Thursday, 5 December 2019

How to deal with whatever feelings may arise while we are investigating ourself?

Referring to what I wrote in What did Sadhu Om mean by the ‘ascending process’ and ‘descending process’? (the third section of one of my recent articles, Upadēśa Undiyār verse 16: a practical definition of real awareness), a friend wrote to me:
I think that I understand your explanation on the descending and ascending process but when I try to write something on the subject, I become wordless-thoughtless and, instead of feeling freedom, since there are not walls from every angle which, at first, enabled me to turn towards myself to a great extent, now I’m having the opposite feeling of being immured and paralyzed and don’t know how to proceed from here. Does it make any sense? Why is it so?
In reply to this I wrote:

Regarding the ascending and descending processes, that is just an explanation that may be useful for some people (particularly those who are daunted by the prospect of everything disappearing), but it is not so important and certainly not something to be concerned about if it does not sit comfortably with you.

Regarding whether you feel freedom or feel immured, these are both just passing states of mind. The mind is ever changing, so sometimes we may feel good and at other times we may feel bad, but so what? None of these feelings are real. They are just passing phenomena, so we should not be concerned about them. Our only concern should be to be self-attentive and thereby to surrender ourself. This is the only way to remain unaffected by whatever may appear or disappear.

In the process of self-investigation and self-surrender all our vāsanās will be gradually brought to the surface. Some may produce pleasant effects and others may produce unpleasant effects, but in order to weaken the hold that they seem to have over us we must ignore all their effects by clinging firmly to self-attentiveness. As Bhagavan says in 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 occurred. However many thoughts rise, what [does it matter]? As soon as each thought appears, if one vigilantly investigates to whom it has occurred, 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, to the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace increases.
Feelings of freedom or being immured, like all other phenomena, are what he refers to here as ‘other thoughts’, so however many of them may appear, we should not follow them but should turn our attention back to ourself, to whom they have appeared.

As he says in the tenth paragraph:
தொன்றுதொட்டு வருகின்ற விஷயவாசனைகள் அளவற்றனவாய்க் கடலலைகள் போற் றோன்றினும் அவையாவும் சொரூபத்யானம் கிளம்பக் கிளம்ப அழிந்துவிடும். அத்தனை வாசனைகளு மொடுங்கி, சொரூபமாத்திரமா யிருக்க முடியுமா வென்னும் சந்தேக நினைவுக்கு மிடங்கொடாமல், சொரூபத்யானத்தை விடாப்பிடியாய்ப் பிடிக்க வேண்டும்.

toṉḏṟutoṭṭu varugiṉḏṟa viṣaya-vāsaṉaigaḷ aḷavaṯṟaṉavāy-k kaḍal-alaigaḷ pōl tōṉḏṟiṉum avai-yāvum sorūpa-dhyāṉam kiḷamba-k kiḷamba aṙindu-viḍum. attaṉai vāsaṉaigaḷum oḍuṅgi, sorūpa-māttiram-āy irukka muḍiyumā v-eṉṉum sandēha niṉaivukkum iḍam koḍāmal, sorūpa-dhyāṉattai viḍā-p-piḍiyāy-p piḍikka vēṇḍum.

Even though viṣaya-vāsanās [inclinations or desires to experience things other than oneself], which come from time immemorial, rise [as thoughts or phenomena] in countless numbers like ocean-waves, they will all be destroyed when svarūpa-dhyāna [self-attentiveness, contemplation on one’s ‘own form’ or real nature] increases and increases [in depth and intensity]. Without giving room even to the doubting thought ‘So many vāsanās ceasing [or being dissolved], is it possible to be only as svarūpa [my own form or real nature]?’ it is necessary to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness.
Therefore we should be ready to ignore whatever may come, because Bhagavan has given us the all-powerful weapon of self-attentiveness, so all that is required is our willingness to use it relentlessly.

51 comments:

anadi-ananta said...

"...it is necessary to cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness.

Therefore we should be ready to ignore whatever may come, because Bhagavan has given us the all-powerful weapon of self-attentiveness, so all that is required is our willingness to use it relentlessly."
As far as I am concerned I first have to learn employing that self-attentiveness clearly. Because my mind is somehow dull at present my self-attention is simply not sharp and alert enough. Only after having learned that method by regaining the required keenness and clarity I will readily be able to use it relentlessly.

Asun said...

"Feelings of freedom or being immured, like all other phenomena, are what he refers to here as ‘other thoughts’, so however many of them may appear, we should not follow them but should turn our attention back to ourself, to whom they have appeared." M.J.

This is interesting. I was once asked by a friend how I was and I responded that I was calm then, my friend said: “no, you are not. When you are calm, you don´t say you are calm”. It is the same for the feeling of freedom or any other phenomena or thought. Feeling of freedom is not different from the feeling of being immured, both are phenomena, “passing states of mind”. By clinging to self-attentiveness we are beyond freedom and imprisonment since noone of those thoughts or feelings arise. It´s as simple as that. No need to be a genius nor a spiritual giant or whatever, just oneself. Nor my friend nor I knew anything about spirituality when we had that exchange. We naturally know.

Asun said...

Note to my comment:

Probably, it is because “we naturally know” that we do not value it and forget it as we grow up and get absorbed by worldly issues so , we need to be reminded once and again till we are able to remind it on our own and recover that naturalness of being ourself.

Thank you, Michael, for always highlighting this naturalness and simplicity in your talks and articles.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sri Krishna: It is my responsibility to look after my devotees because great devotees won’t ask anything for themselves

The following is an extract from one of the spiritual texts:

Talking about his devotees like Kuchela, Ambarisha and the Gopis, Krishna says, ‘They had given up everything for my sake, and therefore it is my duty to look after them without their asking. Because they trust me, they won’t even cry for help. They leave everything to me. In this matter, I don’t have any freedom whatsoever. It is my responsibility to look after my devotees because great devotees won’t ask anything for themselves’.

Sri Krishna said a similar thing in Bhagavad Gita (9:22):

There are those who always think of me and engage in exclusive devotion to me. To them, whose minds are always absorbed in me, I provide yoga-ksheman (that is, I provide what they lack and preserve what they already possess).

In this context, yoga means 'supply spiritual assets' and ksheman means 'protect spiritual assets'.

So why worry about anything? Bhagavan is our sole guide and protector, so we need to just relax and live a carefree life. We should become like an infant. An infant is fully taken off and protected by its mother. Bhagavan is our mother and father rolled into one. His love for us is boundless, and therefore he will not let anything happen which is not in our best interest.

So we should trust him at every step. We can be sure that he is leading us back to our eternal resting place gently but surely!



Sanjay Lohia said...

King Janaka: a jnani king

King Janaka: When one knows death is certain, how can the pleasures of the world sway him away? How can the worldly duties ever limit his eyes from the supreme goal?

These are golden words, especially coming from a King who is surrounded by pleasures all around him. Can we ever match the duties of a king? So wisdom is not a prerogative of only the sannyasis. Even a king can be jnani. So worldly duties are no hindrance to our attaining jnana.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The only place where you will not have problems is your graveyard

Bhagavan: There is not going to be a time when you will not have problems. So long as you are alive, you will have problems. Nobody can escape from this. The only place where you will not have problems is your graveyard. Once you are dead, you won’t have any problems. If by grace you think of God as often as possible, in the midst of all problems you will have extraordinary peace.

So let us try to bury our ego in its graveyard. The graveyard has already been dug. It is high time it leaves us forever!

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"So let us try to bury our ego in its graveyard."
Is not trying to bury our ego in its graveyard similar to one's attempt to bury one's shadow ?

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"...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, to the mind the power to stand firmly established in its birthplace increases."
At this point "investigating who am I" as a rule I see neither the mind itself nor the mind's birthplace (myself) nor its returning to any/its source. Therefore I cannot actually refrain from attending to a thought which has risen and consequently my mind's power to stand firmly established in its birthplace is just not increasing. Somehow I seem to be on the wrong track.

Sanjay Lohia said...

One who reads the word of love, only becomes wise

Bhagavan: Illiterates are certainly better off than the literates whose egos are not destroyed by the quest of self. Pride of learning and desire for appreciation are condemned and not learning itself. Learning leading to search for truth and humility is good.

Kabir said in one of his verses something to the effect:

Reading books everyone died, none became wise; one who reads the word of love only becomes wise.

How to read the word of love? We can do so by loving God. We can do so by finding out where does this love actually exists. In other words, by loving our true nature we read ‘the word of love’.

To put it poetically, by loving love we read the word of love.

Anonymous said...

This might help you:


[…] if one keenly investigates what it is that now shines as ‘I’, then in [one’s] heart a kind of spurippu [a fresh clarity] alone will itself appear to itself [or to oneself] without sound as ‘I [am] I’. Without leaving that [fresh clarity of self-awareness], if one just is, it will completely annihilate the sense of individuality in the form of the ego, [which experiences itself as] ‘body [is] I’, and [then], like fire that catches on camphor, it will itself also be extinguished.

Anonymous said...

He says the I will return to ‘ I am I’ and even ‘I am I’ will be destroyed.

anadi-ananta said...

Anonymous,
"...and even'I am I' will be destroyed."
And what would then remain ?

Anonymous said...

I don’t know. Good question. All I know very well is the we are unnecessarily complicating the current state and we have to just understand and feel that current state is illusionary.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Hitler hated Jews and that hatred originated from his will

A friend: You say everything – both good and evil – is predetermined. So if Hitler murdered Jews, was that also predetermined by Bhagavan – those people had to die…

Michael: It was predetermined but that does not exonerate Hitler. OK, it was his destiny to become a chancellor of Germany and therefore have the power to do all those horrible things. However, he hated Jews and that hatred was not according to destiny. That hatred originated from his will.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35 (41:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Any accomplishment we have in a dream has no reality whatsoever

• Extract from the video: 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35 (20:00)

Reflection: All our spiritual and worldly accomplishments happen only in our dream. We may acquire all sorts of so-called spiritual powers – siddhis or supernatural powers, but they are all part of our dream. Likewise, we may achieve many things in this world, but again all these take place only in our imagination. We may run after name, fame and wealth, but all such name, fame and wealth have no reality outside our dream.

So the only true accomplishment is atma-siddhi.

Michael James said...

In a comment on my latest video, 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35, a friend asked: “What does Bhagavan mean by formless when he describes ego as a formless phantom? Is there anything other than ego that can be described as formless? If something were truly formless then we couldn’t ever know of it, but is ego an exception to this rule because it is the ‘knower’, so it can know ego despite ego not having any features, because ego is itself the knower? Is it accurate to describe ego as I-feeling? This feeling of I seems like a pointer to help catch hold of ego, it seems helpful because a feeling is a form, and forms are what we are more accustomed to attend to, having no experience of attending to anything ‘formless’. Or would describing ego as a feeling, running the risk of mistaking ego to be something to be looked for, something other than myself?”

In reply to this I wrote:

Rajat, when Bhagavan describes ego as ‘உருவற்ற பேய் அகந்தை’ (uru-v-aṯṟa pēy ahandai), ‘formless phantom-ego’, in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, what he implies by saying that it is formless (uru-v-aṯṟa) is that it has no form of its own, so it seems to exist only when it is grasping some form (a body consisting of five sheaths) as itself, and what he implies by saying that it is a ghost or phantom (pēy) is that it has no substance of its own, so being without form or substance, it does not actually exist at all.

In the previous verse (verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu) he pointed out that it is neither the body, which is non-aware (jaḍa), nor sat-cit (real awareness or awareness of one’s own existence), but something that rises in between them as ‘I’ to the extent of the body (in which ‘in between’ is a term that he uses metaphorically to imply that it is neither one nor the other but something that borrows some of the properties of each), and that it is therefore what is called cit-jaḍa-granthi, the knot (granthi) formed by the entanglement of awareness (cit) with a body, which is jaḍa.

In this cit-jaḍa-granthi, awareness (cit) is the substance and a body is the form, but ego is neither the substance nor the form but the knot that seeming comes into existence when they are entangled. As such ego seems to be a combination of awareness and a body, even though it is neither, so though it seems to be aware, it is not real awareness (sat-cit) but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa).

Though awareness is not a form, it is always aware of itself. Real awareness is never aware of any forms (by which term Bhagavan means phenomena of any kind whatsoever), but since ego (being a mere semblance of awareness) is aware of itself as a form, it is consequently aware of other forms, as Bhagavan points out in verse 4 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu. Therefore as ego we are aware both of ourself (as the perceiver or knower) and of forms (as things perceived or known by us), but so long as we are aware of forms, we are not aware of ourself as we actually are.

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

Michael James said...

In continuation of my previous comment in reply to Rajat:

Regarding your question about whether it is accurate to describe ego as I-feeling, it is not a particularly apt description, firstly because the term ‘feeling’ generally denotes a vague idea or impression, whereas nothing is more clearly known by us than ourself, and secondly because ‘feeling’ implies something perceived by us, whereas ego is not an object of our perception but ourself, the perceiver of all objects. Therefore it would be more appropriate to describe ego as the awareness ‘I’ (or self-awareness, albeit self-awareness mixed and conflated with adjuncts) rather than the feeling ‘I’.

When we are practising self-investigation, we should not be attending to any form (any object perceived by us) but only to ourself, the subject or perceiver. In other words, we should not attend to any feeling but only to the feeler, the one who is aware of all feelings. Whatever feeling, form or phenomenon may appear in our awareness, we should try to turn our attention back to ourself, the one who is aware of it.

Michael James said...

In reply to one of the questions that Rajat asked in the comment that I referred to above in my comment of 8 December 2019 at 18:43, namely ‘Is there anything other than ego that can be described as formless?’, another friend wrote, ‘Two of the cornerstones of ego that borrow “its” formlessness are space and time’, in reply to which I wrote:

Both time and space have features that distinguish them from other things, so they are both forms.

In the sense in which Bhagavan used the term ‘form’, all phenomena of any kind whatsoever are forms. Only awareness is truly formless, but as I explained in my reply to Rajat, though ego is formless it is not real awareness (sat-cit) but only a semblance of awareness (cidābhāsa).

Michael James said...

Anonymous, regarding your comments of 7 December 2019 at 15:38, in which you quote a portion of the first sub-section of section 1 of Vicāra Saṅgraham, and 7 December 2019 at 15:40, in which you comment, “He says the I will return to ‘I am I’ and even ‘I am I’ will be destroyed”, you seem to have misinterpreted what Bhagavan meant in that passage.

The term ‘I am I’ refers to clarity of self-awareness, in which we are aware of ourself as nothing other than ourself: ‘I am only I’. This clarity is our real nature, so it is eternal and can never be destroyed or extinguished.

When Bhagavan says in that passage, ‘அதனை விடாது சும்மா இருந்தால், தேகம் நானென்னும் அகங்காரரூப ஜீவபோதத்தை முற்றிலும் நாசமாக்கி, கர்ப்பூரத்திற் பற்றிய நெருப்புப்போல், தானும் சாந்தமாய்விடும்’ (adaṉai viḍādu summā irundāl, dēham nāṉ-eṉṉum ahaṅkāra-rūpa jīva-bhōdattai muṯṟilum nāśam-ākki, karppūrattil paṯṟiya neruppu-p-pōl, tāṉ-um śāntam-āy-viḍum), ‘Without leaving that, if one just is, it will completely annihilate jīva-bhōda [the sense of individuality] in the form of ego, [which is aware of itself as] ‘body is I’, and, like fire that catches on camphor, it will itself also be extinguished’, what ‘அதனை’ (adaṉai), ‘that’, in the first clause and the implied ‘it’ in the other clauses all refer to is what he describes in the previous sentence as ‘ஓர் வித ஸ்புரிப்பு’ (ōr vidha spurippu), ‘a kind of spurippu’, in which the term ‘spurippu’ refers not just to clarity of self-awareness but the newness or freshness of that clarity when it first appears. Since it seems to be new and fresh only in the view of ourself as ego, as soon as it annihilates ego its newness or freshness will be extinguished and it will be recognised as our natural and eternal state.

Therefore when Bhagavan says that it will be extinguished like a flame that has consumed a piece of camphor, he does not mean ‘I am I’, which is our natural clarity of self-awareness, will be extinguished, but only that its newness will be extinguished as soon as it has consumed ego.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"...we should not attend to any feeling but only to the feeler, the one who is aware of all feelings."
It seems to me that attending to any feeling does automatically include to some extent also attention to the feeler.
Are not both connected/entangled so closely to another that they hardly can be considered as separate(d)/apart from another ?

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, subject (the perceiver) and objects (everything that is perceived) are closely entangled, but no object can ever be the subject, so the entire purpose of self-investigation is to distinguish the perceiver from whatever is perceived. Only when we isolate the perceiver (ourself as ego) by focusing our entire attention on ourself alone, thereby withdrawing it from everything else, will we subside and merge back into our source (namely our real nature, which is pure awareness), and then we will see that what we actually are is just pure awareness, so we were never the perceiver of anything else.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
many thanks for your clarifying explanation.
I still have some difficulty to focusing my entire attention on myself alone. It seems that stems mainly from my inability to withdraw my entire attention from everything else. Because my awareness is evidently enveloped by dense fog or it has sunken into the mists of oblivion I seldom am able to isolate the perceiving ego from what is perceived. So merging back into my source does not occur at all (easily). I hope it will get better soon.:-)

Salazar said...

I do not believe that one can say, yes it was predetermined that Hitler became chancellor but no, it was not predetermined that he ordered the holocaust. It is a little more complicated than that. In fact, even Sadhu Om said that one CANNOT know what is caused by so called "will" and what is not.

So it would be more wise to say "I don't know" than to make a statement which is solely based on speculation.

Of course this entire topic is absolutely irrelevant for self-realization.

anadi-ananta said...

Self is never unrealized. So what topic is ever relevant to self-realization ?

Salazar's recommendation "So it would be more wise to say "I don't know" than to make a statement which is solely based on speculation." I would consider as an outstandingly good general rule

Salazar said...

Anadi-ananta, "Self is never unrealized" coming from you sounds quite insincere because you are really not believing it considering your many doubt-ridden comments. For you self seems to be just some abstract and imaginary "thing" (or fill in your favorite concept) and you talk about it as it is some unknown and foreign entity.

Again, that is the problem.

Re. your last sentence, quite funny, because it applies for all but for sages :-)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Money, money, money…

As long as we take ourself to be a body, money seems important. However, money itself may become a problem. If we don’t have money, it’s a problem, but if we have excess money, it is again a problem. Why? It is because we want to keep it, preserve it, and not lose it. So in most cases, more money means bigger problems. Money brings with it all the excesses – now we can buy bigger houses, bigger cars. We can now consume more wrong types of outside food. We can go on holidays at exotic locations. So this way money keeps us occupied with many such unnecessary pastimes.

If we gain a fortune, some of our relatives may want a share of it, but we may be reluctant to share it with them. So our relations may become strained, and therefore money may disconnect us with people around us. Our children may get spoiled if we allow them to freely use our money. So our dollars, pounds and rupees are powerful instruments of maya. These instruments drive us to constantly direct our attention outwards, and thereby lose our peace of mind.

The very nature of the world is to stir and agitate our mind, and since our pursuit of money keeps us busy in this world, money stirs and agitates our mind. Money may give us sleepless nights – ‘thieves are after this money, so I better be careful’. So money instead of solving problems may create more problems for us. It may even give us insomnia. So we should try to let go of all our concern for money because the money comes and goes according to destiny. Why bother about it? Why try to hoard it?

We may not be as greedy as other people, but none of us is perfect. We all like to have a bit more in our bank account. We like to become more secure. We want to save for the rainy day. Our desire for money hampers our spiritual progress. So let us be careful when we are dealing with money. As I implied, money is the secret agent of maya. If we are not careful, we may begin playing the game of money, money, money...which obviously is a dangerous game.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35 (1:30)

Michael James said...

Salazar, you seem to be attacking a straw man in your comment of 8 December 2019 at 22:24, because you start by saying, ‘I do not believe that one can say, yes it was predetermined that Hitler became chancellor but no, it was not predetermined that he ordered the holocaust’, because that is presumably intended to be a reply to Sanjay’s comment of 8 December 2019 at 17:23, in which he paraphrased an extract from my latest video, 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35, at about 41:00, in which (according to his paraphrase) a friend asked me, ‘You say everything, both good and evil, is predetermined. So if Hitler murdered Jews, was that also predetermined by Bhagavan?’, and I replied, ‘It was predetermined but that does not exonerate Hitler. OK, it was his destiny to become a chancellor of Germany and therefore have the power to do all those horrible things. However, he hated Jews and that hatred was not according to destiny. That hatred originated from his will’.

This is not exactly what I said, but it more or less conveys the gist of it. However, I did not say and Sanjay did not write that ‘it was not predetermined that he ordered the holocaust’, which is the straw man that you attack.

According to Bhagavan whatever happens to any person is predetermined by their destiny (prārabdha), so nothing can happen that is not predetermined, and whatever is predetermined will certainly happen. However, this does not mean that everything we do is predetermined, because any action we do by mind, speech or body may be driven by our prārabdha, by our will or by both working together more or less in unison.

As you say Sadhu Om said, we cannot (and need not) know to what extent any action we or others do is driven by prārabdha, will or both. However, we can say with certainty that whatever may be the outcome of any action is according to prārabdha, because nothing can happen that is not predetermined by prārabdha.

However, this was not the point I was making in my reply to that question. What I said was that what happened was according to prārabdha, but that does not exonerate Hitler, because it seems (as far as we can reasonably judge) that his actions were driven by a hatred of Jews (even though they may also have been driven by prārabdha), and such hatred is a misuse of his will and is therefore not caused by prārabdha. It may be argued that certain experiences in his life gave rise to such hatred and therefore it was caused by prārabdha, but this would be a fallacious argument, because the same experiences would not give rise to the same degree of hatred, or perhaps any hatred at all, in other people.

Though prārabdha is a selection of some of the fruit of āgāmya (actions driven by will) that we have done in previous lives, prārabdha and will are two entirely distinct domains, so neither has any jurisdiction over the domain of the other. By our present will we cannot change our prārabdha in any way at all, and likewise prārabdha cannot determine what we will (that is, what we like, dislike, desire, fear, love, hate or whatever).

To give an example, it may be your prārabdha to be married and to live your entire life with your wife. However much you may want to, you cannot change that. However, whether you love her, hate her or feel indifferent towards her is not determined by your prārabdha but only by your will. She may be cruel to you and give you endless trouble, but you may love her nevertheless, or she may be kind and caring, but you may hate her nevertheless.

Salazar said...

Michael, I was not attacking anybody, however I was of course referring to the comment by Sanjay. Why do you have the impression that I attacked someone at all? Kind of weird frankly and I re-read that comment of mine several times and I cannot find anywhere an attack. Unless it is an attack to suggest that someone cannot know certain concepts.

I.e. Hitler (just for the argument's sake) could have been a sage and all of his actions would not have created any karma at all. So one cannot really know about "others".

To the rest of your comment: If you like this explanation I won't argue with that at all. My interest in that vague concept is rather minimal. My apologies, I suppose I should have not mentioned anything at all re. that subject.

anadi-ananta said...

In any case it is a blissful relief that we do not know what atrocities we have done in previous lives.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
that is really my problem that I can talk about self only as some unknown entity, although I would like to be in the position to assert the contrary.:-)

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
regarding the given example in reply to Salazar,
"However, whether you love her, hate her or feel indifferent towards her is not determined by your prārabdha but only by your will."
On the other hand just the wife's experiences in that relationship (love, hatred or indifference) will be (presumably) determined rather by her prārabdha than by her will.

Michael James said...

Salazar, ‘attacking a straw man’ means arguing against a proposition that you imply another person has stated when in fact that is not they have stated it at all. In your comment of 8 December 2019 at 22:24 you argued against the proposition that ‘it was predetermined that Hitler became chancellor but no, it was not predetermined that he ordered the holocaust’ when it fact that was not what either Sanjay or I had said, so I said that you seemed to be attacking a straw man.

That does not mean that you were attacking any person, because a ‘straw man’ is not a person but an idea, namely one that your argument implies someone has proposed when in fact they have not. Therefore you may attack as many straw men as you like, because you can be sure that no straw man will ever take it personally. Being made of straw, they are a remarkably tolerant breed.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananata, you ARE in the position, right now. Do not believe your doubts and you are a huge step ahead.

One huge obstacle is to imagine self in a certain way it is supposed to be. That it should have qualities like happiness and bliss or whatever.

In the beginning (of atma-vichara) the ego clouds self but one can get a taste of it, yes - not as manonasa but as simple being without thoughts. The more atma-vichara the more self reveals itself and the ego dissolves automatically without any deliberate effort to change/improve/correct the ego.

As Bhagavan said, we do not want to prune the ego (as in trying to change or improve it), that is just what it wants :-)

Salazar said...

Michael, I am glad to hear that. To consider the term "straw man" as an idea is a new concept for me but I certainly agree, attacking an idea is mute.

But one can certainly question the veracity of an idea what I did. It is a weakness of the ego who wants to be able to explain and understand everything. So it loves to dabble in ideas and often considers it as the truth (openly or hidden).

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
rather than "simple being without thoughts" I would be already satisfied with being clearly aware of the awareness or stillness between two thoughts.
For the moment I make an effort to bring my attention to the clear field of self-investigation.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
thank you for your recent thorough comment regarding the combined function of prarabdha and will (- in response to Salazar).

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, simple being without thoughts IS the awareness or stillness between two thoughts. Why would you possibly assume a difference between the two?

I'd suggest to let go of your attachment to a particular term of description as if a certain pointer would somehow capture the meaning better than others :-)

That is not the case but as an idea of the ego thus it's ego all over again ....

Again, you know that you exist even before an ego or I could appear. That knowledge of existence is self. It is like knowing that one is a man (or woman). One does not need to practice to know that one is a man. Same goes for self.

It is only the ego/mind which does not want to shut up and instead to be quiet it looks for "ways to be quiet", for "happiness", just one more concept that may bring salvation, info about destiny and karma, etc. etc.

The practice of atma-vichara is not to reach self but to counteract the activities of the stupid ego which does not even notice how its very existence (as in conscious and subconscious thoughts) is sabotaging the clarity of self.

Instead to shut up and die already it wants to improve and change itself with endless purification and plans to get what it wants (for "spiritual" people that is self). "Spiritual people" proudly have renounced [sort of] the pursue of wealth and fame etc. and have replaced that with "finding God" or "realizing self" without noticing that they have exchanged one carrot for another.

All what is does is to keep the ego alive and kicking. It's pruning the ego.

Atma-vichara without all of these concepts and goals is the only solution.

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, and do not try to equal self with the disappearance of the phenomenal world. The world will be around for sure until the very moment of manonasa, and what happens after manonasa can only be speculative.

There is no need whatsoever to cling at this concept. As Bhagavan said, there will be no doubt or question left after manonasa, so why bother with the idea of a disappearance of the phenomenal world?

As a possible measure or what for? I simply do not know. It is not needed for atma-vichara.

As long as there is doubt, need for questions, dissatisfaction of any kind, atma-vichara is still needed. It is as simple as that.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Yesterday I had lost my mobile, so I was very agitated

Yesterday I had lost my mobile, and since then I was agitated and was desperately trying to search for it. Thank God I have just found it. It was lying at one corner of my house. I had searched everywhere but somehow didn’t look here. At last I am at peace.

Why was I desperate to find my mobile? It was because that was my possession, and I was feeling uncomfortable without the mobile in my hand. When I didn’t own a mobile, I had no chance of losing it and therefore had no chance of feeling agitated. This is an imaginary situation.

Our position is something like this. We are all desperately searching for happiness. Why? It is because happiness is our possession (our true nature), but we seem to have lost it. As ego, we seem to have been separated from our eternal and infinite happiness. However, we are searching for it in the wrong places. We are searching for happiness in objects where it does not exist. So we always remain agitated and dissatisfied. However, when we look for it at the right place, that is when we look within, we find our ever-present happiness within ourself. So we are relieved and fully satisfied.

We will find the above two situations exactly identical. So, metaphorically, at present we all have lost our mobiles and therefore are desperately searching for them!

Sanjay Lohia said...

My prarabdha made me marry X (my current wife), but my will decides what feelings I have towards her

In his recent comment addressed to Salazar, Michael wrote the following:

To give an example, it may be your prārabdha to be married and to live your entire life with your wife. However much you may want to, you cannot change that. However, whether you love her, hate her or feel indifferent towards her is not determined by your prārabdha but only by your will. She may be cruel to you and give you endless trouble, but you may love her nevertheless, or she may be kind and caring, but you may hate her nevertheless.

I found this example very useful to understand the respective roles of prarabdha and will in any given situation. For example, I am going to New Delhi tomorrow to discuss some financial issues with my cousin. We may arrive at some mutually acceptable settlement, or we may not agree on our respective shares. Whatever we decide will be according to our prarabdha, and therefore we cannot change our respective shares which we will eventually receive. Our shares have already been decided by Bhagavan, and these will just be revealed to us tomorrow.

However, what attitude I have on whatever we decide will depend on my will. I may become happy if I get more than I expect, or I may feel cheated if I am given much below my expectation. All such feelings will depend on my will. However, I may feel neither happy nor unhappy if I have surrendered. If I have surrendered my will to the will of Bhagavan, I will remain totally indifferent to the outcome of this meeting. My attitude will be: 'Bhagavan has decided this much for me, and he knows my needs better than I know mine'. Therefore, I will receive whatever we decide as Bhagavan’s prasad.

How should I discuss with my cousin? I should do so in a calm and dignified manner. If the outcome of this meeting is already decided, why should I be undignified or forceful? I should remain as much self-attentive as possible while the discussion is on. Such an attitude will help me easily accept the outcome, whatever it may be.

So what happens is according to our prarabdha, but how we react to whatever happens is according to our will.

Michael James said...

A friend wrote to me asking, “Is it ok to focus on the I thought and hold on to it, or is it correct to try and find what’s ‘looking at the I thought’? Put another way, should I keep chasing backwards to find the real Self or is it enough to hold on to I thought even though I know that can’t be the real Self?”, in reply to which I wrote:

‘I thought’ is just another name for ego, so it is you, the one who is aware both of yourself and all other things. In other words, it is the subject, the perceiver of all objects. Therefore what can hold on to or look at the I thought is only the I thought, so holding on to the I thought is itself trying to find what is looking at I thought.

‘Holding on to I thought’ and ‘looking at I thought’ both mean simply being self-attentive, because we ourself are what we should be holding or looking at.

The more keenly we attend to ourself, the more we as ego will subside back into our source (which is our real nature or what you call ‘the real Self’), so if we simply hold on to ourself, that is in effect ‘chasing backwards to find the real Self’. In other words, the only we can find what we actually are is just by being self-attentive.

You say that I thought ‘can’t be the real Self’, which is true in one sense but not in another sense. Just as a rope is not a snake, but what seems to be a snake is actually just a rope, our real self is not the I thought, but what seems to be the I thought is actually just our real self. If you look at the snake carefully enough, you will see that it is just a rope. Likewise, if you attend to the I thought keenly enough, you will see that it is just pure awareness, which is what you actually are.

anadi-ananta said...

When Michael says "...if you attend to the I thought keenly enough, you will see that it is just pure awareness, which is what you actually are."
About it we should be aware that the emphasis lies on the words "KEENLY ENOUGH" !
That means: only superficial or cursory attention is not sufficient, leads to lack of success and does not produce the result wanted. So the keyword is 'Keenness'.

Sanjay Lohia said...

A non-existent entity investigates a non-existent entity to discover that it is non-existent

A friend said Atma-vichara seems to be the perfect way.

Michael replied that it is closed to the perfect theory, but even that has a hole. It is because who has to do atma-vichara? Ego. Ego has to investigate itself. But if ego investigates itself, there is no ego. So there never was any atma-vichara.

There is only atma, and atma has no need to investigate itself. Atma is free of all troubles. The troubles are only for us as ego, so only ego has to investigate itself in order to get rid of all its troubles. If it does so sufficiently keenly, it will find that it does not exist. In fact, ego never existed in the first place, and therefore who did atma-atma and how? All mystery!

Ego is maya (maya means which does not exist). So a non-existent entity investigates a non-existent entity to discover that it is non-existent. How absurd!

• Based on the video: 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35 (1:12)

Bob said...

Sanjay

Having read your comment....My prarabdha made me marry X (my current wife)....prompted me to comment about my marriage which I never understood until about 5 years ago.

The large city I lived in long ago had plenty of ladies I could have married, some of them even asked me to marry them, but I had no plan to do so.

I ended up marrying a lady 2200 miles from me, in a state I had never been to, nor did I know anyone there.

Everything fell into place and she moved to Colorado,USA where I lived.


Sanjay Lohia said...

Bob, yes, everything eventually falls into place because Bhagavan is a master of correct timing. He makes correct things at the correct times. So we should blindly trust his infinite wisdom and keep quiet. According to a popular saying, we should make our own plans only if we want God to laugh at us. ‘Your will is my will and that is happiness for me’, sang Bhagavan. So we should be happy with whatever comes our way because it is coming as a loving gift from our beloved Bhagavan.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Anadi-ananta, yes, I agree. ‘Keenly enough’ are key words if we are practising self-investigation. Keen enough – deep enough – long enough – firm enough – all these are key words!

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, you said "only superficial or cursory attention is not sufficient".

Fine, but who makes that judgment? The ego! Who agonizes about those things? The ego!
This is the perfect way for the ego to make atma-vichara complicated and daunting and it can belittle itself (what it likes to do, either to belittle or aggrandize itself) that what it does is not sufficient.

There is no reason to worry about "not enough" attention etc. - it usually backfires. It IS ego!
Atma-vichara "improves" simply in practicing it WITHOUT any goals in mind. So instead to lament about "how good" things are supposed to be, why not simple doing it instead to keep procrastinating?

Sanjay Lohia said...

We assume that our ego had a first birth, but is ego actually born now?

A friend: In our first birth, we had no destiny nor had any likes or dislikes. So how did this cycle of destiny, likes and dislikes and karma originate?

Michael: For who is the first birth.

The friend: For ego.

Michael: Yes, for the same ego that has this birth. So how did it all begin? It started with the rising of ego. The root is ego. If we investigate ego, we will find there never was any ego, so there never was any birth or death.

We assume there is a first birth. If we are born now, then logically there must have been the first birth. But are we actually born now?

• Based on the video: 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35 (1:08)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Even our body’s cancer can become a boon for us

If we have no likes and dislikes, we will happily accept whatever happens. We will remain unmoved by anything we may be suffering from. We may be suffering from cancer, having chemotherapy and maybe on our death-bed. However, we may remain unmoved amidst all this. If we accept that cancer has come to us because of Bhagavan’s will, we will also accept that cancer is for our own ultimate good. ‘Cancer has come to teach me a lesson on surrender’, we may reflect. We may think, ‘OK, I will die in a few days, so let me surrender and meditate on Bhagavan alone’.

If we have no likes and dislikes, how will cancer defer from perfect health? We can be perfectly happy despite having cancer. In the eyes of others, we may be suffering, but in our own experience, we will be free of suffering. In our experience, this cancer could become a golden opportunity for us to surrender completely. So cancer becomes a boon!

• Based on the video: 2019-12-07 Sri Ramana Center, Houston: discussion with Michael James on Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu verse 35 (1:03)

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
as you say "... ego has to investigate itself in order to get rid of all its troubles. If it does so sufficiently keenly, it will find that it does not exist."
Therefore the point is 'sufficiently keenly'. Investigation of oneself not sufficiently keen leads to nothing. To substantiate my statement I can offer my own unsuccessful attempts of self-investigation which were evidently completely insufficient.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"But are we actually born now?"
At least it seems so. Who can tell us whether we are at all ? Is there anything at all ? Even our self-awareness is possibly only an appearance. How can an ant have an overview of that what really exist ?