Thursday, 28 November 2019

Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: a practical definition of real awareness

In the article I posted a couple of days ago, Is there any difference between being self-attentive and sitting down quietly in meditation?, I ended by quoting and explaining 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].
After quoting this, in the final paragraph of that article I wrote:
The mind’s ‘ஒளி உரு’ (oḷi-uru) or ‘form of light’ is our fundamental awareness of our own existence (sat-cit), ‘I am’, which is the light that illumines the mind, thereby enabling it to know வெளி விடயங்கள் (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷ), external phenomena, so instead of using the reflected light called mind to know other things, we must turn it back to face its source, the original light of pure awareness, which is always shining within us as ‘I am’. This is the only means by which we can dissolve ego entirely and forever.
Referring to this final paragraph a friend called Asun wrote a comment in which she said:
I understand that you are referring to “sphurana” or clarity of self-awareness but if it is so, Shadu Om says in “The paramount importance of self-attention” that this sphurana has to subside too and that its subsidence is our natural state, actually:

“There are two processes in spiritual practice (sādhanā), one is ascending and the other descending. The ascending process is negating everything as ‘not I’ by refining our mere awareness ‘I am’, disentangling it from all its superfluous adjuncts, and this leads to the rising of sphurana, a fresh and intense clarity of self-awareness. The descending process is embracing everything as ‘I’, by recognising that ‘I’ alone exists and all else seems to exist only because I am. This descending process leads to the subsidence of sphurana, which is our natural state (sahaja sthiti).”

Would you say that the “descending process” is concurrent to the “ascending process” which is what you are talking about?
In a second comment Asun asked: ‘Could you also explain the difference existing between “sphurana” and our “natural state”?’

The following is my reply to these two comments:
  1. What is the difference between sphuraṇa and our natural state?
  2. How can we experience our natural state of real awareness?
  3. What did Sadhu Om mean by the ‘ascending process’ and ‘descending process’?
1. What is the difference between sphuraṇa and our natural state?

Asun, regarding your second comment, I think you will probably find that most if not all of the questions you could ask about Bhagavan’s use of the term sphuraṇa and related words have been answered in three articles that I wrote in July 2014, namely Demystifying the term ‘sphuraṇa, Self-awareness: ‘I’-thought, ‘I’-feeling and ahaṁ-sphuraṇa and A paradox: sphuraṇa means ‘shining’ or ‘clarity’, yet misinterpretations of it have created so much confusion.

In brief, however, in the context of Bhagavan’s teachings sphuraṇa means a fresh clarity of self-awareness, or as Sadhu Om used to say, punning on the word ‘nuclear’, it is a new clear awareness of ourself, and like the destructive power of nuclear energy, it is destructive in the sense that it will destroy ego and thereby all phenomena, which depend for their seeming existence on the seeming existence of ourself as ego. What characterises sphuraṇa and distinguishes it from our natural state, therefore, is its newness or freshness, so since newness and freshness can exist only in the view of ourself as ego and not in the view of ourself as we actually are, sphuraṇa is said to ‘subside’ as soon as it has destroyed ego, just as the flame of a burning piece of camphor subsides as soon as it has consumed all the camphor.

Another important point to understand about sphuraṇa is that as we go deeper in the practice of self-investigation we experience greater degrees of clarity of self-awareness, so sphuraṇa is not a fixed value but covers a range of different degrees of clarity. Therefore in most contexts the term refers to a relative degree of clarity, but in some contexts it refers to the perfect clarity that instantly destroys ego, after which what remains is our natural state of infinite and ever-unchanging clarity of pure self-awareness.

2. How can we experience our natural state of real awareness?

Regarding your earlier comment, in which you asked about what I wrote in the final paragraph of my previous article, I wrote that as a partial explanation of verse 16 of Upadēśa Undiyār, in which Bhagavan did not refer either explicitly or implicitly to sphuraṇa, so any connection between what he taught us in this verse and sphuraṇa is rather remote. What he gave us in this verse is a clear definition of ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci), which means ‘real awareness’, ‘true knowledge’ or ‘awareness [or knowledge] of reality’, but a definition intended to show us the means by which we can experience real awareness (which is our natural state).

That is, to experience real awareness two conditions must be met: Firstly we must leave aside (which means cease to be aware of) வெளி விடயங்கள் (veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷ), external phenomena. However, we leave aside external phenomena whenever we fall asleep, and though what we experience in sleep is only real awareness, our mind is not thereby destroyed, so sooner or later we wake up from sleep, and hence that experience is not permanent.

Therefore another conditions must also be met, namely the mind itself must experience real awareness, because then only will it be destroyed. In sleep it is not destroyed because it does not exist there, so in waking or dream, when it seems to exist, it must try to know its ‘ஒளி உரு’ (oḷi-uru) or ‘form of light’, namely its fundamental awareness of its own existence bereft of adjuncts, which is itself real awareness (uṇmai uṇarcci).

However, as mind we can never actually know our own form of light, because as mind we are always aware of ourself conflated with adjuncts as ‘I am this body’, whereas our own form of light is our adjunct-free awareness ‘I am’, so mind in effect conceals our own form of light, making it appear to be something other than what it actually is. Therefore as soon as we as mind know our own form of light, we will cease to be mind and will remain instead just as our own form of light. In other words, mind will be dissolved in and swallowed by its own form of light, and that state in which its form of light shines all alone is உண்மை உணர்ச்சி (uṇmai uṇarcci), real awareness.

The moment at which we as mind see our own form of light, it seems to be an altogether fresh clarity of self-awareness, and that fresh clarity is the ultimate form of sphuraṇa, but as soon as it appears it destroys the mind, and the destruction of mind (manōnāśa) is the subsidence of sphuraṇa, because infinite clarity of self-awareness is then seen to be our real nature, so it no longer seems to be new but is recognised as our eternal experience. Therefore what Bhagavan calls ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci) or ‘real awareness’ is not sphuraṇa but what remains after sphuraṇa has subsided (except that it has never actually subsided, because there never was any mind and consequently real awareness never seemed to be anything new).

3. What did Sadhu Om mean by the ‘ascending process’ and ‘descending process’?

Regarding what Sadhu Om used to describe as an ‘ascending process’ and a ‘descending process’, the ascending process is when we focus our attention ever more keenly on ourself, thereby withdrawing it from everything else (all veḷi viḍayaṅgaḷ or external phenomena, which are not ‘I’), until we are eventually aware of nothing other than ourself. Being aware of nothing other than ourself is being aware of ourself as we actually are, which is what Bhagavan calls ‘உண்மை உணர்ச்சி’ (uṇmai uṇarcci) or ‘real awareness’.

As soon as we are aware of ourself as we actually are, we recognise that we alone exist, so there was never anything other than ourself, and hence everything that previously seemed to be other than ourself is actually just ourself. This recognition that everything that seems to be other than ourself so long as we seem to be ego, the perceiver of those other things, is actually nothing other than ourself, is what he called the ‘descending process’.

As Bhagavan says in the third paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?, ‘கற்பித ஸர்ப்ப ஞானம் போனா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான ரஜ்ஜு ஞானம் உண்டாகாதது போல, கற்பிதமான ஜகதிருஷ்டி நீங்கினா லொழிய அதிஷ்டான சொரூப தர்சன முண்டாகாது’ (kaṟpita sarppa-ñāṉam pōṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa rajju-ñāṉam uṇḍāhādadu pōla, kaṟpitam āṉa jaga-diruṣṭi nīṅgiṉāl oṙiya adhiṣṭhāṉa sorūpa-darśaṉam uṇḍāhādu), ‘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’, and as he said in the fourth paragraph, ‘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’. Excluding the world and all other phenomena from our awareness by focusing our entire attention on ourself alone is the ascending process, and as soon as we have excluded them entirely, what remains is pure awareness, which is our real nature (svarūpa).

Just as an illusory snake is a misperception of a rope, all phenomena (including all the five sheaths, which we mistake to be ourself) are a misperception of ourself. In the former case, when we remove our misperception of it as a snake, we see the rope as it is, and as soon as we see it as it is, we recognise that what seemed to be a snake is actually nothing other than a rope. Likewise, in the latter case, when we remove our misperception of ourself as phenomena, we see ourself as we actually are, and as soon as we see ourself as we actually are, we recognise that what seemed to be phenomena is actually nothing other than ourself.

This recognition that everything is ourself is the descending process. No longer do we need to exclude anything from our awareness, because there is nothing other than ourself, and hence nothing that needs to be excluded. However, so long as we perceive phenomena, we do need to exclude them from our awareness, because just as our perception of a snake prevents us seeing the rope as it is, our perception of phenomena prevents us being aware of ourself as we actually are.

There are two reasons why Sadhu Om spoke of this ascending process and descending process. The first and principal reason was to explain in a way that would be acceptable even to those who are not willing to accept all the deeper principles of Bhagavan’s teachings how the jñāni is seemingly able to perceive and interact with the world without ceasing to be aware of ātma-svarūpa (the real nature of oneself).

That is, since Bhagavan taught us that we cannot be aware of ourself as we actually are so long as we are aware of the world, it logically follows that the jñāni is not aware of the world, but it seemed to all people who were with Bhagavan that he was aware of the world, so many people naturally ask how it was possible for him to be aware of the world if he was aware only of himself. One way of explaining this is to say that though he was aware of the world, he was not aware of it as anything other than himself. This is the explanation that is implied by Sadhu Om’s description of the descending process.

However, the implication of this explanation is deeper than it may superficially appear. Superficially it may seem to imply that Bhagavan is aware of many things, like we are, but is aware of all of them as himself, but if we consider it more deeply, it will be clear that what it actually implies is that he is not aware of many things but only of himself. What we see as many things is what he sees as himself, the one infinite and indivisible space of pure awareness, as he clearly implies in verses 17 and 18 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu:
உடனானே தன்னை யுணரார்க் குணர்ந்தார்க்
குடலளவே நான்ற னுணரார்க் — குடலுள்ளே
தன்னுணர்ந்தார்க் கெல்லையறத் தானொளிரு நானிதுவே
யின்னவர்தம் பேதமென வெண்.

uḍaṉāṉē taṉṉai yuṇarārk kuṇarndārk
kuḍalaḷavē nāṉṯṟa ṉuṇarārk — kuḍaluḷḷē
taṉṉuṇarndārk kellaiyaṟat tāṉoḷiru nāṉiduvē
yiṉṉavartam bhēdameṉa veṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உடல் நானே, தன்னை உணரார்க்கு, உணர்ந்தார்க்கு. உடல் அளவே ‘நான்’ தன் உணரார்க்கு; உடல் உள்ளே தன் உணர்ந்தார்க்கு எல்லை அற தான் ஒளிரும் ‘நான்’. இதுவே இன்னவர் தம் பேதம் என எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): uḍal nāṉē, taṉṉai uṇarārkku, uṇarndārkku. uḍal aḷavē ‘nāṉ’ taṉ[ṉai] uṇarārkku; uḍal uḷḷē taṉ[ṉai] uṇarndārkku ellai aṟa tāṉ oḷirum ‘nāṉ’. iduvē iṉṉavar tam bhēdam eṉa eṇ.

அன்வயம்: தன்னை உணரார்க்கு, உணர்ந்தார்க்கு உடல் நானே. தன் உணரார்க்கு, ‘நான்’ உடல் அளவே; உடல் உள்ளே தன் உணர்ந்தார்க்கு ‘நான்’ தான் எல்லை அற ஒளிரும். இன்னவர் தம் பேதம் இதுவே என எண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): taṉṉai uṇarārkku, uṇarndārkku uḍal nāṉē. taṉ uṇarārkku ‘nāṉ’ uḍal aḷavē; uḍal uḷḷē taṉ uṇarndārkku ‘nāṉ’ tāṉ ellai aṟa oḷirum. iṉṉavar tam bhēdam iduvē eṉa eṇ.

English translation: For those who do not know themself, for those who have known themself, the body is actually ‘I’. For those who do not know themself, ‘I’ is only the extent of the body; for those who have known themself within the body, oneself, ‘I’, shines without limit. Consider that the difference between them is only this.

Explanatory paraphrase: For those who do not know themself [their real nature] and for those who have known themself, the body is actually ‘I’ [or only ‘I’]. For those who do not know themself, ‘I’ is [limited to] only the extent of the body, [whereas] for those who have known themself within the body, oneself [called] ‘I’ shines without limit [boundary or extent] [as the one infinite whole, which alone exists and which is therefore the sole substance that appears as the body and everything else]. Consider that the difference between them is only this.

உலகுண்மை யாகு முணர்வில்லார்க் குள்ளார்க்
குலகளவா முண்மை யுணரார்க் — குலகினுக்
காதார மாயுருவற் றாருமுணர்ந் தாருண்மை
யீதாகும் பேதமிவர்க் கெண்.

ulahuṇmai yāhu muṇarvillārk kuḷḷārk
kulahaḷavā muṇmai yuṇarārk — kulahiṉuk
kādhāra māyuruvaṯ ṟārumuṇarn dāruṇmai
yīdāhum bhēdamivark keṇ
.

பதச்சேதம்: உலகு உண்மை ஆகும், உணர்வு இல்லார்க்கு, உள்ளார்க்கு. உலகு அளவு ஆம் உண்மை உணரார்க்கு; உலகினுக்கு ஆதாரமாய் உரு அற்று ஆரும் உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை. ஈது ஆகும் பேதம் இவர்க்கு. எண்.

Padacchēdam (word-separation): ulahu uṇmai āhum, uṇarvu illārkku, uḷḷārkku. ulahu aḷavu ām uṇmai uṇarārkku; ulahiṉukku ādhāram-āy uru aṯṟu ārum uṇarndār uṇmai. īdu āhum bhēdam ivarkku. eṇ.

அன்வயம்: உணர்வு இல்லார்க்கு, உள்ளார்க்கு உலகு உண்மை ஆகும். உணரார்க்கு உண்மை உலகு அளவு ஆம்; உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை உலகினுக்கு ஆதாரமாய் உரு அற்று ஆரும். ஈது இவர்க்கு பேதம் ஆகும். எண்.

Anvayam (words rearranged in natural prose order): uṇarvu illārkku, uḷḷārkku ulahu uṇmai āhum. uṇarārkku uṇmai ulahu aḷavu ām; uṇarndār uṇmai ulahiṉukku ādhāram-āy uru aṯṟu ārum. īdu ivarkku bhēdam āhum. eṇ.

English translation: For those who do not have knowledge, for those who have, the world is real. For those who do not know, reality is the extent of the world; for those who have known, reality pervades devoid of form as the support for the world. This is the difference between them. Consider.

Explanatory paraphrase: For those who do not have knowledge [of their real nature] and for those who have, the world is real. For those who do not know [their real nature], reality is [limited to] the extent of [the forms that constitute] the world, [whereas] for those who have known [their real nature], reality pervades devoid of form as the ādhāra [support, foundation or container] for [the appearance of the forms that constitute] the world. This is the difference between them. Consider.
If we do not read these verses carefully enough, they may seem to imply that the jñāni is aware both of the body and world, but if we read them more carefully it will be clear that what Bhagavan is actually saying here is that what we see as a body and world is what he sees as himself, so he does not actually see any body or world at all but only himself. When he says in verse 17, ‘தன் உணர்ந்தார்க்கு எல்லை அற தான் ஒளிரும் நான்’ (taṉ uṇarndārkku ellai aṟa tāṉ oḷirum nāṉ), ‘for those who have known themselves, oneself, I, shines without limit’, he implies that what he is aware of as ‘I’ is not any body, which is limited in time and space, but only pure awareness, which is the one infinite whole and therefore the sole substance of what seems in the view of those who are self-ignorant to be a body and world. Likewise, when he says in verse 18, ‘உலகினுக்கு ஆதாரமாய் உரு அற்று ஆரும் உணர்ந்தார் உண்மை’ (ulahiṉukku ādhāram-āy uru aṯṟu ārum uṇarndār uṇmai), ‘for those who have known, reality pervades devoid of form as the support for the world’, he implies that what he is aware of is not the multitude of forms that constitute this or any other world, but only pure awareness, which is the one formless ādhāra (support, foundation or container) of the world-appearance.

If we mistake a rope to be a snake and another person recognises it to be just a rope, that other person could say that they see the snake as a rope. This does not actually mean that they see any snake at all, but only that what we see as a snake is what they see as a rope. What we see and what they see is the same thing, but whereas we see it as a snake, they see it as it actually is, namely a rope. Likewise, because we now see ourself as this body and world, Bhagavan says that he sees this body and world as himself. This does not actually mean that he sees any body or world at all, but only that what we see as a body and world is what he sees as himself. What we see and what he sees is the same thing, but whereas we see it as a body and world, he sees it as it actually is, namely his real nature (svarūpa), which is pure awareness.

The other reason why Sadhu Om sometimes spoke of the ‘ascending process’ and ‘descending process’ was to illustrate two different attitudes that we can adopt towards phenomena when practising self-investigation. Either we can consider all phenomena to be not ‘I’ and therefore what we should avoid attending to, or we can consider them to have no existence independent of ourself and therefore not worthy of our attention. That is, they seem to exist only because we are aware of them, so their appearance should not distract our attention away from ourself but should only remind us of our own existence.

Considering all phenomena to be not ‘I’ and therefore not what we should attend to is the ascending process, and though considering them to have no existence independent of ourself and therefore not worthy of our attention is not actually the descending process in its principal sense, it is somewhat analogous to it, so metaphorically it can be called the descending process. Whichever of these two attitudes we adopt, our aim should be to attend to nothing other than ourself.

However, the advantage of the latter attitude is that rather than constantly trying to reject the appearance of phenomena, if they appear we make use of their appearance to remind us of ourself, as Bhagavan implied we should do when he wrote, ‘எத்தனை எண்ணங்க ளெழினு மென்ன? ஜாக்கிரதையாய் ஒவ்வோ ரெண்ணமும் கிளம்பும்போதே இது யாருக்குண்டாயிற்று என்று விசாரித்தால் எனக்கென்று தோன்றும்’ (ettaṉai eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙiṉum eṉṉa? jāggirataiyāy ovvōr eṇṇamum kiḷambum-pōdē idu yārukku uṇḍāyiṯṟu eṉḏṟu vicārittāl eṉakkeṉḏṟu tōṉḏṟum), ‘However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? As soon as each thought appears, if one vigilantly investigates to whom it has appeared, it will be clear: to me’, in the following portion of the sixth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?:
பிற வெண்ணங்க ளெழுந்தா லவற்றைப் பூர்த்தி பண்ணுவதற்கு எத்தனியாமல் அவை யாருக் குண்டாயின என்று விசாரிக்க வேண்டும். எத்தனை எண்ணங்க ளெழினு மென்ன? ஜாக்கிரதையாய் ஒவ்வோ ரெண்ணமும் கிளம்பும்போதே இது யாருக்குண்டாயிற்று என்று விசாரித்தால் எனக்கென்று தோன்றும். நானார் என்று விசாரித்தால் மனம் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற்குத் திரும்பிவிடும்; எழுந்த வெண்ணமு மடங்கிவிடும். இப்படிப் பழகப் பழக மனத்திற்குத் தன் பிறப்பிடத்திற் றங்கி நிற்கும் சக்தி யதிகரிக்கின்றது.

piṟa v-eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙundāl avaṯṟai-p pūrtti paṇṇuvadaṟku ettaṉiyāmal avai yārukku uṇḍāyiṉa eṉḏṟu vicārikka vēṇḍum. ettaṉai eṇṇaṅgaḷ eṙiṉum eṉṉa? jāggirataiyāy ovvōr eṇṇamum kiḷambum-pōdē idu yārukku uṇḍāyiṯṟu eṉḏṟu vicārittāl eṉakkeṉḏṟu tōṉḏṟum. nāṉ-ār eṉḏṟu vicārittāl maṉam taṉ piṟappiḍattiṟku-t tirumbi-viḍum; eṙunda v-eṇṇamum aḍaṅgi-viḍum. ippaḍi-p paṙaga-p paṙaga maṉattiṟku-t taṉ piṟappiḍattil taṅgi niṟgum śakti y-adhikarikkiṉḏṟadu.

If other thoughts rise, without trying to complete them it is necessary to investigate to whom they have appeared [literally, to whom they have come into existence]. However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? As soon as each thought appears, if one vigilantly investigates to whom it has appeared [literally, to whom it has come into existence], it will be clear: to me. If one [thus] investigates who am I, the mind will return to its birthplace [oneself, the source from which it arose]; [and since one thereby refrains from attending to it] the thought that had risen will also cease. When one practises and practises in this manner, for the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace increases.
He also implied the same when he wrote in the final sentence of verse 6 of Śrī Aruṇācala Aṣṭakam: ‘அருள் குன்றே, நின்றிட சென்றிட, நினை விட இன்றே’ (aruḷ-kuṉḏṟē, niṉḏṟiḍa seṉḏṟiḍa, niṉai viḍa iṉḏṟē), ‘Hill of grace, let them [the shadow-like world-pictures, which appear both inside and outside on the mirror called mind] cease or let them go on, they do not exist at all apart from you’. That is, knowing that no phenomena could seem to exist if we did not perceive them, we should be so keenly self-attentive that we are unconcerned about whether they appear or disappear.

When ‘descending process’ is used in this metaphorical sense to describe the attitude of considering phenomena to be not an obstacle but a reminder of our own existence, we can say, as you suggest, that it is concurrent with the ascending process, because the aim of both is for us to attend to nothing other than ourself. However, when ‘descending process’ is used in its principal sense, it is not concurrent with the ascending process but what happens as soon as the ascending process has reached its conclusion, namely the eradication of ego.

15 comments:

Rob P said...

May I take this opportunity to say happy thanks giving Michael. Always grateful for the huge effort you put into this blog, the website, youtube channel and satsangs. Bhagavans grace flows from the tap into many streams. The love and clarity you provide on Ramana's teachings is immense.
Thank you to everyone here too.

AsunAparicio said...

Dear Michael,

Yes, I was reading yesterday both articles and could fully understand the difference between “sphurana” and our real nature or “unmai unarcci”. I´m impressed by its simplicity and the extreme clearance or clarity required to approach to it. I didn´t even know that this difference existed and that it had been made by Bhagavan. Now it is just a matter of giving the right meaning to words according to the context and all makes sense. Sometimes we have the pieces but can´t fit them, also because we haven´t even the words for them. They are completely news concepts and a new language.
What you tell about Shadu Om “punning on the word “nuclear””, is really juicy.

It is also crystal clear (paragraph 2) what you meant in your previous article and that ” mind itself must experience real awareness, because then only will it be destroyed” as well as what would be “the ultimate form of sphuraṇa” and that, after its subsidence “, infinite clarity of self-awareness is then seen to be our real nature, so it no longer seems to be new but is recognised as our eternal experience.”

Regarding to paragraph 3, I can only understand it in the light of your article “Ego seems to exist only when we look elsewhere” actually, it was my understanding on that article what made me to make some associations with the “descending process” as described by Shadu Om and that you explain as the “recognition that everything is ourself is the descending process. No longer do we need to exclude anything from our awareness, because there is nothing other than ourself, and hence nothing that needs to be excluded.”

Question arose because, on one hand, as you say, “so long as we perceive phenomena, we do need to exclude them from our awareness, because just as our perception of a snake prevents us seeing the rope as it is, our perception of phenomena prevents us being aware of ourself as we actually are.” so, I wasn´t sure if this “descending process” could be implemented in the practice or if it was concurrent with the ultimate form of “sphurana”. This you explain it with the two different attitudes we can adopt. I agree that it is an advantage to rely on the “descending process” to turn attention towards ourself, at the same time that it gives a much more deep meaning to Bhagavan´s words on sixth paragraph of Nan Yar. But, on the other hand, there was the logical conclusion that , as you say, ” it is not concurrent with the ascending process but what happens as soon as the ascending process has reached its conclusion, namely the eradication of ego.” This, you explain that it is “as used in its principal sense”. Very clear the distinction.

The explanation of verses 17-18 of Ulladu Narpadu is really good and to be re-read several times. As I said before, I can understand it, to the extent I can, only in the light of my understanding on your article “Ego seems to exist …”

Thank you so much, indeed. _/\_

Sanjay Lohia said...

God sees pure awareness as pure awareness; we see pure awareness as all this multiplicity

A friend: Michael, you say all things happen only because God allows them to happen, so even the so-called bad things happen because God allows them to happen. However, you also say that God doesn’t even know about these good and bad things...a bit confusing?

Michael: The ultimate aim of God is to annihilate our ego and thereby to immerse us in infinite and eternal happiness. We suffer in so many ways, but we cannot clearly understand how such suffering contributes to the eventual annihilation of our ego. We may not understand the exact process of these things, and we need not understand it. Basically, this is a matter of faith in Bhagavan or grace. Grace will not allow anything to happen which is against our spiritual interest. So whatever is happening, whatever has happened and whatever will happen is all only according to Bhagavan’s will, and his will is destroyed our ego.

Regarding your question whether God knows all these, the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. The ultimate truth is God doesn’t know any of these things because in its view it alone exists, so it doesn’t know anything other than itself. We see this vast universe full of so many pleasures and pains. However, God sees all these pleasures and pains only as itself because nothing is other than it. However, in a certain sense, we can say that by knowing itself, God knows everything.

We see this vast universe full of so much multiplicity, diversity and differences, but all these are only one thing because only one thing exists. That one thing is God and God is our real nature, and our real nature is pure awareness. So what exists is only pure awareness. So God sees only pure awareness, and we (as ego) also see only pure awareness. But whereas God sees pure awareness as pure awareness, we see pure awareness as all this multiplicity, diversity and differences.

We cannot and need not comprehend these things. We just need to lose ourself in God.

• Based on the video: Based on the video: 2019-11-24 Yo Soy Tu Mismo: Michael James discusses how to overcome desires and fears (1:01)

Sanjay Lohia said...

From time to time, Bhagavan gives us shocks in order to shake us out of our complacency- part two

Sometimes back I wrote a comment in which I wrote about my colleague who had supposedly disappeared all of a sudden. Today, he is back with us. So Happy Ending! At least so it seems but we never know. There is saying in Hindi: Ram ki baat Ram hi jane, meaning only God knows his plans!

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"But whereas God sees pure awareness as pure awareness, we see pure awareness as all this multiplicity, diversity and differences."
So it is merely a matter of optics. Because God only has the correct visibility and we are deceived by an optical illusion we should rapidly go to the optician and exchange our wrong spectacles for the appropriate ones.:-)

AsunAparicio said...

Anadi-ananta,

We can leave behind dreams we dream as illusory or a mental projection when we wake up because, by then, mind has already grasped another form or body we mistake to be ourself (misperception)which projects another world through the five senses we take now to be the real one . If we understand that the waking state is not different in its nature and provenance from the dream state, we can leave aside phenomena and mind experiences real awareness which is what it really is. Yet, though mind is, actually, pure awareness, pure awareness is not mind. Destruction of mind isn´t but the destruction of its capacity or power to project phenomena and to know things other than itself, this is what has to be surrendered as acknowledging its dependence on its source, awareness aware only of itself or that only knows itself, to exist. We don´t do it because, as Michael said in one of his talks, it implies acknowledging that “this life” we have invested, and invest, so much in, is meaningless, actually. Yet, we know we are going to die anyway, don´t we?

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 3.,
"That is, knowing that no phenomena could seem to exist if we did not perceive them, we should be so keenly self-attentive that we are unconcerned about whether they appear or disappear."
Can one actually prevent oneself from perceiving any phenomena already or only by keen self-attention ?

Sanjay Lohia said...

In the spiritual market, one can sell anything

Sadhu Om used to say that if one wants to cheat people, the easiest way to cheat is in the spiritual market. He used to give an example, suppose if you go to a vegetable market and pile up some stones and claim that these are brinjals (eggplants), you won’t be able to fool people because everyone knows what brinjal is. So your stones will remain unsold. But if you take a few glass beads to a diamond market and try to sell them as genuine diamonds, you may succeed in a few cases because not everyone can distinguish a real diamond from a fake one. However, if you go to the spiritual market, you can sell anything and everything because no one really knows what real spirituality is.

So in the name of spirituality, so many things are being sold. So many are fooling so many because most of us are ignorant about real spirituality. If there are few genuine gurus, there are a thousand frauds like Asaram and Ram Rahim. These are the names of the famous so-called gurus (in India) who are languishing in Indian jails. They had built huge spiritual empires by fooling the masses, and now the law has caught up with them.

Atma-jnana is widely believed to be the highest spiritual attainment. There are many so-called ‘enlightened beings’ claiming that they are jnanis, and further claiming that they can transmit this jnana to the people who sit in their presence. These gurus are like the wolves in lambs clothing – shamelessly fooling gullible people. If someone claims that one is an atma-jnani, how can we prove that he or she is not one? Some of them are out-and-out frauds, but some of them may really believe that they have attained something which they can now share with others. However, in any case, all such cases are like a blind leading the blind.

How can an ajnani know who a jnani is? When people asked Bhagavan whether such and such a person is a jnani, he would reply ‘there is only one jnani and you are that’. When we do not recognize our own jnana, how can we recognise jnana in others? In fact, seeing others is itself a sign of ajnana.

So the whole talk about jnani and ajnani is a ground for ridicule. A real jnani will never claim that he or she is a jnani. They have no need to do so because they have nothing to prove to the world. They are lost in their innate and natural pure happiness, so they are above such jnani business. No genuine jnani will allow a business empire to grow around them and even if it grows, they will not claim ownership of this empire.

• Based on the video: 2019-10-05 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 33 (17:00)

anadi-ananta said...

Asun,
as you seem to imply, focussing our attention as keenly as possible on ourself and thereby withdrawing it from everything else will lead to real awareness which is being aware of nothing other than ourself and thus being aware of ourself as we actually are.
From that I have nothing to take away and nothing to add. :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
section 3.,
"...Superficially it may seem to imply that Bhagavan is aware of many things, like we are, but is aware of all of them as himself, but if we consider it more deeply, it will be clear that what it actually implies is that he is not aware of many things but only of himself. What we see as many things is what he sees as himself, the one infinite and indivisible space of pure awareness,...".
If I picture/imagine that to me, I am surprised how Bhagavan could see for instance objects or articles of everyday use (for instance a drinking vessel, a towel, a sofa, a book or newspaper, or a walking stick as himself ?

Anonymous said...

Did he say that he is aware of them all as himself? I thought he is not aware of the world at all.

Michael James said...

Anonymous, both mean the same. If one is aware of everything as oneself, that means that one is not aware of anything at all other than oneself. If it is said that someone sees the illusory snake as a rope, that means that they do not see any snake at all but only a rope.

What ego sees as the body and world is what our real nature (ātma-svarūpa) sees as itself, so since Bhagavan or the jñāni is nothing other than our real nature, he is not aware of anything other than himself.

anadi-ananta said...

Anonymous,
yes, sometimes it is said that he was not aware of the world as separated from his awareness. But on the other hand it is reported that Bhagavan took great care over his devotees and spoke every day with all visitors and so on. We cannot comprehend that state of a jnani who simultaneously is unaware of the world and nevertheless able acting in the world in the same manner like we do. It obviously is a paradox only in the view of ajnanis.

Anonymous said...

I think his state was like sleep walking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Michael.