின்று அணு நிழல் நிரை நினைவு அறிவோடே நிகழ்வினை சுழலில் அந் நினைவு ஒளி ஆடி கண்டன நிழல் சக விசித்திரம் உள்ளும் கண் முதல் பொறி வழி புறத்தும் ஒர் சில்லால் நின்றிடும் நிழல்படம் நிகர்’ (niṉḏṟu aṇu niṙal nirai niṉaivu aṟivōḍē nikaṙviṉai suṙalil a-n-niṉaivu oḷi āḍi kaṇḍaṉa niṙal jaga-vicittiram uḷḷum kaṇ mudal poṟi vaṙi puṟattum or sillāl niṉḏṟiḍum niṙal-paḍam nikar), ‘[Appearing] from [that atiśaya śakti] along with awareness, series of subtle shadowy thoughts [spinning] in the whirl of destiny are seen [on] the mirror [that is] the mind-light as a shadowy world-picture both inside and outside via senses such as the eye, like a shadow-picture that stands out [or is projected] by a lens’.

What Bhagavan clearly means in this sentence is that what appears as both the internal and the external world is only thoughts, which are projected or caused to appear only by the extraordinary power called mind, just as a cinema picture is projected on the screen through the lens of a projector. This meaning is made even more clear if we read this sentence along with both the second sentence of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘அது சகல நினைவுகளையும் தோற்றுவிக்கின்றது’ (adu sakala niṉaivugaḷaiyum tōṯṟuvikkiṉḏṟadu), ‘It [the extraordinary power called mind] makes all thoughts appear’, and the eighth sentence of the same paragraph: ‘சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது’ (silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉ-ṉ-iḍam-irundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉamum taṉ-ṉ-iḍattil-irundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu), ‘Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears’.

As Bhagavan often explained, just as the shadow-pictures on a cinema screen are projected by shining a light through the shadow-pictures on a film reel, the shadow-pictures that constitute both the internal and external worlds are projected when the light of awareness shines through the shadow-pictures of our viṣaya-vāsanās, our inclinations, likings or desires (vāsanās) to be aware of phenomena (viṣayas). The film reel of our viṣaya-vāsanās is made to whirl in accordance with our destiny (prārabdha), as he indicates in the third sentence of this verse by the words ‘நிகழ்வினை சுழலில்’ (nikaṙviṉai suṙalil), ‘in the whirl of destiny’, and destiny will continue whirling so long as we rise as ego. Only when we cease rising as ego does it stop.

In order to cease rising as ego, we need to turn our entire attention within, away from all the pictures that appear whenever we turn our attention outwards, away from ourself. Therefore the whirl of destiny can continue only so long as we attend to anything other than ourself, and it will cease as soon as we attend to ourself alone. If the film reel in a cinema projector stops whirling in the middle of a film, it will be melted by the heat of the arc-lamp, after which light alone without any pictures will appear on the screen. Likewise, if we turn our entire attention within and thereby bring the whirl of destiny to a standstill, our viṣaya-vāsanās will be destroyed along with their parent, ego, by the clear light of pure self-awareness, after which that light alone will shine without any world-pictures.

This is what Bhagavan indicated in the final two sentences of the previous verse, verse 5 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘நிழல் படி தகட்டின் விண்மணி ஒளி பட நிழல் பதியுமோ? உன்னின் மறு பொருள் அருண நல் ஒளி மலை உண்டோ?’ (niṙal paḍi tagaṭṭiṉ viṇmaṇi oḷi paḍa niṙal padiyumō? uṉṉiṉ maṟu poruḷ aruṇa nal oḷi malai uṇḍō?), ‘After sunlight has fallen on a photographic film, can any shadow [or image] be imprinted on it? Aruna, hill of intense light, is there anything other than you?’

So should we be concerned about the appearance of these pictures that constitute both the internal and external worlds? The obvious answer may seem to be yes, we should be very concerned about it, because so long as it continues we cannot see the light of pure awareness as it actually is, as Bhagavan says in the ninth, tenth and eleventh sentences of the fourth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது’ (maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu), ‘When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear’. However his answer is just the opposite: we should not be at all concerned about the appearance of any world-pictures, as he implies in the final two sentences of verse 6: ‘அருள் குன்றே, நின்றிட சென்றிட; நினை விட இன்றே’ (aruḷ-kuṉḏṟē, niṉḏṟiḍa seṉḏṟiḍa; niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē), ‘Hill of grace, let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’.

What we should be concerned about is only attending to ourself, firstly because we alone are real and everything else is unreal, and more importantly because being self-attentive is the only means by which we can eradicate ego, the root cause for the appearance of everything else. So long as we are concerned about whether other things appear or disappear, our attention is not entirely on ourself. By attending to anything other than ourself we are giving it life, nourishing and sustaining its illusory appearance, so our aim should be to attend to ourself alone, and hence nothing else should concern us even to the slightest extent.

When Bhagavan says, ‘நின்றிட சென்றிட; நினை விட இன்றே’ (niṉḏṟiḍa seṉḏṟiḍa; niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē), ‘let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’, what he refers to as ‘நினை’ (niṉai), ‘you’, is Arunachala, whom he describes in the first sentence of this verse as ‘ஒரு பொருள்’ (oru poruḷ), ‘the one [real] substance’, ‘அறிவு ஒளி’ (aṟivu oḷi), ‘the light of awareness’, and ‘உள்ளம்’ (uḷḷam), ‘the heart’, so what he implies is that whether other things appear or not, what we should attend to is only the light of awareness that shines within us as our heart or real nature.

As he implies in the first sentence of the next verse, verse 7 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam, other things appear only because we have risen as ego, the primal thought called ‘I’, so if we do not rise as ego, nothing else will appear:
இன்றக மெனுநினை வெனிற்பிற வொன்று
      மின்றது வரைபிற நினைவெழி லார்க்கெற்
கொன்றக முதிதல மெதுவென வுள்ளாழ்ந்
      துளத்தவி சுறினொரு குடைநிழற் கோவே
யின்றகம் புறமிரு வினையிறல் சன்ம
      மின்புதுன் பிருளொளி யெனுங்கன விதய
மன்றக மசலமா நடமிடு மருண
      மலையெனு மெலையறு மருளொளிக் கடலே.

iṉḏṟaha meṉuniṉai veṉiṟpiṟa voṉḏṟu
      miṉḏṟadu varaipiṟa niṉaiveṙi lārkkeṟ
koṉḏṟaha mudithala meduveṉa vuḷḷāṙn
      duḷattavi cuṟiṉoru kuḍainiḻaṟ kōvē
yiṉḏṟaham puṟamiru viṉaiyiṟal jaṉma
      miṉbutuṉ biruḷoḷi yeṉuṅkaṉa vidaya
maṉḏṟaha macalamā naḍamiṭu maruṇa
      malaiyeṉu melaiyaṟu maruḷoḷik kaḍalē
.

பதச்சேதம்: இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று. அது வரை, பிற நினைவு எழில், ‘ஆர்க்கு?’, ‘எற்கு’, ஒன்று ‘அகம் உதி தலம் எது?’ என. உள் ஆழ்ந்து உள தவிசு உறின், ஒரு குடை நிழல் கோவே. இன்று அகம் புறம், இரு வினை, இறல் சன்மம், இன்பு துன்பு, இருள் ஒளி எனும் கனவு. இதய மன்று அகம் அசலமா நடமிடும் அருணமலை எனும் எலை அறும் அருள் ஒளிக் கடலே.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu. adu varai, piṟa niṉaivu eṙil, ‘ārkku?’, ‘eṟku’, oṉḏṟu ‘aham udi thalam edu?’ eṉa. uḷ āṙndu uḷa tavicu uṟiṉ, oru kuḍai niḻal kōvē. iṉḏṟu aham puṟam, iru viṉai, iṟal jaṉmam, iṉbu tuṉbu, iruḷ oḷi eṉum kaṉavu. idaya-maṉḏṟu aham acalamā naḍam-iḍum aruṇamalai eṉum elai-aṟum aruḷ oḷi-k kaḍalē.

அன்வயம்: அகம் எனும் நினைவு இன்று எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று. அது வரை, பிற நினைவு எழில், ‘ஆர்க்கு?’, ‘எற்கு’, ‘அகம் உதி தலம் எது?’ என ஒன்று. உள் ஆழ்ந்து உள தவிசு உறின், ஒரு குடை நிழல் கோவே. அகம் புறம், இரு வினை, இறல் சன்மம், இன்பு துன்பு, இருள் ஒளி எனும் கனவு இன்று. இதய மன்று அகம் அசலமா நடமிடும் அருணமலை எனும் எலை அறும் அருள் ஒளிக் கடலே.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): aham eṉum niṉaivu iṉḏṟu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu. adu varai, piṟa niṉaivu eṙil, ‘ārkku?’, ‘eṟku’, ‘aham udi thalam edu?’ eṉa oṉḏṟu. uḷ āṙndu uḷa tavicu uṟiṉ, oru kuḍai niḻal kōvē. aham puṟam, iru viṉai, iṟal jaṉmam, iṉbu tuṉbu, iruḷ oḷi eṉum kaṉavu iṉḏṟu. idaya-maṉḏṟu aham acalamā naḍam-iḍum aruṇamalai eṉum elai-aṟum aruḷ oḷi-k kaḍalē.

English translation: If the thought called ‘I’ does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist. Until then, if any other thought arises, merge [back within by investigating] thus: to whom [has it appeared]; to me; what is the place from which I rose? Sinking [thereby] within, if one reaches the heart-throne, [one will be] the very emperor [seated under] the shade of a single umbrella [namely God, the supreme lord of this and every other world]. The dream [of duality], which consists of [pairs of opposites such as] inside and outside, the two karmas [good and bad actions], death and birth, happiness and misery, darkness and light, will [then] not exist. [What will exist is] only the infinite ocean of the light of grace called Arunamalai, which dances motionlessly [as ‘I am only I’] in the court of the heart.
As he implied in the previous verse, the appearance of any world is created by ego or mind, the extraordinary power (atiśaya śakti) from which all thoughts appear, and this extraordinary power is what he refers to here as ‘அகம் எனும் நினைவு’ (aham eṉum niṉaivu), ‘the thought called I’, so in the first sentence of this verse he says, ‘இன்று அகம் எனும் நினைவு எனில், பிற ஒன்றும் இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu aham eṉum niṉaivu eṉil, piṟa oṉḏṟum iṉḏṟu), ‘If the thought called I does not exist, even one other [thought or thing] will not exist’, which is exactly the same teaching that he gave us in the second sentence of verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘அகந்தை இன்றேல், இன்று அனைத்தும்’ (ahandai iṉḏṟēl, iṉḏṟu aṉaittum), ‘If ego does not exist, everything does not exist’.

He begins the second sentence of this verse by saying ‘அது வரை’ (adu varai), ‘until that’ (or ‘until then’), meaning until the thought called ‘I’ does not exist and consequently nothing else exists. Until then, it is necessary for us to investigate ourself, who have now risen as ego, this thought called ‘I’, as he implies by saying: ‘அது வரை, பிற நினைவு எழில், ‘ஆர்க்கு?’, ‘எற்கு’, ஒன்று ‘அகம் உதி தலம் எது?’ என’ (adu varai, piṟa niṉaivu eṙil, ‘ārkku?’, ‘eṟku’, oṉḏṟu ‘aham udi thalam edu?’ eṉa), ‘Until then, if any other thought arises, merge [back within by investigating] thus: to whom [has it appeared]; to me; what is the place from which I rose?’

What will transpire if we merge back within by investigating ourself thus is described by him in the last three sentences of this verse: ‘உள் ஆழ்ந்து உள தவிசு உறின், ஒரு குடை நிழல் கோவே. இன்று அகம் புறம், இரு வினை, இறல் சன்மம், இன்பு துன்பு, இருள் ஒளி எனும் கனவு. இதய மன்று அகம் அசலமா நடமிடும் அருணமலை எனும் எலை அறும் அருள் ஒளிக் கடலே’ (uḷ āṙndu uḷa tavicu uṟiṉ, oru kuḍai niḻal kōvē. iṉḏṟu aham puṟam, iru viṉai, iṟal jaṉmam, iṉbu tuṉbu, iruḷ oḷi eṉum kaṉavu. idaya-maṉḏṟu aham acalamā naḍam-iḍum aruṇamalai eṉum elai-aṟum aruḷ oḷi-k kaḍalē), ‘Sinking [thereby] within, if one reaches the heart-throne, [one will be] the very emperor [seated under] the shade of a single umbrella [namely God, the supreme lord this and every other world]. The dream [of duality], which consists of [pairs of opposites such as] inside and outside, the two karmas [good and bad actions], death and birth, happiness and misery, darkness and light, will [then] not exist. [What will exist is] only the infinite ocean of the light of grace called Arunamalai, which dances motionlessly [as ‘I am only I’] in the court of the heart’.

‘உள் ஆழ்ந்து உள தவிசு உறின், ஒரு குடை நிழல் கோவே’ (uḷ āṙndu uḷa tavicu uṟiṉ, oru kuḍai niḻal kōvē), ‘Sinking within, if one reaches the heart-throne, [one will be] the very emperor [seated under] the shade of a single umbrella’, is a metaphorical way of saying that if we investigate ourself keenly enough, we will become one with God, the supreme lord of this and every other world. Does this mean then that there will remain one or more worlds over which we will be the emperor or supreme lord? No, as Bhagavan makes clear in the fourth sentence: ‘இன்று அகம் புறம், இரு வினை, இறல் சன்மம், இன்பு துன்பு, இருள் ஒளி எனும் கனவு’ (iṉḏṟu aham puṟam, iru viṉai, iṟal jaṉmam, iṉbu tuṉbu, iruḷ oḷi eṉum kaṉavu), ‘The dream [of duality], which consists of [pairs of opposites such as] inside and outside, the two karmas [good and bad actions], death and birth, happiness and misery, darkness and light, will [then] not exist’.

Since ‘இன்று’ (iṉḏṟu) is used here as a tenseless verb meaning ‘does not exist’ or ‘will not exist’, this sentence can be interpreted either in terms of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda or ajāta vāda. That is, from the perspective of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda this sentence implies that when we merge within by self-investigation and thereby eradicate ego, the dream of duality consisting of all such pairs of opposites will come to an end, whereas from the perspective of ajāta vāda it implies that when self-investigation reveals that ego never actually existed, it will be clear that no dream ever existed.

In the final sentence of this verse Bhagavan again reverts to using metaphorical language, saying: ‘இதய மன்று அகம் அசலமா நடமிடும் அருணமலை எனும் எலை அறும் அருள் ஒளிக் கடலே’ (idaya-maṉḏṟu aham acalamā naḍam-iḍum aruṇamalai eṉum elai-aṟum aruḷ oḷi-k kaḍalē), ‘[What will exist is] only the infinite ocean of the light of grace called Arunamalai, which dances motionlessly [as ‘I am only I’] in the court of the heart’. What he refers to here as ‘எலை அறும் அருள் ஒளிக் கடலே’ (elai-aṟum aruḷ oḷi-k kaḍalē), ‘only the infinite ocean of the light of grace’, is the same light that he referred to in the first sentence of the previous verse as ‘அறிவு ஒளி’ (aṟivu oḷi), ‘the light of awareness’. அருள் (aruḷ) or grace is the infinite love that Arunachala, our real nature, has for us as we actually are, and that love is nothing other than the light of pure awareness that is always shining in our heart as ‘I’, which is what he describes by saying ‘இதய மன்று அகம் அசலமா நடமிடும்’ (idaya-maṉḏṟu aham acalamā naḍam-iḍum), ‘which dances motionlessly in the court of the heart’.

A key word in this clause is ‘அசலமா’ (acalamā), ‘motionlessly’, because it denotes the immutability of Arunachala. That is, this clause implies that Arunachala is always shining without any change in our heart as our heart, our real nature, ‘I am only I’. Whatever movements, activities or changes may appear to take place in the view of ourself as ego, they are only an illusory appearance (vivarta), because what actually exists never undergoes change of any kind whatsoever.

However, the reason I cited and discussed these two verses of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam here is to show that as in Nāṉ Ār? and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam also Bhagavan clearly teaches us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda. All phenomena and pairs of opposites such as inside and outside, good and bad, death and birth, happiness and misery, or darkness and light, are just a dream projected by ego, the thought called ‘I’, just like pictures projected on a cinema screen, and hence if ego does not exist nothing else will exist.

Therefore though in one of your comments you wrote that you interpret Bhagavan differently to the way I interpret him, and in another one you wrote, ‘Michael’s interpretation of Bhagavan’s teaching is at odds with “traditional” Advaita Vedanta, and that of Gaudapada and Sankara’, what you call my ‘interpretation’ should not be at all contentious for anyone who seriously wants to follow the path that he has shown us, because it is the interpretation that his core teachings as expressed in Nāṉ Ār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and other works clearly cry out for. To interpret these texts in any other way would be perverse and dishonest, because it could be done only by deliberately turning a blind eye to what he is so clearly and unequivocally teaching us in them.

All the verses and other passages from his original writings that I have cited in this section do not need me or anyone else to interpret them, because they speak clearly for themselves, and what they clearly and consistently speak is the view called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda along with its correlate, ēka-jīva-vāda. If anyone fails to see this, it can only be because they do not want to see it, because he could hardly have expressed this view more clearly and unequivocally than he did in these passages.

7. Bhagavan taught us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda because of all views it is the one that will help us most effectively to free ourself from our desires for and attachment to anything other than ourself

From all the comments you have written over the years, my impression is that the main issue you have with what you call my interpretation of Bhagavan’s teaching is my adherence to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, which you seem to be unwilling to accept. Even your interpretation of ajāta vāda as being no different to vivarta vāda seems to be closely linked to your unwillingness to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because though you are willing to accept that the world is in some way an illusion (vivarta), you believe that that illusion exists independent of your perception of it, because it is not created by your mind but by brahman, and because brahman and other jīvas are therefore aware of it, so it exists whether you are aware of it or not.

You can certainly find support for such beliefs among the various ‘traditional’ interpretations of advaita, but they are contrary to the core teachings of Bhagavan, as you should be able to see from the passages of Nāṉ Ār?, Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam that I cited and discussed in the previous section. Therefore, if we want to understand his teachings correctly in order to follow without deviation the path he has shown us, one of the central issues we must consider is whether or not we are willing to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda as taught by him.

Of course he never insisted that we should accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, and when answering questions asked by anyone who showed that they were not willing to accept it he would teach other views that were more palatable to them, knowing that those other views would help them to progress on the spiritual path from where they currently stood towards the point where they would eventually be willing to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda. Therefore if you do not want to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda yet, that does not mean that you cannot follow the path of self-investigation and self-surrender that he taught us. You can follow this path even with your current beliefs, but by rejecting dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda you are missing out on the opportunity to avail yourself of the benefit you would derive from accepting it wholeheartedly.

The reason Bhagavan taught dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda as an integral part of his core teachings is because of all views it is the one that will help us most effectively to free ourself from our desires for and attachment to anything other than ourself, and to the extent that we are able to free ourself from such desires and attachments we will be able to go deep in our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, as he implies in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
அன்னியத்தை நாடாதிருத்தல் வைராக்கியம் அல்லது நிராசை; தன்னை விடாதிருத்தல் ஞானம். உண்மையி லிரண்டு மொன்றே. முத்துக்குளிப்போர் தம்மிடையிற் கல்லைக் கட்டிக்கொண்டு மூழ்கிக் கடலடியிற் கிடைக்கும் முத்தை எப்படி எடுக்கிறார்களோ, அப்படியே ஒவ்வொருவனும் வைராக்கியத்துடன் தன்னுள் ளாழ்ந்து மூழ்கி ஆத்மமுத்தை யடையலாம்.

aṉṉiyattai nāḍādiruttal vairāggiyam alladu nirāśai; taṉṉai viḍādiruttal ñāṉam. uṇmaiyil iraṇḍum oṉḏṟē. muttu-k-kuḷippōr tam-m-iḍaiyil kallai-k kaṭṭi-k-koṇḍu mūṙki-k kaḍal-aḍiyil kiḍaikkum muttai eppaḍi eḍukkiṟārgaḷō, appaḍiyē o-vv-oruvaṉum vairāggiyattuḍaṉ taṉṉuḷ ḷ-āṙndu mūṙki ātma-muttai y-aḍaiyalām.

Not attending to anything other [than oneself] is vairāgya [dispassion or detachment] or nirāśā [desirelessness]; not leaving [or letting go of] oneself is jñāna [true knowledge or real awareness]. In truth [these] two [vairāgya and jñāna] are just one. Just as pearl-divers, tying stones to their waists and sinking, pick up pearls that are found at the bottom of the ocean, so each one, sinking deep within oneself with vairāgya [freedom from desire to be aware of anything other than oneself], may attain the pearl of oneself [literally: attaining the pearl of oneself is proper].
As he makes clear in this passage, we can sink deep within ourself only to the extent that we have vairāgya, which is freedom from desire to attend to or be aware of anything other than ourself, so since such desire is the very nature of ego (because as he says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, we rise, stand and flourish as ego only by ‘grasping form’, which means holding fast to the appearance of things other than ourself), we need all the help we can get to reduce the strength of our desires for and attachments to anything other than ourself. Therefore the benefit of accepting dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda is that to the extent we are firmly convinced that everything that we perceive is just a dream created by our own mind and therefore does not exist independent of our perception of it, we will be able to reduce the strength of our desires for and attachment to it. This is why he says in the final sentence of the seventeenth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, namely: ‘பிரபஞ்சத்தை ஒரு சொப்பனத்தைப்போ லெண்ணிக்கொள்ள வேண்டும்’ (pirapañcattai oru soppaṉattai-p-pōl eṇṇi-k-koḷḷa vēṇḍum), ‘It is necessary to consider the prapañca [the entire world] like a dream’.

8. Though there are other interpretations of vivarta vāda, the simplest and purest form of it is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda

You seem to accept vivarta vāda but not dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, so are these actually two different views, and if so, what is the relationship between them? We cannot accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda without accepting vivarta vāda, because dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda entails vivarta vāda, but there are some interpretations of vivarta vāda that do not entail dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, and like you many advaitins prefer to accept some such interpretation rather than dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda. Indeed the majority of advaitins accept vivarta vāda but reject dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because one cannot be an advaitin without accepting vivarta vāda, but only a minority of advaitins are willing to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda.

The reason why all advaitins accept some form of vivarta vāda is that if duality were not an illusory appearance (vivarta) it would be real, in which case advaita would not be the truth, because though advaita is a form of monism in that it maintains that there is only one ultimate substance of which all things are made, it is quite different to and far more radical than any other form of monism, because it does not merely claim that all is essentially one, but claims that there is actually ‘one only without a second’ (ēkam ēva advitīyam) . That is, as its name implies, advaita (no-twoness or non-duality) is the view that there are not two things but only one, so it maintains that the appearance of many things is not real but just an illusion (vivarta). Hence vivarta vāda is a fundamental and essential principle of advaita philosophy.

The simplest and purest form of vivarta vāda is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, because if the appearance of many things is just an illusion, there cannot be many perceivers of that illusion (since what seem to be many other perceivers are part of the illusion of manyness that appears in the view of the one who perceives them), so the perceiver must be one, and the appearance of manyness is just a misperception, so it does not exist independent of the perceiver’s perception of it. Perception of manyness entails a perceiver (the subject) and things perceived (objects), so the perceiver is a part of the appearance of manyness, and hence even the perceiver is not real. What is real is only the source from which the perceiver appears along with all its perceptions in waking and dream and into which it disappears with them in sleep, as Bhagavan says in the final sentence of verse 7 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu: ‘உலகு அறிவு தோன்றி மறைதற்கு இடன் ஆய் தோன்றி மறையாது ஒளிரும் பூன்றம் ஆம் அஃதே பொருள்’ (ulahu aṟivu tōṉḏṟi maṟaidaṟku iḍaṉ-āy tōṉḏṟi maṟaiyādu oḷirum pūṉḏṟam ām aḵdē poruḷ), ‘Only that which shines without appearing or disappearing as the place [space, expanse, location, site or ground] for the appearing and disappearing of the world and awareness [the awareness that perceives the world, namely ego] is poruḷ [the real substance or vastu], which is pūṉḏṟam [the infinite whole or pūrṇa]’.

However, though dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda is the simplest and clearest explanation of vivarta vāda, it does not appeal to most people who consider themselves to be advaitins, because it entails ēka-jīva-vāda, the contention that there is only one perceiver, namely ego or jīva, so for such people it is necessary to offer a form of vivarta vāda that allows for the existence of many perceivers. However, if there were many perceivers and if they all perceived the same illusory appearance (vivarta), that would mean that the illusory appearance exists independent of the perception of any one of them, so any form of vivarta vāda that allows for the existence of many perceivers is not dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (the contention that perception alone is creation) but some form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda (the contention that creation precedes perception and is therefore independent of it). This is why sages like Gaudapada, Sankara and Bhagavan allow scope for some forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda to be accommodated within advaita teachings. As Bhagavan once explained (as recorded in Day by Day with Bhagavan, 15-3-46 Afternoon: 2002 edition, page 174):
I do not teach only the ajata doctrine. I approve of all schools. The same truth has to be expressed in different ways to suit the capacity of the hearer. The ajata doctrine says, ‘Nothing exists except the one reality. There is no birth or death, no projection or drawing in, no sadhaka, no mumukshu, no mukta, no bondage, no liberation. The one unity alone exists ever.’ To such as find it difficult to grasp this truth and who ask, ‘How can we ignore this solid world we see all around us?’, the dream experience is pointed out and they are told, ‘All that you see depends on the seer. Apart from the seer, there is no seen.’ This is called the drishti-srishti vada or the argument that one first creates out of his mind and then sees what his mind itself has created. To such as cannot grasp even this and who further argue, ‘The dream experience is so short, while the world always exists. The dream experience was limited to me. But the world is felt and seen not only by me, but by so many, and we cannot call such a world non-existent’, the argument called srishti-drishti vada is addressed and they are told, ‘God first created such and such a thing, out of such and such an element, and then something else, and so forth.’ That alone will satisfy this class. Their mind is otherwise not satisfied and they ask themselves, ‘How can all geography, all maps, all sciences, stars, planets and the rules governing or relating to them and all knowledge be totally untrue?’ To such it is best to say, ‘Yes. God created all this and so you see it.’
What Devaraja Mudaliar recorded in this passage would not have been the exact words of Bhagavan, but it does probably convey more or less accurately the gist of what he said, because he would have spoken in Tamil and Devaraja Mudaliar would have recorded it in English as accurately as he understood and could remember it. However, what this passage makes clear is that though ajāta is the ultimate truth, it is more appropriate for us to be taught dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda because we see the world (which is why Bhagavan began verse 1 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu with the clause ‘நாம் உலகம் காண்டலால்’ (nām ulaham kāṇḍalāl), ‘because we see the world’), and that only for those who are not willing to accept that our present state is just a dream and that this world is therefore perceived only by ourself, just like the world we perceive in any other dream, does it become necessary to teach some form of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda.

Though it is possible by a stretch of the imagination to reconcile vivarta vāda with certain forms of sṛṣṭi-dṛṣṭi-vāda and nānā-jīva-vāda (the contention that there are many jīvas or egos), to do so is a rather awkward and not entirely satisfactory compromise, because by claiming that the same illusory appearance (vivarta) is perceived by many jīvas and that it therefore exists even when we do not perceive it, this compromise is in effect attributing a greater degree of reality to the appearance than it is due. It also leads to far more complicated and problematic interpretations of advaita than is necessary, and consequently to a proliferation of differing and competing interpretations, as can be seen by the proliferation of such interpretations among the followers of Sankara.

Any interpretation of advaita that does not accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda is necessarily more complex and consequently problematic (and hence open to more objections and disputes) than dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, but the majority of advaitins prefer the complexity of other interpretations to the radical and austere simplicity of dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda. This is perhaps the reason why you are under the impression that ‘Michael’s interpretation of Bhagavan’s teaching is at odds with “traditional” Advaita Vedanta, and that of Gaudapada and Sankara’, as you wrote in one of your comments, because what you call my ‘interpretation’ of his teachings is in accordance with dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda and ēka-jīva-vāda, which the majority of advaitins since the time of Sankara have not been willing to accept.

It seems that the term ‘dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda’ was first coined by Prakasananda in the sixteenth century, so neither Gaudapada nor Sankara mentioned it by name, and their writings (particularly the writings of Sankara) give room for a variety of other interpretations, but they both gave arguments that imply and strongly support dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (and thereby implicitly ēka-jīva-vāda). For example, in Māṇḍūkya Kārikā 2.4 to 2.10 and in Sankara’s bhāṣya on them they both argued that there is no difference between waking and dream, and in his bhāṣya on 2.9-10 Sankara concluded with respect to both dream and waking: ‘Objects, internal and external, are creations of the mind’.

The writings of Gaudapada and Sankara can be and have been interpreted in a variety of different ways, including dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, so we are free to choose whichever interpretation appeals us. However, if we seriously aspire to follow the path of self-investigation and self-surrender that Bhagavan has taught us, we need not be concerned about any of the conflicting interpretations of advaita that prevailed in the past, because he has clearly taught us that for cultivating and strengthening vairāgya, which we require in order to go deep in our practice of this path, the most beneficial view for us to adopt is dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda.

112 comments:

Aham said...

.


Not the thrust of this essay, but these words by Mr James stood out to myself.

In order to cease rising as ego, we need to turn our entire attention within, away from all the pictures that appear whenever we turn our attention outwards, away from ourself. Therefore the whirl of destiny can continue only so long as we attend to anything other than ourself, and it will cease as soon as we attend to ourself alone....Likewise, if we turn our entire attention within and thereby bring the whirl of destiny to a standstill, our viṣaya-vāsanās will be destroyed along with their parent, ego, by the clear light of pure self-awareness, after which that light alone will shine without any world-pictures.

And,

So should we be concerned about the appearance of these pictures that constitute both the internal and external worlds? The obvious answer may seem to be yes, we should be very concerned about it,.....However his (Sri Ramana's) answer is just the opposite: we should not be at all concerned about the appearance of any world-pictures....What we should be concerned about is only attending to ourself, firstly because we alone are real and everything else is unreal, and more importantly because being self-attentive is the only means by which we can eradicate ego, the root cause for the appearance of everything else. So long as we are concerned about whether other things appear or disappear, our attention is not entirely on ourself. By attending to anything other than ourself we are giving it life, nourishing and sustaining its illusory appearance, so our aim should be to attend to ourself alone, and hence nothing else should concern us even to the slightest extent.


Regarding the second paragraph, almost all schools of "spiritual" thought seem heavily orientated towards attending to/ improving what changes; namely mind/body/world. Sri Ramana's Teachings are the exact opposite, attend to what does not change. No longer do I need to "improve" myself and the world. Which is wonderfully liberating! That said, this isn’t meant to indicate neglect.


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anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
first of all many thanks for writing again such a comprehensive article.
Section 4.,
"As Bhagavan often said, ego or mind seems to exist only because of avicāra, that is, because we have not investigated it keenly enough. If we investigate it keenly enough, we will see that what actually exists is only pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so there is no such thing as ego or mind at all, and there never was any such thing."
We all want to see that what actually exists is only pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa). Already the idea that it could be at all possible is uplifting our psyche which seems to be always doubtful/sceptical as long we has not managed the actual "breakthrough" and thus really have seen what the sages tell us.
Because looking at myself so keenly enough - by trying to perceive only myself instead of anything else - till now was not granted me, I am plagued with the nightmare that even the idea that everything other than ātma-svarūpa is just an illusion as even the experiencer of ajata could be itself an illusion. Hence the experience of any ultimate truth (for instance that there never was any illusion at all and that there is only atma-svarupa and hence we never were the perceiver of anything else) could be only illusion. So we could perhaps be from the beginning only poor perceiver of illusions.

Ha, while writing this pessimistic waffle I get some tummy ache. Yet I click on the "publish" field. Who knows what for it is good.

anadi-ananta said...

sorry, correction:
it should be: ...as long we have not managed the actual "breakthrough" and thus have not really seen what the sages tell us.

Mouna said...

Thank you Michael for this extremely helpful and meticulously crafted insight into Bhagavan’s (and Shankara’s and Gaudapada’s) teachings.
In my view, this level of clarity can only come from experience, not only from book knowledge.
Really appreciated, your time and your dedication.
M

Rafael said...

If I understand correctly only a sage does experience the truth, anybody else comes from the level of mind. Of course there are many viewpoints, the question is how accurate are these viewpoints? Until realization they can only be flawed.

Mr. Mouna, you say this article is 'extremely' helpful for you. In what regard I may ask? I remember that you said that before and I always wondered how that could be. Reading this article, and other articles, has nothing changed for me. I still practice inquiry the same way as when I started it, I may slowly get better with it, but that is due to the practice itself and not to anything I've read. Am I missing something?

venkat said...

Michael

Thanks for your artiicle. You seem to have created a straw man of my views, which you then proceed to critique. I actually wrote to Carlos / Mauna the following (extract):

"Every experience of thoughts, body, world, sleep, is necessarily experienced in some existent consciousness (sat chit). Advaita means not two, and therefore means that the experience and the consciousness that experiences are not two. By definition this also means Ajata - nothing created, nothing destroyed, because there never was two."

So, to summarise:

1) I have never asserted that eka jiva vada was not a key part of Bhagavan's explanation of our experience. I concur that EJV was an important teaching tool for him.

2) I have a lot of resonance with eka jiva vada as a teaching tool myself - the idea that there is one jiva (me) that projects the world that is seen.

3) Ajata vada takes a more fundamental position that there is not even the one jiva that I think myself to be. This is the Avidya, the misconception, that Sankara points to - that there is a jiva, an ego here. In fact there is only non dual Brahman, and through Avidya, which is not explicable, arises the idea that there is a subject / jiva and object / world outside.

4) When Gaudapada talks about the 4 states: turiya, the substratum, is that which witnesses the coming and going of waking, dreaming and deep sleep of the jiva.

5) As for the experience of the separate jiva / world . . . the illustration is often used of clay and pot, or gold and jewellery. The jewellery has multiple forms, but the underlying reality is only gold. Hence when Sankara writes in his commentary on MK2.32: "Nor can the non dual have brith or death, for it is a contradiction in terms to say that a thing is non dual and yet has birth and death", this can be understood in terms of the birth or death of jewellery - as there is only gold. Gaudapada similarly explains ajata vada in 4.31: "That which does not exist in the beginning and the end, is equally so in the middle. Though they are similar to the unreal, yet they are seen as though real". So a dream is not inconsistent with ajata vada, because it has no reality, and so cannot be said to be born.

5) So discrimination and detachment is to negate all that you are not, from gross to subtle, until mauna (the substratum, Consciousness, Brahman) remains. That is what I understand to be Atman vichara.

Mouna said...

Rafael,
It is inspiring for me when someone, in this case Michael, through a written piece, clarifies and expound certain subtle concepts related to a teaching that I love. It is inspiring when someone makes me connect parts of the universe of knowledge that I had as pieces of a puzzle all scattered on my table. It is inspiring to learn aspects of Bhagavan’s teachings connected to other viewpoints and most of all, in such a clear explanation.

I disagree with the concept that only a sage can have viewpoints that are accurate. Even ignorant people in any area can have accurate viewpoints, they say that even a broken clock, twice a day, gives the exact time.
Also, who decides here in this dream called life, who is a sage and who is not?
We went through this infertile aspect of conversation many times in this blog, and my take is that if a tool brings me deeper to an understanding of Bhagavan’s teachings, it really doesn’t matter where it comes from, once I verified it worked for me.

The fact that certain piece of writing doesn’t “appeal” to my little me does not mean it doesn’t have intrinsic value or value for someone else.
Many, but many times Mr James writings made me see much more clear about certain aspects of Bhagavan’s teaching through time. And is for that reason that I am extremely (yes, extremely) grateful to him, even if at times I have my doubts about what he is expounding, and even in those cases, at least he made me think!

Last but not least, in many occassions, I don’t expect “to change” reading these articles, in the same manner that I don’t expect to understand better the music in a Bach partita or sport in a well played football (soccer) match, because what they produce in me is sheer and inspiring… pleasure. And that fuels my “practice".

Hope this answer your question.

Aham said...

.


@Rafael

If I understand correctly only a sage does experience the truth, anybody else comes from the level of mind.

Salazar also enjoyed pointing out that Mr James was no sage.
That's an unfortunate coincidence, and so soon after Salazar promised he would not return.


Reading this article, and other articles, has nothing changed for me. I still practice inquiry the same way as when I started it, I may slowly get better with it, but that is due to the practice itself and not to anything I've read. Am I missing something?

Yes, you are missing something.

Clearly you see no value in Mr James' excellent essays as demonstrated by your statement above, as well as this comment and this one.

The solution is simple, stop reading the essays and commenting on them.


.

Rob P said...

Dear Michael aka The Tap of Arunachala,
Thank you for another great blog entry
The flow of Arunachala's love pours out

Thanks also Aham, Mouna, Sanjay and the rest of you whom contribute with love and help turn the attention within.

Now back to the diving board.

Michael James said...

Venkat, if I have misconstrued your views in any way, I apologise, because that was not my intention, but though you say in your comment of 9 May 2019 at 22:53 that I seem to have created a straw man of your views, you do not point out exactly what I wrote about your views that misrepresented them.

In this latest comment of yours you seem to agree at least partially with what you previously referred to disparagingly as my ‘interpretation’ of Bhagavan’s teachings, which you claimed ‘is at odds with “traditional” Advaita Vedanta, and that of Gaudapada and Sankara’, so what is it about my interpretation that you disagree with? For example, do you or do you not agree that Bhagavan taught us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda?

There are several views that you express in this comment that do not make sense to me. For example, you say that ‘through Avidya, which is not explicable, arises the idea that there is a subject / jiva and object / world outside’, which seem to imply that avidyā is the cause and jīva its effect, but for whom is there avidyā and ‘the idea that there is a subject / jiva and object / world outside’ if not for jīva itself? How could there be avidyā if there were no jīva? Are avidyā and jīva two different things? My understanding is that avidyā is the very nature of jīva, and that there is no avidyā other than jīva, so avidyā arises with and because of jīva. This seems to me to be what Bhagavan’s teachings imply, so do you agree or disagree with me in this respect?

You also wrote that ‘turiya, the substratum, is that which witnesses the coming and going of waking, dreaming and deep sleep of the jiva’, but what exactly do you mean by the verb ‘witnesses’ in this context? Do you mean that turīya is actually aware of the appearance and disappearance of those other states? It is true that turīya is sometimes said to be the witness, but Bhagavan clarified that in such context ‘witness’ means presence, so it does not mean that turīya is aware of anything else but only that it is that in whose presence other things seem to appear and disappear. The fact that turīya is not aware of anything else is made clear by Bhagavan in verse 32 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Anubandham (particularly if we read it along with verse 31):

நனவு கனவுதுயி னாடுவார்க் கப்பா
னனவு துயிற்றுரிய நாமத் — தெனுமத்
துரிய மதேயுளதாற் றோன்றுமூன் றின்றாற்
றுரிய வதீதந் துணி.

naṉavu kaṉavuduyi ṉāḍuvārk kappā
ṉaṉavu tuyiṯṟuriya nāmat — teṉumat
turiya madēyuḷadāṯ ṟōṉḏṟumūṉ ḏṟiṉḏṟāṟ
ṟuriya vatītan tuṇi
.

பதச்சேதம்: நனவு, கனவு, துயில் நாடுவார்க்கு, அப்பால் நனவுதுயில் ‘துரிய’ நாமத்து எனும். அத் துரியம் அதே உளதால், தோன்றும் மூன்று இன்றால், துரிய அதீதம். துணி.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): naṉavu, kaṉavu, tuyil nāḍuvārkku, appal naṉavu-tuyil ‘turiya’ nāmattu eṉum. a-t-turiyam adē uḷadāl, tōṉḏṟum mūṉḏṟu iṉḏṟāl, turiya atītam. tuṇi.

English translation: For those who experience waking, dream and sleep, waking-sleep, [which is] beyond [these three], is called turya [or turīya, the ‘fourth’]. Since that turya alone exists, [and] since the three [states] that appear [or seem to exist] do not exist, be assured [that turya is actually] turya-v-atīta [turīyātīta, beyond the ‘fourth’].

(I will continue this reply in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Venkat:

You also wrote, ‘So a dream is not inconsistent with ajata vada, because it has no reality, and so cannot be said to be born’, but as I explained in this article, ajāta means that there is absolutely no utpatti (arising), not even the utpatti of an appearance, so the appearance of any dream is directly contradicted by ajāta vāda. So long as we rise as ego, this dream seems to exist, but if we investigate ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, we will see that from the true perspective of ourself as brahman or turīya there never was any such thing as either ego or dream.

This is what Bhagavan taught us so very clearly, but it is up to each one of us to decide for ourself whether we want to accept the simplicity and clarity of his teachings or prefer to cling to any of the many other more complex and confused interpretations of advaita.

anadi-ananta said...

"...but if we investigate ourself keenly enough to see what we actually are, we will see that from the true perspective of ourself as brahman or turīya there never was any such thing as either ego or dream."

Reading that I am actually brahman or turiya - rejoicing and beaming with joy my senses nearly decline.
Sing joyfully unto the Lord !
The keyword is KEENLY ENOUGH...I can't believe that I fail to achieve my aim... to be what I really am. For pure megalomania: What applies to Bhagavan the same goes for me too. I must certainly be victorious. Hah :-)

Rafael said...

Mr. Aham, I did not say that Mr. James is not a sage because I do not know. I started posting here because it felt like a safer place now but I might have been mistaken. My comments are displeasing and your comment to me is contemptuous and confrontational. I am sorry if my comments have been displeasing to you or anybody else.

When I said that the articles have not a big effect to me I spoke the truth, that was in no way intended for any judgment of Mr. James' excellent scholarly work.

venkat said...

Michael

1) You wrote: "you previously referred to disparagingly as my ‘interpretation’ of Bhagavan’s teachings".
I'm not quite sure why / how you use the term "disparagingly", when I refer to your 'interpretation' in a discussion of differences of opinion with Carlos? We all interpret Bhagavan's words through the medium of our minds. "Disparagingly" can only hold if you take disagreement with your views, personally? I hope you will withdraw your accusation of "disparagingly".

2) You asked:" do you or do you not agree that Bhagavan taught us dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda?".
I thought I already addressed this in my very first point of my comment: "I have never asserted that eka jiva vada was not a key part of Bhagavan's explanation of our experience. I concur that EJV was an important teaching tool for him." Not clear?

3) Your question to me on jiva and avidya is a subtle point and I'm not sure I have 'realised' a conclusive answer for that. I think we need to put together a few disparate strands: firstly that under ajata vada, a jiva never existed, nothing was born, nothing died. Therefore all there really is, is the Self = consciousness = experiencing. Carlos' quote to me from Talk 315 with Bhagavan, on 18 April 2019 at 04:22, articulates this point:

"The mirage does not disappear even after knowing it to be a mirage. The vision is there but the man does not run to it for water. Sri Sankara must be understood in the light of both the illustrations. The world is a myth. Even after knowing it, it continues to appear. It must be known to be Brahman and not apart. If the world appears, yet to whom does it appear, he asks. What is your reply? You must say the Self. If not, will the world appear in the absence of the cognising Self? Therefore the Self is the reality. That is his conclusion. The phenomena are real as the Self and are myths apart from the Self."

4) Your question on turiya as the witness - I addressed on 17 April at 18.53:, Gaudapada wrote, 2.12:
Atman, the self-luminous, through the power of his own Maya, imagines in himself by himself (all the objects that the subject experiences within or without). He alone is the cognizer of the objects (so created). This is the decision of the Vedanta."

I also wrote to Carlos on 16 April at 20:16:

Sankara's comment on Gaudapada's famous karika on ajata vada (2.32) explains "when duality is PERCEIVED to be illusory and Atman alone in KNOWN as the sole reality, then it is clearly established that all our experiences verily pertain to the domain of ignorance. Then one perceives there is no dissolution, no birth, no one in bondage, no one freed from bondage . . . There is no duality at any time".
Advaita accepts the fact that there is sat-chit (existence-conciousness) which is a FACT of our experience, but challenges the nama-rupa (name-form) that we attribute to our experience of the body-mind-world, which we then separate out as distinct entities. Advaita says this separation is an illusion - that everything is Braham, and tat twam asi (that thou art). Buddhism says something similar by asking if anything has inherent (independent) existence - and the answer is no, which leaves only the substratum (which buddhists call emptiness).
So the whole thesis of Gaudapada's karikas is to show that a separately existing / created world and born / dead / bound / free jivas is an illusion, not real. That's all. In closely subsequent verses Gaudapada writes:
2.34: This manifold does not exist as identical with Atman nor does it stand independent by itself. It is neither separate from Brahman nor is it non-separate. This is the statement of the wise.
2.36: Therefore knowing the Atman to be such fix your attention on nonduality. Having realised non-duality, behave in the world like an insensible object.

Hope that clarifies.

venkat said...

Michael

In Advaita, Consiousness / Self is described as the unaffected witness of all that is experienced, which includes the personal body-mind-thoughts-feelings. In Mundaka Up is the metaphor of the two birds. In Brhad Up, Yajnavalkya instructing Maitreyi asks how can one know That by which all this is known?

This extract of Muruganar's comment on Bhagavan's v15 of Aksharamanamalai is pertinent and consistent with the upanishads:

"Just as the eye can know that which is seen, but that which is seen cannot know the eye that sees it, the witness can know the jiva, but the jiva cannot know the witness".

Rafael said...

Mr. James, in the Maharshi’s Gospel, page 19, one can find the following exchange:

"Devotee: There are times when persons and things take a vague, almost a transparent form, as in a dream. One ceases to observe them as outside, but is passively conscious of their existence, while not actively conscious of any kind of selfhood. There is a deep quietness in the mind. Is it at such times that one is ready to dive into the Self? Or is this condition unhealthy, the result of self-hypnotism? Should it be encouraged as yielding temporary peace?

Maharshi: There is Consciousness along with quietness in the mind; this is exactly the state to be aimed at. The fact that the question has been framed on this point, without realizing that it is the Self, shows that the state is not steady but casual."


According to the Maharsh’s answer, the devotee described his experience of Self and that description clearly includes a perception of the phenomenal world. Furthermore the Maharshi implies that Self can come and go before it becomes steady.

Is that in unison with your understanding?

Michael James said...

Venkat, when I wrote “what you previously referred to disparagingly as my ‘interpretation’ of Bhagavan’s teachings”, what I meant is that often when I talk about certain fundamental principles of his teachings that he has expressed clearly and unambiguously in core works such as Nāṉ Ār? and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu you dismiss them disparagingly as my ‘interpretation’. There are certain things he said or wrote that require interpretation, but there are many things he wrote in texts such as these that require no interpretation because he expressed them so clearly and unambiguously, but when I point out such passages (for example, the third paragraph of Nāṉ Ār? or verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) you often dismiss the plain and obvious meaning of them disparagingly as my ‘interpretation’. If you disagree with my interpretation of any passages whose meaning is possibly ambiguous, I would not say you are disparaging my interpretation, but when you disagree with anything that Bhagavan has taught us clearly and unambiguously on the grounds that it is just my ‘interpretation’, then I would say that you have referred to that teaching disparagingly as my ‘interpretation’.

You refer to verse 15 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai, namely ‘Arunachala, who can see you, who, being the eye to the eye, sees without eyes? See’, and to what Muruganar wrote in part of one sentence in his commentary on it, namely ‘Just as the eye knows what is seen but what is seen cannot know the eye, sākṣi knows jīva but jīva cannot know sākṣi’. Both that verse and this statement of Muruganar require interpretation, and it seems that my interpretation of them differs from yours. Shortly before this statement Muruganar cited the last two sentences of verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye? The eye is oneself, the infinite eye’, so he implied that what he means by ‘sākṣi’ in this context is that ‘infinite eye’ (antam-ilā kaṇ). Being infinite, that eye can see only what is infinite, according to the principle ‘Can the seen be otherwise than the eye?’, so what it sees is only itself, and hence when it is said that it knows jīva, that does not mean that it knows jīva as jīva but only that it knows jīva as itself, the one infinite awareness, other than which nothing exists. As jīva we cannot know that eye, because we are finite and it is infinite, so to see it we must be dissolved and swallowed in its infinite gaze.

When Muruganar explains Bhagavan’s teachings, he does so in a very deep and subtle manner, so we should not interpret what he explains in a superficial or crude sense. The same is the case with many of the writings of Gaudapada and Sankara. They are very deep and subtle in meaning, so their real import may not be what they are superficially interpreted to mean. In order to understand them correctly, rather than relying on any of the many conflicting ‘traditional’ interpretations, we should interpret them in the light of the fundamental principles of Bhagavan’s teachings, which he has expressed in an extremely simple, clear and unambiguous manner in texts such as Nāṉ Ār? and Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

Rajat Sancheti said...

Excerpt from 2017-08-12 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on cit-jaḍa-granthi

Michael (in reply to somebody's question about the usefulness of 'glimpses of reality') - "The most important experience we have had in our life, more than any 'glimpse of reality' is the first glimpse of Bhagavan's teachings, the first glimpse of Bhagavan's picture, that is worth more than anything else".


In Michael's comment above of 10 May 2019 at 11:32, the third paragraph explains very subtly how ignorance is the very nature of ego. In the next paragraph, it was not clear to me how turīya is that in whose presence other things seem to appear and disappear, although it is not the 'witness' of other things. In what sense is the word presence used here?

venkat said...

Michael,

I do not dismiss Bhagavan's teachings, or your translation of them, which I have often expressed my gratitude for. I do disagree with the systematic view that you convey about them - though I (have always) concurr(ed) that they could be interpreted in the way you do. I interpret them in the context of Talks, Muruganar, Annamalai Swami, and Gaudapada / Sankara more broadly.

Let's not now get into a further debate about whether these other sources have been articulated from a lower point of view or whether I have a deep and subtle enough understanding of the teachings. Thank you again for the translations you have made of Bhagavan's works, and for your commitment in communicating his teachings.

best wishes

Michael James said...

Rajat, turīya is usually described as a state, but it is the state of brahman, our real nature, so since brahman and its state are not two different things, turīya is brahman and brahman is turīya. Therefore turīya is sat-cit, so it is awareness, but not awareness of anything. It is the fundamental awareness from which we rise as ego, and it is only in the view of ourself as ego that the other three states seem to exist. Therefore it is said that it is only in and by the presence of turīya that all other things appear and disappear.

This is why Bhagavan clarified that when brahman or turīya is said to be sarva-sākṣi, the ‘witness of all’, that does not mean that it is aware of ego and all phenomena, but only that it is that in the presence of which they appear and disappear. Or to express it more deeply and accurately, it is aware of ego and all phenomena, but only as itself, the one infinite, indivisible and hence non-dual whole, and not as the many different things that they seem to be in the view of ego.

Michael James said...

Rafael, there are many useful teachings recorded in Maharshi’s Gospel, but we should not assume that everything recorded there is an accurate expression of Bhagavan’s core teachings, firstly because whatever he said when answering questions would be carefully adapted to suit the questioner’s level of spiritual development and consequently their willingness and ability to understand his deeper and subtler teachings, and secondly because he spoke in Tamil and what he said was recorded by others in English according what they had understood and remembered, so it was not his exact words.

Regarding the passage you refer to in your comment of 10 May 2019 at 19:51, it is not clear what Bhagavan may have actually said in Tamil, and it seems to be an answer given to encourage he questioner to continue with whatever practice they were doing, so I would not attach much importance to what is recorded there.

As for your inference, I assume that what you mean by ‘Self’ is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), in which case it certainly does not come or go, because it is what we actually are, so it is always steady, being the eternal and ever-present reality. The ‘self’ that comes and goes is only ego, and ego will become steady only when it is dissolved forever in and as ātma-svarūpa.

(I will continue this reply in my next comment.)

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Rafael:

When ego is dissolved in ātma-svarūpa, there can be no perception of any phenomenal world, because any world seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego and not in the view of ourself as ātma-svarūpa, as Bhagavan makes clear in many places in his original writings, such as in the third and fourth paragraphs of Nāṉ Ār?:

சர்வ அறிவிற்கும் சர்வ தொழிற்குங் காரண மாகிய மன மடங்கினால் ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கும். கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது.

sarva aṟiviṟkum sarva toṙiṟkum kāraṇam āhiya maṉam aḍaṅgiṉāl jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgum. kaṟpita sarppa-ñāṉam pōṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa rajju-ñāṉam uṇḍāhādadu pōla, kaṟpitam āṉa jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgiṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa sorūpa-darśaṉam uṇḍāhādu.

English translation: If the mind, which is the cause for all awareness [of things other than oneself] and for all activity, ceases [or subsides], jagad-dṛṣṭi [perception of the world] will depart [or be dispelled]. Just as unless awareness of the imaginary snake goes, awareness of the rope, [which is] the adhiṣṭhāna [basis, base or foundation], will not arise, unless perception of the world, which is kalpita [a fabrication, imagination or mental creation], departs, seeing svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature], [which is] the adhiṣṭhāna, will not arise.

நினைவுகளைத் தவிர்த்து ஜகமென்றோர் பொருள் அன்னியமா யில்லை. தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை; ஜாக்ர சொப்பனங்களில் நினைவுகளுள, ஜகமும் உண்டு. சிலந்திப்பூச்சி எப்படித் தன்னிடமிருந்து வெளியில் நூலை நூற்று மறுபடியும் தன்னுள் இழுத்துக் கொள்ளுகிறதோ, அப்படியே மனமும் தன்னிடத்திலிருந்து ஜகத்தைத் தோற்றுவித்து மறுபடியும் தன்னிடமே ஒடுக்கிக்கொள்ளுகிறது. மனம் ஆத்ம சொரூபத்தினின்று வெளிப்படும்போது ஜகம் தோன்றும். ஆகையால், ஜகம் தோன்றும்போது சொரூபம் தோன்றாது; சொரூபம் தோன்றும் (பிரகாசிக்கும்) போது ஜகம் தோன்றாது.

niṉaivugaḷai-t tavirttu jagam-eṉḏṟōr poruḷ aṉṉiyamāy illai. tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagam-um illai; jāgra-soppaṉaṅgaḷil niṉaivugaḷ uḷa, jagam-um uṇḍu. silandi-p-pūcci eppaḍi-t taṉṉiḍamirundu veḷiyil nūlai nūṯṟu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉuḷ iṙuttu-k-koḷḷugiṟadō, appaḍiyē maṉam-um taṉṉiḍattilirundu jagattai-t tōṯṟuvittu maṟupaḍiyum taṉṉiḍamē oḍukki-k-koḷḷugiṟadu. maṉam ātma-sorūpattiṉiṉḏṟu veḷippaḍum-pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟum. āhaiyāl, jagam tōṉḏṟum-pōdu sorūpam tōṉḏṟādu; sorūpam tōṉḏṟum (pirakāśikkum) pōdu jagam tōṉḏṟādu.

English translation: Excluding thoughts [or ideas], there is not separately any such thing as world. In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world; in waking and dream there are thoughts, and [consequently] there is also a world. Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself. When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear.

Rafael said...

Thank you Mr. James for the detailed answer, I appreciate it. I have one question left regarding the Maharshi's Gospel, I believe that text was published when Sri Ramana was still alive and he reviewed and edited it. Why would he not edit out that particular exchange when it was geared for that particular devotee and not for anybody else? Why publishing something that can create a misunderstanding with someone like me?

Michael James said...

Rafael, Maharshi’s Gospel was published in Bhagavan’s bodily lifetime, so he would have seen it and may even have helped with proofreading the Tamil translation, Maharshi Vāymoṙi, but he certainly did not edit it in any way, because as a general rule he did not interfere in any way with what the Ashram management chose to publish. His attitude towards such matters can be seen from the following:

Before Sat-Darśana Bhāṣya was published Bhagavan had explained to Lakshmana Sarma how the Sanskrit translation of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu written by Kavyakantha under the title Sat-Darśana (which was originally the title that Lakshmana Sarma had given to the translation that he wrote with help of Bhagavan, but which was usurped by Kavyakantha) deliberately distorted the meaning of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu in many places, and how the commentary (bhāṣya) on it written by Kapali Sastri made use of those distortions to further misrepresent (and even argue against) the true import of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu and his teachings in general, because, as Bhagavan put it, ‘they hate advaita like poison’, but 1931, soon after the bhāṣya had been completed, the Ashram published it in Sanskrit, Tamil and English, so Lakshmana Sarma said to Bhagavan, ‘If you allow this book to be published by your Ashram in your lifetime, will not people in future think that you have approved it?’, but he replied, ‘According to the purity of the mind (antaḥkaraṇa) of each person, the same teaching reflects in different ways. If you think you can expound the teachings more faithfully, you may write your own commentary’ (see the ‘Preface to the Eighth Edition’ of Maha Yoga, 2002 edition, pages v-vi).

An example of the extent to which Kapali Sastri argued against the advaita teachings of Bhagavan in Sat-Darśana Bhāṣya can be seen in the following sentence from the first section of his introduction (4th English edition, pages 6-7): ‘It is evident then that it is both futile and false to affirm that the substantial truth alone of the world-being, Brahman, is real and that the formal aspect of Brahman as the world is unreal’. The argument he gave leading to this conclusion was that in a pot the substance, namely clay, and the form together make up the complete truth of the pot, so they are both real, and likewise the substance of brahman and its form as the world together make up the complete truth of existence, so the substance and form are both real. This conveniently ignores what Bhagavan wrote in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, in which he used the parallel analogy of gold and gold ornaments and specifically said, ‘அணிகள் தாம் பலவும் பொய்; மெய் ஆம் பொன்னை அன்றி உண்டோ?’ (aṇigaḷ tām palavum poy; mey ām poṉṉai aṉḏṟi uṇḍō?), ‘All the many ornaments are unreal; do they exist except as gold, which is real?’, but though he used the word ‘பொய்’ (poy), ‘unreal’, twice in this verse, once with reference to ajñāna and once with reference to the many ornaments, in Kavyakantha’s translation of this verse he omitted this word altogether. Therefore by arguing that it is ‘both futile and false’ to say that ‘the formal aspect of Brahman as the world is unreal’, Kapali Sastri indirectly but knowingly implied that Bhagavan’s teaching that the world is unreal is ‘both futile and false’, yet Bhagavan never objected to the Ashram publishing several editions of this book, so just because a book was published by the Ashram during his bodily lifetime does not mean that he approved it.

Who Am I? said...

What can Bhagavan do if few devotees and book scholars crave to exist as finite ego and a body in a dream world? Bhagavan had realized he was the Self or the atma-varupa at age 16 itself when his ego died but all these elderly scholars and pundits like Kapali Shastri did not and took their ego, body and dreams of waking to be very real instead of their blissful atma-svarupa. Their reward certainly is a contemptible rebirth in another body with the same suffering, conflicts and ajnana of the ego-body and dream worlds all over again. If these arrogant and ignorant pundits and scholars like Kapali Shastri are not prepared to die as finite ego and body for the sake of realizing their own atma-svarupa what can Bhagavan do?

Michael James said...

‘Who Am I?’, what Bhagavan can do is what he always does, namely just to be as he is, and thus by his infinite love he gently draws each one of us back towards himself, our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa). Some of us may be more unwilling than others to surrender ourself completely, in which case the process may take a bit longer, but his grace will certainly succeed in the end. Kavyakantha, Kapali Sastri and others of their ilk may have rebelled again accepting his teachings, but they nevertheless had the good fortune to spend time in his presence and to experience the impartial love that he had for everyone, so that will not go in vain. He will save them in spite of themselves, just as he will save all of us.

As he says in the twelfth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:

கடவுளும் குருவும் உண்மையில் வேறல்லர். புலிவாயிற் பட்டது எவ்வாறு திரும்பாதோ, அவ்வாறே குருவினருட்பார்வையிற் பட்டவர்கள் அவரால் ரக்ஷிக்கப்படுவரே யன்றி யொருக்காலும் கைவிடப்படார்; எனினும், குரு காட்டிய வழிப்படி தவறாது நடக்க வேண்டும்.

kaḍavuḷ-um guru-v-um uṇmaiyil vēṟallar. puli-vāyil paṭṭadu evvāṟu tirumbādō, avvāṟē guruviṉ-aruḷ-pārvaiyil paṭṭavargaḷ avarāl rakṣikka-p-paḍuvarē y-aṉḏṟi y-oru-k-kāl-um kaiviḍa-p-paḍār; eṉiṉum, guru kāṭṭiya vaṙi-p-paḍi tavaṟādu naḍakka vēṇḍum.

English translation: God and guru are in truth not different. Just as what has been caught in the jaws of a tiger will not return, so those who have been caught in the look [or glance] of guru’s grace will never be forsaken but will surely be saved by him; nevertheless, it is necessary to walk unfailingly in accordance with the path that guru has shown.

It is necessary for each of us to follow the path of self-investigation and self-surrender, which he has shown us, but even if we are unwilling to follow it now, he will bide his time while gradually enkindling the required willingness in our heart.

Rafael said...

Thank you so much for the background information of Sat-Darśana Bhāṣya. From what you say that book is a disgrace to Sri Ramana and it is a shame that Sri Ramanasramam is still publishing it, do they not have the same information you have?

I wonder how many people were intellectually corrupted by Sat-Darśana Bhāṣya? I am glad that you shared that and I'll not touch this book.

anadi-ananta said...

"...but even if we are unwilling to follow it now, he will bide his time while gradually enkindling the required willingness in our heart."
What I hope too is that even those who are indeed willing but not able to follow now the shown path of self-investigation and self-surrender will surely be saved by him.

Who Am I? said...

Sri Michael James, what Bhagavan taught and what you also teach here is unsuitable for all those who crave for finite bodily existence in an insecure dream world. They are all believers in srsti-drsti-vada and nana-jiva-lokas with all its evil consequences from the activities of ego. They are dualists or qualified non-dualists. What were they doing at Ramanashramam with the sacred company of Bhagavan? What did Kavyakantha, Kapali Shatsri and others like them really learn from Bhagavan if the did not abide by Bhagavan's teachings in toto? They were a disgrace to disobey Bhagavan and write books which were contrary to the core teachings of Bhagavan.

anadi-ananta said...

Rafael and Who am I?
regarding Sat-Darśana Bhāṣya,
"From what you say that book is a disgrace to Sri Ramana and it is a shame that Sri Ramanasramam is still publishing it".

As long as we do not know the opinion or view of Sri Ramanasramam on that matter we should not critisize their publishing overhasty.

Rafael said...

Anadi-ananta, I voiced my personal opinion and I have no interest in a statement by Sri Ramanasramam on their view or opinion in that matter. Whatever it is, it doesn't help nor does it affect my practice of inquiry. As Mr. James said, Sri Ramana was neutral in that matter and it seems that it cannot be avoided that certain people will read and believe it. As many Christians believe that Jesus is the only guru, it is a matter of maturity. One could say it is part of the Divine plan. So I surrender to it and leave it as it is.

Agnostic said...

Dear Venkat,

I would be grateful for your take on the following.
-----
Maha Yoga by “WHO”, Page 170

============

That the Sage is in his real nature mindless, and does not will the actions he seems to do, will be seen from the following: Once the Sage was going about somewhere on the Arunachala Hill, when he accidentally disturbed the hive of a community of wasps, hidden by the dense foliage of a shrub. The wasps got angry and settled upon the offending leg and went on stinging. The Sage stayed there motionless till the wasps were satisfied, saying to the leg: “Take the consequences of your action.” This incident was narrated by the Sage to many disciples, and so it was known to all. Long afterwards a disciple-devotee put him the following question: “Since the disturbance of the wasp-hive was accidental, why should it be regretted and atoned for, as if it had been done intentionally?” The Sage replied: “If in fact the regretting and atoning is not his act, what must be the true nature of his mind?”2 Here the Sage met the question by another question.The disciple knew his Guru to be a Sage. But it seems that at the time he was not fully aware of the truth that a Sage is one who is a native of the Egoless State and is therefore mindless. Hence he assumed that the act in question was done by the Sage, and based his question on that assumption. The Sage graciously pointed out that the assumption was wrong, and indicated that the so-called mind of a Sage is not really mind, but Pure Consciousness; the Sage has confirmed this teaching many times, saying that the mind of a Sage is not mind, but the Supreme Reality.

==========

Who Am I? said...

anadi-ananta, maybe that book of Kapali Shastri is good in many other respects (I have not not read his book) and that is why they published it and I don't care a hoot if they did so. Probably the dualists and qualified non-dualists who still cling steadfast to their ego/jiva and bodies and seriously believe that this world we live in is always existing and is absolutely real, appreciate his kind of book. I never complained that his book should not have been published by Ramanashramam if that was also the wishes of Sri Ramana himself because I also do not believe in censorship of any kind anywhere.

Even in this blog itself I do not fully appreciate the censorship that has recently started even though that is the wishes of the majority here. I merely pointed out the fact of Kapali's blatant misunderstanding of Bhagavan's core teachings just as Michael James did in his comment about these fellows Kapali Shastri and Kanvyakantha who were not genuine followers of Bhagavan's teachings as say Michael James is.

anadi-ananta said...

Rafael,
I am willing to surrender more to the Divine than to a divine plan which we cannot know if there is such one.:-)

Rafael said...

Anadi-ananta, the Divine and the Divine plan are one and the same and we'll know it through surrendering.

anadi-ananta said...

Who am I?,
you say "...these fellows Kapali Shastri and Kanvyakantha who were not genuine followers of Bhagavan's teachings"...

However, because of the fact that in Sri Ramanasramam's Book Store (Books in English) are listed seven books of "both fellows" [correct written is 'Kavyakantha'] I assume that both are held there in high esteem and good reputation. In the above book list these books are described as follows:


1.) Biographies:
Bhagavan and Nayana

Kavyakantha Ganapathi Muni was one of the foremost devotees of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. He was an unrivalled scholar of Sanskrit, the Vedas and Upanishads. He was also a great tapasvi (ascetic) who lived and breathed the essence of Sanatana Dharma.

This book chronicles the amazing details of the relationship between these two great spiritual personalities. It also provides a complete account of the great Muni’s inspired Sanskrit compositions. In this book we learn the details of guru-sishya relationship that naturally blossomed between Sri Bhagavan and Nayana. Interestingly Bhagavan used to refer to the Muni as Nayana, just as Muni’s disciples used to address him endearingly.

Arunachala Bookstore (US) writes about the book "Bhagavan and Nayana":
Vasishtha Ganapati Muni was a mighty spiritual personality. He came upon one greater, Sri Ramana Maharshi, and surrendered to him without reserve. This book chronicles the amazing details of the relationship between these two great spiritual personalities.It also provides a complete account of the great Muni's inspired Sanskrit compositions.

2.) Commentaries:
Maharshi, The

By Kapali Sastri. The author was a celebrated disciple of Ganapati Muni. This is a collection of Sastri's diary selections, articles, and translations from Sanskrit compositions, all of which were derived from his association with Ramana Maharshi.pp96

3.) Miscellaneous:

a.) Forty Verses in Adoration of Sri Ramana

This Sanskrit hymn composed by Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni is recited before the Maharshi's tomb every morning. Each verse is given in Devanagari and transliteration and followed by an English translation and commentary.

b.) Maha Tapasvi- Life Story of Kavya Kanta Ganapati Muni

This book, written by A.V. Ramanan, details the life story of Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni. Quotations from various Vedantic scriptural works and interesting anecdotes are strewn throughout the pages of this book. This great Vedic seer was an extraordinary poet, scholar, and devotee whose monumental works will be remembered throughout the ages. Readers will be immensely benefited by studying the details of this foremost devotee of Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi.

4.) Records & Dialogues:
Sat-Darshana Bhashya and Talks with Ramana

Sat Darshana is Vasistha Ganapati Muni's inspired Sanskrit translation of Sri Ramana's Tamil "Ulladu Narpadu" (Forty verses on Reality). Kapali Sastri, a close disciple of the Muni, has elucidated with clarity and profundity the meaning of these verses in his Sanskrit Bhasya (commentary). This book also contains Sastri's recorded conversations with Sri Bhagavan. These "Talks" cover the full range of the Maharshi's teaching and prepare the ground for cultivating a deep insight into Sri Bhagavan's seminal teaching in the form of forty verses.

(I will continue this comment)


anadi-ananta said...

Who am I?,
in continuation of my previous comment,

5.) Translations & Commentaries:

a.) Cardinal Teaching of the Maharshi, The


Kavyakantha Ganapati Muni was one of the foremost devotees of Bhagavan Ramana, a great Sanskrit scholar and a tapasvin of a very high order. It was he who gave to the Sage the name Bhagavan Sri Ramana Maharshi. Ganapati Muni was affectionately addressed as Nayana by Sri Bhagavan.

One day in the year 1917, while Sri Bhagavan was living at Skandashram, Ganapati Muni approached him and requested him to compose a poem in Sanskrit in the arya metre. The Maharshi pleaded that he knew very little Sanskrit, much less about its metres. The Muni then explained the rules of the arya metre and repeated his request.

Later Sri Bhagavan presented to the astonished scholar five verses in beautiful Sanskrit set perfectly to the arya metre. These verses present in a succinct manner the highest teachings of Sri Bhagavan. Moreover they are in praise of Sri Arunachala.

These five verses were later translated into Tamil in verse form by Sri Bhagavan himself and constitute the last of the Five Hymns to Arunachala.

This scholarly commentary on the Five Verses has been written by Sri Kapali Sastri, an early devotee of the Maharshi and a disciple of Ganapati Muni.

b.) Sri Ramana Gita

A Sanskrit text of over three hundred verses by Kavyakantha Vasishta Ganapati Muni. There are eighteen chapters on varied relevant spiritual subjects. The verses are primarily the answers to questions put to Sri Ramana Maharshi which were rendered into Sanskrit verses. This new edition contains the Sanskrit text, English transliteration, a revised English translation and Tamil translation.

Michael James said...

Referring to the last sentence of the first paragraph of the third section this article a friend wrote to me:

‘If, as you wrote in your most recent article, “It is the ultimate truth that there is absolutely no birth or death whatsoever, not even the birth or death of any illusion”, then why is there any need, as you wrote in your previous article, for the sustained and patient practice of Self-Inquiry? If Ultimate Truth = nothing is ever born or dies, including even the illusion of appearances, the world, etc. then how can there ever be ignorance or spiritual delusion? How can there be a need for Self-Inquiry? It’s like saying, a rope is always and has always been just a rope, so to speak, and it’s never been a snake — but as you’ve written, the rope needs to “look at itself” to realize this. True, it’s never really been a snake and a snake never truly existed. But, nevertheless, Self-Inquiry had to be practiced to truly realize this — but why, if there’s never any illusion in the first place?’

In reply to this I wrote:

The ultimate truth is the perspective of our real nature (ourself as we actually are), but from the perspective of ourself as ego we seem to have risen as ego and consequently to be aware of phenomena. The appearance of both ego and phenomena is an illusion, but it appears only in the view of ego, and if ego investigates itself keenly enough, it will be clear that what exists is only our real nature and consequently that there never was any such thing as ego.

Of course as ego it is not possible for us to comprehend this, because how can ego comprehend its own non-existence, but we need not concern ourself with trying to understand it, because it will all be clear when we investigate ourself keenly enough. Therefore for the time being it is best for us to accept dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda as taught by Bhagavan.

You ask why there is any need for the sustained and patient practice: for ourself as we actually are there is no need for (and not even any possibility of) such practice, but for ourself as ego such practice is necessary because it is the only way to free ourself from our present self-created illusion and all the problems it brings with it.

You say the rope needs to look at itself, but that is not the case. It does not need to do anything, because it is always a rope and can never be anything else. What needs to look at itself is only the snake, because if it does so it will see that it is not a snake but only a rope. In other words, our real nature does not need to investigate itself, because it is always as it is and can never be anything else. What needs to investigate itself is only ourself as ego, because if we do so we will see that we are not any such thing as ego but are only what we always actually are, namely pure awareness, which is our real nature.

anadi-ananta said...

As Michael already said, Kavyakantha, Kapali Sastri and others of their ilk may have rebelled again accepting his teachings, but they nevertheless had the good fortune to spend time in his presence and to experience the impartial love that he had for everyone, so that will not go in vain. He will save them in spite of themselves, just as he will save all of us.
If there were any need to differentiate ourself from them and to further examine the trustworthiness of their books Michael would certainly have remarked about that.

AsunAparicio said...

This is the problem with talking and hearing about ultimate truth without having realized it. If for the one who hasn´t realized it all knowledge is actually ignorance, knowledge about ultimate truth is even deeper ignorance since it leads to think that there is nothing to do. This is what most of western neo-advaitins are doing.

I am or pure awareness which it is said by Ramana to be the Supreme Self´s holy feet, is the closest we can get to It, and even reaching that point seems to be a path full of obstacles due to attachments and the tendency of mind to go outward.

“Only the Supreme Self, which is ever shining in your Heart as the reality, is the Sadguru. The pure awareness, which is shining as the inward illumination ‘I’, is his gracious feet. The contact with these [inner holy feet] alone can give you true redemption. Joining the eye of reflected consciousness [chidabhasa], which is your sense of individuality [jiva bodha], to those holy feet, which are the real consciousness is the union of the feet and the head that is the real significance of the word ‘asi’. As these inner holy feet can be held naturally and unceasingly, hereafter, with an inward-turned mind, cling to that inner awareness that is your own real nature. This alone is the proper way for the removal of bondage and the attainment of the supreme truth.” R.M.

Hearing and reflecting on teachings make mind more subtle, thin and acute which is good for the practice but as for knowledge itself, it is useless.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
you say in your reply "What needs to look at itself is only the snake, because if it does so it will see that it is not a snake but only a rope."
But does not actually the ego as subject have the wrong view of a snake instead of the rope and not the object snake/rope seen by ego ? It is not the snake's fault to be seen as snake instead of the rope.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, of course, as the subject or perceiver it is only ego who sees a rope as a snake, but when I wrote ‘What needs to look at itself is only the snake, because if it does so it will see that it is not a snake but only a rope’ I was talking metaphorically, so what I meant by ‘snake’ and ‘rope’ is respectively ourself as ego and ourself as we actually are. I assumed that would be clear from the context.

anadi-ananta said...

Sorry Michael,
that I took that sentence verbatim.:-)
From the context of course it is clear what you meant.

Rafael said...

Mr. Mouna, I did not respond to your comment addressed to me on May 9 where you answered my question what exactly is ‘extremely helpful’ for you.

I re-read that comment this morning and it still makes not much sense to me as when I was reading it for the first time. And that is not to be seen as a judgment of some sorts. What came to me is that questions like this addressed to others are not helpful because it reflects an opinion (both, questions and answers) and one either agrees or disagrees and then one may argue what opinion maybe more relevant. I rather do inquiry instead and then it loses any relevance. Your and other opinions are the phenomenal world and that is supposed to be excluded.

The senses or being passionate about music and art is a strong affirmation of the phenomenal world and as such detrimental to ātma-svarūpa. Again, that is not meant as any judgment of your habits and instead more an explanation why your answer doesn’t make sense to me. (For me) there is only one answer to all questions and that is ātma-vicāra.

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
You say "Hearing and reflecting on teachings ...for knowledge itself, it is useless."
What in your experience is usefull for knowledge itself ?

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 6.,
"If this world is nothing but thoughts, as he says, then it does not exist when we do not perceive it, as he says unequivocally in the sentence ‘தூக்கத்தில் நினைவுகளில்லை, ஜகமுமில்லை’ (tūkkattil niṉaivugaḷ illai, jagamum illai), ‘In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world’."

That statement is logically correct only when one would replace the word 'perceive' by the verb 'think'.

"... Everything that we perceive in a dream is created only by our perceiving it, because it seems to exist only in our perception, so if this world is likewise a mental projection, it is created only by our perceiving it, which is precisely what dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda maintains."

The conclusion "it is created only by our perceiving it" seems to be not justified.
Even when this world - all what seems to exist in our perception - is a mental creation, it is not a logically compelling conclusion that "it is created only by our perceiving it".



anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 6.,
"...then what we now take to be waking is actually just another dream, in which case this world is created only by our perception of it, just like any world perceived in a dream,...".
Creation by perception is conceptually/abstractly thought not possible. Rather more likely is the simultaneity of mental creation and its perception.

AsunAparicio said...

Anandi-ananta,

I referred specifically to this subject of the ultimate truth. Useless and often misleading too.
Mind wants to get the whole picture but that´s not going to happen ever since when it happens, there is not mind at all.

I find very usefull and inspiring most of Michael´s articles.

Who Am I? said...

AsunAparicio. Yes, well said and I agree with you, especially with what you said "This is the problem with talking and hearing about ultimate truth without having realized it. If for the one who has not realized it all knowledge is actually ignorance, knowledge about ultimate truth is even deeper ignorance since it leads to think that there is nothing to do. This is what most of western neo-advaitins are doing.

Good comment in its entirety. Absolutely true.

AsunAparicio said...

Who am I?

They are Smt Rajini Menon´s words, actually.

Rafael said...

"This is the problem with talking and hearing about ultimate truth without having realized it. If for the one who has not realized it all knowledge is actually ignorance, knowledge about ultimate truth is even deeper ignorance since it leads to think that there is nothing to do. This is what most of western neo-advaitins are doing."


I concur with the first two sentences but not with the last one. The last one ruins the first two ones since it espouses the ignorance mentioned in the first two sentences because it assumes that 'neo-advaitans' (whatever that term means) have not realized the truth. We do not know. However to assume not is ignorance in its purest form.
It has been a long human tradition to single out a (usually) minority group of scapegoats where one can put one's blame of non-aligning with the standard viewpoints and behavior may it have been the Jews, the Blacks, Latinos, or, as in this case, the 'neo-advaitans'. Some people in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico, would call it racism.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 6.,
a.) "In other words, the world does not exist unless it shines (that is, unless it appears in our awareness), because existence (sat or asti) and shining (cit or bhāti) are one and the same thing. However, the existence and shining of the world are not real, because the awareness in which it shines is only the mind, which is not real awareness (cit) but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), so though the world seems to exist when we perceive it, it does not actually exist. What actually exists and shines is only our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so the existence and shining of everything else, namely ego (the subject or perceiver) and all phenomena (objects or things perceived), are just an illusory appearance (vivarta)."

What is in the case of great pain ? How can it be said that great pain actually felt is only an illusory appearance (vivarta) ? At any rate such a belief does not much help to bear that pain.

b.) "Explanatory paraphrase: The world is a form [composed] of five [kinds of] sense-impressions [sights, sounds, tastes, smells and tactile sensations], not anything else. Those five [kinds of] sense-impressions are impressions [respective] to the five sense organs. Since the mind alone [or since one thing, the mind] perceives the world by way of the five sense organs, say, is there [any] world besides [excluding, if not for, apart from, other than or without] the mind?"

The sensation of pain (whether bodily, or mental and emotional) is not covered in above five sense-impressions.
If one doubles up with pain of the whole body for instance in a renal colic, because of the actually felt pain no one would put the question if there is any world besides the mind. Certainly one is already busy enough to bear the perceived pain by the pain-sense. The pain itself one could relate to the 'tactile sensations'.

AsunAparicio said...

Rafael,

Well seen. The last sentence is of my own.

anadi-ananta said...

section 6.,
"Only those who have seen [what remains when all dyads and triads have thereby ceased to exist along with their root, ego] have seen the reality. See, they will not be confused."

Oh Arunachala, you seem to believe me not capable to belong to those who will not be confused. You only need to give me a slight nudge.:-)
How can you bear seeing me helplessly splashing and fidgetting in the marshy paddling pool of the confused ones ?:-)

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, in reply to the points you raise in your comments of 14 May 2019 at 21:54 and 22:29:

Perceiving is a mental activity, so in that sense it is a kind of thinking, so it is logically correct to say, ‘If this world is nothing but thoughts, as he says, then it does not exist when we do not perceive it’, because thoughts do not exist except when we perceive them.

If any state that we take to be waking is actually just another dream, then it is correct to say that everything we perceive seems to exist only in our perception, and therefore it is created only by our perceiving it. That is, unless we perceive phenomena they do not exist, so they are brought into (seeming) existence only by our perceiving them.

You say, ‘Creation by perception is conceptually/abstractly thought not possible’, but what makes you think it is not possible? Why should creation and perception be two separate things? If phenomena existed independent of our perception of them, then they would have been created by some means other than perception, but since they exist only in our perception, they are surely created only by virtue of the fact that we perceive them.

I suspect that the reason why you believe that creation by perception is not possible is because perception is usually supposed to entail taking in some input from outside, so something must exist outside in order for it to be perceived, whereas according to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda nothing exists outside so what perception entails is not taking in anything from outside but just a projection of phenomena from within ourself into the field of our perception. As in a dream, there is no input from outside but only the formation of phenomena in our own perception, so it is only in our own perception that they seem to exist, and hence it is only due to our being aware of them that they seem to exist. If we were not aware of them they would not exist at all, not even seemingly.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
thanks again for your reply. Yes, in my understanding 'perception' is the recognition of things using my senses, especially the sense of sight. So 'perceiving' I consider as a sensual activity as becoming aware of something through the senses. From that point I find it hardly comprehensible that you call perceiving as mental activity and thus a kind of thinking.
However, after reflecting about your description of perception and creation I must admit: it is quite possible. But will it suit to the present picture of my world view ?
When for instance I look out of my window I see the neigbouring house on the opposite side. I do not really feel that perception as a projection of a phenomenon from within myself into the field of my perception. Oh dear, the same is to say about the current scene of sitting in my own room at the desk and typing this comment...
In any case, Michael, many thanks for your explanation.

Michael James said...

In a comment on my latest video, 2019-05-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 18, a friend wrote: “If brahman created this leela or maya, it must be for a reason. His dream or the enjoyment or just as experience, then why should we as brahman try to fight this as trying to resist the experience he created and only try to not participate in the dream. You suggest to just ignore the plan of brahman and just be consciousness and nothing else. After all I believe brahman created this world as experience. Why not just enjoy as recreation so to say.”

In reply to this I wrote:

We can try to enjoy it, if we like, but no matter how much we may try we will never find complete satisfaction, because we dream this dream only by seemingly limiting ourself as a person within it, and as a limited person we can never enjoy unlimited satisfaction or happiness. Surely it is better to cast off all limitation and remain as infinite happiness, which Bhagavan says is our real nature.

Moreover, why should you put the blame for this unsatisfactory situation on brahman, assuming that it is its līla or māyā? The one who creates a dream is the dreamer, namely ego, so if this is all a dream, as Bhagavan says, the blame for it belongs only to ourself as ego and not to ourself as brahman, because as brahman we never dream anything. Only when we rise as ego does any dream appear, so let us investigate this ego to see whether or not it is what we actually are and thereby surrender it forever in infinite awareness and happiness, which is our real nature, also known as brahman.

Michael James said...

This comment about the bodies we experience as ourself in waking and dream, which I posted yesterday on my latest article, How to practise self-enquiry (ātma-vicāra)?, would have been more appropriate to post on this article, since it is more relevant to this subject than the subject of that article.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"...we will never find complete satisfaction, because we dream this dream only by seemingly limiting ourself as a person within it, and as a limited person we can never enjoy unlimited satisfaction or happiness."

That is absolutely my experience too.
Although it is said that brahman is not even aware of any rising of ego it seems to behave at least in some kind of tacit permission. Such a rogue ! :-)

Therefore it should support us in developing our ability to recognize the world-drama as that what it really is and thereby surrendering our identification with a limited person forever in infinite awareness and happiness, as you say.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
presumably 'astral-travelling' you would consider simply as another kind of dream.
Although such travelling in some subtle planes would provide certainly interesting and perhaps exciting experiences its just another dream.
By the way, you may transfer/post my comment of 16 May 2019 at 13:50 (posted also on your latest article of 14 May 2019) simply on this article of 8 May 2019.

Michael James said...

In another comment on my latest video, 2019-05-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 18, a friend wrote: “I often struggle with some aspects of these teachings, such as that there is no world when I float in and out of sleep as I often do. That my little children’s hearts don’t continue to beat as they lie sleeping down the hall from me. I have heard you say, Michael, that in order to progress we must accept these difficult teachings. I want to, but I’m just not there. I have dreams of something pressing on my chest and when I awake I find one of my cats has made herself comfortable on my chest. There seems to be a connection there. Or I dream I have to pee and wake up needing to go. My bodies in both worlds are in sync in certain ways. Anyway my question is, can I just push through on this path, accepting that I don’t need to understand everything? Or is not being able to understand an obstacle?”

In reply to this I wrote:

Vegan Circus, what Bhagavan has taught us about our entire life being just a dream and therefore existing only when we perceive it is intended to help us give up all our likes and dislikes and turn within to see what we actually are, but obviously it will help us in this way only to the extent that we are able to understand and accept it. However this does not mean that we cannot follow his path of self-investigation and self-surrender until we understand and accept this teaching wholeheartedly and without reservation.

For many of us it is difficult at first to accept this teaching, but the more clearly and deeply we understand it along with all its nuances and implications the easier it becomes to accept it wholeheartedly, and our understanding of it will become clearer and deeper the more deeply we follow his path. When following this path we are undergoing a process of purification, clarification and deepening, so we must be patient and accept firstly that it takes time and perseverance for us to progress, and secondly that we may not be able to understand everything perfectly at present but will come to do so as we progress.

So the answer to your first question, ‘can I just push through on this path, accepting that I don’t need to understand everything?’, is yes, we do not need to understand everything at first, because deep understanding and acceptance of Bhagavan’s teachings will develop as we progress on his path. And the answer to your second question, ‘Or is not being able to understand an obstacle?’, is that it is certainly not an insurmountable obstacle so long as we try our best to practise self-investigation and self-surrender, because the more we practise the clearer and deeper our understanding will become.

In summary, therefore, deep and clear understanding helps us to persevere and go deep in our practice, but such understanding cannot be developed without practice, so practice is all-important. If we patiently and persistently practise self-investigation and self-surrender, our understanding will become deeper and clearer, and when it become deeper and clear it will enable us to go deeper in our practice.

Agnostic said...

Dear Sam,

I don't mean to intrude on your silence but Venkat seems to be taking a break, so please bear with me...

I would be grateful for your take on the following.
-----
Maha Yoga by “WHO”, Page 170

============

That the Sage is in his real nature mindless, and does not will the actions he seems to do, will be seen from the following: Once the Sage was going about somewhere on the Arunachala Hill, when he accidentally disturbed the hive of a community of wasps, hidden by the dense foliage of a shrub. The wasps got angry and settled upon the offending leg and went on stinging. The Sage stayed there motionless till the wasps were satisfied, saying to the leg: “Take the consequences of your action.” This incident was narrated by the Sage to many disciples, and so it was known to all. Long afterwards a disciple-devotee put him the following question: “Since the disturbance of the wasp-hive was accidental, why should it be regretted and atoned for, as if it had been done intentionally?” The Sage replied: “If in fact the regretting and atoning is not his act, what must be the true nature of his mind?”2 Here the Sage met the question by another question.The disciple knew his Guru to be a Sage. But it seems that at the time he was not fully aware of the truth that a Sage is one who is a native of the Egoless State and is therefore mindless. Hence he assumed that the act in question was done by the Sage, and based his question on that assumption. The Sage graciously pointed out that the assumption was wrong, and indicated that the so-called mind of a Sage is not really mind, but Pure Consciousness; the Sage has confirmed this teaching many times, saying that the mind of a Sage is not mind, but the Supreme Reality.

==========

Thanks, hope all is well.

anadi-ananta said...

Agnostic,
"The Sage graciously pointed out that the assumption was wrong, and indicated that the so-called mind of a Sage is not really mind, but Pure Consciousness; the Sage has confirmed this teaching many times, saying that the mind of a Sage is not mind, but the Supreme Reality."
Is it not said that there is only one pure consciousness ? How can there exist any additional mind at all ?
I presume Bhagavan narrated this occurrence at the hornets' nest for illustrating his egoless state in order to teach the present devotees.

anadi-ananta said...

as Michael said "...it is intended to help us give up all our likes and dislikes and turn within to see what we actually are, but obviously it will help us in this way only to the extent that we are able to understand and accept it."

Therefore we first have to improve our ability to understand Bhagavan's teaching gradually and finally entirely.
Without any doubt there is no greater luck than to see and know what we actually are.
Additionally, particularly our children will be benefited from having left all illusions and being not deceived.

Agnostic said...

Anadi-ananta,

Thanks for your interest and reply. Please read MJ's article on GVK in the Jan 1983 issue of The Mountain Path and then add some more thoughts to what you have already said.

Michael James said...

In another comment on my latest video, 2019-05-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 18, a friend wrote: “If we are brahman already, then why as pure sat chit ananda should we be in this world so to say, other than experience or enjoyment as in a dream or a play where the actors are just there to act . Otherwise please explain why we are even experiencing this world. If we were awareness already as brahman, then why put us in this situation life after life just to learn what we already are?”

In reply to this I wrote:

Steve, as brahman or sat-cit-ānanda we are not in this world and do not experience anything other than ourself. It is only as ego that we experience this world and mistake ourself to be a person in it. As brahman or sat-cit-ānanda we remain as we always are and are therefore never affected by any of these things, because we alone are real, and they are all just an illusory appearance, which seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego.

Therefore in this context ‘why’ and ‘how’ are the wrong questions to ask, because we first need to establish who or what we actually are. That is, we experience a dream only when we mistake ourself to be a person in it, so our mistaken identity is the foundation of all that we experience there, and hence if our current state is just a dream, it seems to exist only because of our present mistaken identity. If we investigate and see what we actually are, our mistaken identity will thereby be dissolved and hence the dream will cease to exist. When a dream comes to an end, we know that all that seemed to happen in it did not actually happen at all.

As Bhagavan used to say, asking ‘why’ or ‘how’ with regard to māyā is like asking why or how the son of a barren woman was born. Just as there can never be any such thing as the son of a barren woman, that is no such thing as māyā, because māyā means ‘what is not’. Māyā seems to exist only when we rise as ego, thereby mistaking ourself to be a person, but if we investigate and see what we actually are, it will be clear that our real nature has always been as it is and have never undergone any change, so we have never actually risen as ego, mistaken ourself to be a person or perceived any dream.

Michael James said...

In another comment on my latest video, 2019-05-11 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 18, a friend wrote: “I wanted to ask you something about manifestation and destiny.. A.Ramana (founder of Aham Centre in Tiruvanamalai) encouraged everyone to practice what Neville Goddard has taught about awareness and manifestation of one’s desires in this very life .. He was a devotee of Ramana Maharishi though.. Ganesan also teaches at Aham Center.. So how come these people (devotees of Bhagavan and advance practitioners also) are not so adamant about destiny being unchangeable..? You say not even an iota of destiny/prarabdha can be changed.. These two perspectives are confusing.. There is a huge wave of law of attraction these days in the world.. visualization of desires in order to manifest them in this very life .. Is it all pointless? What is the best way to go Michael?”

In reply to this I wrote:

Sachal, Bhagavan’s path is the path of self-investigation and self-surrender, and self-surrender begins with giving up our likes, dislikes, desires and attachments and ends with giving up ego, whose nature is to have such likes, dislikes, desires and attachments. Therefore if we want to ‘manifest’ our desires (which I assume means to fulfil them), we are not yet ready to begin following his path.

To help us give up our interest in and concern for anything other than ourself, and consequently our likes, dislikes, desires and attachments for such things, Bhagavan taught us unequivocally that whatever happens or does not happen in our life is already predetermined by prārabdha (fate or destiny) and therefore cannot be changed in any way, no matter how much we may want and try to do so. For example, in the note that he wrote for his mother in December 1898 he said:

அவரவர் பிராரப்தப் பிரகாரம் அதற்கானவன் ஆங்காங்கிருந் தாட்டுவிப்பன். என்றும் நடவாதது என் முயற்சிக்கினும் நடவாது; நடப்ப தென்றடை செய்யினும் நில்லாது. இதுவே திண்ணம். ஆகலின் மௌனமா யிருக்கை நன்று.

avar-avar prārabdha-p prakāram adaṟkāṉavaṉ āṅgāṅgu irundu āṭṭuvippaṉ. eṉḏṟum naḍavādadu eṉ muyaṟcikkiṉum naḍavādu; naḍappadu eṉ taḍai seyyiṉum nillādu. iduvē tiṇṇam. āhaliṉ mauṉamāy irukkai naṉḏṟu.

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

Many people are attracted to Bhagavan, but most of them are not yet willing to accept his teachings wholeheartedly and without reservation, so each person understands and interprets them according to their own perspective. As he used to say, ‘According to the purity of the mind (antaḥkaraṇa) of each person, the same teaching reflects in different ways’, so we should not expect everyone to interpret them in the same way, and we each need to decide for ourself what his teachings actually mean and imply. However, if we are honest with ourself, it should be clear to us that we have to accept that wanting or trying to ‘manifest’ our desires is contrary to the entire aim and purpose his teachings.

Rafael said...

Mr. James, I very much like your last comment, there are so many viewpoints out there and one could get easily distracted by them. A good example is Youtube. It is a great vehicle to share information and I like the many care repair ones which help me to make little repairs and maintenance by myself. However the many spiritual videos have to be used with great discrimination.
I came across a video by a French guy who warned about Mooji as an imposter who sleeps with young women and other details. That video must be geared to a certain group of people but for someone who is anchored in the teachings of Sri Ramana and inquiry, that video is only a distraction. We, and that French guy, do know nothing about the spiritual state of Mooji and therefore it comes down to judging a behavior of another person. To what end? It is a pointless endeavor.
These young ladies do what they are destined to do and only the best can come out of it, same for the 'immoral' behavior of Mooji. We are nor privy to the Divine plan and will never make sense of it.

anadi-ananta said...

When all mischief is permitted simply with reference to a "Divine plan" or destination
then we will have all in accordance with that "protocol". Does not law take always its course ? Bemoaning one's fate is prohibited !

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 6.,
First of all, congratulations !!! this entire article is a magnificent summary/manifesto of Bhagavan's core teaching !

"‘Ego itself is everything’. That is, just like everything we perceive in a dream, everything we perceive in our current state (which according to him is just another dream) is our own thoughts and therefore mental in substance, so since ego is the root, foundation and essence of the mind, mental substance is just ego-substance, and hence what ego is seeing as everything else is only itself."

Regarding dream-perception above statement easily meets with my approval in the point that dream stuff/substance is at best mental and therefore just ego-substance.
However, when Bhagavan says that 'our current state is just another dream' perhaps he is emphasizing the adjective 'other' and thus admitting that our so-called waking state follows 'other' rules namely those of solid matter. Even when matter is in substance mental we clearly perceive solid matter taken on definite shapes and forms. So the statement "and hence what ego is seeing as everything else is only itself." is at least contradictory to my perception in waking.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 6.,
"Therefore if we investigate ego keenly enough, we will see that it is only ātma-svarūpa and was therefore never any such thing as ego, just as if we look at an illusory snake carefully enough, we will see that it is only a rope and was therefore never a snake."

Seeing a rope as an illusory snake happens only because of the then present dim/gloomy light; as such that is not surprising. To see this illusory snake as only a rope, bright light is necessary.
To see ego as only ātma-svarūpa by keen investigation of ego one needs metaphorically speaking bright light too.
Whereas the semi-darkness/dim light in the used metaphor is shining only temporarily, on the other hand the bright light required to see ego as only atma-svarupa is always present. The rising of the wrong awareness as ego from the ever present bright light of atma-svarupa is therefore strange and weird.

Rafael said...

Agnostic, I have read that article on GVK in the Jan 1983 issue of The Mountain Path and find it quite interesting. Although one little thing came to me regarding the 'depth' of Sri Ramana's verses in GVK compared to other scriptures/teachers:
I cannot agree with that the truth or Jnana can come from even GVK. It can come only by Jnana. GVK is not Jnana, it maybe the next best thing to it for a mind, nonetheless one should not get too attached even to that.

anadi-ananta said...

Jnana is just being free of ego.

Rafael said...

Anadi-ananta, holding onto the thought "Jnana is just being free of ego" is not Jnana.

anadi-ananta said...

Rafael,
I clearly referred only what is said to be jnana. Stating negatively what Jnana is not as per telling "Holding onto the thought 'Jnana is...' is not Jnana" is evidently your addition in your imagination. But nevertheless I am grateful to you for your explanatory note. As always one cannot be warned enough against misunderstanding Bhagavan's teaching. :-)

Rafael said...

Anadi-ananta, also "what is said to be Jnana" is not Jnana. It is a clearly a thought.

anadi-ananta said...

Rafael,
you are right, let us avoid merely thinking about jnana. Why should I too not plead for experiencing instantly and immediately jnana, our natural state of true immortality ? :-)

சொரூபத்யானம் said...

Sometimes it is better to ignore trolls altogether who only post comments to argue without logic or basis or without any any rhyme or reason.

anadi-ananta said...

சொரூபத்யானம்,
your advice is obviously addressed to me because Rafael's recent comments suggest that the moment of "sometimes" has already occured. On the other hand I cannot imagine that you call me a troll too.:-)

சொரூபத்யானம் said...

anadi-anantha, I did not consider you as a troll when I posted that comment. Actually I agree with your comment "Jnana is just being free of ego." Was not the the great Sri Ramana free of his ego unlike me? Unless "ego death" occurs as it happened to Sri Ramana there will be no Jnana.

anadi-ananta said...

As Michael wrote,
"‘There is one substance, [which is] only you, the heart, the light of awareness’."

"However, the existence and shining of the world are not real, because the awareness in which it shines is only the mind, which is not real awareness (cit) but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa), so though the world seems to exist when we perceive it, it does not actually exist. What actually exists and shines is only our own real nature (ātma-svarūpa), so the existence and shining of everything else, namely ego (the subject or perceiver) and all phenomena (objects or things perceived), are just an illusory appearance (vivarta)."

Hopefully Arunamalai will make me grasping that soon wholeheartedly.

anadi-ananta said...

Why bowing just to an illusory appearance (vivarta)? By rising at this ego we are evidently forced to give way to the pressure of vivarta that is to the perception of all the phenomena (objects or things perceived).

Rafael said...

Anadi-ananta, when I read your response to me I can't help it but think of Matthew 7:6

Rafael said...

Anadi-ananta, you have it backwards, vivarta is not pressuring the ego, it is the ego who alone makes vivarta possible. There is no outward pressure, just the ego creating its own fantasies. Moaning about that will not yield Jnana, nor will talking about what Jnana is change that. You just add more and more thoughts and actually deliberately avoiding Jnana with that.

anadi-ananta said...

Rafael,
a.) when you are thinking about St. Matthew's Gospel 7:6,
as you apparently and correctly assume, any desecration of holy sayings is reprehensible.
Do not worry, no one is protected from it.:-)

b.) with ego and vivarta you get it right: Without ego there is no vivarta. I only used other words.
Jnana cannot be avoided because it is our real nature, the one that never is absent.
Let me worry about that:-)

anadi-ananta said...

section 6.,
"In sleep there are no thoughts, and [consequently] there is also no world".

That poses the most challenging statement to me because it never will be in accordance with my experience in the following waking state. But can we ever trust our waking which according to Bhagavan is just our own mental projection ? How can we ever stand submitting to the unbearable fate not to be a sage ?

Rafael said...

Anadi-ananta, do not worry, if you do then you are not following Sri Ramana's teachings. There is a difference between repeating the concepts of the Maharshi's teachings and actually applying them. Without practically applying these teachings they are like the idle chatter of women who are washing their clothes on a riverbank. It might be entertaining but it is delusion nonetheless.

Michael James said...

I have just rejected a comment written by a friend who has been posting here a lot recently. The friend in question will know to whom I am referring. The reason I rejected it is because though his recent comments have not exactly been personal attacks, I have not felt comfortable about some of them, because it seems to me that they are not serving any useful purpose but are just intended to pick holes in what other friends have written or to show that the writer of them has understood Bhagavan’s teachings better than others (even though some of his comments seem rather inane or to be stating what should be obvious to anyone with even a superficial understanding of his teachings). Whether or not this is actually his intention, the writer is certainly not charitable in his assessment of others’ comments, and his comments seem to be becoming increasingly belligerent in tone and are the type of comments that may put others off commenting.

Therefore I am writing this as a warning to anyone who writes such comments. In future if I feel the tone of any comment is belligerent or is intended to put down anyone else who has commented here, I will reject them.

AsunAparicio said...


Well, Michael, the comment above this of yours is pure sarcasm clearly directed towards women in an obvious display of misogyny. Irony can be intelligent and humorous but sarcasm is disguised aggressiveness. Playing with words and concepts is very easy but when you are really enquiring, what is found out and the impact it has on the enquirer can´t hardly be shared and known by others, unless they are on the same page. And this is a beautiful site for enquiring, full of gems for the seeker. Well intentioned comments from others can be very helpful too.

Thank you so much.

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
to what comment are you referring ?

anadi-ananta said...

section 6.,
does not Bhagavan use very beautiful metaphors ?:

a.) "If the film reel in a cinema projector stops whirling in the middle of a film, it will be melted by the heat of the arc-lamp, after which light alone without any pictures will appear on the screen. Likewise, if we turn our entire attention within and thereby bring the whirl of destiny to a standstill, our viṣaya-vāsanās will be destroyed along with their parent, ego, by the clear light of pure self-awareness, after which that light alone will shine without any world-pictures."

b.) "‘After sunlight has fallen on a photographic film, can any shadow [or image] be imprinted on it? Aruna, hill of intense light, is there anything other than you?’ "

c.) "‘When the mind comes out from ātma-svarūpa, the world appears. Therefore when the world appears, svarūpa [one’s own form or real nature] does not appear; when svarūpa appears (shines), the world does not appear’. However: we should not be at all concerned about the appearance of any world-pictures, as he implies in the final two sentences of verse 6: ‘Hill of grace, let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’."
"... ‘let them cease or let them go on; they do not exist at all apart from you’, what he refers to as ‘you’, is Arunachala, whom he describes in the first sentence of this verse as ‘the one [real] substance’, ‘the light of awareness’, and ‘the heart’, so what he implies is that whether other things appear or not, what we should attend to is only the light of awareness that shines within us as our heart or real nature."

Rajat Sancheti said...

Michael, in one of your videos, replying to a question about petitionery prayer you say, 'Because we are free to turn within, prayer for the love to turn within is meaningful.'

Does this mean that even if I have woefully insufficient sincerity and love to follow Bhagavan's path completely, praying for this love will be helpful? You say that this love increases as we try to follow Bhagavan's path more and more. But does the above quote imply that praying for this love can also increase this love?

anadi-ananta said...

Rajat Sancheti,
genuine and sincere praying will never be in vain/fruitless.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 6.,
"[What will exist is] only the infinite ocean of the light of grace called Arunamalai, which dances motionlessly [as ‘I am only I’] in the court of the heart’."
In which way can Arunachala's infinite light dance motionlessly ?

Michael James said...

Yes, Rajat, if we pray wholeheartedly for love to follow the path that Bhagavan has shown us, that will certainly be extremely helpful. He is always willing to give us such love, but we must be willing to accept it, and prayer with a yearning heart is an expression and a focusing of that willingness. When we pray to him for what he wants to give us, we are opening our heart to him and allowing his grace to enter and flood it.

To teach us by implication the efficacy of prayer and what we should pray for, he sang so many beautiful and heart-melting prayers to Arunachala in Śrī Aruṇācala Stuti Pañcakam, so when we read those verses and consider their meaning deeply we cannot but be convinced of the efficacy of praying with wholehearted love.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, the question you have asked in your comment of 28 May 2019 at 19:09, ‘In which way can Arunachala’s infinite light [of grace] dance motionlessly?’, is one that cannot be adequately answered by thoughts or words. We can each find the answer only by looking deep within our own heart.

Moreover, even if we cannot understand his words by mind, his poetry has its own power to speak to our heart in silence, so just relish and enjoy the beauty of his poetry and the love expressed in it, because if you do so your heart will certainly be touched by it.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 6.,
a.) "Bhagavan describes how this extraordinary power (atiśaya śakti), the mind, projects both the internal and external worlds, which are composed only of thoughts: ‘[Appearing] from [that atiśaya śakti] along with awareness, series of subtle shadowy thoughts [spinning] in the whirl of destiny are seen [on] the mirror [that is] the mind-light as a shadowy world-picture both inside and outside via senses such as the eye, like a shadow-picture that stands out [or is projected] by a lens’."

Presumably the mentioned 'series of subtle shadowy thoughts [spinning] in the whirl of destiny' are seen by ego's eye. Could you please describe what a 'thought' in that above given context is ? Or do you consider that point not necessary to be understood/known ?

b.) "As Bhagavan often explained, just as the shadow-pictures on a cinema screen are projected by shining a light through the shadow-pictures on a film reel, the shadow-pictures that constitute both the internal and external worlds are projected when the light of awareness shines through the shadow-pictures of our viṣaya-vāsanās, our inclinations, likings or desires (vāsanās) to be aware of phenomena (viṣayas). The film reel of our viṣaya-vāsanās is made to whirl in accordance with our destiny (prārabdha), as he indicates in the third sentence of this verse by the words ‘in the whirl of destiny’, and destiny will continue whirling so long as we rise as ego. Only when we cease rising as ego does it stop."

The architect of that film reel of our viṣaya-vāsanās is probably also the mind-ego.



anadi-ananta said...

As you say Michael, Bhagavan's poetry can be fully comprehended only in the depth of our heart. 'Motionless dance' perhaps indicates Arunachala's eternal permanence or omnipresence.

Rajat Sancheti said...

Thank you, Michael and anadi-ananta for the reassuring words. So better than berating myself for lack of love and for still thinking that there is happiness in the world despite strong evidence to the contrary, it is better to pray for love to follow Bhagavan's path.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 8.,
"Sankara concluded with respect to both dream and waking: ‘Objects, internal and external, are creations of the mind’."

So even Sankara was aware of internal and external objects obviously as different from himself. Presumably his distinction was only a concession to the ignorant view of the spiritual 'lower ranks' to suit the capacity of the hearer.

anadi-ananta said...

section 6.,
"Just as a spider spins out thread from within itself and again draws it back into itself, so the mind makes the world appear [or projects the world] from within itself and again dissolves it back into itself."
The "raw material" for the mental projection i.e. making the world appear are probably our viṣaya-vāsanās, our inclinations, likings or desires (vāsanās) to be aware of phenomena (viṣayas).

anadi-ananta said...

"According to dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda, nothing exists except when we perceive it, and ...we do not perceive any world except when we mistake ourself to be a body, so... it is clear ... that no world exists unless we perceive it."

In order to enlive the issue may I tell what I experienced at my last visit at Sri Ramanasramam in previous February:
When I was collapsing unconscious and fell down from the toilet seat, just as I regained consciousness I could vividly acknowledge the correctness of Bhagavan's above mentioned statement: in the period of that unconsciousness certainly no world was perceived by me.:-)

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

I´m starting to understand why you say that all your attempts of self-investigation did never lead you in seeing what you actually are but ended often in total disaster :)

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
what is your opinion/understanding about the reason why I said that my attempts...?

Rob P said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
anadi-ananta said...

Rob P,
why deleting your Muruganar-GVK-quotation after posting it ?

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

I was joking, didn´t mean to offend. No idea how self-investigation or abiding in self-awareness can lead someone to disaster but what you tell in your previous comment sounds a bit like that (disaster). Too hot, maybe?

Rob P said...

Dear Anadi-ananta,

Posted in wrong place, more fitting for the atma vichara thread

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
okay, the disaster was less falling from the toilet seat than the repeated bad quality of my attempts of abiding in self-awareness for longer periods, lacking the desired depth of sinking within .:-)

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

Ah! Might be that the problem?

If you throw a bucket of water into a plant for it to grow up quickly, it will die but it if you have a reminder of it everyday and water it, it will grow up naturally at its own pace in return for your care. Michael uses to tell a funny story about a merchant and his camel to illustrate this.

Abiding in self-awareness for long periods only happens if you are taken by it, not the other way round, I think. With practice it may become your constant, subtle, background without effort, though.

anadi-ananta said...

AsunAparicio,
"for longer periods" was meant as related to the repeated insufficient quality of my attempts of abiding deeply in self-awareness.
Do you think of the funny story when the camel gradually displaced the merchant out of his tent ?

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

Yes, it´s very common that by practice the attention to be drawn back to self-awareness on its own accord which may happen at any time and at any situation you are in, not a big deal. The camel displacing the merchant out of his tent :)