Sunday, 15 December 2019

Why do we need to distinguish ourself as ego from whatever person we seem to be?

A friend recently wrote a comment saying ‘I cannot easily see the importance of stressing the necessity of a clear distinction between ego and person’, and while considering what to reply to him I remembered a reply that I had written to another friend back in April regarding the importance of this distinction, which at the time I had intended to adapt as an article, but in the midst of other work it had somehow slipped down my mental list of priorities. Therefore in the first four sections of this article I will reproduce the reply I wrote in April, and then in the final section I will reply specifically to the recent comment asking about this distinction.
  1. The perceiver is always distinct from whatever phenomena it perceives, including whatever person it mistakenly perceives as if it were itself
  2. To investigate and surrender ourself effectively, we need to distinguish ourself as ego from whatever person we seem to be
  3. When our attention is turned outwards, we should be concerned about others as much as we are concerned about the person we seem to be, but our concern for them should prompt us to turn back within, knowing that that is the best we can do for them
  4. Ego is neither ‘the ego’, because the definite article ‘the’ would tend to imply that it is an object of some sort, nor is it ‘my ego’, because it is myself and not a possession of mine
  5. Whatever phenomena we as ego perceive are in substance nothing other than ourself, but since we are the substance and phenomena are just forms, we need to clearly distinguish ourself from all phenomena, including whatever person we currently seem to be
1. The perceiver is always distinct from whatever phenomena it perceives, including whatever person it mistakenly perceives as if it were itself

The friend who wrote to me in April referred to the following passage in one of my earlier articles, In a dream there is only one dreamer, and if the one dreamer wakes up the entire dream will come to an end:
According to Bhagavan our present state is just another dream, so there is only one ego who projects and perceives all this. Though this ego now seems to be a person, that person is just one of the objects it perceives.

The person we mistake ourself to be is therefore insentient and hence does not perceive anything, but it seems to be sentient and to be perceiving because in our view it seems to be ourself. Because we as ego (the subject or perceiver of all phenomena) mistake ourself to be a person, we mistake all other people to be egos, and hence they seem to be perceiving the world just as we are.

Since people are not aware, none of them can ever realise what they actually are, so there is no such thing as a self-realised person, except in the deluded view of ego. Bhagavan seems to us to be a self-realised person, but if he is self-realised he is not a person, and if he is a person he is not self-realised. We mistake him to be a person because we mistake ourself to be a person, but as a person he is just one among the many phenomena we see in this dream of ours. Though he seems to be a person, he is actually just pure self-awareness, which is our real nature (ātma-svarūpa).
Regarding this passage my friend wrote:
“Since people are not aware” needs clarification for me.

Relative to the rest of the sentence I get it; I am not asking about whether “people” can be “enlightened”. I understand that it doesn’t work that way. Absolute Nonduality precludes that happening. Right? Nothing exists except I AM. You have written clearly about that. If a person (so called) becomes enlightened they are not a person anymore and they know/realize that they never were one.

My question has more to do with what I now perceive as “other people” in my dream or projection of this world as “not being aware”. People in my night dreams are certainly not aware and have no identity or awareness or reality. They are wispy fictional characters, figments of my imagination, as you write. We all know that when we wake up from sleep.

So when you wrote about people “not being aware” that applies to my friends and to the billions of other people I see in this so-called world which the ego is projecting. (Is it “my” ego or “the” ego?).

First, I want to say that whatever the answer is, I practice “ahimsa” as best I can. Regardless of whether the other people I know/see are “aware” and have “true identity”, they present themselves to “me” now as “real, thinking, feeling people” who have intelligence and awareness (to some degree).

So, whatever they really “are” (like people in night dreams? or even something more?) I work to express love-intelligence toward all people, animals and things and strive to “do no harm” as much as possible.

To be socially and lovingly involved in the “world” which one is essentially forced to do to some extent, “ahimsa” is the only correct way. But when you write: “since people are not aware” I begin to sense that maybe they (the world population including my friends and family) actually are like my night-dream characters, but that the “projection” of the “snake” (as it were) by the ego is just incredibly sophisticated, clever and convincing to my projected “self”.

It won’t change how I act toward people and creatures; but I really need to understand this point. I am now thinking/seeing that they really are “not aware” and maybe not even “real”… Just figments of imagination.

On the other hand: I am aware. I know that I am. I know that I exist. I am aware of being aware. I have consciousness in that sense. Is Ramana teaching that “other people” don’t; they are like night dream people.

It would be logically consistent with Absolute NonDuality to take that position, I think. If “the world is all an illusion” that has to mean absolutely “all of it”.

If I am getting off kilter please advise.
The rest of this section and the subsequent three sections are adapted from the reply I wrote to this:

As soon as we wake up from a dream we recognise that all the people we saw in it were just our own mental projection, but so long as we were dreaming they all seemed to be perfectly real, so what accounts for this sudden but radical change in our perception?

While dreaming we are aware of ourself as a dream body, so since we are real that body seems to be real, and since it is a part of the dream world, the whole dream world, including all the people in it, seems to be real. However, when we wake up, we cease being aware of ourself as that dream body, so it no longer seems to be real, and hence the entire dream world and all the people in it cease to seem real.

According to Bhagavan our present state (and any other state in which we are aware of phenomena) is just a dream, so because we are aware of ourself as our current body, it seems to be real, and since it is a part of this world, this whole world, including all the people in it, seems to be real. Therefore the root cause of the seeming reality of whatever world we currently perceive and all the people in it is our own dēhātma-buddhi , our awareness of ourself as a body.

Whatever person we seem to be is a form composed of five sheaths, a physical body and the life, mind, intellect and will that animate it, and since whenever we rise as ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, we are aware of all these five sheaths as parts of a single whole, Bhagavan referred to them collectively as ‘body’, and hence in verse 5 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu he said:
உடல்பஞ்ச கோச வுருவதனா லைந்து
முடலென்னுஞ் சொல்லி லொடுங்கு — முடலன்றி
யுண்டோ வுலக முடல்விட் டுலகத்தைக்
கண்டா ருளரோ கழறு.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Explanatory paraphrase: The body is pañca-kōśa-uru [a form composed of five sheaths, namely a physical structure, life, mind, intellect and will]. Therefore all five [sheaths] are included in the term ‘body’. Without a body [composed of these five sheaths], is there a world? Say, without [experiencing oneself as such] a body, is there anyone who has seen a world?
As he says in verse 22 of Upadēśa Undiyār, none of these five sheaths are either aware or real:
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].
Whatever person we seem to be is nothing other than these five sheaths, so since none of them are aware, no person is aware. What is aware is not any person but only ego, but since ego is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’, this person seems to be aware. And since this person seems to be aware, every other person also seems to be aware, but only in the view of ego, because ego is the only one that is actually aware of all this.

Even though this has been made so very clear by Bhagavan, some people argue that ego is a part of the person, so since ego is aware, that makes the person aware, but this argument is based on a failure to distinguish ego from whatever person it seems to be. Ego is not a part of any person, but is the false awareness that is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’. Ego is the subject, the perceiver of the person and all other phenomena, whereas the person it seems to be is an object, a phenomenon perceived by it. The subject cannot be a part of any of the objects it perceives. The perceiver is always distinct from whatever phenomena it perceives, including whatever person it mistakenly perceives as if it were itself.

2. To investigate and surrender ourself effectively, we need to distinguish ourself as ego from whatever person we seem to be

Distinguishing ego from whatever phenomena it seems to be is the beginning of self-investigation, because if we do not do so, we will attend to some phenomenon thinking that we are attending to ego, the ‘I’ who mistakes that phenomenon (an object) to be itself (the subject). Unless we distinguish ourself from whatever person we seem to be, we cannot begin to detach ourself from it, and without detaching ourself from it we cannot either investigate or surrender ourself. Therefore recognising the clear distinction between ourself, this ego, subject, perceiver or witness, and everything that we perceive, including the five sheaths that constitute the person whom we now seem to be, is the beginning of the spiritual path.

In this context you may find it helpful to consider what I wrote recently in a comment in reply to a friend who wrote a comment referring to a sentence in one of my earlier articles (in the final paragraph of The ego and its will are two distinct things, which is section 9 of Like everything else, karma is created solely by ego’s misuse of its will (cittam), so what needs to be rectified is its will), namely “The ego is the ‘I’ that likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on, but it is not its likes, dislikes, desires or fears, because it remains the same even though these elements of its will can and do change over time”, and asking me to clarify what has remained the same over all this time, because “when I say ‘my desires have changed’, I think I mean that I have changed as a person over the last 20 years; and the common strand seems to be only memory, and not any such thing as an unchanging ego”. What I wrote in reply to this was:
[...] what has remained the same is only you, the ‘I’ who is aware that your desires and all other things have changed. Memory enables us to recognise the continuity of this ‘I’, because the ‘I’ that now remembers having experienced circumstances and events in your childhood and in last night’s dream is the same ‘I’ that then experienced them, but memory itself is at best just a partial and incomplete continuity or common strand, because memories change with time, fading, losing details, becoming less certain and being gradually replaced by other fresher memories.

You say that you have changed as a person over the last twenty years, but what has changed is not you but only the person whom you seem to be. That is, the ‘I’ that is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’ remains the same, even though the person it mistakes itself to be is constantly changing. Therefore, though it is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’, it is actually something distinct from whatever person it seems to be. Everything that constitutes this person, including its desires and its memories, are objects of our awareness, whereas we, this ‘I’, are the subject, the one who is aware of all objects. Though the objects that we are aware of are constantly changing, we, the subject, remain the same.

The ‘I’ that is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’ and that is consequently aware of all these changes is ego, but though this ‘I’ remains the same throughout all its dreams (each of which it mistakes to be waking while experiencing it), even it is not actually continuous, because it appears in each dream (or so-called waking) but disappears in sleep. However, though it disappears in sleep, we remain there, so what we actually are is distinct from this appearing and disappearing ‘I’, which is what experiences all other changes.

Therefore when we investigate ourself, we need to go very deep. We begin by investigating this ‘I’ that has now appeared as ‘I am this person’ and that will disappear in sleep, but when we investigate it deeply enough, leaving aside all objects of awareness and attending only to the subject, the perceiver of all objects, it returns to the source from which it appeared, namely the immutable pure awareness that neither appears nor disappears and that is therefore untouched by and unaware of any objects or changes, and when it thereby dissolves and merges in that source, that source will reveal itself to be what we actually are.
The primary reason why it is necessary for us to distinguish ourself from whatever person we seem to be is that doing so will enable and encourage us to turn back within to face ourself alone. A secondary benefit is that it will also tend to make us as a person behave in a more detached, humble, self-effacing and compassionate manner, but this seems to be a benefit only when our attention is turned outwards and we are consequently more strongly identified with this person, as happens much of the time.

3. When our attention is turned outwards, we should be concerned about others as much as we are concerned about the person we seem to be, but our concern for them should prompt us to turn back within, knowing that that is the best we can do for them

What I have written so far is a prelude to answering your questions, which are mainly concerned with how we should view other people, including animals of other species, and behave towards them. The first point to understand is that other people are no more unreal or non-aware than the person we now seem to be, so when this person seems to be real and aware (even though it is actually neither real nor aware), other people seem to be equally real and aware, and hence we should treat them with the same care and concern that we treat this person we seem to be.

We can distinguish ourself from the person we seem to be only to the extent that we turn back within, so to the extent that our attention is directed outwards we are aware of ourself as this person and consequently this person seems to be real and aware, and since this person seems to be real and aware all other people seem to be equally real and aware. Therefore, as I explained in one of my earlier articles, Why are compassion and ahiṁsā necessary in a dream?, since we care so much about the person we seem to be, we should care no less about other people. If this person were suffering in any way, whether physically or emotionally, we would be concerned to alleviate her or his suffering, so if we see other people suffering, we should be equally concerned to alleviate their suffering.

The more strongly we are attached to the person we seem to be, the more we will be concerned about her or his joys and sorrows, and hence the less we will be concerned about the joys and sorrows of other people, except those we consider to be near and dear to us. In other words, to the extent that we are attached to the person we seem to be, we will be self-centred and will therefore lack compassion. Therefore compassion and concern for the well-being of others will increase to the extent that our attachment to ourself as a person decreases, because the less we are attached to this person the less strongly we feel any distinction between ourself and others.

However, if we consider our entire life to be just a dream, as Bhagavan says we should, we will understand that the most effective way to alleviate all the suffering we see in this world is for us to wake up from the sleep of self-ignorance in which this and all other dreams occur. As he says in verse 1 of Ēkāṉma Pañcakam:
தன்னை மறந்து தனுவேதா னாவெண்ணி
யெண்ணில் பிறவி யெடுத்திறுதி — தன்னை
யுணர்ந்துதா னாத லுலகசஞ் சாரக்
கனவின் விழித்தலே காண்.

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

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

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

English translation: [After] forgetting oneself, considering a body alone to be oneself, and taking innumerable births, finally knowing oneself and being oneself is just [like] waking up from a dream of wandering about the world. See.
Therefore rather than turning our attention outwards in order to try to solve a few of the countless problems that exist in this world, it is better to turn within to investigate ourself and thereby to know what we ourself actually are. When our attention is turned outwards, we should be concerned about others as much as we are concerned about the person we seem to be, but our concern for them should prompt us to turn back within, knowing that that is the best we can do for them.

4. Ego is neither ‘the ego’, because the definite article ‘the’ would tend to imply that it is an object of some sort, nor is it ‘my ego’, because it is myself and not a possession of mine

Regarding your other question about whether it is ‘my ego’ or ‘the ego’, it is neither. It is not an object or something other than ourself, so to refer to it as ‘the ego’ is not entirely appropriate, because the definite article ‘the’ tends to imply that it is an object of some sort. In some contexts it may be easier to say ‘the ego’, just as we may sometimes say ‘the I’, but generally it is best to refer to it just as ‘ego’. Though we sometimes refer to ego as ‘the subject’, ‘the perceiver’, ‘the witness’ or ‘the dreamer’, we use ‘the’ in such contexts because we are stepping back from these roles of ego and talking about them objectively, but since ‘ego’ means nothing but I (albeit not I as I actually am), even though it may be appropriate in some contexts to talk objectively about its roles, it is generally not so appropriate to talk objectively about ego itself.

It is also not entirely appropriate to call it ‘my ego’, because that implies that it is a possession of mine and therefore something other than me, whereas actually it is nothing other than myself. If we say ‘my ego’, that implies that we are a person and that ego is this person’s possession, which is putting the cart before the horse. Ego is not the person’s ego; the person is ego’s person.

Ego is not what we actually are, but it is the ‘I’ that we seem to be whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself. Therefore ego is in effect ourself until we investigate ourself keenly enough to be aware of ourself as we actually are. In the case of a rope that is mistaken to be a snake, the snake is nothing other than the rope, but it is not what the rope actually is. Likewise, ego is nothing other than ourself, but it is not what we actually are, so just as we can see the rope as it actually is only by looking at the snake very carefully, we can see ourself as we actually are only by attending to ego very keenly.

5. Whatever phenomena we as ego perceive are in substance nothing other than ourself, but since we are the substance and phenomena are just forms, we need to clearly distinguish ourself from all phenomena, including whatever person we currently seem to be

The comment that I referred to at the beginning of this article was one that a friend called ‘anadi-ananta’ wrote on my previous article, What we need to investigate is not the act of witnessing but the witness itself, and in it he said:
Michael, ego is said to be aware of itself as if it were a person. Thus/thereby identifies itself with a person and its adjuncts/five sheaths. So it consequently makes use of a body and perceives all the phenomena with the help of the five senses of any/this body. Although a person acts apparently as the perceiving (and executive) agency of ego and ego is mainly in this way aware of phenomena, ego is named as the witness or perceiver — instead of a person. Is not at this situation (as matters stand) a person to be considered at least as a/the tool/instrument or extension of the one ego in the sense of ēka-jīva-vāda? In this context I cannot easily see the importance of stressing the necessity of a clear distinction between ego and person. I have the picture of a huge tree before me which receives/obtains its viability, vitality, zest for life and thus its awareness by its many roots, branches, twigs and leaves. Can one figuratively compare the functioning of ego with such a tree trunk and the roots, branches, twigs and leaves as the many persons?
Anadi-ananta, when we look away from ourself at other people, it seems that every person has an ego, and that as such an ego is a part of each person, albeit the most central part, but this is a fundamentally mistaken view, and like all other errors it originates from our primary error of not looking only at ourself. If we look at ourself keenly enough, there is no ego at all, and hence no people or any other phenomena.

Though we have not yet looked at ourself keenly enough, our aim is to do so, and in order to do so we need to question our current view of ourself very deeply and revise it fundamentally. Superficially we seem to be a person, but this person is just a bundle consisting of five sheaths, namely body, life, mind, intellect and will. Of these five, the body is the grossest, and each of the other four is in this order subtler than the previous one and also operating within it, driving it to function as it does. If we look, within the body we see life is operating and driving it, within life we see mind is operating and driving it, within mind we see intellect is operating and driving it, and within intellect we see will is operating and driving it.

However, though these five collectively seem to be ourself, each one of them is a set of phenomena, all of which are objects perceived by us. The body is a set of physical components such as cells, organs and systems; life is a set of bodily functions such as respiration, digestion, assimilation, vascular functions and neural functions; mind is a subtler set of mental functions such as perceiving, remembering and thinking; intellect is a still subtler set of functions such as reasoning, judging and discerning subtle distinctions such as the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, honesty and dishonesty, fact and fiction, truth and falsehood, permanence and impermanence, reality and appearance, and most importantly perceiver and things perceived; and will is a set of even subtler phenomena, namely vāsanās (inclinations or propensities), which are what manifest as likes, dislikes, desires, attachments, hopes, fears and so on, and which are therefore what drive the intellect, and though the intellect the mind, and though these two the life, and though these three the body.

All these components, functions and vāsanās that constitute the person we seem to be are either objects perceived by us or objects whose effects are perceived by us. They are things perceived, and we as ego are what perceives them. They appear in our view, but not in their own view, because they are all jaḍa (non-aware), so they have no view at all. Therefore as ego, the perceiver, we are distinct from all of them.

Unless we clearly understand this fundamental distinction between ourself, the perceiver, and everything perceived by us, including all the five sheaths, we will not be able to investigate ourself effectively, because instead of attending to ourself we will attend to some aspect of the five sheaths that we mistake to be ourself. As ego we are not even the vāsanās (which are the elements that constitute the will and therefore the very subtlest aspects of the five sheaths) but the one whose vāsanās they are, so in order to know what we actually are what we must attend to is not any vāsanās nor anything that manifests from them, namely all other phenomena, but only ourself, the one who is aware of them and their effects.

To understand the relationship between ego and whatever person it seems to be you give the analogy of a tree and ask, ‘Can one figuratively compare the functioning of ego with such a tree trunk and the roots, branches, twigs and leaves as the many persons?’, but in this context this is not an appropriate analogy, because a tree trunk is very much part of a tree, whereas ego is not a part of the person it seems to be. Ego is more like the seed from which a tree has sprouted, but even this is not a sufficiently apt analogy, because when a seed sprouts as a tree it ceases to be a seed and can therefore never sprout again, whereas we as ego remain as the seed even when we have sprouted as a person, so we will sprout again any number of times until we annihilate ourself as ego by seeing ourself as we actually are, namely as pure awareness, which is ever uncontaminated by even the slightest awareness of anything other than ourself.

In this respect ego is more like the bulb of a perennial plant such as a tulip, which sprouts and flowers every spring, but even this analogy is not perfect, because the bulb is very much a part (albeit the most enduring part) of the sprouted plant, whereas ego is something entirely distinct from whatever person it currently mistakes itself to be, since it is the subject and the body is an object. Whichever way we view it, ego is never part of a person. In one sense it is distinct from all phenomena, because they are objects perceived by it, and in another sense it is the sole substance of all phenomena, because they are mere mental fabrications that it creates and perceives within itself.

It is in this latter sense that Bhagavan said in verse 26 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, ‘அகந்தையே யாவும் ஆம்’ (ahandaiyē yāvum ām), ‘Ego alone is everything’. This does not mean that we cannot and should not distinguish ego from all phenomena, because ego is the formless substance, whereas all phenomena are mere forms whose sole substance is ego. In this respect ego is like gold, and phenomena, including whatever person it seems to be, are like ornaments made of gold. In substance gold ornaments are nothing other than gold, but gold is not any ornament, because the same gold that now seems to be a necklace can be melted down and changed into some other form, such as a coin, or merged with other gold to form a brick.

Gold is not just a part of a gold ornament but the whole of it, because if we remove the gold there is nothing left of the ornament. Likewise, as the sole substance of all phenomena, we as ego are not just a part of whatever person we mistake ourself to be but the whole of it, and also the whole of whatever world we perceive, because if we remove ego there will be nothing left of any phenomena, whether a person or the entire world.

In substance phenomena are all nothing other than ego, but ego is not any person or other phenomenon, because in one dream ego seems to be a particular person and to perceive a particular world, whereas in another dream it seems to be another person and to perceive another world. Whatever phenomena we as ego perceive are in substance nothing other than ourself, but since we are the substance and phenomena are just forms, we need to clearly distinguish ourself from all phenomena, including whatever person we currently seem to be.

101 comments:

anadi-ananta said...

Many thanks for your reply, Michael.
First I must study your fundamental comment thoroughly.

Sanjay Lohia said...

We should yield ourself to the care God is taking for us

In a devotional context, God is the master and we are his servants. We should become willing slaves of God, and God in return will take full responsibility of us. So it’s a two-way relationship. In bhakti-marga, God rules over us.

So we surrender to God, and he takes full responsibility for us. To the extent, we surrender to God, to that extent God takes responsibility of us. But even if we don’t surrender to God, he still takes responsibility of us, but we are not yielding ourself to the care he is taking for us.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1 (15:00)

Note: Some of my comments are loosely based on Michael’s ideas, so please watch the relevant portions of the videos for Michael’s exact words. In many cases, I may fail to reproduce his ideas with sufficient depth and clarity.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
in order to refresh my understanding I have to restart at zero with studying most carefully your article of 2 February 2019 In a dream there is only one dreamer, and if the one dreamer wakes up the entire dream will come to an end.
In the second and third comment on that article you wrote summarizing:
"...Bhagavan taught a form of solipsism called ēka-jīva-vāda, the contention that there is only one jīva, ego or perceiver. This does not mean that there is only one person, because obviously there are many people, nor does it mean that only one person is aware, because as he pointed out no person is aware of anything, because a person is just an object of perception (or a set of such objects) and is therefore jaḍa (insentient or non-aware). What is aware is not the person we seem to be, but only we who are aware of this person and all other phenomena. We are the perceiver, and the person we seem to be is an object perceived by us as if it were ourself.

A person is a bundle consisting of a physical body, life, mind, intellect and will (the so-called five sheaths), and the perceiver is the false awareness that is aware of itself as 'I am this person'. In other words, the perceiver is ego, which is what experiences both waking and dream, but in each state it experiences itself as a different body, and in sleep it disappears, so does not experience itself as any body and therefore does not perceive any phenomena.

In a dream we perceive ourself as a body, and through the five senses of that body we perceive a world full of numerous people. So long as we are dreaming, that world seems to exist out there, independent of our perception of it, and all those other people seem to be perceiving that world just as we are. However, as soon as we wake up, we recognise that it was just a dream, so we were the only one who perceived it, and everything we perceived in it seemed to exist only because we perceived it and therefore did not exist independent of our perception of it. Therefore in a dream there is only one perceiver, namely ourself.

We generally assume that our present state is not a dream, but even while dreaming we make the same assumption. So long as we are dreaming we seem to be awake, and only when we wake up do we recognise that it was just a dream. Therefore how can we be sure that we are not dreaming now? Is there anything that we experience in our present state that we could not equally well experience in a dream? No, obviously not, so our assumption that our present state is not a dream is unjustified, because it is not supported by any evidence.

If our present state is just a dream, as Bhagavan says it is, then there is only one perceiver of this state, and whatever we, this one perceiver, perceive in it does not exist independent of our perception of it. This is what is called dṛṣṭi-sṛṣṭi-vāda (the contention that perception is what causes the appearance of creation), and one of its implications is ēka-jīva-vāda."





anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"...no person is aware of anything, because a person is just an object of perception (or a set of such objects) and is therefore jaḍa (insentient or non-aware). What is aware is not the person we seem to be, but only we who are aware of this person and all other phenomena. We are the perceiver, and the person we seem to be is an object perceived by us as if it were ourself."

By what evidence is that statement supported ?

May I give for instance the following picture perceived by me: 200 people are standing in queue waiting for their lunch/meal in Sri Ramanasramam. So what is aware in this case as the perceiver/ego (the false awareness) which is aware of these 200 persons as an object perceived by it as if it were itself ? Or is ego aware only as if it were the (observing) person called anadi-ananta ? As you see I am confused.:-)

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"Therefore how can we be sure that we are not dreaming now? Is there anything that we experience in our present state that we could not equally well experience in a dream? No, obviously not, so our assumption that our present state is not a dream is unjustified, because it is not supported by any evidence."
Is there any need to compare the conditions of dream with waking ? That comparison seems a bit contrived. Why care at all about dream ? Inversely one could argue that dream is not (much) different to our present state/waking.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
"In a dream there is only one dreamer, the 'I' who projects and perceives everything, and this is ego. Though ego is aware of itself as if it were a particular person in its dream, it is not that person, because like all the other people it perceives, that person is just a part of what it has projected. Ego is the subject, the one who perceives the entire dream, whereas the person it seems to be is an object, one among all the phenomena it perceives."
Why do we consider the one dreamer as ego ? Because I never have encountered such a fictitious and fleeting entity and it never approached me I don't even know what ego is.

Sanjay Lohia said...

For most so-called religious people, religion is just another identity

Religions have their place. They help mature people at a certain level of spiritual development.

However, for most so-called religious people, religion is just another identity. Most religions are based on two things. Firstly, religions expect you to believe certain things unquestioningly, and secondly, religion is an identity – ‘I am a Hindu’ or ‘I am a Christian’ or ‘I am a Muslim’ and so on. Whereas spirituality (especially the spirituality as taught to us by Bhagavan) is quite the opposite. It asks us not to believe anything but to question everything, including our own seeming existence as a person. So Bhagavan asks us to question all our beliefs and identity.

So in that sense, religion and spirituality are two extremes, but there is a whole range in-between. A lot of religious people are to a greater or lesser extent spiritual; a lot of spiritual people are to a greater or lesser extent religious. But a lot of religious people are not at all spiritual. They blindly believe certain concepts and ideas and it’s a matter of identity for them. In extreme cases, people of a certain faith may fight with people of another faith in order to establish their superiority. So in such cases, religions foster hatred among people - ‘my path is the only correct path; your path will lead you nowhere’. Some religious preachers fan such hatred.

True spirituality is not about hatred. It’s about trying to destroy the very seed of hatred and discord, and this seed is our identity ‘I am this person’. True spirituality is about questioning ‘am I what I now seem to be?’ If I am not Sanjay, I cannot be a Hindu, nor can I be an Indian. All such identities are obstacles to true spirituality. So the more we are ready to question and let go of our identifications, the closer we are to true spirituality.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1 (15:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Correction: Please refer to my comment posted earlier today, titled: For most so-called religious people, religion is just another identity. It has been extracted from 40:00 of the video (and not 15:00 as mentioned in that comment): 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1

Unknown said...

Sanjayji, thanks for your transcript. How apt and beautiful. That too in the troubled time of citizenship anendment bill and divided India

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, regarding your comment of 17 December 2019 at 20:22, the evidence that supports that statement is our own experience, if we consider it deeply and critically enough.

In our present state, as in any dream, we perceive many people, and we perceive one of those people as if it were ourself. The difference between our perception of other people and our perception of the person we seem to be is that we perceive others from outside, so though we perceive their bodies, we can know their thoughts, memories, beliefs, likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on only by inference based on our observation of their speech and behaviour, whereas we perceive the person we seem to be from inside, so we perceive not only this person’s body but also its thoughts, memories, beliefs, likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on directly.

However, though we have this privileged insider’s view of this person, all the components that constitute it, namely body, life, mind, intellect and will, and all the components that constitute these components (such as limbs, organs, respiration, thoughts, memories, beliefs, likes, dislikes, desires, fears and so on) are phenomena or objects perceived by us, so whatever changes any of these components may undergo, we remain essentially the same. What is aware of all these components is not any of them themselves but only ourself, the ‘I’ that is aware of itself as ‘I am this person’.

So what is this ‘I’? It is not what we actually are, because it seems to exist only in waking and dream, whereas we exist and are aware of our existence not only in waking and dream but also in sleep, when this ‘I’ has disappeared. It is also not the person that it seems to be, because this person is just a set of objects, and as such is jaḍa (non-aware), whereas this ‘I’ is what is aware of it. Therefore, as Bhagavan says in verse 24 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, this ‘I’ is neither the body (by which term he means the entire person consisting of five sheaths), which is jaḍa, nor sat-cit (existence-awareness), but something that rises in between them, by which he implies that it is something that borrows the properties of both even though it is neither.

Like the body but unlike sat-cit, it is limited in time and space, and like sat-cit but unlike the body, it is aware, so it is a strange combination of contradictory qualities. And as he says in verse 25 of Uḷḷadu Nāṟpadu, it is a formless phantom, so it seems to exist only when it grasps the form of a body as itself. Therefore, if instead of grasping the body or any other form it tries to grasp itself alone, it will subside and dissolve back into its source, which is sat-cit, our fundamental awareness of our own existence, ‘I am’.

This is what he implies when he says in that verse, ‘தேடினால் ஓட்டம் பிடிக்கும்’ (tēḍiṉāl ōṭṭam piḍikkum), ‘If sought [examined or investigated], it will take flight’. Therefore if we want to get rid of this spurious ‘I’ and the consequent illusion of being a person, all we need do is investigate ourself in order to see what we actually are.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Our point of consciousness is our point of body-consciousness

A friend: I am not aware of myself as a body always. I am always a point of consciousness witnessing everything.

Michael: That point of consciousness is located somewhere in the world, isn’t it? If you perceive a world, you don’t perceive it from somewhere outside. You surely perceive it from a certain point in the world. We must have a perspective, and we perceive everything only from that vantage point. That vantage point is our awareness ‘this body is I’.

When we have aches or pains or are tired and so on, we are more consciously aware of our body. At other times, our attention is more on things other than ourself. We may be lost in our thoughts, and at such times our attention is on our thoughts, but we are surely thinking from somewhere - ‘I am thinking while sitting on this chair, which is located inside this particular room’.

So whatever we do by our body, speech and mind, we do everything from a particular location. Our point of consciousness is our point of body-consciousness, so our body is always there in the background.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1 (46:00)

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, re. your comment on 17 December 2019 at 20:22: I am puzzled why you are making that so complicated, I for sure am not interested to get the answer of that question of yours. Why would I?

Because I "work" within the frames of just two modes of perception, that is the mode which keeps perceiving objects (doesn't matter how or why) and then abiding in self. There is nothing else of interest for me.

And the mode of perceiving objects is only of interest for me in the context that it seemingly seems to pervade over abiding in self. Basically as a [constant] reminder to abide in self.

If I do not abide in self (as in strong interest in things other than self) mind needs to go back to the I-thought which leads in turn to self. If I instead try to figure out questions like you are posing it has only one effect, to keep me from abiding in self.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Unknown, I am glad you liked the transcript I posted earlier in the day. Yes, I read in the newspapers about this new citizenship amendment bill in our country. A lot of protests and such things are happening here, and seemingly excesses are also taking place while controlling the protests. However, I am not bothered about such ‘troubled time’ because I am not following this news closely. Sometime back there was this Kashmir issue in India, and at that time I was really concerned about the Kashmir issue. I even sincerely believed that a war between India and Pakistan was inevitable. So I believe we get affected by things we follow closely, otherwise for us it is just another news.

On our PM Narendra Modi, he is definitely the boldest PM India has ever had. What he can actually do, others may not be able to even think of. However, does Modi represent the true face of India? I have my doubts. My India is a much more tolerant India. My India is based on non-violence and ahimsa. If one wants to see the soul of India, one can see that in Mahatma Gandhi. One can see what is best in India in sages such as Bhagavan Ramana, Ramakrishna Paramhamsa, Adi Shankara and so on. India has been preaching peace and not violence.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, in your comment of 17 December 2019 at 23:23 you say, ‘Why do we consider the one dreamer as ego? Because I never have encountered such a fictitious and fleeting entity and it never approached me I don’t even know what ego is’, but the ‘I’ and ‘me’ who says ‘I never have encountered such a fictitious and fleeting entity’, ‘it never approached me’ and ‘I don’t even know what ego is’ is itself the fictitious and fleeting entity that it claims to never have encountered and the ego that it claims not to know.

Regarding your question, ‘Why do we consider the one dreamer as ego?’, how could the one dreamer be anything other than ego? That is, the dreamer is the ‘I’ who perceives the dream, and it always perceives itself as a person in its dream, so since the definition of ego is the formless phantom called ‘I’, which is characterised by three features, namely (1) rising and subsiding (or appearing and disappearing), (2) being aware of itself as a person (a body consisting of five sheaths), and consequently (3) being aware of phenomena, the dreamer is nothing other than ego.

In recent months you have been writing many comments, in some of which you ask very elementary questions about basic principles of Bhagavan’s teachings or make remarks as if you had not understood them, as in this case, and in others of which you complain about your inability to put them into practice. I have not replied to most such comments, partly because I have not had time to do so, but also because we should not always rely on being spoon fed by others. His teachings are very simple and clear, but deep and subtle, so to understand them we need to think about them deeply and calmly, and above all we need to try our best to put them into practice.

Complaining that we are not able to do so is just an excuse for not trying. If a child is always complaining that it cannot learn to walk or to ride a bicycle, it will never learn. If it wants to learn, it needs to stop complaining and start trying. The more we try to be self-attentive, the easier and clearer it will become.

Asun said...

Thank you, Michael.

As distinguishing ourself as ego from the person we seem to be, we are no longer the spectator of a world outside us but now the person we seem to be and we have been taking by ourself becomes one more character in the dream acting according to the script or prarabdha and ego is left as what it really is, self-awareness without any other anchoring than awareness and without any other concern than being what it really is. It is funny to note how it is at this point when so called vasanas get so clearly exposed as what they are too, as contradictory as it may seem.

Good to know that this is the beginning of the spiritual path. I´ve thought that several times before and didn´t know if I should discard this “conviction” also this time.

_/\_


anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
many thanks for your two replies and again for your patient descriptions of ego.
Hopefully the limits in my understanding will some time give way to direct comprehension.
With confidence I will start trying practising self-attentiveness more deeply and leave back my previous disastrous experiences in that field. As you correctly say, my repeated complaints and wailings are certainly no means to put Bhagavan's teachings into practice. And yes, what you are pointing out that "we should not always rely on being spoon fed by others" is just applying to my conduct to a high degree.
Arunachala.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
as you say, being kept from abiding in self is inappropriate.
Thanks for your comment.

Nothing special said...

It's funny to think in the midst of full on despair, or depression, or sadness we can cut the tie with the ego and be free. Today I reflected on bhagavan and who he really is, and not the person we perceive. He is what is shining in our heart. If we know what we are, we know what he is and visa versa. He is with us always. It's profound that all this reflection pushes us deeper. There has never been such a twist to this life. Metaphorically i suppose I have never come face to face with a lion before. He certainly points in the most direct way I have come across.

Sanjay Lohia said...

The problem is not the lack of wealth but the desire for wealth

We need sufficient purity of mind to recognise that the problems we see in this world are all rooted in ourself. The root cause of our problems is ourself as this ego. However, until we are willing to accept that this entire world is just our dream, we will be unwilling to accept that all the problems or evils we see are our own creation.

So long as our mind is full of desires, we don’t see desires as a problem. A person with a lot of desire for wealth thinks – ‘my problem is not my desire for wealth; my problem is that I do not have sufficient wealth’. So their focus is only on money, and when they get it they want more of it, and more of it . . . But the problem is not the lack of wealth but the desire for wealth. How much wealth do we actually need? Our need for wealth is comparatively little, but our desire for wealth is far far greater than our needs.

So the problem is our desire and not the lack of what we desire, and when we get what we desire, some other desire pops up. So we remain perpetually dissatisfied. As long we look to gain what we seem to lack in things other than ourself, we can never be satisfied. Satisfaction is our very nature, so if we want permanent satisfaction we need to turn back within and remain as we actually are.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1 (53:00)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Instead of saying ‘letting go’ we can say ‘stop grasping’ – both mean the same thing

Now we remain clinging to so many things because clinging is our (ego’s) very nature. I am clinging to Sanjay because in my view I am Sanjay. Since Sanjay needs food, clothing and shelter, I now try to cling to these things. OK, my currents needs are being met but what about tomorrow? So I try hoarding for the rainy day. I remain grasping my family because I think I need my family and that they need me. This very clinging is our problem. This constant grasping keeps our ego alive. That’s why Bhagavan asks us to let go – letting go is the very opposite of clinging. We need to understand that all our clinging or grasping is a sure recipe for misery. Only such an understanding will make us willing to loosen our grip on things. Instead of saying ‘letting go’ we can say ‘stop grasping’ – both mean the same thing.

The whole spiritual path is learning to be sick of all clinging, learning the emptiness of all these external things. Any spiritual path which doesn’t teach us vairagya is not a proper spiritual path. We suffer because of our attachments, but if we are ready to let go of our likes and dislikes nothing can make us suffer. But I have likes and dislikes. I feel this will make me happy so I want this, or I feel that that will make me unhappy so I do not want that. Such likes and dislikes are the cause of our suffering. That is why Buddha focused his teachings on getting rid of desires. So our aim is to let go of everything, but how to do so?

The only way to let go of everything is to hold on to what is real. What is real is ourself, so only by holding on to ourself can we really let go of everything else. However, if we want to hold on to only ourself, we need to be willing to let go of everything else. This is the most difficult part. How can we let go of all our pet attachments? How can I let go of my family, business, wealth, bank balance and so on? I feel that my life will lose all its meaning if all these are taken away from me. So the path of letting go seems scary. However, the more we travel on the path of surrender, the more we recognise that there is nothing to be scared about. We are actually treading a highly pleasing and happy path. The more we surrender the happier we become, and the happier we become the more we like to surrender. So as we proceed on this path, we automatically unburden all our problems and worries.

Why do all these worries and problems seem so problematic? It is because we are attending to these worries and problems. Our attention gives reality to things; otherwise, they simply do not exist. So we rise by clinging to our problems - our very rising creates all these problems for us. However, to the extent we could hold on to only ourself, to that extent we will see the unreality of other things. So the more we practise self-investigation and self-surrender, the easier it will be to let go because the clearer it will become that what is real is only ourself. Everything else is just an appearance which seems to be real only because we attend to them.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1 (1:16)

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan said if one sees the beauty within, nothing outside would ever appear beautiful

* Based on the video: 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1 (01:32)

Reflection: Why does this world appear so beautiful to us? Why does it seem to be such an interesting place? It is because we have not seen the beauty within? It is because we have not taken interest to turn within. Satyam-sivam-sundaram – that is, what is true is sivam, and this sivam is the only real beauty. Other things may seem beautiful, but how long will such beauty last?

Every external beauty will fade away sooner or later, but our inner beauty can never fade or diminish. We are the only thing of eternal beauty because we alone exist. How can anything else be beautiful when they do not even exist? Other things seem to exist and when they seem to exist they appear beautiful or ugly. However, everything external, (seemingly beautiful or ugly) is a mirage – here today, gone tomorrow!

Sanjay Lohia said...

Bhagavan’s ‘we’ is a singular ‘we’

Bhagavan uses the term ‘we’ as an inclusive form of the first person. It is because if he says ‘I’ that excludes ‘you’. So Bhagavan’s ‘we’ is a singular ‘we’.

• Based on the video: 2019-12-14 Ramana Maharshi Foundation UK: discussion with Michael James on Ēkāṉma Pañcakam verse 1 (01:46)

Anonymous said...

Nice to know :) did you have any profound experience that triggered you to post this comment? I guess ego dissolves when there is extreme physical or emotional pain.. Bhagavan has said he is present even in hell :)

Nothing special said...

Anonymous my latest post was hopefully to give a little encouragement that the blog is useful at least to me. I am still wondering whether self enquiry can be practiced whilst in physical pain or extreme levels of fear.

Steven said...

My name is Steven Strouth and I’ve noticed some previous discussion here about Robert Adams whom I used to know back in 1986 and I would be happy to answer any questions anyone might have about the approx 5 months I spent next door to him then. But I would hope people will not let their spiritual journey become bogged down with concerns about what I would call an immature aspirant other than perhaps we can all learn important lessons on what not to do.

For me, Ramana and Sadhu Om have always been a crucial help, and I would like to mention that often there can be too much focus on the, you might say, apple, and not enough on the tree. That is why for most people their focus should be more on “The Path of Sri Ramana Part 1” until that is a thorough foundation before talking about “The Path of Sri Ramana Part 2” and the enquiry “Who am I?”
Specifically, in Part 1, Sadhu Om discusses the classes of devotees. One class turns to God in order to get their desires fulfilled. This is the beginning level aspirant. The beginning level aspirant may intellectually deeply understand “Who am I?” which I believe Robert Adams did, but if they remain in one of the categories Sadhu Om discusses, interested in using God or spirituality to get their desires fulfilled, then that will be their self-imposed limit.

I feel that Sadhu Om’s book “Part 1” is the more essential book in the series because it lays the foundation and once that is thoroughly understood and lived, the tree is built or grown, and then the concern for apples takes on a different flavour.

In my opinion, those who are focussed on living comfortably in this world and getting their desires fulfilled simply must reorient to surrender before anything else can make real sense, or it will drive everything else.

“Who am I?” is the apple, but apples don’t appear without a tree first, and one that is thoroughly grounded.

Steven said...

Sorry, in my previous message I got Part 1 confused with Part 2. I believe it is Part 2 where Sadhu Om discusses going beyond asking God for the fulfillment of one's desires.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Nothing special, you wrote, ‘I am still wondering whether self enquiry can be practiced whilst in physical pain or extreme levels of fear’. The simple answer is ‘yes’. However, we can practise self-investigation whilst in physical pain or extreme levels of fear only when we have been practising this under more congenial circumstances. If our practice has taken a firm hold on us or if we have gone sufficiently deep within, we can easily turn within under any given external situation – good, bad or whatever. When we are driving a car, we would continue to drive towards our destination irrespective of the good or bad condition of the road. So likewise we should continue our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender irrespective of good or bad roads in our life (external situations).

‘Who is feeling this pain?’ I am - we are always aware of ourself whether we experience pain or not. So ‘who am I?’ Likewise, ‘who is experiencing this extreme level of fear?’ I am. So all these sensations of pain, fear and so on can act as triggers motivating us to turn within. In fact, Bhagavan wants us to make use of every given opportunity to turn within. We can practise self-investigation even in the midst of a battlefield if we have sufficient love for this practice. So our love and willingness to turn within is of paramount importance, and therefore no external circumstances can prevent us from turning within if we want to do so!

Anonymous said...

Ok. Self enquiry cannot be practiced when in any type of pain. I was just curious to know if you had any sudden spiritual experience . Looks like you didn’t have any.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steven. Swami Vivekananda has said only after we strive to fulfill the desires and after we get our desires fulfilled, we will get to the point of staying calm and after that we will understand the delusion and pain these desires has caused. Trying to suppress desires in the name of spiritual practice is also of no good. This is indeed a very long journey.

Salazar said...

I am wondering, are you the Steven Strouth who maintains a blog called "Los Angeles Advaita"? The same blog where you posted a list of your favorite "teachers" among them Gangaji, Eli Jaxon-Bear, Eckart Tolle, and Wayne Liquorman?

Here is the link: http://advaitala.blogspot.com/

Are those the teachers who are supposed to thoroughly ground the "immature aspirants"?

Anonymous said...

Anadi-ananta,

I think you were very sincere in your comments and I never felt you were complaining. The very fact that you felt stuck makes me believe you are on the right track. I have seen lot of people describing how they feel blissful, awakened, preach as if they understood it all, but I have seen ego still acting thru all of them. Self enquiry never worked for me. I also know the reason for it. I do understand Bhagavan’s core teaching though. He is asking us to remove the arrogance born out of the thought I. I feel this is the most difficult journey and only after we understand what this journey entails, we can even start the real self enquiry. As Steven said, we have to even give up the need to live comfortably before we aim for the apple. I have not been able to do that ..

Steven said...

@Salazar, I am that Steven Strouth and that blog website was something I posted back in 2005 but that was long forgotten and I didn't even know it existed still until you pointed it out.

As far as those teachers listed, most of them I've never met and know nothing about but was just posting common teachers who came through the L.A. area in those days.

anadi-ananta said...

Anonymous,
as you say understanding Bhagavan's core teaching is certainly indispensable.
For some time it appeared to me quite important to write comments on Michael's blog even straightforwardly or emotionally.
Now I feel it is more necessary and suitable to turn within even when it does not go as well as planned. Ultimately I too believe to be on the right track, but one must permanently remove the arrogance and ignorance born out of the thought called 'I'. "Real self enquiry" should go on always albeit sometimes it might go more directly than at other times it may not run without great blocks of different mental or even unclear origin.

Salazar said...

Anonymous, I am not quite following your comment. What do you want, that everybody is lamenting about difficulties and hard times on this blog? That shows a misunderstanding of Bhagavan's teaching.

Also, who here on this blog said that they feel blissful? I do not remember to have read such a comment. And of course are you seeing ego on this blog, why wouldn't you? Ego is gone only after manonasa and I believe that nobody who posts on this blog has once and for all eradicated the belief in a body and mind.

When I read comments like yours I am scratching my head and wonder how much of Bhagavan has really sunk in ......

Nothing special said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts Sanjay. I agree with your conclusion. I know I still catch my attention turning outwardly in certain situations so it is likely the love to turn within is not deep enough yet.

Steven said...

Can self-enquiry be practiced while in pain or extreme levels of fear? Of course this is the most opportune time. First of all we must understand that pain is not the same as suffering. For example if a coal pops out of the fireplace and is about to land on my baby, and I catch that coal with my hand and severely burn my hand, in this case I am actually quite happy about the pain, and I may go around in joy and bliss that I saved the baby and the pain however severe is meaningless to me. This shows pain is not suffering.

What is suffering?
In all cases suffering is not wanting what is here now. That is why I previously mentioned that we must first and foremost get into what Sadhu Om calls the advanced school in which everything that happens is seen as a gift from the Self and we want that. The beginning levels are all about using spirituality to get our desires fulfilled and that is why people who tell stories and are impressed with for example having a picture of Ramana and by writing letters to him and are able to get what they want. Imo, anyone telling such stories and impressed by them, are in Sadhu Om’s preliminary school of spirituality as outlined in The Path of Ramana Part 2. Trying to use spirituality to get what they want.

Steven said...

Imo, self-enquiry need only be done once. If you need to keep repeating the question it means you are not seeing what is already there.

Are we not better following the process as Ramana himself did it?

Ramana did not sit around repeating the question “who am I?” to himself. What did he do?
He said, alright, death has come… let us see what death is. Then he tried to die, he tried to go into non-existence. But in his effort to experience non-existence the Self rose up and said “I AM. I AM”. and Ramana recognized this as his true Self and it never went away.
So too with everyone of us, whenever we try to go into non-existence, into death, we will always find it impossible and the true Self will rise up and say “I AM, I AM.
This is not something mysterious that happens only to a rare few. It will happen to everyone everytime we try to go into non-existence. Few may recognize it for what it is, but it is always there.

dietician said...

To Michael,

Your title says "Why do we need to distinguish ourselves as ego from whatever person we seem to be?

Can you explain what is the advantage in our spiritual sadhana of doing this? How does it benefit in eradicating or extinguishing our ego and to permanently realize we are not ego but something else?

Sanjay Lohia said...

Steven, the following is my response to your two recent comments:

You wrote, ‘First of all we must understand that pain is not the same as suffering’. Yes, I agree. Both pain and suffering are mental phenomena because these – pain and suffering – are our response to certain seemingly external situations. However, as you imply, we may be in pain but still not suffer. Pain can be physical or seemingly only mental. A car hits me and my body is in pain – this pain is a result of my painful physical sensations. In another case, I fail in my exams and I am in pain – this pain is a result of my state of mind. A car may hit me and I may be in severe physical pain, but I may be relatively free of suffering if I know my child who was with me is safe. The car could have hit her but it didn’t and I am relieved, so my physical pain is of little consequence now. So my suffering is dependent on how I react to my pain.

In your second comment you wrote, ‘Imo, self-enquiry need only be done once. If you need to keep repeating the question it means you are not seeing what is already there’. Firstly, asking questions such a ‘who am I?’ is not the actual practice of self-enquiry. Sadhu Om and Michael have made this absolutely clear. Michael often tells us that if someone gives us a book and asks us to read what is written in it, we cannot do so merely by repeating the questions, ‘what is written inside? What is written inside?’ We obviously have to open the book and read it in order to find out what is written inside. Likewise, the practice of ‘who am I?’ entails that we stop asking any questions but instead turn within to read our true nature – to look at ourself so keenly that we find out what we actually are.

Secondly, you say, ‘Imo, self-enquiry need only be done once’. Poonja (Papaji) also said a similar thing somewhere. However, to say ‘self-enquiry need only be done once’ is a highly confusing way of putting things. We need to practise self-enquiry or self-investigation until we experience ourself as we really are. If we are able to experience our true nature in one try, then we need to do this only once. However, this cannot be true for most of us. Most of us have to practice and practice and practice and . . . This practice (turning within) has to be usually done throughout one’s lifetime or may even extend to many lifetimes before we succeed. Bhagavan teaches us in the paragraph 11 of Nan Ar?:

As long as viṣaya-vāsanās exist within the mind, so long is the investigation who am I necessary. As and when thoughts 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.

What are vishaya-vasanas? They are our inclination or desire to aware of various vishayas (phenomena). Do we just have one desire? Obviously not! Most of us are filled up with almost endless desires, and therefore if we want to destroy all these desires it is likely to take time. So our practice is like running a marathon race. It needs untiring endurance, patience and movement towards our destination. Eventually, we will reach our destination. Bhagavan has given us this assurance in so many ways.

Michael James said...

Unknown, the questions you ask in your comment of 22 December 2019 at 12:19, namely ‘Can you explain what is the advantage in our spiritual sadhana of doing this [distinguishing ourself as ego from whatever person we seem to be]? How does it benefit in eradicating or extinguishing our ego and to permanently realize we are not ego but something else?’, have already been answered in several places in this article. For example, in the first paragraph of sections 2, To investigate and surrender ourself effectively, we need to distinguish ourself as ego from whatever person we seem to be, I wrote:

“Distinguishing ego from whatever phenomena it seems to be is the beginning of self-investigation, because if we do not do so, we will attend to some phenomenon thinking that we are attending to ego, the ‘I’ who mistakes that phenomenon (an object) to be itself (the subject). Unless we distinguish ourself from whatever person we seem to be, we cannot begin to detach ourself from it, and without detaching ourself from it we cannot either investigate or surrender ourself. Therefore recognising the clear distinction between ourself, this ego, subject, perceiver or witness, and everything that we perceive, including the five sheaths that constitute the person whom we now seem to be, is the beginning of the spiritual path.”

Further on in the same section I wrote:

“Therefore when we investigate ourself, we need to go very deep. We begin by investigating this ‘I’ [ego] that has now appeared as ‘I am this person’ and that will disappear in sleep, but when we investigate it deeply enough, leaving aside all objects of awareness and attending only to the subject, the perceiver of all objects, it returns to the source from which it appeared, namely the immutable pure awareness that neither appears nor disappears and that is therefore untouched by and unaware of any objects or changes, and when it thereby dissolves and merges in that source, that source will reveal itself to be what we actually are.”

In the final paragraph of the fourth section I explained why we need to investigate ego, even though it is not what we actually are:

“Ego is not what we actually are, but it is the ‘I’ that we seem to be whenever we are aware of anything other than ourself. Therefore ego is in effect ourself until we investigate ourself keenly enough to be aware of ourself as we actually are. In the case of a rope that is mistaken to be a snake, the snake is nothing other than the rope, but it is not what the rope actually is. Likewise, ego is nothing other than ourself, but it is not what we actually are, so just as we can see the rope as it actually is only by looking at the snake very carefully, we can see ourself as we actually are only by attending to ego very keenly.”

And in the final section I wrote:

“Unless we clearly understand this fundamental distinction between ourself, the perceiver [namely ego], and everything perceived by us, including all the five sheaths, we will not be able to investigate ourself effectively, because instead of attending to ourself we will attend to some aspect of the five sheaths that we mistake to be ourself. As ego we are not even the vāsanās (which are the elements that constitute the will and therefore the very subtlest aspects of the five sheaths) but the one whose vāsanās they are, so in order to know what we actually are what we must attend to is not any vāsanās nor anything that manifests from them, namely all other phenomena, but only ourself, the one who is aware of them and their effects.”

dietician said...

To Michael,

Thank you very much for your prompt reply. I shall once again read your entire article along with this last reply from you and post my comment to you on this crucial matter accordingly. Much obliged for your response indeed.

Anonymous said...

Ohh .. i didn’t point anyone in this blog. It was more from people I had interacted with or heard from outside of this blog. I read or watch other sites, books or videos too. I don’t have anything against you :) Few devotees of Bhagavan who lived with Bhagavan has also complained like anadi ananta in the past. I have learnt more based on my life experiences than by reading Bhagavan’s teaching. I keep reading Bhagavan’s teaching to just try to correlate my experiences with what he is trying to convey. Sometimes I get aha moment, most of the times I just feel I am again back to square one.

Anonymous said...

I have a question to all who has stated that self enquiry can be practiced at the time of pain and fear:

Were you able to do it? Have you experienced great fear or physical pain to make that statement? At the time of experiencing this, were you able to think of it as gift from God? Having had that outlook, did the fear or pain vanish?



Steven said...

@Anonymous:
Here is my experience. Let’s take Douglas Harding’s simple nonverbal form of enquiry. He points with his finger directly at what is looking, his eyes. Then traces where or what the finger is pointing to, to examine “what is it pointing to?” Answer: Nothing. It’s just a finger in the air. Yet awareness is there. So what have I realized? I have definitely pointed to myself and it is:
1.Formless
2.Empty
3.Ageless. Timeless
4.Boundless

Right? Do the pointing now. It is pointing at the witness. But the witness is formless.
What else can we notice? The formless emptiness can never be hurt. How can something without form be hurt? It can witness pain, yet remains unhurt. It can witness cold, yet never freeze.
The body, one of its objects can freeze, get hurt and even die, but this formless awareness remains pure, unable to be hurt or get cold, yet at the same time able to witness cold, pain and fear.
And since formless awareness can never be hurt, even while witnessing pain, all fear of future pain and hurt and even death can be seen as simply not grounded in truth.

anadi-ananta said...

Steven,
is that what you describe as yourself pure self-awareness ?
Or is it something else ?

Steven said...

anadi-ananta :
It gets kind of tricky when you say, “you,” “yourself,” and pure awareness. Any “you,” “yourself” type language suggests an object to awareness. And to mistake an object or appearance for one’s true identity… well that’s always been the problem, right?

Steven said...

anadi-ananta:
That is to say, awareness is completely without identity. And everyone is completely without identity though wrong knowing makes them believe otherwise.
Why?
Mistaking what is known for the knowing principle.

Yo Soy Tu Mismo said...

Steven in relation to his presentation by D. H. Harding on December 23rd at 5:05
That which Harding points to is the ego, and I say ego because, although it is the chit aspect or 'I Am' consciousness it still remains intermingled through the granthi knot with the five koshas. Staying there, as Lucy Cornelssen (a former devotee of Bhagavan) said, usually results, which happens much more often than is believed, in our believing ourselves to be that Opening or Space without questioning there. That's how twisted the impostor is,

Sanjay Lohia said...

Steven, this is in reference to your comment addressed to Anonymous. You write, ‘But the witness is formless’. Yes, ego is the witness and Bhagavan has described ego as a formless phantom. However, this formless phantom never experiences itself as formless. It always experiences itself as a form, namely the form of a body. Referring to this ego, you write, ‘The formless emptiness can never be hurt. How can something without form be hurt? It can witness pain, yet remains unhurt. It can witness cold, yet never freeze’. If ego is not hurt, then what is hurt? The entity which feels hurt, pain or whatever is only ourself as ego. Our body is insentient (jada) so it can experience nothing – neither pain nor pleasure. In view of our true nature what exists is only itself, so it can also never experience any pain or pleasure. So only ego can experience anything apart from itself.

In the end you write, ‘The body, one of its objects can freeze, get hurt and even die, but this formless awareness remains pure, unable to be hurt or get cold, yet at the same time able to witness cold, pain and fear. And since formless awareness can never be hurt, even while witnessing pain, all fear of future pain and hurt and even death can be seen as simply not grounded in truth’. What you say isn’t clear to me. As Michael explains, we need to clearly understand the distinction between our real awareness (which is intransitive awareness) and our seeming awareness (which is transitive awareness) if we want to understand Bhagavan’s teachings.

The awareness which is pure and which cannot experience hurt or cold or anything else is just our real (intransitive) awareness, whereas what witnesses hurt or cold or anything else is our seeming (transitive) awareness. This seeming awareness is what is called ego, and this is what we now seem to be. However, what we actually are is pure awareness, which is infinite, immutable, eternal and unbroken.

Steven said...

Yo:
Yes, very good and very true. This process is a multi step process. First we must realize our nature as empty aware space, or emptiness, or silence [what is silence but that which is empty of sound?]. So we do step one. And there is further to go.
But we confuse ourselves if we read too much about step two before we have accomplished step one.
First we want to establish the clarity that “I am empty, devoid of substance, not a person, not a form… timeless, ageless, formless. When you realize your true nature as timeless, ageless, formless, awareness, that could hardly be called ego. It’s not the end of the journey, but it is really not ego either, so descriptions are tricky.

Salazar said...

"Witnessing" is still ego. Very subtle but there nonetheless.

Pure awareness is not witnessing anything.

Salazar said...

My 2 cents re. the necessity of "grounding":

Well, that is a standard stereotype one comes across reading various spiritual texts. 40 years ago when I started being interested in spirituality or "finding God" I pretty quickly picked up the concept of grounding and I bought it then.

But that's not really Bhagavan's teaching, is it? It belongs to the detours which is everything what is not atma-vichara. Also, who judges if "grounding" is necessary and on what is that based? On the ego's perception and comparison with certain guide lines some have laid down? We know how reliable is a judgment of the ego which i.e. so quickly likes to believe to be "awakened".

"Grounding" is just another belief system one can find like yamas and niyamas, a system one is supposed to go through first. Only for those who buy it.

There is nothing wrong to attempt atma-vichara when there is interest for it and drop that unnecessary concept of grounding. Also whoever feels the need for grounding is welcome to do it, then this person will do whatever it buys somewhere else it seems to need to do :-)

Sadhu Om's classifications are not supposed to be used as a point of reference, doing that is an abuse by the ego. It is only a comment to state a matter of fact but not to put that up as a concept to be applied or used as a gauge of some sorts.

Steven said...

Sanjay:
Imo, Bhagavan is not saying the ego is a formless phantom and therefore the formless empty witnessing is the ego. What he is saying is that the ego is a formless phantom attached to a form. Those two together are ego.

Formless Being, in clear seeing, knowing itself distinct from all forms is not ego. I don’t see how there can be anything called ego which is formless, ageless, infinite and without boundaries.
So formless phantom, without any attachment to form may be another name for True Self in my terminology.

Salazar:
Yes, that is the more advanced understanding. But let us all be clear about the first step.
Yes, you could say pure awareness is not witnessing anything because that would imply a separation between what is witnessed and the witness. Once we are clear that we are aware emptiness and not a body, not a person… then the next step is to get that there is no boundary between awareness and objects of awareness.
But I don’t encourage people to try too many steps at once. I don’t know where you are coming from, maybe you are beyond all of this, but for most people I would ask, Why have all kinds of intellectual knowledge when your gut experience is not even experiencing yourself as formless being?

Salazar said...

Steven, You may encourage people to believe certain things, however I do not encourage people to believe anything including that there are "many steps". I share my enthusiasm of atma-vichara and that's it.

If you need to emphasize steps or many steps then that's your belief and apparently need. It is not a mandatory requirement nor is that Bhagavan.

And what's up with that fascination of "formless being"? Why would I aim for an ego-state as subtle it may be? It is a trap.

I aim for self and nothing else. Any infatuation with these subtle stages of the mind is a detour and is better be dropped.

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
I agree on your recent comment of 23/12/2019 at 19:40 in reply to Steven.

Salazar said...

According to Bhagavan, why do people seemingly not progress? Because they take their sense perceptions and feelings and then measure their "state" they perceive and tell themselves, "I do not experience formless being", or "I have to ground myself", or 'I am not happy', or 'I am still attached to this body because I feel pain and fear"....

.......without noticing that these thoughts ARE the reason why they seemingly have not progressed. It is not the fear or pain what covers self, it is the chain of thoughts complaining about it and the deep need to change that. How does the mind believe to change that?

With even more mind activity and strategies and plans and so on and so on ....

Vichara is the antidote to that mind trap.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
you say "Our body is insentient (jada) so it can experience nothing – neither pain nor pleasure. In view of our true nature what exists is only itself, so it can also never experience any pain or pleasure. So only ego can experience anything apart from itself."

What advantage/benefit would you in the very moment of feeling intense pain derive from your belief which is only hypothetical and all very well in theory ? Would you not rather have doubts or misgivings about your concept ?

anadi-ananta said...

Salazar,
"...it is the chain of thoughts complaining about it and the deep need to change that".
Please God, may everything turn out right.:-)

Salazar said...

anadi-ananta, everything is turning out alright and is God's will, including pain and fear or being tortured by a villain. That might be at first all theory for the mind, hence faith in Bhagavan is quite essential.

Pain and fear can be a nice catalyst for surrender.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Steven, Bhagavan teaches us in verse 25 of Ulladu Narpadu:

Grasping form the formless phantom-ego comes into existence; grasping form it stands; grasping and feeding on form it grows abundantly; leaving form, it grasps form. If it seeks, it will take flight. Investigate.

Bhagavan describes ego as ‘formless phantom-ego’. Why? It is because ego has no form of its own but it takes on the form of a body as itself whenever it seems to exist. Bhagavan used to describe ego as a ghost that lives inside a cremation ground. This ghost supposedly enters into the bodies of the corpses and makes them dance. However, this ghost cannot come alive if it does not attach itself to a corpse. Likewise, our ego cannot come alive if it does not attach itself to this corpse-like body.

You write, ‘So formless phantom, without any attachment to form may be another name for True Self in my terminology’. Can we call our true self a ‘formless phantom’? I do not think so. Yes, our true self is indeed formless, but we cannot call it a ‘phantom’. A phantom has no real existence even when it seems to exist. However, our true self is the only thing that exists; therefore, it would not be proper to call it a phantom. Ego can be rightfully called a phantom because ego, like phantoms, seems to exist only when we do not look at it closely enough. However, once we turn our entire gaze towards ego, we will see that there is nothing which can be called ego.

So, in my opinion, our true self is formless but it cannot be called a phantom.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
regarding your reply to Steven,
"Can we call our true self a ‘formless phantom’?"
As long as we as ego have not melted in true self it may perhaps appear to us as a ‘formless phantom’ in the background.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, you say ‘As long as we as ego have not melted in true self it may perhaps appear to us as a ‘formless phantom’ in the background’, but how can what we actually are ever appear to us to be a ‘formless phantom’? As I explained in a recent comment, in this context ‘phantom’ means something that is insubstantial and that therefore seems to exist only when we do not look at it carefully enough, so ego is certainly a formless phantom, but our real nature (ātma-svarūpa), though formless, can never be a phantom, because it alone is what is actually substantial, and hence Bhagavan often referred to it as poruḷ or vastu, which are respectively a Tamil and a Sanskrit word, both of which mean ‘substance’.

We are always clearly aware of our own existence as ‘I am’, and nothing else can ever be as clear or indubitable. Everything else could be (and according to Bhagavan is) just an illusion, but our own existence and our awareness of our existence (which are actually one and the same thing) can never be an illusion, because in order to be aware of anything, whether real or illusory, we must exist and be aware. Our existence-awareness (sat-cit) is self-shining (svayam-prakāśa), so it can never be unreal or illusory.

As Muruganar sang in the anupallavi of Āṉma-Viddai, ‘நொய்யார் தமக்கும் உளங்கை ஆமலக கனி பொய்யாய் ஒழிய மிகு மெய்யாய் உளது ஆன்மா’ (noyyār tamakkum uḷaṅkai āmalaka kaṉi poyyāy oṙiya mihu meyyāy uḷadu āṉmā), ‘Oneself is so very real [and clear] even for those who are simple-minded that [in comparison] an āmalaka fruit on the palm recedes as unreal [and unclear]’, and this is backed up by Bhagavan in the first clause of verse 1, ‘மெய் ஆய் நிரந்தரம் தான் ஐயாது [அல்லது, நையாது] இருந்திடவும்’ (mey āy nirantaram tāṉ aiyādu [or: naiyādu] irundiḍavum), ‘Though oneself incessantly and indubitably [or imperishably] exists as real’.

dietician said...

To Michael, regarding your last comment of 24 December 2019 at 11:29 explaining how a formless phantom which was actually referred to as ego by Bhagavan can be confused by some for one's own atma swarupa or our self as has happened with some here. But I do have a question to you in respect to the comment above. In that comment you have explained clearly who we really are as our own existence as "I am" and that even simple minded people like me can recognize IT.

But you have also said many times that we actually mistake our (true) self to be (by error of inattentiveness) our ego which is but the false awareness. So which is it that the majority of us simple-minded people take our self to be? Is it our pure existence as "I am" (atma swarupa) as you have explained in your last reply to anadi-ananta or only our ego (eka jiva) which is only the false awareness or as some say which is the mere reflection of atma swarupa?

Salazar said...

Being simple-minded is not an obstacle for self, I'd say it is rather an advantage. Unless the simple-minded person wants to change that.

Of course when the ego uses the term "simple-minded" it usually is false modesty since it always is secretly wanting to be superior :-)

Unknown, what a strange question. It seems to imply that the non-simple-minded people "know" better "pure" awareness compared to "false" awareness than simple-minded people? LOL That is pretty funny.

I am afraid that is not the case. Anybody knows "I am" as good as Bhagavan. Even Bhagavan insisted on that. We just do not want to believe it and therefore keep questioning and doubting. That questioning and doubting (supported by past life questions and doubts and desires) CREATES the so-called "false" awareness (in simple terms [for the simple-minded]).

Also, who could answer that question? People who ask that question are like the person who asks, "where are my eyes"? And then ask, please tell me "how many people see their eyes and how many do not"?

dietician said...

Simpleminded Salazar, you are now safe as Michael is moderating comments. So I am unable to respond appropriately to you in kind. LOL! Anyway the valid question was for Jnanis like Michael and not to an arrogant ego such as you. But you had to interfere and comment on a sincere question asked from Michael, didn't you? Michael if you censor even this comment then it is a shame.

Michael James said...

Unknown, regarding the questions you ask in your comment of 24 December 2019 at 14:37, if you see a rope but mistake it to be a snake, what you are actually seeing is only a rope, even though you see it as a snake. Likewise, we are now aware of our own existence as ‘I am’ but mistake it to be ego, the false adjunct-mixed awareness ‘I am this body’, so what we are actually aware of as ‘I am’ is only sat-cit (our fundamental awareness of our own existence, which is our real nature), even though we are aware of it as if it were ego.

Therefore no matter how simple-minded we may be, what we are always clearly and indubitably aware of is just sat-cit. Even though we are aware of ourself as ego, what makes ego seem to be real is not any adjunct that it mistakes itself to be, but only sat-cit, which is its essence and foundation, just as the rope is the essence and foundation of what seems to be a snake.

dietician said...

Michael James, thank you for your reply to my query. Much obliged and appreciated indeed.

dietician said...

Salazar, you said "Anybody knows "I am" as good as Bhagavan". No, I do not realize or know that about the "I am" in the same way as did Bhagavan did and neither do you. So please stop pretending that you do. If I had known that then I would not be posting queries to Michael James about it. And please refrain from answering my questions meant for Michael because it will not be appreciated or may not be even read in detail but just glanced quickly like I did the last one from you.

Michael James said...

Salazar, in your comment of 24 December 2019 at 16:16, in which you replied to the previous comment by Unknown, you wrote, ‘That questioning and doubting (supported by past life questions and doubts and desires) CREATES the so-called “false” awareness’, but the ‘false awareness’ that Unknown referred to is ego, so how can ego be created by any questioning or doubting? Whose questioning and doubting could create ego?

What raises questions and doubts is only ego, so logically ego must precede all questioning and doubting, not vice versa. As Bhagavan says in the fifth paragraph of Nāṉ Ār?: ‘மனதில் தோன்றும் நினைவுக ளெல்லாவற்றிற்கும் நானென்னும் நினைவே முதல் நினைவு. இது எழுந்த பிறகே ஏனைய நினைவுகள் எழுகின்றன. தன்மை தோன்றிய பிறகே முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள் தோன்றுகின்றன; தன்மை யின்றி முன்னிலை படர்க்கைக ளிரா’ (maṉadil tōṉḏṟum niṉaivugaḷ ellāvaṯṟiṟkum nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivē mudal niṉaivu. idu eṙunda piṟahē ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ eṙugiṉḏṟaṉa. taṉmai tōṉḏṟiya piṟahē muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ tōṉḏṟugiṉḏṟaṉa; taṉmai y-iṉḏṟi muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ irā), ‘Of all the thoughts that appear [or arise] in the mind, the thought called ‘I’ alone is the first thought [the primal, basic, original or causal thought]. Only after this arises do other thoughts arise. Only after the first person [ego, the primal thought called ‘I’] appears do second and third persons [all other things] appear; without the first person second and third persons do not exist’.

What he refers to here as ‘நானென்னும் நினைவு’ (nāṉ-eṉṉum niṉaivu), ‘the thought called I’, and ‘தன்மை’ (taṉmai), ‘the first person’, is ego, the false awareness ‘I am this body’, whereas all questioning and doubting is included in what he refers to as ‘ஏனைய நினைவுகள்’ (ēṉaiya niṉaivugaḷ), ‘other thoughts’, and ‘முன்னிலை படர்க்கைகள்’ (muṉṉilai paḍarkkaigaḷ), ‘second and third persons’.

Even if we gave up all questioning and doubting, ego would remain, so the real problem we face is not questioning or doubting but only ego, the one who questions and doubts. If our questioning and doubting are not sufficiently judicious and directed towards helping us to investigate and surrender ourself, they may help to sustain ego, but they are certainly not what created it in the first place.

Salazar said...

IMO, you are making that more complicated than it has to be. Questioning and doubting IS the very hallmark of the ego and who cares if that was really what it created it in the first place. I was figuratively speaking since we are talking about something what is anyway not real and as such this nitpicking is way over the top and not helpful at all.

Also, I equal "giving up questioning and doubting" with mouna and apparently you have a different understanding or interpretation what is fine.

What is not fine is that you, instead of inquiring what I could mean with "giving up questioning and doubts", just assume that I come from your side of interpretation and as such you feel the need to correct where there is nothing to correct.

Anonymous said...

I am responding to my own comment posted few days ago. All of you are under the impression that during fear and pain , atma vichara or ‘to be’ can be practiced. I strongly disagree. I have experienced great fear which consumed me and also have experienced intense physical pain. When I was consumed with fear, just trying to be the normal ego itself became an impossible thing. I was solely functioning out of intellect. When one of the sheath becomes disordered, I don’t think atma vichara can be practiced at that time. Even if one tries to practice it, it would take ages to get rid of the fear. Only when all the sheaths (5?) are in order, one can try ‘to be’. After my fear disappeared, I was/am able ‘to be’ easily. I think to try to go back to ‘being’ is a very subtle activity. It cannot be called as activity too. It is just being calm, content and peaceful and not be pulled by thoughts. And another question I have is: people with personality disorders who have lost the ability to look within, is there a way out for them? I don’t think so. So atma vichara is only suited for people who are mature already in some way or other.

Anonymous said...

Salazar, I do agree with 90% of your comments. But along with ‘being’ i think sometimes we have to question ourselves or even be little critical of ourselves to unlearn and learn.

Rajat said...

Michael,
From your last comment, can you please explain what kind of "questioning and doubting" exactly may help to only sustain ego, and what kind of questioning and doubting may help us to investigate ourself? I sometimes feel that my questioning and doubting, or thinking, even about matters such as the fleeting unreal nature of worldly happiness, or about the nature of desire, etc, just keeps me from being self-attentive and is not always very helpful. I feel i should throw all this kind of thinking to the wind, and just try to be self-attentive despite my doubts and questions. Is this the kind of thinking (questioning and doubting) that you say is helpful only in sustaining ego? Bhagavan also says in Nan Yar paragraph ten, "Without giving room to the doubting thought, 'Is it possible to dissolve so many vasanas and be [or remain] only as self?', [we] should cling tenaciously to self-attentiveness. However great a sinner a person may be, if instead of lamenting and weeping, 'I am a sinner! How am I going to be saved?', [he] completely rejects the thought that he is a sinner and is zealous [or steadfast] in self-attentiveness, he will certainly be reformed [or transformed into the true 'form' of thought-free self-conscious being]." I also find myself faced often with this kind of doubting which Bhagavan is so strongly asking us to ignore.

Michael James said...

Rajat, Bhagavan’s teachings challenge us to doubt and question everything. However, this does not mean doubting and questioning each particular thing (because there would be no end to such an endeavour) but doubting and questioning the very basis of everything that we experience, namely our awareness of ourself as a body and our consequent awareness of this world as if it were real. Unless we are willing to doubt, critically question and thereby reject all our assumptions about ourself and the nature of what we experience, we will not be willing to accept or able to understand what he has taught us.

However, our doubting and questioning is beneficial only to the extent that it prompts us to investigate and thereby surrender ourself. If properly directed, doubting and questioning can enable us to understand why we cannot be this body or any other phenomenon or set of phenomena, and why our deeply-rooted belief that this world exists independent of our perception of it is unjustified and unjustifiable, but it cannot by itself enable us to be aware of ourself as we actually are. For that we need to investigate and thereby surrender ourself entirely.

Though Bhagavan may sometimes have warned that the wrong type of doubting and questioning can be a distraction and therefore an obstacle to self-investigation and self-surrender, it would be wrong to infer that he was opposed to or discouraged all doubting and questioning. When Sivaprakasam Pillai asked him the questions that gave birth to Nāṉ Ār?, he did not reply that doubting and questioning would sustain ego, but gave simple but extremely profound and radical answers that were suited to the quality and sincerity of the questions he was asked. When others asked him less suitable questions, he would sometimes ask counterquestions, such as ‘Who is seeking answers to such questions?’, in order to turn the questioner’s curiosity back towards investigating themself.

Some people like to raise endless doubts and questions as a means to avoid thinking deeply about the implications of what Bhagavan taught us, while others may avoid doubting or questioning anything because they are too strongly attached to their own partial and imperfect understanding and hence they do not want to recognise the inadequacy and incoherence of their own cherished opinions. Therefore doubting and questioning too much can be detrimental, and so too can be avoiding doubting or questioning for the wrong reasons.

This is why I said that our doubting and questioning should be judicious and directed towards helping us to investigate and surrender ourself. By saying ‘judicious’, I implied that we each have to judge for ourself which doubts or questions are conducive to our going deeper in our practice of self-investigation and self-surrender, and which are just an unnecessary distraction.

Bob said...

Anonymous
Regarding your comment about fear and pain, and the practice of atma vichara:

A few years back I would have agreed with you but I now find just the opposite. I am in my 70’s and my body is racked with pain and I get relieve from the pain by turning within. The pain reminds me that I am neglecting my practice.




Salazar said...

Anonymous, you said and I quote, "But along with ‘being’ i think sometimes we have to question ourselves or even be little critical of ourselves to unlearn and learn".

I believe you still do not understand 'being' and what it entails. The worst we can do is to be (little or not so little) critical of ourselves what would be the ego.

Being critical of the ego is a strong affirmation of the ego, it is the opposite of atma-vichara. It is poisonous! That must be understood. When will it dawn to some that "fixing the ego" (as in being critical of ourselves) is a dead end? The ego doesn't need fixing, what one needs is to see that it does not exist and that is through vichara or being or "I am".

True 'being' is non-ego so to speak, what is there to fix? 'Trying to fix things' moves one out of 'being' into the ego.

Also, true learning does not come from reading spiritual texts or reading comments or articles from this blog but from "being" or "I am" or self.

All major inventions and great works of art and music were perceived with "I am" in Silence, and that includes spiritual truth which are instantly clear without the involvement of the mind/ego. We are always in contact with self because we are self. When the shatter and schemes of the mind calm down and stop "one" will "know" without knowing :-)

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
thank you for your reply of yesterday.
Regarding your yesterday's question "...but how can what we actually are ever appear to us to be a ‘formless phantom’?", what I wanted to express with ‘formless phantom’ was that under the conditions of ego's view I never have a clear awareness of my real nature (ātma-svarūpa), though it may be true that it alone is what is actually substantial and the terms 'poruḷ or vastu' both mean ‘substance’.
But I claim that as ego we don't have any certainty at all, not even that our existence-awareness (sat-cit) is self-shining (svayam-prakāśa). Therefore within the bounds of ego even our existence-awareness (sat-cit) can quite well be unreal or illusory ideas. Only as pure self-awareness we will have absolute certainty what we actually are and only a sage can credibly assure:"oneself incessantly and indubitably [or imperishably] exists as real’."

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, in your comment addressed to Rajat you wrote, ‘However, our doubting and questioning is beneficial only to the extent that it prompts us to investigate and thereby surrender ourself. If properly directed, doubting and questioning can enable us to understand why we cannot be this body or any other phenomenon or set of phenomena, and why our deeply-rooted belief that this world exists independent of our perception of it is unjustified and unjustifiable, but it cannot by itself enable us to be aware of ourself as we actually are. For that we need to investigate and thereby surrender ourself entirely’.

It is clear what you mean when you say, ‘doubting and questioning can enable us to understand why we cannot be this body or any other phenomenon or set of phenomena’. However, it is not clear to me what you mean when you say, ‘why our deeply-rooted belief that this world exists independent of our perception of it is unjustified and unjustifiable’. Can we this reach this conclusion before experiencing ourself as we really are? I have my doubts, so please clarify this point. Thank you.

Steven said...

Anonymous:
I completely agree with you that it is impossible for most people to do self-enquiry while in extreme pain or fear. If someone is on fire and comes to you for help it does little good to tell him his body “is not real.”

First he needs out of his desperate situation before you can talk about that. Sadhu Om said the same thing in his discussion of various schools of desire.

I’m not saying it is impossible, but for most, if their hand is burning off discussing the unrealness of hands is wasted. They must get out of the current difficult situation by whatever method they can first as a general rule.

.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
regarding your question put to Michael,
"Can we (this) reach this conclusion before experiencing ourself as we really are?
I have my doubts,...",

Only a sage can know with certainty whether our deeply-rooted belief that this world exists independent of our perception of it is unjustified and unjustifiable.
Of course to calm us patients we are reassured by the given informations of sages and every word they say.:-)
As you rightly imply we cannot rely upon the mind's conclusions in its dream.

Michael James said...

Anadi-ananta, in your comment of 25 December 2019 at 18:59 you wrote, ‘But I claim that as ego we don’t have any certainty at all, not even that our existence-awareness (sat-cit) is self-shining (svayam-prakāśa). Therefore within the bounds of ego even our existence-awareness (sat-cit) can quite well be unreal or illusory ideas’, but do you really mean to say that you are not sure that you exist or that you are aware? Even to feel unsure about anything you must surely exist and be aware.

When you say that you are not certain or not sure that you exist and are aware, you mean you are not convinced, so what that shows is a lack of judgement, which is due to a deficiency of intellectual clarity. But whether our intellect is sufficiently clear to recognise the fact or not, it is certain that we exist, because if we did not exist we could not be aware, and if we were not aware we could not be aware of our belief that ‘as ego we don’t have any certainty at all’, as you put it. However, in order to know that we are aware and therefore exist we do not even need to be aware of such a belief or anything else, because we are always clearly aware, whether we happen to be aware of anything else or not.

If we do not have sufficient clarity of intellect to recognise the obvious fact that we exist and are aware, that shows that we have not yet thought carefully enough about the basic principles of all that Bhagavan has taught us. So long as we rise as ego, we are aware of ourself as if we were a body and we are consequently aware of other things, so we are justified in feeling uncertain about what we are and about whatever we are aware of. However, though we do not know for certain what we are, we do know for certain that we are. Likewise, we know for certain that we are aware, even though what we are aware of could all be illusory.

In order to be aware of anything, whether real or illusory, we must exist and be aware, so even if everything else is illusory, our own existence and awareness must be real. Not only is this logically the case, but it is also the case that nothing is so obvious and clear to us as our own existence and awareness.

Anonymous said...

Thanks..

Anonymous said...

Thanks

Salazar said...

Anonymous, as we know, fear and pain are due to the attachment to the body. That attachment can only gradually fade away with continuous practice of vichara. I.e. Bhagavan made clear that even minor nuisances like mosquitoes should be no obstacle for vichara. So if one is distracted by mosquitoes then one's attention is not fixed sufficiently enough on self.

Your question though is ill-advised IMO, because it seems that your main focus is to get away from fear and pain and not just be [self]. Fear and pain are not an enemy, they can be a blessing with the right attitude. A big mistake though is to follow the minds/egos standard response and that is "to fix" something it rejects. That tactic is self-sabotaging. The ego thinks, "oh - once that pain (fear, or any other nuisance) is gone, then everything is alright and then I can do vichara" or something like that.

That is a procrastinating tactic, and the ego is an expert of that.

Now what kind of pain are we talking about? If it is chronic the above applies, if you cut off a finger by accident then you should go to a physician and take some pain killers. Common sense of course always applies.

Now you also touched the subject of the mentally ill and seek answers for that. Firstly, why do you bother with that issue at all? And secondly, what happens to others is not our business and concern, again common sense. One gives appropriate support to the people destiny has sent our way without the idea of "fixing" anything, and that's it.

If somebodies karma entails being schizophrenic then this person won't be able to do vichara until in one of the many subsequent lives. But why being concerned about that? There are Billions of people without a stronger mental disorder and they could do vichara but they do not. Now that's all Bhagavan's business and not ours, questions like that are another procrastination tactic of the mind.

Steven said...

What are the schools of understanding as outlined by Sadhu Om?
First of all we have not entered school yet:
We take no positive steps toward fulfillment of our desires and complain and grumble about our misery and the pain of our desires.
Standard 1
We want to get our desires fulfilled by doing positive actions.
If we are in pain, we take right action toward our health. If we lack money we take right action toward earning it. Whatever we lack we take right action toward its fulfillment.
Standard 2
We realize that our desires are too many and our actions alone will not give us fulfillment. We worship God hoping for fulfillment. We do mantras, pujas and various practices hoping for more fulfilled states of being.
Standard 3
We worship God and want God alone.
Standard 4
We surrender everything to the Guru even want of God. This ends in perfect surrender to the Guru. Whatever happens is seen as a gift from the Guru.
Standard 5
We stop looking outside in any way and become established in Self-attention. Self-Abidance is the acme of Love.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
thanks for your reply and your full explanation.
But one could easily object that the conclusion "In order to be aware of anything, whether real or illusory, we must exist and be aware, so even if everything else is illusory, our own existence and awareness must be real. Not only is this logically the case, but it is also the case that nothing is so obvious and clear to us as our own existence and awareness." is drawn merely mentally in ego's dream and is as such part of the dream. Therefore even that conclusion - which has indisputably much in its favour - can be true but is not a statement of compelling/inescapable logic because all what occures in ego's dream is unreal. So that is the reason why we cannot be even sure of the seeming reality of our existence and awareness.
However, as you imply, that admittedly may show a lack of judgement due to a deficiency of intellectual clarity. Unfortunately I have to cope with that lack of clarity. If I did not suffer from that lack I presumably would grasp Bhagavan's teaching much easier.

Michael James said...

Sanjay, regarding your comment of 26 December 2019 at 06:47, in which you say that it is not clear to you what I meant when I wrote in an earlier comment that ‘our deeply-rooted belief that this world exists independent of our perception of it is unjustified and unjustifiable’ and ask, ‘Can we this reach this conclusion before experiencing ourself as we really are?’, a belief is justified only if it supported by adequate evidence, reliable testimony or reasonable arguments based on such evidence or testimony, but we do not and cannot have any adequate evidence that anything we perceive exists independent of our perception of it, and any testimony we may wish to rely on cannot be reliable, because it would be part of the world whose independent existence is in question.

Therefore we can and should reach the conclusion that ‘our deeply-rooted belief that this world exists independent of our perception of it is unjustified and unjustifiable’ even though we are not yet aware of ourself as we actually are. What we cannot conclude with absolute certainty until we are aware of ourself as we actually are is that nothing we perceive exists independent of our perception of it, but just because we cannot definitely conclude this does not mean that we have any reason other than wishful thinking to suppose that anything does exist independent of our perception of it.

If someone were to claim that a million light-years away there is a planet like ours with similar plant and animal species, including one like the human species, and that that species has a variety of races, nationalities, cultures, religions, political ideologies and philosophies, and advanced science and technologies like ours, as a result of which they have become dependent on burning fossil fuels and have thereby caused increasingly catastrophic climate change, which they are not taking adequate steps to deal with due to vested economic and political interests, we would be unable to prove that that is not the case. However, since we have no adequate evidence that it is the case, if we chose to believe that there is such a planet, our belief in it would be unjustified. With our present limitations, such a belief would also be unjustifiable, though it may be possible to justify it at some point in the distant future.

If such a world exists, its existence could potentially be verified by science because it is physical (though if physical things do not exist independent of our perception of them, physical existence would not be real existence but just a seeming existence). However, when we consider whether anything exists independent of our perception of it, we are not considering a question about physical existence but metaphysical existence (which alone is real existence), and science can never answer such a question. The only evidence we have or could ever have that anything other than ourself exists is our perception of it, and our perception can never tell us that anything we perceive exists when we do not perceive it. Therefore if we believe in the existence of anything independent of our perception of it, that belief is not only unjustified but also unjustifiable.

Why should we believe in the existence of something for which we have no evidence? We can believe in it if we want to, but that would not be a wise belief, and certainly would not be justified.

Salazar said...

"Anyone knows 'I am' as good as Bhagavan".

That is the truth.

If that only could be believed. And not of course in a superficial way as one believes in a certain philosophy but deeply and inherently.

What comes up objecting to that loudly? The ego! And here we have it. It refuses to believe even the truth of the sages. It even tells story to itself that it must misunderstand the sages. That's why vichara is seemingly needed. Only for THAT and nothing else.

That is the truth according to Bhagavan and many other sages.

Salazar said...

"Standard 1 to Standard 5"

Well, let's not make them the 10 Commandments or try to compartmentalize them and I believe that compartmentalization was not Sadhu Om's intention. Actually all 5 Standards can be applicable at some point for anybody but a sage.

If one keeps repeating these Standards often then I'd rather say that one has become too attached to that concept and it is high time to let it go. Because at that point it has become more an obstacle than a helpful pointer.

anadi-ananta said...

Michael,
regarding your recent reply to Sanjay,

"Therefore if we believe in the existence of anything independent of our perception of it, that belief is not only unjustified but also unjustifiable."

I would not apply that statement as a general rule.
For instance I believe that a higher power takes effect in our life and in our world although I do not perceive it directly but more as a mere hunch. Nevertheless, I would not consider my belief as unjustified or even unjustifiable.

Anonymous said...

Without trying to fulfill desires, it is not possible to turn within. One will not develop the ability to stay in ‘beingness’, unless all the lacks are resolved. Either you must have gone past standard 1 step or you are deluding yourself. I agree with Steven on this.

Sanjay Lohia said...

Sir, I thank you for your clarification. As you say, ‘The only evidence we have or could ever have that anything other than ourself exists is our perception of it, and our perception can never tell us that anything we perceive exists when we do not perceive it. Therefore if we believe in the existence of anything independent of our perception of it, that belief is not only unjustified but also unjustifiable’. What you are telling is not easy to understand or at least easy to accept. I am typing on this computer, for example, but this computer doesn’t exist when I don’t perceive it. In other words, I create this computer by my very perceiving it. Extremely radical teaching! However, Bhagavan has indeed taught us this, so why should we run away from this teaching even if we find it difficult to understand or accept?

The best way to understand this is by reflecting on our dream experience. In my dream, if I find myself typing this comment on my computer, when I wake up I will surely realise that that computer existed only because I saw it. So our very sight creates whatever we see - drsti-srsti vada. So my wife doesn’t exist when I do not perceive her! My apartment has no existence when I am not aware of it! This world doesn’t exist when I do not perceive it! So I create all these things by my very thinking about these things, and by repeatedly thinking about these things, I then get attached to these things. What a wonderful play of maya.

So basically I cannot be sure about anything other than my existence and my awareness of my existence. That is, everything other than my awareness ‘I am’ could be a mere fiction, and it is fiction according to Bhagavan. As Bhagavan teaches us, what exists is only atma-svarupa. Everything else is a mere imagination, which has no reality whatsoever.

I thank you once again for your clarification.


Rajat said...

Michael,
Thank you for your comment of 25 December 2019 at 14:10 in which you explain the importance of critical thinking and doubting and questioning judiciously.

Rajat said...

Isn't it the nature of ego to be dissatisfied, to always have desires? If it were not possible to turn within without fulfilling all desires or while there are lacks, then there would be no hope.

anadi-ananta said...

Sanjay,
"As Bhagavan teaches us, what exists is only atma-svarupa. Everything else is a mere imagination, which has no reality whatsoever."
Why did Bhagavan teach us drsti-srsti-vada ?
Because he knew that so long as we experience ego and world, we believe that they do actually exist because we do not perceive their seeming existence as a false appearance but as real.

Rajat said...

My last comment of 27 December 2019 at 09:24 was in reply to the comment in which Anonymous writes, "Without trying to fulfill desires, it is not possible to turn within. One will not develop the ability to stay in ‘beingness’, unless all the lacks are resolved."
About this matter of vasanas, Sri Sadhu Om writes in Paramount Importance of Self Attention, "So long as we attend to vāsanās and their products (our thoughts and desires and the objects of the world), we will continue to take them to be 'I' or 'mine' and thus to be bound by them. However, if we ignore our vāsanās and instead attend only to 'I', we will destroy them — that is, we will expose their non-existence.
We should not be put off by the strength of our vāsanās and by their seemingly endless play. We should remember that they appear because I am, but they do not come to trouble us during sleep, even though we continue to exist then. Therefore I am real, and vāsanās are unreal. With this strong conviction we should be courageous and remain disinterested in our vāsanās, and thus we should carry on self-attention undisturbed." So clearly it is not important to try to fulfil any desires.

anadi-ananta said...

Rajat,
"However, if we ignore our vāsanās and instead attend only to 'I', we will destroy them — that is, we will expose their non-existence. We should not be put off by the strength of our vāsanās and by their seemingly endless play."
That advice is indeed very good. However, mostly our vasanas and particularly their products insist of us that we pay tribute to them. And experience shows that it is very hard to escape permanently from their tyranny - except grace chaces them away.

Salazar said...

Rajat, exactly my sentiment. That section of Sadhu Om's text is far more important than the 5 Standards.

I am not saying the 5 standards are false, but they quickly become an obstacle when i.e. you Anonymous seem to confuse what is really important and what is not.

There is a reason why Bhagavan (and other sages) did not talk about stages, they really do not exist. But the ego loves that stuff, it could be in a self-depreciating way (I am deluding myself) or in self-aggrandizing way (I am awakened). But what has all of that in common? It is maya and keeps one deluded. It is just another strong attachment to certain thoughts.

The spiritual path is like a walk over a razor's edge, the ego quickly misunderstands even the most well meant pointers and falls off that razor unless it keeps unperturbed by concepts. And only vichara or being can accomplish that. With vichara a certain wisdom develops where pointers become much more clearer than the mind could ever understand.

Anonymous said...

:) ok..

Steven said...

Imo, the five standards are not a way out of ego. They are simply a description of common levels of understanding. Even standard 5 is not a way out of ego, not a method of going beyond ego, but a description of the non-ego point of view.

Then how do you get out of ego? That is different for everyone. Discard wrong beliefs is one way. Discard wrong imagination is another. Follow the chain of suffering and see its under pinnings has to work.

For westerners that try to add something like self-attention on top of their deluded beliefs it may not be that helpful.

For example, do you believe you were born into the world and will someday die? That is what we have all been taught. That is the belief: “the world exists and consciousness comes and goes in it.” Anyone can do what they think is self-abidance all day long, if they see the world like that then no delusion will drop.

The reality is not that you were born into the world and you will die. The reality is the world was born into you [consciousness] and it will die while you will always remain. If you tell this to your history or biology teacher you will fail all of your courses.

To rest in “being,” while believing it [being] to be something that comes and goes does not get to the heart of the matter. Thus enlightenment is not an attainment we do by practice, but a recognition of what was always there before any practice, before wrong beliefs.

Yo Soy Tu Mismo said...

Regarding Steven's comment of December 28 at 7:48 am

The question is that whenever a ladder of levels or degrees is raised - although each jiva may be passing through one of them or between them - the ego always tends to try to use this to place itself either in front of where it really is or below. In my opinion, as long as we are humble enough, it could be useful to detect what is still a limit we impose on ourselves.