Friday, 25 October 2019

Can we as ego ever experience pure awareness?

In a comment on my previous article, Is it possible for us to attend to ourself, the subject, rather than to any object?, a friend called Asun referred to one of my videos, 2018-03-19 Conscious TV interview with Michael James: The Real Behind All Appearances, and wrote:
In an interview when you were asked “When you talk to me now, is there feeling of pure awareness?” you responded that “it is always there in the background” (because of many years of practice) even though you don’t experience it in its purity. Then you added that “the distinction between pure awareness and the awareness that we call mind or ego, the awareness of things, that distinction becomes clearer and clearer.”

Firstly: I don’t quite understand how that can be possible, according to what you are always saying it would seem a matter of black or white: there is ego or there is pure awareness, but in here you seem to be saying that there can be the feeling of pure awareness as the background of the awareness of things or ego, both “awareness” coexisting simultaneously. I say according to what you are always saying because that was my experience for many years yet, I would like an explanation that reconciles what appears to me a contradiction, if you have time and feel like.

Secondly: From what you say, it would seem as if by practicing self-investigation this feeling of pure awareness was gaining ground to the awareness of things (the merchant, the camel and the tent) so that, at some point, there will only be pure awareness. This is my understanding of what you say, I might be wrong. Being this my understanding of what you say, it doesn’t correspond with my experience of self-investigation at present. At present, my experience is that as attending only to pure awareness, have no idea how or why, suddenly, nor the practicer of self-awareness nor awareness as we understand it are there, but something else which can’t be spoken nor described. I would say that it is self-existence for lack of a better term but, anyway, it has nothing to do with anything at all and, in no way, this ascertainment of what always is, is something progressive but just like that, all in a sudden, nor due to any effort or practice but, again for lack of a better term, simple and plain grace. Yet, here I’m. No idea what to do now because, how do I know the ascertainment of what is, is due to self-investigation and that it wouldn’t happen as doing any other thing? Here I have some problems to determine a real cause unlike with pure awareness as the background which is, obviously, due to self-investigation.
The following is my reply to this comment.
  1. As we go deeper in the practice of self-investigation, the distinction between pure awareness and awareness of anything other than ourself becomes clearer
  2. As ego we can never experience awareness in its pure condition, but we must try to do so, because only when we succeed in experiencing it in its pure condition will ego be eradicated
  3. There is only one awareness, which is always pure, but when it seems to be mixed with adjuncts, it appears as ego
  4. As ego we are aware of ourself as a set of adjuncts and consequently we are aware of other phenomena, so to eradicate ego we must give up being aware of anything other than ourself
  5. In our natural state of pure awareness, nothing other than ourself exists, so pure awareness can be known only by ourself as pure awareness
  6. Being aware of anything other than ourself, which is the nature of ourself as ego, is not real awareness but only ignorance
  7. The more keenly and persistently we practise being self-attentive, the more clearly our fundamental self-awareness will shine in our mind, until eventually it will shine so clearly that it will swallow ego forever
  8. Whatever relative clarity we may experience, we must persevere in our practice of self-investigation until we become willing to surrender ourself entirely, whereupon we will subside and merge forever in the infinite silence of pure awareness
1. As we go deeper in the practice of self-investigation, the distinction between pure awareness and awareness of anything other than ourself becomes clearer

Asun, the portion of the video that you refer to here is from 33:42 to about 35:04, but to understand what I say there in context it is better to listen from 31:12 onwards, where I am talking about the distinction between the basic awareness that we experience in sleep and the more superficial awareness that we experience in waking and dream.

I refer to our basic awareness as ‘pure awareness’ and ‘intransitive awareness’, because it is not awareness of anything but just awareness pure and simple. It is pure because it is devoid of even the slightest awareness of anything other than itself, and it is intransitive because it is not aware of any objects or phenomena. It is awareness devoid of the duality of subject and objects.

I distinguish this basic awareness from the more superficial awareness of phenomena, which is characterised by the duality of subject and object: perceiver and things perceived. Since it is awareness of objects, I refer to it as ‘transitive awareness’ and say that it is the nature of mind or ego, as opposed to our real nature, which is pure awareness, awareness that is never aware of anything other than itself.

What I actually said between 31:12 and 33:42 was as follows:
{31:12} There is a state [namely sleep] in which we’re not aware of anything, but we are aware of being in a state where we’re not [aware of anything]. Now we can clearly distinguish between waking, dream and sleep. We’re aware that there are three distinct states. We’re aware when we wake up in the morning … Sometimes if we just doze off in the day, we may be aware we didn’t actually go to sleep; we were just dreaming for a while and then … But we are aware sometimes when we wake up from sleep that we weren’t dreaming anything: we were in a state without any dream, any phenomena at all. So we were aware.

{31:50} Generally people think of sleep as a state of non-awareness, unconsciousness, but that is because we are not aware of anything in sleep. But we’re aware of being in that state in which we’re not aware of anything, so there is, there is a deeper level of awareness in sleep. So that is, that is, according to Bhagavan, that is the real awareness.

{32:16} But awareness that we experience in waking and dream, underlying it is this basic awareness. Superimposed on that [basic] awareness is awareness of things other [than ourself], of phenomena. So awareness of phenomena, according to Bhagavan, is not real awareness. That is a superficial appearance. It’s something that comes and it goes.

{32:42} But the real awareness is the pure awareness. Pure awareness means it’s not awareness of anything, but just awareness. A term I sometimes use, transitive awareness and intransitive awareness. Transitive awareness is awareness of anything. But in order to be aware of something we must be aware, but in order to be aware it’s not necessary to be aware of something, because in sleep we’re aware, but we’re not aware of anything. So the fundamental awareness is just pure awareness, not awareness of anything, just awareness, pure awareness.

{33:27} Awareness of something, transitive awareness, is something that is superimposed on that [pure awareness] in waking and dream. That is the nature of the mind. That is the nature of the ego, to be transitively aware. But our real nature is to be just aware [intransitively aware].
At this point (33:42) the interviewer asked me, ‘But when you talk to me now, is there a feeling of pure awareness?’, to which I replied:
{33:49} It’s always there in the background, but I don’t experience it in its purity now because I’m aware of other things. But I’m aware that … because I’ve been following this practice for a long time I’m able to distinguish to … not, not [perfectly], I mean if I could distinguish it perfectly, then that would be the end of the story. But as we go deeper into the practice the distinction between the pure awareness and the awareness that we call mind or ego, the awareness of things, that distinction becomes clearer and clearer as we go deeper.

{34:29} And it has to become clearer, because we are trying to separate the pure awareness from this superimposed transitive awareness. The intransitive awareness is our real nature. We are trying to separate it from the transitive awareness. In other words, we’re trying to be aware of ourself alone. We’re trying to isolate ourself.

{34:50} Now we’re aware of so many things, including ourself. We want to isolate ourself, isolate the self-awareness from the awareness of all other things. That is why this is a very, very subtle and deep path.
2. As ego we can never experience awareness in its pure condition, but we must try to do so, because only when we succeed in experiencing it in its pure condition will ego be eradicated

The first objection you raised to what I said here was: ‘I don’t quite understand how that can be possible, according to what you are always saying it would seem a matter of black or white: there is ego or there is pure awareness, but in here you seem to be saying that there can be the feeling of pure awareness as the background of the awareness of things or ego, both “awareness” coexisting simultaneously’. Though I said, ‘It’s always there in the background’, meaning that pure awareness is always there in the background, I clarified that ‘I don’t experience it in its purity now because I’m aware of other things’, so I did not mean to imply that we as ego can ever experience pure awareness as it is.

I agree that what I replied is potentially confusing, because I seem to imply that I experience pure awareness, albeit not in its purity (which is actually a contradiction in terms), but that is in part because of the way that the interviewer phrased his question, asking whether there is ‘a feeling of pure awareness’. Perhaps I should have clarified that there is no such thing as ‘a feeling of pure awareness’, because pure awareness is not an object that can be felt but something that can be known only by itself, and that as ego we can never experience our basic awareness in its pure (and hence intransitive) condition, but I did not do so because I sensed that I was already going deeper into the subject than was appropriate for the audience that the interviewer seemed to be catering for.

I would not normally say anything that could imply that we as ego could ever experience pure awareness, but when I said, ‘It’s always there in the background’, what I actually meant is that our basic awareness is always there in the background. Our basic awareness is pure awareness, but though we are always aware of it, as ego we can never be aware of it in its pure condition.

What I mean by our basic awareness is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), which is always shining clearly within us as ‘I am’, but though we are always aware of it, as ego we are aware of it not just as ‘I am’ but as ‘I am this body’, so because we thereby experience it mixed with adjuncts, we are not experiencing it as it actually is. We are aware that we are, but not what we are.

Only when our fundamental awareness ‘I am’ shines all on its own can it be described as pure awareness. Of course it is always pure, because it is immutable, but in the view of ourself as ego it seems to be mixed with adjuncts and hence impure. Therefore it is, as you say, ‘a matter of black or white: [in our experience] there is ego or there is pure awareness’ (though the ultimate truth is that there is always only pure awareness and there is never any such thing as ego, but from our perspective as ego that is not how it seems to be). In the view of pure awareness there is no ego, and in the view of ego awareness seems to be impure. So long as we rise and stand as ego, we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’, and hence we are not aware of awareness (ourself) in its natural state of absolute purity.

However, though we as ego can never experience awareness in its pure condition, we must try to do so, because only when we succeed in experiencing it in its pure condition will ego be eradicated. This is why I said that ‘we are trying to separate the pure awareness from this superimposed transitive awareness’ and that ‘as we go deeper into the practice the distinction between the pure awareness and the awareness that we call mind or ego, the awareness of things, that distinction becomes clearer and clearer’.

3. There is only one awareness, which is always pure, but when it seems to be mixed with adjuncts, it appears as ego

However, though I talk about the distinction between pure awareness (intransitive awareness) and ego (the superimposed transitive awareness) and stress the need to distinguish them, this does not mean that these are two separate awarenesses, as you seem to have inferred that I meant when you wrote ‘both “awareness” coexisting simultaneously’. There is only ever one awareness, so in substance pure awareness and ego are one and the same thing, though they are different in appearance, just as a rope and the snake that it seems to be are different in appearance, even though in substance they are not two separate things but one. The one real awareness is pure awareness, so it alone is the substance that appears as ego, but it never appears as ego in its own clear view, but only in the adjunct-clouded view of ego.

That is, ego is the false awareness ‘I am this body’, so it is a mixture of pure awareness, which is our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, and adjuncts, namely this body consisting of five sheaths: the physical form, life, mind, intellect and will. It is therefore called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the seeming entanglement of awareness (cit) with these five sheaths, all of which are insentient or non-aware (jaḍa), as Bhagavan says in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
உடல்பொறி யுள்ள முயிரிரு ளெல்லாஞ்
சடமசத் தானதா லுந்தீபற
     சத்தான நானல்ல வுந்தீபற.

uḍalpoṟi yuḷḷa muyiriru ḷellāñ
jaḍamasat tāṉadā lundīpaṟa
     sattāṉa nāṉalla vundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் பொறி உள்ளம் உயிர் இருள் எல்லாம் சடம் அசத்து ஆனதால், சத்து ஆன நான் அல்ல.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal poṟi uḷḷam uyir iruḷ ellām jaḍam asattu āṉadāl, sattu āṉa nāṉ alla.

English translation: Since body, mind, intellect, life and darkness [consisting of viṣaya-vāsanās, inclinations or desires to be aware of things other than oneself] are all jaḍa [non-aware] and asat [unreal or non-existent], [they are] not ‘I’, which is [cit, what is aware, and] sat [what actually exists].
The essential cit element of this cit-jaḍa-granthi is our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, which without any adjuncts is just pure awareness, but when seemingly mixed with adjuncts it appears as the false awareness ‘I am this body’, which is what is called ego. What is real, in the sense of what actually exists, is only our fundamental awareness ‘I am’, as Bhagavan implies in verse 23 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
உள்ள துணர வுணர்வுவே றின்மையி
னுள்ள துணர்வாகு முந்தீபற
      வுணர்வேநா மாயுள முந்தீபற.

uḷḷa duṇara vuṇarvuvē ṟiṉmaiyi
ṉuḷḷa duṇarvāhu mundīpaṟa
      vuṇarvēnā māyuḷa mundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: உள்ளது உணர உணர்வு வேறு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḷḷadu uṇara uṇarvu vēṟu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam.

அன்வயம்: உள்ளது உணர வேறு உணர்வு இன்மையின், உள்ளது உணர்வு ஆகும். உணர்வே நாமாய் உளம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uḷḷadu uṇara vēṟu uṇarvu iṉmaiyiṉ, uḷḷadu uṇarvu āhum. uṇarvē nām-āy uḷam.

English translation: Because of the non-existence of [any] awareness other [than what exists] to be aware of what exists, what exists (uḷḷadu) is awareness (uṇarvu). Awareness alone exists as we.
However, though our fundamental awareness ‘I am’ alone is what actually exists, when we rise and stand as ego it seems to be mixed and conflated with awareness of adjuncts (upādhi-uṇarvu), so this is what creates a seeming separation between ourself as we actually are (the pure awareness ‘I am’), which is what is called ‘God’ (īśa), and ourself as ego (the false awareness ‘I am this body’), which is what is called ‘soul’ (jīva), as Bhagavan says in verse 24 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
இருக்கு மியற்கையா லீசசீ வர்க
ளொருபொரு ளேயாவ ருந்தீபற
      வுபாதி யுணர்வேவே றுந்தீபற.

irukku miyaṟkaiyā līśajī varga
ḷoruporu ḷēyāva rundīpaṟa
      vupādhi yuṇarvēvē ṟundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: இருக்கும் இயற்கையால் ஈச சீவர்கள் ஒரு பொருளே ஆவர். உபாதி உணர்வே வேறு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): irukkum iyaṟkaiyāl īśa jīvargaḷ oru poruḷē āvar. upādhi-uṇarvē vēṟu.

English translation: By [their] existing nature [as pure awareness], God and souls are only one substance. Only [their] awareness of adjuncts is different.
Therefore to see God as he actually is, namely as pure awareness, which is our real nature, all we need do is to see ourself without any adjuncts (upādhi), which means without any awareness of adjuncts (upādhi-uṇarvu), as Bhagavan says in verse 25 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தன்னை யுபாதிவிட் டோர்வது தானீசன்
றன்னை யுணர்வதா முந்தீபற
      தானா யொளிர்வதா லுந்தீபற.

taṉṉai yupādhiviṭ ṭōrvadu tāṉīśaṉ
ḏṟaṉṉai yuṇarvadā mundīpaṟa
      tāṉā yoḷirvadā lundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம், தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām, tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl.

அன்வயம்: தானாய் ஒளிர்வதால், தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது தான் ஈசன் தன்னை உணர்வது ஆம்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ-āy oḷirvadāl, taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu tāṉ īśaṉ taṉṉai uṇarvadu ām.

English translation: Knowing [or being aware of] oneself leaving aside adjuncts is itself knowing God, because [he] shines as oneself.
4. As ego we are aware of ourself as a set of adjuncts and consequently we are aware of other phenomena, so to eradicate ego we must give up being aware of anything other than ourself

Our awareness of adjuncts (upādhi-uṇarvu) gives rise to awareness of other phenomena, so there are two essential features that define us as ego: firstly we are aware of ourself as a set of adjuncts, namely a body consisting of five sheaths, and consequently we are aware of other phenomena. Therefore in order to see ourself as we actually are we must not only give up our awareness of adjuncts but also our awareness of all other phenomena, as Bhagavan implies in verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
வெளிவிட யங்களை விட்டு மனந்தன்
னொளியுரு வோர்தலே யுந்தீபற
      வுண்மை யுணர்ச்சியா முந்தீபற.

veḷiviḍa yaṅgaḷai viṭṭu maṉantaṉ
ṉoḷiyuru vōrdalē yundīpaṟa
      vuṇmai yuṇarcciyā mundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: Leaving aside external viṣayas [phenomena], the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness [true knowledge or knowledge of reality].
What he refers to here as ‘வெளி விடயங்கள்’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷ), ‘external viṣayas [phenomena]’, implies all phenomena, including the adjuncts we mistake ourself to be, namely the five sheaths and all their qualities, and in order to leave them aside we must attend to ourself so keenly that we cease to be aware of anything else whatsoever. Attending to ourself so keenly is what he means by ‘மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தல்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdal), ‘the mind investigating [or knowing] its own form of light’, in which the verbal noun ‘ஓர்தல்’ (ōrdal) means considering attentively, examining, investigating or knowing.

However, though he says ‘மனம் தன் ஒளி உரு ஓர்தலே உண்மை உணர்ச்சி ஆம்’ (maṉam taṉ oḷi-uru ōrdalē uṇmai uṇarcci ām), ‘the mind knowing its own form of light is alone real awareness’, the mind as such can never know ‘தன் ஒளி உரு’ (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘its own form of light’, which is pure awareness, because as soon as it experiences pure awareness it dissolves and merges in that, thereby ceasing to be mind and remaining just as pure awareness. This is clearly implied by him in the next verse, 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 ‘மனத்தின் உரு’ (maṉattiṉ uru), ‘the form of the mind’, is ego, which is the fundamental form of the mind, being its perceiving element and hence its root, because it is that in whose view all the perceived elements of the mind, namely all other thoughts, seem to exist, as he clarified in the next verse, verse 18 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
எண்ணங்க ளேமனம் யாவினு நானெனு
மெண்ணமே மூலமா முந்தீபற
      யானா மனமென லுந்தீபற.

eṇṇaṅga ḷēmaṉam yāviṉu nāṉeṉu
meṇṇamē mūlamā mundīpaṟa
      yāṉā maṉameṉa lundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: Thoughts alone are mind [or the mind is only thoughts]. Of all [thoughts], the thought called ‘I’ alone is the mūla [the root, base, foundation, origin, source or cause]. [Therefore] what is called mind is [essentially just] ‘I’ [ego, the root-thought called ‘I’].
Therefore when he says in verse 17 ‘மனத்தின் உருவை மறவாது உசாவ , மனம் என ஒன்று இலை’ (maṉattiṉ uruvai maṟavādu usāva, maṉam eṉa oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘When one investigates the form of the mind without neglecting, there is not anything called mind’, what he implies is that if we as ego investigate ourself keenly, vigilantly and steadily, it will become clear that there is no such thing as mind or ego at all.

Just as the essence of the mind is its perceiving element, namely ego, which is cit-jaḍa-granthi, as opposed to all other thoughts, which are jaḍa (non-aware), the essence of ego is its cit element, which is our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’. Therefore when we as ego investigate ourself, what we are trying to attend to is only our own essential cit element, which is what Bhagavan referred to in verse 16 as ‘தன் ஒளி உரு’ (taṉ oḷi-uru), ‘its own form of light’, and when we attend to this cit element so keenly that we thereby cease to be aware of anything else whatsoever, that is what he described there as ‘வெளி விடயங்களை விட்டு’ (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷai viṭṭu), ‘leaving aside [giving up or letting go of] external viṣayas [phenomena]’. What then remains is only the cit element, and the state in which it remains alone is the state of pure awareness, which is what he referred to in verse 16 as ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci), ‘real awareness’, ‘true knowledge’ or ‘awareness of what is real’.

5. In our natural state of pure awareness, nothing other than ourself exists, so pure awareness can be known only by ourself as pure awareness

In this state of pure awareness there is no such thing as ego or mind at all, so what knows pure awareness is only pure awareness. In other words, in order to know our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), which is pure awareness, we must just be as we always actually are, as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 26 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தானா யிருத்தலே தன்னை யறிதலாந்
தானிரண் டற்றதா லுந்தீபற
     தன்மய நிட்டையீ துந்தீபற.

tāṉā yiruttalē taṉṉai yaṟidalān
tāṉiraṇ ḍaṯṟadā lundīpaṟa
     taṉmaya niṭṭhaiyī dundīpaṟa
.

பதச்சேதம்: தானாய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம், தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால். தன்மய நிட்டை ஈது.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām, tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl. taṉmaya niṭṭhai īdu.

அன்வயம்: தான் இரண்டு அற்றதால், தானாய் இருத்தலே தன்னை அறிதல் ஆம். ஈது தன்மய நிட்டை.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): tāṉ iraṇḍu aṯṟadāl, tāṉ-āy iruttal-ē taṉṉai aṟidal ām. īdu taṉmaya niṭṭhai.

English translation: Being oneself alone is knowing oneself, because oneself is not two. This is tanmaya-niṣṭha [the state of being firmly established as tat, ‘it’ or ‘that’, the one absolute reality called brahman].
This state of knowing ourself by just being the pure awareness that we always actually are is what Bhagavan described in verse 25 as ‘தன்னை உபாதி விட்டு ஓர்வது’ (taṉṉai upādhi viṭṭu ōrvadu), ‘knowing oneself leaving aside adjuncts’ or ‘knowing oneself without adjuncts’. Awareness of ourself mixed and conflated with adjuncts is what is called ‘ego’ or ‘mind’, which alone is what is aware of all other phenomena, so being aware of ourself without adjuncts means being aware of absolutely nothing other than ourself, as Bhagavan clearly implies in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
அறிவறி யாமையு மற்ற வறிவே
யறிவாகு முண்மையீ துந்தீபற
     வறிவதற் கொன்றிலை யுந்தீபற.

aṟivaṟi yāmaiyu maṯṟa vaṟivē
yaṟivāhu muṇmaiyī dundīpaṟa
     vaṟivadaṟ koṉḏṟilai yundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: Only knowledge [or awareness] that is devoid of knowledge and ignorance is [real] knowledge [or awareness]. This is real, [because] there is not anything for knowing.
What he means here by ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும்’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum), ‘knowledge [or awareness] and ignorance’, is knowledge and ignorance of anything other than ourself. In other words, it is transitive awareness, or as he often referred to it in Tamil, ‘சுட்டறிவு’ (suṭṭaṟivu), which literally means awareness that points at, shows or indicates, and which implies awareness of objects or phenomena. Therefore when he says cryptically in this verse (as he also says in almost identical words in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu), ‘அறிவு அறியாமையும் அற்ற அறிவே அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟivu aṟiyāmaiyum aṯṟa aṟivē aṟivu āhum), ‘Only aṟivu that is devoid of aṟivu and aṟiyāmai is aṟivu’, in which அறிவு (aṟivu) means knowledge or awareness and அறியாமை (aṟiyāmai) means ignorance, what he implies is that only pure awareness (intransitive awareness), which is completely devoid of transitive awareness and ignorance, is real awareness.

Not only is pure awareness the only real awareness, but it is also the only thing that is real, in the sense that it is the only thing that actually exists, because whatever else may seem to exist seems to exist only because we as ego are aware of it, so since real awareness is devoid of awareness of anything else (and hence of ego), that implies that nothing else actually exists. This is what he implies in the second sentence of this verse, ‘உண்மை ஈது’ (uṇmai īdu), which means ‘This is real’ or ‘This is the reality’, and which implies that what is real is only awareness devoid of knowledge and ignorance of all other things.

Why does he say that real awareness is devoid not only of transitive awareness but also of ignorance? The answer to this is implied in the final sentence of this verse, ‘அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை’ (aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘There is not anything for knowing’. That is, in our natural state of pure awareness, nothing else exists for us to know, so there is nothing for us to be ignorant about either. Knowledge and ignorance of other things would be possible only if other things actually existed, but since nothing else exists in the clear view of pure awareness, it is devoid not only of knowledge but also of ignorance.

As Bhagavan implied in the main clause of the penultimate sentence of the second paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘அறிவே நான்’ (aṟivē nāṉ), ‘awareness alone is I’, pure awareness alone is what we actually are, and as he said in the final sentence of that paragraph, ‘அறிவின் சொரூபம் சச்சிதானந்தம்’ (aṟiviṉ sorūpam saccidāṉandam), ‘The nature of [such] awareness is sat-cit-ānanda [being-consciousness-bliss]’. That is, pure awareness, which is the real nature of ourself (ātma-svarūpa), is sat (being or existence in the sense of what actually exists), cit (awareness in the sense of what is actually aware) and ānanda (happiness in the sense of what is actually happy).

Therefore, since nothing else exists in the state of pure awareness, when we know what our real nature is, what will remain is only sat-cit-ānanda, which is beginningless, endless, infinite and indivisible, as he says in verse 28 of Upadēśa Undiyār:
தனாதியல் யாதெனத் தான்றெரி கிற்பின்
னனாதி யனந்தசத் துந்தீபற
      வகண்ட சிதானந்த முந்தீபற.

taṉādiyal yādeṉat tāṉḏṟeri hiṟpiṉ
ṉaṉādi yaṉantasat tundīpaṟa
      vakhaṇḍa cidāṉanda mundīpaṟa
.

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

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

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

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

English translation: If one knows what the nature of oneself is, then [what will exist and shine is only] anādi [beginningless], ananta [endless, limitless or infinite] and akhaṇḍa [unbroken, undivided or unfragmented] sat-cit-ānanda [being-awareness-bliss].
As the term ‘pure’ clearly indicates, pure awareness is awareness that is not mixed or adulterated with anything else, so it is devoid of anything other than itself, which means it is devoid of awareness of anything other than itself. Therefore it cannot be known by anything else. It can never be an object of ego’s awareness. So long as we are aware of ourself as ego, we are aware of other things, and consequently not aware of pure awareness, even though pure awareness alone is what we actually are. In order to be aware of pure awareness, we must be aware of ourself as we actually are, which means that we must be aware of nothing else whatsoever.

6. Being aware of anything other than ourself, which is the nature of ourself as ego, is not real awareness but only ignorance

Being aware of anything other than ourself, which is the nature of ourself as ego, is not real awareness but only ignorance, as Bhagavan says in verse 11 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அறிவுறுந் தன்னை யறியா தயலை
யறிவ தறியாமை யன்றி — யறிவோ
வறிவயற் காதாரத் தன்னை யறிய
வறிவறி யாமை யறும்.

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: Instead of knowing [the reality of] oneself [ego], who knows [everything else], knowing other things is ignorance; except [that], is it knowledge? When one knows [the reality of] oneself [ego], the ādhāra [support, foundation or container] for knowledge and the other [ignorance], knowledge and ignorance [of everything else] will cease [because the reality of ego is just pure self-awareness, so when one knows oneself as pure self-awareness ego will no longer seem to exist, and hence all its knowledge and ignorance will cease to exist along with it].
The ādhāra (support, foundation or container) for knowledge and ignorance of anything other than ourself is ourself as ego, because ego alone is what is aware of other things, so when we are aware of ourself as we actually are, ego will be dissolved and hence awareness of all other things will cease, as he implies in the final sentence of this verse: ‘அறிவு அயற்கு ஆதார தன்னை அறிய, அறிவு அறியாமை அறும்’ (aṟivu ayaṟku ādhāra taṉṉai aṟiya, aṟivu aṟiyāmai aṟum), ‘When one knows [the reality of] oneself [ego], the ādhāra for knowledge and the other [ignorance], knowledge and ignorance [of everything else] will cease’.

Therefore if we are aware of anything other than ourself we are not aware of ourself as we actually are, so being aware of anything other than ourself is not real awareness but only ignorance, as he says in the first two sentences of this verse: ‘அறிவு உறும் தன்னை அறியாது அயலை அறிவது அறியாமை; அன்றி அறிவோ?’ (aṟivu-uṟum taṉṉai aṟiyādu ayalai aṟivadu aṟiyāmai; aṉḏṟi aṟivō?), ‘Instead of knowing [the reality of] oneself [ego], who knows [everything else], knowing other things is ignorance; except [that], is it knowledge [or real awareness]?’.

Therefore real awareness is not awareness of anything other than ourself but only pure awareness, which is completely devoid of either awareness or ignorance of any other thing, as Bhagavan said in verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār (which I discussed above) and as he also says in verse 12 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
அறிவறி யாமையு மற்றதறி வாமே
யறியும துண்மையறி வாகா — தறிதற்
கறிவித்தற் கன்னியமின் றாயவிர்வ தாற்றா
னறிவாகும் பாழன் றறி.

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance [about anything other than itself] is actually aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. That which knows [or is aware of anything other than itself, namely ego] is not real aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]. One is not void [emptiness, desolation, nothingness or non-existence]. Know [or be aware].
Just as he said in the final sentence of verse 27 of Upadēśa Undiyār, ‘அறிவதற்கு ஒன்று இலை’ (aṟivadaṟku oṉḏṟu ilai), ‘There is not anything for knowing’, in the third sentence of this verse he implies the same by saying: ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘Since [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] aṟivu [knowledge or awareness]’. That is, in our natural state of pure awareness, which is completely devoid of either awareness or ignorance anything else, nothing else exists for us to know, to cause to know or to make known, because we alone actually exist, and hence we alone are real awareness.

However, though pure awareness is devoid of everything else, it is not a void, because it is the fullness of sat-cit-ānanda, and hence Bhagavan ends this verse by saying ‘பாழ் அன்று. அறி’ (pāṙ aṉḏṟu. aṟi), ‘It [oneself] is not void [emptiness, desolation, nothingness or non-existence]. Know [or be aware]’.

Our real nature is not only pure awareness, as he implies in verse 12, but is also what alone is real, as he says in the first sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
ஞானமாந் தானேமெய் நானாவா ஞானமஞ்
ஞானமாம் பொய்யாமஞ் ஞானமுமே — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: Oneself, who is jñāna [knowledge or awareness], alone is real. Awareness that is manifold [namely the mind, whose root, the ego, is the awareness that sees the one as many] is ajñāna [ignorance]. Even [that] ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as [besides, apart from or as other than] oneself, who is [real] awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real? [In other words, though ego or mind, which is the false awareness that sees itself as numerous phenomena, is ignorance and unreal, the real substance that appears as it is only oneself, who is true knowledge or pure awareness, so what actually exists is not ego or mind but only oneself.]
When he says in the first sentence of this verse, ‘ஞானம் ஆம் தானே மெய்’ (ñāṉam ām tāṉē mey), ‘Oneself, who is awareness, alone is real’, the awareness (jñāna) that he refers to is pure awareness, which means awareness (aṟivu) that ‘shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known]’, as he pointed out in the third sentence of the previous verse: ‘அறிதற்கு அறிவித்தற்கு அன்னியம் இன்றாய் அவிர்வதால், தான் அறிவு ஆகும்’ (aṟidaṟku aṟivittaṟku aṉṉiyam iṉḏṟāy avirvadāl, tāṉ aṟivu āhum), ‘Since it [the real nature of oneself] shines without another for knowing or for causing to know [or causing to be known], oneself is [real] awareness’.

Being aware of anything other than ourself is not real awareness but only ignorance, as he says in the first sentence of verse 11, ‘அறிவு உறும் தன்னை அறியாது அயலை அறிவது அறியாமை’ (aṟivu-uṟum taṉṉai aṟiyādu ayalai aṟivadu aṟiyāmai), ‘Not knowing oneself, who knows, knowing other things is ignorance’, and in the second sentence of this verse, ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம் அஞ்ஞானம் ஆம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam aññāṉam ām), ‘Awareness that is manifold is ignorance’. What he means here by the term ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is manifold’, is mind or ego, which is the awareness that sees the one reality (namely pure awareness) as many (namely ego and all the phenomena perceived by it), as is clear from the original version of this verse, which is now verse 12 of Upadēśa Taṉippākkaḷ:
ஞானமொன் றேயுண்மை நானாவாய்க் காண்கின்ற
ஞானமன்றி யின்றாமஞ் ஞானந்தான் — ஞானமாந்
தன்னையன்றி யின்றணிக டாம்பலவும் பொய்மெய்யாம்
பொன்னையன்றி யுண்டோ புகல்.

ñāṉamoṉ ḏṟēyuṇmai nāṉāvāyk kāṇgiṉḏṟa
ñāṉamaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟāmañ ñāṉandāṉ — ñāṉamān
daṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yiṉḏṟaṇiga ḍāmbalavum boymeyyām
poṉṉaiyaṉḏṟi yuṇḍō puhal
.

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

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

English translation: Awareness (jñāna) alone is real. Ignorance (ajñāna), which is nothing other than awareness (jñāna) that sees as many, itself does not exist apart from oneself, who is awareness (jñāna). All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist apart from the gold, which is real?
That is, what he described in this verse as ‘நானாவாய் காண்கின்ற ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-āy kāṇgiṉḏṟa ñāṉam), ‘awareness that sees as many’, is what he described more succinctly in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu as ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is many [manifold or diverse]’, so the implied meaning of ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam) is awareness of multiplicity, diversity or differences (or more precisely awareness that is aware of multiplicity, diversity or differences), which he says is ignorance (ajñāna), the very antithesis of real awareness (jñāna).

What is aware of multiplicity is ego, which is the false awareness ‘I am this body’, so as long as we are aware of multiplicity we are not aware of ourself as we actually are. What we actually are is only pure awareness, which alone is real in the sense of what actually exists. However, though we are always only pure awareness, when we seemingly rise as ego, we are aware of ourself as ‘I am this body’ and consequently we are also aware of other things, so this awareness of multiplicity is what effectively conceals pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa).

This is why he says 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.

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.

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.
When we see a rope but mistake it to be a snake, our misperception of it as a snake is superimposed on our perception of what is actually there. Likewise, when we are aware of anything other than ourself, that awareness of other things, which is what Bhagavan means (in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) by ‘நானாவாம் ஞானம்’ (nāṉā-v-ām ñāṉam), ‘awareness that is many’ or ‘awareness of multiplicity’, is superimposed on pure awareness, so until this illusory superimposition is removed pure awareness seems to be obscured and hidden from our view.

This illusory superimposition appears only in the view of ourself as ego, so ego is the root, cause and foundation of it, and hence in order to remove it we must remove ego. Since ego is just a false awareness of ourself as ‘I am this body’, we can remove it only by being aware of ourself as we actually are, and in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to attend to ourself so keenly that we cease being aware of anything else whatsoever. When we cease being aware of anything else, what will remain is only pure awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa).

In verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan says that awareness of multiplicity is not only ignorance but also unreal, which means that it does not actually exist at all. Its existence is only a seeming existence, but so long as it seems to exist, we seem to be this ego, because it is only in the view of ourself as ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are that it seems to exist. What we actually are is only pure awareness, in the clear view of which nothing else whatsoever exists or even seems to exist.

However, though it is not real, awareness of multiplicity is in substance nothing other than pure awareness, which alone is real, as Bhagavan says in the third sentence of verse 13, ‘பொய் ஆம் அஞ்ஞானமுமே ஞானம் ஆம் தன்னை அன்றி இன்று’ (poy ām aññāṉamumē ñāṉam ām taṉṉai aṉḏṟi iṉḏṟu), ‘Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness’, and he illustrates this with an analogy in the fourth and fifth sentences, ‘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?’.

So what is the practical implication of all these teachings? In order to be aware of ourself as pure awareness, which is what we actually are, we need to separate ourself from this false awareness of multiplicity, which is what we now seem to be, and in order to separate ourself from it we need to clearly distinguish ourself from it. So how can we distinguish ourself from this false awareness of multiplicity, which we now seem to be? To distinguish what we actually are, we need to investigate ourself by trying to attend to ourself so keenly that we cease to be aware of anything else, because only when we cease to be aware of anything else will we be aware of ourself as pure awareness.

7. The more keenly and persistently we practise being self-attentive, the more clearly our fundamental self-awareness will shine in our mind, until eventually it will shine so clearly that it will swallow ego forever

In the final paragraph of your comment you wrote, ‘From what you say, it would seem as if by practicing self-investigation this feeling of pure awareness was gaining ground to the awareness of things (the merchant, the camel and the tent) so that, at some point, there will only be pure awareness’. This is true in a certain sense, but I would not express it in quite these terms, and in particular I would not use the term ‘this feeling of pure awareness’, because pure awareness is not just a feeling but the sole reality and ultimate foundation of all other things. A feeling is a superficial mental impression, so it is a phenomenon that appears in the transitive awareness called ego or mind, which is itself just an illusory appearance that depends for its seeming existence on the real existence of pure awareness.

Not only would I not use the term ‘feeling’ to describe pure awareness, but I would also not say that ‘by practicing self-investigation […] pure awareness was gaining ground to the awareness of things’, because so long as we are aware of things we are not aware of pure awareness, even though pure awareness is what we actually are. What is gaining ground as we practise self-investigation is our clarity of self-awareness, and only when that clarity becomes perfect — so perfect that it allows no room for the illusory appearance of ego or anything else — can it be called pure awareness.

It is all a matter of clarity. We are always aware of ourself, but so long as we are interested in attending to anything other than ourself our natural clarity of self-awareness is clouded by our awareness of other things and therefore shines less clearly. That is, though we are clearly aware that we are, we are not clearly aware what we are. The more keenly and persistently we practise being self-attentive, the more clearly our fundamental self-awareness (awareness of ourself distinct from all adjuncts) will shine in our mind, and the more our interest in other things will consequently recede into the background. Eventually we will be so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything else whatsoever, whereupon our fundamental self-awareness will shine so clearly that it will swallow ego forever along with all its awareness of other things.

This swallowing of ego and everything else in the infinite clarity of pure self-awareness is what Bhagavan referred to in the final sentence of verse 21 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘ஊண் ஆதல் காண்’ (ūṇ ādal kāṇ), ‘Becoming food is seeing [God, who is one’s own real nature]’, and also what he described in verse 27 of Śrī Aruṇācala Akṣaramaṇamālai and verse 1 of Śrī Aruṇācala Pañcaratnam:
சகலமும் விழுங்குங் கதிரொளி யினமன
      சலச மலர்த்தியி டருணாசலா.

sakalamum viṙuṅguṅ kadiroḷi yiṉamaṉa
      jalaja malarttiyi ḍaruṇācalā
.

பதச்சேதம்: சகலமும் விழுங்கும் கதிர் ஒளி இன மன சலசம் அலர்த்தியிடு அருணாசலா

Padacchēdam (word-separation): sakalamum viṙuṅgum kadir oḷi iṉa, maṉa-jalajam alartti-y-iḍu aruṇācalā.

English translation: Arunachala, sun of bright light that swallows everything, make [my] mind-lotus blossom.

அருணிறை வான வமுதக் கடலே
விரிகதிரால் யாவும் விழுங்கு — மருண
கிரிபரமான் மாவே கிளருளப்பூ நன்றாய்
விரிபரிதி யாக விளங்கு.

aruṇiṟai vāṉa vamudak kaḍalē
virikadirāl yāvum viṙuṅgu — maruṇa
giriparamāṉ māvē kiḷaruḷappū naṉḏṟāy
viriparidhi yāha viḷaṅgu
.

பதச்சேதம்: அருள் நிறைவு ஆன அமுத கடலே, விரி கதிரால் யாவும் விழுங்கும் அருணகிரி பரமான்மாவே, கிளர் உள பூ நன்றாய் விரி பரிதி ஆக விளங்கு.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): aruḷ niṟaivu āṉa amuda-k-kaḍalē, viri kadirāl yāvum viṙuṅgum aruṇagiri paramāṉmāvē, kiḷar uḷa-p-pū naṉḏṟāy viri paridhi āha viḷaṅgu.

English translation: Ocean of amṛta [the ambrosia of immortality], which is the fullness of grace, paramātmā [my ultimate self], Arunagiri, who swallow everything by [your] spreading rays [of pure self-awareness], shine as the sun that makes [my] budding heart-lotus blossom fully.
So long as the mind is bound by cit-jaḍa-granthi, it is like a lotus-bud, which can blossom only when the bright light of the sun shines upon it. The bright light of pure awareness is always shining in our heart, but just as a lotus-bud will blossom by the light of the sun only when it is mature enough to do so, the lotus-bud of our mind or heart will blossom only when we are willing to surrender ourself entirely by attending to ourself so keenly that we give up our hold on our awareness of anything else. When we are willing to surrender ourself in this way, cit-jaḍa-granthi will be severed and our mind-lotus will blossom as pure awareness, which is the real nature of both Arunachala and ourself, and awareness of everything else will be swallowed forever in its infinitely clear light.

Therefore we must persevere in our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender until the clarity of our fundamental awareness of our own existence shines so brightly that we lose ourself completely in it. Whatever relative clarity may be experienced along the way should encourage us to proceed, but if we lack sufficient judgement due to our unfamiliarity with such clarity it may make us believe that we have achieved what we were looking for. However, no matter what degree of clarity we may achieve, it is not our goal until it shines so clearly that it swallows us forever along with all our awareness of anything other than ourself.

8. Whatever relative clarity we may experience, we must persevere in our practice of self-investigation until we become willing to surrender ourself entirely, whereupon we will subside and merge forever in the infinite silence of pure awareness

What you try to describe in the later part of the final paragraph of your comment seems to be some such state of relative clarity, which can never be adequately expressed in words or grasped by thoughts, so I can reply to what you wrote about it only in general terms. However, since you wrote some emails to me about this matter after writing this comment, by way of answer to what you wrote about it in your comment I will end this article by reproducing here the two replies that I wrote to those emails of yours.

In your first email you wrote about ‘a recent “meeting” with what I can’t properly describe, for lack of a better term I call it self-existence’ and about the questions it gave rise to in your mind, and you asked me whether I had gone through this and whether there is anything I could tell you that might help, in reply to which I wrote:
I have been through experiences of many kinds, but what I have learnt from them is just to persevere in the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, because whatever may happen, appear, be experienced or understood, what remains constant and unchanging as the background to it all is only our own fundamental self-awareness, ‘I am’, so this alone is real. Until everything else is removed in such a way that it can never return, we have not eradicated ego, because it is only in the view of ourself as ego that everything else appears or disappears.

That is, so long as anything appears or disappears, so long as we are aware of any change whatsoever, so long as we are aware of anything that we are not aware of in sleep, all such things are just mental fabrications, because what actually exists is only our fundamental awareness, which neither appears nor disappears but remains forever as it is without undergoing or experiencing even the slightest change. All these mental fabrications are a projection of our viṣaya-vāsanās, and as Bhagavan says in the eleventh paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
மனத்தின்கண் எதுவரையில் விஷயவாசனைக ளிருக்கின்றனவோ, அதுவரையில் நானா ரென்னும் விசாரணையும் வேண்டும். நினைவுகள் தோன்றத் தோன்ற அப்போதைக்கப்போதே அவைகளையெல்லாம் உற்பத்திஸ்தானத்திலேயே விசாரணையால் நசிப்பிக்க வேண்டும். அன்னியத்தை நாடாதிருத்தல் வைராக்கியம் அல்லது நிராசை; தன்னை விடாதிருத்தல் ஞானம். உண்மையி லிரண்டு மொன்றே.

maṉattiṉgaṇ edu-varaiyil viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ irukkiṉḏṟaṉavō, adu-varaiyil nāṉ-ār eṉṉum vicāraṇai-y-um vēṇḍum. niṉaivugaḷ tōṉḏṟa-t tōṉḏṟa appōdaikkappōdē avaigaḷai-y-ellām uṯpatti-sthāṉattilēyē vicāraṇaiyāl naśippikka vēṇḍum. aṉṉiyattai nāḍādiruttal vairāggiyam alladu nirāśai; taṉṉai viḍādiruttal ñāṉam. uṇmaiyil iraṇḍum oṉḏṟē.

As long as viṣaya-vāsanās exist within the mind, so long is the investigation who am I necessary. As and when thoughts [anything other than ourself] appear, then and there it is necessary to annihilate them all by vicāraṇā [investigation or keen self-attentiveness] in the very place from which they arise. 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.
We are aware of things other than ourself only when we attend to them, and to the extent that we attend to them we are thereby letting go of ourself, as Bhagavan implies here, so jñāna is the state in which we are never aware of anything other than ourself. In other words, it is the state of absolutely pure awareness, and hence infinite and immutable happiness.

This is what we are all seeking, whether we recognise it or not, and we cannot rest (except temporarily in sleep or any other state of manōlaya) until we lose ourself in it forever, which we can do only by persistently trying to be self-attentive.
In response to this you wrote another email, in reply to which I wrote:
I understand what you mean when you say you cannot explain what you are trying to say about the clarity you experienced. These things are very subtle, so they cannot be adequately expressed in thoughts or words, which is why Bhagavan said that the perfect teaching is only silence. However, until we lose ourself completely in the absolute silence of pure awareness, which is the silence he was referring to, words are the only means by which we can discuss these things, so I will try to reply in words as well as I can.

You say you are not talking about an experience but ‘the verification of self-existence’, which you also describe as ‘calm, peace, stillness, silence’, but what I meant by ‘experiences’ is anything we are aware of, and how could there be verification of self-existence, or calm, peace, stillness or silence, if there were not awareness of it? Therefore when there is awareness of such things, what we need to do is to investigate who or what is aware of it.

According to Bhagavan nothing exists independent of awareness, because awareness alone is what actually exists. What is aware of pure awareness is only pure awareness itself, and what is aware of anything else is only ourself as ego, which is the false awareness that is aware of itself as ‘I am Asun’, ‘I am Michael’ or whoever. As he says in verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, even this false awareness of other things does not exist as other than pure awareness, which is ourself as we actually are.

What is self-existent is only pure self-awareness, so it cannot be known, experienced, cognised or verified as it is by anything other than itself. However as ego we can be aware of it to the extent that we subside, but only imperfectly, because in order to be aware of it as it is we must lose ourself forever in it.

Regarding what you call your ‘meeting’ with the timeless and deathless self-existence, you wrote in your previous email, ‘I don’t know how nor why it happened nor why ego didn’t completely subside’, and in your present email, ‘I don’t understand either why this added awareness or ego didn’t subside at that very moment once and for all’. Such moments of relative clarity occur because of the same power that draws us to investigate and surrender ourself, namely grace, which is the infinite love that Bhagavan, our real nature, has for us as himself.

However, even during such precious moments of relative clarity ego will subside completely only if we are willing to let go of everything else and thereby surrender ourself completely to the pure awareness that we actually are. Until then, ego will subside only partially, or perhaps completely but only temporarily (in manōlaya), but in either case it will sooner or later rise again, so we have to persevere in our practice of self-investigation until we become willing to surrender ourself entirely, whereupon we will subside and merge forever in the infinite silence of pure awareness.

You say, ‘I can understand why it is said that the moment of death is the most beautiful moment’, but if the moment that the body dies is so beautiful, how much more beautiful will be the moment that ego dies!

133 comments:

Sanjay Lohia said...

We will certainly reach the goal, and this message is quite reassuring

However near or far we may be, we just have to travel in the direction which Bhagavan has shown us. So long as we are travelling in the right direction, we are getting closer to our goal. So we just have to patiently persevere in the practice of self-investigation and self-surrender. We may be extremely far from the goal or near our goal, it does not matter because if are travelling in the right direction we will certainly reach the goal, sooner or later.

Of course, we are not far away from the goal literally because it is our own real nature. But metaphorically speaking, it seems we have a lot of hard to do to follow this path. Eventually, our persistence and patience will surely root out our ego along with all its desires and attachments.

However, we should not approach this practice with the expectation of some drastic results. We should not expect that we will have a dramatic transformation very soon. Ultimately, we will have drastic transformation. That is, we who take ourself to be this small, little person will eventually find ourself to be the infinite awareness, happiness and being. So that will be huge transformation.

The more we follow this path, the weaker our desires and attachments will become, but that is not very easy to recognize. Sometime we may feel that our desires and attachments have reduced significantly, and then destiny will throw some experience at us which will make us recognize that our desires and attachments are still quite strong. Our prarabdha has been woven around circumstances which compel our desires and attachments to rise to the surface. So when this happens, we should thank our prarabdha and not lament it. We should recognise that by allowing these vasanas to rise to the surface, Bhagavan is giving us a golden opportunity to weaken and destroy our vasanas.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-20 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to maintain confidence in the teachings (36:00)

AsunAparicio said...

Dear Michael,

Thanks so much for this article. Just a few things:

I didn´t infer that there are two awareness, it doesn´t make any sense. I was referring to the existence of, in your words, “the distinction between the pure awareness and the awareness that we call mind or ego” which “becomes clearer and clearer.”
Doesn´t this distinction or discrimination imply the awareness of the pure awareness as coexisting with the awareness we call ego?
Yet, now I can understand that saying “coexisting” is not accurate. Truth is that, as you write, “ in substance pure awareness and ego are one and the same thing, though they are different in appearance” so, what we are doing is discriminating or discerning what reality is there in appearance since appearance which we have been taking by real until now, is our starting point and what we begin to question.
This appearance has its support in the form or body which is what appears and what appears to be real so, it is only awareness as ego what is different in appearance and only because the appearance. There is not appearance, form, in pure awareness. Yet, awareness appearing as body, ego, is also aware of itself as the knower or the awareness of the body and everything else perceived by the senses which are only appearances too. However, this knowledge of ego as the knower still is ignorance and this awareness, false awareness: “What is devoid of knowledge and ignorance is actually knowledge. That which knows is not real knowledge. Since one shines without another for knowing or for causing to know, oneself is knowledge. One is not void. Know.” (6)
This, you explain it further in (7)

“calm, peace, stillness, silence’ wasn´t the description of the so called experience but the “environment” of it, so to speak and to explain that there weren´t fireworks, explosions nor anything like that, but rather the opposite.

As I told you, now I can understand what you mean by “clarity of mind” which, being redundant, never was very clear to me as well as now I can appreciate your caution since, as you write in this beautiful paragraph 7,” we lack sufficient judgement due to our unfamiliarity with such clarity.”

I also found very helpful for this matter your introduction to "The path of Sri Ramana" by Sadhu Om. I came across with it and read it after these e-mails. If someone is interested:

https://www.happinessofbeing.com/path_ramana.html


“But if the moment that the body dies is so beautiful, how much more beautiful will be the moment that ego dies!” M.J.

Yes, indeed :)

_/\_

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Krishna: ‘I am self dwelling in the heart of every being

Bhagavad Gita Saram, verse 4: I am self, oh Gudakesa, dwelling in the heart of every being; I am the beginning and the middle and also the end of all beings.

Reflections: Someone asked Bhagavan if there was one verse that is the quintessence of the Gita. In response, Bhagavan mentioned the above verse. Therefore, Bhagavan and Sri Krishna have both told us clearly and unequivocally that they are our own real self. So if we want to know the real Bhagavan (or real Sri Krishna), we have no other option but to turn within.

Self-investigation, therefore, is the only way to experience Bhagavan as he actually is.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The world is a form composed of five kinds of sense-impressions, not anything else

Ulladu Narpadu, verse 6: 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?

What Bhagavan says here is extremely radical and deep. Michael said the following [paraphrased by me], as an expansion to this, in one of his videos:

Whatever we experience could be an illusion. In fact, if we want to take the doubt to an extreme level, we cannot be sure that there is an external world. We cannot be sure about anything except ‘I’ and what I am experiencing now at this very moment. We cannot be sure of even our memories. For instance, I am not experiencing now what I was doing five minutes ago. I am experiencing a memory of that and memory is just a thought, an idea in my mind. As all ideas are our imagination, our memories are also our imagination.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Ego is never born, so how can it die?

We talk about the annihilation of ego (manonasa), but, actually, ego is never born, so how can it die? Ego does seem to exist as long as we neglect to look at it. However, as Bhagavan teaches us in verse 17 of Upadesa Undiyar:

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

Therefore, anything called ego or mind simply does not exist. In this regard, a friend asked the following question to Michael;

The friend: Is it possible that we experience atma-svarupa but the ego re-emerges again?

Michael: No. So long as you don’t know it to be a rope, you will mistake it to be a snake. However, once you see it to be a rope, you can never mistake it to be a snake again because you have seen what actually is. So once ego is ‘destroyed’, not only it is not possible for ego to re-emerge, but it is not possible for ego to emerge in the first place because there is no such this as ‘ego’. Ego seems to exist because we have not looked at it closely enough. We need to look within keenly to see that there was never any ego in the first place.

So the ultimate truth is ajata: Nothing has ever happened or come into existence or been born – nothing has appeared. What is, always is, as it is. Even to say always implies time. Time does not exist. What exists is only that, and you are that.

• Based on the extract from the video: 2019-03-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 16 (1:17)

AsunAparicio said...

Sanjay,

Michael says no, Ramana says yes:

D.: Having once experienced the Supreme Bliss, how can one stray
away from it?
M.: Oh yes! It happens. The predisposition adhering to him from time
immemorial will draw him out and so ignorance overtakes him.
D.: What are the obstacles to remaining steady in unbroken Bliss?
How can they be overcome?
M.: The obstacles are:
(1) Ignorance which is forgetfulness of one’s pure being.
(2) Doubt which consists in wondering if even the experience was
of the Real or of the unreal.
(3) Error which consists in the “I-am-the-body” idea, and thinking
that the world is real. These are overcome by hearing the truth,
reflection on it and concentration.
The Master continued: Experience is said to be temporary or
permanent. The first experience is temporary and by concentration it
can become permanent. In the former the bondage is not completely
destroyed; it remains subtle and reasserts itself in due
course. But in the latter it is destroyed root and branch, never
to appear again. (Talk 95)

Both are in the dream. One knows what knows and nothing, nobody, touches nor changes it.
"The best course, therefore, is to remain silent." This has been the second verification :)

Regarding to the subject of this article, they are mainly clarifications about terms and concepts which helps to clear mind as going into it or reflecting on it.

AsunAparicio said...

Having said that, Michael is a great tightrope walker. Very, very difficult. I´m very grateful for having come across with someone like him, his talks and writings. Much to learn.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Asun, you say, ‘Michael says no, Ramana says yes’, thereby implying that whom should we believe, Ramana or Michael? The answer should be clear – Bhagavan Ramana. However, we should believe what Bhagavan has himself written. That is, Bhagavan’s core teachings are contained in his works like Nan Ar?, Ulladu Narpadu, Upadesa Undiyar, Sri Arunachala Stuti Panchakam and other such works. If we understand Bhagavan’s teachings through these works, we are less likely to get confused about them.

Regarding the portion of Talks you have quoted, we can clearly see how confusing this is, and confusion is the very antithesis of Bhagavan. Bhagavan is the absolute clarity of pure self-awareness, and this clarity is reflected in his direct works. If we try to understand Bhagavan’s teachings through works like Talks and Day by Day, we are bound to be misled.

Such recordings have many shortcomings. These recordings were done in English, whereas Bhagavan spoke in Tamil. They were noted down from memory after a while because no one was allowed to take notes in Bhagavan’s hall (except perhaps Murugunar). These recordings are coloured by the grasping power of those who recorded them. So in short, such recordings are quite unreliable. They do contain some gems here and there, but on the whole we cannot rely on them. Talks were recorded by Munagala, and his recordings are perhaps the most confusing. He was in a habit of expanding whatever Bhagavan said and thereby he more often than not distorted Bhagavan’s teachings.

This portion of Talks says:

D.: Having once experienced the Supreme Bliss, how can one stray away from it?
M.: Oh yes! It happens. The predisposition adhering to him from time
immemorial will draw him out and so ignorance overtakes him.

This is not Bhagavan’s teachings. If we once experience supreme bliss, we can never come out of it again. If a river merges in the ocean, can it ever become a river again? If we can come out supreme bliss that means liberation is only temporary, so what is the use of such liberation? This is just an example. Everything written in this quote is a totally confusing interpretation of Bhagavan’s teachings.



AsunAparicio said...

Sanjay,

Had you asked Bhagavan a question and he responded you, would you reject the answer by saying “no, that´s not Ramana´s teaching”, or would you keep it at your heart like a treasure?

He still responds even our no formulated questions in many ways and accordingly to our need in the moment. Personally, I find of great value what Ramana says about the three obstacles. Don´t see why this has to be odder than meeting him in dreams or around the corner walking down the street.

Your assumption that I was asking to whom believe is wrong. You will understand it if you read what I wrote at the end of the quote but this is how our conditioned mind works and, anyway, ultimately, anything that can be said about it is not truth. But I can understand what you mean, moreover, I agree :)

Sanjay Lohia said...

In his view there were no others, and therefore there was nobody in bondage, and therefore there was no need for any liberation

Sometimes people asked Bhagavan, ‘can you give me what you have got?’ Bhagavan would reply, ‘I don’t have anything which you don’t have’. All you need to do is jettison ego and all its children, and what remains is jnana. Bhagavan used an analogy: If we have a room filled with rubbish, how do we bring space into that room? Simple! We just need to throw out rubbish and automatically space will be ‘created’. Likewise, atma-jnana is not something new to be gained. We just need to throw out ego and all its pet children, and then what remains is atma-jnana. So atma-jnana is not a gain but a loss of everything.

In Bhagavan’s view, there is no such thing as ajnana, so there are no ajnanis. That is why Bhagavan of his own accord did not give any teachings. In his view, there were no others, and therefore there was nobody in bondage, and therefore there was no need for any liberation. However, Bhagavan answered people’s questions. Bhagavan says in verse 13 of Ulladu Narpadu: ‘oneself who is jnana alone is real’. So Bhagavan saw nothing but jnana, and he was that pure jnana. So Bhagavan lived what he taught.

Bhagavan would say, ‘I don’t see myself as a guru’ because to see himself as a guru he has to see others, but in Bhagavan’s view there were no others. So there was no guru or no need for a guru. However, when people asked him, ‘But isn’t a guru necessary?’ ‘Yes’, he said, ‘so long as there a laghu, guru is necessary’. One meaning of guru is ‘heavy’ and laghu means ‘light’. He implied in a metaphorical way that as long as there is ajnana, guru is needed. However, he didn’t acknowledge the existence of ajnana – at least from his perspective – but didn’t deny this from our perspective.

So we definitely need a guru because we are still laghu. However, the more we associate ourself with the guru, the more we will start becoming heavy like the guru, and eventually, we will merge in the guru.

• Extract from the video: 2019-10-05 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 33 (22:00) [paraphrased by me]

Sanjay Lohia said...

The depth, clarity and simplicity of Bhagavan’s teachings are quite unlike anything that was seen before

Bhagavan’s teachings are something unique and special. Of course, basically Bhagavan is teaching us advaita philosophy, but the depth, clarity and simplicity of his teachings are quite unlike anything seen before. The same truth was told in a roundabout way in older texts, but they were grossly misunderstood and misinterpreted.

Bhagavan has made it very clear and simple and in doing so he hasn’t in any way trivialised it. It fact, quite the opposite, he has brought out the subtle and very deep truths which were not clear in the older texts.

Extract from Michael’s video dated 05/10/2019

Reflections: Michael has introduced me to Bhagavan and his teachings. When I hear other people talk all gibberish in the name of Bhagavan’s teachings, I realise how precious Michael is to us.

When we are told about the greatness and uniqueness of Bhagavan’s teachings, we automatically tend to surrender there and then. If we are convinced about the specialness of Bhagavan’s teachings, we are more motivated to put them into practice. So we should talk about the guru’s greatness. We should worship his name and form. We should sing in praise of him. All such activities can be a great aid in this path.

However, ultimately we should do what the guru asks us to do, which is turn within at every given opportunity. Bhagavan doesn’t want us to worship his name and form, but he does want us to worship his teachings – that is, he does want to follow the path that he has shown us without fail.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our prarabdha is automatically selected in such a way as will be most conducive to the maturity of our mind and heart

What does it mean when we say that God ordains our prarabdha? In this context, ‘God’ is used as a metaphor for his grace. He and his grace are one, and this grace is our real nature. Grace is the infinite love that we as we really are have for ourself as we really are. Our real nature is not aware of anything other than itself because nothing other than itself actually exists. So it is aware of everything as itself alone and therefore loves everything as itself alone. So in effect, it loves us to see ourself as nothing other than itself, as it sees us.

Because of the mere existence or presence of love in our heart, our prarabdha is automatically selected in such a way as will be most conducive to the maturity of our mind and heart. This maturity can happen only by means of gradual purification of our will. Only to the extent, our will is purified, will the love to face inwards and thereby to surrender ourself entirely blossom within us.

• Based on Michael’s article: Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will (section 43)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s grace is always present because that is the only power that exists

Bhagavan’s grace is always present because that is the only power that exists. If we misuse the power to go outwards, that power is called maya. Maya and grace are two sides of the same coin. When we use it properly to go within, that is called grace. Maya is ya ma – meaning what is not. So maya is actually non-existent. Bhagavan often used to say manomaya – the mind that is maya. So maya exists only in the view of the mind, which is itself maya.

• Edited extract from the video: 2011-07-09 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion on Sri Ramana's teachings with Michael James (1:13)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Taking interest in anything other than ourself is contradicting this path

A friend: I like expressing myself through arts and music. Are these interests contradictory to practising atma-vichara?

Michael: Whatever we do in life is contradicting this path – taking interest in anything other than ourself is contracting this path. However, we can’t forcibly stop our interests in many of the things, so we have to slowly and gradually try to wean our mind away from them. Some desires and attachments are more harmful than others. So sometimes we have to let the less harmful desires and attachments remain in order to weaken the stronger ones. So if some creative activity is therapeutic for you, Bhagavan wouldn't say ‘give that up’. Let that go on, but slowly slowly try to turn your mind within. Ultimately, even the desire for creativity will drop off.

However, slowly slowly we have to wean our mind away from likes and dislikes. We need not give up the activities but should try to give up our desires and attachments that drive us to do those activities. Eventually, all our desires and attachments will drop off so long as we are trying to practise turning within.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-20 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to maintain confidence in the teachings (1:08)

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
first of all many thanks for writing again an Upanishad for us.

section 6., Being aware of anything other than ourself, which is the nature of ourself as ego, is not real awareness but only ignorance

"Our real nature is not only pure awareness, as he implies in verse 12, but is also what alone is real, as he says in the first sentence of verse 13 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
...
English translation: Oneself, who is awareness, alone is real. Awareness that is manifold is ignorance. Even ignorance, which is unreal, does not exist except as oneself, who is awareness. All the many ornaments are unreal; say, do they exist except as gold, which is real?"

If even ignorance does not exist "except as...(real) awareness" why should we not comfortably remain in our "knowledge and ignorance of anything other than ourself" ?
Why should we struggle for being aware of ourself as we actually are, which means that we must be aware of nothing else whatsoever ? Why not bathing to one's complete satisfaction in the transitive awareness that is aware of multiplicity, diversity or differences) if such unreal ignorance (ajñāna), the very antithesis of real awareness (jñāna), is (anyway finally) not separated from real awareness ?


Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, are you satisfied with your present state as ego? If so, there is no reason why you should not remain in it.

However, if you consider all the problems and dissatisfaction that we face when we rise as ego and consequently experience awareness and ignorance of other things, you will probably conclude that this is not a satisfactory state, in which case your dissatisfaction is the reason why you should try to eradication ego, the root cause of all this awareness of multiplicity, diversity and differences.

Even our dissatisfaction and suffering does not exist except as real awareness, but understanding this conceptually does not do much to alleviate our dissatisfaction and suffering, so this is why Bhagavan advised us to investigate and thereby surrender ourself completely.

Anonymous said...

Is there a possibility where Self multiplies and becomes the world and yet not aware of anything other than himself? I think there is.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Everything that prompts our mind to turn within is grace

A friend: Can you explain the concept of grace?

Michael: Grace means infinite love. That is Bhagavan. That is you. We all have love for ourself. Whatever else we may love, we love that because we love ourself.

Everything that prompts our mind to turn within is grace.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-20 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to maintain confidence in the teachings (1:28)

Reflection: Michael and his videos, his articles, his emails, his translation works and so on are a flood tide of grace. These make our mind turn within. Grace gives us a push from outside to go within and the same grace pulls us from within towards itself. Poor ego is crushed between these two workings of grace, and therefore it is doomed to die. RIP!

Michael James said...

Anonymous, our real nature is immutable, so it never multiplies or becomes anything. It just is as it always is: ‘one only without a second’ (ēkam ēva advitīyam).

All multiplicity and becoming is just an illusory appearance, so it seems to exist only in the view of ourself as ego, which is itself a part of that illusory appearance. If we as ego investigate ourself keenly enough, we will see ourself as we actually are, and hence we will see that we have never become ego or undergone any other kind of change, so there never was any ego nor any multiplication or becoming of any kind whatsoever.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The root of all evil is ego because ego twists this self-love into love for this small person

The problem is that we now take ourself to be this little person, so we want happiness for this person. All the problems in this world are caused by this self-love but not pure self-love – by this distorted self-love based on the wrong identification with this person – ‘I am this person’. Pure self-love is infinite self-love. So long as our self-love is directed towards the person we seem to be, our self-love becomes impure, and selfishness, greed and everything is born out of this.

So the root of all evil is ego because ego twists this self-love into love for this small person.

• Based on the extract from the video: 2019-10-20 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to maintain confidence in the teachings (1:29)

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
many thanks for your reply and clarification. My doubting questions have arisen while my manana.:-) Of course Bhagavan not without reason advised us to investigate and thereby surrender ourself completely.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The root of all evil is ego because ego twists this self-love into love for this small person - part 2

Why do I love my family or country or language or religion? I do so because they are mine. That is, everything we love is because of the relationship we have with the things we love. I identify with this person called ‘Sanjay’, and Sanjay identifies itself with his family or country or language or religion. So this family or country or language or religion is my (this person’s) extension. Since I have twisted my self-love into the love for this small person ‘Sanjay’, my self-love is extended to my love for everything that I consider to be mine.

Why do I love India more than the UK? It is because I identify myself with India.
Why do I love ‘my money’ kept in ‘my bank’? It is because Sanjay identifies itself with this money, and since this money is kept in this particular bank, this bank becomes my bank. All my identifications and attachments are rooted in my identification with the person than I take myself to be. So if I am able to disentangle myself with Sanjay, I will simultaneously disentangle myself with everything that I take to be mine.

How do I disentangle myself with Sanjay? I can do so by investigating the ‘I’ which identifies itself with Sanjay. If I am able to focus my entire attention on myself alone, I will then and there lose all my connection with Sanjay forever. So now Sanjay will not only lose himself, but he will lose all his money kept in his bank account!


Sanjay Lohia said...

We can act in a selfless manner only if we are free of ego

In Indian spirituality, the path of selfless service is known as karma-magra or karma-yoga. Bhagavan said only an atma-jnani can be true karma-yogi. Selfless service in this context means egoless service. So we can act in a selfless manner only if we are free of ego. Whatever we try to do selflessly (while retaining our ego) is only relatively selfless. So although some of our actions superficially may seem to be selfless, the selfish motive is hidden even in such ‘selfless’ acts. We see someone suffering and the sight makes us uncomfortable, so we try to alleviate this suffering. Why do we try to do so? It is because we suffer seeing them suffer, and so we try to alleviate their suffering in order to alleviate our own suffering.

This isn’t to say that such relatively selfless activities are of no use. Such activities can be a means to purify the mind, but it is an imperfect means. We may go astray by following such a path. One may end up feeling self-righteous or feeling pride in whatever one is doing. If we focus our attention on doing service to others, our attention is facing outwards, and so long as our attention is facing outwards, we are to a greater or lesser extent feeding ego. That is, as ego we nourish and feed ourself by attending to things other than ourself.

If we want to stop feeding ego, we must stop looking outside and look within. So the most effective way to keep ego in check is to be constantly watching it – in order words, being constantly self-attentive. The more we attend to ourself the more ego subsides, and the more ego subsides the more selfless we are. We obviously cannot do selfless actions unless we ourselves are selfless.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-27 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses service in relation to Bhagavan’s teachings (1:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Of those born death is certain

Bhagavad Gita Saram – verse 5: Of those born death is certain, and birth for those dead; therefore for what none can prevent thou should not grieve.

Reflection: We are all going to die one day. Likewise, all our near and dear ones will also die one day. So why should we grieve for the dead when it is certain? However, our aim is to destroy the griever even before it has a chance to grieve - in other words, our aim is to destroy our ego which grieves or not grieves.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Svatma-bhakti is the love for our own self, and it is our real nature

Our love for happiness alone is what gives rise to and is the driving force behind every element of our will. Our will is essentially just love for happiness, which is our real nature. So in this sense, our will is more real than other phenomena.

If anything is real in this unreal world or in this unreal person we take to be ourself, it is the love that Bhagavan has so lovingly planted in our heart. So let us follow his example and pray that our love for him ever increases, so we may eventually merge in him, the form of love.

Svatma-bhakti is the love for our own self, which means love to know and to be what we actually are. If we consider such love to be unreal and illusory, we are seriously confused because it is our real nature. This love is what is otherwise called grace, which is the sole reality.

• Based on section 38 of Michael’s article: Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will

Sanjay Lohia said...

The real power behind the mind is its will

A friend: What is the real power behind the mind?

Michael: The real power behind the mind is its will. If its will is filled with pravrtti elements, it will constantly be rushing outwards with great impetus. Whereas if it is filled with nivrtti elements, it will be turning back to face itself and will thereby subside back within. Therefore only to the extent that nivrtti elements have replaced pravttri ones that we will love to and be able to follow the path of self-investigation and self-surrender that Bhagavan has so lovingly taught us.

• Based on section 45 of Michael’s article: Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will

AsunAparicio said...

Michael,

To settle this subject simply, is it correct to say that:

1.- Ego can´t experience self-awareness since what is called ego is awareness of other than itself so, when turned towards itself it is not called ego anymore but pure awareness, i.e., awareness aware only of itself. When water solidifies we call it ice yet, it still is water. When awareness is aware of other than itself we call it ego yet, it still is awareness. Is this what you mean when you say that ego and pure awareness are different only in appearance?

2.- Ego and pure awareness can´t coexist but they alternate themselves and so long there is this alternation it is not complete or true pure awareness. Being aware of this alternation and bringing back attention to self-awareness when it slides out of itself, is the practice of self-investigation which goal is to get established as pure awareness only. In the process, we realize that this alternation is just an appearance and that what always remains is pure awareness or what we really are. Other things we are aware of, including ourselves as ego or the thought “I´m this body” and the very body , come and go, are ever-changing and, therefore, they are not real.

3.- Regarding to the experience of self-knowledge, it is, as you say, just a state of relative clarity. In true self-knowledge or a state of complete clarity, there is not left anyone to say anything, as you say that Shadu Om stated “There is only a thin line between jnāna and ajnāna. At the right time, a shock may enable one to cross the line and have that small change of outlook.” However, ” Bhagavan is the greatest siddha. He knows well what work need be done on us and how to do it. Though we do not know it, he is doing his work all the time. Erratic behaviour only occurs if a disciple has a profound change of outlook while still retaining some individuality. Bhagavan will always bring about the required change of outlook (the experience of true self-knowledge) together with the loss of individuality, so no outward changes will be seen in those whom he liberates, and no 'I' will rise in them to say 'I have had this change of outlook', nor will he say anything (that is, he will not say that they have been liberated).” (The paramount importance of self attention)

Yet, this trust in Bhagavan shouldn´t be a blind one but “born of inner clarity”, as “we go deeper in the practice.”

Sanjay Lohia said...

We need to practise with so much love that we don’t think of anything else

Bhagavan says mental japa is dhyana – this is called meditation. If I say ‘Ramana, Ramana…’ within my mouth without saying it even softly by mouth, that is meditation. Bhagavan says rather than the meditation that is interrupted, meditation that is uninterrupted like a river or falling of ghee is superior. If our meditation is constantly interrupted by thoughts, we have more interest in those other things than we have about thinking about God. So if I meditate on God without interruption, that means I have so much love for God and that love is the key to purifying the mind.

Suppose if I have a desire to acquire some mental power, I may try to concentrate on a particular thing for a long time. I may think that this is the way to acquire better memory or to defeat my enemies in arguments or whatever. I may be able to mediate with great concentration, but that isn’t going to purify my mind because it is not done with love for God. It is done with desire for whatever I hope to achieve by that meditation.

So the essential element in all our spiritual practices is love. We need to practise with so much love that we don’t think of anything else.

• Based on the video: 2019-10-27 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses service in relation to Bhagavan’s teachings (55:00)

Unknown said...

Michaelji,

Will Bhagavan allows his devotees to lead happy comfortable life? Because in my 11 years of life with Shri Bhagavan I faced lot of
Problems. I do agree that most of these problems are created by my vasanas- my inclination to experience happiness in the outside worldI.But when i see so many happy people with lot of pleasure in their lives, I used to think..Why so many problems for me..What is this Prarabdha...Why Bhagavan gives us so much troubles... Why can't he give us little bit comfort. Sometimes, I suspect Bhagavan is completely opposed to mundane prayers ( Kamya bhakti). He never answers for my mundane prayers. He never cares. If I pray for some desire he will never fulfil that desire. Because of that i am always little bit afraid to pray.I think Being the devotee of Shri Bhagavan is the most difficult thing in this world. There is no turning back. For immature people like me life is very hard. I dont know why he attracted to me this path when i was in my late teen.I - full of various types of desires -impure with least love towards Bhagavan..

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay, thank you for your transcriptions.
Regarding your recent comment, (We need to practise with so much love that we don’t think of anything else),
you meant "...to meditate with great concentration", (not mediate).

AsunAparicio said...


This is really amazing, the crux of and the answer to many questions (also from "The paramount importance of self - attention"):


“We are like a person in a triangular prison. Because we attend to only two of the three walls (second and third persons, or past and future), we think that we are imprisoned, but if we try to turn our attention towards the third wall (the first person or present moment), we will discover that there is no such wall, and that our bondage is therefore ever nonexistent. When we first discover that the third wall does not exist, we will desire to run in that direction in order to escape from the prison. This is similar to the experience of sphurana, the fresh clarity of self-awareness that arises when we investigate the first person or present moment. But guru then makes us see that since the third wall is actually non-existent, our imprisonment (bondage) is also non-existent, and thus our desire to run away will subside, and we will be perfectly contented to remain where we are. This is similar to the subsidence of sphurana, the state in which perfect clarity of self awareness is found to be our real nature rather than something new. This is our natural state [sahaja sthiti], in which we are perfectly content to be just as we are.”


AsunAparicio said...

“When we first discover that the third wall does not exist, we will desire to run in that direction in order to escape from the prison.”

This desire is what they call sat-vasana?

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
according Michael:
"...the ‘inner good vasana’ means the sat-vasana, the desire or inclination just to be, which alone can root out all our karma-vasanas, our desires to be active."
"This love just to be (without thinking anything) is called sat-vasana (the inclination to experience nothing other than being) or svatma-bhakti (self-love), and we can cultivate it only by persistently practising self-attentiveness,...".
So the "desire ...to escape from the prison" can be considered as sat-vasana in a wide sense.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If we rise as ego, we are creating a problem for God

Bhagavan does give some room for selfless service as a means to purify one’s mind if done with love of God. And of all the practices of bhakti that is the least effective means to purify one’s mind. Ultimately, whatever service we do should be done as a service to God. But what is the best way to serve God? Bhagavan answers this in verse 29 of Upadesa Undiyar:

Abiding in this state [of infinite and indivisible sat-cit-ānanda], thereby experiencing supreme bliss devoid of [the duality of] bondage or liberation, is abiding in the service of God.

So how do we truly serve God? We can do so by being as we really are - by being the supreme happiness that we actually are. When we rise as ego, we are never satisfied and consequently we suffer. Sadhu Om used to say that by rising as ego we are creating problems for God. God wants us to be as we really are, to be happy because happiness is our real nature. If we rise as ego and start suffering consequently, we are creating a problem for God. God then has to appear outside in order to tell us: turn back within; be as you really are.

So we shouldn’t leave our eternal home because if we do so we are giving God the work of bringing us back to our home. If we remain at home in our natural state of supreme happiness, that is truly serving God. In other words, God doesn’t need any service from us.

Bhagavan says our real state is supreme happiness, our real state devoid of bondage and liberation. So why to create bondage by rising as ego? If we create bondage, we will also have to work for liberation.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-27 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses service in relation to Bhagavan’s teachings (1:13)

AsunAparicio said...

Thank you, Anadi-ananta.

Ok, “the desire or inclination (vasana) just to be” is what leads to “sphurana” or the fresh clarity of self-awareness that arises when we investigate the first person” (Shadu Om), but even this has to be given up.
Now everything makes whole sense. From “the lack of judgment due to our unfamiliarity with this state of clarity” (Michael) and the subsequent making a fuss about it on the part of mind which takes us away from what is “the vertical axis” which is I am, stillness, since we get identified with mind or ego again, to the absolute naturalness of our “natural state”.

So clean. Really amazing.


AsunAparicio said...

That´s why it is said that it would seem we come back to the starting point yet, no possible comparison. It is not only a 180º turn but a 360º turn, actually.

Well, good ride everyone :)

Sanjay Lohia said...

All our external devotional practices symbolize giving to God

The devotional practices at Sri Ramanasramam are a form of devotion but these are not the highest forms of devotion. All our external devotional practices symbolize giving to God. You give God a bath, nice clothes and beautiful flowers. You wave lights in front of him. Better than giving all these to God, if we give ourself to God that is all he wants.

The highest devotion or highest love is to give ourself. If we give ourself to God, there is nothing else to be given. The ultimate love is total self-surrender, and in order to surrender ourself completely, we need to turn within. Bhagavan’s path is the ultimate path of love.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-27 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses service in relation to Bhagavan’s teachings (1:41)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Rather than being concerned about others, we should set our own home straight

If we look at this world, suffering is inevitable in bodily life. There is disease, old age and death. Then natural disasters take place. But a lot of suffering in this world is due to human greed or selfishness or cruelty or heartlessness. The root of all these things is ego.

We cannot remove ego from other people, so let us at least remove ego from ourself. If we do so, if there is still a world existing out there, then we can think about how to get rid of all the other egos. But let us get rid of our ego first.

Therefore, rather than being concerned about others, we should set our own home straight.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-27 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses service in relation to Bhagavan’s teachings (1:49)

Sanjay Lohia said...

The highest prayer is the prayer of silence

Giving ourself to God is the highest form of all prayers. In most religious traditions, the belief is that the highest prayer is the prayer of silence. What is the root of all the noise in our heart and mind? It is our rising as ego. So the true prayer of silence is when ego subsides. That is the state of complete self-surrender.

So long as we are facing outwards, we are holding to things other than ourself. So in order to surrender ourself completely, we first have to let go of everything else, and in order to do so, we have to hold on to ourself. That is why Bhagavan said that attending to ourself so keenly that there is not even the slightest room to the rising of any other thought, that is giving ourself to God. To surrender ourself completely, we have to turn within.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-10-27 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses service in relation to Bhagavan’s teachings (1:49)

Sanjay Lohia said...

We are not slain when the body is slain

Bhagavad Gita Saram - verse 5: Never is he born nor does he die; nor having been ceaseth he any more to be: unborn, eternal, ancient. He is not slain when the body is slain.

Reflection: We will not be slain when the body is slain. This can be a part of our manana. However, our aim is to experience our bodiless, eternal nature here and now. In order to do so, we need to look at ourself so keenly that everything other than ourself ceases to exist, and we alone remain – kaivalya (in isolation).

Michael James said...

In a comment on one of my videos, 2018-08-26 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: discussion with Michael James on doership and desire, a friend asked, ‘How to beat avarana and vikshepa?’, in reply to which I wrote:

The root of both is ego, because they are the very nature of ego, so eradicate ego and you eradicate both āvaraṇa and vikṣēpa.

So how to eradicate ego? As Bhagavan taught us, ego is just an erroneous awareness of ourself, namely awareness of ourself as ‘I am this body’, so it can be eradicated only by awareness of ourself as we actually are, and in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we need to investigate ourself by being so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything other than ourself.

Therefore if we persevere in our practice of self-investigation we will thereby eradicate ego, and along with it āvaraṇa and vikṣēpa will also be eradicated.

[In simple terms, āvaraṇa is the veiling or concealing power of māyā, the power that conceals our real nature, while vikṣēpa is its dispersing or projecting power, the power that creates the multiplicity of phenomena.]

Sanjay Lohia said...

Effort is required to make no effort

We don’t have to do anything, but we do have a role to play – our role is not doing anything but ceasing to do anything. An effort is required to make no effort. In fact, we are making an effort all the time. Every thought is an effort. Sleep is an effortless state; waking and dream are states of effort. Perceiving, remembering, thinking things are all mental works, and we get tired after such efforts. So after 16 hours, we need to sleep. Because we have been making so much effort to think, to remember all these things, we eventually get tired. We cannot carry on.

So the effort that is required is not to do anything but the effort to cease doing anything. How can we cease doing anything? Attending to anything other than ourself is thinking. So the effort we need to do is the effort to attend to ourself alone. We thereby give no room for the rising of any thought. That’s the effort that is required.

Actually, our natural state requires no effort, but why it seems to be an effort? It is because we have so much desire to rise and go outwards, so we are battling against our own desires. Our desire to do is opposing our love to be.

• Edited extract from the video: 2018-12-08 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Nāṉ Ār? paragraph 13 (57:00)

anadi-ananta said...

BGS verse 5: "Never is he born nor does he die; nor having been ceaseth he any more to be: unborn, eternal, ancient. He is not slain when the body is slain."
What amazing and wonderful companion must be this Krishna. Could I ever resist the temptation to have a direct meeting with him ? But how to meet him - the ever unborn ?
Obviously he prefers to be in hiding from us, he seem to be neither be bored nor to desire having any body. Best I would him track down in his or my own (cave of) eternity. There he cannot give me the slip. :-) On the other hand according verse 4 BGS he is anyway in us - as the/our self - dwelling in the heart of every being; and telling us "I am the beginning and the middle and also the end of all beings."
Therefore to have ever the much sought-after rendezvous with him I have to lose this ego-person for good/ever.

Sanjay Lohia said...

If you feel guilty, you are only strengthening ego because you are giving reality to what is not real

A friend: How to surrender the guilt of being separated from ego?

Michael: We don’t have to feel guilty. We have made the wrong choices. The first wrong choice is to rise as ego: ego itself is a wrong choice. So as ego we have definitely made many wrong choices but rather than feeling guilty, we should let go the ego. If we do so, there will remain no one to feel guilty and nothing to feel guilty about.

So if you feel guilty you are only strengthening ego because you are giving reality to what is not real. So let go of all these things. Who is the sinner? Ego! If you investigate the ego, you will find that there is no such thing. So the worst sin is to believe that we are sinners.

So this is such a beautiful path that Bhagavan has shown us. It’s about letting go of all these things along with their root ego. We will eventually see that we are pure awareness, and therefore never were this ego that we now seem to be. So there is nothing to be guilty about.

• Edited extract from the video: 2019-02-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: discussion with Michael James on self-investigation and self-surrender (1:08)

anadi-ananta said...

"...eventually see that we are pure awareness, and therefore never were this ego that we now seem to be." - yes, that would be of great benefit to us/me.
So nothing should us/me prevent from bringing about the conditions for that point of view/knowledge as soon as possible. :-) Come on !

Michael James said...

In a comment on my latest video, 2019-11-02 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 34, a friend asked:

COMMENT BEGINS

This is a timely message for me. I often attend a Shankara based Vedanta group where the leader of the group strongly denounces the idea that the world is a dream or that the world is a “problem.” They strongly recommend the 3 orders of reality with the world as vyavaharika satya, but this doesn’t sit well with me. He kept saying that the dream analogy is dangerous to my mental health and that this world can’t be a dream because it has continuity and he is convinced that he is right. I was very tempted to start arguing and debating with him to convince him that this is a dream and that Bhagavan’s teachings are correct. But eventually I realized that “ego created the appearance of the world” must be accepted in order for the full understanding of the fact that this world is a dream to happen, and there’s no point in trying to convince someone else of my own understanding. It’s an ego trap. It’s my own ego projected into the dream trying to trap me into an argument about concepts. Not worth it and I should mind my own business and continue with my practice.

One thing comes to mind when you said “in a few years time I’ll be dead, then in a few years my children will be dead, then my grandchildren and so on..” but if this is a dream then when you die, the whole world will disappear along with you.

COMMENT ENDS

In reply to this I wrote:

Bubba, regarding your first paragraph, I am happy to see the conclusion you came to, because that is the practical inference that Bhagavan intended us to draw from this and other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu.

For those of us are immersed in his teachings it can come as a surprise to learn that the majority of people who consider themselves to be advaitins or followers of Sankara are not willing to accept that our present state is just a dream, but this is why Gaudapada, Sankara and Bhagavan all had to give different levels of explanation in order to suit people of different levels of spiritual development. Bhagavan was clearer and more unequivocal than either Gaudapada or Sankara in the emphasis that he placed on teaching that our present state is just a dream and that all phenomena are created only by ego, in whose view alone they seem to exist, but when answering questions he adapted what he taught according to what each questioner would be willing to accept and put into practice.

Regarding your second paragraph, what you say is of course correct, but just because we accept that our present life is merely a dream should not prevent us reflecting on the ephemeral and hence unreal nature of our life from other perspectives. Even though this life is just a dream, it seems to us to be real (as every dream seems to be so long as we are dreaming it) and we have to act in it as if it were real, because what is acting is the person (the body and mind) that we seem to be, which itself is a part of this dream, so in order to help us restrain our inclination to be overly concerned about this world and our life in it it is beneficial to remember that we and all our loved ones and their loved ones and their loved ones will sooner or later be dead.

From whatever perspective we may consider the insubstantial nature of our bodily life, it is beneficial to the extent that it reduces the enthusiasm and eagerness with which we normally direct our attention outwards, towards anything other than ourself, and thereby makes it easy for us to face inwards and surrender ourself.

Michael James said...

In a comment on my latest video, 2019-11-02 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 34, a friend asked, “At 50:50 you say that asking why the ego has arisen or how it has arisen is like asking how was the son of the barren woman born. Isn’t ‘how the ego arose’ a permissible question, considering that Bhagavan has explained it in Uḷḷadu Narpadu himself, this question of how the ego came into existence? Can a good understanding of how the ego came into existence also help us in our attempts to destroy it with vichara?”, in reply to which I wrote:

Rajat, I assume you are referring to verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. Though we could interpret what Bhagavan says in the first sentence of this verse, ‘உரு பற்றி உண்டாம்’ (uru paṯṟi uṇḍām), ‘Grasping form it comes into existence’, as being his explanation how ego comes into existence, it is not a complete explanation, and it certainly does not explain why it has come into existence.

Rather than explaining how ego comes into existence, this verse explains that grasping form is the very nature of ego, so it grasps form as soon as it comes into existence, and as long as it continues to grasp form it endures, and by grasping form it feeds itself and flourishes. Grasping form does not adequately explain how it comes into existence, because it must exist in order to grasp form. The converse is also true, of course, namely that it must grasp form in order to exist, but this does not explain what causes it to come into existence.

However, as you say, understanding the nature of ego as explained in this verse does help us destroy it, because it enables us to understand firstly why it cannot be destroyed by any means other than self-investigation (ātma-vicāra), since any other means would entail attending to something other than ourself, and secondly that in order to investigate ourself effectively we must try to be so keenly self-attentive that we cease to be aware of anything else. That is, what Bhagavan means by ‘grasping form’ is attending to or being aware of anything other than ourself, so in order to cease grasping form we must try to grasp ourself alone, which means that we must try to be keenly self-attentive.

What we should infer from verse 25 and other verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu is that the nature of ourself as ego is to be always aware of things other than ourself, whereas our real nature is to be aware of nothing other than ourself, so in order to be aware of ourself as we actually are we must cease being aware of anything else. However, we cease being aware of anything other than ourself in sleep, so though ceasing to be aware of anything else is necessary, it is not sufficient to eradicate ego.

In sleep we are aware of ourself alone as a result of the dissolution of ego, which occurs as a result of it being too tired to continue ‘grasping form’, but because it does not exist in sleep, it is not destroyed by the pure self-awareness that then remains alone. Therefore in order to eradicate ego forever it must be dissolved as a result of our being aware of ourself alone, and hence we must be so keenly self-attentive that we thereby cease to be aware of anything other than ourself. This is why Bhagavan says in verse 25, ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), ‘If sought, it will take flight’, thereby implying that ego will vanish forever only when it investigates itself by being keenly self-attentive.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
in the year 2006 you started to write articles about Sri Ramana's teachings on this blog.
May I ask you a perhaps personal question ?
Do you feel that the depth of your understanding of Bhagavan's teaching underwent quite well certain stages of development - compared with 2006 or with the moment when you left India and came back to England (1996)?

AsunAparicio said...

I think that asking why or how ego arises is like asking why or how Mozart composed music, well, because he could, he had that skill, likewise, beingness which is not activity but stillness can think I am, thinking I am is activity and altogether with this thought everything else arise, that´s its power. Mind can´t understand how movement can arise from stillness without an external stimulus alien to stillness because it takes movement to be real so, it is posed an enigma by mind that mind can´t solve because it is part of mind too yet, self itself gives the solution altogether with the problem: cling to stillness or self and see that only it is real whereas movement or ego is just illusion.

Salazar said...

Of course we are aspiring to come to the understanding that there are no Mozarts or Hitlers, nobody can claim "skills" or "bad deeds" and also who is progressing?

So called progress or maturity exists only for the [non-existing] mind, when the non-existence of the mind is a reality all these notions are seen as an imagination. Thinking about and acknowledging progress is clearly an obstacle. That concept can be used to clarify seeming differences in the phenomenal world but it has great limits as all concepts do. It was not an accident that Bhagavan usually suggested to look for that what believes in progress (or other ideas). When that is truly done it is evident that there is and never was "progress".

anadi-ananta said...

If there is and never was "progress" or "maturity" then also there is and never was also an(y) "obstacle".

Salazar said...

Regarding that the world is or is not a dream: Who truly knows but a sage?!
As long as one takes the imagined stages of "wakefulness", "dream", and "deep sleep" for real one cannot know and therefore is reduced to regurgitate statements of sages.

Of course prarabdha is what keeps people arguing about these concepts. Nonetheless even during these seeming arguments the jiva has the freedom to attend to the silent background while the mind seems to argue. If so the tendency to argue may die down quickly because it is quite irrelevant if the world is a dream or not :-)

anadi-ananta said...

As a result of the dissolution of ego in deep sleep we do not have direct/immediate proof, that pure self-awareness remains then alone. That is a terrible pity, because we (most of us) are thus not aware of the rising ego at the moment of awakening from deep sleep. But - quasi as compensation - we always have the opportunity to give/hand over/surrender ego to the all-embracing pure self(-awareness).:-)

Salazar said...

Food for more arguments: In deep sleep pure self-awareness is not remaining alone because the mind exists even in deep sleep. Granted, it does in its most subtle form or causal body, nonetheless it still exists. As such even deep sleep is not real nor is it pure awareness.

"Wakefulness" is [attachment to] the gross body, "dream" is [attachment to] the astral body, "deep sleep" is [attachment to] the causal body.

Real is that what transcends deep sleep and the other two stages.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
" it is quite irrelevant if the world is a dream or not :-)".
That may apply to a sage.
However, for the jiva it is quite important to know if the world is a dream or not :-)

Michael James said...

Asun, regarding your comment of 4 November 2019 at 15:18, the reason why Bhagavan said that asking why or how ego has come into existence is a question that cannot be answered is because there could be a reason or cause for its rising only if it has actually risen. That is why he sometimes used to say in answer to such questions, ‘First find ego and bring it to me, and then we can consider why or how it came into existence’. If we try to find it, there is no such thing, because it seems to exist only when we are looking elsewhere. If instead of looking at anything else we look at ourself alone, we will see that we are just pure awareness, which is immutable, so we could never have become anything else, and hence there never was any such thing as ego. Therefore since ego does not exist, there can be no cause or reason for its existence.

You say ‘beingness which is not activity but stillness can think I am’, but that is contrary to what Bhagavan taught us. What thinks is only ego, which is the first thought and root of all other thoughts, and it is always aware of itself as ‘I am this body’, so even when it thinks ‘I am’, what it is referring to as ‘I’ is this mixed awareness ‘I am this body’.

In the second sentence of the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu Bhagavan asks, ‘உள்ள பொருள் உள்ளல் அற உள்ளத்தே உள்ளதால், உள்ளம் எனும் உள்ள பொருள் உள்ளல் எவன்?’ (uḷḷa-poruḷ uḷḷal-aṟa uḷḷattē uḷḷadāl, uḷḷam eṉum uḷḷa-poruḷ uḷḷal evaṉ?), ‘Since the existing substance exists in the heart without thought, how to think of the existing substance, which is called heart?’, in which ‘உள்ளல் அற’ (uḷḷal-aṟa) means either ‘without thought’ or ‘without thinking’. Likewise, in the first clause of verse 34 he describes the real substance (poruḷ) saying, ‘என்றும் எவர்க்கும் இயல்பாய் உள பொருளை’ (eṉḏṟum evarkkum iyalbāy uḷa poruḷai), ‘the substance, which always exists for everyone as [their real] nature’, and when he joined all the verses of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu together as a single kaliveṇbā he extended this verse by adding an adverbial clause before the first line, namely ‘ஓர் நினைவு அறவே’ (ōr niṉaivu aṟavē), ‘without a single thought’, thereby teaching us that the real substance always exists without a single thought as our real nature.

Therefore thinking is the nature of ourself as ego, whereas our real nature is not thinking but only being. This is why Bhagavan answers the question that he asks in the second sentence of the first maṅgalam verse of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu by saying in the third sentence, ‘உள்ளத்தே உள்ளபடி உள்ளதே உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷattē uḷḷapaḍi uḷḷadē uḷḷal), ‘Being in the heart as it is alone is thinking [of it]’, in which ‘உள்ளபடி’ (uḷḷapaḍi), ‘as it is’, implies without thought or thinking, and ‘உள்ளல்’ (uḷḷal) literally means thinking, remembering, meditating, contemplating, investigating or revering, so what he implies in this sentence is that being in the heart as we actually are, namely without thinking anything, is the only way to ‘think of’, contemplate, investigate, revere or be aware of the existing substance (uḷḷa-poruḷ), which is our real nature.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, I disagree, it is valid not only for a sage but for anybody who has practiced atma-vichara for some time. And actually for everybody, it is the mind which denies the validity - that denial (and all other denials) are the reason why it seems to be not valid. That thought and belief obscures pure awareness, without that thought (and other thoughts) the validity is immediately clear.

The mind/ego loves to hang the fruit far up the tree so it seems impossible to get it. All what is has to do is to stop doubting and questioning ;-)

That the world is a dream can be a great aid (to turn away from it and attend to self), but that's just to start with, it becomes irrelevant soon with atma-vichara.

Anadi-ananta, you keep affirming mind and its deficiencies, there is no mind and any deficiencies, only as an imagination. To get out of this vicious circle is to attend to self and leave the mind be, there is no other way.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
when you state "In deep sleep pure self-awareness is not remaining alone because the mind exists even in deep sleep.", you will certainly accept that Michael is hardley likely to agree.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, I am not much invested in a certain way a concept is interpreted. Can there be a mind and pure awareness? Some say yes and some say no. Well, Bhagavan had thoughts. When he was asked if he has thoughts he answered "most of the time not, but he has thoughts coming up when reading and when he is talking." Therefore there was a mind [as in Bhagavan's definition that the mind is just a bunch of thoughts].

I consent that this is beyond the comprehension of mind because it is paradoxical. It is explained that Bhagavan's mind was the remnant of a burnt rope, but that is, IMO, only an attempt to explain in duality what is beyond duality and can never really capture the truth.

Therefore I gladly sat this aside and rather attend to self. I find that attending to self has all the answers a mind can never get.

AsunAparicio said...

Michael,

Yes, I skipped all norms by saying that self can think (apologizes) I said it in the sense that it is said that mind is “a wondrous power existing in Self” since mind is thought which is ego and what thinks but, ultimately, it is only that “wondrous power existing in self” not different nor apart from it. That´s what I meant, that it arises or appears to arise because that´s the power of self which is the source and, therefore, exists regardless ego´s apparent existence and ‘without a single thought”, while ego or thought only appears to exist because self exists so that, actually, ego points to the only reality which is self itself hence that, this thought aware of itself or ego turned towards itself, founds that it is self itself being this, on the other hand, the only way to “go back the way it came”. Anyway, I find that saying what you say that ego “seems to exist only when we are looking elsewhere” is even more absurd than saying that self thinks the first thought which is ego, because it implies that that “elsewhere” to look at is something different or apart from self and previous to ego which comes into existence as looking at it when, at least as understand it, all of it arises simultaneously and does it because, well, that´s self´s power or the power existing in self :)
But I can understand what you mean, these are just explanations for mind that still believes in the existence of ego. Bhagavan never would admit it (existence of ego).

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, one more thing, technically there is no mind in deep sleep since there is no awareness but a blank. No activity/movement in deep sleep suggests an absence of a "mind".

When I said - "In deep sleep pure self-awareness is not remaining alone because the mind exists even in deep sleep" - I meant the causal body what may not be the mind depending on one's interpretation and definition of mind/thought/body. I equal (in way of a symbiotic relationship) the mind with all of the sheaths what may not be the idea of others.

I have to say that after I have written the comment above I see that, at least for me, I really do not need to know that, attending to self is enough. More than enough.

So I leave that for you to use as you please and I am sure you can find somewhere on this blog already a text which is defining the concepts I talked about in a certain way. Feel free to adopt them or not.

My question is: Whatever you will or have chosen, does it change anything? But as an imagination :-)

Rajat Sancheti said...

In the Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna, Sri Ramakrishna says,
"You asked me about Self-realization. Longing is the means of realizing Atman. A man must strive to attain God with all his body, with all his mind, and with all his speech. Because of an excess of bile one gets jaundice. Then one sees everything as yellow; one perceives no colour but yellow. Among you actors, those who take only the roles of women acquire the nature of a woman; by thinking of woman your ways and thoughts become womanly. Just so, by thinking day and night of God one acquires the nature of God."
Is it right to say that in a way, atma-vichara also works on a similar principle. The ego, if it imitates our real nature, it "becomes" our real nature. And the nature of our real nature according to Bhagavan is to be aware of nothing other than itself, and to be steadfastly aware of itself alone. So it seems to me that we as ego are trying to 'imitate' our real nature when we try to practice self-investigation and if we are persistent in this imitation we will one day 'become' our real nature (which is, according to Bhagavan, what we have always been).

Rajat Sancheti said...

Michael,
there's a tiny issue in the blog that i thought to bring to your attention. Please ignore this comment if you're already aware of it. At the very top of this page there's a link to your main site "www.happinessofbeing.com"
On the mobile version of this blog the color of this link is the same as the orange background of the header section, unless "www.happinessofbeing.com" has already been visited, in which case the color of the link changes to grey. You can confirm the color of the unvisited link by opening this blog in incognito mode on mobile. So new users who have never visited your main site before won't be able to see the link to your main site in the header section of this blog since it is completely indistinguishable from the background.

anadi-ananta said...

Rajat,
ego in its limitation is imitating self - good comparison.:-)
But will it be ever able to transcend and eradicate its limitation only by imitation ?
Being only an imitator will it ever become an original ? Can ego with its adherence to adjuncts at all imitate fully pure awareness ? Certainly not without giving up its adjuncts.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
"No activity/movement in deep sleep suggests an absence of a "mind". "
Just the absence of a "suggestor" shows the absence of the mind in deep sleep.
As you correctly imply: attending to self is necessary, perhaps enough. - Perhaps more than enough.:-) And as you say "attending to self has all the answers a mind can never get.
By the way, I envy you having "practiced atma-vichara for some time". I take my hat off to you.:-)

Anonymous said...

I don’t think we are trying to imitate real nature. How can someone imitate unknown? Nowhere Bhagavan has mentioned anything like this. Get rid of anything that is egotistical . That should be enough.

anadi-ananta said...

Anonymous,
perhaps/presumably Rajat used the term 'imitate' just metaphorically, meaning that ego tries to pretend to be real self ("when we try to practice self-investigation").

anadi-ananta said...

Anonymous,
as you recommend: Getting rid of anything that is egotistical, that certainly should be enough.

AsunAparicio said...

Rajat,

Ego is self-aware , this awareness is our real nature, no need to imitate it nor to look for it somewhere else, we just have to turn our attention towards it.

By practicing self-inquiry we are trying to abide as pure awareness, or as what we really are already, as much as possible while discriminating and separating ourself from what we are not and only appears to be. I wouldn´t say this to be an “imitation” .

Ego doesn´t become our real nature, it is mind what becomes clearer and clearer through self-investigation. As Michael says in one of his latest videos, don´t know exactly which one, ego is lack of clarity. Simply.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, no need to take off your hat :-) - namaskar.

Does the mind really become clearer and to what end? After "full" clarity it just kills itself? ;-)

No, I cannot adopt that poor attempt to explain something what anyway transpires in imagination. atma-vichara transcends the mind, to adopt changes in any kind is still maya.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
when it is taught that our real nature is the only one awareness 'I am' then we must also conclude that even ego cannot be really separated from the one pure awareness but simply has to be discontinued. As you suggest the best means/method is self-investigation. In saying that "ego is trying to 'imitate' our real nature" Rajat obviously gave only a description of the ego's seeming ploy. Since ego by deceiving itself under false pretences actually asserts to be 'I am' it is in that sense imitating the true/real awareness 'I am'. Of course we don't need any clouded awareness or lack of clarity but in truth we thirst for clarity.:-)So let us try to abide in the inwardly ever present pure awareness - even when the mind and its prarabdha are insisting to go outwards.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, regarding the question you asked in your comment of 4 November 2019 at 00:33, if we are following Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation and self-surrender, our understanding of his teachings will naturally be growing deeper, clearer and more subtle as time goes on, because the more we face inwards the more ego will subside, and the more it subsides the more clearly the inner light of self-awareness will shine in our heart, thereby illumining our intellect and enabling us to understand his teachings more clearly and deeply.

His teachings are in certain respects like a map. If we study the map of a town or country we have never visited, we will be able to understand it to a limited extent, but if we visit that town or country and see the places marked on the map, the map will become more meaningful to us, and the more familiar we become with those places, the more meaningful and deeply embedded in our mind all the features shown on the map will become for us. Likewise, if we study his teachings before putting them into practice we will be able to understand them only to a very limited extent, but if we begin to put them into practice they will become more meaningful to us, and the more we practise them the more clearly and deeply we will be able to understand them.

Our understanding of his teachings will never be perfect until we lose ourself entirely in the infinitely clear light of pure self-awareness, after which there will be no one left to understand anything, so until then our understanding will continue to grow ever more clear, deep and subtle. This is not just my experience but the experience of anyone who is trying their best to turn within and surrender themself to this light.

AsunAparicio said...

Salazar,

So long as ego keeps arising , we only can talk of clarity of mind. Not doing so, is what would be imagination or unrealistic.

Anadi-ananta,

Yes, let us try :)

anadi-ananta said...

Thank you Michael for your reply. My question arose when I sometimes had the impression that you seem to have no great inclination to be responsive to comments left on some of the oldest articles of your blog.

Salazar said...

Yes, it seems that understanding grows ever more "subtle" and yet that is maya because it is an assessment of mind.

Clarity is clarity. Clarity is only diminished with mind activity. Thus mind diminishes it and then believes it becomes less diminished [after some kind of practice]. All that transpires within the imaginations of mind.

It's like "experiencing" bliss or the void, Bhagavan suggests to [still] look who experiences bliss or the void. Thus who experiences ever more subtle clarity? That goes along with Bhagavan's pointer that mind is still in play, mind is mind, it doesn't matter if it seems to have little clarity or "gained" more clarity. It is still mind.

What or who gives value to "better understanding"? Only mind/ego.

Salazar said...

Asun, the only thing what is imagined is the mind and all of its beliefs. self is and cannot be imagined. What you talk about is the mind imagining to be self. Well, that's still the mind, no?

There is only the clarity of self.

Thus I do not share this whole "as long as ego keeps rising, therefore ....". However if people need that kind of belief I have no objection to it. I find it as an obstacle and an affirmation of mind. There is no mind, that's true for a Jnani and ajnani. The belief that something has to be done with the mind keeps the underlying belief in a mind alive. How can one get rid of something which does not exist?

Only in directly transcending [and bypassing] mind with atma-vichara. Bhagavan made a few comments about that in the Gospel and Talks.

anadi-ananta said...

According Bhagavan: Ego and mind do not really exist. On the other hand even Bhagavan admitted to questioners that ego/mind appear to exist albeit only in their own view.
And do we not use our mind for practising self-investigation until we lose ourself entirely in the infinitely clear light of pure self-awareness ? What other instrument do we have for the purpose of self-surrender ? So why always resort to beating the mind ?

AsunAparicio said...

Salazar,

What I´m saying is that so long as mind doesn´t completely subside , talking on no mind is imagination or unrealistic. Personally, I can´t conceive nor imagine such a thing or no thing as no mind so, I can´t talk about it at all. If you can, go ahead. Surely I won´t understand an iota of it, hope you don´t get upset :)

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, we had that topic before, contrary to Michael I do not believe that the mind is doing atma-vichara. As in the definition of being a "bundle of thoughts". How can thoughts do atma-vichara? That's a contradiction in itself - impossible.

Now according to Bhagavan it is the chit-aspect of the mind which is doing atma-vichara and you can find elsewhere that chit is self. And that only makes sense. The mind cannot transcend mind, only self [itself]. self is not an isolated "thing" which is hidden until enormous effort have been done. It is always there, readily available, only obstructed to the extend the mind and its desires is chiming in.

What I'd like to say is that we experience [or better be] self always, and how much is defined by the interference of mind. "Increasing" clarity is just the mind being less prominent than 'before'. The mind latches on self and claims the clarity of self as its own. That is false. The mind cannot have [independent and intrinsic] clarity ever. It is duping itself. Mind has no independent existence aside from self. self [can] exist without mind but mind can never exist without self.

Also there is no need to beat up the mind. Any attention, good or bad, just gives it more energy and strength. Be self and ignore the mind. It does not exist and also does not rise but as an imagination. Is it not time to stop imagining [the rise of an ego]?

Actually, IMO, thinking that the mind is doing vichara is the best way to be stuck in mind forever.

Salazar said...

asun, you said and I quote, "What I´m saying is that so long as mind doesn´t completely subside , talking on no mind is imagination or unrealistic."

Sure, but that's true about EVERYTHING on this blog. Whatever is said, stated, and talked about here is an imagination until the mind has completely subsided.

So why picking that particular concept as it would be in a different category than the other concepts? I am afraid I cannot quite follow your logic, if any :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
when the mind - as a bundle of thoughts - can create a whole universe why not believe it capable of doing atma-vichara too ? I don't see here any contradiction in itself.
Did not you yourself stress the chit-aspect of the mind ? If we grant a chit-aspect to the mind then we cannot in the same breath ignore that chit-portion as doing atma-vichara. What is more, it makes not an essential difference whether an aspect of the mind does atma-vichara or the mind as a whole, because we don't profit greatly by reducing the mind to its component parts .
By the way, how can one stuck in mind forever when it does not at all exist ? Is not that an contradiction in itself ?
Being self is anyway a permanent occurrence, once with adjuncts (as in waking and dream) and once without adjuncts (as in deep sleep).
Nevertheless I understand what you wanted to express.:-)

Rajat said...

Anonymous, anadi-ananta, Asun, thank you for your replies to my comment of 5 November 2019 at 02:17 and the useful reminders/pointers about self-investigation.

Apologies for my confused reflections expressed in that comment. I agree that it is not accurate to describe self-investigation as ego imitating self. But I only meant that since the nature of ego is to grasp form (along with being self-aware, as Asun says in the comment of 5 November 2019 at 13:52), while practicing atma-vichara since ego has to attend to itself in isolation, it is doing something that is not entirely natural to it but is natural only to our real nature. But I think since there are not two different I's, this is not a correct description, because what is there to imitate? I will try to cling only to the simplicity and clarity of Bhagavan's teachings instead of dwelling over my fancy interpretations ;)

Anonymous, in your comment of 5 November 2019 at 10:42 you describe our real nature as 'unknown' . But since self is said to be always shining in us as 'I', isn't it not unknown but known most directly?

anadi-ananta said...

Rajat,
as you say, whereas self is unknown to the mind with certainty we can assume that self is extremely well known to itself !!!:-):-):-)
While I write this I feel my heart beating happily and excitedly and nodding approvingly...whose heart does feel happy ?...to whom comes this impression ?...
letting go my personal awareness...giving it in the lap of fundamental awareness.
--- Just now I effortlessly found a good starting point for self-investigation.:-)

AsunAparicio said...

Salazar,

If I understand it correctly, your point is that it is the chit aspect of mind what does self-investigation yet, this chit aspect of mind is not mind but the very self. Fine, then you are over, finito, caput. No mind, no ego which is mind and also the root of mind, the thought I aware of itself as well as of everything else so, no I for you either, no me nor mine, no world nor body, only pure self-awareness knowing pure awareness, self-knowledge beyond knowledge and ignorance since the support for knowing anything other than itself doesn´t operate anymore, beyond freedom and bondage, just pure sat-chit-ananda, infinite love.
Well, what can I say? My sincere and deep pranaams to you :)

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
so if Salazar is actually finito your comment addressed to Salazar will never be read by him - or at most posthumously...:-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Subside, subside, subside…

Bhagavan’s path of self-investigation is the direct path to liberation. Everything else is a roundabout way. Bhagavan often used to say that from whatever road you enter the city, there is only one gate to enter the city, and that gate is extremely low. So we have to bend very low if we want to pass through this gate> This gate is the gate of self-investigation. In other words, this path is for those who are ready to be absolutely humble – who are ready to subside completely. In the final paragraph(20) of ‘who am I’, Bhagavan says:

If oneself rises [or appears] [as ego or mind], everything rises [or appears]; if oneself subsides [disappears or ceases], everything subsides [disappears or ceases]. To whatever extent sinking low [subsiding or being humble] we proceed [or conduct ourself], to that extent there is goodness [benefit or virtue]. If one is [continuously] restraining [curbing, subduing or reducing] mind, wherever one may be one can be [or let one be].

To whatever extent we live our life subsided, humbly, subdued, keeping the mind in check, to that extent it is good. So if want to know Bhagavan’s definition of goodness, it is nothing but subsidence of ego. If we can continue keeping the mind subdued or subsided, we can be anywhere - that is, we can live in any sort of outward circumstances.

The one thing Bhagavan asks of us is to subside, subside, subside… How to subside? We can do so by letting go of everything else and holding on to oneself – more and more tightly.

Based on the video: 2019-09-27 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses why we should observe only the observer (30:00)


Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, yes, I can concur, talking about this stuff shows the limits of conceptual understanding.

"Being stuck [forever] in mind" .... is that not the [imagined] case right now? I find it is not enough to just say 'there is self with adjuncts and self without adjuncts' when one is lost primarily in the adjuncts :-)

Even when it is said that the mind "creates" the universe, that is not really the case. There is only self, including the universe. Mind is the distorted vision within self. A good analogy is pure light (self) and then a prism appears (mind) which reflects that light into several colors [the universe]. The prism (mind) only recognizes the several colors (objects/universe) and ignores the underlying reality (pure light).

Could any object/universe "exist" without self? Absolutely not. Can self exist without any object. Absolutely!

The mind or adjuncts have no independent power, whatever power it draws from comes from self. But even that is just imagination. There is only self.

Salazar said...

asun, your first sentence is correct, your conclusion is not. Because besides chit there seem to be adjuncts. vichara is a seeming process which lets these adjuncts disappear as an illusion. vichara transcends duality, thus it must be paradoxical for mind which can only comprehend within the confines of duality.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, you said and I quote, "so if Salazar is actually finito your comment addressed to Salazar will never be read by him - or at most posthumously...:-) "

Well, I believe that is not quite correct. Even with a completely subsided mind, as long as there is a body, comments and texts can be read and written. Bhagavan [and other sages] is the best example, they did read, talk, have thoughts etc. - well, another paradox mind won't be able to fully comprehend :-)

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

No worry about that. Understanding intellectually that mind and ego don´t exist, doesn´t make mind and ego to disappear. That´s the pretension of charlatans. It is mind what says that it doesn´t accept the existence of mind ... and still asks about other´s logic. Giving up :)

Good article this one, Michael, I´ve been re-reading it today. Thanks again _/\_

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, one more thing, mind may create the universe but it cannot create [reach, grasp, attain, find] self. self exists prior to any thing like mind.

Salazar said...

My favorite quote by Bhagavan: Holding to "I am" with effort is vichara, holding to "I am" without effort is realization.

Simple, clean, without any unnecessary concepts and terms which only complicate the issue. IMO, one could reduce Bhagavan's teaching to that sentence and one has all concepts needed for self-realization. Nothing else is truly needed but the practical application.

AsunAparicio said...

Michael,

I´m ready to read your book “Happiness and the Art of being”. Do you still agree with all what you wrote in this book?

Michael James said...

Asun, it is a long time since I read any of that book, so I do not know whether I would still agree with all I wrote in it. I would probably agree with most of it, though in most cases I would not express myself in the same way now, because since writing it my understanding has continued has continued to be refined and clarified, and also because I believe my ability to express my understanding has improved.

Anonymous said...

Asun, you are correct. This fellow showing off as though he is equal to or in par with Bhagavan in this section of comments is a neo-advaita charlatan.

Anonymous said...

I think the I am feeling most of us rely on to exist is just ‘I am the body’ feeling. So until we get past that, actual ‘I am’ is unknown.

Anonymous said...

Nice:) I am not even there yet.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Good one.

Anonymous said...

We are using that instrument to just realize how we have turned ‘nothingness’ into ‘something’.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Subside, subside, subside…part 2

Humility is divinity because true humility is the state without ego. So long as there is ‘I’ one is not humble. We are humble when we are without the sense of ‘I’. So the more submissive we become, the more we surrender ourself, the more humble we become because we thereby come closer to God. What is God? God is our real nature. So we are humble to the extent we are one with our true nature.

Based on the video: 2019-11-02 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 34

AsunAparicio said...


Michael,

That was my impression as having a look at the introduction, thank you for confirming. This will make the reading even more interesting :)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
never I have assumed let alone asserted that mind can "create [reach, grasp, attain, find] self".:-)
"...one could reduce Bhagavan's teaching to that sentence and one has all concepts needed for self-realization." Yes, but tell it to the mind...:-)
"...Bhagavan [and other sages] is the best example, they did read, talk, have thoughts etc. ". Don't forget that ajnanis cannot at all judge jnana. So the seeming behaviour of jnanis seen by ajnanis is only in their limited ego's view.
"Mind is the distorted vision within self. A good analogy is pure light (self) and then a prism appears (mind) which reflects that light into several colors [the universe]. The prism (mind) only recognizes the several colors (objects/universe) and ignores the underlying reality (pure light)." That indeed is a good analogy !
"The mind or adjuncts have no independent power, whatever power it draws from comes from self. But even that is just imagination. There is only self."
Yes, I can comprehend your urgent warning. But do we not plainly have to admit that we almost constantly keep fighting with the mind's rabid ideas although it does not really exist ? There is no doubt that reciting mechanically "There is only self" is not an appropriate means to remain in the clear light of pure awareness.

AsunAparicio said...

Anonymous,

What they do has a philosophical name and explanation, I think that Michael explained it some time ago in one of his talks but can´t remember in which one. Thing is that, as result, it causes a great confusion in the very mind which existence they deny. Practice of self-investigation as taught by Bhagavan leads to opposite results, i.e., clarity of mind as protecting us from confusion.

Anonymous said...

Ok. Your comments are too negative. Surprised Michael approved your comment.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, how do you get the idea that one should recite mechanically "There is only self"? Because I used that phrase in a comment?

I don't get it, I keep emphasizing vichara and the importance of it to actually do it and people still rather focus at other portions of my comments and come up with all kinds of projections.

However, Bhagavan liked the Ribhu Gita and he let chant that text in the Old Hall. Long term students of him claim that Bhagavan suggested to certain people to affirm "I am self" and "I am not the body".

IMO, if one cannot do vichara then that affirmation is much better than reading the comments on this blog or any text. Oh I know, since Michael disapproved that practice it is not in vogue on this blog :-)

AsunAparicio said...

OK, I can´t quite remember what Michael was talking about in the talk I mentioned before, but he spoke about premises and conclusions and mind made its own associations in here so, I can´t say what Michael said but I´d say that what we are seeing in this threat is a demonstration of sophism. A corrupted form of syllogism defined as “a confusing or slightly incorrect argument used for deceiving someone”. It has others meanings like “making a business out of wisdom”. What I can´t say is if this person is doing it intentionally, just read his biased comments and answers contradicting himself with arguments apparently reasonable, only apparently, mixing true and false, or if he is really so confused as he appears to be.

Don´t mean to offend, just using logic :)

Salazar said...

Also regarding affirmation and practices in general, "mechanically doing" is a waste of time for every undertaking. Affirmations (and other practices) have to be done with one's full heart and attention, or with love Michael would be saying. Otherwise it is useless.

Same for prayers, if you recite mechanically some prayer then that prayer is useless. One has to give one's full attention and energy into that prayer, nothing is important at that time but that prayer ....

We follow our train of thoughts mechanically all day long, being mechanical is an attribute of mind. It is also a laziness of some sorts. That habit has to be changed.

Anonymous said...

Asun, regarding your last comment of 7 November 2019 at 11:26. Well said, I totally agree. Safer to stick with sages like like Bhagavan and trusted teachers like Micheal than waste time with a certain neo-advaita charlatan here who keeps bragging that his way of understanding of Bhagavan's teachings is the correct one above Michael's.

Salazar said...

Is it possible to just comment about the teachings and leave out projections of "certain persons"?

I have read the term charlatan so many times. Well, that term or idea must have a strong hold on this mind that it keeps projecting it.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
you are completely right, one cannot often enough hear "There is only self".
But somehow that mantra gets on my nerves because I feel that only mentally knowing that proposition does not bring me further. Albeit it may sound paradoxically, even spoken truth is sometimes not to my liking.:-)

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

Words are only pointers. Your consciousness of being is what the word “self” is pointing out to and your own experience of being is what gives meaning to the word. We just have to cling to self-awareness which is the real and to leave out the word which is just a mental tool for communicating, once it served its purpose of leading your attention towards yourself. What you are is pure subjectivity, that´s the reality. By clinging to words and concepts we are making an object out of the subject and, therefore, attending to other thing than ourself, i.e., we are being negligently self-aware since we never are not self-aware hence, the discomfort and “getting on our nerves” because by clinging to the word which genuine purpose is to lead our attention towards the reality that it names, it keeps us from it. This is what is mistaking self or reality with mind which is maya. By practicing self-investigation, we separate ourself from mind, be it or not. As Bhagavan said, “never mind the mind”. It is also self-investigation or attentive self-awareness what enables us for discerning and separating ourself from what we are not and only appears to be which involves surrendering the individual, the separated entity or I am this body, as well as a process of purification. This is my understanding of mind becoming clearer, just a way of saying that ego or the mistaken awareness I am this body which isn´t but lack of clarity, little by little subsides and only the light of pure awareness remains.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, I hear what you are saying and I can relate to it. You do not believe that mantra "There is only self" because there is another mantra going on [sub-consciously] and that is "I am the body".
The idea behind affirmations is not to see the affirmation as the means to an end but as an aid what is any practice but vichara. Of course important is that you do a practice you feel inclined to, but by all means .... just do some sort of spiritual practice. It will prepare the mind into the right direction.

It seems you have a pretty good conceptual understanding of Bhagavan's teaching, now it's time to find some spiritual practice.

Again, if vichara seems to hard or not appealing yet it is better to do some other spiritual practice than suffocating your mind with ever more spiritual concepts. People talk about reality while they have not a clue what they are talking about, it is all in their minds :-) So again, I can only suggest to start with some kind of spiritual practice and stick with it for awhile.

Michael James said...

Asun, I have replied to your comment of 4 November 2019 at 23:18 in a new article: Ego seems to exist only when we look elsewhere, away from ourself.

anadi-ananta said...

Asun, thank you for your encouraging comment. But sometimes/often I feel that I consist of nothing but lack of clarity. If I were to name my main/principal or chief characteristic I had seriously to say it were weakness of self-attention.:-)

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
indeed I am not exactly a star in practising atma-vichara. But just that weakness let me recognize that there is no getting around it. Thank God! I don't have the feeling of suffocation in spiritual concepts. The success of my previous attempts at self-investigation were mostly very meager. As you suggest, consistence and above all depth of my practice must be improved. Because I evidently am not a magician and advances/success don't come overnight I (have to) prepare myself for an arduos journey.:-) However, even such one as I has no alternative than tenaciously stick to surviving all obstacles.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, vichara is of course the short cut. Bhagavan will guide and lead you, we just have to let him but our stubborn ego thinks it knows better and goes into the way.

Everybody is different, I had phases where concepts seem to suffocate me and I guess Bhagavan wanted me to take a break. Without the guidance of a physical sage (alas true for all of us) we have to rely on the inner sage what is much more difficult since it requires a quiet or less busy mind. Unless one is at that point where the mind is not that much anymore a disturbing factor.
I say more difficult because when a sage in a physical body tells you to do something there is no chance for misunderstanding, however if one has the same inner guidance the ego loves to jump it and question it, doubt it, and manipulate it.

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

I´m glad if you find them to be so but, please, don’t take my comments as encouraging you or anyone to be attentive self-aware. I did it once and no more. I talk on the practice because that´s the core of Ramana´s teachings and what this blog is about too. On bhakti/surrender I never talk. It is the closest to silence when not silence itself.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar, thanks for telling your view. The inner guidance of our inherent wisdom or inner sage should ultimately help to overcome all our errors, mistakes, doubts, wrong conclusions and decisions, shortcomings and also our inherent indolence/ponderousness. In the end the waters of the river must flow in the ocean. Are we not destined to reach the safe port of absolute clarity ? :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
to be honest I can't make head or tail of your recent comment of today at 20:13.
What is bad in encouraging someone "to be attentive self-aware" ? :-)
In which way does being "attentive self-aware" differ from "the practice", the core of Sri Ramana's teachings ?

Salazar said...

Anonymous, you said and I quote, "I think the I am feeling most of us rely on to exist is just ‘I am the body’ feeling. So until we get past that, actual ‘I am’ is unknown."

Well, only if vichara is misunderstood or "done" the wrong way. The "I am the body feeling" is only noticed when attention goes to that feeling with subsequent subtle thoughts. There can be no confusion between "I am" and the "I am the body feeling". If that happens one is not "doing" vichara but being caught up in thought processes.

In the beginning there maybe a seeming confusion between 'I am' and the 'I am the body feeling' but that is due to the unfamiliarity with something which is no object and there is the tendency [of the mind] to grasp for objects, that goes away with further practice.

AsunAparicio said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I disagree with you Salazar. Bhagavan wants us to do atma vichara only to realize ‘i’ ( i am the body) is ‘nothingness’. So we can never reach the big I when we are operating in the world. if you say that we can easily be ‘I am’ then you might be fooling yourself. The only time ‘Who am I’ qn can yield final result is when we are ready to wake up. In order for that ‘readiness’ moment to arrive, we should have already realized that ‘only God is powerful’ and the small i already should have let go of everything including ‘i’ feeling. So one can be either ‘i’ or ‘I’ but not both. if we are ‘i’ we can only attend to ‘i’ and when all thoughts other than ‘i’ gets destroyed due to atma vichara practice, the big I will reveal by himself.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, it seems you equal "I am" with manonasa (annihilation of mind). I (and many others including Bhagavan) do not because 'I am' or self or samadhi can be experienced before manonasa. And to quote Bhagavan, one can have many experiences of self or 'I am' before realization/manonasa.

It is always the mind which interferes, your deep beliefs create your reality. If you deeply believe something then this is the case [for you] until you can let go of that. That includes notions of an i and I. Manonasa will never happen as long as you believe of an i and I, and other notions.

And Bhagavan does NOT want us to realize that i is nothingness :-) Actually he wants us to drop all beliefs including that of realization, i, or I, "nothingness" or whatever concept mind is attached to.

ahamkar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajat said...

Anonymous,
I agree that in one sense, we do not know our real I (rope) as long as we know ego (snake). But in another sense, the rope is never not known but just taken to be something else (snake) until we see it clearly.
Michael said in a video that in atma vichara we are not trying to look for ourself but at ourself (i do not recall his exact words but they were something to this effect). If our real self was something really unknown then we would have to look for it, and we would thereby find something new, but Michael it seems to me is implying above that this isn't so, and we just have to look at whatever seems to be ourself, keenly.
Perhaps this is merely a matter of perspective (since the word 'ourself' can be referring either to I Am or to ego), and of course ultimately we have to attend to ego, the I that says I am this body, but I feel it maybe helpful to not see ego and our real self as unrelated, just like rope and snake are not unrelated.

In a comment to my doubt about our real nature not being very obvious, Michael had once said, "what the pronoun ‘I’ ultimately refers to is only our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), so nothing can be more obvious than that, because our awareness of all other things depends on this fundamental awareness ‘I am’.

"In the view of ourself as ego this fundamental awareness is mixed and confused with other things, but that does not make it any less obvious. What is obscured by ego is not that I am but what I am, so all we need do is remove ego, the false awareness ‘I am this’, and what will then remain is the real awareness ‘I am I’."

Salazar said...

Rajat, excellent comment, the last paragraph explains the issue quite well.

Anonymous said...

Have you experienced samadhi? If so, please describe your experience.

Salazar said...

Bhagavan: "[...] We talk about attaining the self, of reaching God with time. There is nothing to attain. We are already self-existent. Nor will there ever be a time when we shall be nearer to God than now. We are now ever blissful, self-existent, the Infinite. Our consciousness is unbroken, continuous and eternal. It is all maya, self-hypnotism, to imagine that now we are otherwise. De-hypnotize yourself. It is ego, ahankara, which deludes itself that there are two selves, one of which we are conscious now (the person) and one the higher, the Divine, of which we shall one day become conscious. This is false. There is only one self and it is fully conscious now and ever. There is neither past, present nor future for it, since it is out of time. [...]" [From 'Conscious Immortality', page 169]

Bhagavan here clearly states that there are no I and i, that is a delusion. Also the ego's notion/objection that "this is the viewpoint of a sage" belongs to the maya or self-hypnotism Bhagavan warns about in the above comment.


Salazar said...

Anonymous, I am not sure if that 'samadhi-inquiry' comment was directed at me. If so then I can say that this is irrelevant. Never mind what "others" may experience or not.

We have to look inwards and stop these outwards and irrelevant inquiries.

Anonymous said...

Hi Salazar

My comment about samadhi was directed to you. You said that Self can be experienced before destruction of mind. Was curious if you had that experience.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, the reason why stories of experiences are irrelevant is because it is by mind. It has the opposite effect of any desired outcome, it feeds the mind/ego and does not diminish it.

Your question shows that you somehow expect some "special" consciousness or happening to "experience" self. That is, according to Bhagavan, false. And again, it is the mind with its beliefs and ideas about self which sabotage the simple clarity of self.

self cannot be described and everybody anyway already knows self - as self, not as mind. self seems to be clearer the less it is obstructed by mind. That is the seeming process, to "lessen" the obstruction by mind - that obstruction is all of its activities.

So, how could mind describe self when its very appearance is obstructing it?

Clarity can only come with steady and patient vichara.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, to further explain the phrase "one can have many experiences of self": Or in other words, the mind can subdue/diminish/reduce many times to a greater extend when the clarity of self shines. self never changes, so it only seemingly gets clearer.

The presence of a sage can also [temporary] reduce the mind, in some ripe jivas it can induce manonasa what is, from what I can tell, extremely rare.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Salazar.